Saturday, March 29, 2003

Josh is pissed, and so am I.

I don't think any pro-war folks check in here very often, but just in case, do you get it now? It's not just about staying within framework of the UN, or containing rather than attacking, or even preserving human life on both sides. It's about the fact that any war against any regime, no matter how small or vulnerable, spearheaded by this administration is bound to go badly. It's as simple as that. There is no good reason that things should have spiraled out of control within a week's time.

It's fun to laugh and shrug at Bush's smirk or Rummy's grimace when the stakes aren't so high, but when we stand to lose up to 12,000 people, don't you think it's time we put some grownups in charge?
Saw The Pianist last night. I'm not sure how smart it is to try to distract yourself from war by going to watch a film about the most horrifying years of the Holocaust, but it was definitely worth seeing. Adrien Brody does a fine job, which makes me think that the Academy should make a habit out of nominating unknown actors for awards. They seem to work harder for them.

Friday, March 28, 2003

I really owe Ampersand a permalink. Someone who can come up with White Man's Fallacy deserves constant attention.

But is it really? I think there are many worthwhile political agendas that are served when minorities and women demand respect ("demand respect" is, I realize, a loaded term; but so is "hypersensitivity").

1. When the nation's leaders speak in public, they are setting the tone for the rest of the culture. If Senators and Congressmen felt comfortable referring to "kikes" and cracking Jewish jokes in public, then that indicates that doing so is mainstream and polite; and anyone who objects would be out on the margins (and perhaps even hypersensitive). Policing how leaders talk in public is a legitimate political agenda.
2. A marginalized group that can't even command minimal politeness in public - that can't, for example, reasonably expect that its sacred rituals won't be publicly mocked - has much less chance of having any more substantive policy agenda put through.
3. Respect and courtesy are legitimate political ends to seek, in their own right.

Reading these things restores my faith in white people. When you have such shining examples of Bob Bennet
and Trent Lott out there speaking for "the good people of America" you began to lose faith in the idea of tolerance and decency.
I'm noticing a lot of new blogs popping up in response to the war. I'm sometimes bemused at my own need to blog particularly since I live and work and hang out with people who are just as upset and preoccupied with the war as I am. So, it's definitely not as if I have nobody to talk too. But I think the craziness and the disbelief become too much for conversation especially when things are so emotional. So we hunch over our keyboards and type into the cyber oblivion hoping enough people read these damn things to maybe decide to do something about it.
When it comes to anything Bono does, I desperately try to have an open mind, but this one is lost on me. When you're a music snob you want the bands you like to have your standards and it's disappointing when they don't.

Bono's way more tolerant than I could ever be.
For those of you still laboring under the delusion that this is a war of liberation, read it and weep, I mean truly weep for their souls and our souls and the sheer, blinding, arrogant, stupidity of this administration.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

I started to post on this the day before yesterday, but blogger was acting up and for some reason the link went screwy and messed up the post.

I drive past the Chicago Loop every day. I remember immediately after 9/11 the way the building lights burned red, white, and blue in the patriotic fervor that spread across the country. At the time I thought to myself, "Okay. Not something I would do, but I guess I understand." Over time I watched the lights go back to normal and the flags that hung everywhere droop, fade, and eventually disappear.

What I find interesting now at this time of war is how that patriotic fervor has changed. The lights downtown aren't burning red, white, and blue, I think out of respect to the majority position of Chicago. residents. At the same time, I have seen some people break out the flags, and not the itty bitty tear-up-at-the-first-gust of wind flags, but giant defiant flags.

It's surreal how the city--hell the country--is so obviously divided that we can visibly see where people fall on the war issue. Read on

Peace-oriented merchandise, meanwhile, is seeing a resurgence of its own, sellers say.

Dave Wampler, owner of the Simple Living Network in Trout Lake, Wash., said he can't stock enough items with peace symbols, flags of the Earth and similar merchandise.

"It says to me that people are concerned, and for many people the American Dream has become somewhat of a nightmare," he said. "They're trying to find ways to speak out and say there are alternatives."

Global Vision for Peace, a group that organized two months ago to use the Oscars as a platform to send a message of peace, commissioned a pin that emulated artist Pablo Picasso's Dove of Peace.

Pins worn by some actors at Sunday's 75th annual Academy Awards are now being auctioned on eBay, and more than 1,000 pins have been ordered, Global Vision co-founder Cliff Rothman said.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Josh reports on signs of fear.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Hersh picks up slack on the Niger forgeries.

The most interesting thing about this report is that in a way it exonerates the Democrats for giving Bush the go-ahead on Iraq.

Last September 24th, as Congress prepared to vote on the resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to wage war in Iraq, a group of senior intelligence officials, including George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence, briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq’s weapons capability. It was an important presentation for the Bush Administration. Some Democrats were publicly questioning the President’s claim that Iraq still possessed weapons of mass destruction which posed an immediate threat to the United States. Just the day before, former Vice-President Al Gore had sharply criticized the Administration’s advocacy of preĆ«mptive war, calling it a doctrine that would replace “a world in which states consider themselves subject to law” with “the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States.” A few Democrats were also considering putting an alternative resolution before Congress.

According to two of those present at the briefing, which was highly classified and took place in the committee’s secure hearing room, Tenet declared, as he had done before, that a shipment of high-strength aluminum tubes that was intercepted on its way to Iraq had been meant for the construction of centrifuges that could be used to produce enriched uranium. The suitability of the tubes for that purpose had been disputed, but this time the argument that Iraq had a nuclear program under way was buttressed by a new and striking fact: the C.I.A. had recently received intelligence showing that, between 1999 and 2001, Iraq had attempted to buy five hundred tons of uranium oxide from Niger, one of the world’s largest producers. The uranium, known as “yellow cake,” can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors; if processed differently, it can also be enriched to make weapons. Five tons can produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a bomb. (When the C.I.A. spokesman William Harlow was asked for comment, he denied that Tenet had briefed the senators on Niger.)

So were the Democrats bamboozled into signing away their birthright. If so they should have known better.

Then the story fell apart. On March 7th, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna, told the U.N. Security Council that the documents involving the Niger-Iraq uranium sale were fakes. “The I.A.E.A. has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents . . . are in fact not authentic,” ElBaradei said.

One senior I.A.E.A. official went further. He told me, “These documents are so bad that I cannot imagine that they came from a serious intelligence agency. It depresses me, given the low quality of the documents, that it was not stopped. At the level it reached, I would have expected more checking.”

The I.A.E.A. had first sought the documents last fall, shortly after the British government released its dossier. After months of pleading by the I.A.E.A., the United States turned them over to Jacques Baute, who is the director of the agency’s Iraq Nuclear Verification Office.

It took Baute’s team only a few hours to determine that the documents were fake. The agency had been given about a half-dozen letters and other communications between officials in Niger and Iraq, many of them written on letterheads of the Niger government. The problems were glaring. One letter, dated October 10, 2000, was signed with the name of Allele Habibou, a Niger Minister of Foreign Affairs and Coƶperation, who had been out of office since 1989. Another letter, allegedly from Tandja Mamadou, the President of Niger, had a signature that had obviously been faked and a text with inaccuracies so egregious, the senior I.A.E.A. official said, that “they could be spotted by someone using Google on the Internet.”

Google away.

Uh oh. The New York Times better lawyer up.
If you sat thru the Oscars last night, Michael Moore probably made you cringe even as you agreed with everything he said. The class act of the night for leftist politics was Adrien Brody who won Best Actor for The Pianist. I have yet to see it yet but this was a great movie too.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Cannot decide whether or not to watch the Oscars this year. I usually do even though I have long since stopped believing in that Oscar magic, but it's still fun to see Courtney Love pretend she's clean and sober and Russell Crowe scowl at everyone. This year it's not so much that I feel that it might be inappropriate. I do think that we need frivilous things to help us decompress. I just really don't really care. I haven't seen enough of the movies this year to have a "personal" stake in who wins, and it's hard to get excited about the botox, collagen, silicone parade after the news of the day. I do want to see what Michael Moore says in the event that he wins for Bowling for Columbine.
Spent this weekend trying not to get swallowed up by this massacre parading as a war. Spent money on books, went out to the bar, cooked a meal of tortilla soup, beans, rice, and peach cobbler. I'm generally a lazy person but cooking can usually fool people that I'm energetic and productive, and in times of duress I get restless and need to do something with my hands. A measure of how helpless I feel is how successful my meals turn out. This meal came out particularly well, hence my complete despair. Incidentally, if you've never had tortilla soup you should. I recommend adding boneless skinless chicken breast and avocado. Consumption and consumerism are great comforts in a time of war. We can't have faith in abstract things as truth and justice, so we fall back to the tangible things; the feel of pages turning between our fingers, the rich taste of food on our tongues.

Forgive us.