Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Levant remains a tool

Ezra Levant has written another interesting column in today's Calgary Sun. If by "interesting" I mean having only a passing relationship to truth. Al Jazeera is thrown out of the NYSE for "irresponsibility", Peter Arnett is tossed from NBC for "giving his personal observations and opinions", but Ezra Levant still has work, after writing this:

In the city of Basra, Saddam's Fedayeen -- the Iraqi version of Hitler's Brownshirts -- forced other Iraqi soldiers at gunpoint to fight against the Allies. In one case, Fedayeen dressed in U.S. military uniforms, pretended to be Americans and called for Iraqi troops to surrender to them. Those that did so were killed.
Have wever seen any verification of this? Any suggestion of it? Or is Ezra once again simply making things up, simply pulling "evidence" out of his ass?

And --- without disputing the claim specifically --- doesn't the sentence fragment "the Iraqi version of Hitler's Brownshirts" deserve some sort of deeper examination?

He also claims "several" suicide attacks against the US and Brit troops... I know of one.

I'm going to take this one apart later on, and I'll post the result, but give me some time. Mornings are for fast posting, evenings for detailed.
Peter Arnett is a real reporter

No embedding for this guy. Peter Arnett had remained in Baghdad, long after CNN was tossed out for being biased. This weekend, he was interviewed by Iraqi television, and told the truth as he saw it.

This is the fellow who in '91 identified a bombed building as a milk formula factory, earning the ire of the GHW Bush administration who was claiming the same building was producing biological weapons.

Now NBC has cut their ties with Arnett, because he committed the sin of reporting. He told the Iraqi television audience that the American army wasn't expecting resistance, and the resistance they've found has left the original war plan in disarray. Which is pretty clearly verifiable from other sources. In other words, he wasn't speaking as a propagandist, but as a reporter. And he was giving a courtesy to a government that has let him remain while it has removed other American reporters for being propagandist for the American government.

Now, I understand the propaganda value of having a foreign, english-speaking reporter saying to an Iraqi audience "Your resistance is working." But if it's the truth, is it still propaganda? And as a foreign national (he's New Zealander, not American... he is therefore not a member of the "Coalition of the Willing") does he have a responsibility to consider the propaganda uses of his reporting? Or does he just have a responsibility to report?

As an aside, must every mention of Iraqi television begin with the adjective "state-run"? We know who runs it. Not every mention of CNN is preceded with the adjective "Corporate-owned". In fact, outside of protest marches, I've never heard that. Perhaps that's the adjective used on Iraqi television. State-run, you know. Like the CBC. Which explains why the Air Farce hasn't been cancelled.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Looks like I have a new audience:

The New York Times editorial board seems to agree with me. Today's editorial:

But if our hope for the Arab world is, as the Bush administration never ceases to remind us, for it to enjoy a free, democratic life, Al Jazeera is the kind of television station we should encourage.
Didn't I say so here and here?

Registration is required to get into the NYTimes site. Once. And you can lie freely to it, so long as you let it set a cookie.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

News from the other coalition of the willing

Seems Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day co-wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, saying that the Alliance likes the war. Ain't that swell? I'd love to comment on the article, but can't look at it, because in good capitalist form, I'd have to be a subscriber to read it. If anyone sees it, I'd love to have a look... e-mail link to your left.
Screw it

No warblogging for me today... I can't do it. I am spent, at least temporarily. Mike, that goes for your e-mail questions, as well. I've seen some good stuff, I've got some reading and searching and posting to do, but it will wait.

Fortunately, for the lazy and untalented like myself, there is the "Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator," brought to me via the Brunching Shuttlecocks. Let's see what we've got:

Such is life

My life's been completely bland lately. Maybe tomorrow. So it goes. I just don't have much to say lately. I've just been letting everything happen without me these days.

Current Mood: stagnant

No Comments
I think my blog is going to take much less time, now.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Cellucci, shut up already!

You know what friends do? They don't talk about things that aren't comfortable between them, among other things.

So here's what I've found myself thinking today. The United States, and to a lesser extent Britain, have taken a stand that isolates them from much of the rest of the world. It's not a policy I agree with, but they're sovereign nations, and that means that in the end, they get to make autonomous decisions even when much of the world stands opposed. Generally, however, when you do something that pisses of so many nations, you want to do what you can to reduce the diplomatic price you pay for that. Britain (I think) understands that, and will likely be walking softly in the EU for a while. They will be publicly stressing the common interests they share with France and Germany, avoiding conflict in any way that isn't starkly opposed to their nation's interest. So what will the Americans do?

If Paul Cellucci is any guide, the Americans will keep trying to push everyone around. And Cellucci is hardly to blame... look up the ladder. Cellucci says publicly the remarks were vetted by the State Department, but I read a little deeper into that, and see "planted" as opposed to "vetted".... those comments were not ones a high-ranking member of the diplomatic service makes of his own accord.

The American government must know that it's paying a diplomatic price for this war. Yes, if the war is important enough in their minds, they�ll be willing to pay, and so they should. But why unnecessarily make that price higher by continuing to be as arrogant and selfish on the world stage as they always have been? It isn't Canada who stands alone.

By the same token, yes, members of the Canadian government needs to know when to keep their traps shut, as well... we took our stand, we're not participating in the war, and we don't need to rub American noses in that. It's time for us to step a little quietly too... take our cue from our British tradition, and not our American. Don't pay more than we have to for ethical action.
Random oddness on the web

I was searching for other comments on Paul Cellucci in the blog world, and came across "Benry Blog". It not politics, though there's politics, it's not tech, though there's tech, it's not a diary, though ---- you get the point.

It's just a neat little readable Vancouver blog, in a clean, attractive template. I think I've been convinced to change my font, if nothing else. Yeah, THAT will make my writing better.

As a result of the illegal online attacks that have taken place over the past three days, the English language al Jazeera web site will stay down until mid-April.

In other words, the terrorists won.

In other al Jazeera news, their reporters have had their New York Stock Exchange credentials revoked. Because FOR NO FUCKING REASON!

Exchange spokesman Ray Pellechia denied the station's war coverage was the cause. Citing "security reasons," he said the exchange had chosen to limit the number of broadcasters working at the lower Manhattan exchange since the war began, giving access only to networks that focus "on responsible business coverage."

How would they know? Does Mr. Pellechia have Arabic speakers on staff to tell him the quality of al Jazeera's coverage? "Mr. Pellechia, hurry! There's a rush on tin!" "Damn that al Jazeera and their speculative recommendations!"

And to think I used to be critical that Americans couldn't tell Bin Laden and Hussein apart... now it seems they can't tell either of them from the Arab guy saying "the Dow is down fifty-eight points on the release of February's unemployment figures..." Am I the only one who finds this a scary and unacceptable level of tribalism? Look... al Jazeera won't be FOX News for the Republicans, but if they're looking to build democracy in the Arab world, perhaps the first step shouldn't be crushing the open media. I'm just saying.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Restricted weapon watch

So, those scuds used against Kuwait in the first days of the war? Not scuds, reports Hans Blix. It's possible that Iraq is keeping restricted weapons, including WMD, in reserve. Or maybe they really don't have any.
The view from New York, once again

This essay by Michael Wolff is one of the best I've read since the war was engaged --- about the mood of America, and the mood of the media. Thanks to Steve Perry's blog for pointing the way.
Went to al Jazeera this morning...

... and Jingoism broke out! I'm in the process of trying to post what I saw as a picture (because it came as some sort of flash), but in the meantime, let me describe: map of the lower forty-eight painted with a flag (U.S., natch!) on a blue field, with the words "Let Freedom Ring!" below, and a signoff ("Hacked by Patriot, Freedom Cyber Force Militia"). Because freedom rings best when media outlets aren't allowed to communicate. I don't think "freedom" means what you think it means, "Patriot".

Wednesday, March 26, 2003


I would have written so much more today, but I found myself spending a great deal of time engaged in the ongoing argument at the Eyes Wide Shut board. I'd share the argument with you, but really, it's going over the same ground I've been over here so many times before... it's like stepping into the past.

I'll share this exchange, however, because it raises a question I hadn't considered before. In the next few weeks or months, we will be able to say with a certainty if Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or not, notwithstanding our being lied to. My main debate partner at EWS believes that the discovery of a chemical weapons stash will immediately legitimise the war. I have suggested otherwise, here. But what was new for me this evening was the following question: Does the opposite hold true, then? If nothing is found, does Bush go to The Hague to be tried for war crimes?
al Jazeera is on the web in English!

In theory. Right now, the link is dead, but I'm posting it any way in the hopes that it will be fixed. I'm guessing denial of service attacks from people who think brown skin means the network is producing propaganda for the Iraqi government. I think some al Jazeera headlines are a healthy balance after a steady diet of CNN, and I further think that if you want to see what propaganda looks like, maybe you should be watching Fox News instead.
Local news - finally! Oh, wait... it's still war news.

Some Albertans, led by a High River resident, are pooling up $30,000 to buy an ad in USA today, to say "We support your war."

If they support the war so much, I think they could better spend that money giving to a development charity that will help the people of Iraq with the reconstruction. Otherwise, it's just a selfish desire to be noticed and liked (or at least not disliked).

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Our American Neighbours come calling again

The US Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, spoke his mind about Canada this morning.

Cellucci said that his country would come to Canada's aid if it were threatened, implying that Canada should do the same thing for the United States.

And so we shall. Call when you're actually threatened, and you'll hear a "ready, aye, ready" from Canada. Like you heard on September 11. In the meantime, Mr. Ambassador, want to know the best way you can serve your country's interests? The example of John Brady Keisling should be considered.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Enlarge your coalition, guaranteed!

I'm downright giddy this morning, given the depressing nature of life on earth right now. Here's another bitterly ironic read, posted by August (who pointed me toward the Terry Jones article as well --- hello, me-too punditry!)

Let's have a look at the Iraqi dead chart. Whoops. There I go... back to depressed. Nice work, death chart!
Terry Jones is at it again

Taking valuable time away from scheduling the attack on his neighbours, Terry wonders precicely what war Tony Blair is constantly talking about, because it's sure not the war in Iraq.

Since the Second World War, the US has bombed China, Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, Guatemala (again), Peru, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala (third time lucky), Grenada, Lebanon, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia - in that order - and in not a single case did the bombing produce a democratic government as a direct result.
Farewell, boys

Halfway through the most recent Newspool, the plug has been pulled on the eve of being mentioned by the Globe and Mail. Thanks for the memories, John... I'll miss it, even if I hadn't been paying enough attention this time through. At least I caught that Elizabeth Smart wildcard.
Rummy and the Geneva Convention

Showing photos of prisoners is a violation of the Geneva Convention, says Donald Rumsfeld. Another Canadian blog, Canuck, calls shenanigans... putting aside the question of the international legality of the invasion, Rummy's been storing prisoners in Guantonimo for over a year now in conditions that should make any law-respecting American blush. Is it international, and therefore protected by the Geneva Convention? Nope. Is it American, and therefore protected by the Constitution? Nope.
I guess I found my new graphic

Not the cheeriest one, I might add. But it will make me ask myself, and remind others to ask themselves: is it worth it? The count represents civilian Iraqi casualties. It links to more information on the subject.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

More Michael Moore...

... can be found here. This is his twelve minutes with media behind the curtain after the award. It is remarkable, and more subtle and detailed than he could possibly be in the sixty seconds he was allowed on stage. I seemed to be on his wavelength in my last post: "I think anybody voting for me for this award knew they weren't going to get a speech thanking agents, lawyers, lawyers of agents and agents of lawyers." My link will take you to a page that lets you select the Oscar backstage interview you would like. Select "Documentary Feature" in your preferred bandwidth, and away you go.
Michael Moore and Oscar

Booing? BOOING?!? Hey, Academy, did you know who this guy was when you invited him? Did you see Bowling? What did you think he was going to say? He went further than I would in the same situation, to be sure. That's how he makes his living! That's his shtick. And you applauded it, you loved it, you gave it a standing ovation forty-five seconds earlier. He had an audience of nearly a billion people tonight, more than he's could reach with any movie or book or visit to Oprah. I ask again, what did you think he was going to say? You people are idiots.
The left-wing media strikes again.

In my last post, I linked to the CBC story of yesterday's event, because that's the only one I could find. CFCN simply seems to be a day out of date on their local news (the most recent story on local news portion of the page is from Friday at 4:09 PM), but the Sun covered protests everywhere across the country but not in Calgary, while the Herald ... well, they've proved what I never believed about them. Four thousand people on the streets, and the top story in the local news is "'Dome Crowd Cheers U. S. Anthem" The print and bradcast versions of all of these may be different. I'll check the papers and keep you posted.
Forgive me

I can't claim I've felt up to blogging very much in the last couple of days. The war is engaged, and no arguments, no protests now are going to have the American and British military fold up their tents and go out the way they came in: "Sorry, our bad."

But I attended a march in Calgary yesterday, because I think it's the continued protests of the people about the war which will force the hand of a reconstruction for the Iraqi people. I have said before that "No blood for oil" is a broad simplification that doesn't serve a useful purpose, but it does serve one: it makes the people who are in favour of the war want very much to prove the marchers wrong. Since I think the story at the end of the war is going to be, "of course we didn't find evidence of WMD... we blew it all up with smart bombs the second night," they're going to have to show us some seriously free Iraqi people instead. Whatever tendency people have to forget (Afghanistan? what dat?), I think people will want to know that Bush shattered the international order for something.

And the march was energising... it was nice to be in a group of people so vast I could not see the front or the back of the crowd at any time during the march, knowing all these people were against the war, and more, we're willing to say that out loud, were willing to travel downtown on a Saturday and take an entire afternoon to do it. I saw friends I haven't seen in months, found myself marching alongside them and then only suddenly realising I hadn't come there with them. I'm not alone, and that's comforting.

But it also made me sad. At the beginning of the march, there were a few pro-war antagonists (and really, are the antagonists making arguments like this? Or are they the types who say angrily but casually, without a thought, "nuke 'em all, turn the entire place to glass. Then we'll be safe"? I digress.). They flew American flags, which had a few ethnically Arab marchers around me scream "butchers, killers, nazis" and the like back at them. As near as I could see, they simply stood there and took it... how pacifist! That sadness had faded with the enthusiasm of the crowd as the march went on, but back at Olympic Plaza at the end, as speakers had their say, some too-enthusiastic teenagers gathered around an American flag, and trod upon it.

All of a sudden, I found myself confronting how far my anger at Americans goes. Carolyn Parrish says she hates those bastards, and I find myself knowing what brought that sentiment about. I'm frustrated with the ability of the United states to shatter international agreements --- not just around this war, but generally --- even when the rest of the world stands against them. But step on Old Glory? No. Half of the population of the United States do not approve of this war... and that half loves their flag as passionately as the other. As a Canadian, I have the advantage of a similar enough language and world-view that I can consume huge volumes of American culture without being colonised by it, and I do. Thank you, USA, for The Sopranos and 24 and (God help me) Survivor. Thank you for American Beauty and Fight Club. Thank you for Tori Amos and David Letterman and Jon Stewart and Matt Groening. How can I hate a culture that has given me such joy? How can I hate a people who have such minds among them? I can't, and I don't want to. I won't participate in their government's war, and I'm proud that the Prime Minister has reflected that in policy. Neither will I accept the arguments that Canada needs to sacrifice any of our decision-making sovereignty to appease the American government. But there's a very great distance between that, and active hate. Perhaps the teenagers I saw had very personal reasons for hating the United States. Perhaps they had lost family members to war or sanctions, or have lived under the bootheel of one of the American's friendly dictators at some point in the past. But it is nearly impossible to have a sensible political discussion at a protest, so there is a tendency to boil things down into the simplest terms. And what could be simpler, more visceral, more emotional than the flying of or destruction of a flag. The former, the pro-war antagonists, flew the flag as a display of "USA good". Not "Saddam destabilises the region", or "free the Iraqi people", just "USA good." The desecrators said, essentially, "USA evil". How is that conversation helpful? Naturally, it wasn't the thousands of Calgarians, but this fundamental and simple-to-understand difference of opinion that made for good news copy, in as much as any of it did.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Winning the battle, losing the war

So Shock and Awe is real, and it's happening now. I'm sure that's going to intensify anti-American protests.

While they were rolling forward, accepting surrenders, and driving, I think they had quieted (not silenced, but quieted) critics of the war. Maybe this could be clean and easy after all... maybe there could be some infrastructure left to build a new, democratic Iraq around.


Osama bin Laden is starting to win the war he started on September 11, 2001, even as Saddam Hussien loses his. Anger at the degree of force used today (and likely tomorrow) against an already-demoralised regime, soldiers all ready with their white flags (not to mention the five million civilians living in Baghdad), is going to inflame the Arab world. I suggested here that bin Laden wants Islamic revolution across the Arab world (this is Dyer's theory, not mine, but it is convincing), and however precise today's attacks were, it has fed into that revolution.
Shock and Awe

I'm becoming hopeful that the shock and awe campaign was only a threat meant to intimidate Iraq into quick surrender, and perhaps that is still the case. But watching the salivation of the 24-hour news guys at the anticipated fireworks is really starting to piss me off... I hope that the Americans can show restraint and professionalism. Everyone is surrendering or staying out of the way. Why is the Pentagon now declaring the beginning of S & A?

Thursday, March 20, 2003

From the e-mailbag

A friend of mine sent out the following last night. I never have any problem writing arguments, but arguments are overwhelmingly done, now. The emotional chaos now that the war has begun? I'm not so good at writing that. Curtis, the author of the following, has captured a piece of that chaos. Thanks for letting me reprint it for the world, Curtis. I'm not going to italicise, because there are internal italicised portions - instead, it's time to introduce a new HTML code to the site:

Ponderings at 1:00am on Thursday, March 20, 2003:

I sit here on a war night, a night to end all nights, and there is angst in the air tainted with CNNitis. I feel a very itchy misshapen malignant lump of �isms coming on.

Happy war day! The fun begins � George Dubya�s �Operation Whoop-Ass� is brought to you today by General Electric. Tune in next minute for a cool image of a smart bomb going KEBLEWY! Anticipation builds in the liquid blue glow of evangelical warmongering. Beware those speaking in tongues. Ever noticed how Yeeha and Jihad sound almost exactly the same? I figured out a way out of the mess. Saddam needs to join the NRA. Shouldn't be a problem - every time I've seen a picture of him in the past six months he has had a gun in his hands. How could the US really invade a card holding member of the NRA. "Look guys I need to defend my home and this is a bad neighbourhood so of course I need a few Weapons of Mass Destruction." Everything sounds like a clich� thrown in a blender with urban myths and a jigger of tequila. Nice and frothy and ever so bitter - just add a little umbrella skewered through a headline. It feels like nineteen twelve complete with a Serbian assassination � it ain�t no Archduke but hell we don�t kill royalty anymore. I need a hug. I won�t turn my back on love.

An odd digital alignment seems to be taking shape. It is as if the fractal engine is grinding out code seeped in chaos theory and half-baked irony. My online horoscope reads:

Unexpected activity snaps you out of your dream state. Something could be making waves in the usually tranquil pond where you live. People shape events and people are driven by desires that aren't always evident. Whatever the cause, you're already seeing its effect. An integral part of a permanent structure seems to be changing its shape. Feelings are shared even if ideas differ. You have to talk about this. There's no other way of getting to the bottom of it.

No shit! As I sit here typing this my MP3 player cycles on random and what songs come up back to back? "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition" a WWII propaganda song by Kay Kyser and then "One Tin Soldier (The Legend Of Billy Jack)" by Coven. Check out these lyrics...

"Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition and we'll all stay free... We're on a mighty mission"

"Listen children about a story that was written long ago ... Go ahead and hate your neighbor/Go ahead and cheat a friend/ Do it in the name of heaven/ You can justify it in the end / There won't be any trumpets blowing come the judgment day / On the bloody morning after ... One tin soldier rides away"

Too much weird coincidence for one night. No shit Batman! Seems to me a big bad rubber suit would make sense about now. As long as it comes with a sound effects generator for those special KAPOW! moments. Dan Bern says that he has a, "dream of a new American language.� I have a dream that someone will start up the silence. That someone will stop the stale rhetoric or at least make it a little livelier. If we are heading to war the least we deserve is some good old-fashioned moving rhetoric. Where are you MLK? Where are you JFK? Where are you PET? We need you. Where are you Mr. Rogers? I want to come to your neighborhood.

Love all y'all,

Just want a date/time stamp on this

In about thirty minutes, Dubya's going to be back on the tube. I bet he's going to tell us the cool kick-ass name we can all get behind for this war of American aggression. My money is on "Operation Desert Liberty". If I'm right, I might just end up with some US special forces on my doorstep, asking how I knew that, so I'm going to get out of here for a little while.

Update: Have they called it anything yet? I mean, I'm avoiding the wall-to-wall 24-hour news channel viewing, but I can't imagine a detail like that got by me, did it?

Further Update: It took Jon Stewart last night to tell me, and he can't be right, can he? "Operation Iraqi Freedom"?
Cute protest, funnier 48 hours ago

Rabble is asking Canadians to offer asylum to Dubya.

On to other topics

Just kidding! As if anyone, including me, is thinking about anything else! Ha, ha!

There seem to be some in the blog world who think we have to stop criticising the war because it is engaged. I don't think that's constructive. No more than ever, as FOX News reports blow-by-blow about how Jesus is beating Allah and ain't that just fine, dissent needs to be available to people who are looking for it.

At the same time, we can't stop it. That's likely been true since January but it is more obviously true now. So I'm not going to engage in much debate about Saddams WMD (little or none, probably), or connection to al Quada (certainly none), or the risk of long-term blowback (high, unless that's one delicious-looking democracy set up in the aftermath.) I got sucked into an argument back on the Yahoo discussion board I mentioned yesterday, but I'm trying to disengage.

It's the aftermath that we need to start talking about now. If the Americans simply forget about Iraq, or install a friendlier dictator, we're going to have a whole lot of angry Iraqis thinking they've been lied to again. We have to do better, way better, than we did in Afghanistan.

A piece of advice: for your own sanity, do not attempt to follow the war blow-by-blow. I don't need a television to know what's going on... I can learn more on the radio, and reading the web. Turn off the anxiety-inducing 24-hour news.

But if you are going to be fascinated blow-by-blow, don't tune in to me to get updates on how many miles north of Basra the 103rd Infantry is... I don't care, I can't do anything about it, and I would have to trust CNN to tell me the relevance of it. I don't trust CNN to tell me the temperature.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Voice from the ground

Here's a blogger, reporting from Baghdad. I wish him all the best in the trying days and weeks ahead.

No one inside Iraq is for war (note I said war not a change of regime), no human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life, unless you are a member of fight club that is, and if you do hear Iraqi (in Iraq, not expat) saying �come on bomb us� it is the exasperation and 10 years of sanctions and hardship talking. There is no person inside Iraq (and this is a bold, blinking and underlined inside) who will be jumping up and down asking for the bombs to drop. We are not suicidal you know, not all of us in any case. I think that the coming war is not justified (and it is very near now, we hear the war drums loud and clear if you don�t then take those earplugs off!). The excuses for it have been stretched to their limits they will almost snap. A decision has been made sometime ago that �regime change� in Baghdad is needed and excuses for the forceful change have to be made. I do think war could have been avoided, not by running back and forth the last two months, that�s silly. But the whole issue of Iraq should have been dealt with differently since the first day after GW I.

War hurts us all

It seems Joan and Melissa Rivers will have to find a real jobs to support their habits for the next twelve months --- in the face of war, The Academy Awards "arrival" portion will be truncated, involving celebrities getting out of cars and walking into the building. Without the Hollywood crap that generally comes between.

The horror!
If you liked Garofalo.... well, I suppose it depends on what you liked Garofalo for.

Buzzflash has the best interviews --- this one's with Ted Rall, about the logical leap from Afghanistan to Iraq. I discovered it in my search for sources to the "Remember when?" post --- didn't quite fit as source material.

Remember when?

Mr. Noisybrats, this one's for you:

Before I started blogging, I sought out all sorts of other opportunities to write and think and write some more. One of my favourite ongoing Socratic discussions was in the wake of the film Eyes Wide Shut, when I spent about six weeks deconstructing every detail of the film with a group of people on Yahoo's EWS movie discussion site, working out what it was about. It was that discussion group that convinced me that talk and discussion, in a respectful, open atmosphere, creates truth, and that's a big reason now why I blog.

It was New Yorkers I knew from that discussion group that I worried most about on September 11. I continue to post there occasionally today, because the people there have proven to be thoughtful and smart, though our opinions don't always overlap, either in film or politics.

This post on that discussion group is the inspiration of my post here today:

I recall [...] folks wringing their hands over the "fact" that our war in Afghanistan was really about controlling a Caspian Sea pipeline... don't hear too much about that theory lately.

The world is hours away from the beginning of a new war... how's the last one going? Amnesty says not so well:

International media interest in Afghanistan is waning, and is now focusing on the prospect of a new war. After past conflicts in Afghanistan, the international community neglected to make the long term commitment that was necessary for reconstruction, and as a result the country descended into further fighting.

And a BBC reporter describes the situation much less diplomatically.

But the Americans are there to help the citizens of Afghanistan, just as they promised on the eve of that war, right? No, they're sorry... they forgot. (In fairness, they eventually ponied up some dough after they were sharply critizised for this "oversight".)

This will all do wonders for the confidence of the Iraqi people that "peace and democracy" will be following on the heels of "shock and awe".

Oh, and the pipeline? It's a project close to Afghanistan president Hamad Karzai's heart.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Not a lot left to say, but some

Harper's reports that American troops are being trained to bury their Iraqi victims with heads pointing toward Mecca. Because we respect your faith. Now die. (The link also includes an overview of Bush's speech last night... "Bush repeated the discredited charge that Iraq has armed and trained Al Qaeda terrorists, and he even mentioned the "poison factory" that, upon inspection, had no plumbing." The page changes once a week, so you want to check this link quickly or expect something totally different.)

Tom pointed me toward this Star Trek-related review of Bush's performance last night, in Atrios' comment section.

More Garofalo: this time, an interview with someone who isn't unbelievably hostile toward her point of view, for a change.

Did I promise you some chess games? Forgive me... I've had other focuses.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Feel any safer?

I dropped the John Ashcroft terror alert from my links column a few weeks ago, so you might not realize that in anticipation of war, we're back up to orange. You can always see the current state in my February archive... what exists in my archive is the link to the constantly-updating site.
Another try at my earlier post.

On the eve, literally, of war, I want to get this out of the way, so no one will accuse me of using the bodies of American and Iraqi dead as rhetorical fodder. Even the cleanest, most precise war imaginable will destroy lives, devastate families, and create new hatreds on top of old. These results are not debating points, these are human beings. The National Security Council has no calculus on human suffering, apparently, so off we go.

But aside from that, let`s consider three possibilities:

--- Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction, and lots of them, as the US has claimed, and Saddam Hussien will use them during this conflict.

--- Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction, and lots of them, as the US has claimed, but Saddam Hussien will not use them during this conflict.

--- Iraq is rid of their weapons of mass destruction.

If the first is true, there will be many, many American soldiers who won`t come home. Or Israelis who won`t live to see the end of the conflict. Or Iraqis. For twelve years, we have successfully discouraged the use of these weapons through containment. Now, if the weapons exist, aggression will have the opposite effect to what the hawks claims to want.

If the third is true, this is a pointless war. I pray for this to be the case, because it will make the war zone much, much safer for civilians and soldiers alike. Not safe, but safer... they`re called weapons of MASS destruction for a reason. I happen to believe the third is true, and that Iraq is essentially disarmed of WMD.

Can we safely dismiss the second possibility? Saddam is cornered, now... can we assume he will use every weapon at his disposal to stay alive and free as long as possible? Good job, President Bush, giving this dangerous man nothing to lose.

This is why, if American and British soldiers ride intro Baghdad and start finding these weapons, and none of them have been used, I will be the first to cry "shenanigans". The Americans have lied to us, fabricated photos and evidence to rationalise this irrational war, and they will do it again. (Some very attractive links may be added to this later... the loss of my first post on the subject has left me too frustrated to want to seek them out again just now.)

My advice to you as we enter into this dangerous time is keep reading widely, dust and oil the bullshit detectors, and think, always think. Don't get sucked into conspiracy theroies. The war isn't a Zionist plot, isn't the Trilateral Commission, isn't coming from the brain trust at Haliburton. It's stupid, scared humans who have lost their ability to make rational decisions. Stay focused, stay rational, do not get sucked into the spiral of fear and anger. The fight about the justification --- the justice --- of this war is not over.
Hey, look... sanity!

The Prime Minister will not involve Canadian troops in this idiotic war. Thank you, Mr. Chretien.
For the second time in two days...

Blogger ate a post with a "runtime" error... I have no problems with Blogger giving the occasional error, but damned if I shouldn't be able to hit the back button on my browser and rescue the post. I am angry and depressed about war right now, so I'm not up to rewriting the thing from scratch. Maybe later. Maybe not.
Hans Blix, you are our only hope

Britian has withdrawn the second resolution... the Axis of Amorality (US, Britian, Spain and whatever ragtag friends they bring along... I pray not Canada) will use 1441 as cover for their war.

But Mr. Blix, you could stop or delay things with just a few words, words I think you believe: "Iraq is not in substantial violation of Resolution 1441."

Sunday, March 16, 2003

More from the home fries front

First up, Nellie's has relented on the Freedom fries menu. But she seems to be under the mistaken impression that my objection, and the objection of others, is that the menu was implying a pro-war stand.

"Maybe it wasn't fair to impose my opinion on the rest of my staff, those that were in favour and those that weren't," said Nellie's owner Roxanne Taylor-King.

But my objection isn't the mixing of politics and breakfast... good for people who have opinions and express them, however wrongheaded I might think they are. Notwithstanding that this is a silly debate in the face of the horror of war, my objection is that we aren't contemplating going to war with the French, yet they've become the solo target of ridicule despite being joined on the anti-war side by dozens of nations around the world. That's not debate... that verges on racism. I think this debate has exposed how much the Americans simply don't like the French. Two points, American readers: one, perhaps they should come to repossess the Statue of Liberty... you haven't been earning it lately anyway (I'm looking at you, Mr. John Ashcroft!), and two, (to paraphrase a popular right-wing blog sentiment) if it weren't for the French military, you'd all be speaking British... perhaps you should show some gratitude.

My second report comes from CBC's Definitely Not the Opera, who asked the question "What happens next Thanksgiving when millions of Americans will be reminded by their traditional dinner of the trechery of their NATO allies who have denied them a northern front for their war?" Forget turkey --- let's all have some Free Bird! (and cue the song.)

None of this crap will matter in a few days when the shooting starts. I'm thinking Tuesday or Wednesday.
Know what's sad?

If there was a protest in Calgary this weekend, I didn't hear about it. I'm busily sequestered in a hotel meeting room, playing in the March of Kings (1.5 out of 3 so far!). I should have six chess games to talk about in a post Sunday night or Monday. I know those have a really limited audience, but there are a couple... for the rest of you, I'm sure the MOABs will start falling soon enough for me to have something with a wider appeal to share.

Friday, March 14, 2003

After days and days of successfully avoiding "freedom fries"...

... it seems I have reached my limit of idiocy. Here is the best overview of who have joined this cabal of Freedom-loving restaraunteers... enjoy. I can attest to the following: "Pennsylvania has Pittsburgh on one end, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in the middle."

And you need to read the "Breakfast in America" post that follows. Mmmm... Powdered Sugar of Civic Responsbility.

I found this while searching for one... JUST ONE ... pro-war blogger who agrees that Freedom fries is stupid, and maybe a little racist. Haven't found her yet... if you do, I'd love to hear about it.
So much for Canadians being any smarter

The story has already disappeared from Canoe, which was the only news source Daypop could tell me about, but Doctor Tongue is on this story: Calgary's Nellie's Restaraunts and the Blackfoot Truck Stop have adopted "fuc freedom fries / toast" as their menu standard. I'll miss both places.

But then, via August, I discover that the Americans have trumped us once again on anti-French stupidity through the desecration of military cemeteries. You know, Bush has been very careful to say that he stands against Saddam, but not the Iraqi people... perhaps it's time for him to say the same thing about the French. I mean, I know the people and the leadership in France are both against the war, but I bet you'd find the same thing polling Iraqis who will be receiving American democracy delivered on the tip of eight hundred (or is it three THOUSAND?!?) cruise missiles.

Ironic Update: I have continued to search around for Nellie's references on the web, and the first choice in a Yahoo search for "Nellie's Calgary" was this page, part of a French tourist guide from Yahoo France.

You know, notwithstanding their recent expansion, the only place I'll think of when I think "Nellie's" is right on 17th, not two blocks away from where I lived in my younger years. I know that community, and I feel awfully confident most of the residents there are not keen about war. The Blackfoot Truck Stop is probably speaking the language of some of its customers with this anti-French declaration, but I'm concerned that Nellie's will be empty in a week, and stay that way.
Gumboot diplomacy part two

Today, I have a puzzle for you. Let's say you are the United States. You find yourself standing up for truth and justice (hey, this is the American view of things, here), and the world shows itself without the resolve to stand at your side. Your friends are few. What's the correct diplomatic move?

a) Work hard to address the concerns of countries standing opposed to you, and bring them onside;

b) Bribe and blackmail your way to a positive UN vote in the hopes that even a vetoed resolution will provide you with international legitimacy;

c) Accept your opinions are not shared by the world, and value and congratulate your few friends for the rare jewels they are;

d) Make sure everyone knows how strong you are by telling your few friends you don't need them.

The correct answer, according to Donald Rumsfeld, is "D"... tell your friends you don't need them.

Goodbye, Mr. Blair. Next time you're Prime Minister, and decide to stake your political reputation on something, find smarter allies.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Snowman not so successful, HTML edit turns out okay

I can't decide if the links to popularly-sought-out posts streaming under the title are cool or annoying. Feedback welcomed.
Posting light today

A couple of things will be keeping me away from posting today.

First, today is the first day since I arrived home that the temperature has gone above zero, so I'm going to go make a snowman,. or some such. Also, I'm messing around with the template HTML, so the page may appear odd on occasion today... forgive me.

A couple of short points before I run off, though: first, Deborah Grey is retiring from politics. I'll miss you, Deb... as Reformers go, you were always a favourite of mine... enjoy your retirement, and I'll watch for your motorcycle rolling through town.

And second, Gerald Caplan writes why Rwanda is an example of UN inaction the United States should never, ever mention.

If you grow bored, go read Tom, because he's had plenty to say so far today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Not every day, but today

Damien Penny is right. (Way, way right, but that's another post.) Jack, you're being silly, here, supporting that exploiter of the emotionally troubled, Deepak Chopra, in his call for the export of American culture as a way to encourage Iraqi revolution. I hope your comments were taken out of context... CNN is too culturally imperialist, but Disneyworld is okay?

Don't get me wrong... Disneyworld would be preferable to war. But, in fact, one of the arguments Gwynne Dyer made last week that I found convincing was that while television will revolutionize and democratize not just Iraq, but the entire region, it won't be television sent from the United States (or Canada, for that matter). It will be a network like al jazeera, speaking to the people of the region in their own language, people who understand that the word after "Islamic" does not have to be "terrorist". Cursor is helping to build a link between al jazeera and the English-speaking world. Want to support democracy in the Middle East? There's an excellent place to start.

But Disney... c'mon, Jack. I'm sure they'll love the "Aladdin" ride, with the music from the soundtrack:

"Oh I come from a land, from a faraway place / Where the caravan camels roam / Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face / It's barbaric, but hey, it's home."
Destination: Cayman

Those who know me know I've been trying for some time to find work in the Cayman Islands. Not because I'm particularly attracted to the "tax-free paradise" thing --- I'm a New Democrat, after all --- but to be with someone I love, who moved there from Edmonton some time ago. (Oh, my goodness... that was nearly autobiographical! What kind of blog is this becoming?)

As a result of this desire, I've been following Cayman Islands politics for some time, trying to form some opinions that are more than simply foreign critiques of tax havens. I'm haven't formed those opinions yet, but I'm learning. This, however, is simply a stupid idea in any nation around the world.

The CI government wants to have space built for government offices, but would rather have them built and maintained to spec by a private owner than build them themselves. Under the PFI [Private Financing Initiative] method a building is financed, designed, built and maintained for a client. "It's a priority for the government to fulfil the project without increasing public debt or government's debt servicing ratio -- PFI allows for that," continued [Minister for Planning, Communications, Works and Information Technology Linford] Pierson. (Yes, that's some kind of Ministry name. Wouldn't "Public Works" have done? I suppose not, since he's busily privatising here.)

This is simple. You finance some government debt now, or you indebt future governments with an inescapable lease that will still be costing taxpayer money long after the space would have been paid for. And your in-house cost of staff would have been lower than it will be to pay someone else to have their staff do the exact same work... there's going to be some profit in there for the private company, and it is otherwise a zero-sum game.

Alberta tried this with road construction and maintenance. Since the privatisation of those processes, Albertans are paying more to get and keep roads, and less is getting done. But it's the same people driving the machinery, getting paid much the same or less to do it. Who benefits? Not the employees, not you and I footing the bill and hitting the potholes... just the private company owners who managed to score lucrative government contracts. The Cayman Islands government would do well to learn from this lesson.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Garofalo watch

The New York Times' gossip column (at least, that's what it appears to be) has reported dismissively on Janeane Garofalo's participation in a debate on media slant. I didn't attend the event, so I can't speak to the accuracy of the report, but note the dismissive line at the end of the bit:

Then Mr. Evans, wrapping it up, told the guests that the speakers would stick around to sign their books. Except for one.

"Thank you Janeane," Mr. Evans said. "You don't have a book.

She hasn't written a book. She's not selling anything. She's out there because she believes in something. She should be dismissed for that? I suspect the implication of the line is that she doesn't have the same deep understanding one gets when you write books on things. Like, say, Ann Coulter.

Keep it up, Janeane. Many of us are glad you are there to do it. Illegetimis non est carborundum, if you will forgive me some faux Latin.
More about gumboot diplomacy

It's been a while since I've pointed you toward Tom. He noticed an article in the Guardian about a woman being arrested for leaking the spying memo I mentioned here and here. His take on the question is here, but mine returns to yesterday's theme:

Hey, American free press. People in democracies are going to jail to get you this information. She lives in democracy. She's going to jail. For supplying the world with information it deserves to have. Report it, already. Report something. Give up a few French-bashing column inches and write something that matters. Do it now.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Speaking of FOX "News"

There only seems to be one voice of dissent on FOX now, and that voice can normally be heard reflecting on the tastiness of deep-fried and sugared batter. Mmmmm.... doughnuts.

Last night's episode of The Simpsons featured a FOX News broadcast :

(dismissively)"And here's the Democrat candidate." "I have a name!" "I'm sure you do, comrade." Included in the crawl (the ticker at the bottom of the screen):

Pointless news crawls up 37%... Do Democrats cause cancer? Find out more at foxnews.com... Rupert Murdoch: Terrific dancer... Dow down 5000 points... Study: 92% of Democrats are gay... Oil slicks keep seals young, supple... JFK posthumously joins Republican Party... Dan Quayle: Awesome... Ashcroft declares breast of chicken sandwich "obscene"... Hillary Clinton embarrasses self, nation... Bible says Jesus favored capital gains cut... Stay tuned for Hannity and Idiot... Only dorks watch CNN... Jimmy Carter: old, wrinkly, useless... Brad Pitt + Albert Einstein = Dick Cheney... Study: Right wing of chicken healthier...

Thanks to Mike for digging up the second half of the crawl.

(This entry has been heavily edited to create this attractive little HTML moment)
Why do people trust the internet before traditional American media?

As you may recall, a memo was leaked indicating that UN representitives were being spied upon by the US as part of their startegy to win a UN vote.

The Guardian broke this story March 2. I reported it March 2. If you prefer your online commentators a little more to the right (a crapload more to the right), Damien Penny reported it on March 1, proving that even on the east coast those paying rapt attention can take good advantage of time difference. I can't find what seems to be the first story on March 3 (stories on that site seem to live a week), but the Globe and Mail followed up with this story on March 4.

But there is not a word of it on CNN's website, not a word on the New York Times website. (Faux News has too many registration hoops to jump through, but who believes there might be something on the story there?) How could this possibly be? Norman Soloman asked the same question a few days ago, but nothing has changed. Seriously want to stop the war, New York Times, as you claim? Report this story. Do it now.

Sunday, March 09, 2003


Do you remember when I started the blog, how I promised you that the one bit of autobiographical information I'd supply here was my chess games? For your consideration, Art Milne v. me in an unpleasant beating (for me, at any rate) on Tuesday night. The bracketed "other possibility" moves we're simply errors of movement in Chessmaster... I have no idea why they were added to the pgn file.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Better than writing something myself

I got a note from Paul Mather, whom none of you have ever heard of, but who was enough reason for me to tune in a staticy signal on my car radio from CBC Edmonton to hear his comedy riffs with Peter Brown. (It didn't help that successive Calgary drive-home hosts have been humourless and their interview subjects dull.) I'm glad they both have national gigs now, because it means I can hear them on a clear signal.

Hyperlinks are all mine, because I like hyperlinks a lot.

Hi Don:

How's it going? I work at 22 Minutes. I'm sure the powers at be have no problem with posting the american apology. Just FYI, it was written by the writing staff not by Rick Mercer, who isn't with the show anymore. (It was performed by Colin Mochrie.)

They tell me they're putting up a video version of the piece so it might be worth looking at the 22minutes.com website for it. As I look now it's not there but maybe after the weekend or something.

Anyway, cheers,

- Paul

(There is a clip on that 22 Minutes page identified as the apology to Americans. Watching the clip, it seems to be an entirely different apology. I'll keep an eye out.)

You know, not only did the original Mercer/not-Mercer e-mail writer identify Colin Mochrie as Rick Mercer, but it was forwarded relentlessly without correction and posted everywhere the same way. This tells me that no one is watching 22 minutes any more. Myself, I stopped when Marg Princess Warrior stopped having conversations with politicians, and started performing monolouges in their presence. And the move to Tuesday didn't help... I'm afraid I prefer to watch Kiefer yelling "Where is the bomb?!?" at various people tied in chairs. Plus, you know, chess club.

Update: the This Hour Has 22 Minutes site has added the correct clip, which you can hit directly from the link here. Requires Real Player.

Friday, March 07, 2003

I'm speechless

So I'll let Mark Morford do the talking for me today.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Ashcroft was high-larious

... but he had to go. He gave the page a little colour, but I'm sick of seeing the American flag gracing my page, particularly after the news that Americans are getting ready to screw us again --- this time, on wheat exports.

Hey, do you want our help on this second resolution thing or not, assholes? Seriously, I'm sick of getting a thumb in the eye from these pushy bastards every time we turn around. That's right, I said bastards!

In the meantime, I hope those few farmers who are trying to break the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly are paying attention to this. See that? The Wheat Board is an unfair advantage. And that's Americans saying that... we all know how quick you are to believe the Americans when they say something. Now, go back to your seperatist talk.

I digress. I'm in the market for something to take some space on that left bar that will be equally colourful, but a little more Canadian and entertaining. I'll be doing my own searches, but if you notice something great, feel free to let me know.
Second resolution

Another writer agrees that France's UN delegation will eventually have to eat it and call it ice cream, but I have to dispute his unfortunate mix of metaphor: In the end, it is likely that the French, Germans, and Russians will bite their tongue and swallow the bitter pill of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Isn't it difficult to swallow a pill while you're biting your tongue? Maybe that's the point.

Notwithstanding the literary criticism, a pretty good overview of what's at stake in the second resolution. Lord in Heaven, I never thought I'd be advocating this.
Big train a'rollin'

Well, a big part of the reason I didn't post a lot about Dyer yesterday is that he's taken a great deal of the blogging wind out of my sails. Despite his agreement that this war is a very bad idea, he didn't talk a great deal about that, but instead, he talked about what comes after for the Arab world. Dyer is convinced that however silly the idea, war has been unavoidable since maybe December; once a train that large gets a head of steam, you can't roll it back up the track. Next stops: Shocktown and Aweville.

But he discussed the uncomfortable "what comes after", and one point stood out for me: if the UN wants to survive, it needs to give some cover to Bush with a second resolution. We don't have to like it, we don't have to make it very solid cover (and in fact, that second resolution is likely to be something the anti-war blogs could trot out, saying "this doesn't authorize force" because it won't, it will only give Bush room to claim it does), but if we declare the United States an outlaw, that brave stand will be the last symbolic swing of the United Nations. Without the US, Dyer claims, there is no UN worth mentioning, I was convinced.

So, you heard it here first. If we can't stop war (and Dyer was not particularly convincing on that point, but he wasn't trying to be... he spoke with an historian's eye and took it as a given), we need to find the resolution that the US can claim is authorization, for the sake of long-term peace and security. The UN needs to take a policy of constructive engagement to the world's more powerful country. This makes me sad, and, as I say, takes the wind out of my sails to some degree.

On the bright side, I sat in an audience of perhaps 150 people, mostly students who happened to be in Wyckham House for lunch (as opposed to being there as the choir Dyer could preach to). Among the comments I overheard in the room, and among the questions after the lecture, and with Dyer himself, there seemed to be unanimous agreement: this war seems aimless and pointlessly harmful. The Americans are making a horrible mistake. That was taken as nearly self-evident. I feel like the debate of "should there be war?" is behind us, and the answer has been an obvious and universal "no", without sensible contradiction. So I may not be engaging that debate much more here.

That may lighten my blogging somewhat. I have a request(!), and I've been giving that post some thought lately, so that will come today or tomorrow with any luck. Beyond that, well, I think we have a responsibility to make sure we're passing around the "alternative news", because we know once the shooting starts, no one will find the actual news on television.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Serious Blogger troubles

Sorry for the lack of posts, today. I can't seem to make the page publish, so by the time you actually see this message, problem solved and your regularly scheduled rantings will return.
Time is running out

Not much time to blog today, because I'm off to see Gwynne Dyer. But I'm looking forward to posting my second chess game since I started this site. I promised chess when I wrote my very first post, and chess you will have! I suspect I'll have a few notes and comments about Gwynne, as well.

Of course, if the storm that is right now blowing violently across my window on its way west keeps up, I may not be going anywhere after all, and I'll have all the time in the world.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

New permalink, new optimism

Hesiod has earned a permalink to the left with the second post I need to blog in less than a week.

Is the Bush Administration looking for a way to save face while getting out of war? Here's hoping.

Update: I have no idea why my page isn't updating with that link, and maybe it's just me. I'll fight with it another time, because busy afternoon ahead. The link will be coming to a webpage near you as soon as I can find the patience for it.

Monday, March 03, 2003

In the e-mail

This apology to Americans from Rick Mercer seems to be making the rounds... if only I was as bright as Rick Mercer, I could be happy.

On behalf of Canadians everywhere I'd like to offer an apology to the United States of America. We haven't been getting along very well recently and for that, I am truly sorry.

I'm sorry we called George Bush a moron.

He is a moron but, it wasn't nice of us to point it out. If it's any consolation, the fact that he's a moron shouldn't reflect poorly on the people of America. After all it's not like you actually elected him.

I'm sorry about our softwood lumber. Just because we have more trees than you doesn't give us the right to sell you lumber that's cheaper and better than your own.

I'm sorry we beat you in Olympic hockey. In our defense I guess our excuse would be that our team was much, much, much, much better than yours.

I'm sorry we burnt down your white house during the war of 1812. I notice you've rebuilt it! It's Very Nice.

I'm sorry about your beer. I know we had nothing to do with your beer but, we Feel your Pain.

I'm sorry about our waffling on Iraq. I mean, when you're going up against a crazed dictator, you wanna have your friends by your side. I realize it took more than two years before you guys pitched in against Hitler, but that was different. Everyone knew he had weapons.

And finally on behalf of all Canadians, I'm sorry that we're constantly apologizing for things in a passive-aggressive way which is really a thinly veiled criticism. I sincerely hope that you're not upset over this. We've seen what you do to countries you get upset with.

Thank you.

(If you are Rick Mercer, or someone from Salter Street who would like to this to go away or be linked to an owned version of it, I will be happy to do so, but in case of the latter, you need to tell me where to find one.)
One other question

How exactly are Britain and the US not already at war with Iraq?
Bill C-250

We're on the verge of war. The world is on the brink of a future that may introduce a new golden age beyond the reach of war, or descend into threats and perhaps actualities of destruction beyond our imaginings. So, naturally, the most common google search to find this site is "Bill C-250" and variations thereof.

For those who have forgotten, or those who never knew, C-250 is a bill to add sexual preference to groups protected by hate legislation. Conservative-leaning people fear that this will make illegal certain verses of the Bible (though somehow, I don't think they allude to Mark 12:38-40 - "Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets, who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.")

I wrote here and here why they have nothing to fear, but the searchers rarely find those posts. This convinces me that I need some sort of searchability or indexing of my archives. If anyone has any thoughts along those lines, I'd love to hear.... click on the e-mail link to your left. Thanks.
This is very hopeful

Hesoid is extremely good at reading subtext. So when he describes what he perceives as the reason the US is making the UN effort they are, I have to give it serious consideration. To boil it down: Bush needs Blair, Blair needs a new resolution. And if there's no resolution, there may be no war. We have something to work for.

He also blogs that, like me, he sees Colin Powell as the one great hope for intelligence out of the current Presidential administration. And he thinks one well-timed, well-written resignation speech could bring an end to the war effort.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Not everything the left says on the war is gold

Elsewhere in these pages, I have made my thoughts on war, and my perceptions of American motivations for war, abundantly clear.

Back in January, Nelson Mandela made the extraordinary implication that Bush and Blair have no respect for the United Nations because the Secretary-General is black. Christopher Hitchens, an excellent and thoughtful writer who has been nonetheless wrongheaded on the entire question of Iraq, has written why this implication is patently false, and I tend to agree. I mean, yes, Colin Powell was appointed to the administration out of tokenism... he's the token smart person.

I don't think the President and the people closest to him are motivated by racism. Their obvious disconcern or dislike of poor people sometimes produces very racist results, and there is definitely racism in congress (Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Trent Lott!), but no, racism isn't what's driving the United States to blow off the UN or spy on its members.
Questionable ends, frightening means

A memo has come to light showing that the American government has been spying on UN delegations sitting on the security council. It shows that the Americans are willing to take extreme steps, violate whatever standards, to get their war. I think we already knew that, but still.

Today, Cross-Country Checkup is asking how deep anti-American runs in the Canadian psyche. When I see things like this memo, I'm less surprised at anti-American sentiment. I'll go a step further... Americans, this is your war machine. You have the responsibility to bring it to a halt, to rein in the excesses of your government, to make your democratic government answerable to you. There are many Americans who are taking that responsibility seriously. I cannot be anti-American without ignoring my deep admiration for those Americans who took to the street, who write their blogs, or letters to the editor, or letters to their members of congress, who talk to your co-workers, who work for peace in a hundred ways large and small. But to those of you who say "damn world opinion, damn the rule of law, damn ethical behaviour, get what we want at any cost," yeah... I'm anti-you. As for those of you who sit aside, now is the time to do something... you can't pretend that the actions of your government are not being done in your name.
Time to come clean

I couldn't find this article when I wrote this. I've found it now, obviously, and wanted to give credit for the seed of the idea where credit is due. Actually, it was the seed of two ideas. The first was to pick up Dune and read it again, and the second was my reporting thereof.

But the article talks about more than Dune, and is particularly interesting on the topic of Starship Troopers, "...a penetrating satire of post-9/11 war hysteria..." despite having been made four years previous. Yes, Starship Troopers.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

In the spirit of "Me too punditry"...

... let me be the last in the world of blogging to link to the resignation letter of John Brady Kiesling from the United States diplomatic service, because he no longer believes he can in good conscience advocate American foreign policy. This is an excellent example of why Carolyn Parrish's frustrated outburst was so incorrect. There are many, many Americans of honour and decency who are not simply in the business of sticking a thumb in the eye of world opinion and the rule of law at every available opportunity. We can't paint them all with the brush of the current Presidential administration.

I'm pleased to read the optimistic final note of the letter: I have confidence that our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting... I hope for all of our sakes that you're correct, Mr. Kiesling.

But the war machine rolls on.