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April 16, 2003


The Clinton Excuse Rides Again
Earlier this morning, Mox — who I otherwise love, don't get me wrong — wrote a post about former President Clinton's latest critique of the Bush administration's foreign policy. Her comments were, shall we say, a bit intemperate.
well look who's anti-American now
Yep, our buddy Bill Clinton.

The guy who sent a few cruise missiles into Iraq to "reprimand the dictator" for not complying with numerous UN resolutions. He refused to send armor to Somalia. This Clinton powered military bombed an asprin factory in the Sudan in response to the bombing of the USS Cole. And we also bombed the hell out of Bosnia but didn't send ground troops until the peacekeeping phase.

My take on this? The Democrats are so out of favor they can't even comprehend.

My take on Slick Willy? He wishes his balls were 1/10th the size of Dubya's. That man knows how to take care of what Clinton and his own Father could not, with grace and dignity.

Clinton said,

"Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us."

Yes Bill, anyone who targets civilians working in two towers, supports homicide bombers financially or ideologically is wrong.

Apparently, Clinton doesn't feel that any government regime who kills and rapes their own citizens might be a threat to the rest of the free world. If you don't see how the concept of "prevention" is important, than why support pregnancy prevention (Bill you DO use condoms, doncha?), or disease prevention?

I've written about the continuing fixation with Clinton before, but I still don't get it. Why respond to straightforward criticism by calling an ex-president anti-American? Leaving the overreaction aside, doesn't the charge — that a man who swore an oath to defend America, and who fought through two brutal elections and an impeachment battle for the privilege, hates America — seem incredible?

Nevertheless, I want to take on her points one by one:
  1. Apparently, Clinton doesn't feel that any government regime who kills and rapes their own citizens might be a threat to the rest of the free world.
    I think his intervention in Kosovo puts the lie to that.
  2. Besides, he supported our intervention in Afghanistan — which, as one might recall, played a direct role in the whole World Trade Center business.
  3. What's more, he's on the record as not opposing the idea of intervention in Iraq as much as the timing.
  4. Query: Moxie, are you banking your argument on the notion that every nation that kills or rapes its own citizens is inherently a threat to the rest of the free world? We consider regard that kind of conduct noxious, vile, and beyond the norms of international behavior, no doubt — but I don't even think this White House would go so far as to treat every single country guilty of such abuse as a mortal threat to the American way of life.
  5. If you take that position, which of the following countries shall we send the troops to set straight next?
    1. Uzbekistan?
    2. Turkmenistan?
    3. China?
    4. Burma?
    5. Iran?
    6. Saudi Arabia?
    7. Egypt
    8. Syria?
    9. Turkey?
    10. Cuba?
    11. Venezuela?
    12. North Korea?
    13. Moldova?
    14. Belarus?
    15. Haiti?
    16. Zaï;re?
    17. Sudan?
    18. Liberia?
    19. Morocco?
    20. Algeria?
    21. Zimbabwe?
    Feel free to make this multiple choice.
  6. I read the article about Clinton's speech, and looked in vain for any talk of "prevention." Can anyone point out where Clinton used the word?
  7. Would there be intellectual justification today for:
    1. Chinese prevention of the secession of Taiwan?
    2. Indian prevention of a Pakistani nuclear attack?
    3. Turkish prevention of the creation of an independent Iraqi Kurdish state?
    4. North Korean prevention of an American invasion?
    If not, why not?
  8. How does the quote that Time cites here:
    – "Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out"
    square with any reasonable definition of the words grace or dignity?
  9. One more question, because I've been stumped about this for a long time: why, if Bill Clinton doesn't even have "balls . . . one-tenth the size of Dubya," do some believe it so vital to deride every word the man says?
Can anyone answer these for me? Anyone?

(By the way: just to correct the scorecard, it was Bush the Elder who put us in Somalia. And, as I recall, when Clinton used cruise missiles on Baghdad in a step that people now seem to regard as pusillanimous, his opponents at the time accused him of wagging the dog — which would seem to imply a belief that he used too much force. Which shall it be: did he use too much force, or too little?)

Greg G. @ 10:49 AM | # |

April 15, 2003


It's the One That We Say Hail To
A radio station here in Atlanta just played "There There" — the first track from the upcoming Radiohead disc, Hail to the Thief. The atmospherics are Radiohead through and through, but the arrangement sounds reminiscent of vintage R.E.M. — until the last minute or so, when you can definitely notice hints of the studio trickery learned during the Kid A sessions.

Consider my appetite whetted. The album drops on June 10.

Greg G. @ 10:49 PM | # |


Loose Talk:
The Southeastern Legal Foundation is apparently hopping mad with Peter Arnett for giving an interview to Iraqi television — but they seem to think he should get the firing squad for it:
ATLANTA: The Southeastern Legal Foundation today called on the U.S. Justice Department to bring criminal treason charges against former MSNBC reporter Peter Arnett, who gave a lengthy interview with Iraqi TV last week in which he claimed that American military planning has failed in the war in Iraq.

"The U.S. Constitution makes plain that treason is a crime witnessed by at least two people, there's legal intent, and it provides aid and comfort to the enemy - and Peter Arnett's worldwide television tirade against U.S. military activity in Iraq certainly meets those criteria," said Phil Kent, SLF president. "By making judgments about the failures of current military planning and execution, Arnett - as an American citizen - exposed our military to further dangers by encouraging the beleaguered Saddam Hussein regime and its soldiers to fight on."

SLF attorneys identified three important treason cases arising from activity by U.S. citizens abroad during World War II. In these seminal cases, U.S. citizens who broadcast anti-American sentiment on behalf of Nazi Germany while in Germany during the war were extradited, tried and convicted of treason. Best v. U.S. (1st Cir., 1950); Chandler v. U.S. (1st Cir., 1948); and, Cramer v. U.S. (U.S. 1945). In the Best case, Robert Best argued before the court that he was merely a "mediator...a go-between to Hitler...someone who could interpret the German mind to Americans." "This is the Arnett argument," said Kent. "It didn't fly then, and it won't fly now."

"As a constitutional public interest law firm, SLF supports vigorous free speech, and as a former journalist, so do I," said Kent. "But the First Amendment is not a license to say whatever we choose to say. We cannot yell "FIRE" in a crowded theater, and we cannot jeopardize the lives of our military personnel by encouraging our enemies on Iraqi TV to take heart from lies about our troops. Arnett's shameful display, while protected as free speech if he had made his comments here in the United States, is not protected under the First Amendment when spoken on the enemy's TV network."
Okay — this is stunning. In an age of globalized communications — when a blogger can send dispatches from Baghdad to American audiences with a click, a reporter can transmit live video of a battle over a phone, and any Iraqi with a satellite dish can tune in the talking heads of CNN — what difference should it make what network someone chooses to reveal his views on? Given the sheer reach of most media these days, it seems a sensible proposition that any comment offered on television or the internet is immediately transmitted everywhere.

More to the point, Kent's attempt to recruit Cramer to his argument is — at best — patently disingenuous. Justice Jackson, who wrote the opinion in the case, described the elements of treason as follows [emphasis added]:

Thus the crime of treason consists of two elements: adherence to the enemy; and rendering him aid and comfort. A citizen intellectually or emotionally may favor the enemy and harbor sympathies or convictions disloyal to this country's policy or interest, but so long as he commits no act of aid and comfort to the enemy, there is no treason. On the other hand, a citizen may take actions, which do aid and comfort the enemy — making a speech critical of the government or opposing its measures, profiteering, striking in defense plants or essential work, and the hundred other things which impair our cohesion and diminish our strength — but if there is no adherence to the enemy in this, if there is no intent to betray, there is no treason.
325 U.S. 1, 29 (1945) (Jackson, J.). That undercuts Kent's treason-by-remote-broadcast argument. As ill-advised as Arnett's comments were, I don't think anyone can seriously contend that he made them out of some misguided fealty to Saddam Hussein.

And really, what worthwhile aid could Arnett have provided? He possessed no operational details about U.S. military plans [unlike the Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera]. He made no statements wishing defeat for American forces. He merely said — as countless others have — that Rumsfeld sent troops into Iraq under a dangerously optimistic war plan. If honest criticism of a military blunder is a "aid and comfort" to an enemy, what room does that leave for any questioning of executive branch decisions during wartime?

What Kent offers, put plainly, is a nakedly political argument. Perhaps someone should charge him with public indecency for it.

Greg G. @ 12:27 PM | # |


Green Eyeshade, Large Numbers and Small Print:
It's tax day for procrastinators, and I've already spent part of the morning plowing through W-2s. [Thank goodness the legislature called a recess today. God really ismerciful.] I envy all with the discipline to get the pain overwith early — and I find myself thinking I wouldn't mind marrying Doc Searls' wife.

Best of luck to everyone in the same predicament. May your refunds be abundant.

Greg G. @ 12:25 PM | # |


Make No Small Plans:
Remember that big talk a few days back about heading up to Alexandria for a weekend to help with Rob's campaign? Well, I'm glad I didn't race right ahead and book a ticket; it looks as though the legislature wants me to stay put. An impasse over the 2004 budget [more on that in a bit] has forced lawmakers to stretch the length of the annual session yet again; now, instead of recessing this Friday, the assembly plans to break for the year next Thursday, on the 24th. Which would make this the longest session in a century.

Even worse: rumors are flying that the thought of coming to an agreement next week is no more than a pipe dream — which would mean we lobbyists would have to stay right here while lawmakers hash out their differences in a special session. Guess I was smart not to schedule that trip to Bora Bora for May . . .

Greg G. @ 12:23 PM | # |

April 14, 2003


We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident:
I have to take a moment to note that yesterday marked the date known as Founder's Day among my circle of friends at the University of Virginia — which is to say, put in everyday terms, that it was the birthday of Thomas Jefferson. Tim Jarrett has picked out some quotes from the man that seem even more relevant this year than most.
  • “I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.”
  • “If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.
  • “I have much confidence that we shall [Col 2] proceed successfully for ages to come, and that, contrary to the principle of Montesquieu it will be seen that the larger the extent of country, the more firm its republican structure, if founded, not on conquest, but in principles of compact and equality.”
  • “The government of a nation may be usurped by the forcible intrusion of an individual into the throne. But to conquer its will, so as to rest the right on that, the only legitimate basis, requires long acquiescence and cessation of all opposition.”
  • “Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.
  • “The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.
  • “It should ever be held in mind that insult and war are the consequences of a want of respectability in the national character.”
George? Karl? Dick? Donald? Are you listening?

Greg G. @ 9:17 AM | # |


Catch Me If You Can
From Idle Words:

This is pretty brazen — the 'hot potato' school of pre-emptive war. How come we can't find chemical or biological weapons in Iraq? Because they were moved to Syria!

Washington intelligence sources claim that weapons of mass destruction that Saddam was alleged to have possessed were shipped to Syria after inspectors were sent by the United Nations to find them.

One of the chief ideologists behind the war, Richard Perle, yesterday warned that the US would be compelled to act against Syria if it emerged that weapons of mass destruction had been moved there by Saddam's fallen Iraqi regime.

via the Observer.

Of course, I bet those sneaky Syrians manage to smuggle all evidence of their involvement over the border to Jordan, just before our troops take Damascus.

Repeat until re-elected.

Nah. Couldn't possibly happen. Oh, wait . . .

Greg G. @ 8:11 AM | # |


It Was Ten Years Ago Today . . .
. . . that Marc Andreessen taught the band to play.

Greg G. @ 12:31 AM | # |