The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Monday, March 31, 2003
The Ice (Cream) Man Cometh

Remember those Heinz ketchup commercials? You know, the ones in which people have to wait and wait and wait for the ketchup to come out? Some things are apparently worth waiting for.

I was reminded of that yesterday when I went to see the Giants lose to the Mariners yesterday. Of course, it's always a pleasure to see the Giants get smacked down, but that's another story. My friend and I were watching the game when we heard a vendor from the lower level shout, "Nestle Tollhouse Ice Cream Sandwiches!"

My friend got pretty psyched up about it, enough so that I wanted one of the darned things as well. We waited. And waited. And waited. Alas, the vendor never walked by our section. Finally, my friend settled for a different ice cream product. Unfortunately, the ice cream had partially melted, and was oozing out of its chocolate shell. He could only eat half of it, before setting it aside, disgusted.

I kept waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

After 2 more innings, we heard the shout, louder this time: "Nestle Tollhouse Ice Cream Sandwiches!" The vendor had at last made it to our level. I turned me head, and gave the vendor a knowing nod, which he returned, walking over to where we were. I bought the ice cream sandwich, and opened up the wrapper. Perfection.

Some things really are worth waiting for.


Posted 9:43 AM by Tony


Special Operations

Looks like our special operations people have been pretty busy:

The U.S. Special Forces and CIA operatives are now spread throughout Iraq, from Baghdad to the borders. This morning, for instance, working off information from Special Forces, F-15 pilots attacked a two-story building near Basra where hundreds of ruling Baath party leaders were believed to be gathered.

"We can find that these terror leaders are in fact having a meeting, and then call in very precise strikes to destroy that. And I'm pleased to say the result of that, we believe about 200 leaders of these irregular squads and key leaders [were] destroyed last night," said Maj. Gen. Victor Renuart of U.S. Central Command in Qatar.

Since Friday evening, coalition air strikes have targeted nine different Baath party headquarters, and a leadership compound in Baghdad.

Also this weekend, Army Rangers operating in total darkness engaged in a ferocious firefight to take what they said was an Iraqi commando headquarters in the western desert.

"The raid was successful and resulted in the capture of over 50 enemy personnel, weapons, a large cache of ammunition, gas masks, and radios," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks.

For at least a week, CIA paramilitary teams have been trying to kill members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle and Iraqi miltiary commanders, using snipers and demolition experts, The Washington Post reported today.

"Any military commander, whether they be in the Republican Guard or the regular army, would be a valid target," said retired U.S. Army Gen. Bill Nash, an ABCNEWS consultant.

Only a few of these have reportedly been killed, but the military and CIA are continuing to hunt them down.

Ralph Peters has some commentary on their performance. Looks like they're getting the job done.

I suspect that Professor De Genova will be disappointed. By the way, if you want a good laugh, check out the examples of his published work at the Columbia web site.

Note to my friend - I'm not being bitter here, just sarcastically amused. I do think some anger is justifiable when a person advocates the death and defeat of U.S. servicemen in "a million Mogadishus." Looks like Hussein is taking that to heart.


Posted 9:19 AM by Tony


Vietnam 2002 Travelogue, Part II (Dalat - like SF, but with fewer white people!)

[sent August 24, 2002, comments in brackets - Tony]

Hey guys,

BTW, if you ever hit Saigon, check out Sheridan's bar. It's authentic Irish, right down to the crap on the walls. K. had Corona - the irony of ordering a Mexican beer in an Irish pub in Vietnam was not lost on either of us.

7 hour bus trip to Dalat. Apparently, the concept of not smoking in a gas station has yet to catch on... [Somewhat to my surprise, tragedy did not befall us, and we avoided becoming Tourist Flambe.]

[Througout the entire trip, we'd still see hordes of people riding on mopeds on the highway. The bus driver, as a result would drive in the exact center of the road, moving aside only to avoid imminent impact with opposing traffic. It was terrifying at first, but after a while, you kind of develop a certain fatalistic sang froid about the whole thing.]

Dalat is at an elevation of 1475 m above sea level (4500 feet and some change), which makes it pleasantly cool. Unfortunately, it was raining. They call Dalat "The City of Flowers," and the amount I've seen in greenhouses and at the market certainly justifies the claim. This place is also known for the quality of its fruits and vegetables. [Paranoid that I am, I avoided eating the fresh fruits and vegetables, with a couple exceptions. All the vegetables I tried were part of cooked dishes, which were pretty darned good.]

We went to Stop N Go cafe, which is in the home of a local painter/sculptor/calligrapher/amateur horticulturist by the name of Duy Viet. It's really nice - you walk past a greenhouse full of flowers, and past a lot of plants until you reach his house. He was very gracious, and served us coffee and pastries while showing us his art. I was very impressed, but until I can spend 800 dollars and up for art, all I can do is look. :) His guests all write in 2 inch books he keeps for the purpose, and many draw or send pictures. Among the latter was John F. Kennedy, Jr.,
which was pretty cool.

Also visited a place locally known as "Crazy House." It's still under construction, but what's been built so far defies description. One part looks like a giant artificial mountain, and there's a couple of large giraffes, all of which have rooms in them. The owner rents them out, and apparently is immune from local zoning laws (she's the daughter of the guy that succeeded Ho Chi Minh). There's also a gallery in there (bought a painting myself). These two places are about as counter-culture as it gets, I think. [A friend of mine complained that she should have been the one on the exciting counterculture trip, not me. At the time, she was moving, travelling across the country by car. Far as I'm concerned, travelling through the heartland is pretty darned exotic. But, then again, I've never lived in Middle America, and I'm a sucker for cheesy roadside attractions. Yes, I'm a dork - people have already pointed that out to me, thank you. :)]

Another spot was a Bhuddist pagoda with only one monk. He's supposed to have painted or calligraphied over 10,000 pieces, and from the looks of it, I'd certainly believe it! [Canvases were stacked everywhere, filling every inch of storage space in the back. Interestingly, I met a group of middle aged Koreans there. They all had T-shirts in support of the Korean national soccer team (this was a big deal since the World Cup was in Korea in 2002 and the Korean team did surprisingly well). The slogan of the Korean team was "Be the Reds!," was emblazoned on their T-shirts, which I thought was amusing to see in a nominally Communist country.]

The last emperor of Viet Nam, Bao Dai, had his summer palace up here. It was raining hard when I went, and it was crowded with Vietnamese tourists. Despite the chains and the assorted signs in Vietnamese and English saying "Don't touch" (or sit or enter), everyone did touch, and sit, and enter. Sheesh. The palace was basically a large 2 story house, no big deal. Nice gardens, though. [I'm still surprised at the conduct of the tourists there, as it felt like I was at McDonald's rather than a cultural attraction. It rained hard that day, and walking back, I had to slog through water coming up to mid-calf. The red dirt of Vietnam still clings to those sneakers, despite my efforts at cleaning them. I suspect that some weird bonding process occurred between the dirt and my shoes]

[K. and I had actually split up that afternoon. I hit the pagoda and summer palace on my own, while K. went to check out the various waterfalls in the area. I think it was for the best, since I, for one, was feeling kind of tense. It's amazing how stressful travelling together can get. I think that having to coordinate schedules and dealing with a foreign place adds a certain element of friction. K. and I have known each other for over a decade, so it wasn't that bad, but I think we both felt the need for some independent sightseeing.]

We each paid 5 bucks for a train ride to a village 8 km away. We were the only paying customers, in only one car, and I felt a little ridiculous - but then the engineer stopped the train to let a couple of friends on.

And the ridiculously low prices continue - K. and I just had a dinner of stirfried veggies with tofu and fried noodles, crunchy deep-fried chicken, rice, and a 650 ml bottle of beer. Total cost - 56,000 dong (about $3.70)

Got sunburned. Figures that I'd get a red neck to go along with my love of country music. :) [This would later develop into a full, peeling, nerve-tingling char. Unfortunately, K. burned her leg on a moped exhaust, which, as we later discovered, every expat living in Vietnam develops.]

Anyways, that's it. Tomorrow, it's off to the beach town of Nha Trang. Hope to see everyone soon!


Posted 8:59 AM by Tony

Thursday, March 27, 2003
Vietnam 2002 Travelogue, Part I

[sent August 22, 2002, comments in brackets - Tony]

Hey all,

Last day in Saigon. Arrived Monday at Tan Son Nhut Airport. It used to be an American military base, and you can still see the weathered, half-cylindrical concrete shells of hangars and offices in between runways.

First thing you notice is the cost. For instance, I'm paying 100 dong/minute for Internet use, and the exchange rate is 15,000 dong/1 US dollar. Heck, I've had some pretty good breakfasts for 2 dollars! [And considering how little money I had when I got back, it was a darned good thing.]

Stayed with my friend J.'s aunt on the first night. She was very hospitable and showed me Saigon by night on moped. This is not for the faint of heart - there are hordes of mopeds on the streets, much as one might picture a swarm of locusts (for lack of a better metaphor). [The accumulated noise of countless mopeds combined to form a dull motorized roar. The noise was ubiquitous - no matter where you went, the sound of two-stroke engines followed. Fortunately, you could tune it out after a while. Also, for some odd reason, the trunks of the palm trees lining the streets are painted a reflective white.]

Have been travelling with an old college classmate for the last few days. Visited the War Remnants Museum, and the Reunification Palace, which used to be the old presidential palace when the tanks rolled in back in 1975. The propaganda aspect of these sites is not subtle, but are interesting nonetheless.

Today was rather fascinating. Went to the tunnels at Cu Chi, which the VC used as a base during the war. They widened a section of the tunnels for tourists to go through. However, it was still really tight. A group of us filed in single file, and you had to walk while squatting. There were electric lights set out every so often, but it was so narrow that the person in front of you would block it, casting you into absolute darkness. Definitely not for the claustrophobic. They also have a firing range where you can pay to fire an assortment of weapons, up to an M-60 machine gun. My friend and I tried the AK-47, which, incidentally, is very loud. [The gift shop sold snakes in bottles filled with alcohol. I was told that they were good for your health. Then again, that's what they told me about dog in Korea. Blame it on my upbringing - I couldn't find it within myself to try either. There were also exhibits demonstrating the booby traps the VC would use. The punji stake trap looked naaasty.]

Anyways, we're heading up to Dalat tomorrow, followed by Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Hue. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!


Posted 6:57 PM by Tony


Reruns

I've been getting rather busy lately, so no time for original posting. In addition, it's been pointed out that I'm letting some of my anger with recent events flow over into my writing. So, I'm going to reprint some letters I wrote while I was traveling in Vietnam last year. My friends enjoyed them, so I thought I'd share.

Maybe I should have been a travel writer instead?


Posted 6:48 PM by Tony


Reefer Madness, 21st Century Style

Today's SF Chronicle has a story discussing whether kids are desensitized to violence as a result of computer games:

"In the research that we have seen," says Dr. Michael Bradley, a teen behavior psychologist in Philadelphia, "when kids watch real-life footage they are disappointed. There is no music, it is not in color and you don't have seven camera angles."

I imagine of especial concern would be the First Person Shooter games, in which the player views the game "through the eyes" of the character. I figure that the editors thought a story like this would be timely in light of the latest news. Unfortunately, the tone of the article manages to convey a certain anti-war sentiment combined with a sort of condescension to computer gamers.

I have my doubts about the harm this sort of stuff causes. Children have a very active fantasy life, it's true. But by the time they're become adults, people are generally able to distinguish fiction from fact. And as for those that don't, how much is attributable to computer gaming, as opposed to other potential factors?

We've seen this before. Remember when Mortal Kombat came out? Same concern, but I haven't seen any news articles discussing how people who grew up playing these games became violence-prone.

And before that, the media was in a lather about either Dungeons and Dragons or hard rock music, whenever some criminal had been found to have been into one or the other. Apparently, D&D and the music tempted the vulnerable person to Satan and led him to a life of sin. Or something like that. And before that, it was marijuana. Remember "Reefer Madness"?

Well, I grew up playing D&D, and still love listening to AC/DC. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to summon a single demon. I thought at this point, I'd at least be able to summon up a lesser denizen of the underworld, or something.

I'm so disappointed.


Posted 8:36 AM by Tony

Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Fisking, K-Town Style

I've made a habit of looking through English version of the Korea Herald and the Chosun Ilbo. For some reason, both newspapers featured editorials of such blinding stupidity that I felt compelled to fisk (description here) one or the other. The Korea Herald editorial was just pretty bad, but can be more or less summarized as, "Won't someone please think about the children?!"

I'm going with the Chosun Ilbo one, simply because it's shorter.

So without further ado, here's my take on "The U.S. and Its War Face," by Kim Dae-joong:

With the beginning of the attack on Iraq, the United States is abounding with emotions.
I was feeling hungry, tired, and irritated before the war. Now, I'm hungry, tired, and really effin' pissed off. Kind of funny how the execution and mistreatment of American prisoners will do that to you.
Although there were plenty of anti-war opinions voiced before the attack, now it looks as if Americans had long been wishing that this war would break out.
Because it's well known that Americans are a bloodthirsty and savage race. I've got calluses on my knuckles from dragging them on the floor. Our long-held desire for war caused us to keep going to the UN time and time again in our year-long "rush to war."
Maybe this can be explained by a need to achieve, through this attack, revenge for Sept. 11.
Maybe this can be explained by a need to actually disarm Iraq, as opposed to watching Hussein continually make fools of the UN?

But this is not a war.
It's not? Thanks for the clarification.
The classical definition of war involves two sides pointing guns at each other and fighting.
And before the invention of firearms, it was called "Groups Poking Each Other With Sharp Thingies And Other Stuff."
What we are seeing is a one-sided attack, a game in which the discrepancy in defense spending between the two sides is glaringly obvious.
Because where I'm from, we prefer two-sided stalemates that last for 50+ years. It's a lot more like a soccer match that way. To make it more even, every soldier in the 3rd Infantry will now be ordered to strip naked and sprint unarmed to Baghdad.
The war in Iraq seen from American television is a burst of pent-up military strength and clinical experiments of new weapons.
I don't know about the rest of my fellow Americans, but I'm just so ashamed we're expending weapons, not soldiers and Marines.
The coverage looks like a war movie.
But without the hotties.

Foreigners living in the United States feel somewhat bitter about the coverage, which glosses over the civilian casualties and focuses attention and sympathy on U.S. casualities.
All 14 of them? Of course we all know the military-industrial-talk radio complex is keeping the numbers much higher. And it's funny how American media are focusing on American casualties of a war in which American forces are involved.
Each of the big networks here has its own star commentator - something like a general - many of whom were in the same roles back in the 1991 Gulf War.
And all of us handsome hard-working foreign journalists are being wrongfully deprived of our name recognition! *whine*

With the public and the media falling in for the war effort, there is no place for anti-war or anti-Bush sentiments.
Looks like someone's been missing the protests in San Francisco, New York City, DC, and other U.S. cities. Odd failing for a newspaperman, that.
Here we see that even a developed country like the United States can be swept up in mass hysteria.
Unlike Korea, which treated the onset of WTO accession with calm and grace. And the currency collapse, aka the "IMF Crisis." And which boasts ultra-civilized legislators who haven't gotten into fistfights on the floor of the National Assembly for at least a couple years.

This excited atmosphere could be dangerous for Korea.
Uh, no. A nuclear-armed North Korea and South Koreans who think North Korea would never hurt the South because of "brotherhood" are dangerous to Korea.
If it persists until after the war in Iraq is over it could carry over into and affect decisions made to solve the nuclear crisis on the peninsula.
Thank God we have the benefit of thousands of years of constantly being invaded by the Chinese and the Japanese to guide our decisions! Punk-ass 200-year old democracy.
We could see confusion arising from U.S. actions in Korea resulting from irrational impulses.
Such as mobs attempting to storm the U.S. headquarterrs in South Korea after military disciplinary hearings don't go the way you wanted.
Naturally, Koreans observing recent developments cannot avoid being worried.
Americans may actually reconsider stationing troops in a country that appears to be ungrateful for its presence.
We could be facing a dilemma, in which neither a U.S. advancement nor a U.S. retreat is desirable.
We were really hoping for a U.S. defeat, but now we just can't decide.

The United States that we see now is different from the United States that we have known.
It's funny how assholes flying airplanes into office towers will do that.
Americans tolerate domestic anti-war sentiment in the name of diversity, but seethe at allies who voice anti-war and anti-American sentiments.
Taking offense because "allies" voice anti-American sentiments - those Yankees sure are craaazy!"
And it seems that the Americans will not budge an inch from their attitude of "American supremacy."
Actually it's called "Americans Giving Unhelpful Backstabbing "Allies" The Finger."

The writer is the Chosun Ilbo's Washington correspondent.
Who can kiss my American ass.

Just for the record, I'm in favor of American troops in South Korea, and I'm proud of my heritage. However, I can't help but read this sort of nonsense and not get really ticked off.


Posted 8:20 PM by Tony


Nobody's Buying

NEW! From the people that brought you Wahabiism, Osama, and the fraction 15/19, it's a Brand! New! Peace Proposal!

Count on this "peace" to cost just a little bit more than a set of ginsu knives.


Posted 11:27 AM by Tony


Better Blogs Than Mine

Dave Barry gives a suggestion on on fixing the U.S. - French divide, as well as some handy phrases.

He also has his own blog, so whatever you do, don't click this.


Posted 11:23 AM by Tony


It's All The Same, Right?

The philosophical concept that is absolutely guaranteed to enrage me is moral equivalency, i.e., that one side's actions stand on the same moral ground as the others. I've written about it before. With the capture and possible execution of American POWs by the Iraqis, the issue arises yet again.

Christie Blatchford, one of my favorite columnists, wrote about viewing the Iraqi video of the dead and captured Americans on CBC Newsworld:

One of these airings was followed by an interview with a man named François Boo, a security expert. Mr. Boo said straight away that such parading of captured soldiers was a clear violation of the Geneva Convention, to which Iraq, I note with amusement, is a signatory. He appeared to have his head screwed on nice and straight. Then the female host of the show guided him toward the point she wanted made. But the United States, she asked, has also surely engaged in the techniques of psychological warfare? Ah yes, said Mr. Boo, and one of them -- I was so furious I can't remember which -- referred to the millions of leaflets the American-led coalition has dropped over Iraq, urging soldiers to surrender rather than fight.

You see? The sides in this war are indistinguishable, if not equally culpable of equal sins, at least equally capable of them.

That is the pervasive sense of phony egalitarianism nourished by the era of instantaneous communication and the absolute democracy of the World Wide Web: All war violence is the same, equally inexcusable; all news sources are equally trustworthy or not; American and British soldiers are as every bit suspect as Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard; every opinion is equally valuable, and there must be no judgment. Every life is worth the same as every other. Every sperm is sacred.

[...]

But America does not parade its prisoners of war on television, being asked questions while in a state of abject fear and humiliation. American soldiers do not conduct "search and rescue" operations for defenceless Iraqi soldiers by shooting up rivers and setting bushes on fire, as the Iraqis did in Baghdad yesterday, when they believed, apparently erroneously, that coalition pilots had been shot down and landed in the water. That was quite a splendid scene. American soldiers may whoop with excitement at the sound of a missile being fired, but you do not find them dancing, in celebration, at the deaths of civilians; the same cannot be said of the Arab world.

So, detention at Guantanamo and dropping leaflets = possible execution of Americans and videotaping the interrogation of injured POWs.

Right.


Posted 11:15 AM by Tony


The Red Zone

Watching TV anchors working themselves into a collective lather, one gets the notion that coalition forces are going to be sucker punched hard as we approach “the red zone,” the area around Baghdad where Saddam has presumably concentrated his forces. It’s going to be Dunkirk, Mogadishu, and the Tet Offensive all rolled into one!

Not.

Ralph Peters points out:

I simply cannot understand why anyone outside of Ba'ath Party headquarters imagines we would feel compelled to fight house-to-house in Baghdad, destroying the city, putting civilian lives at risk and throwing away our soldiers.

Certainly, we'll need to engage in some limited urban combat, for specific objectives - as the Brits are doing on the outskirts of Basra and the Marines have done in Nasiriyah. But there is no iron rule of warfare that says we have to take Baghdad block by block.

[…]

When the right opportunities present themselves, our forces will swoop in on pinpoint raids. And no, we're not talking about "Black Hawk Down II." Anyway, people tend to forget that, in Mogadishu, we actually won the tactical battle overwhelmingly - 20 dead Americans, a thousand dead Somali militiamen.

At the end of that fight, we had thoroughly broken "General" Aideed's forces. Then President Bill Clinton, the most frightened man on earth, declared defeat. The U.S. Army's Rangers were ordered home in humiliation, after winning a tough but enormous victory. President Bush may have his faults, but he ain't going to cut and run on our men and women in uniform.

It’s not going to be easy. But it’ll happen.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping that the 4th Infantry Division gets in-theater soon. The 4th Infantry is a testbed unit of the Army’s new technologies, and will give the U.S. a second heavy division in the theater. They may be needed, if certain military commentators are correct.


Posted 11:02 AM by Tony


Waiting For Seoul

I wrote yesterday that Poland’s special operations forces had participated in the seizure of Umm Qasr. Meanwhile, South Korea’s National Assembly is delaying a vote on whether to dispatch a detachment of engineers and medical personnel to the Gulf. Interesting how the ally which doesn’t have American troops safeguarding its liberty is the one providing combatants.

Thanks for nothing, cousins.


Posted 11:01 AM by Tony

Monday, March 24, 2003
Uni-what-sis?

This is interesting - according to Reuters, Poland has admitted that its commandos had participated in the capture of the port city of Umm Qasr:

The Defense Ministry had denied that GROM (Thunder) special forces were involved in combat, but on Monday it confirmed their participation after dailies splashed photographs of the soldiers in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, where U.S.-led troops are battling pockets of Iraqi resistance.

[...]

GROM is an SAS-style commando unit which has seen recent action in Afghanistan. It is one of the few highly trained units in Poland's armed forces, which are mostly underfunded and still rely on outdated Soviet-era equipment.

[...]

The Reuters photographs showed masked GROM soldiers taking prisoners, scrawling graffiti on a portrait of Saddam and posing with U.S. Navy Seals holding up a U.S. flag.

"These photos shouldn't have happened," said [Defense Minister Jerzy] Szmajdzinski. "The next time it will definitely be with the Polish flag."


Polish GROM commandos, Umm Qasr, Iraq
(via Reuters)



I suspect that we'll soon see non-governmental organizations complaining about US forces shooting at Iraqi forces disguised as civilians:

"We saw some black berets hanging up in a tree, and we went to investigate and we saw all these uniforms hanging there. I figure half these guys you see walking around are soldiers. They've discarded their uniforms," the Marine [at An Nasiriyah] said. "They're out there, they're watching us and they're planning small counterattacks."

Which explains scenes like this, I figure:


Marines escorting Iraqi prisoners
(via Washington Post/Reuters)



Posted 3:05 PM by Tony


A Note From The Management

I'm going to be cutting down some on the warblogging. More specifically, I'll point out stuff and put in quotes, but will avoid original commentary.

I've been getting worked up watching the news, and it's starting to affect the coherency of my posts. While there's nothing wrong with honest emotion, it's a waste of time to write while overcome by it.

In the meantime, here's a nice bit by Lileks, summing up what I feel, but with a lot more wit:

I’m not disheartened by the sight of what those motherless sons of bitches did to the captured troops - not in the sense of wishing we would curl up and whimper Mommy and scamper back home. My first reaction was to wish that we’d identify the location of a Special Republican Guard unit, replace the B in MOAB with P, and drop the Mother Of All Payback on them. This intemperate emotion conflicts with the advice of lumbering pseudoprole Michael Moore, seen earlier this week wearing a button that said “Shoot Movies, Not Iraqis.” Well, Mike, the Iraqis shot a movie about the shooting of Americans; what now?

Update: To see what Lileks is talking about, see here. Warning: discretion advised.


Posted 9:51 AM by Tony


Fictional Documentaries

Michael Moore won an Oscar last night for “Bowling For Columbine.” In my opinion, the piece is so rife with distortions that it does not qualify as a documentary.

For example, there’s this:

BANK: Moore says North Country Bank & Trust in Traverse City, Mich., offered a deal where, "if you opened an account, the bank would give you a gun." He walks into a branch and walks out with a gun.

ACTUALLY: Moore didn't just walk in off the street and get a gun. The transaction was staged for cameras. You have to buy a long-term CD, then go to a gun shop to pick up the weapon after a background check.

If Michael Moore deserves to win an Oscar for Best Documentary, then so does Leni Riefenstahl, as far as I’m concerned.

Update: The problem in blogging is that it's sometimes hard to find the right links afterwards. I had been looking for this earlier, and only now just found it. More on the bank:

But Jan Jacobson, the bank employee who worked with Mr. Moore on his account, says that only happened because Mr. Moore's film company had worked for a month to stage the scene. "What happened at the bank was a prearranged thing," she says. The gun was brought from a gun dealer in another city, where it would normally have to be picked up. "Typically, you're looking at a week to 10 days waiting period," she says. Ms. Jacobson feels used: "He just portrayed us as backward hicks."


Posted 8:16 AM by Tony

Sunday, March 23, 2003
Outrage

Looks like Blix’s Blind Mice missed a spot:

A senior pentagon official has confirmed to Fox News on Sunday that coalition forces have discovered a "huge" suspected chemical weapons factory near the Iraqi city of An Najaf, which is situated some 90 miles south of Baghdad.

Watching the Fox News Channel, the site is apparently 100 acres. Oops.

It also looks like 10 Marines got killed in an ambush by Iraqis pretending to surrender.

More worrisome, the same story related that a six-vehicle Army convoy was ambushed and destroyed after making a wrong turn. Several soldiers from that convoy were declared missing, and these soldiers may have been the ones displayed on Iraqi TV.

Iraq’s ambassador to the UN stated that the POWs would be treated humanely, in an apparent turnabout from previous statements:

"It is Iraqi official position, we will respect carefully the international humanitarian law, and the Geneva Convention," he said. "I hope that the American army will respect also this Geneva Convention because I hope that what is happening in Iraq now, both parties will respect international humanitarian law.

Now, it appears that the Iraqis may have executed several of the prisoners, according to both CNN and Fox News broadcasts I’m watching right now. The video shows the following:

The bodies, mostly still fully clothed but some with shirts pulled up, were shown on the floor in pools of blood. In the first room, at least two had wounds to the head, and another had a groin wound. In another room, an Iraqi uncovered more bodies, some with blackened faces.

I’m absolutely enraged. If this is true, then Iraq has violated the Geneva Conventions by 1) executing prisoners, 2) torturing prisoners during the course of interrogation, and 3) showing the prisoners on TV for propaganda purposes. Far as I’m concerned, it’s time for the gloves to come off. All the way off.

Several B-52s have taken off from an airbase in England. Level Tikrit, guys.

Update: And then there's bit by Ralph Peters:

In the end, all the Iraqi irregular forces are accomplishing is to make our troops more determined. The latest message I had from a friend serving in the war made it clear that our troops are enraged, not deterred, by Iraqi actions - not least by the execution in cold blood of American prisoners and the abuse of other POWs.


Posted 7:16 PM by Tony

Saturday, March 22, 2003
You've Got To Be Kidding Me

After continued obstruction, Chirac just stated France would oppose any special American or British role in building Iraq:

He said the United Nations was the only body that could take responsibility for rebuilding Iraq, underscoring that he is willing to consider some sort of resolution for rebuilding the country but not one that would seem to legitimize the war or give the United States and Britain exceptional powers.

What makes France think it should have any role in the reconstruction of Iraq after continually obstructing and opposing effective measures for disarming Hussein?

Screw that.


Posted 2:45 PM by Tony


Is This The Apocalypse?

That was... surreal. I just switched on Country Music Television. A Kid Rock video? On CMT? Oddest of all, it wasn't the rap/rock stuff I normally expect from Kid Rock; instead it sounded, well, country.

I think I may need to lie down now.


Posted 2:37 PM by Tony


There Really Should Be A Manual For This Kind Of Thing

“Tony,” she said, “never, ever, sing ‘Baby Got Back’ at karaoke to your girlfriend or date.”

Duly noted.

(And no, that wasn’t me.)


Posted 1:11 PM by Tony

Friday, March 21, 2003
Women Not-Mercenaries

Recently, a story appeared in a local newspaper concerning a so-called “gender gap” with respect to war. The article quoted professional protester Medea Benjamin:

``Many women are feeling that all of this negative male energy has really taken our country in a direction that feels dangerous to us, especially after Sept. 11,'' said Benjamin, who will stay in Washington until International Women's Day, Saturday. ``We are determined to make the world safer and better for our kids -- and the men who lead this country certainly haven't done it.''

This strikes me as the rankest sort of… nonsense. Michele took issue with this sentiment, as did Asparagirl. So did the ubiquitous Instapundit. And believe me, my blog buddy Dawn is second to no one in kicking ass. (Props to Dawn for encouraging me to start blogging, by the way.)

And here’s another refutation:


Lance Corporal Karen Barilani, 20, Hillsborough, New Hampshire


(from the New York Times web site)



Iraq would consider her to be a mercenary to whom the Geneva Conventions would not apply:

"Those are mercenaries. Most probably they will be treated as mercenaries, hirelings and as war criminals. ... For sure, international law does not apply to those," [Iraqi information minister Mohammed Sa’eed al-Sahhaf] said.

Let’s ignore for a moment that Lance Corporal Barilani and her fellow Marines are quite unlikely to become prisoners of war. Let’s suppose Iraq is seriously considering violating the Geneva Conventions with respect to any prisoners it may take. Opening that particular Pandora’s box is a baaaad idea. Will we then feel similarly bound? Your guess is as good as mine.

Good Idea: staying within the bounds of the Geneva Conventions.
Bad Idea: pissing off Jacksonian America.


Posted 4:04 PM by Tony


Sovereignty – What’s Up With That?

A buddy of mine was responsible for organizing a journal symposium in our last year of law school. For a while, he struggled with a title for a symposium. Another friend and I, smart-alecky types that we were, decided to help.

Our top two contenders were:
      “Sovereignty - Hunh.”
      “Sovereignty - What’s Up With That?”

For some odd reason, my organizing friend didn’t take us up on those suggestions. The symposium went off well, featuring, among others, James Brosnahan, the American Taliban’s mouthpiece attorney. (Trivia: Brosnahan is a partner at Morrison & Foerster, but the MoFo name never appeared on Lindh-related pleadings. Source here.)

One of the issues associated with this war is that we are engaging in old-school empire building by violating Iraq’s sovereignty. Bill Whittle examines the imperialism issue at length, and it’s worth a read. (So is his essay on war.) I just want to address the sovereignty issue for a bit.

I’ve pointed out before that international law is not quite my specialty. I do think, however, that current concepts of sovereignty really need to be rethought. The current concept of sovereignty dates back to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, among feudal and feuding European countries. There were no democracies, no rogue nations, no concept of human rights, nothing but the territorial claims of hundreds of feuding German princelets. Is a concept rooted that far back really relevant today?

Ralph Peters, a military analyst, notes that current concepts in territorial sovereignty amount to “the greatest collective violation of human rights in our time”:

Today, claims of territorial sovereignty by dictators and illegitimate regimes amount to the biggest con in history. No matter how unfairly borders are drawn, no matter how monstrously tyrants behave toward their populations, no matter how ruthlessly a strongman seizes power, the world pretends that those who hold the reins in the capital city are entitled to do whatever they want on their own territory.

Is this application of sovereignty consistent with the original Treaty of Westphalia? Upon light of the treaty’s background, it actually might be. Is it appropriate? No.

Peters suggests a three-tiered system of sovereignty, below:

Level One: Every government, from Mexico to India, that respects the will of its people through democratic institutions, works for the betterment of its citizens, demonstrates progress toward respect for human rights and strives toward the rule of law deserves continued recognition of its full, legal sovereignty.

Level Two: States that cannot control their own territory, that lack the ability to protect their own citizens or to prevent international terrorists and other criminals from using their territory as a refuge, would be able to claim only partial sovereignty. More capable, rule-of-law states would have the right to intervene for limited purposes to bring killers and other criminals to justice. In every other respect, these weak, but well-intentioned states would enjoy the traditional privileges and protections of sovereignty.

Level Three: Regimes that refuse to enforce the rule of law inside their borders, that knowingly harbor terrorists and criminals, that behave aggressively toward their neighbors or that abuse their own citizens would forfeit their territorial sovereignty and their right to govern. Period.

Sounds good to me, and it probably sounds pretty good to many Iraqis:

As hundreds of coalition troops swept in here just after dawn, the heartache of a town that has felt the hardest edges of Saddam Hussein's rule seemed to burst forth, with villagers running into the streets to celebrate in a kind of grim ecstasy, laughing and weeping in long guttural cries.

There’s a symposium topic there, I figure.


Posted 3:11 PM by Tony


Run That By Me Again?

The protesters were out in full force yesterday, and I shudder to think of the aggregate damage the protest caused, in terms of lost work time. Of course, the protesters didn't see it quite that way:

"Sorry about the inconvenience, people, but there are people dying," [protester Anna Wilson] said. "How addicted to our stuff are we that we can't stop work for one day?"

Wait, so you're going to convince people by ticking them off?

Ho-kay.

Update: And how does this play elsewhere? I'm guessing, not very well.


Posted 10:46 AM by Tony


Lenten Friday

It's Friday, which means no meat for me. The problem with Lenten Fridays is that they just sort of sneak up on you. I keep forgetting that I'm not supposed to eat meat until after that first bite of the cheeseburger/burrito/pizza/other meaty goodness. Oops.

Let's see if I can remember today.

No Lenten blogging would be complete without some discussion of abstention, I guess. Last year, I gave up coffee. For those of you who know me, you can appreciate the difficulty. This year, it's carbonated beverages. And no, beer doesn't count. Here's hoping I stick to it for the next several weeks.


Posted 10:34 AM by Tony


Combo Day: Dixie Chicks and PETA

My blog provider, Blogspot, includes a referral service, showing the sites from where people are accessing this site. It makes for interesting reading. Several referrals were from searches looking for both the Dixie Chicks and PETA. I've written about the Dixie Chicks, twice, and PETA, but I hadn't realized there was a connection (link via Instapundit):

The Dixie Chicks — who took a lot of heat after one member of the group made anti-Bush comments — narrowly averted another controversy with some of their red-blooded fans. The Scoop was startled to learn that the country and western crooners posed for one of those “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” ads for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — but the ad was never released.

You can see the photo here. I guess they were going for that "American Beauty" look.

In terms of alienating their fan base, it looks like the Dixie Chicks are smart enough to avoid overt association with PETA, but not quite smart enough to avoid attacking the president in front of a foreign audience. I'm just waiting for them to criticize gun owners or SUV drivers. I figure that they'll have hit a Trifecta of Offensiveness, as far as country music fans are concerned.

So I get to write about the Dixie Chicks and PETA in a single post. My cup runneth over.


Posted 10:21 AM by Tony

Thursday, March 20, 2003
Through The Berm

According to the New York Times, U.S. and British Marines have taken Umm Qasr, Iraq's remaining port. And the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry is leading the way into Iraq for the 3rd Infantry Division.

You may remember that Custer commanded the 7th Cavalry at Little Big Horn. Here's to better luck this time around, guys.


(UK Marines conducting exercises in Kuwait, 3-20-2003, from AP)



Posted 8:58 PM by Tony


Tripwire

Last year, I visited my paternal aunt and uncle in Seoul. Where, I asked, were their kids? My uncle explained that one was studying for an accountant’s certification exam. The other was a cadet at the Korea Military Academy, and currently on an exchange program at Saint-Cyr, the French military academy.

What? I hadn’t seen my cousin since he was in grade school, and I had difficulties picturing him as a cadet, much less an army officer. Korea has universal male conscription, and I had heard stories about kids deliberately going on crash diets to get under the weight minimum. Thus, it was hard for me to comprehend that some do choose to serve.

I thought about my cousin recently upon reading a recent article in the Chosun Ilbo. I’m not sure if this was a response to a recent surge of anti-Americanism lately, but an unnamed Department of Defense official had speculated moving the U.S. Army’s main bases to south of Seoul. He also suggested that the American military should no longer be considered as playing a “tripwire” role on the peninsula.

Since the end of the Korean War, the 2nd Infantry Division has been deployed north of Seoul and along the border, acting as an automatic “tripwire” for U.S. involvement in the event of renewed hostilities. The cynic in me takes “tripwire” to mean “die in place.” If the North Koreans had attacked, the 2nd Infantry would have been fully engaged from the beginning. The factor of surprise would have gone a long way to balancing out American technology.

I’m starting to come around to the idea of moving the 2nd Infantry Division (though I think the U.S. Forces Korea headquarters should probably stay in Seoul).

This isn’t 1950. The ROK military is more than capable of defending itself.

A move to the south would also allow the 2nd Infantry Division to leverage its advantages in mobility and long-range firepower. North of Seoul, knife-like ridges of rock thrust into the air, and split the country into numerous miniature valleys and passes (which a buddy of mine from West Virginia would probably call “hollers”). In contrast, the land south of Seoul opens up into relatively flat terrain, and is covered with rice paddies and the occasional factory or apartment complex.

I could be wrong about this, and if I am please let me know why.

But one of these days, my cousin, or his classmates, will take their place at the DMZ, without a tripwire. Thinking about it, I’m confident they’re up to the challenge.


Posted 8:35 PM by Tony


Swords, Oil Fields, and Missiles

Here's a bit from the today's New York Times:

Iraqi television broadcast a speech by a defiant Saddam Hussein this morning, a few hours after the first blasts on Baghdad. In it, he exhorted his people to "draw your swords" against invaders and referred to the United States government as "criminals" and "Zionists."

Apparently, Hussein is unaware of the admonition "never bring a knife to a gunfight."

The Iraqis are now reportedly setting several oil wells on fire. Some bad ideas never die, I guess. Perhaps it's time to bring Red Adair out from retirement.

To keep track, here's a map of the Iraqi oil fields.

There was a missile attack against forces in Kuwait last night:


(from Reuters)



At least morale appears to be up, judging from this and this:

Some vehicles sport American flags. On the side of a Humvee is a hand- painted sign, reminding everyone about 1991. It says, "we're baack."

The mood of the troops, geared up by this charge across the desert, is fine.

Serious, but not depressed. They're no longer in base camp. They're closer to what they came here to do.

"We're the best trained Army in the world," says Capt. Neubauer.

At night, hours after arriving at this patch of desert, the troops clean their weapons, clean the Bradleys' engines, clean everything and anything that could be gummed up by the millions of acres of sand out here.

After dinner, one of the troops breaks out cigars -- it's a special occasion.

He has some more for later. Baghdad.


Posted 10:37 AM by Tony


P.A.D.S.

I suppose everyone's commute features a daily dose of irritation. I'm still new at the car commuting bit, so perhaps it's just me.

I come in from the East Bay, crossing the Dunbarton Bridge to get to work. Most of the commute is just fine. Even traffic on the dreaded 880 freeway is just fine, at least when I'm on it. Crossing over, traffic flows onto a rather wide street, heading west. Again, still fine.

The problem arises as the street crosses over the 101. As soon as I cross over the freeway, what was previously three lanes is now compressed into one. Imagine, if you will, three lanes worth of commuter traffic trying to squeeze into a single access lane. Traffic slows, compresses, and oozes into that space like some sort of metallic amoeba. If it's like this at 7:30 A.M., the mind boggles at what conditions must be like during peak commuting times.

Take a look at the map again. Every single street crossing over the 101 is like this. The only recompense is that the single lanes wind through tony suburban neighborhoods, and the view is quite lovely.

An acquaintance of mine calls this the Palo Alto Defense System. It's a diabolical scheme to slow growth by inconveniencing hordes of commuters, the barbarians at the gates, if you will. I'm starting to think he's right.

It could be worse, I suppose - I'd hate to be driving into San Francisco this morning.

Update: And then there are some commuters unwilling to sit in traffic.


Posted 8:28 AM by Tony

Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Time's Up

Crap.

Earlier, I tried to write about something cheerful, light and inconsequential. I just couldn't, and gave up the effort as a lost cause.

The last 48 hours have been an exercise in inevitability. As the clock spun down, I kept hoping that Hussein would do a Baby Doc or Idi Amin and take off. Yet, when all's said and done, that's just not going to happen, if this is any indication.

It seems that the fighting has already started, both from the air and on the ground. Now, I can only hope that this all gets finished quickly, and that more episodes like this occur.

Godspeed, guys:


(3rd Infantry Division training exercise in Kuwait a few weeks back, from AP (?))



May you all return home quickly and safely.

I think all of us can agree on that.


Posted 5:07 PM by Tony


Random Warblogging Comments

So much has been happening in the world over the last few days, and I have neither the time nor inclination to cover them all. However, I thought the following bits were worth mentioning. And I’ve learned how to code block quotes! (oooooh!)

Item the First:

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who has basically walked in goose, er, lockstep with Chirac in this crisis has now decided that it’s all about the civilians.

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany, a passionate opponent of the military campaign, condemned the move toward an invasion, saying it meant "certain death to thousands of innocent men, women and children."

Indeed, let’s consider the civilians:

“There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein’s youngest son] personally supervise these murders.”

Or the children:

So the secret police came for his wife. Where is he? They tortured her. And when she didn't break, they tortured his [then two-year old - Tony] daughter.
"When did you last see your father? Has he phoned? Has he been in contact?" They half-crushed the toddler's feet.
Now, she doesn't walk, she hobbles, and Ali fears that Saddam's men have crippled his daughter for life. So Ali talked to us.

Say what you like about the INS, the FBI, or the Department of Homeland Security, but I’ve yet to hear of any of them doing that.

Item the Second:

Michael Moore recently wrote a pretty snarky letter concerning the war. I was considering how to fisk the darned thing, but Rachel and Conrad have already beaten me it. Rude? Yes. Funny? Also, yes.

Item the Third:

I was a tad surprised to see this:

"Have we gone to war yet?" she asked sarcastically, early on. "We (expletive) deserve to get bombed. Bring it on." Later she yelled, "Let's get rid of all the economic (expletive) this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win!"


See also this SF Chronicle puff piece.

That comment seriously ticked me off, as she seems to be approve of more of our citizens, uniformed or not, being killed.

Since Hynde apparently is okay with that, all I can do is offer her a cold refreshing drink:


(from Something Awful’s Photoshop Phriday)



Posted 9:43 AM by Tony

Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Slippery Slopes, And Not The Fun Kind

Yesterday, I mentioned that one anti-war argument was that China could use the same rationale we are to invade Taiwan.

Eugene Volokh, who teaches constitutional law at UCLA Law School, discusses the same issue today in Slate. It's a lot more fleshed out than my discussion is, unsurprisingly. It's worth a read. Would I steer you wrong?


Posted 5:02 PM by Tony


France, Power, and Oil

Before I start, I owe a certain someone an apology for what I’m about to say. If you’re reading this, I just want to say that it’s not meant personally and I regret any antagonism this may arouse.

As you may know, I enjoy a good Sunday drive. This past Sunday, I was driving through the Castro district, and was stopped at Market and Church Streets. The street is two lanes wide in each direction, and for each direction, and an aisle of concrete separates the two lanes, serving as a Muni stop. A solitary bearded figure stood at the Muni stop, waving a large French flag back and forth.

It’s amazing, the kinds of emotions a flag can arouse. My immediate inclination was to step out of my car and smack the living daylights out of him. My heart sped up a bit, a rush of adrenalin filled my veins, and my hands started to tremble. This all occurred in less than a second, an unconscious response to what I had seen.

Of course, I didn’t actually do this. I do have a pretty good grip on my temper, y’know. But I am irritated with the games France has been playing with the current crisis.

Let’s recap:

First, France wanted the United States to go for another UN resolution. UN Resolution 1441 was drafted in large part by France, and was passed by the United Nations. Fine. Hans Blix’s boys, despite their best efforts, find undeclared weapons in Iraq. France then declares that it will refuse to join any coalition against Iraq without UN approval. It then changes its mind and decides that it will veto any UN authorization, no matter what.

In the meantime, President Chirac and Foreign Minister de Villepin decry American “unilateralism.” Apparently, England, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Hungary, Poland and Denmark don’t count. And neither do Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Or if they do, they sure missed a good opportunity to keep quiet.

For some reason, however, French-only intervention in the Ivory Coast without UN authorization is acceptable.

Yet, somehow, despite its direct opposition to the United States on an important issue, Chirac thinks that France’s actions will have no cost. I’m not sure why he thinks persistent opposition to the United States on an important issue will have no cost, but there you go.

Why all the fuss? I think that Glenn Reynolds may be correct about the reason for all the hoorah. France’s opposition isn’t really about Iraq; instead, it’s about shaping the world order. I suspect that, once the dust settles, France is going to find that it’s shot itself in the… foot on this one.

Or, perhaps it is all about the oil.

Douglas Adams, in his Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy, describes a computer, named Deep Thought, designed to find the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Deep Thought finally calculates the Ultimate Answer: 42. The computer explained that the answer made sense. The problem was that the designers didn’t know what the Ultimate Question was.

I guess oil was the right answer. We were just asking the wrong question.


Posted 11:48 AM by Tony


Common Law Marriages

As far as I know, California doesn't recognize common law marriages. After seeing this, I can understand why. Sounds like on for the casebooks.


Posted 9:49 AM by Tony


Life on the DMZ

For obvious reasons, I’ve maintained a certain interest in news coming out of Korea. Today’s New York Times has an article covering life on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Some of it seems pretty whacked out to those who don’t follow current events closely, such as the bit about using infrared imagers to look for North Korean infiltrators. But when you find North Korean tunnels dug under the DMZ, looking for infiltrators becomes part of the routine, I suppose.

What caught my eye wasn’t so much the substance of the article as its filing location. Camp Bonifas is located about 1 mile south of the DMZ, separated from Panmunjom by a minefield. The Times article mentions that the base is named after Captain Arthur Bonifas, killed in 1976 while cutting a tree in the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom. What’s not mentioned is that he and Lieutenant Barrett were killed by axe-wielding North Koreans.

That’s part of the price the United States has paid in South Korea for the last 50 years. And now, as Paul Harvey might say, you know the rest of the story.


Posted 9:24 AM by Tony

Monday, March 17, 2003
Pro-Interventionist

A couple years ago, I was discussing the topic of abortion with a friend, and something he said stuck with me. He said that “pro-abortion” didn’t mean “abortions for everyone!” Rather, he explained, the term meant that abortion should be available as an option. I find myself considering that conversation today, in light of this past weekend’s demonstrations and today’s “Come to Jesus Moment” (or functional equivalent thereof). I’ve been called pro-war, and a friend of mine has called me a warmonger (jokingly, I hope), but I don’t think either label fits. I don’t believe that we should always resort to war, but rather that military force, or the threat of military force, should be an option.

At its most basic, the source of any government power, be it a country or a multinational polity, is coercion. Stripped of any Sopranos-like overtones, coercion is the ability to compel a person to do something he may not want to do. Consider paying taxes, which seems appropriate at this time of year. Most people I know aren’t big fans of paying taxes, yet they do so anyway. And absent the coercive power of the government to compel payment of taxes, very few people would.

So how do you apply coercion to compel a country to do what it might not want to do?

There are three basic options:

1. political – UN resolutions, splashing a drink in an ambassador’s face, and the like
2. economic – this can range the gamut from licensing requirements to tariffs to full-bore sanctions against that country’s products
3. military – military exercises across the border, increased military cooperation with that country’s foes, and invasion

In compelling compliance, all three types of options should be available. Remove one, and the credibility of the remaining options is diminished, if not eliminated. Consider what happens if the economic option is removed. Only political and military options are left, locking the country into a binary set of alternatives.

The menu of available actions in a given case will depend on the coercing country’s ability to exercise the spectrum of options above, and the nature of the threat. For purposes of simplicity, I would divide hostile countries into three categories:

1. Countries with little capability of seriously harming the United States or its allies. I would place hostile sub-Saharan African nations in this category, as well as Cuba
2. Countries that presently do not have the capability of seriously harming the United States and its allies, but will soon be able to do so. I’d put Iraq in this category.
3. Countries with the present ability to seriously harm the United States and its allies. Yep, North Korea goes here.

Generally, I think we tend to let threats slide from the second category to the third, at which point the menu of available options becomes rather limited. The military option is removed from the table, as the hostile country can easily up the ante beyond the point a democracy would find palatable. Political and economic options may work, but a hostile country with sufficient will can game the system to get what it wants at little cost. Again, see North Korea for an example.

So, what options were available to the United States here? We’ve tried the political option, going to the UN time after time again, to no avail. Saddam Hussein ignored repeated UN resolutions, made the previous inspection regime possible, and only started cooperating in the meaningful sense of the word when threatened with military force. Despite the imposition of economic sanctions, Hussein has hardly changed his behavior. Which leaves us with the military option.

But what about the anti-war arguments? Four are worth considering seriously.

1. Military action never solves anything. This argument is demonstrably wrong, as Korea, Kosovo, Somalia, and pretty much all of Western Europe would demonstrate. In the mess that is Bosnia-Herzegovina, did the exercise of the political and economic options had little to no impact on ethnic cleansing? Nope.

2. Give the inspections time to work. Let’s suppose that it’s possible for the UN inspectors to find every piece, every nut, and every bolt of Saddam’s programs to develop nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. What’s to stop him from reconstituting those programs again? So far, the record indicates Saddam’s colorable compliance with disarmament only when credible threats of military action are made. Do we have to keep sending troops there time and time again? If so, the threat of military action becomes less credible with repeated iterations. Do we station UN troops there? Even assuming Saddam approves, which seems pretty unlikely, what’s to prevent those troops from being impeded or even held hostage, as was the case in Srbenica? In any event, the initial assumption is highly unlikely, when Hans Blix is compared to his predecessor, Rolf Ekeus. Containment hardly seems a viable option, as Walter Russell Mead explains.

3. War should only occur with international support. To me, this boils down to an argument that we may be justified in using military force, but a refusal to do so without external approval. This is one I really have problems understanding. We’re either justified in going in, or we aren’t. It’s a binary set. International support is great, but isn’t a prerequisite, nor should it prevent us from doing what need be done. To say that we can only act if the rest of the world agrees is, to me, an abdication of responsibility.

4. If we’re justified in going after Hussein, then any big country is justified in doing what it wants, like China going after Taiwan. This argument smacks of moral equivalency, similar to comparing beef consumption to the Holocaust. The argument only works in a very superficial way, in comparing the size of the actors and the means employed, rather than the nature of the actors.

In the end, absent a last-minute decision by Hussein, his inner circle, and his security apparatus to leave the country, military action seems the only avenue available. The useful political and economic approaches have been tried, and found ineffective, leaving this.

Contrary to what some might believe, I don’t enjoy war. I don’t thrill at the thought of my fellow citizens at risk in a country far from home. I think this sums it up best: “It is well that war is so terrible – we would grow too fond of it.” Those words were spoken by one of the greatest generals America has produced – Robert E. Lee.

I’m not pro-war, nor a warmonger. I’m a pro-interventionist. We’ve tried everything else, and intervention is all that’s left.

It’s time.


(from the Day By Day site)

Note – The length of this piece is atypical, as I’m not trying to be a den Beste. I’ll keep it shorter next time, promise.


Posted 2:20 PM by Tony


Dual Use Targets

A game (sorry, I mean, didactic tool) law school professors like to play is “What If?” The professor gives the student a hypothetical scenario or question in order explore the ramifications of a legal rule. For example, in Constitutional Law, we discussed abortion rights as being grounded in the woman’s right to bodily autonomy. What if, the professor asked, reproductive technology advances to the point where artificial wombs are available and gestation no longer requires a woman’s uterus. If abortion rights are based on female bodily autonomy, do such advances allow for greater state regulation? Does the man gain any say? And discussion proceeded from there.

Lately, I’ve seen anti-interventionists (I dislike the pro-/anti-war dichotomy, but that’s for another post), use “What If?” in the context of dual use targets. Dual use targets are those with both military and non-military uses, such as bridges and power generating plants. Anti-interventionists argue that attacks on dual use targets would constitute a violation of international law. Admittedly, international law is something I know little about, and so I did some digging.

An article in the current issue of the Naval War College Review discusses the problem in the context of the 1999 Kosovo air campaign, Operation Allied Force. The guiding principles governing target selection are distinction and proportionality, as the following quote illustrates:

While noncombatants and civilian property may never be directly targeted, the law recognizes that an attack on an otherwise lawful military objective may cause incidental injury and damage to civilians and their property. There are, however, limits on such incidental or collateral damage. In the words of Article 57(2) of Protocol I, it must not “be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated” (emphasis supplied) from targeting the military objective. That is, collateral damage not only must be minimized but may not be disproportionate to any military gain. The law of armed conflict requires attackers to respect this principle of proportionality by demanding that they “at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives.”
[the Protocol refers to the Geneva Convention – Tony]

Which brings us back to the question: are attacks against dual use targets legal under international law? Frankly, I don’t know. The principles of distinction and proportionality appear to set up a balancing test, and the legality of striking a particular target must be made on a case-by-case basis. There do not appear to be any “bright line” rules, though I’m sure we all wish there would be.


(taken from the Doonesbury site)


Posted 10:36 AM by Tony


Sunday Drives

Growing up in Southern California made it hard to contemplate living without a car. I almost went through withdrawal from not having a car during three years of law school. Fortunately, San Francisco has a very extensive public transit system, so I was still able to get around. Still, there's something liberating about just being able to take off and go where your whims take you.

As you can tell, I enjoy driving, though I suspect I've a generous helping of the Asian Driver Gene. I regularly drive every Sunday morning from my home in the East Bay to San Francisco for Lindy in the Park. As a result, I get to enjoy one of my favorite driving experiences, travelling across the San Mateo Bridge.

Here's a picture of the bridge taken from the Peninsula, facing east.

The toll gate is on the east side of the bridge, and from there, a wide, straight expanse of concrete stretches for miles. For the first 5 miles or so, the bridge runs close to the water, making it seem as if one is driving right on the surface of the Bay. At the end, the bridge arcs up, then dips down, adding a kind of climactic finish to the Bay-crossing experience.

As you can see from the picture, the bridge presents a very clean appearance, uncluttered by suspension cables or towers, in contrast to the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge. From the road, this translates into a spectacular view of the Bay.

And the view constantly changes. On some days, when not a single cloud blots the sky and the breeze blows any hint of fog away, it's possible to take in San Francisco, Oakland, and the Bay Bridge at one glance. The sharp outlines of the skyline contrast to the deep blue of the sky, and even the shape of the Transamerica Pyramid can be picked out of the skyline.

On other days, thick grey fog enshrouds the bridge, and visibility shrinks down to 100 yards, if that. On those days, nothing but the immediate road ahead and a bit of water to the side can be seen. The time on the bridge feels endless, as if one were driving on an indeterminate journey to an indefinite destination. The drive boils down to you, the concrete, and the water.

Then, there are days like yesterday. When I started across the bridge, storm clouds filled the sky, and I had to drive through several patches of hard rain. While driving, I glanced to my left, and noticed an almost-perfect circle of sunlight illuminating the otherwise drably gray waters of the Bay. Very odd. I looked to my right, towards San Francisco and Oakland, and saw a few solitary shafts of sunlight poking through the otherwise unrelenting mass of gray cumulus. Very dramatic. I couldn't help but grin in appreciation.

On Sunday mornings, there are very few cars on the bridge, allowing one to enjoy the view while simultaneously enjoying the sensation of driving fast close to the water. This really is the best way to appreciate nature, in my view. PJ O'Rourke, one of my favorite writers, observed that only God can make a tree, but only man can drive by one that fast.

I've never gotten tired of this drive, and I hope I never do.


Posted 9:24 AM by Tony

Saturday, March 15, 2003
Well, Cry Me A River

Well, apparently Natalie Maines is really sorry for angering the Dixie Chicks' fans. I find the timing particularly ironic. She had previously taken a hard-line stance against the criticism her remarks drew. Her apology came only after radio stations began to pull the Dixie Chicks' music off the air. My guess is that she's not particulary sorry, but has since become aware of the economic effects of her remarks.

But it would seem that the damage has already been done. The band's Yahoo forums are filled with some pretty pissed people. Although Maines stated that she supports the troops, I daresay not all of them believe her. I wonder how that's going to affect turnout at the Dixie Chicks' concert tour, which is set to start in South Carolina.

I think the take-home messages here are:
1. Don't screw around with your fans if most of them are Jacksonians.
2. Don't be surprised if your exercise of free speech angers others.


Posted 10:26 AM by Tony


It's Eat An Animal For PETA Day!

Today is Eat An Animal For PETA Day! There's a great burger joint near work that serves a burger with cooked pastrami laid on top of the patty. Mmmm. Unfortunately, it's a little too far to drive for me on a weekend. Well, there's always Texas Road House.

What I find most galling about PETA is not that its members believe that animals have as many rights as humans. Foolish, yes, but that provokes amusement, not anger. Instead, it's the self-righteous attitude and appalling moral equivalency that gets to me. I'm sorry, but raising food animals is not the same as the purposeful snuffing out of millions of lives. And having Isaac Baashevis Singer say so doesn't make it it true.

Here's a picture from PETA's web page making the comparison:



Eating beef=killing Jews. Right.

It's stuff like this which makes me applaud what I'd ordinarily think really childish.

Something just occurred to me. I never saw a PETA protestor in SF during Gay Pride Day, which features lots of people wearing assorted and varied items leather clothing. However, people coming out of Neiman Marcus in Union Square are fair game. I find that . . . interesting.

Update: Went to Texas Road House with my roommate. They guarantee every dish has at least 8 ounces of meat in it. Had the combo, with 6 ounces of sirloin, and 8 of BBQ chicken. Goooood stuff! But, me feel sleepy now. It's good to be at the top of the food chain.


Posted 9:47 AM by Tony

Friday, March 14, 2003
Well, This Is A Shocker

Reagan
Republican - You believe that the free market will
take care of most things, but that the
government should be there with moderate
taxation to provide for national defense and
enforcing morality. Your historical role model
is Ronald Reagan.


Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'd hasten to point out that my result was driven by my answers concerning free markets, guns, drugs and hookers. "Free Markets and Loose Women" - now there's a title for a book!


Posted 4:38 PM by Tony


Now I Remember Why I Hate Statistics

Andrew Sullivan points this out. Apparently, Asian women get married to white guys 3.08 times more often that Asian guys marry white women.

Actually, I'm surprised the ratio isn't higher. Down in Southern California, it seemed that every white/Asian couple involved a white guy and an Asian woman. The only exception I can think of is my cousin (who's a real f*cktard, but that's a story for another day). Up here in the Bay Area, things are a bit different. I can think of 3 Asian guy/white woman couples offhand, and have seen such couples in San Francisco. Even still, that sort of situation isn't all that common.

I have no idea why this disparity exists. Sullivan suggests, tongue in cheek, that it's all the Berkeley white guys. Now, as much as I like blaming Berkeley for anything and everything, up to and including locusts and wheat rust, I don't think that's it. Anyone out there want to give it a shot?

This part, in particular, caught my eye:
Although the bitterness that some black women feel over intermarriage is well known, the imbalance rests even more heavily on Asian-American men. For every 1,000 Asian women with husbands, only 860 Asian men had wives, leaving a large number of Asian bachelors left over. In contrast, for every 1,000 black women who were married, there were 1,059 black married men.

Well, that just sucks.


Posted 3:13 PM by Tony


The Dixie Chicks Alienate Their Fan Base

I started listening to country music back in 1993. I remember this very vividly. I was living in Seoul at the time, learning Korean, and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I had been talking about music with a friend of mine, a Korean-American from Texas, who handed me a Garth Brooks CD. I started listening, and got hooked immediately. And I’ve been listening to country music ever since, though at times, it still feels a bit odd being the only Asian guy in the Bay Area who listens to country.

I particularly enjoyed the Dixie Chicks. Their rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” at this year’s Super Bowl was amazing, and raised goose bumps. I was enormously excited to find out that the Dixie Chicks would be playing in the Bay Area, and was disappointed to find that all the tickets to their San Jose show had sold out. I checked other venues. Sacramento, sold out. Los Angeles, Anaheim, the same. The local country radio station mentioned that 51 of their 57 shows had sold out. Darn.

Well, I’m a little less crushed now, after reading this. Natalie Maines told a crowd at a Munich concert, “Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” My initial reaction was one of instinctive, intense anger, and I couldn’t really figure out why. Then it hit me. It wasn’t my disagreement with her views. God knows, if I disliked people based the fact that their political viewpoint was opposed to mine, I’d have no friends.

I was angry because she expressed her contempt of the President to a foreign audience. It’s fine by me if my fellow citizens disagree with our current foreign policy. Express that wherever and whenever you please. If you feel that the President is a tool, shout it from the rooftops, if you care to. I do feel, though, that attacks on our President, representatives, and country that are not issue-specific should be left at the water’s edge. Especially when, as your comments suggest, that your position is the result of being exposed to several weeks of anti-American sentiment.

PJ O’Rourke described being similarly affected in his essay “Ship of Fools.” The essay describes a boat trip in the Soviet Union that he took with a group of American leftists. The leftists complained loudly and at length about the vileness of the capitalist system, President Reagan, and the United States of America. O’Rourke wrote that he suddenly became enraged that his fellow Americans would dump on their country so in a foreign land. Exactly.

The Dixie Chicks are private citizens, of course, and free to say what they please. That’s not at issue. However, in a real sense, they do act as unofficial American representatives when they go on tour abroad. They really shouldn’t be surprised, then, if their comments to a foreign audience ticks people off. Freedom of speech is not a guarantee that your exercise of it won’t anger other people, a distinction Maines apparently misses.

One of the things I’d found refreshing about country musicians was that they generally did not feel compelled to opine about international issues, unlike other celebrities. So much for that, I suppose.


Posted 11:57 AM by Tony

Thursday, March 13, 2003
A Short Housekeeping Notice

Welcome to my blog! Just to let you know, this site has minimal functionality, but I hope to start adding features as I become more comfortable with blogging and with HTML.

A couple of global comments before I start:

1. Any comments made here are mine and mine alone. In no way should anything in this blog be imputed to any person except for me.
2. All uses in this blog are intended to comply with the fair use provisions of 17 U.S.C. section 107.

That's pretty much it, though I may change or add to these as I go along.


Posted 6:30 PM by Tony


An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at orblog-at-yahoo.com.

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