Thursday, May 27, 2004

As I noted April 21, we're running up against a significant issue is Iraq. What kind of 'sovereignty' are we going to 'turn over' on June 30? There's talk of whether the Iraqi government will have the ability to veto American troop movements. Tony Blair is hopelessly naive if he thinks that's the case. Our military has always been extremely leery of putting itself under the command of a non-American. I can't fathom they'd allow it here (giving the Iraqis a veto is, in essence, inserting foreigners into the US command struction), especially considering this administration's contempt of all things foreign. Ain't gonna happen.

No, the US military will do what it wants. That's about all I know. The rest is a mystery. I'm worried, though, about what happens when the Iraqis complain about what we're doing and/or where we're going. The last thing we need is more enemies in Iraq...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


I walk to to work from the train station. On the way into our building, on some mornings I notice that our walkway is sprinkled with snails. My guess is that the snails can't stand it when the sprinklers are turned on, so they retreat to the sidewalk. Snails were quite rare in Ohio, but perhaps the lack of cold winters allows them to thrive here?

Banana slugs are endemic to the native forests (i.e. redwoods). They're rather impressive, especially the first time one sees one of them. Typically they're about six inches long and brownish yellow. They're slimy, true, but the slime doesn't stick to your hand. They've very cool beasts, I think.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Today, W said, "I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American."

Funny, I remember when we sent American troops to Iraq because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction...

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Well now it turns out we don't like Chalabi so much after all. Interesting. I wouldn't have predicted this. But if you play with a snake, he bites. And Chalabi and Rumsfeld were both playing with snakes here....

Sunday, May 16, 2004

I saw Troy today. I liked it. It makes a few changes from the Illiad, but they didn't bother me so much. I figure that the "original" was just a loose set of poems that were eventually written down after being retold for centuries. Before they were written, though, the bards who continually retold the story would probably adjust it slightly to each audience. The modern day bards (i.e. the scriptwriters) were just doing the same thing--modifying a basic tale to fit what they thought a modern audience would like.

At the same time, it preserved the pettiness and the squabbles among the Greeks from the original. It also tried to make Hector (my favorite character--perhaps the only laudable man in the entire book) appear noble, although it did a much clumsier job of it than the original.

It was entertaining to read some of the movie reviews, which illuminated more about the reviewers than the movie. My personal favorite had two of main criticisms (at full snarky know-it-all movie critic mode). First, it complained of the deviations from the original text. Next it complained about the way that female characters were too passive. There was no indication that the reviewer had any idea of how idiotic these two statements are...

Saturday, May 15, 2004

If this is true, it is the most shocking, disappointing thing about the war in Iraq:

If true, it's proof that the White House didn't care about fighting terrorists. It wanted Saddam Hussein even if it meany letting known terrorists go.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

So who was in charge at Abu Ghraib, anyway? Seems to me that plausible contenders include
1) The Army
<1a) Military police>
<1b) Military intelligence>
2) CIA
3) Private contractors?

Maybe someone, and by that I mean Rumsfeld, should have decided that point before they started imprisoning people and torturing them...

Monday, May 10, 2004

So our troops were also using dogs against naked Iraqi prisoners. And Rumsfeld has known about this for *months*. For months, he's seen the pictures, he's known about it all. And W says he is "doing a superb job." No, he is not. He's been a terrible Secretary of Defense. He's demanded control over our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and BOTH have been poorly led. The problem is not with our guys on the ground. It is with the guys at the Pentagon. As the head guy at the Pentagon, does Rummy not have responsibility?

What if it was an Iraqi general who'd treated American POWs that way? Would he have done a "superb job"? How would W react? Correct me if I'm wrong, but Jessica Lynch had her wounds treated by a doctor, who then, at risk of his own life, got word to the Americans where she was being held, right?

Sunday, May 09, 2004

I've been thinking of civilian control of the military. Obviously, it's a good thing. But I suppose one underlying original motivation was, in a general way, the sense that the military couldn't be trusted. Without civilian control, the generals would get too aggressive and the country would be stuck with wars it didn't want.

Seems to me now that, oddly, the opposite has happened. It is the civilians who are more warlike than the military. I don't think the military would have made the decision to invade Iraq (obviously none of the various reasons given by the administration--weapons of mass destruction, connections between Saddam and Al Quaeda, etc.--have any military significance). But the civilians did, they interfered with the military's war plans (remember Rummy deciding that we didn't need so many troops there?), and now the military finds itself where it shouldn't be and, I think, in the kind of war it doesn't want to fight.

Friday, May 07, 2004

...and another thing.

The United States of American should not employ mercenaries. If the Army's too big, I'll pay for a bigger army. Don't hire mercenaries. They should all be fired.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Iraq is a complete disaster. In the Arab world, these pictures are going to be the defining image of this war. They are as powerful as the image of the Vietnamese monk immolating himself. But they're worse. If, as W was wont to say, you're either with us or against us, everyone is now against us. Because no one, and I mean no one, is with us. How on earth will anyone in Iraq trust us ever again?

Rumsfeld must go. I don't care if Bush likes him. He must go. Even if it were only a symbolic gesture, his head must roll.
But it isn't a symbolic gesture. He either knew about this and ignored it or he closed his eyes to it. It was staring him in the face. Regardless, the buck stops with him. If we are ever to have the trust of anyone in the Arab world, Rumsfeld must go. He must be held accountable.

And Bush must apologize. In public (not in private to King Abdullah and then tell us about it later), to the whole world. What possible grounds is there to equivocate? What is there not to be sorry about?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I spent last weekend in New Orleans for Jazz Fest. I highly recommend it to everyone. Lots of fun. I saw the best live performance of my life on Saturday night. Cowboy Mouth. They're like nothing I'd ever seen, and everyone should catch them. I'd advise against standing right up front, though. The lead singer, who's also the drummer, goes a little nuts. (I saw him literally foaming at the mouth twice in the show.)