ONION: I think the highlight of this week’s Onion is the “News in Brief” story “Corey Flintoff Unleashes Sonorous, Pleasantly Modulated String Of Obscenities.” It’s at the bottom of the page, but be warned: said obscenities are quoted.
Also, don’t miss the first story on the right margin under “Other News.”
KURDS SELL-OUT IS OFFICIAL: According to this story in the Washington Post, once the war starts, the Turkish government “plans to send as many as 40,000 troops across the [Iraqi] border.” Although the Turkish troops are supposed to “stay behind the U.S. forces,” the leader of Turkey’s ruling party says (no doubt with a twinkle in his eye): “You never know, they may go further.”
Ya just never know.
THE BIG LIE: I had heard that the Democrats were denying they were filibustering Estrada, but until now had not seen the proof. Sen. Schumer told PBS that the Democrats are not filibustering Estrada — the Republicans are. Here is an actual, direct quote: “We are not keeping it from going to the floor for a vote.” Apparently lies are like potato chips; one isn’t enough. Well, Sen. Schumer, I’m not swallowing it.
(In the next breath, he explains that “we are not going to vote for Mr. Estrada or allow it to be voted on because he hasn’t revealed any of his views.” (Emphasis is mine.) Schumer can’t even keep his lies straight from one sentence to the next!)
MAIL, WE GET MAIL: A reader writes to address my concern that we are overly telegraphing our attack on Iraq. The e-mail is worth quoting in its entirety:
“Surprise is important if you are evenly matched or smaller. It becomes less important when you have overwhelming force or if your enemy can do nothing to stop you. (I’m not saying this is the case with Iraq, but it arguably is and the Administration may be assuming so.) During Viet Nam, someone complained that one of LBJ’s speeches told Hanoi in advance that American bombers were on the way. The Pentagon’s response was that it didn’t matter because the North Vietnamese could to nothing to prevent the attack anyway. Later they were bombed regularly twice a day for a couple of years. They knew the attacks were coming but could not stop them. In this situation, it is arguably advantageous to tell the enemy in advance what you are going to do them in order to demoralize their military officers who realize they cannot prevent it. Before the 1991 Gulf War there was a prolonged and very visible build up of 500,000 or so American troops and military equipment in the area. I have to think that this was designed to show the Iraqi military that resistance would be futile. Saddam failed to back down, of course, and went to war anyway, but it was a reasonable gambit to try. Maybe they are trying the same thing again.”
My personal feeling is that this may be a valid point — but one which may not apply in these circumstances. Don’t forget about the Saddam wild card: chemical and biological weapons. As I discussed in my earlier post on this site, a Los Angeles Dog Trainer article indicates that the only reason for Saddam to keep his wildly inaccurate Al-Samoud 2s would be to tip them with biological and chemical weapons and lob them at Kuwait, where our troops are gathering. I assume we have a plan in place to take these missiles out with precision bombing — but that may not work if we telegraph exactly when we are going to attack. My guess is that our telegraphing has less to do with military strategy and more to do with diplomacy. Given that the latter appears to be going nowhere (although you never know), I would prioritize the former.
Separately, I received my first e-mail calling me an idiot today. The writer was very pleasant; I think he was simply responding to my invitation for people to send me such e-mails. Keep ‘em coming! (But you aren’t required to call me an idiot!)
KURDS: For those who didn’t bother to read the Krugman piece I endorsed here, let me endorse it again. Perhaps I should have elaborated on what he says. Most compelling are Krugman’s observations that the Bush plan (1) sells the Kurds down the river (which it unquestionably does) and (2) fails to rid the Iraqi government of Baathist influences, in sharp contrast to the thorough rooting out of all Nazis in Germany after WWII. “Saddam Hussein and a few top officials will be replaced with Americans, but the rest will stay.” Serious charges, to be taken seriously, in my view.
WHY YOU DON’T PONTIFICATE WITHOUT THE FACTS: California Attorney General Lockyer’s letter regarding Judge Kozinski, mentioned below, is debunked here by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. Although Volokh is a former Kozinski clerk, he is credible on the issue, in my judgment. Volokh is a straight shooter who calls ‘em like he sees ‘em. Lockyer, by contrast, joked that he hoped Ken Lay would be sent to prison so he would be raped. Between the two, I think Volokh gets the nod on credibility. Moroever, I just don’t think that Kozinski would do what Lockyer accused him of doing. He’s not that dumb.
Without more, I have concluded that Lockyer’s letter is just inaccurate.
GO FRED GO: Fred Thompson has filmed a pro-war commercial in response to Martin Sheen’s anti-war ad. My question: who wins: Martin Sheen (U.S. President vs. Manhattan D.A.) or Fred T. (real-life ex-Senator vs. play-actor)?
My guess: to the extent America is paying attention, they’ll look at Thompson and think: “Who does this District Attorney fellow think he is, second-guessing the President of the United States?”
UPDATE: The wife votes for Martin Sheen — the more well-known actor.
KOZINSKI: For those familiar with the controversy regarding Judge Alex Kozinski’s visit to a death row inmate, read this letter from Bill Lockyer. It puts quite a different spin on the allegations. I will be doing no pontificating on this one until I know more about the facts.
MUST-READ FOR PROTESTORS: Anti-war protestors love The Village Voice. I wonder what they think about this piece, in which an Iraqi refugee discusses Saddam and his regime. From the article: ” ‘[T]he people who are protesting the war don’t know what the regime is like.’ The young man pulls away his thin jacket and paisley shirt to show off a scar on his neck, and another two lashes on his breast, caused by a power-cable whipping. ‘You tell Bush my people are waiting for him.’ “
ESTRADA UPDATE: Op-ed in the Washington Post adding more evidence to the now obvious conclusion: Estrada has answered questions more thoroughly than plenty of other judges who sailed through their confirmations.
In fact, according to this piece, Estrada has said Roe v. Wade “is the law . . . and I will follow it.” That goes much further than I thought he had gone (I had heard he had called it “settled law” but had not heard him essentially pledge not to overrule it). That should be way more than enough for Democrats. In fact, this quote instills doubts in me; maybe Estrada is not as conservative as I had hoped. . .