Saturday, March 22, 2003


This is a noteworthy essay published in the Christian Science Monitor, by an unnamed Iraqi expatriat who has an interesting word or two for the anti-war protestors:

It got me wondering: What if you antiwar protesters and politicians succeed in stopping a US-led war to change the regime in Baghdad? What then will you do?...Will you hear the cries of Iraqis executed in acid tanks in Baghdad? the Iraqi women raped in front of their husbands and fathers to extract confessions? Or of children tortured in front of their parents? Or of families billed for the bullets used to execute military "deserters" in front of their own homes?

No. I suspect that most of you will simply retire to your cappucino cafes to brainstorm the next hot topic to protest, and that you will simply forget about us Iraqis, once you succeed in discrediting President Bush.


Thanks to Twelve Unknowns blog for originally posting that essay.




The French government, which has not protested Iraqi rape, torture, murder, anthrax, VX, sarin, botulinum, unprovoked attacks on Kuwait, unprovoked attacks on Israel, unprovoked attacks on Iran, and the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds, has now found something to protest:

FIRST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE SECURES RUMAYLAH OIL FIELDS

Said Chirac:
"France has the right to criticize this war," Chirac told reporters, adding that Paris "would not accept" a resolution to "legitimize the military intervention (and) ... give the belligerents the powers to administer Iraq."

As U.S. troops crossed into Iraq, they were approached by Iraqi citizens, who had a different view of their liberation than Chirac:

"You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious. I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand. We came out of the grave."

Friday, March 21, 2003

Need a High? Drop Some Antacid

This is an actual patent application from some scientists at Novartis Corp., who explain how they've developed an antacid that also puts you to sleep. One of the potential ingredients? Marijuana.

Just say No-vartis.



If you're a fan of the Howard Stern show, here's a transcript of his lawsuit against the producers of "Are You Hot" that you might find interesting reading.

San Francisco protesters stage a 'vomit in'

(SFGate.com) In a unique form of opposition, some protesters at the Federal Building staged a "vomit in,'' by heaving on the sidewalks and plaza areas in the back and front of the building to show that the war in Iraq made them sick, according to a spokesman.

Here's more that will make them queasy:

Americans Express Strong Support for War

A new Gallup poll shows that three-quarters of all Americans approve of the decision to go to war, including 60% who approve strongly. Only one in five Americans disapprove -- 15% who feel strongly and 5% not strongly.

"It's The Economy, And You're Stupid"



Paul Krugman in the New York Times, searching for a credible news source to bolster an argument that President Bush has hurt the economy, quotes The Onion.
Essentially, the gist of his column today is that the Bush Administration has squandered the peace and prosperity he acquired when he took office. Krugman then asks the question:

Has everything gone wrong because of evildoers and external forces?

Yes and no.

President Bush inherited a recession when he took office. His administration guided us out of it. Those are the facts. But to the extent that the economy is still not as robust as we'd like it to be, the lion's share of that tab goes to the war on terror, the war on Iraq, and the consequences of September 11. Some of the tab is chalked up to a technology upgrade cycle that is taking longer than expected (and part of the reason for that is the technology shipped to market four years ago was good enough to last this long.)

In his column, Krugman tries to answer his own question:

In the case of the budget — and the economy and, yes, foreign policy — the answer is no. The world has turned out to be a tougher place than we thought a few years ago, but things didn't have to be nearly this bad.

Krugman's argument is that the Bush tax cuts so de-stabilized the fiscal balance in this country, and made us vulnerable to future Social Security and Medicare costs, that the budget has "been lost."

Or, put another way, "The World would be a better place if only we had to pay higher taxes, and we could get the French to like us - to really, really like us."

Now that it's becoming clearer by the hour that Allied forces will topple the Iraqi government in days, not weeks, and that Al Qaeda - though still dangerous - is nearly a total shambles, look for a return to the 1992 playbook chant: "It's the economy, stupid." Only this time, when this President Bush says "read my lips," he'll have every right to mouth much different words than his father.





Thursday, March 20, 2003

Meanwhile, Back On the Sick Farm



The Center for Disease Control says 13 people in the U.S. are now suspected to have the mystery pneumonia that, apparently, originated in Singapore or Maylaysia earlier this month. The cases stretch, essentially, from coast to coast and border to border.

This from the FAQ on the Center's Web site:

What are the symptoms and signs of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the main symptoms and signs of SARS include a fever greater than 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.


That would seem to include anyone who has symptoms commonly associated with a head or chest cold.

The good news, for those interested in national security:

Is there any reason to think SARS is or is not related to terrorism?
Information currently available about SARS indicates that people who appear to be most at risk are either health care workers taking care of sick people or family members or household contacts of those who are infected with SARS. That pattern of transmission is what would typically be expected in a contagious respiratory or flu-like illness.



Punditry of the Richter Scale



It would appear that Allied forces have yet to drop any of their heaviest artillery (i.e. Daisycutters or MOABs) on Iraq, as seismic data doesn't yet register anything of note for the Persian Gulf. Earlier this month, when the U.S. military tested its latest, 21,000-pound plus super bomb in Florida, seismic data registered all the way to Texas.

Sunset in Baghdad is at 6:14 p.m. local time, 10:14 a.m. Eastern Time. If "Shock and Awe" is to begin today, CW would have it that it would begin shortly after that.



Why We're At War



The U.N. last night posted Hans' Blix most recent report (.PDF file) - turned in this week - on "disarmament tasks" that still need to be resolved in Iraq.

***QUOTE***

15. Following is a list of the issues which UNMOVIC has identified as
key disarmament tasks to be completed by Iraq. They are set out in detail in
Annex 1. Annex 2 contains the background information relating to each task
identified, under a heading relating to that task.

- Scud missiles and associated biological and chemical warheads;
- SA-2 missile technology;
- Research and development on missiles capable of proscribed ranges;
- Munitions for Chemical and Biological agent fill (CBW);
- Spray devices and remotely piloted vehicles/unmanned aerial vehicles
(RPVs/UAVs);
- VX and its precursors;
- Mustard gas and its precursors;
- Sarin, Cyclosarin and their precursors;
- Anthrax and its drying;
- Botulinum toxin;
- Undeclared agents, including smallpox; and
- Any proscribed activities post 1998

***END QUOTE***

The report went on to note: "Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude, it will take some time to verify the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction."

And, Blix noted in his verbal report, "Our experts have found so far that in substance only limited new information has been provided (by Iraq) that will help to resolve remaining questions."





According to CNN, a potential third scud missile attack has hit Kuwait since "Operation Iraqi Freedom" began. The wild card, many agree, is Israel. If Saddam targets Israel this time - unlike Gulf War I - Israel will hit back with some of its newest artillery.
We took at shot at Saddam. We missed him, but probably killed some of his body doubles. Saddam than appeared in front of cameras to poke his head through his little gopher hole. Andrew Sullivan has a good take on what transpired:

The one reason I think the footage of Saddam is not a taped-in-advance fake is that if you wanted to ensure people still believed you were posthumously alive, you'd look a little better prepared than Saddam looked. He had that KSM "I-Just-Woke-Up" look and those grandma glasses and bizarre notepad did not exactly inspire fear. If the intelligence was half-way reliable, a good gamble. Too bad it does'nt seem to have paid off.

Says Ann Coulter:

In response to Bush's ultimatum, Saddam's son, Uday Hussein, said Bush was stupid. He said Bush wanted to attack Iraq because of his family. And he said American boys would die. At least someone is finding the New York Times editorial page helpful these days.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


Iraq War Protester Dies in Golden Gate Bridge Fall

Israeli bulldozer kills activist from Olympia

So, up to this point -

People killed in U.S. combat, 2003: 0

People killed in anti-war protests, 2003: 2



Let's all hope the next O.J. trial isn't held in Great Britain...
The Central Command says it's put out leaflets telling Iraqis "how to avoid being harmed" during an allied attack. To wit:

***QUOTE***

- Park vehicles in squares, no larger than battalion size.
- Stow artillery and Air Defense Systems in travel configuration.
- Display white flags on vehicles.
- No visible man portable air defense systems.
- Personnel must gather in groups, a minimum of one kilometer away from their vehicles.
- Officers may retain their sidearms; others must disarm.
- Do not approach Coalition forces.
- Wait for further instructions.

***END QUOTE***

I'm not sure, but I don't think Iraq provided the same advice to Kuwaitis when it attacked them, raped them, killed them, and occupied their country 12 years ago.


The whole rumor that Tariq Aziz had defected, or was shot, seems really weird - even though he appeared publicly to throw cold water on all that talk.

I'm probably too much of an optimist, but between the Aziz story, the fact that Iraqi soldiers are waving the white flag even before the first bullet is fired, and the fact that the Iraqi News Agency web site just crashed strike me as signs that something wild could be going on behind the scenes in Baghdad.

Could an 11th Hour Coup be too much to ask for? Probably, but there's always hope...

USA Today has a story today that tries to answer some of the questions I raised yesterday. Doubt they read this blog, though.

Michael Moore says most Americans oppose a war with Iraq. The Gallup people say the opposite.
Writer Virginia Postrell points out how we underpay our fighting men and women.

***QUOTE***

Sixty percent of U.S. Marines are privates or corporals, making an absolute maximum of $21,888 a year (for a mythical corporal with more than 26 years of experience). A newly minted private makes $12,780 a year. No, that figure doesn't include housing allowances, but it's still a pittance, especially if you and your family are stationed in a pricey place like San Diego County.

***END QUOTE***

This has been a problem for some time, and, frankly, one that President Bush promised to address when he ran for office in 2000. I believe this will be fixed once the war in Iraq is over.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Surprisingly little is being written about how this will be the first “Internet War.”

A lot has been written – and studied, and taught – about Vietnam as the first “Television War.” How images of battle (including that now-famous Vietnamese gun-to-the-temple execution) forever changed how we all perceive war.

A lot was written about Gulf War I being the first “24 Hour Cable War.” About how watching bombs actually falling on Baghdad on CNN, as it was happening, made all Americans feel the urgency and drama in real-time.

When combat starts this time, there will be real time Audio, video, text and reaction. Thousands of Web Blogs will become instant opinion columns critiquing U.S. execution.

Richard Stengel wrote a piece for Time in October, 2001, saying the war on terrorism would be the first Internet War.

***QUOTE***
The medium doesn't make history, history makes the medium — and it remains to be seen how this new war will remake the web.
***END QUOTE***

As I write this, I have ABCNews.com’s streaming video running in the background and is providing me, live, Homeland Defense Secretary Tom Ridge’s press conference. I’m on and off various Blogs checking out the pulse of opinion and thought (or lack of thought), and I’ve got another news service sending me email updates. This proves:

1) I probably need to chill out and
2) After the initial few hours of battle, there will probably be such overload and saturation of information that many will simply tune a lot of it out as white noise.

This is all subject to various events such as terrorist attacks in the homeland, use of WMD by Iraqis on the battlefield, or the discovery of Nazi-like genocide by Hussein’s regime inside the country.

In any event, we’ll know in about two weeks whether Dot Com war coverage will be a boom or bust.
An interesting Blog entry over at Merdeinfrance.blogspot.com:

***QUOTE***

Quite a few falsehoods are being spread about America 'squandering' French sympathy in the aftermath of 9-11. So let's set the record straight for all the politically correct, terrorist appeasing, revisionists out there. There was no French sympathy, period. The first images I saw of the attacks were on the TV in a Paris café shortly after leaving the office. As images of people jumping from the Towers were shown a French guy at the bar made a back handed wave at the TV screen and said, 'to hell with them'. All the customers' discussions in the café were along the lines of 'its a terrible thing BUT ...' quickly followed by vague justifications why it was not such a terrible thing after all.

***END QUOTE***

Face it: Since they gave us the Statue of Liberty, the French have never, really, been a big fan of the U.S. And they'll have less of a reason to be a fan of the U.S. after we liberate Iraq, reform their government, and make sure the oil contracts France signed are ripped up and new contracts are given to Spain, Poland and Latvia.

It's interesting to note that in the current AP story on President Bush's ultimatum to Saddam Hussein last night, two opponents of the policy are quoted prominently before the policy is even explained. In all, the story quotes Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.N., and U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd - all opponents of Bush's ultimatum. The story quotes no one in support of the president's Iraq decision. Which is odd, because it shouldn't have been too difficult to find someone seeing as how more than 60 percent of the country, in poll after poll, support military action to oust Saddam Hussein. In addition, the following countries are on record as being in favor of using military action to force Iraqi disarmament: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Britain, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Australia, Qatar, Kuwait and Japan.

How hard would have been to pick up the phone and call somebody who supported the president, and get a quote, to write a balanced story?

ABC News ran a special following the president's speech that was titled, "Failure of Diplomacy."

I went back through old T.V. listings, and found no such program entitled, "Success of Diplomacy" when the U.N. approved Resolution 1441 - by 15 votes to 0 - in November.



Monday, March 17, 2003

Never mind troop movements. Never mind events at the U.N....Here's a real sign that hostilities are about to commence: preparations for the first military briefings by CentCom.
For what it's worth, here's the official Iraqi News Agency statement this morning, put out just as the window was slamming shut.

It'll be interesting to juxtapose this with the photos of allied military pointing at his tons of VX drums, Anthrax drums and illegal missiles over the next few weeks.

Josh Marshall's TalkingPointsMemo.Com has an interesting story, out of Kuwait, about possible cracks in solidarity at the highest levels of Iraqi government..
I never quite realized how much of a downgrade the Times Op-Ed page went through from Anna Quindlen to Maureen Dowd until I read Quindlen's latest column in Newsweek.
As of right now, it seems like it's all over but the shouting.

Both President Bush and PM Blair are now both on the same page as far as talking about what a rebuilt Iraq will look like after war. Following this issue for the past few months, reading Bob Woodward's "Bush at War," and now seeing the statements of both, it looks as is Bush and Blair are playing off each other like doubles tennis partners.

This morning, Blair put out a multi-point plan for rebuilding Iraq. Among other things, the Blair government says it will work "with the UN and international community to help meet the humanitarian needs and prioritise resources to feed and care for the people of Iraq." That calls to mind Bush's insistence on air-dropping food and medical supplies to Afghanis almost simultaneous with the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

It's looking more like war will start either Tuesday or Wednesday, and could be over by the weekend.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

With all the attention being given to the Elizabeth Smart case, and how happy the world was that she was returned to her family safely, the world will see another kidnapping story - albeit with a horrible, not happy, ending - play out this week.

Louis Jones, a 53-year old former Gulf War veteran, kidnapped, raped and killed 19-year old female recruit in 1995. As the Indianapolis Star is writing, there is a movement afoot to delay his scheduled March 18 execution. His lawyers are contending that Jones, essentially, went out of his mind after suffering Gulf War syndrome after his active duty ended.

The federal government has convicted two Gulf War vets of murder, with juries imposing death sentences: Jones and Timothy McVeigh. Each had their case fully reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, but neither raised Gulf War syndrome as any kind of a factor. Only now, with the his execution date nearing, have Jones' lawyers begun to bring it up.

The whole Jones case is sad from beginning to end. Before the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder, Jones was considered something of a Gulf War hero. But for all of the truly scary evidence that many Gulf War veterans suffer from similar, debilitating illnesses that can't be readily explained, there haven't been any scientific studies that show symptoms can include developing into a psychopathic rapist and killer. Life without parole could probably be viewed as just punishment for Jones, but trying to grab onto one sad situation (Gulf War syndrome) to explain away horrible, sub-human behavior (rape and murder) might not go over all that well on his last round of appeals with the federal courts.

Wolf Blitzer, on CNN interviewing Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Harry Reid (D-Nevada), raised the issue of MIA-POW Scott Speicher - and the U.S.' assertion that the airman lost in Desert Storm is currently being held captive by Iraq. (There are an additional 600 Kuwaiti MIAs Iraq has failed to account for during the past 12 years.) Essentially, Iraq was supposed to free all of them, including Speicher, as a result of the cease fire agreement that ended the Gulf War.

Speicher's friends and classmates have put together a web site where they provide updates and information on attempts to locate and account for his whereabouts. The site also posts an interesting, unclassified Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Speicher case and why it's likely that Iraq continues to hold him prisoner to this very day.

I'm a big fan of eBooks. I love the ability to go to Amazon.com, click a few buttons, and download anything from a book of short stories to Ann Coulter's "Slander." (If you hate Microsoft, please skip over the next couple of lines). Microsoft has made downloading and reading - even writing - eBooks on its Microsoft Reader platform just about idiot proof. It's a very user-friendly technology. My only complaint is that not enough publishers are making their titles available electronically simultaneously with paperback and hardcover versions. Even the recent bestseller from Lou Gerstner - the man who pushed "eBusiness" on us like a drunken uncle pushing beer on kids at a wedding - didn't have his book available in eBook format when it was released.

Here's the current list of bestselling eBooks at Amazon.com:

# 1 Really Bad PowerPoint (and How to Avoid It)
by Seth Godin
# 2 The Making of a Corporate Athlete
by Jim Loehr
# 3 Star Wars
# 4 Star Wars
by Troy Denning
# 5 What Is Strategy? (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition)
by Michael E. Porter
# 6 The Art of War
by Sun Tzu
# 7 The Bootstrapper's Bible
by Seth Godin
# 8 Having Trouble with Your Strategy? Then Map It (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition)
by Robert S. Kaplan
# 9 Dreamcatcher
by Stephen King
# 10 The Balanced Scorecard
by Robert S. Kaplan

Six of the top 10 eBooks seem to be downloaded by corporate-climber wannabes.

Hopefully, with Intel's launch of its Centrino mobile processing platform last week, more people will do more with greater amounts of bandwidth and freedom. Hopefully, still, that will include the eBook market as well. ("What is Strategy?" Are you kidding me?)



War is hell:

Mar 14, 2003 16:02 ET

Liza and David Postpone Party 'Til After Iraq
Resolution

NEW YORK, March 14 /PRNewswire/ -- With the threat of
war imminent and considering more than 1,200 guests
would be traveling from many different parts of the
world, Liza Minnelli and David Gest have decided to
postpone their anniversary party which was to be held
at the Marriott Marquis in New York on April 15th. The
couple feels that it is not an appropriate time for a
celebration until after the resolution of the problem
with Iraq, when a new date will be announced.
According to Liza Minnelli, "We held off sending our
invitations out because we want to have our party when
the world is at peace and people can come and enjoy
themselves."

Source: Warren Cowan & Associates for Liza Minnelli
and David Gest