March 29, 2003
An Apology : It's not always humor you'll find here . . .

When I have the time to work up a humorous take on events, I do. When I don't, I just say what I wanted to say straight-on, without the satire. If you want more humor here (and I certainly do), try to think of the funny pieces as humor, and the straight-on pieces as "grim humor."

Posted by Tom Burka at 8:55 PM in Notices

Bush Did Not Want To Hear Of Possible Iraqi Resistance Before War
It was not all that many months ago that Ari Fleischer was... boasting, I guess... that Ari Fleischer actually said that "[General Tommy] Franks wasn't invited to the next strategy meeting because 'the president doesn't have time to listen to what the president doesn't want to hear,'" and one of the things the President did not want to hear was that Saddam's forces might fight bravely.

This (and Rumsfeld trying to cover his behind) courtesy of Brad Delong's weblog.

Posted by Tom Burka at 8:51 PM in Commentary

Boy, Those War Games Sure Are Worth Every Penny

The Guardian reports:

If the US and Iraq do go to war, there can only be one winner, can't there? Maybe not. This summer, in a huge rehearsal of just such a conflict - and with retired Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper playing Saddam - the US lost. Julian Borger asks the former marine how he did it.
Whole article here.

What's really scary is that what the U.S. wargamers did is exactly what I do when I'm having a hard time in a first-person shooter. (Gamers are the same everywhere.)

Posted by Tom Burka at 8:38 PM in Commentary

White House Knew Fantastic "Edge" of American Military Was An Absurd Fiction Months Before Starting War

In Supplying the Enemy, the New York Times rails aginst the Russians for supplying is with night vision goggles, antitank missiles, and GPS jamming devices (which can essentially make "smart" weapons very dumb).

The amazing part of the editorial is this: "U.S. officials say they have been pressuring Russia for many months now to end sales of these types of equipment." They knew months in advance about this? In other words, for months before committing a too-small force to this war, White House officials had reason to suspect -- and had good reason to believe -- that had equipment which could neutralize the much-flaunted and repeatedly touted technological advantages which would supposedly enable our American forces to prevail in a fortnight, at most. (Oh, and about pressuring Russia, good job. Another diplomatic and foreign relations triumph.)

The article also notes that Rumsfeld is aware that Syria has been providing this equipment to the is for a certainty. We're back to the Reagan question here: when did he know this -- and if he didn't know it months before the war, why not?

First: it has recently been made clear that we started this war with too small a force, regardless of our "technological advantage."

Second: Oops. In street-to-street fighting in a moonlit night -- or in the desert, whatever -- the fantastic edge our guys had over the is has just disappeared. And the incredible "precision bombing" and other GPS guided weapons can now be misdirected -- to i civilians in Baghdad and, in a skirmish or major battle where our ground forces need air support, to our guys. There's enough "fratricide" and "friendly fire" wiping out our forces as it is -- without GPS jamming devices in the hands of the enemy.

Third: White House officials -- Bush, , Wolfowitz, Rumsfled -- knew or should have known that this war was going to much worse than they told the American people. And the worst part of it is, I beleive that this was sheer ineptitude on the part of the big deceision makers, who were so intent on fighting this war that they neglected to get accurate intelligence or see what the intel already showed: it was a bad choice to enter this war of choice.

And that's if you support the war. (Never mind the million other reasons not to fight it -- the world hates us -- destroying alliances that have taken 60 years to build -- screwing up the force of international law -- weakening the Geneva convention -- scads more -- but here's another one, now: destroying the deterrent effect of our threat to use military force, and diminishing the reputation of our fighting forces as an effective tool for peace and diplomacy.)

Am I saying that we're going to lose this war? No. I'm saying that it will be much longer and more drawn out than we had been led to believe or that the White House expected -- and a lot of people -- many of them our own 19 and 20 year olds -- will die needlessly as result of White House mistakes.

The Bush Administration: Inept at diplomacy. Inept at peace. Inept at war.

That's foreign relations and policy. Thank goodness they're so good at domestic stuff. (For anyone who wants to quote that last bit, you must include: "uttered with the utmost bitterness and sarcasm." Or, "And then Burka, slouching over the counter of a dark, depressing bar, downed six shots of whisky in quick succession.")

Posted by Tom Burka at 7:27 PM in Commentary

Rumsfeld Confuses Situation Room With TIVO, Attempts to "Pause" and "Rewind" War

Today, Donald Rumsfeld sent White House workers into complete disarray by attempting to "pause" the war to take a phone call from his niece while going downstairs to get some ice for his Coke. Rumsfeld repeatedly punched several buttons on what he believed to be the "remote" -- but which was in fact an electronic handheld joker poker game left there by President Bush the preceding day.

"This dadblasted piece of crap doesn't work for shit," he said. "And where did all these kings come from?"

Rumsfield then issued orders to "rewind" the push toward Bagdad and is apparently negotiating with Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic to digitally insert 150,000 more troops near Nasiriyah.

(In a related story, George Lucas expressed disgust that 250,000 actual American soldiers had been ordered to engage in the war with , saying that he could have done it "with a bare handful of extras, digitally reproduced and multiplied to resemble an enormous horde of invading Americans." Upon being pressed, Lucas admitted that he would probably need one or two principals, "but nobody pricey." He also expressed dismay about the location. "You don't need at all -- Tunisia would have done fine." He also would have saved billions of dollars by getting the location shots with a second unit and fighting the rest of the war in a studio. "The savings?" said Lucas. "At least $74.9 billion.")

Posted by Tom Burka at 6:58 PM in News

War Paused, Posting Light

Actually, the war isn't paused, I'm on vacation (sort of). Anyway, to my scads of devoted followers (read: both of you), I'm pretty tied up until next Thursday. Or until the 4th Infantry arrives, whichever comes first.

Posted by Tom Burka at 6:33 PM in News

March 27, 2003
Boy, That Eric Alterman Sure Knows How to Cheer a Guy Up

On March 25, a Eric Alterman wrote (accurately):

The invading force turns out to have been too small.

Homeland security is a joke, and starved for resources.

Oil prices are going sky high and the market had its worse day in six months, during which time it had a lot of bad days.

The first $75 billion is just a downpayment. Expect to pay hundreds of billions in the short-term, trillions in the long run. Expect it to come out of your schools, your police forces, your highways, your future and your children’s future

Oh, and then there’s the rest of the world. Arthur Schlesinger lays it out in Newsweek” and the Los Angeles Times :
“Today it is we Americans who live in infamy.”

Posted by Tom Burka at 10:17 AM in Links

We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us

Today, the Second Batallion came under heavy attack from Marine units farther south when they called for artillery support to protect them from an Iraqi attack in the north. 37 marines were wounded, 3 critically, and numerous trucks, armored vehicles, and humvees were destroyed.

"It's these damn cell phones," said one marine, who preferred not to be identified. "The Second said they wanted to be supported. We thought they said they wanted to be mortared." A spokesman for Sprint decried the mistake.

Sgt. Hugo Spurgeon of the Second Batallion, 8th Marine Division had this to say. "We asked for help and they gave us help. I'm just glad they weren't trying to hurt us."

General Hy "Goferit" Phlegmington said, "We have the best prepared men, the most sophicated weapons. We have stuff that can see through walls -- that's classified -- stuff that can pinpoint the tail on a donkey in a pasture on a farm in a town near a city hundreds of miles away. Just think what we could do if we could figure out if our guys were far enough from the tail of the donkey to safely blow that donkey's tail plumb off."

Posted by Tom Burka at 9:39 AM in Commentary

March 25, 2003
Commanders Misplace 4th Infantry Division; "I Thought You Had Them," Says General

High ranking officials in the White House who had never been to war were stymied when the democratic processes underlying Turkey's government continued to thwart U.S. intentions to use Turkish land as a military staging area. (See Middle East Democracy deals Blow to Plan to Install Other Middle East Democracy)

"I don't understand it," snarled Paul Wolfowitz. "Just because a governmental body votes one way, doesn't mean you have to follow the dictates of a democracy. In America we wouldn't stand for it." Dick fumed. "Those Turkish [expltive deleted] don't have the slightest idea how a few people at the top can totally override the will of the people."

Although Turkey's Parliament had barred U.S. ground action in Turkey, White House officials told U.S. commanders to keep the 4th Infantry Division, a heavy Army unit force deemed essential to a ground war in Iraq, floating in the Med instead of moving them to join ground forces in Kuwait. As a result,

Cheny continued to fume. "What the hell do those [expletive deleted] Turks want anyway? We tried diplomacy, we offered them $30 billion dollars or something. That damn Powell cannot do anything right."

In contrast, Donald Rumsfeld was calm and resolute. "We didn't need the British and we don't need the 4th Infantry. We'll go it alone and even if we're not there, we'll do it."

Posted by Tom Burka at 8:11 PM in News

March 24, 2003
Bush Cautions That War He Promised Would Be Over in Days Might Actually Take Weeks

President Bush and members of the White House backed down off their initial soft sell of the war in Iraq. "We are the best prepared, most awesome force in the world," said President Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and later First Specialist Michael Abromowitz, who repeated the sentence no less than 12 times during a CNN interview in the field.

"However," said President Bush, for the first time, "A lot of people are going to die. Really a lot. I mean, it's a war. I had been led to believe that nobody was really going to fight back, but it seems they are, and that's going to make it a lot more difficult. I've totally revised my expectations. Pass the salt."

The American people didn't blink at the bloodshed. Although Americans were just realizing that "significant casualties" would occur in a war, American support was still strong. Clive Berkinstocking, of Coalpile, Pennsylvania, put it this way: "It just had not dawned on me that U.S. soldiers might get hurt. I mean, we have all these bombs and machines and trucks and stuff. But now -- well, even if a lot of soldiers die, it's worth it. i'm sure President bush knew the risks, and weighed the costs, and I'm right behind him, along with a mystifying 70% of Amercians who feel the same way."

Students overwhelmingly supported the war, although they continued to oppose having to go fight it. "I have trig tomorrow," said Clyde Bark, a senior at Oklahoma State. "And I don't wanna miss the NCAA's, even though I think you can still watch those over in Iraq."

Marla Binks put it this way: "I don't mind making sacrifices, like having people die. It's for a good cause." She then got in her SUV, went shopping at K-mart, watched TV, ate a sumptuous dinner from KFC, and played video games with her toddler Ralph. After Ralph slept, she talked about Adrien Brody's "funny nose" for an hour with her best friend Susie Button on the phone. She was repulsed that Susie found Brody sexy, and she liked Salma Hayek's dress. "This war sure is awful," she said, the next day, watching CNN on her couch in a bathrobe while eating two bags of Cheez Doodles.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:37 PM in News

Precision Bombs Hit Turkey Exactly Where We Wanted Them To

Qatar, March 24. In today's press briefing by the American High Command, Lt. General Zacharias Kelp (two, maybe three stars, who really knows?) told reporters that he would summarize and illustrate several recent U.S. attacks on "combat systems," by which he meant people and buildings. Kelp showed several grainy films in which "precision bombs" were able to strike "targets" in "compounds" with such accuracy that the walls surrounding structures were left intact. Kelp also showed reporters instances in which bombs were able to take out Republican Guard units while leaving their shaving gear untouched. "This is the i people's shaving gear," he explained. "It is part of the wealth of their nation." He denied rumors that the U.S. had its own interests in the valuable triple-edged Mach III razors, as well as suggestions that U.S. military weapon names had been inspired by marketing campaigns developed by Schick.

Kelp went on to show several other examples of precision bombing, which included two cruise missiles which struck an unpopulated area in Turkey. "That's exactly where they were headed," said Kelp. "Notice that the tufts of grass immediately outside of the cruise missile's landing site were completely undisturbed."

During the briefing, George Stephanopolous stood up and pretended to ask some questions, in order to demonstrate that he was actually there. He expressed hope that "in the future, other White House officials will be able to resign and become credentialed members of the independent press." He said being in the Qatar press pool was a great accomplishment, and that he felt almost as close to the seat of power as when he was an integral part of President Clinton's staff. When asked to explain his remark, his status sometimes permitted him a seat near the front of the press pool bus. "And I get all the Fresca I can buy, " he added.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:35 PM in News

March 23, 2003
Bush Prolongs War With Thoughtless, Irresponsible Talk

MSNBC learned that today Powell was trying to diplomatically negotiate the exile of Hussein in an effort to end the war quickly. When asked by reporters if Hussein could still seek exile, Bush destroyed Powell's diplomatic efforts by saying "No way. I gave him his 48 hours and they're over," or some such thing.

Thanks. We can thank Bush for spilling the blood of those lost in a prolonged war -- Americans and is both.

How many Americans will support the war if 1000 U.S. soldiers die? 2,000? 3,000?

How many deaths were projected when Bush decided to go ahead?

Posted by Tom Burka at 9:27 PM in Commentary

Responsible Reporting

When a correspondent told MSNBC's Forrest Sawyer moments ago that "chemical plants" had been found, he said, "But we don't know -- they could just be chemicals," and the correspodnent said, "That's right." A news ticker crawl under Sawyer then said "Chemical Weapons Plants found," and Sawyer said,"That's not true. that crawl is unsubstantiated. Take it down." And they did.

Of course, this is the network that has "Operation i Freedom" -- a piece of propoganda -- continually emblazoned on theri screen during "news" coverage.

Posted by Tom Burka at 9:21 PM in Commentary

War Crimes and Taking The Low Road

Maybe it's just me, but it seems absurd for Donald Rumsefeld to complain about violating the Geneva convention (concerning showing captured and dead marines on TV) when we haven't had very clean hands in our treatment or prisoners, or even in the legality of the current action. We insist on others following the Geneva Convention but we violated internatioanl law by invading to begin with. We captured Taliban and others and said we did not have to follow the Geneva convention, claiming that these people were "unlawful combatants." I believe there were corroborated reports that we kept prisoners naked and hooded for hours upon hours, often during interrogation. there have been questions concerning our treatment of detainees in Cuba.

The point: We have chosen to become exactly like the very governments and people we used to criticise for human rights violations. I and many others have said that we can no longer criticize them for using practices that we have adopted.

And don't tell me 1441 authorized war. Our own U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. said, when 1441 passed, that it was not "self-authenticating" (read: self-actuating), and another respolution was needed to authorize the use of military force. We can't pretend otherwise now.

Posted by Tom Burka at 5:58 PM in Commentary

First Time Shock and Awe Used in Military Attack

Previous Uses:

1) Don King's hair;

2) Non-cancellation of Anna Nicole Smith Show;

3) Result of last Presidential Election;

4) James Traficant Jr.'s lawyering skills -- and his hair -- his membership in Congress -- everything about him, really;

5) Halle Berry's entrance in Die Another Day;

6) Ability of Helen Thomas to refrain from strangling Ari Fleischer at any given press conference;

7) Childbirth;

8) Inability of Gorilla to damage Samsonite luggage;

9) 1996 first-round victory of Princeton Tigers basketball team over defending champion UCLA on backdoor layup with 3 minutes left in game;

10) The Atkins Diet.

Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:37 AM in News

March 21, 2003
Unbiased Media

The war seems to be going well. What do I mean by that? Although I'm opposed to it -- and believe that Bush could not have handled the diplomacy worse -- up 'til A-Day, there seemed to be a concerted attempt to try and get it over as fast as possible, hitting as little as possible. Of course, I, like you, am entirely dependent on our very well-controlled media for my information. And these embedded reporters -- I question their independence. So the above serves to remind us all that there's a spin on everything. (Poster courtesy of The Propaganda Remix Project, which is a cool site full of old WWII posters that have been retooled to reflect current perspectives on today's news.)(via Orcinus)

Posted by Tom Burka at 6:32 PM in Commentary

March 20, 2003
Bush Declares:

The bombing won't stop until every last double of Hussein is decapitated.

(courtesy of a friend who is much funnier than I am, even when he is anonymous)

Posted by Tom Burka at 6:18 PM in News

March 18, 2003
The Bush Plan For Taking Iraq

Wednesday night. Bomb the heck out of 'em.

Friday Take Basra.

Saturday Take Baghdad, win war.

Sunday Install democracy.

Monday Order new curtains.

Tuesday Refurbish Presidential Palace in teal; arrange with sanitation workers to haul away old dictatorship. Maybe redo kitchen.

Wednesday Put in strip lighting.

Thursday Decorate Kurdish region in aqua.

Posted by Tom Burka at 9:34 PM in News

Oh. Now We See Why We're Invading Iraq. (Because we can.)

Last night on Chris Matthews's Hardball (MSNBC), William Bennett and a former CIA Chief, enthralled with the heady bouquet that is preemptive war, outlined the real plan for this war. First we take Iraq. Then, in order to expedite a Middle East peace between Israel and Palestine, we "pressure" (read: threaten to invade) Syria to get out of Lebanon and we take Damascus. Presumably we follow up by "imposing upon" (read: threaten to invade) Iran to give up their nuclear weapons program and then we do something to Libya, too.

This plan was echoed in Paul Krugman's analysis today (get it here) in the New York Times:

It's a matter of public record that this war with is largely the brainchild of a group of neoconservative intellectuals, who view it as a pilot project. In August a British official close to the Bush team told Newsweek: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran." In February 2003, according to Ha'aretz, an Israeli newspaper, Under Secretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that after defeating the United States would "deal with" Iran, Syria and North Korea.
One of the guys on hardball last night defended this as perfectly justifiable, saying, "Well, it took 70 years for us to clean up Europe, get rid of all those petty dictators . . ." (Link to the transcript will be up as soon as MSNBC makes it available.)

These pinhead neoconservatives forget: that was a World War. And we had a true coalition of the International Community on board. (Last night Bush said we had a "broad coalition." Read: Britain, Spain, and Australia.) And that was a war of self defense. A war of necessity.

The world will not accept the U.S. plowing through the Middle East and dictating (like those dictators) who does what and how and where and what their "democracy" will look like. (Can true democracy occur when it is imposed and orchestrated by another country that is acting in its sole interest?)

I've said it before and will say it again. This militant go-it-our-own-way madness will unify, embolden, and fuel the terrorist opposition to this country, until what happened on 9/11 will seem like peanuts. No one and no place will be safe. It's no surprise that the New York Times reported that al Queda is using our hostility as a recruiting tool.

The philosophy espoused by Sean Connery in The Untouchables, where he said, "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue," makes for a fine Oscar award winning speech, but in the real world, it leads to Armageddon.

Israel and the Palestinians have taught us that that cycle never ends.

Posted by Tom Burka at 9:48 AM in Commentary

March 17, 2003
Interpreters Mistakenly Fired For Translating Actual Words of Bush Speech

Almost all of the interpreters at the U.N. were fired or suspended without pay after President Bush, at a Joint News Conference today, expressed hope that in the future, the U.N. could "get its legs of responsibility back." Virtually all of the U.N. interpreters were fired, replaced, suspended, or, in the case of some countries, summarily executed after they related Bush's words to the Ambassadors they served.

The Chilean Ambassador, who unfortunately cannot now rehire his interpreter and is having problems replacing him, said, "I have heard that in Camaroon, they have a saying about `arms of butter', and of course I have the videotape `Abs of Steel,' but there is no such idiom in any language as `legs of responsibility'.'"

Ari Fleischer defended the President, saying that Bush had simply had a "language spasm," but that it required no medical attention and was nothing to worry about. "The President was clearly explaining that the U.N. needs to develop some intestines of jocularity," he stated.

He then excused himself, saying something about "inventing a teleprompter that can fit on a President's head like a hat."

Posted by Tom Burka at 11:44 AM in News

Recent Poll Shows More Americans Oppose War Than Support It

A recent poll showed that 50% of Americans oppose the war on . That poll, which indicates that 37% of Americans would only support the war if the U.N. voted to give Bush the go-ahead, and 13% would oppose the war even if the U.N. voted for it. Strangely, the Associated Press reported this result as indicating Bush Has Solid Support for War.

MWO published a letter to the Associated Press asking them to correct the strange and misleading headline.

Yesterday CNN/USA Today came in with a poll which was had some similarities. The poll indicated that 54% of Americans favor war with even if the U.N. withholds approval. That's if a vote is held. if a vote is not held (and news as of this second shows that Bush will not seek that vote -- he's going to war anyway, a real surprise), then support for the war drops to 47%.

Posted by Tom Burka at 11:06 AM in News

This Is A Somewhat Conservative Paper?

The New York Observer certainly speaks for me when they posit Smug President Has Painted U.S. Into a Corner. An excerpt:

The callow, smug, inarticulate man who was the lead player in a farce called "White House News Conference" gave us no new reasons to go to war, no sense of the dangers involved and no confidence in his leadership. The television appearance itselfmore a blustering tape loop than exchange with the presscould only be called a national disgrace; President George W. Bushs performance in front of a docile collection of game-show hosts posing as reporters ought to frighten all of us. We live in terrible times, dangerous times, and all this man can do is mouth platitudes and assertions put on his podium cards by his war-crazed handlers. Eight times he interchanged the war on with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and eight times he was unchallenged.

Amazingly, in the immediate aftermath of the Presidents disgraceful performance, news outlets described him as "solemn" and "determined." These pieces must have been put together before the President actually spoke, because there was nothing solemn or determined about him; "clueless" and "lost" would have been closer.

Posted by Tom Burka at 10:35 AM in Commentary

March 15, 2003
Good Evidence That U.S. Is In It For the Oil, In Part
This report about U.S. Intentions is a fairly thorough analysis of the reason 's oil is so crucial to U.S. interests in the near future (if not today). It is chock full of something you won't find in many places discussing the war: facts. The facts (in summary) are that OPEC is already producing oil at peak capacity. The demand for oil is rising throughout the world in industrialized countries, and is beginning to be larger than the supply -- hence, rising oil prices over past years. There can be no question that Bush and -- intimates of the oil business -- thoroughly understand this. The U.S. gets 1/4 of its Middle Eastern oil from . That's with 's oilfields severely damaged (from the 1991 war) and operating well below capacity due to sanctions. If 's oil fields were properly developed and if sanctions were no longer in place, would compete with Saudi Arabia as the number one source of oil imports for the United States. Any disruption of that crucial supply would be counter to our national security interests.

In an August 2002 Report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, entitled "World Areas to Watch," the U.S. Government noted that

[i]n anticipation of the eventual lifting of economic sanctions, already has signed potentially lucrative oil and gas deals (which will come into effect when sanctions are lifted) with companies from Russia, France, and China, and has invited international partners to invest in natural gas projects worth $4.2 billion. In August 2002, reports indicated that Russia and were ready to sign a $40 billion economic cooperation agreement covering a variety of fields, including oil, electricity, and petrochemicals.
Ok. So this would support the argument that France, China, and Russia were set to veto the war resolution because it would disrupt enormously profitable arrangements with the present i government. But it would also mean a potential change in the ability of the U.S. to secure sufficent oil to meet its needs; there's only so much oil to go around, and France, Russia, and China were set to grab a huge amount of the supply. They could either use this oil for their own needs, and then have none left over, or sell some to the U.S. for exorbitant prices.

It cannot be the case that, as pro-war people cynically (and I have nothing against cynicism) point out, France, Russia, and China (and the claim involves Germany as well), are basing their decisions on money and oil while we are not. If the oil in is of such precious value to these nations, it can be no less valuable to our own interests and no less influential in the decision to invade . Of course, I have already mentioned this Heritage Foundation report from 1991 which posits that no goal is "as critical to America as maintaining access to Persian Gulf oil or militarily assisting Israel."

The argument presented in the National Review that we can't be in it for i oil because, even if i oil is snapped up by others in the world market, it always gets sold back to us, is specious when viewed in light of the diminishing supply of world oil and the increasing demand for it elsewhere. Yes, the U.S. will always be a large consumer of the available oil. This, the National review argues, means that we will always be ensured access to the available supply. This is not logical.

The only other explanation for this war is plausible, and certainly plays a large part in the decision to invade : to ensure America's domination as the only world superpower. This was the world order advocated in Paul Wolfowitz's famous 1991 memo. Is it any wonder that Paul is one of the chief hawks leading the charge?

Posted by Tom Burka at 9:48 PM in Commentary

France Isn't in It For the Oil
I've heard time and time again the argument that France's opposotion to the war in is due to the worth of its many oil contracts with . I heard one person quote to me that France had $60 billion in oil contracts that would dissolve if there was a war. I never knew whether there was any truth to this -- but one of the most hawkish publications you can find anywere,Jane's Information Group, a compendium of everything about modern weaponry and military affairs, a publication that is for he who delights in all things military, says France will lose barrels of money by opposing the war:
France used to have large oil interests in , and a reasonable expectation of retaining some influence in the region. Chirac's current policy has put all this at risk.
The point is that France could have stood to gain a great deal from backing the U.S. war in , putting its hand out when the time to divvy up the oil contracts (and the other industrial contracts), but that France squandered that opportunity to enhance its standing as an international leader. I don't necessarily buy this (see above about France's oil deals with ), but, then again, France's prospective oil deals with all depended on the lifting of economic sancions against . So what's wrong with France saying, the inspection process can work, and eventually we will get Saddam to disarm, and we can lift econmic sanctions agianst him? Then everyone will be happy.
Posted by Tom Burka at 9:35 PM in Commentary

March 14, 2003
Much Better Than Dan Rather's

Mister Crunchy shares his interview with Saddam Hussein.

Posted by Tom Burka at 10:56 PM in Commentary

Your Horoscope For Today

Check it out. Frenchify girl, soon to be forced to redesign her web page by Congress, no doubt, tells you your horoscope. A preview? Aries: "Your head will swim with delusions of adequacy today."

Posted by Tom Burka at 1:57 PM in News

Bush makes Last Ditch Attempt to Avoid Diplomatic Solution

In what he called a "last ditch attempt to go the extra mile for peace," President Bush -- who never left his seat to meet with a single leader of any country opposed to war with Iraq -- flew to the Azores to meet only leaders of the meager coalition of countries he managed to scrabble together in support of a war -- Britain and Spain -- to make a couple of final plans about blowing off the U.N. vote Bush had earlier called for even while vowing to ignore the certain defeat of the measure.

Bush had earlier explained his pledge to call for a vote of the U.N. whatever the outcome, so that countries could "lay their cards on the table." Today he asked countries to "keep their cards close to their chests" so that he could try bluffing. "It's called Texas Hold'em," he joked, after which several White House press pool reporters rushed him, vowing to "put the poker metaphor to death forever."

A resolution was immediately introduced before the U.N. security council calling for the United States to immediately disarm itself of the use of harmful, confusing, and almost incoherent rhetoric. The resolution proposed several conditions, the first of which was for President Bush to "stop abusing the English language," for Donald Rumsfeld to give up sports metaphors, and for Ari Fleischer to "simply stop speaking." Mexico voted for the measure before realizing that it was the only country in the room.

Ari Fleischer described the meeting this way. "The President is determined that peace will break out in the Middle East, even if he has to force it to break out with really big tanks, huge numbers of helicopters, thousands of bombs, some aircraft carriers, and 250,000 men with guns and nightvision goggles."

Posted by Tom Burka at 1:38 PM in News

March 13, 2003
Who Says Those Cable News Networks Don't Really Provide Any News?
Courtesy of Eric Muller at IsThatLegal? comes proof that those pundits who cable stations pay top dollars to are worth their weight in gold.
Posted by Tom Burka at 9:26 PM in Commentary

White House Flunks Remedial Math -- Will Be Forced To Take Summer Course

George W. Bush -- who has joked that he had a C - average at Yale -- and his Administration pouted openly when learning that they would be forced to give up summer vacation so they can retake a course involving basic addition and subtraction. The Administration funked a test of the most basic math skills when it concluded that it had nine votes authorizing the use of force in .

"We have Camaroon, Britain, the U.S., and another African nation,"" said Powell. "That's nine.'

Little Jackie Hargrew, age 7, of Split Head, Indiana, was quite certain Powell was wrong. "Isn't that four?" he asked, before becoming absolutely certain. "That's only four." Jackie is in Second Grade at MoreScience Elementary School.

Powell later reconsidered his calculation in light of Jackie's conclusion. He then announced that he believed they had two more countries on board. "Four countries and we've got two more," said Powell. "That's nine."

Donald Rumsfeld later agreed, stating that the sum of any number of countries combined with any other number of countries always equals nine. "Or more," he added.

Bush was particularly put out when he was told that "could not skip" the remedial course. "Man, this whole thing blows," he said.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:26 PM in News

March 12, 2003
A Truly International Body
Paul Wolfowitz suggests that, if the U.N. doesn't back the U.S. war with Iraq, the U.S. will find another "international body" to replace the United Nations. Maureen Dowd asks: Who is he talking about? "Salma Hayek? The World Bank? The Hollywood Foreign Press Association?"
Posted by Tom Burka at 10:25 AM in News

March 11, 2003
WarBloggerPundit: Operation Imminent Bluster

I think fair is only fair. You've heard all of my antiwar rants. Oliver Willis gives you a look at the other side of the coin.

Posted by Tom Burka at 7:29 PM in Links

Bored Congressmen Look For Ways to Justify Existence

Representative Bob Ney (R-Ill.), known around Capital Hill for complaining about the lack of "real work" for legislators, finally introduced and pushed the House to adopt a ridiculous joke bill renaming some of the cafeteria food. "The boredom just got me I guess," said Ney, who failed to vote on the recent cloning bill in Congress because he "got engrossed in the Season One Survivor DVD."

"What surprised me was how long it took to draft one of these so-called bills," said Ney. "Just renaming French Fries to Freedom Fries -- well, it took me a week or so just to get the phrasing right. We didn't want anyone calling them liberty fries or soemthing like that. We wanted to draft that baby narrowly, so it would be interpreted correctly." Congress spent three days debating the measure, "just to have something to talk about," said House Leader Dennis Hastert. "We really don't have that much to do. But this was a real hoot. We laughed and laughed."

Hastert explained that the Republicans had run out of ways to reverse laws enacted under Democratically controlled House leadership and pretty much "had nothing left to do. We were all grateful for the opportunity to stretch our legs and get out on that Capitol floor."

House majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who couldn't quite stop chuckling, suggested they rename everything which had the word "French" in it. "Let's see, we got Freedom Fries" he said, gasping for breath, "Then freedom cuffs, the freedom horn, the freedom doors, and my favorite, the freedom kiss!" after which he fell on the floor guffawing.

The House leadership is considering passing a law removing all references to France from the American film, "Casablanca," replacing "La Marseilles" in a key sequence with John Phillip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever." DeLay explained that "it could be done with modern special effects computers." A discarded bottle of Vichy water in would be visually modfiied to bear the "Poland Spring" label.

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) backed the measure, saying, "There's no place in an American film for this filthy French sentiment. We liberated them, and what did they do for us? Snails." Hyde was one of the sole Republicans who voted against the "Freedom Fry" bill, on the ground that they should be renamed "Frog Fries."

When asked if any substantial work awaited the House, Ney laughed. "We can keep doing this or we can pass bills cutting taxes and increasing spending," he said. "Which would you prefer?"

Posted by Tom Burka at 4:00 PM in News

March 10, 2003
The Axis of Just as Evil

Wil Wheaton has a very funny entry in his weblog. Allegedly written by John Cleese, but certainly written by someone else (Cleese would never use the phrase "wickedly cool") -- I'm told it from Satirewire, which I have to check out -- it is a funny news story I wish I had written myself. It starts:

Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil," Libya, China, and Syria today announced they had formed the "Axis of Just as Evil," which they said would be more evil than that stupid Iran--North Korea axis President Bush warned of in his State of the Union address.
This is entirely seperate from the issue that Wil Wheaton has one of the most popular weblogs in America. Perhaps the world. You have to be a complete Star Trek sci fi geek to know who Wil Wheaton is, by the way. He is perhaps best known as the actor who played young Wesley Crusher on Start Trek:TNG. He claims that he started writing his weblog when a Hooters waitress asked him, "Didn't you used to be an actor?"

Posted by Tom Burka at 1:24 PM in Links

Several Cows on New Hampshire Farm Still Wondering If U.S. Will Invade
Posted by Tom Burka at 12:05 PM in News

Powell Shocked to Learn Security Council Resolution Subject to Veto

Today Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed frustration and outrage that a majority vote of the U.N. Security Council approving the use of military force against could be vetoed by one of the Council members. "What was I wasting all this time on?," he complained, speaking of his repeated 24/7 (but unsuccessful) efforts to secure a majority vote. "I had heard about France, Germany, Russia and China, but I still thought we had a fighting chance," he said. "This changes everything."

Powell was rocked by other unpleasant realizations. "My God!," he said, I made absolutely ridiculous deals for some of these yes votes. I gave away stuff we don't even have !"

Powell was also reportedly "startled" to learn that more than one country had vowed to veto the vote. "I thought Russia, China, Germany, and France were going to vote no." When a reporter informed him that they could also simply abstain from the vote, Powell muttered, "They can do that?"

Powell spent the rest of his day accidentally locked in a bathroom.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:01 PM in News

Florida State Debate Team Moving "Will We Go to War With ?" Debate Up in Schedule

The debate had been scheduled for October of the next fiscal year. Now, according to RaeAnn Fitch of Jacksonville, it will be moved into the June 12th slot, where it will replace "Should English Be Compulsory or Is it, Like, A Language We Already Know?"

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:08 AM in News

Several Cows on New Hampshire Farm Still Wondering If U.S. Will Invade

But the sheep moved past this topic a long time ago. They're all talking about cloning.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:02 AM in News

March 9, 2003
A Damn Good Question

Mister Crunchy asks the question about the coming war with nobody else dared ask. "[E]veryone until now seems to have ignored: what does the oil want?"

Posted by Tom Burka at 10:49 PM in Commentary

Rescued From An Evil Tyrant

Ted Rall postulates a scenario where aliens come to "free us from the evil tyrant Bush." Cooperation with alien stormtroopers is compulsory. I have to admit that the alien leader looks nothing like Gen. Tommy Franks.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:09 PM in Commentary

March 8, 2003
A Personal Observation
Today I saw a pretty girl coming out of a public restroom in Central Park. So there you have it. Pretty and brave.
Posted by Tom Burka at 11:28 PM in Commentary

Maybe It's Time To Trim That Beard
One of my numerous girlfriends (read: "My wife -- who wishes to remain anonymous on my web page--") told me that with my winter coat on, my hood up, and my sunglasses, I look like the Unabomber.
Posted by Tom Burka at 11:26 PM in Commentary

Totally Convincing
The Washington Post noted that the U.S. relied upon forged documents as "evidence" of an Iraqi nuclear arms program. The forged documents -- letters -- were replete with "crude errors," "including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time the letters were purportedly written":
"We fell for it," said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents.
This isn't satire. That's what our government said. Very believable. Either our intelligence officials are being -- what's the word I'm looking for -- dishonest, or they're simply incompetent.

Moreover, the same article explains that Powell's claim -- repeated by Bush in latest State of the Union address, and presented to thre U.N. is Powell's recent presentation -- that aluminum tubes ordered by were clearly intended to be used in Iraq's purported nuclear weapons program, appear to be patently false.

Bush: Reluctant. Cowboy.

I'll accept cowboy.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:51 PM in Commentary

Totally Unconvincing

Eric Alter said what his companions (notably Howard Fineman) have failed to say:

[A]t one point in the news conference, Bush said: That happens to be my last choicethe use of force. Sounds good, but it simply wasnt believable. Everyone knows that war has been the presidents first choicenot his lastsince at least the summer of 2002. In trying to play the reluctant sheriff, Bush cast himself in a role that rang false. He has, for months, been the eager sheriff.
Alter thoughtfully contrasts Bush's actions over the past year with possible and far more reasonable paths the President might have taken if he had really wished to pursue a diplomatic solution to i disarmament. Worth looking at.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:33 PM in Commentary

March 7, 2003
Some Good News

According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, if President Bush were to run today against Democratic Candidate X, he would lose 48-44. That's either percentage points or numbers of Justices on a greatly expanded Supreme Court.

The Unnamed Candidate does fine. The problem is when you name him. (Or her.) Then, according to the poll, Bush wins.

That's why I think we should get someone unnamed to run for the Democratic Nomination. An anonymous nominee. (Say it three times fast.) The anonymous candidate. He could run with a big bag over his head, like the unnamed comic. (Who was that guy, anyway?)

Posted by Tom Burka at 2:00 PM in Commentary

Is the Media biased? Is Pat Kadell a ticking human bomb?

This is what I mean by media bias. After the President's press conference, the media fawned over him with the same degree of repressed pride that a parent might exude after a successful performance by a child as a shepherd in a school nativity play. Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" repeatedly called the President's speech "dramatic," and other stations reported the event with all the journalistic integrity of a puff piece in Vanity Fair. Howard Fineman seemed to go out of his way to paint the President in a light that just wasn't there. He called him "a reluctant warrior," and likened him to Shane, strapping on the guns because he has to:

FINEMAN: If he's a cowboy, he's the reluctant warrior, the Shane (ph) in the movie, strapping on the guns as the...
MATTHEWS: Because he has to.
FINEMAN: ... last resort because he has to, to protect his family, drawing on the emotions of 9/11, tying them to Saddam Hussein, using the possible or likely rejection vote from the U.N. as a badge of honor.
That may be what the White House wants us to think, and how they wanted Bush to appear, but it is astonishing to see someone who purports to be an objective journalist spinning the speech for the White House in this way. There was certainly no attempt to explore this pose, and no attempt to contrast that image with the facts: that the White House agenda has been all-Iraq all-the-time since Bush's 2001 State of the Union address, painstakingly and methodically built up into an international crisis -- and a diplomatic disaster -- by Bush. Bush has crammed a war with Iraq down our throats -- speaking for Americans and the world at large. There was no comment about the fact that the White House carefully chose Bush's pose last night -- some found Bush's tone almost somnambulant -- to be deliberately calm, not aggressive. The Republicans want and need to paint Bush this way so they can turn the facts on their head. The "reluctant warrior"?! Bush is more like war's peppiest cheerleader. He has so doggedly and determinedly sought this war that it makes his push for tax cuts seem half-hearted and unenthusiastic. The only thing he was reluctant about was going to the U.N.; I understand he was practically dragged kicking and screaming to them. It is understandable that he plans to ignore the U.N. now, since he never honestly sought U.N. intervention, oversight, opinion, or investigation. It was his intention to go to war a year ago and nothing will dissuade him from that path. Reluctant indeed.

In this context -- the factual context -- the treatment Bush received from Matthews and Fineman was astounding. The tone of their "analysis" and discussion was as of those who had learned a great deal from an accomplished elder statesman, and whom they were lucky to see in action.

Nor did they comment upon Bush's failure to meaningfully answer questions put to him about the war. (Instead, they praised him for his "Viet Nam" answer, where he said we knew what we were going to do, had a "clear goal," in , and praised his saying we were planning to win this war. Were we ever planning to lose Viet Nam? Were our goals that vague -- or any less strongly articulated than our "goals" and "reasons" for the war are today?) And the failure of the media here, regardless of the personal belief of any journalist, is the failure tp examine the manner in which Bush presents himself in light of his chosen actions and the perceptions of the millions upon millions of people who see his actions toward differently. The media should not be just channeling the President's message to viewers and repackaging it for them to digest. The story is that the message has been packaged -- and why and how much?

Aaron Brown of CNN, interestingly enough, asked his correspondent-on-the-scene about his impression that the President did not seem to be answering the questions asked of him, and even pointed out that one or two of the answers seemed to have nothing to do with the questions asked. However, the correspondent sidestepped any consideration of Aaron's actual question, instead muttering something about the briefing and rehearsal the President had received for the conference but concluding that the President "sought to reassure the nation that" blah-blah-blah -- essentially shrugging off the fact that the President did not answer any question that demanded a substantive answer about the rationale for going to war in the face of worldwide anti-war sentiment, about the economy, about the cost of the war, or about the need for it. (Yes, Bush did reasssure the public that he believes we need to do it, and that it is in the interest of our national security, but he avoided elaborating meaningfully on those conclusions.)

Pat Caddell, a democratic pollster who appeared on MSNBC, did nobody a favor by pointing out that the vast majority of Americans do not support the war, because he seemed actually to foam at the mouth as he did so. He was so angry (who can really blame him?) that he appeared to be free associating about how the American people were not going to take this or something to that effect, while his Republican counterpart ably and calmly spun the press conference into another bang-up performance for this "very effective" President that the country loves and wants to support:

(Caddel said) I'm not representing any party, but the audience needs to know. When I looked at The New York Times pieces, when I talk about - - there are all kinds of different lies. This New York Times piece about this-your memo about the Republican Party about obfuscating, about global warming and the environment...
the problem I'm having is how the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) did we get from 9/12 when the entire world was standing with us, when we were going after the people who killed those 3,000 people to a war with Iraq, which is on the agenda of these Jacobins as I call them, the cabala Jacobins for the last five years or 10 years.
See? The substance may be correct, but he seems to be gibbering.

Which is a shame, because Pat Caddell is a smart pollster and a skillful advocate. He was, like many of us, so angered by the treatment of Bush and the Republicans in the press that he was, frankly, almost incoherently sputtering. i think the point he meant to make was that, for the most part, the media is now in the position of republishing, without analysis or question, fact-checking or investigation, anything the White House says. One of the reasons for this is that the news cycle -- the time between the event and the reporting of it -- has diminished to such a degree that reporters really don't have time to do much more than relay the information received directly to their viewers and readers. It doesn't really help people much to throw in "commentary" from one Republican pundit and one Democratic pundit and say that's the story.

There are still some great investigative reporters out there. Seymour Hirsch comes to mind. But there doesn't seem to be a lot of journalistic integrity. (Unless you're Aaaron Brown. Kudos to Jon Stewart too.)

Posted by Tom Burka at 1:50 PM in Commentary

President Bush Calls For U.N. Vote He Vows to Ignore

In President Bush's Recent News Conference, Bush clearly stated that he wanted the U.N. to pass a resolution authorizing him to use military force on , and repeatedly said that he was going to use force whether or not the U.N. authorized it anyway. "I think it's very important to accord the U.N. the respect it deserves," he said, reading his statements from teleprompters with such great care that he appeared to be sleep-walking, "and that means pretty much doing whatever we please, whatever the result."

Some expressed concern that the President was losing his hearing during the question-and-answer period. For instance, when asked why other countries with whom the U.S. had fully shared its intelligence reports still opposed war, the President replied, "I'm fine, thank you. Thanks for asking. How are you?"

At other times, the President apeared to be contradicting himself. "This is unscripted," he said at one point, reading from a large placard on the wall that read, "This is unscripted."

Theater critic Noah Watson of the Daily Vernacular later commented onthe President's performance. "Perhaps it was unscripted. But it was so over-rehearsed that it had lost the tang of true spontaneity and lacked the breath of life that is the hallmark of a great theatrical performance." Watson gave the press conference five bananas out of a possible ten.

Posted by Tom Burka at 1:10 PM in News

March 5, 2003
Powell Accuses Hussein of Trying to Divide Security Council

Powell accused Saddam Hussein of creating a "vicious rift" in the U.N. security council with his "divisive tactics of destroying weapons," and his "ruthless acommodation of U.N. inspectors' demands." "This guy will simply not stop at anything," said Powell. "We must put a stop to these foul and despicable tactics of acceding to U.N. desires," he said. If Saddam Hussein can satisfy France, Russia, and Germany, "there's no telling who else he might disarm for." Powell added that the "time for action was now," lest Saddam Hussein destroy even more of his "vile arsenal."

"He's not fooling anyone with this crap," said Powell. "Well, except for a lot of nations. And a lot of people who live in those nations. And a lot of people outside of those nations. I don't know what he's up to with this disarmament stuff, but I do know this." Powell said nothing more but kicked a chair over and clenched his fists several times.

Posted by Tom Burka at 9:36 PM in News

Ridge Lowers Snack Food Threat Warning to Sour Cream and Onion

Tom Ridge lowered the snack food threat warning level from "Mesquite BBQ" to "Sour Cream and Onion." Despite reports of snapping, crackling, and popping in various cupboards, Ridge said that intelligence points to "a decreased likelihood that snack foods will be mounting any specific attacks in the near future." He added that everyone should still "treat their snack foods with extreme caution," to "be on the lookout for suspicious snack food activity," and reminded folks to "stock up on dip" for emergencies.

Posted by Tom Burka at 11:43 AM in News

A Modest Reposte to Jingoism

Bill Moyers, on Patriotism and the Flag, makes some fine points, among them:

The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo - the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. . . . So I put this [flag pin] on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don't have to make it, or approve of bribing governments to join the coalition of the willing (after they first stash the cash). I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us. The flag belongs to the country, not to the government. And it reminds me that it's not un-American to think that war -- except in self-defense -- is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve, and diplomatic skill.

Posted by Tom Burka at 11:31 AM in Commentary

March 4, 2003
One of These People Has to Be Lying

There is an old logical parable involving two villages. It goes something like this. The people of one village always tell the truth. The people of the other village always lie. You come across a person on the island where both villages are situated. He must come from one of the two villages. He can tell you how to get off of the island and save yourself. What question can you ask him to determine which village he comes from?

The reason this comes up is because of Eric Alterman's quotation of some analyses he found on some other weblogs. These weblogs engage in sophisticated examinations of the "intelligence" set forth as hard fact supporting the conclusions that the administration claims to have drawn about 's weapon plans and its intent to use its weapons aggressively.

The problem is one of credibility. In order to support the war, we have to credit Bush's claim that it is necessary to do so. This is difficult because the administration's proffered explanations for the need forcibly to depose Saddam Hussein have shifted from time to time. Sometimes the reason is regime change. Sometimes the reason is to "install" democracy and stabilize the Middle East (and bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians, too). Sometimes it is because Hussein will give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists, particularly to al Quaeda. Another reason has been that if Saddam Hussein gets nuclear weapons he is going to use them to blackmail us to look the other way (threatening to nuke Israel if we intervene) while he takes over Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

It is also hard to credit the Bush Administration because they are the most secretive government in the history of U.S. politics. This does not inspire trust. If they want the people to trust them, then they should be more open. A lot more open. Secrecy is the enemy of a democracy. Information wants to be free. People deserve to know upon what information their representatives are basing their decision. Not some of the truth, but the whole truth. ( For god's sake, will Dick just give us the list of the people he met with on that energy commission, already? It's just a list of names. Not what they said even.) The failure to disclose suggests that they do not trust the American people to come to the "right" conclusions about the material, and suggest a patriarchal "we-know-better-than-those-kids" attitude toward the people who have empowered them. (Unless you take into account that we didn't elect them, but that's another story.)

So now the meat of this entry. Via Eric Alterman, via Atrios, comes this fine examination of the intelligence the administration has set forth as proving 's evil intentions and their nuclear program: Unqualified Offerings. Problem is, the intelligence comes from two individuals (Kamel and Hamza), one of whom says the other is a big liar. They can't both be right. A says X and B says Y and also A is a liar. This has been presented to us as X and Y are true. As Jim Henley points out:

1) [These two informants] can't both be telling the truth.

2) Quoting Hesiod again: "The Bush admninistration, and its pro-war allies, have been hyping the information provided BOTH from Khidir Hamza and from Hussein Kamal. The problem is...one of them has to be lying."

3) But there's one more problem. Pollack too touts both defectors to support his case, just as the administration does. And since Pollack was, after all, "a former analyst of the i military at the C.I.A.", who has written an entire book on since (supposedly) leaving the Agency, he must have known that Kamel and Hamza conflict.

He's talking about Keven Pollack, the man who wrote the book "The Threatening Storm: Why We Should Go To War With ," and who also made the most convincing case I had yet heard for the war -- summarized best in Ira Glass's interview of Pollack on This American Life (and noted elsewhere on this page.)

What this boils down is that there are huge gaping holes in the arguments supporting a war against which center on the lack of credibility of those urging its necessity. As I recently noted, there have been reports that Hussein is not nearly as dangerous as has been claimed, and that his ambitions have been successfully curtailed by inspections and sanctions over the past twelve or more years -- that containment works.

All of this supports the conclusion that Bush and his pals want to invade for another reason: not because he is dangerous but because it would advance U.S. interests to occupy the country and have a base of operations in the Middle East that we controlled -- in an area that includes a large supply of oil. The Heritage Foundation has been flogging this as a strategic goal of U.S. foreign policy for many years. See this 1991 document for examples. It advocates, among other things, that we "[m]ake the ouster of i dictator Saddam Hussein the top short-term U.S. policy goal in the Persian Gulf." This is because no goal is more important than

preventing hegemony by Iran, , or any other hostile power over the Persian Gulf. Nor [is any goal]as critical to America as maintaining access to Persian Gulf oil or militarily assisting Israel.
I've seen many a conservative dismiss antiwar demonstrators "No War for Oil" signs as being insane leftist rhetoric. But how can you say it's crazy when conservative think tanks have advocated the importance of getting control of Middle East oil as fundamental to United States security?

That's why many of us oppose the war. We can't just take people's lands and resources because we need them, and because we have the power to do so. That's why this war with is imperialistic and colonialist in nature. It's not preemptive. It's aggressive. And it's wrong. (And the rest of the world knows that it's wrong, too.)

Posted by Tom Burka at 11:31 PM in

War of the Polls

According to a Washington Post poll, 59% of the country supports a war with even without U.N. support. Tom Friedman says, however, "don't believe the polls. I've been to nearly 20 states recently, and I've found that 95 percent of the country wants to see dealt with without a war." I myself find the poll numbers hard to accept, even taking into account the fact that almost all the people I talk to live in New York City. A close relative of mine who is a retired Army general and very conservative is against the war, although he is usually very supportive of the use of force to support American interests and in conservative agenda. All of the young people I know are against the war. I know precisely one person who is for the war.

The reason I bring this up is that these polls generally seem to miss the mark. There is either a conservative bias at work or some flaw in the way the polling data is collected, or the questions are asked.

Anybody out there really know anything about this? I have to say, most of these polls are conducted by the very same conservative news media, large corproations, etc., who demonstrate a conservative bias in their reporting.

Posted by Tom Burka at 3:54 PM in

March 3, 2003
Daily Kos: Let's help Bush with some campaign slogans

Those fine people at The Daily Kos have solicited campaign slogans from their readers. (See the comments section for some of them.) My favorite? "Bush '04 -- Because Five Justices Just Can't Be Wrong . . ."

Posted by Tom Burka at 9:37 PM in

Confused American Citizenry Wonder When War Will End, Already

Tired of the endless barrages of rhetoric raining down upon them daily like rain, millions of terrified Americans hoped for the end of "this horrifying war," although the war had not yet started.

"It's like, relentless," said Sherry Clark, a mom from Duluth. "It's on all the channels. The endless wrangling. The sharp retorts. I just want it all to be over."

A recent joint poll by Zogby, ABC News, Harris, Time, and Newsweek all showed that people were anxious for the war to end. (A poll by Fox News indicated that over 70% of Americans wanted the White House to "bring it on," and "let's wrassle," but was based on an interview of a group of guys outside a Hardees in Lubbock, Texas.) Over 70% of Americans polled indicated that they were willing to make almost any sacrifice to avoid the neverending stream of speeches, presentations, warnings, pie charts and bar graphs released from the White House almost every day. Polls also suggested that incendiary rhetoric and "tough talk" was wearing down people all over the world. Both "old Europe" and "new Europe" denizens organized for antitalk talks in the face of escalating gibberish.

Negotiators for Americans sought a U.N. resolution in favor of stopping the proliferation of abusive rhetoric. However, experts have said that any chance at a resolution may be stalled by a proposed ban on the use of similes.

Posted by Tom Burka at 5:08 PM in Commentary

Saddam destroyed his biological and chemical arsenal in 1995?

Eric Alterman points out a Newsweek article indicating that valuable information from a top Iraqi defector -- noting that Saddam had destroyed his bilogical and chemical weapons stockpile years ago -- was "hushed up" by Iraqi inspectors. This also begs the question of Powell's recent presentation to the U.N., where his evidence of Saddam's nuclear evidence was weak, and in whichhe correspondingly played up -- even holding up a vial of "play Anthrax" -- Iraq's purported biological and chemical weapons programs. As Alterman notes, "This crucial piece of information of seems to have been deliberately buried, but if it can be verified, it could disable entirely the argument for war." Wisdom. And, I might add, excellent grammar.

Posted by Tom Burka at 2:58 PM in Commentary

Middle East Democracy Deals Blow to Plan to Install Other Middle East Democracy

Turkey's parliament voted not to allow Bush to use Turkey as a base for military operations aimed at installing a democracy in Iraq. Opposition members explained that they "had seen U.S. schematics of the Iraqi government," and that the plan to install democracy in Iraq was doomed to failure because, among other things, it relied almost exclusively on the availability of representative widgets and gerrymandering cogs.

Members of the Bush Administration expressed frustration at the loss of military bases in Turkey. One senior White House official wondered, "Where are we going to put all of these Florida voting machines?"

Posted by Tom Burka at 2:16 PM in News

March 2, 2003
If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck . . .

I used to think Tom Friedman was a really smart guy. Until he started touting Bush's war. It was ok, he said. It was even ok to have a war with Iraq for oil, he said. Without any provocation. He said the war would be a good thing, but only as long as Bush could do a bang-up job of rebuilding Iraq, while simultaneously noting that Bush is terrible at rebuilding -- or for that matter, building -- anything. Today he somehow notices that Bush is a moron, but Friedman still supports the war. He mentions that if he, Friedman, had been planning on invading Iraq and "installing" democracy there, he would have done all the smart, foresighted things Bush has neglected to do-- i.e., not alienated the world by blowing off the Kyoto treaty, not proposed huge tax cuts on top of other massive tax cuts when the government needs the money, "rallied the nation for real energy conservation and initiated a Manhattan Project for alternative energies so I would not find myself with $2.25-per-gallon gasoline on the eve of this war," and Friedman would have made tough new demands on Iraelis and Palestinians to try and direct the Middle East toward a lasting peace.

His conclusion: Bush's vision of domino-directed democracies in the Middle East, fueled by a military ouster of Saddam Hussein and a forced U.S.-led occupation of the country, is a "big, bold, gutsy vision." Hey, Tom, if it smells like a myopic pinhead, if it walks like a myopic pinhead, if it acts like a myopic pinhead, then any of its "visions" are the hallucinogenic fantasies of a myopic pinhead.

I don't know if anyone noticed it, Tom, but you can't swap out government types like agitators in washing machines. You can't "install" a democracy. Governments aren't modular components, like circuit boards in some huge electronic machine. They're infinitely complex and dynamic societal systems.

On the same page, Maureen Dowd highlights some facts which show how myopic and short-sighted -- and utterly imbecilic -- the Bush plan for Iraq is. It was being touted by Bush's lackeys -- or should I say, his superiors? -- as early as 1992, when and Wolfowitz were championing it and Bush's dad was -- never believed I'd be writing this -- smart enough then to reject it. 1992? This administration is so short-sighted that double-thick coke-bottom-bottle glasses couldn't help them out.

Posted by Tom Burka at 7:18 PM in Commentary

The American burka?

Those folks at Metafilter opine that "the HAZMAT suit [has become] the American burka." Let's be clear. I'm the American Burka. The HAZMAT suit is just one of my lackeys.

Posted by Tom Burka at 5:25 PM in Commentary

March 1, 2003
The Right Hand and the Left Hand. And you know what they use the left hand for . . .

Do These Men Work for the Same Government? quotes from Bush and Powell this week on the proffered rationales for using military force in . Guess what? Powell: Disarm. Bush: Regime change and we want to install democracies all the over the Middle East like little houses in Monopoly.

Posted by Tom Burka at 11:33 PM in Commentary

Bush Insists Hussein Must Disarm, Cede Power, and "Do the Chicken Dance"
The United States continued to elaborate on the conditions it requires to deter an invasion of Iraq today, asking Saddam Hussein to step down from his dictatorship and run around the country flapping his arms like a chicken. Ari Fleischer defended the demands, saying, "Look, does the guy want to cooperate with us, or what?" Fleischer denied that the U.S. had also at one point considered making Hussein deliver a "really nice shrubbery" to the White House.
Fleischer pooh-poohed any suggestion that the ever-shifting rationales offered by the White House as purported justifications for the use of military force demonstrated that the decision to go to war with was ill-conceived or based on some mysterious "voodoo logic."
"There has never been any shift in our rationale," said Fleischer. "The chicken dance has always been the priority."
Posted by Tom Burka at 12:24 PM in News