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In Ottawa

I’m in Ottawa, Canada, mildly jet-lagged and severely sleep-deprived. I was going to post some photos and commentary, but tonight it ain’t happening.

First thing tomorrow (Monday) morning I go to the Libyan embassy to pick up my passport. I had to send it to them along with my visa application. Word has it I won’t get the visa right now because all of a sudden they need several more weeks to process the paperwork. Sigh. But who knows? They’ve told me contradictory things on the phone before. I guess I’ll find out for sure soon enough. Either way, I’m going to Libya. I’ll go later this week if I’m lucky, or else I’ll go in the Fall.

In any case, Shelly and I leave for Italy on Wednesday, and then we’re off to Tunisia and the mighty Sahara on Friday. (Should be nice and warm this time of year.) I can’t (or won’t) blog from Libya, but I can and will from Tunisia.

Too tired for now. More soon…

Are We Out of Gas?

It looks to me like the Bush Administration, its namesake doctrine, and America’s race to pre-empt terrorism of mass destruction has run out of gas.

Jim Hoagland says in The Washington Post he thinks there will be no more Iraqs.

The threshold for preventive war, for example, will be raised significantly for the immediate future. Intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and the intentions of dictators or terrorist gangs that seem to possess them are unlikely to be sufficiently clear to meet the standards for action demanded by the post-facto doubts and recriminations on Iraq. Intelligence analysis will become even more cautious and ambiguously stated to policymakers. Vulnerability to surprise attack could grow again.

Widespread disillusionment will also seriously undercut idealistic rationales for deploying U.S. forces overseas. The growing acceptance of humanitarian intervention that gave rise to the slogan “No more Rwandas” is marginalized today by the drumbeat of “No more Iraqs.” The mishandling and abuses of the Iraq occupation have negated much of the idealism of the liberation in one long, bloody year.

I hope he’s wrong but I don’t think he is.

Look at what’s happening in Iran right now.

Iran made good on recent threats yesterday and announced that it will resume building equipment essential for a nuclear weapons program, despite its agreement with three major European powers.

On the one hand, that’s a counterpoint to what Hoagland said. There should be no doubt whatever that Iran wants nukes. It hardly matters if our intelligence is weak and often wrong. Unlike Saddam, the ayatollahs brazenly announce their intentions.

But it also underscores Hoagland’s point. Iran is getting away with it.

Were we supposed to feel better because Europe was “handling” this problem? Of course the ayatollahs violated their agreement with Britain, France, and Germany. That’s what rogue dictatorships do. Only fools trust murderous psychopaths who killed their way into power and kill to hold onto power to obey the instructions on a piece of paper waved in their faces by appeasement-minded EU diplomats.

Where’s Bush? He just blew away the regime next door for less than this.

We have more than two options here. It’s not a choice between entrusting the safety of the world to Jacques Chirac on the one hand and ramping up for a full-bore invasion and occupation on the other.

We have hard power, and we have a lot of it. A little sabre-rattling would go a long way with Iran if we’d try. Tell them to knock if off or they’re next. If they call our bluff we don’t have to bomb the capital or change the regime. Just a few pinprick strikes on military targets at night would let them know we’re serious. Don’t think for a minute that wouldn’t scare the pants off ’em.

I used to think I would vote for Bush because he wouldn’t let Iran go nuclear and Kerry just might. Well, now it looks like neither one of them, or anyone else for that matter, intend to do much about it. Kofi Annan certainly isn’t going to pick up the slack.

The Democrats aren’t much interested in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. They seem to have forgotten everything they ever knew about nuclear proliferation as they harrumphed themselves into a corner over Saddam. I’m not hearing much from the right about this either, and my guess is because they trust Bush will handle it. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m just not seeing it. Bush might as well be off on a bender in the Bahamas right now.

One advantage to a Kerry presidency is this: Terror War hawks won’t sit idly by and assume a problem like this will be taken care of. They’ll scream and demand action. And who knows? Maybe they’ll get it. Hardly anyone is demanding Bush do something about Iran. If this keeps up, the mullahs get nukes.

The Neo-Centrist Alliance

This passage from Christopher Hitchens’ new Vanity Fair piece about the intra-Republican civil war really stuck with me. (No link, not online.)

It’s not the only attack from the old right that describes the neocons as Johnny-come-latelies: chancers who had changed their party allegiance just in time to catch the Reagan tide, but who remained liberals and cosmopolitans under the skin. Indeed, William Kristol has proved Buchanan’s point, by telling The New York Times that, if pushed, by which he clearly meant “in any case,” he would prefer an alliance with liberal hawks to one with anti-war Republicans.

Sometimes I wish the neos could form their own party: the neo-liberals and neo-conservatives against the Democrats and the Republicans. Not gonna happen, I know. But that is the “party” I feel like I belong to these days.

Quote of the Day

It is quite remarkable that the American state, with its unelected president, venal Supreme Court, silent Congress, gutted Bill of Rights and compliant media represents the crushing of internal dissent in order to propagate the resurgence of White Supremacist ideologies. It appears that the appropriation of Arab resources leads our attention to this calamity brought to us by a horrific onslaught, known as Shock and Awe. So far, the 15-minute speech delivered Monday night by President Bush brings about the police state which has come to pass. Nevertheless, the apparent demise of “anti-Americanism” as a respectable means of stifling recognition of American imperialism represents the repudiation of international law in order to bring about an oil war masquerading as an endless crusade against “terrorism.”

- Mark Nugent’s automated Leftist Cant Generator, aka the original Chomskybot.

If anyone knows of an automated Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, or Rush bot let me know.

(Hat tip: Roger L. Simon’s comments section.)

The Case for Kerry

Anne Cunningham makes the best case for John Kerry I’ve yet seen in the space of three consecutive posts.

One. Two. Three.

If you’re an anti-war liberal you probably won’t think much of Anne’s case. She isn’t speaking to your concerns. This is the case for liberal hawks and disgruntled neocons to consider. Whether she’s ultimately right or not, I don’t know. But she makes a host of great points that need to be taken seriously.

It’s probably best to read all three posts before commenting, either on my site or hers. They complement each other.

Our Indecent Senate

So. The Senate decided it wants to fine every single person, and that could include you and me, 275,000 dollars just for saying one naughty word (that is, whatever the FCC unilaterally decides is a naughty word) on the radio or the TV. One senator — one senator! — voted against this thing. So here’s a tip of the hat to Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) and a big FUCK YOU to the rest of ‘em.

My house is worth less than 275,000 dollars and it will take me 30 years to pay it off. Hey, senators. Ever hear of the word “proportion?”

Since when did our entire senate, including almost all the Democratic Party, become a prissy uptight puritanical right-wing freakshow anyway? I expect this kind of authoritarian crap from people like Orrin Hatch and Trent Lott, but what on earth is the matter with Ted Kennedy and John Edwards and Hillary Clinton? Oh, and John Kerry too. He voted for this garbage as well.

They’re afraid to take the fight to religious nutjobs who want to kill us, and they’re afraid to stand down the local nutjobs who want to control us. Cowards. Wash my mouth out with soap if you must, but you can stick your 275,000 dollar fine in your ass.

A Neat Trick

It’s late and I’m too tired to have an opinion. It happens.

In the meantime, check this out. Dean Esmay pointed me to this neat little automated mind-reading trick. I know the secret and will reveal it later in the comments. See if you can figure it out how it works.

Your regularly scheduled opinionated blather will resume shortly.

Hitch on Moore

Wow. I sure hope Christopher Hitchens never guns for me in print. I’ll need an icepack and a vacation if it happens.

Today in Slate he gives Michael Moore one hell of a thrashing for his new “documentary” Fahrenheit 911.

Into the Neoconservative Lair

Roger L. Simon risked life, limb, and reputation to descend into the neocon lair in Washington where he caught Dr. Michael Ledeen — on camera! — translating The Communist Manifesto from its original Straussian into corporate jargon for the purpose of duping yuppies at malls. Spooky.

Ralph Nader Jumps the Shark

I enjoy reading Marc Cooper’s blog. I never know if I’ll go over there to argue or applaud, and I like that. Unpredictable is good and besides, he’s one of the most pleasant people to disagree with you’ll find. (Well, unless you’re far right, in which case you probably won’t enjoy it so much.) Anyway, today I’m not arguing.

We both liked Ralph Nader the last time around. I liked him because he was honest and because he reminded me of the old school Democrats, the kind they don’t make any more. After 9/11 he doesn’t make me think of FDR so much as a kookier and more rumpled George McGovern. That’s really not what I’m looking for at the moment.

Nader is up to his armpits in all sorts of other problems I wasn’t aware of until now, and Cooper’s on it.

Good Riddance to the Intifada

Shortly after Ariel Sharon was elected in Israel he cynically demanded a full week of quiet before he would agree to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. I say “cynically” because most people, not least himself, knew a week of quiet was not going to happen. Hamas and Islamic Jihad were murderously opposed to negotiations. Yasser Arafat was in their pocket. (Or were they in his pocket? Does it make any difference?) So Sharon could come across as a reasonable man willing to talk when we all knew full well he had no intention or desire to talk about the intifada. What was there to talk about? It wasn’t going to stop until it was crushed or Jews fled Israel in boats.

Well, goodbye to all that. Charles Krauthammer notes in The Washington Post:

At the height of the intifada, there were nine suicide attacks in Israel killing 85 Israelis in just one month (March 2002). In the past three months there have been none.

It’s a good idea to teach children that violence does not solve problems. It almost always is true. It certainly hasn’t done much for the Palestinians.

The sad fact of the matter, though, is that violence does sometimes solve problems. It worked for Israelis. Smashing terrorist nests, assasinating terrorist leaders, and implementing the Israeli left’s (non-violent) demand for a separation fence paid off handsomely.

Now it’s time to talk peace. Now it’s time for a “road map” that might actually work.

It’s theoretically possible that Yasser Arafat is tired of living in his bombed out compound in Ramallah (he’s been trapped there by tanks for over two years) and would like to sign a treaty. He can’t be a cheerleader for an intifada that no longer exists.

But I don’t see much point in including the man in any talks. Most likely he’ll drag out the process as long as he’s sucking oxygen. If he does decide to cut a deal and stick to it, the Palestinians will have to suffer with him as their dictatorial overlord until he finally keels over or someone speeds up the process and feeds him a bullet.

Better, I think, to keep Arafat marginalized. Start a new “road map.” Have an election in the West Bank and Gaza where Palestinians elect someone to negotiate on their behalf. If they choose a new leader wisely, Israelis will send Ariel Sharon back to his farm and give them their state.

If they prefer to drag this out for several more years, it’s their choice and their loss.

The Latest

Here are photos of what Al Qaeda did yesterday in Saudi Arabia. If CNN will air photos of abuse in Abu Ghraib they need to publish these.

I’m tired of issuing warnings along with my links to graphic photos. Most of us do need to see this. I’ll be in the Middle East myself in two weeks, and unless you’re my mother this is no time for a whitewash.

To Hell with the Republican Party

Dear Andrew Sullivan,

I see you’ve decided not to support the re-election of the president. Well, good for you then.

For a while there I was a v-e-r-y reluctant Bush supporter because the Democrats refused to take the Terror War seriously and picked a worm in the primary. Now I’m back in the undecided swing-voter camp for most of the same reasons you are. I don’t know who I’ll vote for. But I’m sure I’ll hate myself in the morning no matter which way I go.

I see there’s an Andrew Sullivan hate-fest going on over at Lucianne Goldberg’s Web site. I read the first half of the comments in that thread and didn’t see a single person sticking up for you. It’s nothing but accusations of “fag,” “traitor,” liberal,” “anti-American,” and so on ad nauseum.

Look. I went through the same thing on the other side. For a while I thought I was a dissident hawkish liberal. But there are only so many times a person can be told he or she is a heretic before walking out of the ever-shrinking “big” tent with their sleeping bag and gear to set up camp somewhere else.

Political parties are cruel to people who think. The more partisan members are bigots. They hate people in the other political party, and they hate you if you don’t follow orders. If you’re going to talk about principles you might as well be writing in Martian for those who will jump at a moment’s notice to stay on the right side of the party line.

Quit. Just walk away from the Republican Party. They are not your comrades as you can plainly see. Don’t bother calling yourself a conservative anymore. Publicly declare yourself an Independent and a Centrist. Don’t let anyone call you anything else. Oh, but they’ll try. Ann Coulter will call you a traitor and a leftist. Michael Moore will say you’re an imperial neocon cabalist. Who cares what they think? They’re slapstick buffoons, not your peers.

Your conservative friends who are worth their body weight in water will still be there for you. Your subscription to The Weekly Standard will still arrive in the mail. Your boyfriend will still love you. Your neighbors will still wave hello. Your favorite bartender will still smile when he sees you pull up a stool. Your Web site will still be one of the most popular blogs in the world. Don’t be afraid to lose readers. Some of us have learned a lot from your work, and we are not going anywhere.

The Democrats will no longer have me. That’s fine because now I am free. If the Republicans no longer want you, we in the middle will welcome you. Come on in. The water’s fine. It’s only cold for a second.

Someone Will Be Fired

In general I’d rather write about the good news in Iraq than the bad since the media likes to pretend it’s all bad. I’m sorry to tell you I have no good news for today.

Iraqis are furious. The CPA’s approval rating is 11 percent. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, so I suggest you brace for it.

Here is Christopher Hitchens in Slate:

The graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long. And, if you wonder why formerly gung-ho rightist congressmen like James Inhofe (“I’m outraged more by the outrage”) have gone so quiet, it is because they have seen the stuff and you have not. There will probably be a slight difficulty about showing these scenes in prime time, but they will emerge, never fear. We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see.

Here are my gut-level predictions for which I admittedly have no evidence. Donald Rumsfeld will “resign” in order “to spend more time with his family” when this footage comes out.

Or:

Bush will be fired in November.

Al-Sadr Becomes Pat Robertson

The insurgency of Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s fundamentalist fanatic-in-chief, is toast.

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) – Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr sent his fighters home on Wednesday in what may mark the end of a 10-week revolt against U.S.-led forces that once engulfed southern Iraq and Shi’ite Islam’s holiest shrines.

With the formal end of U.S.-led occupation just two weeks away, Sadr issued a statement from his base in Najaf calling on his Mehdi Army militiamen to go home.

He’s damn lucky he’s breathing.

So it looks like he’s decided to become a “mainstream” Religious Right figure now. He’ll be Iraq’s Pat Robertson instead of Iraq’s Ayatollah Khomeini, unless he just can’t resist the temptation to bring the gun back into politics, in which case he won’t be just toast he’ll be burnt toast. If he’s smart he’ll get a TV show where he can rail against Godless heathens, raise money for kooky causes, and call it good.

I suppose this development is fine and all, but there’s a danger here. It could have been al-Sadr’s plan all along to throw a gigantic fit to get in on the action. Other marginalized wingnuts might decide to follow his example and see if it works for them. I don’t expect they’ll be happy with the results if they try.

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