Johnny Two-Cents

Johnny Two-Cents: The hard, bitter core of the squishy center.

Ardent conservative and peerless obscurantist.

Kvetching about news, politics, culture, and things that explode, since 1896.

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Thursday, July 17, 2003
[posted by Buckethead]:
Grand Re-Opening

Johnny Two-Cents is now experiencing what marketroids call rebranding.

From this point on, you can read the same penetrating analysis, effervescent wit, and banal restating of the obvious at a new home, The Ministry of Minor Perfidy. We thank blogger for providing a (free) home for our observations and bloviating, with (free) customer service and excellent (free) archiving.

Come see our new digs, graciously hosted by Bloghouse.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003
[posted by Buckethead]:
The Examined Life

From Buckethead and Johnny Two-Cents:

Farewell, Mike.

Johnny Two-Cents started as a fun project, three friends arguing about the world, as we had often done together over beers back in college. Johnny and I have enjoyed discussing with Mike the state of the world, things important and trivial, things comic and tragic. That this blog has become an engine for the clarification of beliefs and goals is an remarkable thing, and as we pause in our amazement, we are both happy that it has helped to give Mike new focus and a stronger belief in his capacity to do good in the world.

Since we have known him, Mike has ever been strong in his arguments, honest and honorable in his actions, and has always looked for the truth. His desire to act rather than speak demonstrates the depth of his commitment and the strength of his beliefs. He has challenged us in our beliefs and thoughts, for which we will always be grateful. As Johnny once said, having Mike on the blog means always having to bring your "A" game. We will dearly miss him.

We wish Mike the best in all things.

And Mike, if ever you are in the eastern reaches; be sure to seek us out so we can stand you to a beer or twenty, and hear you fiddle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
[posted by Windy City Mike]:
A Farewell Post

One cloudy, uncharacteristically cool spring day, as I was sitting in a bar with a friend, we discussed my participation in this newfangled Blog business. He offered an observation, that I seemed to get something out of doing this despite my near constant frustration with it and unending battles with one of the other members that drove me dangerously close to fits of apoplexy. I thought about what that was, what benefits I perceived from yet another net technology that allowed people to broadcast thoughts, opinions, and beliefs over this medium. I responded that the Blog allowed me to keep my writing and debating skills sharp.

But more and more, I returned to my early suspicions of the Internet, first experienced through listservs, usenet, and other such strange things that have been with humans for such a short period of time. It seems like only yesterday that our primitive ancestors wielded a bone for the first time to kill another of our own kind, a la the opening sequence of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now we are increasing our technology a hundredfold with every revolution around the sun. Somehow, our primitive, atavistic impulse to smash the skull of another human with a blunt object, however, remains, despite our advances. Civilization, as the adolescent tome Lord of the Flies teaches, is a thin veneer that is rented asunder with but the slightest tug.

That impulse, I think, has been channeled into the primary function of Internet communications. With every online discussion group or listserv, I gave up in frustration as someone either misinterpreted what I had written or simply attacked me outright. The bone is still there. It’s a keyboard now. The urge to kill is right outside my window, in all its glory of primitive, naked rage. It’s in me, and every other human as well. We are by nature angry, savage killers who will smash the brains from the head of another human to possess his food, shelter, or his woman.

But the sort of thing that goes on the net is a different manifestation. It’s an opportunity for people who haven’t the guts to wield a bone in deadly combat, to square off with another shaggy, hunch-shouldered, human ape, when the prize is their own survival, and perhaps the meager possessions of the vanquished. The Internet allows people to mouth off at others with anonymous impunity, take all their frustration out on someone they cannot perceive with their senses over the vast gulf of cyberspace, hurling insults and vitriol across that same unseen chasm, physically as imperceptible as the air we breathe. Some people aren’t even taking out their frustrations on the faceless other, on the opposite side of the cable. They’re just mean, and they don’t have the balls to be mean to other people to their face, lest those they verbally attack take up the bone in lieu of the keyboard.

I return to the original question, why did I Blog? I came to understand that allowing me to polish my writing and argumentative skills was in fact but a penultimate objective. The Blog, in truth, allowed me to rediscover who I really am, what I think, and what I might believe.

In the last four years, I have been accused several times of being a sexist, racist, conservative, and lastly, a right-wing extremist. At an Irish studies conference years ago, I tried to make small talk with a conference participant. This is always a mistake. Conference participants are typically keyboard wielders as opposed to bone-wielders, if you follow my conversational drift. But I digress. The other conference participant and I got to talking about political perspective. When I offered that I had in my early adolescence fancied myself a Communist, but that age, experience, and increased knowledge had brought me to a perspective akin to that of Social Democracy, or a Social Democrat, the other participant rolled his eyes and rocked back on his heels, ensconced in expensive, glistening, leather shoes.

“Oh,” he drawled, the attempt at condescension left uncamouflaged, “so you’ve moved way to the right,” extending his arms widely to indicate that I had fallen far and fast, a distance traversing an entire ocean. I gave up trying to talk to this person, and most other people at the conference.

Since enlisting at a certain Jesuit university that shall remain nameless, I have been accused, in so many words and directly, of also being sexist, racist, ethnocentric, what have you, in addition to a right-wing extremist. I have puzzled repeatedly over how this could be true. Since I do not believe that all men are evil and should be castrated, by some people’s standards apparently, I am sexist. Since I am white, I am automatically a racist. The extent to which I am white could have been a subject, perhaps, of a discussion here, specifically whether or not near easterners and people of near eastern descent are truly afforded white status now. But the sun is setting with alacrity, and if that subject be discussed, I will be unable to weigh in.

Back to the matter at hand. My pale skin, a genetic takeover by Irish ancestry when in the past I had a robust olive complexion indicative of my coexisting near eastern descent, does not alone make me a racist. What has made me a racist in the recent past are the abominable thoughts that have entered my mind over the last four years as I have watched members of another ethnic group firing weapons at each other and indiscriminately, screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of the night, threatening to kill me, attempting to kill me, trying to kill other people, trying to hurt other people, taking up the bone, leering with a maniacal grin at the prospect of a satisfying smash of bone against bone.

But just as I am not racist because I have pale skin, rather for other reasons, the people I have described do not engage in violent actions because their skin is dark, rather for other reasons. They do it because they are desperate, angry, poor, hungry, left out of the American dream. They also scream in the middle of the night because they have no consideration for other people. Not all members of their ethnic group stand on the intersection near my building screaming and shooting. Or perhaps, as my Dad once told me long ago, “There are only two ethnic groups. Assholes, and people who aren’t. Skin color and geographic origin has nothing to do with it.”

As I have written, for this Blog, however, I have noticed myself eschewing racist interpretations and statements. It was not conscious, so much as innate, a natural inclination. The disgusting racist, or at least prejudicial, thoughts creeping into my head as of late, were unnatural, and not really me.

My political orientation, like my impulse contrary to racism or prejudice has similarly been confirmed. It appears that accusations leveled at me by the keyboard-wielding members of the asshole ethnic group populating the Ivory Tower are patently false. I’m a union man. A son of the working class. Each according to her or his need, and I demand that need be met. I call for an end to foreign war, and an initiation of global peace. I call for justice for workers, and jobs for the unemployed. I call for an end to all forms of discrimination and injustice. I demand that the narrow wealthy oligarchy that dominates this country make themselves accountable, and pitch in what is their due. I call for the downtrodden to raise themselves up from their knees and spit in the faces of those who held them there in chains. I am, unflinchingly, a leftist, and I proudly puke bright red. I never thought I really believed in anything, but having done this Blog, there are ideals in which I have made a leap of faith. To shift gears slightly, as a leftist, I look forward to one of my part-time jobs because it’s akin to manual labor. It’s honest work.

I also look forward to my other part-time job as a teacher because society has left the underclass with little to advance themselves. Education is one of the keys that have fallen onto America’s dirty floor, forgotten by those who would keep the door locked tight. I also look forward to it as an ideological great grand-child of the Enlightenment. Reason above all else, and the dissemination of reason and knowledge. Liberte, Egalite, Franternite, et vive les droits des Hommes et Femmes.

I wish to wield no keyboard to vent my inconsequential frustrations against faceless others rather than having the balls to face them. As much as I often desire to wield the bone, with a flame so blindingly crimson as all of perdition burning behind my wounded eye, I choose not to do so. I will wield the education key, and help others through the door that I have entered, been ejected from, entered again, and ejected from once more.

Steve, I cast aside the bone that I briefly shook at you with increasing rage as my face sight-unseen twisted in murderous anger and hatred. We are enemies now, you and I. I invite détente, and in that interest, I will not throw more accusations at you or complain further, but I will never discuss matters political with you again. Like a job that I recently had briefly for two days, I simply don’t have the right personality for it. I do not want to wield the bone unnecessarily, or if I can help it, ever again. For that, and because I do not wish to wield the keyboard in a cowardly, undignified fashion, to become what I dislike, a simpering, insult-hurling denizen of this damnable Internet, whining about small matters on a luxury item while others much less fortunate starve and face suffering, war, and death, I withdraw from the discussion.

John, thank you for the opportunity, the forum, your patience, and the gentle kindness which I find so characteristic of you. But this I cannot do.



[posted by Windy City Mike]:
Anger Rising, critical mass achieved

We both have engaged in a significant amount of moral finger pointing. This person is bad, this person is evil, this person is more diabolical than this other person, naughty, naughty. If you want to level such accusations, feel free. I’m just unwilling to continue it myself.

As to the leftist protestors, I see a consistent amount of vitriol directed at leftist protestors, in so many words liberals who do this, liberals who do that, liberal stupidity, idiot socialists, in actual words “Commie Tommie Daschle” (as if), leftist “ass-hatted fuckwits,” and so forth. Extremely negative comments are consistently directed at people whose ideas and statements fall to the left of the political spectrum, and it gets personal. Just because there are occasional caveats, fine shades of meaning, and distinctions, when someone in so many words or in plain language denigrates and insults a group of people to which I belong I am in turn and by extension denigrated and insulted. I don’t recall offering myself specifically as a punching bag. Nor do I recall making blanket statements about the stupidity or ass-hatted fuckwittery of conservatives, or people right of center, what have you, of any stripe.

I have made specific criticisms of Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher, and much further outside the realm of credibility herself, Anne Coulter, but when have I extended those criticisms to any group of right-winged people? I have criticized Fox News, not for being on the right, but for reporting inaccurately, and for such instances as when they have a guest who believes that EYE-rack is “full of Buddhists,” without correcting that guest, or offering a retraction or correction. The New York Times, many of whose staff members appear to hold leftish beliefs, has also dropped the ball on accurate reporting. Have I defended the NYT and attacked Fox News solely on the basis of political orientation? If you can find evidence that I have done these things I claim to be innocent of, I’ll make a public blog apology.

I have after all, in times past, said, in so many words, “Okay, fine, fair enough, alright.” When have points ever been conceded to me? Are you still holding a belief that Nazis fell on the left of the political spectrum?Was there smouldering in silence without concession?

Back to the leftist protestors, personal liberties in America were not created in America, but rather maintained in America by people with leftist ideas and through protest. The American Civil Liberties Union is largely left in character, for want of a better term, and has defended personal liberty to the point of arguing that Neo-Nazis should be permitted to march in Skokie, Illinois. Leftish reporters who refuse to reveal their source protect freedom of the press. Anti-war protestors who seized control of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago defended their right to freedom of assembly while simultaneously protesting the war.

And where do those ideas about personal liberty really come from? America? Don’t make me laugh. Ideas about freedom of the press, assembly, and speech, as well as societal egalitarianism and responsible government with separate branches came collectively from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was Swiss, Voltaire, who was French, John Locke, who was English, and various other European thinkers, most of whom were your arch-nemeses as Frenchmen and women. And correct me if I’m wrong, but ardent supporters of those rights in the political field, such as Georges Danton, sat on the LEFT side of French assembly houses, hence the term. And let's see, Alexander Hamilton, a rightist of his time and place, OPPOSED the Bill of Rights! Hmm, gee I wonder, who, oh who must have pushed for that Bill of Rights? Well, if Hamilton the rightist opposed it, then maybe it was the left of that particular time and place? You think? Thus, both the creation in Europe and the maintenance in America of individual liberties come from the leftists of the past, the recent past, and even the current time, as I’ve argued, are thanks to filthy, puking leftists.

As foot-notes: 1) Morocco did not oppose, and technically invited, the American military presence in 1942. The World War II analogies don't work. That was there and then, this is here and now. History is not the present, it is the past. 2) The pronunciation of Iraq is not the same as Paris. Paris in English is Paris. Roma in English is Rome. Deutschland in English is Germany, Espana is Spain, (please forgive the lack of an appropriate diacritical mark), Eire is Ireland, Italia is Italy. Those things are all fine. EYE-rack is not the English word for Iraq. Saying EYE-rack is roughly the same as saying, “last night I had EYE-talian food at the Olive Garden.” Which has more than a grain of truth.

3) Hussein has been removed from power. Fine. But there was nothing altruistic about the U.S. government and military initiating his removal. When a consigliare wants a Capo whacked, he gets whacked. It had nothing to do with the fact that the Capo was selling drugs to children in his own mother’s neighborhood. All I’ve asked is that the administration, for once, tell the truth about why it went to war. Improving the lives of Iraqis no longer under Hussein wasn’t it. They could give a damn about the lives of Iraqis. That was an unintended consequence. I doubt, for that matter, the Iraqis killed by American bombs and various other American weapons of mass destruction feel all that liberated. Whether or not Iraq was truly liberated has yet to be seen. It depends on what follows. An American puppet state won’t protect the liberties of Iraqi’s, seeing as Hussein didn’t back when he was still taking orders from Washington. There’s good in this, and there’s also bad. How much bad remains to be determined. Bad in that the administration has lied to the American people and the world. Bad in that civilians were killed. Bad in that American military personnel lost their lives, and their families will never see them again.

4) I do not believe the UN is a cesspool. I think it’s a good step toward a single word government. The kinks have yet to be worked out, but these things take time. 5) World opinion is not irrelevant. Americans, though many of them seem to think so lately, are not on this planet alone. We live with other nations. I think we should work with them rather than against them. 6) Dictators are problematic. Perhaps working with the international community might alleviate that.

7) As to salving the fragile egos of the Middle East, it’s got nothing to do with that. I’m just tired of people who reveal and indeed revel in their ignorance with gratuitous mispronunciation.

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
On Marriage

A question for opponents of marriage/civil unions for homosexuals. If, as I often hear, the only true reason for marriage is to procreate, then what of all the couples in the world who choose to remain childless? Let's posit a heterosexual, standard-issue young married couple who do not intend to have childen though they may adopt at some far future date. Moreover, let's posit that their marriage ceremony contained not one reference to a higher spiritual power. As these people did not get married under the auspices of a religion, and as children are neither expected nor wanted except through possible future adoption, the marriage is indistinguishable from what's being called a "civil union" such as is legal for homosexual couples in Vermont.

So I ask you. Based on that information, how is this marriage, between a man and a woman, different in any way from a civil union between homosexual partners?

[posted by Buckethead]:
A comment

ZM should get a fair trial. If they were going to go the route of military tribunals, they should have gone that way from the start, and then it wouldn't have the feel of a Kafka novel, where rules change randomly, and never to the benefit of accused. The accomplices of the Rosenbergs weren't brought to trial at the same time because the gov't didn't want to reveal the fact that we were reading the Soviet's communications. (Btw, McCarthy and Cohn began their hearings to try and get info on those same people.)

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
An Answer

Since I'm not a lawyer (my degree is in video game testing), I can't say with 100% accuracy, but probably not. It would be worse. The DoJ may refuse to comply with the standards of the civilian court in which they wished to try him, and then move the proceedings to a military tribunal.

At least in double jeopardy you get a real freaking trial, albeit twice. The filthy terrorist Zacarias Mossaoui won't get the one which our fundamental principles say he deserves.

[moreover] Calpundit has more punditry:

This whole thing is way too much like the Salem witch trials for my taste, where guilt is preordained and nothing a defendant can say will prove otherwise. I don't have much sympathy for Moussaoui, who's certainly an al-Qaeda terrorist of one kind or another, but considering what we've learned lately about the quality of U.S. intelligence in matters like this, I'm also not inclined to simply accept the government's word that he was a participant in the 9/11 conspiracy. Moussaoui should be allowed a fair trial.

[posted by Buckethead]:
A question

(comments weren't working) Is it double jeapardy if he was never tried in a civilian court?

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
The Consta-what-tion?

I see via South Knox Bubba that the Federal Government have ruled that Zacarias Moussaoui may not bring a witness in his defense. Well, great!

Even better, if this ruling results in dismissal of all charges-- because, after all, in a court of law, you get to have witnesses-- Atty Gen Johnny A has promised to declare ZM an enemy combatant and start a military tribunal. Hey, now that can't fail! Ha haaaa! We'll get this bastid! Double Jeopardy? Fair and Speedy Trial By One's Peers? Fifth Amendment? Sixth Amendment? Our dignity? What use have I for these? I am John Ashcroft! The Law Is My Plaything!

Why not have a damn regular trial, bring a solid case, and convict him? This military tribunal BS smacks of the third world.

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
On Cesspools

The problem with cesspools is that there are so many of them, and the temptation to try to drain them all is so strong. You can try all you want, but you'll just end up covered in filth.

Mmmmm, pithy!

Mike, in my opinion the case for libervading Afghanistan was much, much more compelling than that for Iraq. In September '01 all that was clear was that al Qaeda had planned the attacks, that they were currently being housed and supported by the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, and that swift action was called for. Fair enough. Ass-whupping and libervasion to follow. And, despite what I have said in the past about the US's role in muddling the situation in Afghanistan, I'm willing to count many things as total improvements there. Life is better. That being said, the libervasion of, and the improvement of life in, Afghanistan are two separate issues. The improvements are merely welcome side-effects to the real mission of crippling al Qaeda and their backers.

The same applies to Iraq. The difference is that, in the case of Iraq, the stated reasons for needing to invade at the moment have not, in my opinion, proven compelling.

Buckethead, I disagree with you on three fronts. First, you wrote in response to Windy City Mike, "Is it impossible for you to imagine that there might be good in this, and that the effect on the Iraqi people is net positive?" That's not the point. Of course there is good in this! But the effect on the Iraqi people is not the question at hand. The question is, was the President being straight up about the threat that the Hussein regime's Weapons of Mass Destruction posed to the US and other nations, and was he being straight up about Iraq's deep and abiding connections to Islamic terrorism? As I've said before, the net postive effect on the Iraqi people is a fabulous boon, but diplomatically, and for the purposes of whether Bush's case to the world was sizzle or steak, it doesn't enter into the question, for us or Bush. In his State of the Union address, the President devoted two paragraphs to Hussein's human rights violations. He devoted sixteen-- about 1,200 words-- to Weapons of Mass Destruction.

On that matter, you write, "But remember, this is not a court of law. We simply do not have to prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that these nations are threats. So, the fact that we haven't found (yet) ironclad evidence of WMD is not that significant." I disagree totally. The Weapons of Mass Destruction were the main reason that Dubya offered to the American people and the world in the SOTU. Bush was careful to frame his argument in the context of Hussein's noncompliance with the UN, but also expressed certainty that Hussein was intending to use his WMD's shortly. His closing statement was "We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."

Fine. We led the coalition. Now where the hell are the 30,000 warheads, 25,000 liters of Anthrax, and the 38,000 liters of Botulin toxin? And why did he cite the "significant quantities of uranium from Africa," knowing as we now do that the intelligence behind it was shaky? I find it disturbing that the President may have overstated his intelligence for the sake of a Grand Middle East Plan (as you posit), and horrifying that absolutely none of the material we went into Iraq to find has been located. 25,000 liters of Anthrax is pretty damn significant, whether diplomatically or otherwise.

Furthermore, our failure so far to find them has concrete results-- for example, India's decision not to send troops to Iraq to relieve the 3rd Infantry, currently in their 10th month of continuous deployment. India will send troops only under an "explicit UN mandate." Oooh-- burn!! That's not to mention the heat that Tony Blair continues to take for his bold decision to back the US. When you say that international opinion simply doesn't matter, you are simply dead wrong. We needn't be slaves to it, but it bears remembering that those once bitten bite back.

Buckethead, you also wrote: "We were attacked, and we are taking steps to assure that it does not happen again. If, in the process, we violate some nations' soveriegnty, so be it. If, in the process, we sledgehammer some fascist regimes and liberate their people, great. Eliminating international terrorism is doing a favor for the world. Like eliminating the international slave trade was when Britain did that in the nineteenth century." What are we, the Incredible Hulk? "Hulk smash! Napster bad!" Like the Onion put it, you are limiting our choices to two: blind rage, or measured, focused rage. Are these really our only choices? Besides, does defining our mission in this way excuse us from attending to the complexities of the situations we create? In the past, you have conceded that "with great power, comes great responsibility," adhering to the Spider-Man thesis of American foreign policy. Why ignore that now?

Monday, July 14, 2003
[posted by Buckethead]:
Dander up, Mike?

I was unaware that I was guilty of moral finger-pointing. I was careful to limit my comment to the pathetic leftist protestors, not merely leftists in general. I notice that you did not challenge the other parts of that sentence, so I assume that you agree with the fact that the UN is a cesspool, and world opinion is irrelevant in regard to the cynical European governments and third world dictators.

And, I was unaware that leftists had anything to do with all those liberties I like so much. Did socialists write the Constitution and Bill of Rights? I imagine it would read rather differently if they had. Socialists didn't exist until after Babeuf (and weren't even called that until Owen), and the left began with the French revolution. The Constitution was written two years before that began. The only significant "new" rights since then came out of the civil war, and that was hardly a leftist enterprise. Abolition and Civil Rights were largely Christian in their origins. And, it seems odd that all these people are mistakenly calling themselves leftists and communists despite your conviction that they are not.

As for Iraq, why did we ruthlessly invade Morocco in '42? They had never invaded us. As for Afghanistan, it was the home of all those Al Qaeda training camps, and the Taliban was in tight with bin Laden. Afghanistan did not attack us, true, but it harbored those who did. And I guess we were completely wrong to liberate Iraq. We should find Saddam, apologize, and reinstall him in Iraq, so his son can go back to feeding dissidents into wood chippers feet first. Is it impossible for you to imagine that there might be good in this, and that the effect on the Iraqi people is net positive?

Most of the hijackers were Saudis. And I think the time or reckoning for Saudi Arabia is long overdue.

[posted by Windy City Mike]:
Angry Retort

Buckethead wrote that, "The UN is a cesspool, and world opinion is irelevant when it is being generated by cynical european governments, third world dictators and pathetic leftist protestors." Really, do tell? You know, a lot of those freedoms you're fond of might not exist had it not been for leftist protest at various points in recent history. Admittedly, there are people these days masquerading as leftists who want to restrict various freedoms and make us wear helmets, but as I'm reiterating, those people constitute le gauche faux.

Buckethead also wrote that, "We were attacked, and we are taking steps to assure that it does not happen again." Indeed? When did Iraq attack the United States?

For that matter, the U.S. appeared unable to offer any solid, hard evidence that Afghanistan in fact had a hand in attacking the United States. Most of those hijackers were Saudis. What the attackers of 11 September 2001 did was extremely wrong, but I will not belabor this point as I've tired of this moral finger-pointing that tends to go on with this blog. But I'll point my finger one last time and say that what the U.S. did was wrong, too. There was no verifiable evidence that the nations the United States has attacked had anything to do with the attack on the U.S. itself.

[posted by Windy City Mike]:

The justifications that the administration offered for going to war with Iraq were smoke. Here's an organized crime analogy. Think of the United States as a crime family. Hussein was a Capo working for the family who got out of line and refused to do things the way the boss, IE the first Boss Bush, dictated. Therefore, more eager underbosses, street bosses, and the consilgiare, not so much loyal to the boss as they were to a previous boss (IE Reagan) wanted Hussein whacked. When the first Boss Bush attacked Hussein's crew, Boss Bush 1 employed some restraint and just cut down his crew. But Bush left Hussein alive, and even letting him earn at subsistence level provided he kicked more upstairs.

When leadership passed to Bush's son, the underbosses and consilgiare remained in power. Pressured by attacks from rival families, the underbosses, etc. who wanted Hussein whacked before saw an opportunity to clean their own house and try to whack Hussein for good. Instead, they stepped on their dick, the other heads of the five families lined up against them, and they succeeded only in purging more of Hussein's crew. But Hussein went on the lam when the U.S. decided to go to the mattresses, and they can't find Hussein to whack him. Not to mention they can't even find the head of the rival family who started all this shit in the fist place, and he remains unwhacked as well. It's a good thing the U.S. isn't really an organized crime family, or they'd be out of business quickly.

While I'm on the subject, something else that's been annoying me lately deals with the pronounciation of Iraq. Many people, including the current boss of the U.S., pronounce it "EYE-rack." It is in fact "Ear-ACK," dumbasses.

[posted by Buckethead]:
Springer's campaign ticks off Hicksville

God, do I love that headline.

Much as I dislike George Voinovich (who is stalking me), the Springer cure is far worse than the disease. Btw, Springer only got busted in the writing checks to prostitutes incident after the check bounced. This apparently pissed off the hooker.

[posted by Buckethead]:

The New York Times, all the news that's print to fit.

[posted by Buckethead]:
Free speech in Palestine

In an interesting tidbit in the UK Independent, a political scientist in Ramallah was assaulted, and his office trashed, by a mob of 100 refugees when word when out that he was about to publish the results of a recent poll his organization conducted.

Why were the Palestinians so exercised? The rioters were delivering, "a message for everyone not to tamper with our rights." This, because the poll demonstrated that only a small fraction of actual Palestinians actually wanted to return to Israel. Khalil Shikaki's survey showed that five times as many refugees would prefer to settle permanently in a Palestinian state than return to their old homes in what is now Israel.

The poll, conducted among 4,500 refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Jordan, was the first to ask where they would want to live if Israel recognized a right of return. Only 10 per cent of the refugees chose Israel, even if they were allowed to live there with Palestinian citizenship; 54 per cent opted for the Palestinian state; 17 per cent for Jordan or Lebanon, and 2 per cent for other countries, and 2 per cent didn't know.

Interestingly, 13 per cent rejected all these options, preferring to wait for the destruction of Israel.

In a related news item, the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad warned yesterday they would end a truce announced last month if the Palestinian Authority continued to try to disarm them. I guess they're serious about the roadmap to peace.

[posted by Buckethead]:
Happy Bastille Day

Today is, of course, the French Equivalent of Independence Day. Of course, French Independence day should properly be celebrated on June 6th. Casual sniping aside, the French are a race of smelly perfidious backstabbers. Happy Bastille Day!

[posted by Buckethead]:
"I did it!" "No, I did it!"

Further muddying the water (or sand) in Iraq, Armed Islamic Movement for Al Qaeda, the Falluja Brancha is saying, "We have attacked the US, not those lying Saddam bitches." Actually, they said, "I swear by God no one from his (Saddam Hussein) followers carried out any jihad operations like he claims...they (attacks) are a result of our brothers in jihad,"

In a pro forma statement, they also boasted of, "a new anti-U.S. attack in the days to come which would "break the back of America completely." Yeah, right. The group also is, "Calling on U.S. forces to leave Iraq," and warned that "the end of America will be at the hands of Islam."

Remember kids, Islam is a religion of Peace.

[posted by Buckethead]:

Our justification for invading Iraq was not centered on the certainty that, after we invade, we would find all the evidence we wanted. This is not analogous to law enforcement, or a "fishing" warrant. We had intelligence estimates, we had a history in Iraq of WMD use and manufacture (ask the Kurds!) and an assessment of our risk. You make risk assessments based on capabilities, not intentions. Iraq had the capability to develop WMD, this is incontrovertible. (And he had shown willingness to use them - bonus insight into intentions.)

In the wake of 9/11, our tolerance for risk, well, plummeted. The risk of having a chemical or nuclear attack on the United States is intolerable. Look how damage was done with three airliners. Al Qaeda operated with state support - Afghanistan certainly, Saudi Arabia and Iraq likely, Syria and Iran possibly. But remember, this is not a court of law. We simply do not have to prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that these nations are threats. So, the fact that we haven't found (yet) ironclad evidence of WMD is not that significant. Saddam is gone (though sadly not to his eternal reward) and if we can be even moderately succesful in creating a decent soceity in Iraq, we have gone a long way toward winning the war on terror.

I've mentioned before that right after 9/11, Bush did not declare war on Al Qaeda. He declared war on Terrorism. This is different. Iraq is unquestionably a state supporter of terrorism. (And so is Iran, and Syria, and Saudi Arabia, and Libya...) I believe that Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz and their teams of pointed headed strategic planners have come up with a plan to transform the Middle East. Bush has signed off, Powell perhaps with reservations, but it follows the general outlines of take out the low hanging fruit of Iraq, and then use that as a lever to destabilize the middle east. Owning (for the moment) Iraq gives us a tremendous strategic advantage. We can use it to influence neighboring states that support terrorists that attack the US.

At the time, I felt that going to the UN and going off on WMD was a mistake. The UN is a cesspool, and world opinion is irelevant when it is being generated by cynical european governments, third world dictators and pathetic leftist protestors. We were attacked, and we are taking steps to assure that it does not happen again. If, in the process, we violate some nations' soveriegnty, so be it. If, in the process, we sledgehammer some fascist regimes and liberate their people, great. Eliminating international terrorism is doing a favor for the world. Like eliminating the international slave trade was when Britain did that in the nineteenth century.

I think that most of our diplomacy for the last couple years, and for the near future is purely tactical. We have allied with the military government of Pakistan. We continue to profess our love for the Saudis. We talked to the UN (though not so much anymore.) We have extended our ties with Italy, Spain and Eastern Europe. Those who help us now will get some consideration. Those who hinder us are on our list. But relationships, even long standing ones, will not prevent us from pursuing the war on terror.

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
Speaking of true believers

So why was it again that the President said that Iraq needed a spanking? No Weapons of Mass Destruction (yet!, we are assured). No compelling, systemic links with Al Qaeda. No building of nuclear rockets. No yummy yellow cake. No smoking gun of any kind to warrant such an action.

I have been waiting for months, albeit skeptically, for the President's assertions about Iraq's role in international terrorism to be vindicated. I'm now long past giving up on the whole affair as a lofty-minded attempt to reshape the world never mind the reasons. Kevin Drum at CalPundit referred to Iraq as "low-hanging fruit," and that assessment seems more fair every day.

Buckethead, I'm interested in your thoughts on this matter. I know how I see the events currently unfolding, but I'd like your take. Do you feel that the last few months of findings stand up to the President's stated reasons for libervading Iraq? Aside from the happy collateral fact that Saddam Hussein no longer rules (never offered as a central reason for libervasion), does the current evidence justify the President's case made in January and early February?

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
On North Korea

Buckethead, good point. It does say something about the perfidy of the NK regime that an expatriate recommends starting over from a glassy, radioactive tabula rasa.