May, 2007 archive
There’s an undeniable attraction to holding up America’s military presence in South Korea as a model for Iraq: Our soldiers stationed there aren’t dying in large numbers every month.
But in other ways, the analogy is troubling. And flawed. And dangerous. And telling.
It’s troubling because American troops have been in South Korea for more than 50 years — while polls show the American public wants them out of Iraq within a year.
It’s flawed because in South Korea, unlike Iraq, there’s something concrete to defend (the border with North Korea); and because Iraq, unlike South Korea, happens to be in a state of violent civil war.
It’s dangerous because the specter of a permanent military presence in Iraq is widely considered to be one of the most inflammatory incitements to Iraq’s ever-growing anti-American insurgency, and may even be destabilizing to the entire region.
And it’s telling because it gives credence to persistent suspicions that establishing a long-term strategic presence in the Middle East was a primary motivation for this misbegotten war in the first place.
(sigh) Another Bush lie. It does get tiresome after a while, does it not?
Professor Cole demolishes the comparison. Follow the link to read the full CSI treatment of this vapid, insipid, illiterate, ignorant-of-history analogy.
So what confuses me is the terms of the comparison. Who is playing the role of the Communists and of North Korea? Is it the Sunni Arabs of Iraq? But they are divided into Iraqi/Arab nationalists and Salafi Sunni revivalists. (The secular Arab nationalists are the vast majority according to recent polling). So they are not a united force. They are fighting with one another in al-Anbar. And, the Arab nationalists and the religious Sunnis cannot both play the role of the Communists. Some Arab nationalists are allied with the United States (Egypt, Tunisia, etc.) Others are not (Syria). Some religious Sunnis are allied with the US (Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan). Others are not. So where is the analogy to International Communism? Who is China and who is the Soviet Union? Is it Syria and Iran? But both are ruled by Shiites, not Sunnis!
Steven Chapman (who, thankfully, is not from these parts) in today’s local rag:
This strategy sounds counterintuitive, since the dead don’t do much buying, but some people think it accounts for periodic outbreaks of food-borne illness. They say you can’t trust the private sector to keep pathogens out of our food, making it incumbent on the federal government to protect us.
The recent episode of lethal pet food is Exhibit A in this case. Adulterated wheat flour made its way from China to factories in the United States and Canada that produce food for dogs and cats. The contamination killed or sickened thousands of animals, and led to the recall of more than 100 brands of pet food.
Many liberals, however, insist that the only remedy is more regulation. “If we expect to have our spinach uncontaminated, our pet food safe, Congress has to give the FDA more resources,” says Donald Kennedy, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
But this case also shows that, when a product goes wrong, everyone in the supply chain has a big stake in making it right. Chinese exporters stand to lose a vast amount of sales if they don’t raise their safety standards. Pet-food-makers face rejection from retailers unless they can show their products pose no danger. Stores that sell tainted goods will send their patrons to the competition.
So, following this logic, the thing to do is to wait until after some folks are dead before ensuring that the food and drug supplies are safe.
Frankly, Mr. Chapman’s misty-eyed bleeding-heart view of business ethics pretty much ignores history–but that’s a pretty common thing these days among those who call themselves “conservative.”
A century ago, American meat packers poisoned American soldiers in the “rotten meat” scandal.
More recently, Enron staffers joked about forest fires while manipulating electricity for California to drive up prices.
Just today, this headline: “Ex-China drug regulator to be executed” for accepting bribes to approve adulterated products.
And those are just a few examples that come to mind without any research.
Mr. Chapman may be somewhat right. No doubt, as these fine, upstanding business persons went about their way, they did not actually intend to harm anyone. They just wanted to cut costs and increase their profit margins.
And to hell with the rest of us.
As if arrogance, favoritism, and personal corruption had nothing to do with it.
(Aside: I listened to the interview on BBC News Hour. Anerican interviewers could take some lessons from their British cousins–those British interviewers don’t get sidetracked very easily.)
Addendum, Later That Same Evening:
Andrew Sullivan disects Dick Cheney:
Cheney represents the GOP establishment consensus, as expressed in the recent South Carolina debate, and across the Bush-blogosphere. He views both the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution of the United States as obstacles to be overcome in fighting the war on terror, the kind of obstacles only wimps defer to. After all, the Constitution might be read as forbidding the executive branch from detaining a U.S. citizen on American soil, bringing no charges for years, and torturing that citizen in solitary confinement until he is a quivering wreck of a human being. But in the battle between Cheney, Padilla and the constitution, Cheney won – and Padilla and the Constitution lost.
Cheney seems to believe that the military and the president have taken oaths to defend American lives and American territory and American interests. But of course, presidents and vice-presidents and U.S. servicemembers take no such oath. Servicemembers take the following oath:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Does Cheney understand this oath? Do the Republicans? The Constitution – not the territory, not the people – is what the U.S. government is constructed to defend. And yet the current administration clearly views that Constitution as very September 10. We have a year and a half to go under a president and vice-president with this view of the Constitution. If you are not worried, you should be.
By dishonoring the American dream, the dream of a nation of laws, not of men, a nation where the rights of persons (not just citizens, but persons) are protected, Cheney dishonors all those who have sacrificed–or will sacrifice–to protect that dream.
And their misconduct is on the hands of all of us, for we have let it happen.
(Aside: What Kool-Aid are these guys drinking, anyway?)
Which should resolve some of the speed problems.
I picked up a Dell Dimension 4700 at the local computer secondhand store (which, by the way, has the only repair bench which I will allow to touch any of my boxes). I also got a nice KVM switch from Radio Slum, so that I didn’t need an additional keyboard, mouse, or monitor.
At first, I was unable to get Slackware Linux 11.0 to see the hard drive on the new Dell, till, thanks to Linux Questions dot org, I realized that I was starting cfdisk with the wrong switch.
So, to create the partitions, I had to start cfdisk like this:
cfdisk /dev/sda, (translation: cfdisk /device/scsi drive a)
rather than like this:
cfdisk /dev/hda (translation: cfdisk /device/harddrive a). The later works for IDE drives, which is what most older computers have, but not for SATA drives.
Since, of course, no good deed goes unpunished, there is another wrinkle–Linux is not seeing the network card in the computer. The next step will be to dig up an old network card, slap it in there, and see if Linux sees that (Rule One of Troubleshooting–Rule out hardware problems first).
Since I’ve loaded Slack on at least five or six boxes so far and never run into this before, I’m inclined to think it is a hardware problem, since, with Linux, networking is not an afterthought–it was built in from the beginning.
Once I get this puppy on line, it won’t be long till I retire my PC300 to being just a file server.
And maybe I can get my sidebar back.
From Steve Clemons, quoting Pat Lang:
“I remember talking to [Paul] Wolfowitz, in his office, in the Pentagon, and telling him — this was after the propaganda build up had started, before the war. I said, ‘You know, these guys are not going to welcome you.’
“He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘For one thing, these guys detest foreigners, and the few who really like you are the least representative of the various breeds of people there. They’re going to fight you, then, if you occupy the place there’s going to be a massive insurgency.’”
“He said, ‘No, no, they’ll be glad to see us,’” Lang continued. “This will start the process of revolution around the Middle East that will transform everything.’
No, Lang told Wolfowitz, “that’s not gonna happen. It’s just an impossibility. They’re not like that. They don’t want to be us.”
You know, Wolfie and his co-conspirators just wanted a war, at any cost, and therefore turned a blind eye to any evidence, however credible, that their NeoCon wetdreams were nothing more than teenage American concentration camp fantasies.
Which, of course, they have turned out to be.
Better they should get off on porno, rather than on death.
At least that way they would not have hurt so many innocent persons.
May they come to cry, with Lady MacBeth, “Out, out, damned spot!”
But they won’t. They have not the humanity to recognize the import of their deeds.
As he disects the numbers:
What is amazing is that 35% still think it was a good idea.
It isn’t amazing that 76% (including 51% of Republicans) of Americans say that the increased US troop levels in Iraq have had no impact or are making things worse.
What is amazing is that 20% think that things have gotten significantly better.
It isn’t amazing that 63% of Americans support a timetable for US withdrawal ending in 2008. What is amazing is that so many do not.
It isn’t amazing that 13% want to cut off money for the Iraq War immediately, or that 69% want further funding to be tied to the meeting of specific benchmarks.
What is amazing is that %15 want the war funded with no conditions at all.
(By the way, that only 13% want to cut off all funding immediately goes a long way toward explaining the vote on the supplemental in Congress).
It isn’t amazing that 72 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush’s handling of Iraq.
What is amazing is that 23 percent approve. (Are these the horror movie fans in the Republican base?)
It isn’t amazing that 65 percent disapprove of Bush’s management of foreign policy.
What is amazing is that 25 percent approves. (They should be asked specifically of what they approve. The rest of us want to know.)
From my inbox:
HOW TO START EACH DAY WITH A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
1. Open a new file in your computer.
2. Name it “Current Federal Administration” and save it.
3. Send it to the recycle bin.
4. Empty the recycle bin.
5. Your PC will ask you, “Do you really want to delete Current Federal Administration?”
6. Firmly Click “Yes.”
7. Feel better now?
I TPed my 10th grade English teacher’s house, but at least I drove myself (boy! was Mrs. H. ticked):
A seventh-grade English teacher at Pound Middle School told police that over the weekend, the outside of her house, yard, trees and driveway were vandalized with toilet paper, syrup, adhesive tape, dishwashing soap and eggs. A message directed at her was written on her driveway.
Four 13-year-olds and three 12-year-olds who attend Pound were referred to the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office for possible charges.
And police ticketed the mother of one of the 12-year-olds on suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of minors. Police said she drove the girls to the teacher’s house, knowing they intended to vandalize the home.
Out, damned tree!
State agricultural officials have quarantined the park until tests determine what kind of poison was used, Dewey Beach police said Thursday.
According to court records, Golden told a witness in late April that she was aggravated with the local Lions Club for putting up a fence between its McKinley Street playground and her house.
What a sense of entitlement.
Doesn’t every White House try to impose its priorities on the career federal bureaucracy? Yes, but not every White House has the Bush crowd’s contempt for the very idea of professional government. To them, it’s just one vast bowl of alphabet soup. What difference does it make if an unqualified hack is put in charge of something called FEMA?
The Justice Department is special, though, because it can be such a powerful tool for rewarding friends and punishing enemies. Decisions about which alleged crimes and alleged criminals should be prosecuted are among the most sensitive any government can make.
Now that a Democratic-controlled Congress is back in the business of oversight, we have learned that Bush’s first attorney general, John Ashcroft, could be prickly in his dealings with the White House. Sometimes when the White House pushed, he pushed back. Ashcroft felt loyal not just to Bush but also to the Constitution and basic principles of justice. Apparently, no such conflict perturbs the dreams of Ashcroft’s hapless successor.
Did all this fly over the heads of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee? Of course not. But House Republicans evidently have made the cynical political calculation that to acknowledge reality would be to grant the Democrats some sort of victory. This, apparently, must be avoided at all costs.
Addendum, Later That Same Evening:
Hereâ€™s the gist of Monica Goodlingâ€™s advice: Even if you think that maybe you might be breaking the law, youâ€™re still blameless as long as you think you didnâ€™t really â€œmeanâ€ to do it. And even if you essentially have to admit that you did break the law, youâ€™re still OK as long as you think your motives were pure, and as long as you think of yourself as (in her words) â€œa fairly quiet girl who tries to do the right thing and tries to treat people kindly along the way.â€
You kids watching at home, I would not advise following Monicaâ€™s legal advice. Granted, this advice comes from a former top official of the U.S. Justice Department, but itâ€™s important to remember that you are living in the Bush era, when it is considered perfectly acceptable to entrust a top Justice post to somebody who has never prosecuted a case in court, somebody who earned her spurs at the Republican National Committee, somebody who earned her law degree from Pat Robertsonâ€™s Regent University, which, last we checked, was rated nationally as a fourth-tier law school. There is no fifth tier.
I strongly recommend the entire column.
But I will attempt a precis of it:
Ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially if you, in the words of the old black man down home, “call yourself a lawyer.”
A little while ago, I mentioned that I thought the upset among the some of the forces of Truth, Justice, and the American Way about the compromised spending bill on Iraq was somewhat precipitous.
E. J. Dionne must have been reading my mind.