Monday, March 31, 2003

Bjorn Staerk sees the light! (Again)
[Via Command Post] John Keegan weighs in with an assessment of the Coalition's strengths and weaknesses. He has this to say about the war coverage:

The headless chickens whose cluckings and splutterings currently fill the media are more blameworthy. War has been their staple diet for much of their professional lives, but they seem to have made precious little effort to understand what they are paid to report. And in the age of rolling news, even the fair-minded are hampered by the scramble to react to the last reported event.



Speaking of military mistakes [see post immediately below], please consider this post by David Frum on the many mistakes of D-Day. I do not profess to be a "military history guy," so I was surprised to find out from my father - Lt. Bradley (Ret.) - that there were instances during the Italian campaign of paratroop units being wiped out by friendly fire. This came out of my inquiry as to whether the incredible percentage of non-combat deaths relative to combat deaths we see in the current conflict had a historical precedent. What may be significant about the current situation is not the number of deaths at the hands of those who are not the enemy; it may be the fact that there are so few deaths by enemy action. [And let us pray that that situation doesn't change.]
Stanley Kurtz has an intelligent explanation of American mistakes in this young conflict. His point is to recognize the mistake and learn from it. On a deeper level, it looks like the age-old dream of surgical wars played a role in planning for this war. Since at least Kennedy, there has been the optimistic belief that wars might be won by air power. I think history has rather conclusively established that wars can only be won by sending in the ground troops. The other issue Kurtz discusses, which Kurtz mentions in the context of the debate between "pragmatic hawks" and "optimistic hawks," is the phenomenon of an expensive, technologically sophisticated weapons platform being defeated by a cheap, low tech weapons system. This phenomenon is not new; it was noticed in the Nineteenth Century by Rudyard Kipling in the poem "Arithmetic on the Frontier:"

A scrimmage in a Border Station --
A canter down some dark defile --
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail --
Here's The OmbudsGod comprehensive, continually updated list of newsites, which I want to keep at the top of my posts until I can figure out how to update my template.
Fantastic! I get to keep my subscription to National Geographic.

National Geographic Fires Peter Arnett. I particularly like how the National Geographic puts the word "misjudgment" in quotes.
INTEL DUMP suggests that support for the troops be expressed by donating to Army Emergency Relief or the USO Care Package Program.

Thanks for the idea.
This weekend I was told by a CNN viewer that while there may have been one or two instances of Iraqis expressing support for the Coalition, there had been no large instances of such support. One hopes that this story from Lycos News is the precursors of a hopeful future:

Hundreds of Iraqis shouting "Welcome to Iraq" greeted Marines who entered the town of Shatra Monday after storming it with planes, tanks and helicopter gunships.
A foot patrol picked its way through the small southern town, 20 miles north of the city of Nassiriya, after being beckoned in by a crowd of people.
"There's no problem here. We are happy to see Americans," one young man shouted.
The welcome was a tonic for soldiers who have not always received the warm reception they expected after U.S. and British leaders told them the Iraqi people were waiting to be freed from repression under President Saddam Hussein .
Bill Cork points to an interesting article in ArabNews. The title of the article is ": Exclusive: Civilians Caught in Basra Carnage," but the text contains more ominous news for the Baathists. Read this excerpt:

The father of three Iraqi soldiers walked his sons through a British-manned checkpoint and told them to surrender themselves.
When asked by Arab News why he did this, he said: “This battle is growing more and more hopeless every hour. The Iraqi soldiers are dispirited and running out of ammunition. They are no match for the Americans, and they will be killed. I don’t want that. I would rather that they stayed alive as prisoners of war.”
Arab News asked the three surrendering soldiers — aged 17, 23 and 26 — whether they had actively fought the Americans in Basra.
Their reply was “No, no, no.”
“We are deserting the army,” one of them explained. “We are surrendering to the British because we do not want to fight anymore. We want the protection of the coalition forces as we will surely be hanged by the Iraqi Army for refusing to fight.”
On the way out of the city, as Arab News passed an Iraqi, he asked this correspondent whether I spoke Arabic. He became furious, despite the fact I lied by saying that I did not.
“You’re Arabic, and when this war is over, you will see what we are going to do to the Arabs,” he said. “We will kill the Arabs. They are bastards.”


The image of a father requiring his sons to surrender is striking. More striking is the defeatist attitude expressed by the soldiers. In fact, they ought to be defeatist. What person in their right mind would what want to be facing an apparently invincible enemy? And they look at the last ten days of war and the fact that the Iraqis have managed to kill less then fifty Coalition troops, invincible is not an irrational assesment.

Perhaps it is an outgrowth of the continuing "Vietnam Syndrome," but a lot of Americans still harbor a visceral defeatist attitude about American military actions. Heck, I should know. I was in High School when Jimmy Carter botched the hostage rescue. [Of course, it wasn't Jimmy Carter, but the idea of American military incompetence wasn't helped by Carter's policy decisions.] I expected the military to fail. After all, that was the message that had been drummed into my young head by the popular media.

Likewise, before Gulf War I, there was a large contingent of experts who were declaring a military disaster. Remember, at that time, Saddam's army was the fourth largest in the world. His troops had extensive battle field experience. Our tanks would not operate in the desert where there intakes would clog with sand and dust.

Gulf War 1 should have created an image of American invincibility. That image is a military asset, not merely propoganda. The importance of such an asset can't be discounted. Think of the militaries that have succesfully capitalized on such a reputation - the Spartans, the Romans, the Prussians, the French (circa 1805), and Germany. What was the value of the idea in the mind of the militaries of those powers, and in their enemy minds, of their invincibility.

Which is why Saddam displayed the mechanics captured in the first days of the war. He needs to communicate to his forces that the Coalition's troops are not supermen, but can be defeated. Likewise, my concern with news reports in the American media, not limited to Peter Arnett's interview, that express defeatist attitudes is that they squander a not insignificant military asset.
The Command Post - A Warblog Collective links to a report that China has interrupted oil to North Korea in order to exert pressure. Here's a quote which may explain some of China's thinking:

. . . "When the administration started this war in Iraq, they sent a message to countries who have or have had conflicts with the U.S., a clear message: The U.S. is not a paper tiger, it's a real tiger. And also that as a major power, the U.S.'s voice and principles should be listened to closely," said Zhang Liankui, a Central Party School professor. "If the U.S. quickly finishes this war successfully, the North Koreans will be more cautious in the future."

Sunday, March 30, 2003

CNN reporter lauds discipline of Berlin under the Nazi's. Er, I meant to say Baghdad under the Baathists.

Fox News has been showing clips of Peter Arnett's interview with an Iraqi government official where Arnett explains that the US military plan is in disarray.

What has happened to the Western World? Have the principles of propoganda been repealed simply because Westerners are too sophisticated to be taken in by propoganda? I care nothing about the truth about what Arnett says or the effect it might have on American troops, but isn't it obvious that Arnett's interview will have a tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy? What the US needs is to present the image of inevitability, of the hopelessness of the Baathist cause. What Arnett does is give hope to the Baathists and their "useful tools." One can see the thought processes of a potential suicide bomber who might be induced to believe that his sacrifice may bring about the end that Arnett assures him is possible and therefore travels to Iraq to participate in bringing about Arnett's glorious vision.

Obviously, Arnett's statements are not accidental. It is not a coincidence that he has been given unusually broad freedom by the Iraqi government.

The other thing you have to wonder about is why Arnett has not had a "road to Damascus" experience like so many other naive leftists have had. Is he talking to average Iraqis? If not, why not?

What then is the difference between Arnett and Tokyo Rose? Except, of course, for the facts that Tokyo Rose was a Prisoner of War ordered by Imperial Japan to make propoganda broadcasts who was assured by the American and Australian POWs who wrote the script that she wasn't doing anything illegal.

The other difference is, of course, that Tokyo Rose was innocent of treason.

Update: Instapundit reports that NBC has canned Arnett.

Second Update: Arnett has reportedly apologized on the Today Show for the interview as a "stupid misjudgment." Amazing how being hit in the wallet causes an increase in "wisdom." Anyhow you can see how easy it is to make a "stupid misjudgment" by voluntarily and intentionally appearing on the propoganda machine of a government your country is at war with in order to say things that would foreseeably stiffen resistance among its supporters and which would obvously lead to more deaths among your country's military in order to increase your visibility and career.

That kind of thing happens all the time.

Yet another update: The Corner references NBC's initial defense of Arnett and the focus in media criticism about Arnett's "bad judgment" in becoming an "actor" instead of a reporter. What about becoming an "actor" in support of a regime that commits mass murder? Doesn't that have any traction in analyzing Arnett's misbehavior?
[Via Command Post]A majority of English speaking world believes that UN was mistaken in not sanctioning action against Iraq.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Road to Damascus Update

Here'sanother peace activist blinded by exposure to the truth. How many does this make?
Here's a couple of useful maps on the war zone. [Via Command Post.]
Anna pens another great essay.
The Command Post on yellow ribbons. This is really a place holder for a discussion of the recent 9th Circuit decision which holds that freeway overpasses may be considered as "public forums" such that the placement of flags on an overpass requires that opponents be given equal time. I intend to read the Volokh comments when I get an opportunity, but my quick take is that a municipality can constitutionally outlaw the placement of ribbons supporting American troops on public property. [Note: I don't agree with this perspective. In my view, and to paraphrase J. Holmes, the national club takes priority of sectarian disputes.]

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Hate Crime Update

Remember tolerance? Remember diversity? Remember the "peace" movement? Well, what about teenagers throwing rocks at the military in Vermont?
Hate Crime Update

Remember "keine Juden?" Remember Krystalnacht? Well what about being an American soldier in Germany? [I know it's a cheap shot to bring up that part of German history, but, like a shot to the solar plexus, some times you got to hit low and hard.]
ibidem is participating with a non-St. Blog's discussion about the applicability of "liberation theology." Though why anyone would want to revive that nightmare is beyond me.
INTEL DUMP has a blog on the diversity in the military, which he says is more diverse than UCLA law school. [Oh, I didn't realize he was a UCLA law student. Forget that unfortunate "law student" remark down below.] As a 1983 UCLA Law School graduate I can relay that in the halcyon days of affirmative action, there still wasn't that much diversity.

Note, though, that both Intel Dump and Angry Clam are UCLA Law bloggers. Give 'em hell gentlemen.
Hate Crime Update

Remember the incessant PSA that features the slogan "I am an American." Remember the hand wrining about non-existent anti-Iraqi-American violence. How about hate crimes against Americans serving their country? If anything like this happens in Northern California, contact me. We'll show them that the Unruh Act cuts both ways.
Jay Manifold uses science to reconcile America's precise targeting of military targets with Iraqi claims of civilian injuries:

I have been following, as have countless others, the blogging by "Salam Pax," who appears relatively safe but understandably quite distressed. His recent postings (after a 2-day Internet outage in Baghdad) make note of considerable collateral damage. This is not propaganda; although such damage is a small fraction of what it would be if unguided munitions were being used, it is bound to occur when targets are in close proximity to non-military structures.

How close? Airblast overpressure scales with the cube root of weapon yield. Turning to this earlier post and building a spreadsheet from the equation therein, we find that a hypothetical one-ton explosive will demolish everything within about a 26-meter radius; a 5-psi overpressure will level most buildings, uproot all trees, burst all eardrums, and kill about half the people inside its radius.


So, air pressure "with a cube root of weapon yield" provides the answer. Some civilian injury is inevitable. How come we never get this kind of thing with the mainstream media?

By the way, the civilian effect while lamentable doesn't change the debate on the war. The Coalition is using the "best available technology" to minimize civilian injuries. Only someone with a political agenda would demand zero tolerance. And, I note again, no such criteria was advocated domestically during Clinton's ventures into Haiti, Somalia and Serbia.
Fog of War

[Via No War Blog] It appears that the initial report that the 51st Division had surrendered was not accurate. No War Blog is, of course, viewing this as evidence of American mendacity and incompetence, but, really, gentlemen, give credit where credit is due. It was a ruse of war. Militaries always trumpet victories and mute defeats for good and sufficient reasons. It appeas that the Baathist's spinning of their pathetic victories - one helicopter downed, for example; actually taking prisoner a lost group of mechanics - is gaining them a bunch of useful idiots who wish to commit suicide for a regime that runs fathers through plastic shredders and rapes women as a political tool.

Declaring to the world that the Baathist 51st Infantry Division had surrendered served a similar purpose for the side of decency.
To my visitors from Law.com, welcome to my blog. At present, I am not doing much in the way of law stuff, although there are some interesting developments that need to be discussed. Note the links to the left. I have thoughtfully listed a number of other sites according to general interests, and provided extremely helpful comments to provide the gist of those blogs.

Incidentally, there are other blogs that I have attempted to add, but I can't seem to modify my template. Does anyone know how I can fix the problem?
USS Clueless offers an interesting theory that the Stalinist group that is at the core of organizing the anti-war protest is using those protests as a vehicle for recruiting "true believers" into the "inner temple."

Actually, the essay is not as paranoid as it sounds in my synopsis. Also, and I have to say this with caution, one thing we do know about the Communists is that they have used these kinds of tactics throughout their history. [Equal time for right-wing kooks: so did the Nazis. However, on the whole the Communists were more succesful.] Incidentally, if you have never read Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer," read it.
Blog Bias

This is kind of interesting. Waxy.org is examining web blogs for bias in "reporting." Something like 140 blogs were examined relative to the report on the alleged capture of a chemical weapons facility to see who reported the story, the correction or both. The results may show obvious ideological bias, which is simply a function of human nature to find interesting and relevant only those things that confirm our prejudices. I cited both the story and the correction, mostly because C. Muncey pointed out the problem with the original story and because of my lawyerly anal-retentive habit of correcting misstatements. [Believe it or not, but most attorneys do regard their credibility as being professionally important.]

Frankly, I also find the disconnect between the official news and the blog news interesting. The blogoverse is getting information out long before the official news. For example, while the press is only now reporting on the executions of prisoners, Jesus Gill was reporting that he was seeing evidence of that on Spanish TV. I suspect that the popular press is playing news reporting according to PC rules; no mention of Iraqi atrocities until confirmation is received.

The alleged chemical weapons plant is also interesting. The correction stated that it hadn't been used since 1998, which is well after sanctions were imposed. Was an Iraqi General captured at the site? That bit of information wasn't corrected. If so, what was he doing there? All we can do right now is speculate.
From the "Clever Way of Fighting" File.

FOXNews.com is providing information on the apparent Baathists practice of executing POWs. The headline comes from the source cited in this post. I think that XLRQ makes a good point, which is that if both sides employed the same level of "cleverness" there would be no doubt who would prevail. We are not going to be so clever, however, because we have learned though our vaster experience with "war to the knife" that civilized rules of war are not a classist plot to disable the Third World, but a desirable practice to limit the inherent brutality of war.
Military brat Tiger Woods shows that he is a classy guy. Spread the word. We ought to encourage celebrities like Tiger.
The Command Post rebuts the urban legend that the USA supplied Saddam with chem and bio weapons.
damnum absque injuria has a "name the caption" contest that is highly inspirational.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Here is The OmbudsGod's comprehensive list of war coverage news sources, with a jump link.
Home Front

As kind of an intellectual curiosity, I am posting a link to this post - Game Over for Muslims - which I found on the No War blog. The post is from the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan site. The author's theme seems to be to explain how the perfidious Americans have a secret plan for the"muslims." I found the following interesting in light of recent news:

Remember that the Geneva Convention prevents you from using any military techniques that might allow a small country to have any chance of winning a war against a large power. We will bomb the hell out of you with our weapons of mass destruction - I mean our superior military technology - and you will be tried as war criminals if you resist in clever ways.


So, the Geneva Convention has nothing to do with an attempt to reduce civilian and military death and suffering, it is part of a plot to prevent militarily weaker countries from finding "clever" ways to fight.
Change of Pace

While trying to answer Penner's question about what poteen is made of, I googled this Irish joke.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003


Check out INTEL DUMP which is billed as "near real-time analysis and commentary from Phil Carter, a former Army officer, journalist and law student."

Ah, what does he know? He's only a law student.

Just joking. The power of the internet to produce people with experience and expertise is truly awesome.

Here is INTEL DUMP's analysis on the Iraqi Army's move into civilian clothes and areas. Bottom line: it was a predictable attempt to exploit one of the few advantages that the Baathist regime has in light of the USA's continuous broadcasts of its rules of engagement.
The Command Post reports that the "chemical weapons factory" discovered over the weekend has not been used for several years. Advantage: C. Muncie.

Does this meant that if we don't find any WMDs after the war, do we have to restore Saddam to power?

Also, what was an Iraqi General doing guarding the empty factory?
Penner, It looks like you can go home

According to the National Post "an overwhelming 90% of Canadians also want the Chrétien government to improve relations with the United States, which have cooled since George W. Bush was elected President in 2000."
Hey, did I mention that in my opinion The Raven is worth reading for what may be a contrarian view on the current scene. My sense is that the Raven is a skeptic on the current conflict, but grounded, and stylish, enough to realize that the rhetorical "carpet bombing" of the hard "antis" is self-defeating. Although we pray for success, and pray that our success will be merited, we should keep in mind the tradition of the Romans to put a slave in the carriage of triumphant generals whose job would be to repeat the phrase "sic transit gloria mundi." We pray that we will move forward to certain victory, but contrarians who suggest a different opinion cause us to think about - and maybe to rethink - our positions. And that is never a bad thing.
War against the Baathists

[Via The Corner] Here is a BBC report on Basra. The BBC reports that the British are targeting Baathist headquarters and power bases. Also, as the Corner notes, this kind of news allows a change in nomenclature - Coalition military actions are not against Iraqis, those actions are against the Baathists. [And, by the way, given what is probably intense hatred for the Baathists - think of Italy in 1944 - I think we should expect continued Baathist guerrilla action throughout the remainder of the Coalition's military actions.]
Sky News is reporting Shia riots in Basra. Read that and remind yourself to wait twelve hours before believing it.
Six days into the war and No War Blog is describing America's military operation as a failure. Another post is looking for an "iconic image" to rally the left around, which, although the scene is not described should show an Iraqi being brutalized by an American. Although there is the ceremonial demurrer, the sense one gets is of a group rooting for an American disaster so that they might enjoy the "I told you so moment."

A question for those who are waiting for the roof to fall in: do you for one moment belive that citizens of a liberated Iraq will not be incomparably more prosperous and secure than Iraqis have been for the last thirty years? Can you name one country that has not benefitted from being introduced to democracy and the rule of law by virtue of the Arsenal of Democracy? Were the Vietnamese better off as a result of the victory of the Communists? Were the Cambodians?

Or is all that beside the point?

I think what this attitude points to is simply, in the words of David Warren's essay, the "defeatist impulses from the 'sixties generation." Although the knee-jerk response is to point out that America can't do everything it wants, that mindset is all too often a self-fulfilling prophecy. But there is let's give credit where credit is due. The history of America offers more instances of hope fulfilled than dashed.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Jesus Gill at ibidem posts on the Al Jazeera display of the American pilots captured by the Iraqis. Gill is circulating the names of the pilots on the commendable rationale that it will be harder to vanish them if the world knows the Iraqis have them.
FYI

[Via Instapundit] The Agonist is providing "round the clock" war news.

The other side: And here is the No War Blog - which is a self-styled "left-right" blog against the Coalition's actions in Iraq. Always a good idea to keep an eye on the other side. This one, though, features faux-shock posts that "people are dying" and photos of the "real war." Apparently taking a powder on opposing Clinton's interventions in Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti caused a memory lapse.
Encouraging News

Providing an explanation for the lack of surrenders, and some hopeful indication of the opinion of the Iraqi man in the street, read this article in the NATIONAL POST. Here's an excerpt:

"Praise be to Allah," many of them shouted, relieved at being finally delivered from more than two decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny.
"I wasn't surprised at the reception we got," Sgt. Pares said.
"It is what I expected here. Whatever the world thinks of what we are doing, the Iraqi people view us as a force that is freeing them.
"I saw a lot of kids and I started to think of my own kids back at home. God Bless America for giving our children a chance. These kids were so thin. They sure didn't get their share of Iraq's oil money."


Welcome to the Free World courtesy of - to steal Anna's inimitable phrase - the Arsenal of Democracy.
The Command Post - A Warblog Collective is here.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Anna reports on a pro-liberation rally - cleaner and more respectful of others. Cool.

There is, though, in the middle of her post a brief allusion to former Rep. Dornan's apparently grisly description of Iraqi conduct and why "only the female POW wasn't wearing boots." That's all Anna says. Nothing further, but you can't imagine the cold chill I'm feeling right now. I hadn't attributed anything significant to that bit of information, which has been thrown out with offhand casualness and has not been the source of any exegesis from any news source I've read or heard.

Until now.

Now I get it.

And the Iraqis made sure to film her naked feet, to show that her boots had been removed.

I am sure our troops will continue to conduct themselves per the Geneva Convention. But afterwards there has to be an accounting with those responsible, those animals.
Penner, check this out

Canadian Friends of America
Interesting. relapsed catholic takes a different approach to fisking the naif who learned, by golly, that police states with terror apparatus are not universally loved by the recipients of their tender mercies. The interesting thing is that there is nothing in the fisk that I didn't utter sotto voce when I read the article the first time.
Other News

Hooray for Captain Spaulding has several posts on Michael Moore's Oscar for Bowling for Columbine. Following the posts takes you to this debunking of Moore's film, which should never have won in the category of documentary since it is largely fictitious. Among other things, Moore compiled sentences to ascribe to people - real people like Charlton Heston, not fictional characters - by splicing together snippets of different comments to make up one sentence. Fascinating. Incidentally, note how quickly the author, James Berardinelli, ran up the post.
Fox is reporting that the Pentagon has confirmed the capture of a huge chemical weapons factory south of Baghdad.
Read The Angry Clam for his perspective relative to Rep. Rangel and the meaning of every American casualty.
A chemical weapons factory is reported to have been captured.
Hey, Penner, is it worthwhile to stay Canadian just to avoid jury duty

Read this post. [Nonetheless, God Bless the Canadians.]
ibidem has a description of the Al Jezeera tape showing the American prisoners. This isn't going to deter our troops.
Useful Information

The OmbudsGod has a list of the sites that are most frequently updating war news. [TOG's permalink is glitching - it seems to permalink to the next post below. I will update this post when he adds a few new posts.]
Fog of War

The Command Post is running continuous, comprehensive war coverage. Scrolling through the posts on the American POWs, it appears that 11 support troops took a wrong turn on a repair order. Which answers the question of how mechanics, including one female, ended up in a battle zone. There is also read-between-the-lines reports that some of the soldiers were executed. Hopefully, this is overreporting. Fox has not mentioned this angle; it seems to be obsessing on the public nature of the interrogation, which seems to quite typical for enemies of the United States.
More like Mary has a post on the purported Baghdad blogger. Very interesting.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Read and Bookmark this article

[Via The Corner] I was a naive fool to be a human

I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad - a taxi driver taking me back to my hotel late at night. I explained that I was American and said, as we shields always did, "Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good". He looked at me with an expression of incredulity.
As he realised I was serious, he slowed down and started to speak in broken English about the evils of Saddam's regime. Until then I had only heard the President spoken of with respect, but now this guy was telling me how all of Iraq's oil money went into Saddam's pocket and that if you opposed him politically he would kill your whole family.
It scared the hell out of me. First I was thinking that maybe it was the secret police trying to trick me but later I got the impression that he wanted me to help him escape. I felt so bad. I told him: "Listen, I am just a schmuck from the United States, I am not with the UN, I'm not with the CIA - I just can't help you."
Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. Someone had explained it to me face to face. I told a few journalists who I knew. They said that this sort of thing often happened - spontaneous, emotional, and secretive outbursts imploring visitors to free them from Saddam's tyrannical Iraq.


I took Russian back in college. It was always fascinating to find out that the harshest critics of communism were teachers of Russian. You'd have expected them to be in love with the culture and the people, and therefore would be defensive of communism, but, no, they'd actually seen what communism in action. Looks like a similar learning curve for the "human shields."
My Canadian partner has been saying this all week. Particularly, after one of his relatives openly wondered what all the fuss was about since "after all, only three thousand people were killed on September 11."
Anxiety

With the usual aplomb and style The Raven rounds up the observations of the gauche-blog community. The general theme is depression and anxiety. People are concerned about "waking up for the first time in an aggressor nation," having a president who is a psychopath or a dry-drunk, etc. I received an e-mail from a friend who is teaching in the United Arab Emirates expressing similar anxieties.

Being someone who is always willing to help out the suffering, let me offer this perspective: relax. Things are going to get much better shortly. The history of the Twentieth Century proves that people want to be on the side of the winners. Countries went fascist during the '30s, when it looked like the fascists had the answers. When the weak and confused democracies "bitch-slapped" the fascist world, numerous countries went democratic. Under the weak and vacillating Jimmy Carter, nations decided to join the winds of historical inevitability by joining the Comintern. After 1989 put paid to the communist delusion, we welcomed a fresh influx of democratic nations. Nothing succeeds like success and nobody wants to be on the losing side.

Even so with the Arabs. Remember that forty years ago the Baathists were the future. Twelve years ago, Saddam bestrode the Arab world like a colossus. Now, he has been bitch-slapped twice. Expect regimes to be lining up to be on the winning side. Expect Arab liberals to be encouraged, thereby beginning a shift in the center of gravity from the "man in the street" who has been fed noxious lies about the western world. Expect the situation of the Palestinians to improve as Arab regimes begin to understand that they can no longer distract their populace with slanders against the Jews.

Stop worrying about America as an aggressor nation. This is Gulf War I, round 2. We went to war to evict Saddam from Kuwait. We agreed to a cease-fire on certain terms. Saddam violated the terms of the cease-fire - and we will see how much of a violation there was in the next weeks - and we acted acccordingly. As one professor of International Law noted on NPR, Resolution 1441 was a side-show; we had authority from the original cease fire.

Finally, go to Bill Cork's site and read what the Iraqi are saying to liberating forces.

Then, start feeling good about yourself and your fellow citizens and your country.
Home Front - A Reflection on Just War Theory

[via Volokh Conspiracy] William Saletan at Slate writes:

If you're an anti-war protester or politician, this theory of warfare should change the way you think and act. Your efforts to generate resistance to the war before there is any evidence of killing, much less atrocities, contribute to the political strength of the enemy regime. You encourage uncertainty about the war's outcome, increasing the likelihood that the regime's soldiers will fight and die. You make it more difficult to separate the regime from its people. You frustrate the tipping and bring on the crushing.
If you want to minimize the killing, stop resisting the war. Instead, do what you can to make the war transparent and to hold your government accountable for unnecessary deaths. Help the media and human rights organizations monitor the battlefield. Help them get reports and pictures to the people of your country and the world. Build an incentive system that will strengthen your government's will to spare lives. Its ability will do the rest.


Good advice. Actually, that has been the point of the anti-pro-Saddam folk for months. The French and American demonstrators have increased the likelihood of war, increased the likelihood of American and Iraqi deaths and decreased the possibility of a peaceful, diplomatic solution to Saddam’s non-compliance with UN mandates, to which the United States was a “third party beneficiary” since its accession to a cease-fire in 1991 was conditioned on those resolutions. History teaches repeatedly that dictators view the West as weak and divided. The Oxford Union resolution that those students should not fight for their country was cited by Hitler as support for his gambles in the Sudetenland. Is there any reason to believe that Saddam wouldn’t likewise cling to the demonstrations and France’s self-interested obstructionism as a basis for his refusal to accept the option of exile?

Which raises the question, why doesn’t Just War Theory apply to those who would create civil disturbances in the name of peace? How would they fare if it did? Cribbing the elements from Mark Byron here’s how it might look:

Is this a Just Cause? My initial reaction is affirmative. Peace is generally just. On further thought, though, I have to wonder. Peace is not summa bonum. As St. Augustine observed, even robber bands desire peace so as to plunder others. Peace is not a good without justice. I am willing to give the demonstrators a slight nod on this element, but it is nowhere as clear as they might believe.

Is there a competent authority? It’s tough to apply this one to a dissident faction. Doesn’t democracy and the current fashion of sanctifying “dissent” qua dissent serve as sufficient authority for opposition to war. Perhaps, but we’re looking at this from a moral standpoint. In a democracy, there is a moral duty to give due weight to the judgment of those who represent the majority. Since the dissent’s duty is to convince the majority to join the dissent, I don’t think that individual conscience can legitimately satisfy the element of “competent authority.” Further, the purpose of this element is to make sure that conflict is prosecuted by those in authority so that the conflict can be controlled and limited. Perhaps the focus here needs to be on whether there is some “competent authority” who can control the excesses of the war. Here, then, we would look to established authorities - religious leaders or public officials - and we find Stalinist front groups. That’s more than McCarthyite smearing. Do we expect the Stalinists to serve the function of channeling dissent into forms which respect the legitimate rights of other citizens? This element may incline negative.

Is there the right intention? Surprisingly, this one is not that clear either. If the intent is to promote peace, then the answer is yes. But what if the intent is to oppose Bush or capitalism? The canard that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is not a moral proposition. This one is unproven.

Is war the last resort? I would rephrase this as “is direct, lawless action the last resort?” In a democracy, the answer ought to be a presumptive “no.” In the present case where there is substantial representation of the interests of the demonstrators, the answer is clearly “no.”

Is there relative justice? America v. Baathist Iran. An administration that was elected by rules that were agreed upon before the election (and God bless the electoral college) v. reactionaries who refuse to accept the outcome of any process they don’t win. Opposition to a regime that commits atrocities or implicit support for that regime. The answer should be clear.

Is there proportionality? Heck, I don’t know; it's only irrelevant protest. Actually, when you consider the social effect as indicated by The Volokh Conspiracy the San Francisco demonstrators have imposed a real world liability on the people of the state of California. There is also the more intangible violence done to a system which requires that citizens trust their fellow citizens to respect the system and to accept judgments that go against them. Intemperate language and actions may not be proportional

Is there a reasonable hope of success? None whatsoever. The results, in fact, will be to the contrary. Even ultra-gauchist Eric Alterman was forced to admit that the Vietnam protests solidified support for the war.

Thus, although the demonstrators like to assume a higher moral ground - and are often conceded that territory - it is not clear that their position - when coupled with disproportionate language or behavior- meets a test for judging the morality of war and peace. Saletan’s advice, therefore, looks like a counsel of both prudence and morality.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Entire Division of Iraqi Army Surrenders (washingtonpost.com) An entire division of the Iraqi army, numbering 8,000 soldiers, surrendered to coalition forces in southern Iraq Friday, Pentagon officials said.
Iraq's 51st Infantry Division surrendered as coalition forces advanced toward Basra, Iraq's second largest city. The mechanized division had about 200 tanks before the war, according to independent analysts and U.S. officials.
The 51st was one of the better equipped and trained in Iraq's regular army forces and was the key division protecting Basra, a major transportation and oil shipment hub on the Shatt al-Arab waterway that leads to the Persian Gulf.
Kevin Sites Blog
Anna blogs on "Opeation Lee Greenwood." Right on.
The Commander of the 51st Iraqi Division has surrendered.
Fog of War

Kyle Still Free Press links to two articles - one of which reports that that was Saddam on the tape and the other claims an eyewitness saw Saddam on a gurney after Thursday's decapitation strike.
Bill Cork shares this autobiographical detail:

Having been a chaplain with an armor battalion, I have lots of color commentary of my own to provide to the small audience in the living room. But my 13-year-old son keeps saying, "Sshhh!"


Well lay it on us, Bill. That kind of experience has to make the whole thing more understandable than what we get on the tube.

I was second-chairing a federal jury trial back in January of 1991 on the day the airwar in Gulf War 1 started. I remember going through the line of idiots with their candles in front of the federal building. It's almost laughable to think of the non-existent security that was in place back then. Our clients were Burt Rutan and his company Scaled Composites and the case involved the development and testing of ultralight aircrafts per Milspec 86391. Having the commentary of former Vietnam fighter pilot Dick Rutan was way more informative than CNN.
$26 Billion is probably starting to look pretty good

According to this MSNBC article

POWELL CHIDES TURKS
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell chided Turkey for delaying the opening of its airspace to U.S. warplanes.
The Turkish government is demanding that the United States agree to let it move troops into northern Iraq in return for using its airspace.
But Powell said, “We don’t see any need for any Turkish incursions into northern Iraq.”
Is Culture Destiny?

USS Clueless has a typically insightful essay on the achilles heal of the Irqi military, its tight command and control structure. Penner gave me the article that Den Beste cites - de Atkine | Why Arabs Lose Wars - which may have been a prescient forecast of GW, 2d ed. Here's a den Beste observation based on de Atkine which is mind-blowing:

What the Arabs do is to pull authority up as far as possible. As he points out, American trainers working with the Arabs concluded that a Sergeant First Class in the US Army has as much authority as a Colonel in an Arab army.
Decisions are highly centralized, made at a very high level and rarely delegated. Rarely does an officer make a critical decision on his own; instead, he prefers the safe course of being identified as industrious, intelligent, loyal — and compliant. Bringing attention to oneself as an innovator or someone prone to making unilateral decisions is a recipe for trouble. As in civilian life, conforming is the overwhelming societal norm; the nail that stands up gets hammered down. Decisions are made and delivered from on high, with very little lateral communication. Orders and information flow from top to bottom; they are not to be reinterpreted, amended, or modified in any way.
AndrewSullivan cites James Lileks on NPRs obvious bias - playing funereal dirges during its war reports, sneering at the American "failure" to extirpate Saddam, future "failures" emanating from that "failure," etc. This is one of those "reality check" moments. Coming into work, I thought it was odd to hear so much of NPRs war coverage consist of man on the streets interviews with anti-American Arabs. I also learned quite alot about the Egyptian riots and the response of the Egyptian police. Didn't hear anything about pro-American attitudes in Iran or southern Iraq, though. Had to get that from Fox News.
Fog of War

DRUDGE REPORT 2003® feeds the rumour that Saddam was "neutralized" the first night.
The NPR host sounded dissappointed last night when the professor of international law it had as a guest gave her opinion that Bush had clear legal authority under international law to invade Iraq under the original resolution - 1441 was a "sideshow." I've been looking for the transcript, which I haven't found. The interview was striking because of the professor's matter of fact statement that the Gulf War, Round 2, is obviously authorized under the original cease-fire resolution. Here is an article noting that Bush invoked the UN Charter in his explanation for military action.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Country Store has a fairly eclectic approach to war-blogging. Check it out.
USS Clueless has good advice about the fog of war. Nonetheless, I want my rumours.
Martial Theology

Bill Cork posts the response of Archbishop O'Brien, who, incidentally, heads the diocese where I was baptized - the Archdiocese for the Military Service (which I learned when I spent a day working my way through the layers of military bureaucracy, trying to get my baptismal certificate so that I could get married. Eventually, I ended up speaking with someone who said he was something like the "secretary of defense", albeit maybe he was only a secretary to someone who worked in the Pentagon. Very confusing, although that person put me onto some church in Virginia where the records were kept.)

Archbishop O'Brien summarily rejects Bishop Botean's letter.

By the way, has there ever been a prior occasion when the Roman Catholic church, or an individual bishop, has issued a declaration like that of Bishop Botean's? For example, I don't know that any such pronouncement was issued against the Wermacht during World War II, and I doubt that there would have been. My rough historical sense is that since at least the Middle Ages the Church has refused to take sides in wars. [I can think of the Albigensian Crusade and William's invasion of England as two noteworthy counter-example, but they were a long time ago. Maybe something was done against Garibaldi?]

If I'm wrong, educate me.
Fresh Speculation

Uday was in the bunker. Also, according to Rush Limbaugh, Tariq Aziz may have led American Special Forces to the bunker after he made his obligatory public appearance to prove that he had not defected.
Home Front

AP State Wire News reports, under the headline "Protesters being arrested in downtown San Francisco":

San Francisco police have begun arresting anti-war protesters blocking intersections all over the downtown area.
A group of fifty demonstrators sitting in the middle of the intersection of Market and Beale was ringed by police in riot gear. They've begun arresting those who refused to clear the street.
At Mission and Fifth, at least 20 people were arrested as up to 100 demonstrators stood on the sidewalk with protest signs.
Protesters tried to block traffic exiting Highway 101 at the Ninth Street exit -but authorities reopened it. The protestors stopped motorists using bedposts, then tried to pass petitions to drivers and waved signs reading, "Free the oil."
Van Ness Avenue near City Hall has also been targeted and a number of intersections on Van Ness have been closed.
Public transportation is snarled all over the downtown area.


The other part of being a citizen in a democracy is accepting the decisions of the polity once the debate is over. Just as the majority must recognize the right of dissenters to dissent, the dissenters must accept the right of the majority to implement its policies.
Sour Grapes on the Home Front

Or why we respect the media. The Fresno Bee sententiously lectures:

Launching a preventive war marks a radical departure both from our own traditions and the norms of international life. And the way it was launched -- after ham-handed diplomacy, blustering threats to friends and with contempt for some of the nation's oldest and most important allies -- may also mark the end of an international system that has served America well.
Whether the new world order Bush is striving to build by his will and the force of American arms turns out to be safer, more peaceful and more just than the one he has thrown aside is anyone's guess.


Funny, I would have thought launching missiles into countries against whom there were no United Nation resolutions would have been more "unprecedented" and more of a departure from doctrine in the direction of "preemptive war." In which case the present military action is not "unprecedented," except insofar as it is a Republican administration that is prosecuting the military action. The rest of the piece about "ham handed diplomacy" and "contempt for some of the nation's oldest and most important allies" is perplexing. Is the Bee referring to Russia? We were in a Cold War with them until 1989. Perhaps, it means Germany? Nope, at war with them until 1945. France? Naw, they were supporting the Germans until late 1944.

My guess is that the Bee is referring to Britain.
The Ornery American has an eclectic reconstruction of one of the world's oldest institutions.
Home Front

The OmbudsGod offers his take on David Frum's follow-up to his essay on the paleo-con v. neo-con debate. Specifically, the odd penchant that the paleos have for Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy. At the risk of drawing fire, let me offer this observation to the pro-Confederacy romantics: you lost. Get over it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

James Lileks pens a tribute to America's fighting men and women.
Jay Manifold has a useful link to sites providing Iraqi weather and other data.
The Fresno Bee has looked at the current situation and warns against the true threat to liberty - nativist Americans who may react against people with French accents or people who dress in middle-eastern attire. Fresno is, of course, a terrifying place to be if you're a Francophone and the quietly gathering masses of Fresnans who are planning pogroms against the Arab ghetto huddled on the shores of the San Joaquin is a frightening propsect.

The old Walt Kelly aphorism that "we have met the enemy and he is us" was probably cute the first one million times it was used. Now it's just tired. Despite the fact that it sounds superficially cynical, and therefore insightful, It doesn't really pass for critical thought. Further, who is this "us" that the phrase speaks of. Clearly the Bee isn't worried about itself - journalists are hardly about to administer a sound ass-whupping on the nearest convenient francophone. To the contrary, the Bee is warning us about, well, us, i.e., the unwashed masses who might act out of "fear" or "rage." You know, the "angry white males." [And, perhaps, a few bellicose females with a desire to open a can of whup-ass the next time they hear someone in a beret "parlez vous."]

Let's take a time out on this whole paranoia about Americans, shall we? This country has performed its penance for its past sins of chauvinism - a word the French coined and, incidentally, to this day exemplify. The universal restraint of Americans since 9/11/01 has proven that Americans have internalized the virtue of tolerance and social peace. However, our soldiers are in the right to place at the right time to deliver the lautes signal and die Welt that "you are never going to fuck with America like that again."

Can we now focus on the real issues instead of fictitious storylines designed to make the average American look like a potential stormtrooper?


Lautes Signal and die Welt

[Via Instapundit (of course).] Check out this Der Spiegel article and headline -Schlachtreden vor der Invasion: "You can't fuck with America." Here's the "money graf:"

"Lautes Signal an die Welt"
So habe Oberst David Perkins von der dritten Infanteriedivision in einer Motivationsrede am Dienstag gesagt: "Unser Land wird nie im Frieden leben, solange wir nicht die Bedrohung durch einen neuen Weltfeind ausradieren: den internationalen Terrorismus". Terroristen wie Osama Bin Laden seien von Staaten wie dem Irak abhängig, die sie unterstützen.
Auch Captain Ronnie Johnson, Chef eines anderen Bataillons, habe einen Bezug zwischen dem Irak-Krieg und dem 11. September hergestellt, wenn auch in weniger höflicher Sprache. Sein Aufruf laut "Washington Post": "This is going to be the biggest statement to the world that you are never going to fuck with America like that again".
(Sinngemäß übersetzt: "Das hier wird das deutlichste Signal an die Welt: So wird sich Amerika nie wieder verarschen lassen".)


Damn skippy, Captain Johnson. Do it to it.

Don't you think the Europeans kind of envy that "cowboy attitude?"
The Enemy of my Enemy

They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country.
War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen — and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.


David Frum has a great essay on the recent history of conservativism with particular emphasis on the neocon - paleocon split. I have mentioned a couple of time my recollections about the issues that sent Pat Buchanan and Joseph Sobran Na Kamchatka. Frankly, the anti-American tone of these paleos has been disturbing for years and was one reason that Buchanan and Sobran forfeited any credibility that I had previously granted to them.

Note, though, that being an anti-American conservative is a lot like being an American-bashing Country-Western singer. That dog won't hunt. You lose your voice in the discussion in a heartbeat.

The same rules clearly don't apply to the other end of the political spectrum. We all remember the anti-war protests when Clinton bombed Serbia and took the unprecedented step of unilaterally firing cruise missiles into countries that we were not at war with. Remember the savvy op-ed pieces about the slippery slope that would be created by an American policy that had the hubris of declaring that it could target factories in countries with which we had no declarations of hostility against? Remember the concerned inquiries about what would happen if other countries modified the Clinton policy in order to launch missile attacks at American factories or summer camps based upon their suspicions that those sites were supporting hostile groups? Remember the Republican leaders who castigated Clinton for his "failure of diplomacy?"

I don't either. I also don't remember the leftist anti-war protestors on the streets either, which is solid evidence that, like the paleos, the left's opposition is to the president, not the military action.

Update: Pat Buchanan may be working on his redemption.

Variations on a Theme: The Ever Changing Selection offers his take on the Frum essay. I frankly hadn't realized the extent of the Anglo-Protestant irredentism of the paleocons. To me, conservativism had always had a distinct RC edge; an impression fostered by my discovery of National Review in high school, at which time I was also reading Mother Jones and the Progressive. [ As a military brat, I come by my conservativism honestly, but it was nice to find a cultural fit with National Review. The neocon label is also honest since I started reading Irving Kristol and Commentary also in high school.]

Mark Byron offers his demurrer to David D's observations - the paleos are not racist, just ethnocentric. Like I said, Anglo-Protestant irredentists. Not that there's anything wrong that per se - I think Marshall Chauvin got a bad rap - but because of unfair historical propoganda, conservatives simply have to avoid anything that suggests racial insensitivity. Making arguments that the Confederacy was a lost opportunity doesn't get you there. Further, the language of the paleos can sound alarms, even in people of good will. It was Buchanan's rhetoric suggesting that he harbored anti-semitic tendencies, rather than his actual policy suggestions, that landed him beyond the Pale.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Thinking About War

My Mennonite partner dropped a copy of Romanian Catholic Bishop Botean's pronouncement on the war with Iraq on me. I was not as conversant with the issues raised as I would have liked to have been. I confess I hadn't even known that there was a Romanian rite within the Catholic church.

I think that Bishop Botean makes some fair theological points concerning morality. For example, the fact that the state makes something legal or illegal doesn't make the thing moral. Nonetheless, I also think that Bishop Botean is substantially off the mark in his letter. The Bishop's analysis ignores the prudential judgments and circumstantial details must be addressed in any discussion of the morality of war and peace. I don't think that there is any precedent in the Catholic tradition for arguing that war is evil per se, either as an end or as a means to an end. The Catholic tradition has never been paficistic, as the Mennonite tradition, for example, has been. Whether any particular military action is evil depends on the facts and circumstances in which the war is initiated or maintained. Bishop Botean's decision to ignore the particular facts and circumstances of the current situation weaken the teaching authority of his letter.

One important factor in discussing the morality of the present conflict must be the ineluctable fact that America - and Britain, for that matter - are democracies. Democracies are more transparent in their objectives and are inherently responsive to public interest. Further, according to classical republican theory democracies "breed" people who are more civic and therefore more moral. A trust in the judgment of people who are selected by their fellow citizens should have some bearing on the basic questions that inform an assessment of whether a given war is moral or just. Hatred of President Bush notwithstaninding, democracies don't foster a culture or mentality that seeks aggrandizement through military action. The history of American involvement in military actions supports the proposition that democracy does justify the hopes of its earliest theorists that democratic polities would not be aggressive or venal. To paraphrase Colin Powell, in the last 100 years, American military actions have not expanded the geographic territory of America, except as to the cemetaries where its soldiers have been buried in defending the liberties considered essential in the western tradition.

For a more subtle reflection on Bishop Botean's letter, please go to Bill Cork's blog, which has a comprehensive discussion of the Bishop's letter.

Update: Also check out Mark Byron's deconstruction of Bishop Botean's letter. Mr. Byron confirms my intuition that the Christian tradition really isn't pacifist with some pertinent passages from the Bible.
Strangely revealing quote of the day.

Now that war is imminent, and Hans Blix can retire to his study to ponder his good works, Reuters has an article reporting on Blix's prognostication about the Second Gulf War. Blix observes:

"So there is a fair amount of skepticism about armed action," Blix said. "That skepticism would turn immediately around, if they used chemical weapons or biological weapons," he said. My guess is they would not."


His guess? His guess?!? What does he mean by "guess?" Wasn't Blix and his crew traipsing around Iraq looking for this stuff? When they didn't find any, didn't Blix reassure the world community that Iraq was coming into compliance and showing a more cooperative attitude? You mean Blix thinks that Saddam actually has chemical weapons and he "guesses" they won't be used - i.e., that Blix actually believes that Saddam was in violation of Resolution 1441?

The U.N. - Fight the Future.
Alterman Watch

Happy Fun Pundit opines that Eric Alterman's performance on the Daily Show was "nuts." Apparently, Alterman has been reinforcing a view that he is a goofy snob to an increasingly larger audience.
The Raven brings some classical knowledge to bear on the current moment. [Scroll to second post.]
Jane Galt drops one on a subject that I haven't been able to isolate - the current fashion of American celebrities who bad-mouth America before foreign audiences:

One could argue that the fan response is a tempest in a teapot -- but they're not arguing that. With good reason, because the Dixie Chicks didn't just say they were against the war. They declared in front of a foreign audience that they were ashamed that the President came from the same state they were. It was less a statement of conscience than unseemly pandering for cheap popularity by hurling, at the president of their country, the kind of schoolgirl sarcasm that one is supposed to have left behind by the time one is old enough to play in front of a foreign audience. It's hard to fault their fans if they decline to encourage that sort of performance. So instead they're arguing that it's somehow wrong of you to actually express your dislike of what the Dixie Chicks did by voting with your wallet.



Seven out of ten support Bush on Iraq.

Check out this article from the Washington Post.
What happened to the Left - Part 3

Plotting sabotage according to FrontPage magazine.
Ipse Dixit has a link to a very clever site providing a "periodic table of Haiku."

Monday, March 17, 2003

In every lawyer's life there comes that amazing moment when you turn to your client and say "Oh, my God, you were telling the truth."

I actually have a wage and hour case on behalf of three Wal-Mart workers where they say that they were locked in during inventory -when they were working off the clock. Either they're confusing themselves with this Wal-Mart in Virginia or there is a whole lot of cost savings going on. As the article notes:

But the demands of maintaining La Plata's impressive numbers do not always foster concord between management and employees. Five associates I spoke with harbor bitter feelings over last year's inventory preparation, during which they claim management locked employees in the store and threatened to fire anyone who tried to leave before the work was done.
"They came out over the intercom, and said, 'If you go home, you're fired,' right in front of the customers," an associate alleges.
"It was scary," another says. "It was really something."
Not so, claims Jon Lehman, who worked at Wal-Mart for 17 years, some of them as a manager, and now works for the D.C.-based United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which is trying to organize union representation at Wal-Mart.
"Really, [lock-ins are] the understood way, the understood method for doing inventory," Lehman says. "You have to keep the workers there until the work is done."


I have been a big defender of free enterprise and big business, but the same rules have to apply to Mom and Pop stores and the behemoth from Bentonville.
Between Heaven and Hell... asks an interesting question about the separation of Church and State. Is the depiction of Minerva on the Great Seal of California unconstitutional? My guess is that it is entirely constitutional because of the secular connotations of that Greek religious icon.
Saddam and the connection to terror.

Rush Limbaugh has satellite photographs purporting to show the fuselage of a plain used to train terrorists how to hijack planes. Defectors have reported on the facility and its use. The Limbaugh photos show, by golly, a plane fuselage.

Looks like solid evidence to me.
What's with the Left? - Part 2

Little Green Footballs has a picture of the Rachel Corrie "teaching" Palestinian children how to burn the American flag. Corrie was the "human shield" recently killed during her "human shield" activities in Israel. A house fell on her, or something.

Nothing quite like reinforcing bigotry and hatred to bring peace on Earth. Or perhaps that wasn't her objective.

RIP

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Thinking about War

Mark Byron crystallizes the reasons for American action against Iraq.

One nice thing you see in Byron's pro bellum apology is its reflective tone. I think in this day and age any argument in favor of military action is going to require the exercise of prudential judgment. Since the militarists of the 1930's, no one in the Western World has held a brief for the virtues of war. That brief - now self-deconstructing - argued that war built strong characters capable of self-governement, while weeding out silly, selfish opinions. [See e.g., Rudyard Kipling, Lord Baden-Powell, Teddy Roosevelt and, for that matter, Robert A. Heinlein.] Those days are gone for at least the present. On the other hand, anti-war sentiment is cheap and easy. Also, childish and foolish - exactly as Kipling or Roosevelt believed. Fox had a man on the street segment from Paris where a middle-aged Parisian woman explained that she was against the war because "war never solved anything." The statement is so obviously wrong it doesn't need any further ventilation than the deconstruction that Heinlein gave it more than forty years ago. ["War never solved anything? Tell that to the Assyrians."] Yet, that is the kind of logic that passes for deep thought among the gauchistas.

There is an incipient cognitive dissonance at work in the media. One news segment can report that Saddam is destroying missiles and that Blix is commending Iraq for its cooperation with UN inspectors, yet the very next segment can report on the prospect of Scuds being launched at Israel from Western Iraq. In other words, both situations are presented as being equally likely - Saddam is destroying his WMDs and he has undestroyed WMDs. And no one comments on the inconsistency. One of the news stories is obviously an exercise in propoganda. It probably isn't the second story or the media would have said as much.

In a very real sense the uncertainty alone justifies military action. In other words, if there is a reasonable doubt that Saddam has WMDs, he's convicted.

We have yet to hear anyone in the anti-war left - or in France or Germany - take the position that they are certain beyond a reasonable doubt that Saddam has disarmed. The fact that they cannot, or will not, demonstrates the cravenness of their moral position.

All I need now is a catchy expression that will fit on a sign.

Update:

Country Store provides an answer.
Report from Paris on the San Joaquin

Anna reports on the true facts surrounding yesterdays "Ides of March" protest. Here's her summary:

And yes, I'm pleased to report at least one person brought a "Support Our Troops" sign. Considering that all these pacifists are defended by the Arsenal of Democracy, and because its brave men and women are on the eve of putting their lives in harm's way for us, I'm glad at least one couple was thinking of them today.

God bless you two (and the guy who protested while respecting his flag). The rest of the crowd: they're selfish, petty and vain. And it really shows.


Check out her fisking - with pictures - of the protest.

As for California's version of the Bible Belt, I'm sorry to say that today was our turn to have the best and the brightest stand by the road and scream at passerbys. I was taking the Widget, the Wadget and Boff to Barnes and Nobles to get some coloring books, and we got to go between a couple dozen of these chowderheads with their "No war for oil" signs.

It looked like so much fun that I hollered "Free Iraq" as I was passing by.

It also gave me a chance to explain to my 10 year old that there are bad people in the world and that they won't go away by pretending they aren't there. Got to thank these logic-impaired hysterics for the teaching moment, which should create a few more Republican voters in twenty years.

Friday, March 14, 2003

The Blog from the Core lays out my understanding of the role that the magisterium plays with respect to the impending Iraq conflict. Lane's essay is personally timely inasmuch as the same issue came up after my Communio group on Thursday. It was framed by a woman who had attended a meeting where 49 Catholic women ordanined themselves a priests and wanted to know why those women couldn't ignore the magisterium on the issue of female ordination but I could ignore the Pope on Iraq. My response was consistent with Lane's; the Church - any church - has unimpeded discretion to decide its own internal rules of organization, but in a Democracy, the compromise the Catholic church has made with society is that the Church will not interfere in political matters. The first thing I was taught was that the "Pope is infallible only on issues of morality and theology." Although there are cases where a war would be immoral - think of the Russian invasion of Poland or Finland, for example - the Iraq conflict is certainly within a sufficiently morally ambiguous area that deference to political authorities is morally acceptable.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I know what I'll be doing Monday.
Well, it's official, Bringin' Down the House will not reignite Steve Martin's film career.
Hollywood: A land where actions are not supposed to have consequences

Sean Penn is accusing writer/producer, and substantial DNC supporter, of McCarthyism:

“Borrowing a page from the dark era of Hollywood blacklisting, multi-millionaire real estate heir, major political donor and aspiring motion picture producer Steve Bing and his company have reneged on a contract with Sean Penn to render acting services in the motion picture Why Men Shouldn’t Marry because of Penn’s televised exercise of free speech rights on the January 11, 2003 broadcast of Larry King Weekend,” said Penn’s suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.


Bing's response:

“This dispute arises from an extraordinary extortion attempt by an irrational and irresponsible actor, Sean Penn, to try to force Steve Bing and Shangri-La Entertainment LLC to pay Penn $10 Million Dollars (sic) in extortion money even though Penn and his representatives know that he had no legal right to payment because no agreement was ever reached for Penn to appear in the motion picture Why Men Shouldn’t Marry,” said Bing’s suit filed in the Santa Monica branch of Los Angeles Superior Court.


It's kind of hard to pick a favorite in this one - Bing denies any attempt to stifle Penn; in fact, Bing claims he encouraged Penn to speak his mind. On the other hand, assuming Penn's allegations are true, there's something ironic about the "second largest contributor to the Democratic National Committee" being labeled a "McCarthyite." Also, there is something heartening in the prospect that Americans can't pose as being above American interests without experiencing some consequences.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Rich Galen has a good column, which contains these paragraphs:

It was just a matter of time until someone said this out loud, so it was not a surprise from that standpoint. However, Democratic Congressman James Moran's comments the other day about Iraq and American Jews was still jarring.

At "an anti-war forum" in an Episcopal Church in Northern Virginia, according to the Washington Post, Moran said:
"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this ... The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."


When Buchanan made similar comments during the last Iraqi conflict, he was delisted by William F. Buckley, Jr. At least Buchanan wasn't a hypocrite as Moran appears to be:

One would have expected, in the 21st Century, that a politician with the experience of James Moran who has been in public office for 24 years - the last 12 as a Member of Congress. He said, in his own defense, "Nobody could berate me more than I do when I see my words in print compared to what I intended to say," which is Moran-speak for "If I had known it was going to end up in the Washington Post I never would have said it."

But that's the kind of man James Moran is.


And, thanks to the power of the internet Moran's thoughts are now getting a broader dissemination than he ever dreamed.

Read the rest of Galen's column for an inspirational contrast about the "kind of man Colin Powell is."

Monday, March 10, 2003

One of my rule of thumbs is that I know I am dealing with a person who has difficulty in discriminating the real world from fantasy when that person starts to defend slavery. You see this with pro-Confederacy romantics who paradoxically argue that (a) Southern slavery was really quite a rich and rewarding social network and (b) the ante-bellum South would have abolished slavery without the Civil War.

Another test case of that profound insight is provided by Relapsed Catholic who provides a link to this article - Federal Museum Denies Slavery in Africa Was 'Dehumanizing.'

Check this out:

The Smithsonian's African American history museum in Washington, D.C., states that while instances of slavery can be found throughout human history, the practice of slavery did not become "dehumanizing" until white Europeans came along and took slaves to the Americas.

The museum's West Africa exhibit, which opened Feb. 3 and continues through the end of August, includes the following statement at the entrance of the exhibit.

"Slavery had existed in Africa as it had in other parts of the world, for centuries, but it was not based on race and it did not result in dehumanization and death, as did transatlantic slavery," the exhibit's statement declares.


Sounding incredibly like a similar argument made by pro-Confederacy romantics is this observation:

According to Babou, many African slaves were treated like family members.

"A domestic slave, a slave that was pretty much incorporated into family, was like an adopted child in the family. They were not a commodity, they were not dehumanized," Babou explained.


Presumably, slave quarries and slave gallies in Africa were also not "dehumanizing." Obviously, this museum is telling a fantasy story, not teaching history.



The Brothers Judd Blog has two posts on the morbid subject of torture, which oddly seems to be a subject attracting some attention recently. This one spotlights Pat Buchanan's typically nuanced view that torture is morally licit because of the good it can bring. The other one is neatly entitled A merciful God will not lead us into temptation makes the point that the torture debate is misguided because torture is useless from an intelligence standpoint.

For what its worth, Buchanan's argument shows that his hold on Catholic moral tradition is weak. "One may never do evil so that good may result." [Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 1789.] Going back to at least Aquinas, Catholic moral theory has thoroughly rejected utilitarianism, albeit also furnishing all kinds of useful reservations on the basic principle. [Cf. "Principle of the double effect."] Now this is not to say that under the right circumstances - nuclear weapon in Los Angeles with thirty minutes to go - the temptation to use all means to obtain information would not be overwhelming. Likewise this does mean that in those outre circumstances the temptation should not be indulged. Indulging the temptation would be morally wrong, but, hey, people commit worse sins every day for more trivial reasons. Fortunately, no one faces that temptation today because God is merciful and, pace Buchanan, torture is useless for extracting trustworthy information.



Spend your entertainment dollar wisely

Chrissy Hynde announces her support for an Islamofascist victory. (Probably, because under Islamofascist rule, female rock and roll singers would finally get more respect.)

On the other other hand, Charlie Daniels tells the Hollywood intelligentsia to get a clue.

[Both of these are from Hollywood Idiots -- Exposing Celebrity Idiots and Anti-Americans.]

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Mark Steyn had an interesting insight about the photographs of Khalid Sheik Mohammed:

The best evidence for this is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed himself. KSM is known in al-Qa’eda circles as ‘The Brain’, and his picture on the FBI ‘Most Wanted’ list shows a cold but dapper fellow with a trim beard — like the Westernised Arab academics who play the talkshow circuit or, indeed, an assistant choreographer on a Broadway revival. By contrast, the fellow seized in Rawalpindi is a wreck — haggard, bleary, unshaven, a loser who’s run out of everything except back hair. Asked to account for the stark difference in appearance, several experts pointed out that he’s a ‘master of disguise’. In that case, the master of disguise is doing a great job of convincingly passing himself off as a guy who’s been sleeping in a hedge for a month. The state of KSM provides a glimpse of the career options available to top al-Qa’eda honchos: either, like bin Laden, you go into deep cover as a few specks of DNA discreetly sprinkled in the rubble of Tora Bora, or, like ‘The Brain’, you’ve a choice between hunkering down in a ‘safe house’ or staying on the move, never knowing, even when you’re motoring through the emptiness of the Yemeni desert, if some unmanned CIA Predator will drop the big one on you.


Observations like that are precious. I had noticed the difference in appearance between KSM as the dapper intellectual and KSM as John Belushi's stand-in, but I didn't make a connection the idea that KSM's dishabile evidenced a guy who had not been getting regular rest and exercise.

Out of Action

Due to allergies compounding into bronchitis coupled with a hectic work schedule, I've been out of action here the last few days. The work-related contribution consisted of mediating my client's failure to accommodate case in Sacramento against the State of California. One interesting aspect of this road trip was shooting the breeze with different people who have connections to the Democrat party in Sacramento. One thing seems clear - Governor Davis is not well loved and a large portion of the attitude is the kind of personal style issues that never become public.

Thanks to the other part of my inactivity I can report that: The Ring is a fairly decent horror flick - not great, but watchable, although the logic of the movie is suspect; Simone is another watchable movie with plot problems. (Things don't seem to play out. The movie introduces a sleezy investigative reporter who does nothing to further plot points. Pacino's character is set up for murdering his VR actress, but the resolution seems strained and not connected by the set up.) ; Formula 51 was surprisingly good. Of course, I watched it with low expectations, which always helps. Formula 51is an American version of the British underworld movies that Guy Ritchie has been doing, with the added dimension of Samuel L. Jackson in a kilt doing his Jedi bit with a mashie. Be warned that Formula 51 has its share of violence and bad language, but, surprisingly for a movie whose central premise is Jackson's attempt to peddle a drug that is 51 times more powerful than cocaine, it has a very overt anti-drug message. (Jackson advises his Liverpool fixer mate to "just say no.") Formula 51 was an entertaining time killer.
So Cal Law Blog is doing blawging with a Southern California emphasis. Since we here at Lex Communis swing both ways - Fresno's chief selling point is that we are three hours away from both San Francisco and Los Angeles - I will be checking in periodically.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Peggy Noonan has an insightful essay on what the Democratic party needs. Short answer - stop being snobs and start caring about your fellow citizens as something more than counters in the political game. As she puts it, "you may mean to be helpful in the abstract, but you are not helpful in the particular."
Resegregation

Jay Nordlinger has a post on the existential silliness that bilingualism has fostered.

Here's my contribution. About three years ago I was the Community Service Director for North Fresno Rotary. One of our community service projects was to provide support for an elementary school in an impoverished neighborhood. The school's population was largely Hispanic with a smaller population of Hmong.

That Halloween I judged the school's Halloween costumes. I went from room to room. The Hispanic kids were really decked out in costumes. The Hmong kids clearly had no understanding of the traditions of Halloween. I did notice one thing as a I walked through the classes. It seemed that every class I went through was either entirely Hispanic or entirely Hmong. I thought that was strange with all of the emphasis on integration and busing when I was a kid. I asked the Principal, who was my tour guide. His answer was, obviously, ESL programs. The school was required to teach ESL in either Hmong or Spanish, and that resulted in the racial segregation I was seeing.

Welcome to the Brave New World of racial segregations. I simply hope that these kids are being permitted to say the Pledge of Allegiance in their segregated classrooms so that they might have some shared traditions which could possibly knit them into a common nation.
Bahrain Rocks. American ally and transforming itself into a functional democracy!

Monday, March 03, 2003

All you Communio folks, remember when last week when I said "the Catechism - if it's not in there, it's not anywhere." Remember two weeks ago and our discussion of whether Christ's atonement included the fallen angels and whether Satan could repent. Disputations has the answer and the citation to text.
So very typical of Saddam. If Iraq is attacked, Saddam will unleash his "non-existent" WMD inventory on ...the Kurds. Of course, this is in keeping with Saddam's earlier precedent of lobbing SCUDs at Israel to the North when the Alliance was coming from the South. Isn't it clear that we've got the moral and legal authority to disarm this dude?

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Anna has a great anecdote about Poland's technological expertise and it's role in the "Arsenal of Democracy" aka "AOD"(TM). The story I tell about the strange results one gets with planned economies I got out of Analog. Apparently, back in the early sixties, the USSR decided to go big into vacuum tube technology. By the 1980s they could do things with vacuum tubes that Americans could only dream about - build them better, smaller and more powerful.

Too bad they missed the boat on the silicon chip revolution. [Which proves, again, that Hayek was right.]
Jay Manifold is breaking a tradition by responding to the Friday Five (on a Sunday no less.) I think I'll join him because of the SF-geek angle:

1. What is your favorite type of literature to read?

Take a guess.

2. What is your favorite novel?

Jay has a good list, but I would have to add the now forgotten The Last Starship from Earth by John Boyd, which really should have received the 1968 Nebula and Hugo, but there were some other decent books that year. The book has it all - humor, intrigue and the fascinating look at what the world would have looked like if Christ had died by a crossbow bolt during the final assault on Rome.

3. Do you have a favorite poem? (Share it.)

M'Andrew's Hymn, by Rudyard Kipling. Here's the opening:

Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream,
An', taught by time, I tak' it so - exceptin' always Steam.
From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God -
Predestination in the stride o' yon connectin'-rod.
John Calvin might ha' forged the same - enorrmous, certain, slow -
Ay, wrought it in the furnace-flame - my "Institutio".
I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please;
I'll stand the middle watch up here - alone wi' God an' these
My engines, after ninety days o' race an' rack an' strain
Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin' home again.


That dude could turn a phrase.

4. What is one thing you've always wanted to read, or wish you had more time to read?

Someday, I will work my way through Thucydides, The Peloponesian Wars.

5. What are you currently reading?

John Searles, Rationality in Action (Jean Nicod Lectures); Norman Podhoretz, The Prophets: Who They Were, What They Are I knocked off Robert Sawyer's Hominids and The Neanderthal's Necklace byJuan Luis Arsuaga two weeks ago. The Neanderthal Necklace has some nice observations that tie into the Searles book. There are other books that I have scattered around, but those are the principle ones at this moment.
I saw Peter Woods talking about his book - Diversity: The Invention of a Concept - CSPAN. It looks interesting, particularly his point that the modern "diversity" industry in academia is a fraud which was extrapolated from dicta in Powell's concurring opinion in Bakke.
 
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