Monday, October 07, 2002

My name is Saddam, and I'm addicted to weapons of mass destruction

Something I hadn’t known: the R candidate in NJ who made such a fuss about deadlines when Toricelli dropped out himself filed a brief to get on the primary ballot after the then-frontrunner in his party dropped out after an FBI raid.

Saw the Cal. gubernatorial debate today. Don’t remember any of it, because it was just that dull, except that Davis was admonished for bringing a prop (a government report), which was against the rules. When Simon tried to invite the Green candidate as his guest, the Davis people accused him of trying to use a prop. The debate was at noon, because god forbid anyone should be able to see it. In the same way, Bush tonight failed to ask for network time, because that would have pre-empted King of Queens.

So what really happened in Yemen? The French are blaming Al Qaida for the tanker blowing up, although if they have any evidence, they aren’t showing it. If true, it indicates that Qaida is going after the oil biz. Which is actually a pretty damned good target, if not as showy as their usual style. Imagine the cost of oil if they have to terrorist-proof every port, tanker, refinery, etc.

The US is compiling files for war crimes charges against Iraqi leaders. Remember: one rule for the rest of the world, no rules for the US. Imagine the conversation when someone from the US government approaches Cambodia, say, to try to get them to promise never to extradite any American to the International Court. War crimes charges, indeed, while Henry Kissinger still walks free and talks pompously. And while we’re at it, let’s say this clearly: the US cannot demand that Iraq submit to the will of a (bought and paid for) majority of the UN Security Council, when the US would not abide by a Security Council decision against such a war. And as long as we’re stating the obvious about how pseudo-governmental bodies are supposed to work, let me repeat, since no one else is even saying it: the UN cannot issue a resolution directed against Iraq, and delegate the interpretation of whether that resolution has been followed to the US.

Here’s a kind of bizarre sentence from the Guardian: “At a Republican fundraising event at the weekend, the president described President Saddam as a "cold-blooded killer" and challenging him to honour his pledge to allow unfettered weapons inspections.” ‘Cuz he’d hate to be called a welsher as well as a cold-blooded killer.

Bush tomorrow (or whenever in relation to when I mail this) will give his first televised speech in favor of his little war. Look, let’s ignore the opinion polls, the subjective tests of opinion tell the real truth: every newspaper, every Congresscritter, is getting mail running several to one against the war. The polls that suggest the opposite fail to measure that support for the war is a centimeter deep. This also suggests that any serious argument against it would be well received; too bad the D’s are too spineless to attempt it.

OK, I’ve seen the speech. First, it was singularly inappropriate for this speech to have been anything other than an address to the nation from the White House. You don’t give a speech in support of war in front of an audience, with pauses for applause and so on. Bush says Hussein is addicted to weapons of mass destruction; he himself is an alcoholic and former cocaine user. We refuse to live in fear; on the other hand a ranch in the middle of the Texas desert gets pretty darned hot too. He said that America should speak with one voice; he’s thinking everyone should start talking like Jack Nicholson, cuz that’d be pretty cool; also, everybody should start mis-pronouncing nuclear, like he does (Bush, not Jack). There was a scary line about there being a “unified Iraq” after the American conquest, scary that is to every ethnic and religious minority in the country. Also he said something about Iraq sharing in the growing prosperity of the world, a coded reference to the lifting of the punitive sanctions now on the Iraqi people; still, a year after the bombing started in Afghanistan, with international pledges to rebuild that country almost entirely unfulfilled, and most of the money being spent in Kabul, and most of that just to pay aid workers ($250,000 to support each UN employee in Afghanistan for a year), Iraqis might be pardoned for being sceptical about such claims.

William Saletan notes that Bush needed to connect the war against terrorism to the war against Iraq and failed to do so, except in one crucial way: “The link between them is subjective: The events of Sept. 11 lowered our standards for using force.” Lack of knowledge becomes a reason to attack, the default position is now violence rather than waiting, the toleration of risk is now zero.

The current pope has created 468 saints, more than all previous popes put together.

A member of the newly elected German parliament is 19.

A longish story about Jeb Bush’s business deals, which is the usual collection of slimy insider stuff you expect from a Bush.

In Iran a guy suffers a non-fatal heart attack just as they’re prepared to execute him (publicly), with the noose literally around his neck. They’ll try again when he’s feeling better. I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for this.

I’m not sure what it means that this year’s Project Censored list isn’t on its own website, but here’s a link. So how did *I* do, in these dispatches? I mentioned the FCC’s loosening of rules on media ownership (by the way, evil radio monopoly Clear Air is getting around the rules limiting ownership to 8 stations in one market in San Diego by using transmitters located just over the border). And I think I’ve mentioned the efforts of US companies like Bechtel, backed by the government, IMF etc, to privatize water supplies in 3rd world countries. I’ve gone on at some length about Colombian death squads, and US support thereof. Efforts at producing small nuclear weapons, check. HMOs as a model for education? No. Small farms disappear under the NAFTA regime? No. Actually, the workings of NAFTA in general are pretty much a mystery to the US press, not helped by the fact that the NAFTA courts that can strike down state and federal regulations operate in secret; there’s loads of interesting stuff in Jim Hightower’s book If the Gods Had Wanted Us to Vote etc. Crisis in US housing. Actually, the write-up neglects to mention that it’s not just a failure of public housing, but that developers in the last couple of years have moved very decisively from cheap housing to the high-end of the market. #10 is about the CIA’s alleged efforts to install a US- and Exxon-friendly government in Macedonia (neither link to this one works).

A Department Store in Sharon, PA, throws $2 bills (remember those?) and coupons from its roof to a crowd below. There were no survivors. Oh ok, no one got actually killed, but it wasn’t pretty.

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