March 31, 2003


CULTURE WATCH: Just seen on the bottom of the CNN Headline News screen:

Gary Hart Cyber Campaign Starts blog on possible 2004 presidential bid
Delightful, isn't it, that they felt no need to explain what a blog is?

Here's the blog they're talking about. I once wrote (as an aside, here) that a candidate blog could be "a way of creating buzz without relying on journalists." Hart seems to be testing my theory.

Posted by John Tabin at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2003


MEANWHILE, IN ASIA: Don't miss this Baltimore Sun article suggesting an apparent policy shift in Beijing, toward getting tough with North Korea. This is a very encouraging development. A good diplomat should convince other countries that it's in their interest to do something in the U.S. interest. In this case, our goal of a non-nuclear North Korea coincides with a rational Chinese goal; as Glenn Reynolds puts it, "nobody, but nobody wants a regime as kooky as North Korea's on their border, armed with nuclear weapons." (Follow that link for an update on just how "kooky" the North Korean regime is.)

Posted by John Tabin at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2003


ALL QUIET: As it turned out, I had better things to do than sit in front of the computer yesterday. Today, I'm working on non-blog projects, mostly; there may be something here later, but I make no promises. While you're waiting for me, you can check out the newly-updated-for-wartime blogroll to your left. (In addition to a couple of less-useful-in-wartime blogs that I haven't been reading lately, I've weeded out a couple, written by friends of mine, which are inactive; you know who you are. Get back online, and the links will return.)

Posted by John Tabin at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2003


FYI: Don't expect much more here until tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Posted by John Tabin at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2003


LT. GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: He's an American of Lebanese extraction, he's Gen. Tommy Franks's right-hand man, and he may be a key figure in the post-war rebuilding of Iraq. Get to know him:

Abizaid’s career has displayed a rare combination of scholarly studies and hands-on military leadership. He earned a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies while at Harvard, after earning the nickname the “Mad Arab” at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Abizaid speaks Arabic, studied at the University of Jordan in Amman as well as a U.S. Army War College Senior Fellowship at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and served as an operations officer with a U.N. observer group in Lebanon.

His other stints have been as an infantry commander, commandant of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and assistant to then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili in 1993. He led a U.S. Army Ranger rifle company during the 1983 invasion of Grenada, and his use of a commandeered bulldozer to advance on a Cuban position inspired a fictional scene in the 1986 Clint Eastwood movie “Heartbreak Ridge.”

Definitely a good guy to have on our side.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:55 AM | Comments (0)


MALAPROPISM ALERT: A commenter missed the point below, and since I was pretty hard on her for her poor reading comprehension, I ought to be just as fastidious with my own writing, and note that I realize that it would have been more correct for me to say Bowling for Columbine was a fictional documentary, not a fictitous documentary (since, regrettably, the film does exist). "Fictitious" fit the comedic rhythm of the post, and I'm sure everyone knew what I meant, but because I'm a nerd I thought I should mention it.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:37 AM | Comments (0)


NICE WAR INFOGRAPHIC: Who knew that the Spokesman Review had such a great art department? In their honor, here's a map of their neighborhood for those of you wondering what the "Inland Northwest" is.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2003


NOW HEAR THIS: I meant to link to this the other day-- a six-minute radio exchange that's not to be missed. (Via Jonah Goldberg.)

Posted by John Tabin at 02:03 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2003


FICTION AND NON-FICTION: Michael Moore said last night that "[documentary filmmakers] like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president... where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons."

I find this hilarious, coming from a guy accepting an award for a fictitious documentary.

(N.B.: Don't expect any more posts here until tonight.)

Posted by John Tabin at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2003


WATCHING THE OSCARS?: I'm not. (I am following the online updates while I do other things.) A year ago, I was quite interested in what was happening at the Oscars; one of the last posts on my old blog was this one:

OSCAR'S FUTURE: Recently there's been a proliferation of award shows, with the mainstreaming of the Golden Globes, the debut of the AFI awards, the new attention given to various festivals and critics awards. The Oscars are becoming even more than ever driven by the politics of Hollywood, rather than the quality of filmmaking. With other award shows to fill the credibility gap and secede King Oscar as the premier award show, predictions about the Oscars may soon be focused not on who will win, but who will care.

This may take a while. Oscar's pedigree will be hard to break-- it's the grandaddy and the gold standard. Think of Wall Street Week, which in its traditional form is now on the way out. When it started, it was the only place on television where analysts talked about their stock picks. Now, you can hardly avoid the talking-head bulls and bears. It took a long time for WSW to realize that it was obsolete, but it happened eventually. It might happen to Oscar, too-- especially if they can't pick up the pace of the ceremony a bit.

It now seems likely that, if viewership is indeed down, it will be because of the war (and perhaps some backlash against those who would clap for Michael Moore). This would, of course, have nothing to do with my thesis about there being a better pick of award shows-- did they even show the AFI awards this year?-- but it'll still be interesting to see the ratings.

Posted by John Tabin at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2003


EMBEDDED REPORTERS BLOGGING: Courtesy of the Beeb. Well worth checking out.

Posted by John Tabin at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)


OIL TRENCHES BURNING IN BAGHDAD: Here's the report. Read this post from Salam Pax a few weeks ago to get a sense of what this means.

Now granted, I don't have the background to say whether it's even feasible to do this, but if it is, coalition forces should put these fires out, and it should be a top priority, even if it means a higher risk of military casualties. We may be able to operate just fine with the black smoke in the air, but we have to be overtly concerned with civilian comfort and health to stay on message with the Iraqi people-- we're on their side against Saddam.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2003


TOMORROW: I blogged less today than yesterday, and I'll most likely blog less tomorrow than today. But check back anyway-- there's always a chance of something big that I may say something moderately insightful about. Who knows, I may once again do something, like the Saad Farage Flag, that really captures the imagination (seven or eight hundred hits from several different blogs today for that one). Thanks for reading; I'm off for the night.

Posted by John Tabin at 11:08 PM | Comments (0)


BLOGOSPHERE EXCLUSIVE: You may know that many of the top Baathist villains are rumored to be dead or injured, but unless you're reading the blogs (I got this one via Instapundit), you don't know that a brain surgeon has been ordered to work on someone. This is info from Salam Pax, of course. Assuming Salam is, as Glenn Reynolds put it, "what he says he is," this war is to blogs what Gulf War I was to CNN.

(I must say, I would have thought twice about blogging this, as Diane did, if I'd gotten this email from Salam; if the thugs are looking for Salam they now have him narrowed down to the cousin of a doctor they have in their custody. But they've got a lot on their plate, and may be decapitated and in disarray, so there's hope that they're too busy for a censorship mission right now.)

Posted by John Tabin at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)


FLAG UPDATE: Amy of has kindly stored the Saad Farage Flag here, for those who would like to use it.

Posted by John Tabin at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)


WHERE IS SALAM?: If you go to Where is Raed? now, you'll see posts from February instead of the most recent posts. His posts from today-- right up to "2 hours more hours untill the B52's get to Iraq"-- can be found in the archive here. (His "Support Democracy in Iraq" banner appears to be gone completely.) It looks like someone-- maybe the Iraqi government, maybe a non-alligned hacker, maybe Salam himself-- tried to suppress his latest posts, but didn't do a perfect job of it. I've saved that archive page to disk in case disappears, too-- it's a piece of history. Some of you might want to do the same, not just for the latest archive page but for all the archives. This stuff shouldn't just disappear. UPDATE: The front page is current once again, though there are no new updates (understandable, since Baghdad is still being shock 'n' awed).

Posted by John Tabin at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)


OFF FOR A WHILE: Be back with more in a bit.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)


SHOCK 'N' AWE-LIGHT?: The reports are in that "shock and awe" is on-- but Peter Arnett just said the main part of the city, where civilians live, hasn't been hit (though there are legitimate targets there); now (if I heard Arnett correctly) we're only bombing the off-limits "presidential palace" district by the Tigris river (the red area that Salam Pax highlighted here). Drudge right now says:

A senior U.S. official said the escalation of the 'SHOCK & AWE' campaign might not be as intense as originally planned because U.S. surrender talks with senior Iraqi officials were continuing...
This is good news; our military planners are hopeful enough of a surrender that they're holding back. (Note that Drudge may be playing up the "senior Iraqi official" angle-- it could mean Republican Guard commanders, which would still leave a potentially messy fight to be had with the Special Republican Guard.)

Posted by John Tabin at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)


THE LIBERATION OF SAWFAN: Yes, Fox News is inclined to accentuate the positive, and yes, some of these people may be cheering because they think we're in charge and cheering is what we want to hear. But it's still nice to read that a few Iraqis, in Iraq, can now say out loud: "Saddam Hussein is no good. Saddam Hussein a butcher." UPDATE: Fox News either made a mistake or is using a non-standard spelling; the more common one is Safwan, and here's a map. As you can see, this is just over the Kuwaiti border, but this isn't the most recent advance-- the troops are moving very, very fast.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)


SALAM PAX IS REAL: At least, that's my informed belief. Diane of Letters from Gotham is more sure than I am. Salam is still blogging (and waiting for the B-52s). Also, perhaps unsurprisingly, his name is, by far, the most popular search that is bringing readers to this page in the last couple of days.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)


A NEW FLAG: I can't get this Reuters picture to load, but the caption presents a peculiar problem:

A U.S. Marine replaces the Iraqi flag at the entrance to Iraq's main port of Umm Qasr on March 21, 2003 with the Stars and Stripes and the flag of the Marine Corps. Marines briefly raised the U.S. flag over Umm Qasr after facing tougher than expected resistance in and around the southern Iraq port. Some time later, the flag was removed. No reason was given for the decision, but Washington has consistently stressed that invading U.S. forces want to liberate Iraq, not occupy it.
That's a good reason for not raising the US flag-- but it seems wrong to just keep the flag of Saddam's Iraq up, doesn't it? We need to be raising the flag of a Free Iraq. A pro-democracy Iraqi novelist (who appears to be in exile somewhere in the English-speaking world) has a suggestion on his website:

Changes and Symbols

Increasing the white color area to indicate the peaceful nature of the country

Removing the third star which was added by Baath party in 1963 to symbolize “Wahda” between Syria, Egypt, and Iraq which never occurred in the first place and Syria and Egypt never acknowledge Iraq as a partner so they stayed with their two star flags.

Return to the two stars which symbolize the Land of Two Rivers “ Belad Al Rafiden” Mesopotamia.

Increasing the size of the stars with its green color to symbolize the fertility of the land.

Adding a yellow frame to the stars, a symbolic color of Kurdestan.
Sounds good to me. We ought to at least have something along these lines-- raising our flag and then lowering it sends an odd message.

The novelist is named Saad Farage; On this website I'll be displaying this, which I'll call the Saad Farage Flag, until someone comes up with something better as a rallying flag for the liberation. If you want to take the image, feel free, but please host it in your own space; I'm using geocities, and too much bandwidth will eventually make it stop working. Also note that it's a jpeg, but I've renamed it as a txt file to fool geocities restriction on picture-hosting; you may want to rename the file.

UPDATE: You can also download the image here. Thanks to Amy of

Posted by John Tabin at 11:20 AM | Comments (3)


VIRUS WATCH: This, from Wired News, is worth knowing. There are a number of internet worms going around that play off people's fears and obsessions about the war. The rules still apply: don't open attachments from people you don't know. Even if people you do know send you things, don't open them if they look suspicious. (Outlook Express, among other email software, can be exploited by viruses because they contain address lists, and thus the virus can propogate messages to the victim's friends.) In general, treat attachments purporting to contain war info with extra skepticism; here are some of the messages that are sent by the Ganda worm, one of the most common going around.

Posted by John Tabin at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2003


DEALING WITH THE FOG: I should note that the report below about 16 casualties came only from MSNBC, and may prove erroneous. Stephen Den Beste has a longish post on how to take a deep breath and not believe everything you hear until it's confirmed. It's well worth reading-- and with that, I'm done for the night.

Posted by John Tabin at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)


OUR FIRST FATALITIES: Sixteen believed lost in a helicopter crash in Kuwait-- American air crew, British commandos. Bless them, and their families.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)


I FOUND AN ILLINOIS ANGLE!: And it's now one of the few posts today on Political State Report.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)


THE SITUATION: Here's what happened today (or mostly last night, in Iraqi terms).

Posted by John Tabin at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)


WAR LAUGHING: Need a humor fix? It's okay. The Onion is in re-runs and ScrappleFace is in support-the-troops mode (nothing wrong with that), but Aussie journalist Tim Blair is as sharp and funny as ever. And if non-war-related laughter is what you crave Dave Barry is still humor-blogging.

But really, Tim Blair's the one you want to check out.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)


OPERATION VALIANT STRIKE: Yes, there's also some major al Qaeda-hunting going on in Afghanistan. Funny, the 82nd Airborne doesn't seem particularly distracted.

Posted by John Tabin at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)


WAR WATCHING: Some of you are no doubt stuck at a desk, with only Internet and no TV. Need those moving, talking pictures? For video feeds on the web, there's MSNBC (live, I think), raw feeds from Reuters, and various reports on CBS, including Baghdad live. Here's Stephen Den Beste's source list again; clicking through to the big media Iraq pages should yield more. Putting a video feed on in the background while you do other things gives you a good radio broadcast (since on many of these, 90% of the images are talking heads).

Posted by John Tabin at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)


DELTA FORCE: USA Today's Jack Kelley-- arguably the best foreign correspondant at any American newspaper-- has well-sourced info on the Delta Force commandos training to hunt down Saddam. Delta Force is not only assigned to take out Saddam, Saddam's sons, and the top Iraqi brass, but they're also "a commando group so secretive that the U.S. government regularly denies its existence." Third-rate Hollywood producers have been fascinated by the Delta Force for a long time, but aren't they due for a big-budget treatment?

Posted by John Tabin at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)


OKAY: Stepping away from the computer for a while. More this afternoon and/or this evening, probably.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)


OIL WELLS BURNING: But only a few-- is it possible that more are supposed to be burning, but the troops are listening to Bush and not following Saddam's orders? Stephen Green dusts off his discussion of such obstacles to "Iraqi Gotterdammerung." And if you're a fan of second-rate nineties comedies, don't miss Mike M's hilarious comment.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)


RUMSFELD TO A REPORTER: "I don't believe you have the war plan-- which is a fact that makes me happy."

Posted by John Tabin at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)


RUMSFELD LIVE ON THE WEB: Go here and click on "Approx 11 am ET" for the webcast. (It looks like after the press conference, they're going to have a live shot of Baghdad.) UPDATE: The press conference is over now, and the webcast is not showing Baghdad, just a graphic. Still, this may be a good resource to keep in mind for later speeches if you happen to be at a computer without a TV.

Posted by John Tabin at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)


L'AFFAIRE DIXIE CHICKS: They're "ashamed" that Bush is a Texan? Country music fans aren't letting them get away with that. While they're taking a beating, I'll pile on: In their ubiquitous cover of "Landslide," the Chicks hit every note, but have so little emotion in their voices that I wonder if they even understand what the song is about. I love Fleetwood Mac's original, but when I hear the Dixie Chick's version I am, to paraphrase Joseph Heller, always impressed by how unimpressive it is.

Posted by John Tabin at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)


BLOGGING LIVE-ISH: Last night, Stephen Green asked who was staying up to blog. I replied, truthfully, that I had been blogging regularly (see below), but I was likely to go to sleep soon. Stephen emailed me urging me to brew coffee and stay up, but I really didn't see the point. I feel bad, though, that I've gotten a bunch of traffic from Stephen's site because I "was blogging live" when in fact I wasn't.

So, to make up for last night, I'll try to blog a bunch this morning-- picking up the slack for those who did stay up, and are now asleep. Stay tuned.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2003


BUSH'S SPEECH: We're at war; it may be rough; we support the troops; pray. All he needed to say, and about all he could say. He's gotten much better, but he still needs to work on his delivery to a camera; he still doesn't seem quite as natural as some of his predecessors did. (In fairness, not having an audience to work off of makes speaking quite a bit harder, and he's under pressure, to say the least.)

Posted by John Tabin at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)


THIS IS A BLOG FIRST: "air raid sirens in baghdad but the only sounds you can here are the anti-aircraft machine guns. will go now." -Salam Pax, moments ago. This man is my hero.

UPDATE: I sent this link to Glenn Reynolds, who replied:

If he's what he says he is, he's a hero. But I had a report that Iraq had shut down its civilian phone lines today, making me wonder how he's posting.
There have been lots of reports today, often unreliable, and besides, there are more ways to get on the internet than over the phone lines, even in Iraq. If he is faking it, he's been extremely convincing; I've been reading him for months, and not a single detail has felt false. If he isn't a hero, his skills as a hoaxer make Stephen Glass look like an amateur. (Unless of course, Salam Pax is Stephen Glass. Hmmm...)

Posted by John Tabin at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)


MORE WAR READING: Well, I gave you the link to Stephen Den Beste, but I want to draw attention to his pretty comprehensive list of sources. An interesting thing to highlight is that he does not recommend Debka or Stratfor, and defends this in an update. (He refuses to even provide links to these bad sources, but I'm not so fastidious-- you can decide for yourself, but my sense is that Den Beste is right; for one thing, Debka reported as fact the Tariq Aziz defection rumor this morning.)

Posted by John Tabin at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)


WAR LISTENING: I bought some CDs today. The Clash's 1982 album Combat Rock was the most important-- it has "Rock the Casbah," with its history as battle cry in the Gulf. But I also picked up some Souza marches, some more general patriotic music (the "Star Spangled Banner" etc.), and some Verdi. Why Verdi? Well, the greatest militaristic classical music is German and Russian, but given Germany's and Russia's coziness with Saddam, their national greatest hits seemed like the wrong choice. "Se quel guerrier io fossi!" from Aida is the next best thing-- and the Italians are on our side.

(Don't worry, Dave, I'm not stealing your schtick-- this is a one-time thing.)

Posted by John Tabin at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)


WAR READING: Keep an eye on Salam Pax, still blogging from Baghdad as of today. He gives you the mood on the ground and the rumors among the population like no one else can.

And if speculation about battle is your thing, Stephen Den Beste is your man. Den Beste's current line is that we can expect mass-surrender early on, possibly with tougher fighting later. (The surrenders have in fact already begun.)

As always, Instapundit has the best link round-up. And keep an eye here, I'll do my best to update often.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)


WAR NOW?: We're into the fog-of-war phase and lots of reports are simply not to be trusted (witness the Tariq Aziz-defection rumor), but This is London reports that fighting has begun. This is technically six hours early, but Saddam has ruled out exile and Ari Fleischer did say the troops are going in regardless, the only question is whether they would be opposed. (Presumably, if Saddam actually did surprise everyone and leave at the last minute, the mission would change to peacekeeping.) This seems to be essentially priming for the real invation-- which means that "a time of our choosing" may be "immediately."

Posted by John Tabin at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)


JEREMY: For a number of reasons, I made a conscious decision a long time ago that this blog would, for the most part, not be about my personal life. I promise we'll be back to war and politics shortly. But here's the front page news report from Monday's Ithaca Journal on what happened, and here's the notice from today's edition with information for those of you in Ithaca who might want to pay your respects.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2003


THINKING ABOUT DEATH: If Amir Taheri is right (and Taheri is surely in the ballpark), Saddam's war plan involves encouraging lots of horror in Iraq. I was thinking today about all that death, and whether it will be worth it to dislodge from power the man who seeks to unleash it. I still, reluctantly, think it will be.

Then death came closer. I got an email from a college buddy about the death this weekend, in an accident, of a friend of ours, a guy I knew very well, who was far too young. Words fail me.

Jeremy Shannon, Rest in Peace.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2003


48 HOURS: If I were Saddam Hussein, I'd go. But then, I'm not a megalomaniacal lunatic. At least, not every day.

Here's the transcript, and here's Rod Dreher's useful instant exegesis in The Corner.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)


A DISCREDITED U.N.: This is one benefit to either exile or a successful war that I didn't mention below. This is an important point, because some on the center-left see a discredited UN as a cost, not a benefit, and this is at the core of their grumbling lately about the Bush administration's handling of diplomacy. James Taranto tackled this last week (second item here). Wrote Taranto,

The most charitable interpretation of this sudden hesitation is that our liberal friends are confused about ends and means. The liberation of Iraq is less important to them than the maintenance of what Marshall calls the "world security system"--meaning the U.N. and NATO. But the "world security system" is only a means to the end of world security... the U.N. has failed to meet its challenge.
Marshall responded that this was "a differenece of opinion," and I'll take his explanation of this difference piece by piece:
Taranto, and those who believe as he does, see the decapitation of the Iraqi government as the linchpin of international peace and security. We see it as extremely important, but as a means to creating a more stable, safer world order.
I'm not sure how Marshall devines that Taranto sees taking out Saddam as the "linchpin" of security, and not an extremely important means to a greater goal. I can't speak for James Taranto, but I can speak for myself, and I certainly agree that Iraq is an important means to a more stable world. But I disagree quite profoundly with Marshall's assumption that the "world security system" necessarily involves NATO and the UN. More on that in a minute.
Fundamentally, we see the preservation of our key alliances and standing in the world, indeed the 'world security system' itself as even more important than Iraq. And when we see the president destroying those to get into Iraq, we have little choice but to say he's on the wrong track.
Marshall is throwing a lot of jargon around without defining it. He aludes to "key alliances" but doesn't say what they are. Are France and Germany key allies? If so, why? I think our alliances with the UK and Australia are the key alliances, and the Iraq war seems set to strengthen them.
Taranto and Co. are following a fairly thin logic which states that since the UN didn't do what we wanted it to, it's defunct and irrelevant. Indeed, they seem to be saying the entire framework of American-sponsored global institutions and alliances is defunct because of this. And thus we have to start over completely from scratch.
Once again, I can't speak for Taranto, but my foreign policy outlook is close to Taranto's and I don't think, as Marshall implied, that the UN became irrelevent because of its failure in Iraq in 2003. The UN's relevence was, at best, on life support throughout the 1990s; this is just its death rattle.

The UN exists so that communist and democratic countries can talk to each other. NATO exists to contain communism. The problem, as I'm sure you've guessed, is that communism is, to say the least, not as important a factor in geopolitics as it once was. These Cold War institutions that Marshall clings to are no longer appropriate, nor are they capable, of dealing with the threats of today's world. From an American standpoint, preserving these institutions makes no more sense in 2003 than preserving European footholds in the New World made in 1803. It doesn't make sense to preserve alliances for their own sake when their very raisons d'etre no longer exist. It does make sense to promote new ways of thinking about the order of the world. That's why the Anglosphere is the most important idea in geopolitics today. The UN is, to put it bluntly, not a good idea anymore, and the same may be true of NATO. We can do better.

Posted by John Tabin at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)


AT THE BRINK: The UN is now out of the loop. The President's speech tonight promises an ultimatum, giving Saddam until later in the week to go into exile or face war. (We'll find out the exact timetable tonight, but an administration official told CNN that 72 hours was "in the right ballpark.")

We're very close, but elements of the American Street are still antsy. This came in my inbox today, along with a link to the story above:

72 hours is three days ---too long MUCH too long. I would have given 3 hours.
I think this correspondent has let his emotions get the better of him. As agonizing as the wait has been, another three days is pretty close to nothing. And it is important to give Saddam a real shot at exile, because exile has enormous advantages, even if the benefits may be diminished.

If Saddam does go into exile, post-Saddam Iraq may be less free and less democratic than it would be after a war; we would be reforming an existing Baathist society rather than building a new, freer society from the ground up. Hence, the potential benefits of exile may be smaller than the benefits of war.

Lest we forget, though, the potential costs of war are substantial. It may be an easy conflict, but there may be an attack on Israel, a release of chemical or biological weapons, very high civilian casualties, an attack by Hezbollah-- the possibilities are frightening, even if some are remote. Even though I think the likely post-war benefits outweigh the likely costs of the war, it's dishonest to discount the possible costs of the war. Those possible costs make exile attractive, because it is, in terms of risk, a pretty cheap option. Of course, it probably won't happen.

Posted by John Tabin at 06:49 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2003


PLAYING CATCH-UP: I've been neglecting the blog lately, haven't I? I might have more tomorrow. In the meantime, there's a new letter on the letters page from Sunshine Voelker, the City of Evanston employee who's fight against unionization I was following in late January. (The letter is now almost two weeks old-- sorry, Sunshine!)

Posted by John Tabin at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2003


WONDERING WHY ASPARAGIRL IS ON MY BLOGROLL?: Read this, and wonder no more.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2003


HOW SOON THEY FORGET: From an item in The Mercury News:

"The two world wars are still very fresh'' for the French, said Sophie Ravel, a Palo Alto real estate agent who has lived in the United States since 1984. "People in America have never seen their family killed in front of their eyes.''
I'm going to address Sophie Ravel directly, since sometimes people Google their own names, especially after being quoted in a newspaper.

Sophie Ravel, I want you to watch this very, very carefully. Burn those images into your mind.

There's more to say, but I'm really too angry and disgusted to be persuasive.

Posted by John Tabin at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)


STOP THIS WAR: Not the one on terrorists or the one on Saddam, but the one on marijuana. Regular readers of this site are familiar with legalization arguments, and readers of my short items last year in Liberty are even familiar with the specific point that it's crazy for federal agents to crack down on pot when they're supposed to be hunting terrorists. But Deroy Murdock makes that point very well-- though in this particular case, it's not even pot, but paraphenalia that's being targeted.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:10 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2003


TALKIN' TURKEY: I've Googled for hours, and I have no idea what this actually means. I suspect that no one who can't read Turkish media has any idea, either. Here's what I have learned:

The Turkish parliament has, for the first time since 1948, been basically two-party since the 2002 election. Of the 550 members, 363 are members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which was reconstituted from outlawed Islamist parties with a broader, more watered-down ideology. The Republican People's Party (CHP)-- a secular center-left party, which was founded by Kemal Attaturk and which moved somewhat to the left after some party reshuffling in the 90s, holds 178 seats. There are 9 independents-- though since my understanding is that the system is one of proportional representation for parties that clear 10 percent of the vote, I'm not sure how these independents were elected.

The resolution to allow US troops fell short of an absolute majority with 264 in favor, 251 opposed, and 19 abstaining. Astute readers will note that this only adds up to 534. I'm guessing that 16 MPs weren't present at all, though the news reports don't say.

They also don't say what the break-down in the vote is. CHP registered the procedural complaint which lead to the nullification of the affirmative vote (because the absolute majority was not reached), so my guess is that CHP is largely anti-war and AKP is split, but again, the news reports don't say.

So, without knowing which parties had members voting various ways, which abstained, and which were or weren't present, it's impossible to guess whether this resolution will pass in a few days or not. Anyone who pretends to know this without having this information is not to be trusted.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2003


WE INTERUPT THIS GEOPOLITICAL ANALYSIS TO REPORT: I had a fabulous dinner here. She was sitting at the next table. And she's prettier in person.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)