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[Archive]

:: Monday, March 31, 2003 ::

Some vital new intelligence here regarding the intentions and innermost thoughts of our favorite neighbor to the north.
:: Twistre 7:51 PM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 30, 2003 ::
I suspect a hoax of some sort, but if this is true, North Korea is still managing to find new ways of shocking and appalling me.
:: Twistre 6:52 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, March 29, 2003 ::
As much as I feel that the foreign policy advocated by those who are called "neocons" is leading the U.S. down the wrong path, I feel weirdly bad talking about "the neocons." Because it sounds to me to be reminiscent of the talk radio buffoons and their talk of "the liberals."

Are "the neocons" a more cohesive entity than "the liberals?" Is it proper to make wide, sweeping statements about one, but not the other?
:: Twistre 8:58 PM [+] ::
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:: Friday, March 28, 2003 ::
New regular reading for me: CalPundit.
:: Twistre 11:30 PM [+] ::
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I'm often embarassed by the fact that the US seems determined to piss off most of the rest of the world in maintaining its place as global leader. However, I also have a sane bone in my body. That is why a part of me would be immensely satisfied to see some kind of permanently-affixing duct tape to be sealed over this guy's mouth.

Now, I'm sure it's possible that his words have been twisted around by the news media. And I totally believe that the 1st Amendment protects the right of Americans to say stupid things. But it is inevitable that some of the more blustery pro-war commentators - the O'Reileys and Limbaughs of the country, guys who know that they're lying but don't give a crap because they figure the American people are too stupid to know the difference - are going to claim this maroon is representative of all of us who are the least bit ambivalent about being proud of America's current course.
:: Twistre 7:23 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 ::
Chat on the current situation in Afghanistan with Marc Kaufman, in Wednesday's Washington Post.

You know, sometimes I wish I could get ahold of an encyclopedia published a decade from now so I could read up about what's happening in Iraq in March 2003. Since there's certainly no way to find out from current news reports.
:: Twistre 4:04 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 ::
Which War on Iraq Figure Are You? I came out Tom Daschle. But that's just because I took the quiz in a more dovish mood.

Which means, I guess, that I waffle more than Daschle.
:: Twistre 4:57 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, March 24, 2003 ::
Pointless Waste of Time on the Iraqi war. And, surprisingly, I pretty much agree with it.
:: Twistre 7:17 PM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 23, 2003 ::
If we are to believe the general news media, so far the entire combined Iraqi armed forces have managed to kill exactly twice as many Americans as one psychotic American soldier in Kuwait. It's amazing how such a huge proportion of Allied deaths seem to be from friendly fire and accidents.

Sounds like there is heavy fighting in Umm Qasr, but it may be days before we know just how heavy. Also reports of major resistance at the Euphrates. I have a first cousin who's in the infantry fighting there.

No deep thoughts. Just reflections that it will likely be a while before we know for certain what's going on in Iraq.
:: Twistre 5:28 AM [+] ::
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Myths and Misconceptions about Iraq. From SpinSanity. Check it out; it's pretty even-handed.
:: Twistre 5:23 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, March 22, 2003 ::
So far so good - no truly disasterous news has come over the wire in the past few hours. No word yet on what the casualty toll is from last night's Baghdad blasts. I guess modern warfare is like this: nations go to war knowing full well that innocent civilians are going to pay the ultimate price for the hideous, inexcusable crime of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, at the wrong moment in history. The flattened cities of World War II are a testament to this. I've never read up on the morality of war; maybe I ought to.

I've come to the conclusion that my position on this war is thus: I believe it is possible that the good consequences of conquering Iraq might outweigh the bad consequences. But it may be years before any of us truly know for certain. (Heh. Does my answer make anyone hungry for waffles?)
:: Twistre 5:21 AM [+] ::
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(This is a couple hours old - just posting it in the RIGHT blog this time.)

Has "Shock and Awe" started? The guys on ABC News last night sure seemed to think so (unfortunately ABC News seems to be the only network carried by AFN; it was damned irritating to hear the ABC anchors repeating "This IS Shock and Awe" once a minute). I still think the US can do this without killing large numbers of Iraqi civilians. If many civilians do die, I will naturally assume that the administration and pro-war pundits were just kidding around when they called this war a war of liberation. I know that this war has NEVER first and foremost been a war of liberation. But the loonier rhetoric of the pro-war crowd - sometimes coming from individuals I had never previously thought of as loony - would have people believe that improving the lives of innocent people was somehow the chief issue.
:: Twistre 5:13 AM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, March 20, 2003 ::
I'm thinking this war may be over soon. I'm leaning more towards "Saddam is a delusional goner" than "Saddam has some tricks up his sleeve."

Of course, getting a US-occupied Iraq is just the first step in a long road. So I won't pay attention to the commentators, who run more on bluster and fraudulent emotion than logic and information (and know it), who will undoubtedly be pointing fingers at the anti-war crowd and saying, "I told you so!" I can't really criticize such people, as blustering over carefully reasoned arguments when you don't have your facts in order is a long tradition in the species' political history.

Lots of anti-war protestors in the streets. Dunno what effect they will have. It's easy to point fingers at them and say that a large number of them are opposing the war for stupid or asinine reasons. Undoubtedly that's true. As are many - but not all - people who support the war. Of course, the existence of someone who agrees with you for a stupid reason, or out of pure ignorance, does not diminish the validity (or lack thereof) of your position. No doubt many people voted the same way as me in the 2000 election out of stupid or asinine reasons, but that doesn't mean I don't stand by my vote.
:: Twistre 6:22 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 ::
Assuming there is no real news out of the Mideast by the time the morning papers go to press, I wonder how dramatic the Post and NYT headlines will be tomorrow morning. Nothing's happened so far today that we hadn't really expected this morning.
:: Twistre 7:25 PM [+] ::
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Seems the war's started. I hear an English-language news broadcast here in the PC-Bang, with Korean dubbing so I can't make it out.

Senator Byrd has denounced this war in far more eloquent English than thousands of anti-war protestors. The world's gone topsy-turvy. I'm feeling inspired by the words of an ancient former Klansman, and rightly so.

Ah well. The media may tell us otherwise, but there most likely won't be any real news for a while.
:: Twistre 7:11 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 ::
Robert Wright on dubious and valid worries about the Iraq war in Slate. The whole article is by its very nature made up of guesses, but it's still worthwhile. I really, really, really, really, really hope that he's right about Saddam not having nukes.
:: Twistre 7:25 PM [+] ::
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More about Tractor Man on the Mall. I'm still not clear on exactly what he hopes to accomplish. I also can't help but wonder if it was just bad luck on his part that he pulled this stunt during a week when the natio's news media were focused elsewhere, thus depriving him of attention. (I like the little afterthought mention that Iraq got in the story. I wonder if the Post reporters are responsible for that, or if he really did rail against the government's tobacco policies for a good long while, then added as a side note, 'No war in Iraq.')

If I were still living in the area, you bet I'd try to get as close as possible to the commotion. I'm kinda stupid that way.
:: Twistre 5:49 PM [+] ::
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:: Monday, March 17, 2003 ::
Of note: Washington Post editor Robert G. Kaiser's online chat on the current international situation.
:: Twistre 7:04 PM [+] ::
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This is very, very weird. A man has driven a tractor decorated with an American flag and covered with pro-veteran bumper stickers into a pond near the Reflecting Pool in DC. I believe I know which pond he's in. The police have him surrounded, and he's managed to shut down all traffic within a several block radius. I don't have the faintest idea what his agenda or cause might be. Let's hope this ends quickly and peacefully.
:: Twistre 6:46 PM [+] ::
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:: Friday, March 14, 2003 ::
I don't like this feeling inside me. Just a short time ago I was still convinced that the Administration didn't want to have to invade Iraq - that what Bush wanted was to squeeze Iraq so hard something inside cracked. Like a successful coup or something. Now I'm thinking war is inevitable and I just want it to be over with. I'm fed up with all the theories about how things could go horribly, disasterously wrong. I just want things to happen and be over with, so we can see the outcome for ourselves. If horrible things are going to happen, then they should just happen and get themselves over with.

Maybe I'm too cynical, but I see myself as chomping on popcorn and impatiently waiting for the movie to start. Ugh.
:: Twistre 6:37 PM [+] ::
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I'm happy that I'm still registered to vote in Maine, and voted for Maine candidates by absentee ballot in 2000 and 2002. Otherwise, I almost certainly would have voted for this doofus last November, and would be feeling mighty embarassed right about now.
:: Twistre 6:32 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, March 12, 2003 ::
Even though I took a course on Balkan history at GW, I'm hopelessly ignorant when it comes to the situation there today. I wish I were better informed about the Ballkans. I wish I had even a smidgen of knowledge about what Djindjic's death will mean for the future. I should so know this stuff.
:: Twistre 8:14 PM [+] ::
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I'm sure it's horribly misleading and guilty of oversimplification, but this chart from Slate is great.
:: Twistre 5:10 PM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 09, 2003 ::
From the Washington Post: "In the coming weeks, all signs indicate, President Bush will launch the first war without direct provocation in the nation's history."

Um. Ahem. 1898?

Maybe I'm forgetting that I'm writing from the viewpoint of 105 years later, when it's pretty clear that Spain wasn't behind the Maine's destruction. But although the Maine may have been a godsend for the cause of American propaganda, if I remember my history right it wasn't the Maine alone that provoked the war. The American public had been worked up into a hawkish frenzy by the exaggerated claims of Spanish provocation.

I'm going to come right out and admit that I have no recollection of what started the war against Mexico in the 1840s, so I'll give the Post the benefit of the doubt on that one.
:: Twistre 5:12 AM [+] ::
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Check out Mark Rosenfelder's arguments for and against invading Iraq. They're about two and a half weeks old now, but not out of date yet. Good to see that someone better read than me is just as ambivalent about the prospect of war. Though I get the feeling that he's rather reluctantly pro-war, but wishes very badly someone other than Bush were the public face of America right now.
:: Twistre 4:10 AM [+] ::
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I wonder if the Washington Post regularly edits its printed letters to the editor. In the March 8 Free For All, Ms. Montague says that for Tom Shales to suggest President Bush appeared medicated at his news conference was "beyond the pale." But she doesn't say why. It's now common knowledge that, for instance, Kennedy was sustained by large quantities of prescribed drugs during the Cuban Missile Crisis (and to a lesser extent during other points in his presidency, due to his numerous medical problems). True, people probably weren't publically stating this at the time. And Ms. Montague might have a point if she specifies that, at this point in time, it's improper to speculate on the President's status. But she doesn't say that. She doesn't give any reason for her opinion. And so, she merely comes across as huffy.
:: Twistre 4:05 AM [+] ::
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Washington Post Style article on President Bush's inexplicably poor oratory skills. This President does seem to have a real disdain for the possibilities of using the English language as a tool to turn public opinion. You can say "Bush is stupid," but even if he were a retarded ape it wouldn't explain anything because he'd still have the best speechwriters money can buy. Maybe he honestly thinks that his purposes will be better served if he sticks to plain language. I think he is mistaken - a year has passed since the "Axis of Evil" speech, and those words are now remembered more in mockery than any other way. Very strange.
:: Twistre 12:06 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, March 08, 2003 ::
Calpundit reaches a turning point in his stance on war with Iraq.
:: Twistre 11:50 PM [+] ::
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:: Friday, March 07, 2003 ::
Thought for the Day: Say that most political commentators unconsciously believe that other people think like them. That is, they see other people as reflections of themselves. They believe their own cynicism, lack of intellectual ethics, and so on are shared by all people in politics. Now, for those who support the same causes and beliefs as oneself, that's okay. If they're your comrades, why carp? But people with radically different political views or beliefs? The fact that they are part of a universe percieved to be so full of selfishness and cynicism is damning.

Which brings me to my hypothesis: By looking at what a pundit says about his/her political oppostition, you will recieve a gilmpse into his/her own soul. Try it on your favorite rabid spittle-emmiting jackass, of either Right or Left persuasion (doesn't matter in the slightest). I call it the I-Know-You-Are-But-What-Am-I Theory of Political Commentary.
:: Twistre 8:23 PM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, March 06, 2003 ::
I'm sure people are going to be frothing at the mouth and talking about the decline of American broadcast standards after hearing the "voice-of-Saddam-in-CBS-interview-was-actually-actor-with-fake-Arabic-accent" story. (Scroll down after clicking on the link.)

Me, I just think it's funny. It's much too laughter-provoking for me to actually get upset over it. If a dumb move is really this transparently obvious, there isn't much need for me to point out the dumbness.
:: Twistre 5:10 AM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, March 05, 2003 ::
I'm beginning to think I was wrong about my theory that what Bush & Co. really want is to keep squeezing Iraq until something breaks. Either that, or the administration is beginning to think the squeezing tactic won't work. Because I can't help but think that what we're seeing now is the final dive towards war.

I do think that "Shock and Awe" is deliberate misinformation that's been fed to the media. (Or that the media have been complicit in misleading the Punditry with. Anybody who thinks that the broadcast and print media have been marching in lockstep to undermine and impede this administration is simply wrong. Perhaps deliberately so.) I'm too cynical at this point to believe that the administration genuinely wants to prevent mass civilian casualties in Iraq if doing so would inconvenience them, but the Punditry has been painting this war as a "war of liberation" for the Iraqi people. And, y'know, "Shock and Awe" is going to kinda undermine the claim that this war is ultimately in the best interests of the Iraqi civilians.

Of course, if "Shock and Awe" actually happens AND mass civilian casualties are a result, the Punditry is going to tie itself into knots trying to explain why the war in Iraq is still a "war of liberation." I don't dispute that. But after painting itself into a rhetorical corner, I don't think the administration is going to go the path of possible mass death.
:: Twistre 4:08 PM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, March 02, 2003 ::
A bit of a relief: apparently the story coming out of Maine, regarding teachers giving children of servicemen/women a hard time, was largely a load of hooey. If the link requires you to register with the Bangor Daily News, and I unfortunately suspect it will, the gist of it is: There were reports that teachers across Maine who opposed an Iraqi war were being somewhat malicious to kids who had parents in the Mideast, but they were greatly exaggerated. There was only one such complaint and it involved a teaching assistant; some other complaints of teachers being less than accomodating for other reasons got mixed in and inflated the story's importance.

I'm not the biggest fan of an Iraqi war. I think people who equate a lack of support for war with a lack of support for the military are full of hot air. But to me the thought of a teacher making a student uncomfortable because of his/her parent's involvement is just wrong. I attended Maine public schools for grades 2 through 12, and I was hoping that none of my former teachers were a part of this. I'm very happy to hear that it's much ado about nothing.
:: Twistre 4:39 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, March 01, 2003 ::
Check out this somewhat scary article on North Korean insanity from Exile.
:: Twistre 11:18 PM [+] ::
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An addendum to the Harvard Snow-Penis Story: Check out the discussion on the Brunchma bulletin board.
:: Twistre 10:36 PM [+] ::
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I went to a department store yesterday. Out of curiosity, I looked over the selection of globes. They were all quite accurate and up-to-date, and it was fun seeing the Korean names for every country in the world.

They all had one thing on common.

They each showed only one Korea.
:: Twistre 6:50 PM [+] ::
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I try to figure out Korean public opinion, through the microcosms of my acquaintances and classes. It's all I can do, since I can't understand the language. But it's not easy.

Two minutes before the end of an adult class last week, a student with impeccable timing went off on a tangent on how much he hates both George Bush and Osama bin Laden. It would have been a perfect topic of discussion had he brought it up slightly earlier. I may be American but I have an armor-plated hide when it comes to foreigners dissing my government. Besides, I read enough pro-Bush commentary that I could probably put together a fairly intelligent, reasonable defense of his actions (which I generally wouldn't believe in or agree with, but that's another story).

One thing this student said during his unfortunately abbreviated tirade was that he's quite happy that North Korea has nukes. I didn't probe for his reason, though I figure there are two possible explanations:

1. Nationalism. YES! We Koreans have nuclear weapons! Sure, different government, but it's our people.

2. Realpolitik. YES! One more check on American hegemony! Ooh, and btw, it's by Koreans.

I'm wondering if I dare bring up this topic this coming week.
:: Twistre 6:47 PM [+] ::
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