Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Monday, April 14, 2003

posted by Jazz at 4/14/2003 04:30:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Just a brief post today on Syria  Link

It's hard for me to pick a favorite editorial cartoonist from all those available today, but the
current offering
from Tom Toles is quickly pushing him to the top of my list. While the dark humor is amusing, it's also a spine chilling little reminder of what's currently happening with our overseas activities.

A recent entry by Josh Micah in Talking Points Memo will give you a good look at some of the questions being raised over there right now. Reliable media sources inside Iraq indicate that the majority of the "foreign fighters" shooting at our troops are not Syrians, but in fact, Saudis. He rightly asks, "What? No follow-up?"  And yet I just completed a search of CNN's web site and found not one article on this.

I can fully understand how the Bush administration wouldn't want public coverage of this, since we are quite firmly in bed with the Saudis at this point, and nobody wants to rock the boat.  But last time I looked, CNN wasn't being funded by the White House.  I'm rather 'shocked and awed' by the lack of coverage this topic is seeing.  Yet we are more than predictably rattling our sabers at Syria to such a degree that the blades may break free from the hilts.

I'm fully willing to give credit where credit is due.  Only today, President Bush was crowing to the world how the Iraq war had pushed North Korea to tone down its rhetoric and take a more open stance to resolving the issues of the day in that country.  As they say, it's an ill wind that blows no good. If
any of the world's current hot spots find their way to a speedier, peaceful solution of their troubles from some example we are setting in Iraq, then a benefit will have been derived from the U.S. invasion.

This is, however, a dangerous flag to throw on the national political field. A fast victory by the most powerful military on Earth against the antiquated, woefully under supplied army of Iraq could also reinforce a belief in Mr. Bush's mind that a violent resolution to international conflict is a logical
alternative to the first signs of failure in diplomatic efforts.  This is a slippery slope with exceptionally dire consequences awaiting us at the bottom.  Syria and North Korea are not the only possible areas of concern in this matter. Scroll down a bit to see my recent comments on other areas, including Cuba, where we need to keep our eyes wide open.  Being magnanimous in victory is the hallmark of sound judgment.  Using this as an excuse to attack more countries would be a fool's course indeed.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

posted by Jazz at 4/13/2003 12:38:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

April 13, 2003
Where's the Next Stop for the U.N. Train? Link

Were I to suddenly be given the opportunity and talent to work as an editorial cartoonist, I believe I would be depicting the United Nations as an angry old woman in a peasant dress, pushing her walker up to a meeting of the heads of state for the permanent members of the security council. Her handbag would be whirling in a threatening manner, as if she just might have a brick inside of it, and she'd be shouting for those damned kids to get off of her lawn and come down to just listen for a moment.

Sadly, most children these days simply hurl insults at old ladies and, laughing, run off to soap someone else's windows.

Following the amazingly rapid collapse of Iraq in the face of the military might wielded by the last remaining superpower on Earth, the United States stands at a crossroad of historic proportions. We are sending extremely mixed signals to the international community regarding our "master plan" for the future of foreign policy, and we need to to take this opportunity to clarify that message in a sane, rational manner.

While there may still be some dinosaurs here who long for a return to isolationist policies, it seems obvious that such a direction is neither viable nor safe, both in terms of military security and economic stability. This leaves us with two choices - we can either flatly claim the office of "Policeman to the World," or we can use our power and influence to build a true, global coalition of sovereign nations who will work together towards beneficial goals. But which direction is the underlying theme of the new "Bush Doctrine"? Colin Powell continues to make allusions which are quite contradictory in nature.

At times, he seems to be endorsing a globally enlightened view. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times he said, "We believe that all of these nations -- Syria, Iran, others -- should realize that pursuing weapons of mass destruction, supporting terrorist activities, is not in their interest. It doesn't mean that war is coming to them, it just means that the world is changing in the new century, where we have to deal with these kinds of threats.... It doesn't mean that the only consequence the American president can think of is to reach in the toolbox for the military."

Yet in the very same 48 hour period, he appeared on BBC One's Breakfast with Frost and stated, "We are concerned that materials have flowed through Syria to the Iraqi Regime over the years. We are making this point clearly and in a very direct manner to the Syrians. We think it would be very unwise ... if suddenly Syria suddenly becomes a haven for all these people who should be brought to justice who are trying to get out of Baghdad."

We've seen similar sine waves in the public stance of Donald Rumsfeld. Though his speech tends to lean far more towards the hawkish side, he still pays some lip service to the possibility of global cooperation. Such a mixture of beneficence and saber rattling must surely leave our global neighbors with a case of mental whiplash, wondering exactly what sort of brave new world we are trying to forge. But in which direction should we, as citizens, be influencing our government to go?

The shiny badge and crisp uniform of global cop is tempting fruit to many, no doubt. Years of our own propaganda and rhetoric have built up an American illusion that we are assuredly the "good guys." We are the cowboys in the white hats who know what is in everyone's best interest. And while we publicly avow that we dislike war, we sorrowfully acknowledge that it in some cases it might be the only way to bring justice to the bad people of the world. We also seem to be under some form of national mass hysteria which makes us think that the rest of the planet sees us in that light as well, with the exception of a few of the aforementioned notable bad guys, who only lack a firm dose of American righteous zeal to see the light.

But, as some of our more rustic speakers are wont to say, that dog simply won't hunt. Our popularity in other nations is undeniably at an all time low. There is a growing mistrust of the United States all over the world, and our recent shoddy treatment of other nations has earned us special enmity from a variety of global powers, while turning the credibility of the United Nations into a laughing stock. We have been chilly and dismissive to Russia and China, while flatly sending the French to stand in a corner and await their punishment when we're done rooting out Saddam's regime.

Future failures in diplomacy such as this can be avoided, but only if approached on a multilateral basis. As crippled as it is, the United Nations is the only vehicle we have for such processes. Let's face the fact - the U.N. is broken. But ignoring it (or worse, scrapping it entirely) leaves us only the role of setting the world into order as we see it by putting a hob-nailed boot on the throats of all other countries. The United Nations could be fixed, but it's going to require hard work and some compromise on the parts of many parties.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, in the Washington Post, offered some tantalizing suggestions on how to repair the U.N. and give it a new birth as a viable international instrument of resolving conflict. Her ideas centered primarily on their adopting new resolutions which clearly define the conditions where military intervention would be appropriate and justifiable in this new century with its previously unknown threats. It's a good plan, but I don't think it goes far enough. The ability of each of the permanent members of the security council to shut down any resolution via the veto is simply too powerful and restrictive. I believe it's time to amend the U.N.'s charter to allow "non-unanimous resolutions" to be passed, so long as a hefty majority of the voting members approve - perhaps three quarters. Such resolutions would lack the full diplomatic weight of a wholly unanimous resolution, but would still send a powerful message of solidarity, establish a base for broad coalitions when action is required, and prevent any one nation from silencing the international voice when a clear consensus is available. Changing the basic charter of the United Nations should not be viewed as an impossibility, or in some way invalidating its previous years of existence. Organizations of all kinds need to be flexible enough to evolve with the changing demands of the world. The United States has modified its own constitution twenty-seven times since the final draft was penned, and one of those was the reversal of an earlier amendment.

It is very likely, however, that some nations would see the loss of the absolute veto as too much of a threat to their sphere of control and power in the council. You might think, at first, that I am referring to Russia and China. And they might well oppose such a change. But remember this - the United States has vetoed more resolutions in the last ten years than many of us would care to imagine. The majority of them were resolutions aimed at actions by Israel which were deemed inappropriate. While such a change as I propose could finally put some teeth into the United Nations as a central source of international direction and cooperation, our own government might well be the first to reject such a move.

In any event, we need to stop doing backflips and establish exactly what our foreign policy is. The citizens of this country can not endorse or oppose the position taken by our government if we are kept in the dark as to what it is.


posted by Jazz at 4/13/2003 12:33:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

April 11, 2003
Picking up the Pieces  Link

Assuming things go smoothly in Tikrit, the primary military engagement portion of the American invasion of Iraq should be nearly over. War historians will look back on this war as one of the swiftest, most precisely executed, and generally successful invasions in all of history. While the death toll among Iraqis will not be known for a very long time, and is surely horrific, the American and British casualties were kept to surprisingly low numbers; even lower than originally predicted by an optimistic Pentagon. Yes, from a strictly military perspective the war couldn't be called anything but a stunning success. An evil, oppressive regime was overthrown, a terrorist training facility was decimated, and we are now ready to open the badly needed cornucopia of humanitarian aid and begin the establishment of a representative, democratic government where all Iraqis can enjoy the fruits of liberty.

Now we need to pray to each of the deities or higher powers in which we collectively believe for a miracle - that our government leaders be suddenly infused with Divine Inspiration and develop the ability to rebuild a shattered nation. We can only hope the results are a bit better than what we did for Afghanistan.

You remember Afghanistan, don't you? It was that nation where we overthrew an evil, oppressive regime, decimated terrorists by the score, opened a cornucopia of humanitarian aid and established a representative, democratic government under which all the people could flourish. Well, that was the plan, anyway. Unfortunately it turns out to be a lot more difficult than the West Wing spin doctors make it sound.

The government of President Hamid Karzai, installed by the United States, currently only has solid control of Kabul, Kandahar, and a handful of other major population centers. Out in the rural areas, particularly in the more mountainous regions and near the Pakistan border, tribal warlords are back in control of the civilian populations as they have been for centuries. Some openly support the still extant Taliban. Others appear to be completely independent agents. What they have in common is a complete lack of interest in being "liberated" by the United States, nor being governed by any new and decidedly non-Muslim government placed in power there. When U.N. coalition peacekeeping forces arrive, they disappear into the wilderness, but return as soon as the troops are gone. And even though there is a substantial military presence there, (the result of an actual U.N. coalition, unlike the one currently in Iraq) the solders can't be everywhere at once.

The opposition continues to grow emboldened as U.S. attention and interest in the region wanes. As the Washington Post reported recently, attacks against U.N. troops and the Karzai administration have increased sharply in the past few weeks. Rebels attacked an Afghan military checkpoint, injuring a number of peacekeeping troops. In response, American helicopters launched laser guided bombs. One of them missed their target entirely, striking a home where it killed eleven civilians, mostly women. In a second report it is revealed that, in March, rebel forces killed two United States solders and a Red Cross worker outside of Kandahar. Villagers near the city of Spin Boldak rose up in answer to a Taliban call to Jihad, attacking Afghan and U.S. Special Operations forces in the area. Meanwhile, Mohammad Omar, the current leader of the Taliban, continues to muster growing support among the recently liberated populace and eludes capture.

The humanitarian aid seems to have been handled well in the major cities, and continues to flow. Unfortunately recent reports indicate that a large portion of it shipped to other regions is either being confiscated by rebel troops, or rotting as it fails to reach its intended recipients. It is worth pointing out that the current budget proposal submitted by President Bush includes no funding at all for Afghanistan.

It's certainly far too early to declare victory or failure with similar efforts in Iraq, but the initial signs don't bode well for us. One of the first Iraqi officials named to a position of authority was Sheik Muzahim Mustafa Kanan Tameemi, in Basra. His home was promptly surrounded and stoned by a mob of villagers unhappy with his selection. In a separate report, Nicholas Kristof was able to interview some of the Iraqis in Basra who appeared to be gathering to cheer on the U.S. forces tearing down statues and portraits of their former dictator. When asked what he was doing there, one jubilant villager responded in a surprising fashion. "We've come to rob the banks, but those British soldiers won't let us in," he said indignantly. "We're very upset."

Looting and the revenge killing of former Baath Party members have become the avocation of choice in the streets of many Iraqi cities. One of our first acts of governance in the country appears to be the imposition of a dusk to dawn curfew, enforced by the military.

Given our history of attempting to "fix" Islamic nations, this is most certainly not an auspicious start.


posted by Jazz at 4/13/2003 12:28:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

April 9, 2003
Save up for Cuban Cigars Link

I don't smoke cigars myself, but I understand the 1958 Bolivar Belicoso Fino, from Cuba, is one of the finest. They sell for insane prices, only affordable by the most affluent aficionados. But you may have your chance at some of them soon, and at far more reasonable prices.

In case you missed it, buried in the avalanche of news from the American invasion of Iraq, there were several startling events in Cuba this past week. Over 80 Cuban pro democracy dissidents and independent journalists were picked up in a sweeping series of arrests by police, and were put on trial for various, apparently trumped up crimes. They were publicly labeled as being "traitors who have conspired with the United States to subvert Castro's government."

It's tempting to think that this is just our old friend Fidel, up to his old tricks and taking advantage of the Fog of War in Iraq to do some anti-American housecleaning. But is it? Last year, this administration named James Cason as the senior diplomat of the United States in Cuba. He immediately promised that he planned to be "creative, active and vigorous" in his new role. He certainly was. As reported to us by Paul Knox in the Globe and Mail, in his article "Why did Washington goad Cuba?", we find the following:

Mr. Cason arrived in Cuba in September and immediately cranked up the pace of U.S. contacts with independent journalists and dissidents opposed to Mr. Castro's Communist government. He crisscrossed the island, seeking out activists and holding meetings with them. He let opposition journalists use computers at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana. He not only frequently invited dissidents to his residence, but ostentatiously showed up at their meetings and spoke publicly in their support. In February, after being elected to a sixth term as president, Mr. Castro lashed out, calling Mr. Cason's actions "shameless and defiant provocation." He threatened to close the U.S. mission and boot its chief off his island.

US policy on reform in Cuba over the past several years has been to work very quietly with collaborators in the Varela Project. This is a Cuban based initiative to gather signatures and support of prominent leaders and journalists, more than 20,000 so far, for a referendum requesting a reformed set of open, democratic elections of representatives of the people, giving them a voice in Castro's government. It was done quietly because the recognized fact was that Castro would put up with it, and has even shown some signs of compromising with these requests, as long as it wasn't a public "slap in the face", making it appear that it was United States doctrine being shoved down his throat. Cason's activities delivered exactly the opposite effect, and now the "dissidents" are getting jail terms from ten years to life in prison.

While many would obviously view this as a diplomatic disaster, it's worth wondering if this isn't exactly what President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld had in mind all along. (It's worth noting that Donald Rumsfeld was a vocal supporter of Cason's appointment, though many wondered at the time why the Secretary of Defense was weighing in on such a decision.) This editorial, from Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, contains some insight into Rumsfeld's views, with particular attention paid to one of his chief advisors, Victor Hanson.

Their strategy might be described as Black Hawk Up. Mr. Cheney's war guru, Victor Davis Hanson, writes in his book "An Autumn of War" that war can be good, and that sometimes nations are better off using devastation than suasion. Mr. Hanson cites Sherman's march through Georgia, the 19th century's great instance of shock and awe, as a positive role model. Polls and interviews show that in their goal of making Americans less rattled by battle, Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cheney have succeeded: most Americans are showing a stoic attitude about the dead and the wounded so far.

Let's not forget that the Russians still have a heavily vested interest in Cuba. True, their relationship has been rocky in the past, with a predictable sine wave of up and down swings. But in the end, they have a protective bond with Castro, even in the present day. And American colonialism makes them extremely nervous. These days, however, with Rumsfeld apparently running our foreign policy, we're not that frightened of giving the Russians the occasional slap in the face.

All of this saber rattling and poking of sticks into hornet nests are showing a disturbing trend, and appear to be part of the New Bush Doctrine of foreign policy. Syria, Iran and North Korea have already been put on notice that they may be next on the chopping block of the War on Terror. Would we really be that surprised if American Troops made a return appearance at the Bay of Pigs, but this time with the numbers and hardware to finish the job once and for all? Is this, indeed, our new foreign policy? And if so, how much war and bloodshed will the American public put up with?
Well, if nothing else, you should be able to get some cheap cigars soon.


posted by Jazz at 4/13/2003 12:19:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

April 6, 2003
It's time to turn the clocks forward Link

Spring is here, and daylight savings time returns to us yet again for most of the United States. So if you haven't changed your clocks yet, do it today or you'll be late for work tomorrow. The problem is, we're only setting them ahead one hour. If you're anything like me, given the current situation with our government, you probably wish you could turn them ahead by a few years.

If you've not yet become frightened by all the bizarre, almost surreal news coming out of Washington and Iraq, allow me to waft a few more spritzes of gasoline on the fire for you. We'll start today with a revealing and almost mind numbing story brought to my attention by the always provocative Molly Ivins.

Apparently our Marines on the front lines are all being asked (if not ordered) to pray for President Bush. They've been handing out pamphlets, printed by In Touch Ministries, called "A Christian's Duty in A Time of War". To give it that special touch, it comes with a tear-away postcard which they can mail to the president, stating, "I have committed to pray for you, your family, your staff and our troops during this time of uncertainty and tumult. May God's peace by your guide."

Somebody hold me.

Oddly enough, it seems that Bush "and his staff" probably aren't in as much need of prayer as these soldiers, nor have they ever been. We can't allow ourselves to forget that, regardless of what shade of lipstick the West Wing spin doctors are trying to put on this pig today, the Secretary of Defense has a grand total of four years service in the peace time navy. (You remember him, right? He was the one who rode roughshod over the Joint Chiefs' attempts to get more troops and heavy armor in place for this war, opting for a more "streamlined" approach.) His deputy secretary, Mr. Wolfowitz, never served a single day of duty for this country. Shouldn't there at least be some minimum requirement of military experience for these posts?

Bush himself can proudly recount his military service, at least. Of course, it was in the Texas Air National Guard during a time when everyone else was going to Vietnam. There's an interesting take on this found in an article on "Fortunate Sons". While there was a waiting list of over 100,000 people trying to get into the Air National Guard, Bush somehow got head of the line privileges and was trained as a pilot. (Though he received the absolute minimum score on the pilot portion of the application exam.) Then his certification to fly was suspended when he simply stopped showing up for training weekends. However, a few years later his "obligation" was checked off and the matter was quietly forgotten by most. It's amazing how this doesn't get more attention today after the way we crucified Bill Clinton for being a draft dodger.

Don't look too much further down the executive trough to find more experience. The Vice President got five deferments during the Vietnam era, and the Attorney General was, apparently, "otherwise engaged" at that time and not available to go overseas.

Yet these are the folks molding this history making military "strategy" in Iraq.

But at least we seem to be drawing closer to the end of the "war" portion of these proceedings, assuming a best case scenario. Then the rebuilding will have to begin. Marina Ottaway, for the Times-Post News Service had some excellent observations on the upcoming challenges we face there.

"The United States can not 'shock and awe' Iraqis into accepting a new political system, nor can it impose one with force once the occupation ends. The ultimate outcome of political reconstruction depends on the Iraqis. Iraq is highly divided internally. It is unlikely to be so completely defeated psychologically that competing ethnic, religious and political groups will abandon their goals - such as autonomy for the Kurds or control of the country by the Sunni minority. Its exiled leaders have proved incapable of working together for a common purpose, and the emergence of new international leaders will increase the country's political complexity."

In short what she seems to be pointing out is that, after we destroy Iraq, it's not going to be a simple matter to just replace the existing regime with some pseudo-American democracy, if it's even possible at all. It would take an incredibly competent and complex plan involving many nations. Thus far our plan seems to primarily consist of giving all the reconstruction money to the Pentagon and instructing them to make those Iraqis act like Americans with a gun held to their heads.

And all the while, Syria and Iran look across their borders, listen to Rumsfeld's stern warnings of "serious consequences" and get more an more nervous. I can't really say as I blame them. If you aren't scared yet, you've got a pretty strong stomach.


posted by Jazz at 4/13/2003 12:05:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

April 1, 2003 Link
Lessons for Life Link

In honor of April Fools Day, I took some time off from pondering the war we are engaged in, the disaster which the Republican Party is turning in to, and all other mental baggage, and decided to turn my attention to larger things. Never being one who would shy away from starting at the top, I decided to tackle that huge, complex, amazing party we are all attending called "life".

I realized immediately that I'm far from the sharpest marble in the bag, and that in four and a half odd decades, I haven't managed to figure out all that much of it. In fact, I sometimes worry that I eventually find myself on my deathbed having that last profound, moment of epiphany... and it will be that I'm still stupid.

However, I have picked up a thing or two here and there, either through direct observation or through listening to others who had more money to buy clues. And now, little campers, gather around. It's your lucky day because I'm going to share them with you.

1. Don't be a bigot.
Examine privately how you feel about other people and be honest with yourself. Don't be a racist, a homophobe, a misogynist, or anything similar. Don't hate someone because they are black, white or yellow. Don't hate them because they are Jewish or Muslim. Or gay. Or have breasts. Or in any way different than you. Feel free to dislike and/or avoid them if they are an an intolerable ass, but give them a chance to prove they are an intolerable ass first.

You can change. I was raised as a racist. My father came from an earlier and less enlightened time. We also lived in a very rural area with almost no racial diversity.. It's embarrassing, but my parents and their peers just didn't know any better, I suppose.. I was probably ten or twelve before I even knew there was another word for black people besides "the N word". Joining the military can beat that sort of garbage out of you very quickly. (Literally). As can keeping an open mind and exposing yourself to different cultures. You can grow past it.

2. Make a plan for the future.
Yes, you may take the course advised by Blondie and die young and leave a pretty corpse. But you might just get stuck living into your eighties, and you'll have to finance that somehow. And if you, by some miracle, managed to wind up sharing your life with a significant other, you need to not be a selfish (*expletive deleted) and take care of them too.

Start when you're young. I waited far too long, in retrospect, and I regret it. When you're in your early twenties it may seem great to take every cent you earn and blow it on expensive toys and partying, but it's the perfect time to start planning for the future. And saving is not only for people with six figure incomes. If you can even put away just 25 dollars a month, do it. At first, just keep it in a passbook savings account. Then, when you have a couple hundred dollars stored up, start putting it into six month T-bills, or any other totally safe, low interest but no risk program that won't evaporate next time Wall Street wanders off to Bazarro World. Keep stuffing money in there as you can, and forget you have it. You'll thank me some day, trust me.

3. Turn your hat around
There's nothing wrong with baseball caps. They're great, and can come in very handy in a variety of situations. But they have a bill on them because the guy who designed them wanted them to keep the sun and/or rain out of your eyes. Turn your hat around the right way. You look like an idiot. It's rather pointless to worry about your "street cred" when you've not yet risen to the level of being smarter than your clothes.

Yes, yes, I know... you're making a "fashion statement". The statement, my friend, is "You probably shouldn't date me, 'cause I ain't that bright."

4. Turn down your car radio
Really, now, I'm being serious. If you're driving around with your car radio jacked up to where the base line is vibrating the frame of the car so I can hear it from a block away, this is bad. It's bad for the car and it's bad for your ears. I SAID, IT'S BAD FOR YOUR... oh, forget it.

You may think you're impressing everyone you drive by. You are. You're giving them the impression you're a jackass.

5. Guys, learn how to treat women.
If you find yourself complaining that every woman you manage to wind up in a relationship with isn't interested in sex often enough, maybe you just aren't very good at it. They aren't all in on some vast Feminist front conspiracy against you.. Deal with it. Pour yourself a tall glass of humility and ask her what you should be doing and how she likes it done. It's a conversation best had in bed for play by play instructions, but even sitting on the couch playing monopoly will do. Be willing to learn.

You'll be shocked at how thrilled she is to have the conversation, and you'll be buying yourself an opportunity to get action like a frat boy, in the future.

6. Don't catch, or even worse, give, any S.T.D's
A friend of mine does an impressive comedy impression of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Using that voice, but speaking on the topic of unprotected sex, he said, "As the good Reverend says, if you do not know, do not" (expletive deleted, but I'm sure you get the picture).

The days of "free love" and flower children are gone, if they ever really existed, in terms of your medical health and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition to the corucopia of lesser, but highly dangerous and contagious one, we live in the world of AIDS now. If you catch it, you will die. And you might go for years on end without knowing you have it. In that time you could pass it on to everyone else you come to be involved with. And they will die to. There is so much free information available on how to protect yourself available, I won't bore you with it here. Just start doing it. Today.

7. Don't do drugs.
Shut off the automatic, defensive, "shut up old guy" reaction and take a pause to open your mind and think. I'm speaking mostly of illegal drugs, but anything else you can cut out of your diet will likely pay off in the long run.

Even pot... the "harmless drug" is included here. Trust me, I smoked pot for years when I was young, and did far worse as well. I wish I hadn't. To this day I still have, among the youngest of my friends and associates, people who smoke pot. I can tell the difference between those who do and those who don't. Particularly when they are stoned, but even when they're not, they're just more.... stupid. Apathetic. Less motivated Lazier. Add on a wide array of other terms which you won't find in the thesaurus next to "admirable".

And if you're doing anything harder... coke in any form, heroin, extacy, whatever... stop. Seriously, just stop. Find a way to stop. It will wreck you. It wrecks everyone eventually. It comes in different ways, whether it's health problems, legal problems, employment problems, relationship problems, or whatever. It will wreck you. Stop it and wake up. It's still a pretty beautiful world, even for all it's flaws. Don't die and miss out on it.

Now, benefit from these pearls of wisdom and go about your affairs.


posted by Jazz at 4/13/2003 12:03:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

March 29, 2003
The Long Grind Link

The outcome of this war is not in doubt. It never was. From the moment the word "go" was issued in the West Wing the fact that we would defeat Iraq was a given. In the real world, the field mouse doesn't kill the hawk, though he may turn and scratch at him at the last moment.

And yes, the Iraqi army is already showing a significantly greater amount of resistance than anyone anticipated. But even if they stall the attack at the outskirts of Baghdad, there is no doubt in my mind that Bush won't hesitate a single moment from pulling the forces back a couple of miles and carpet bombing the hell out of Southern Baghdad. The civilian casualties will be "regrettable but necessary." We will still win.

And we will find or encounter weapons of mass destruction, even if we have to put them there ourselves. There's too much on the line if we don't.

History is written by the winners, as has been said. None of these things are in doubt. All that remains cloudy is the aftermath, both in the short term and the long term. The attempt, over the decades to come,
to graft a democracy on top of Iraqi society will be the fodder from which a thousand Ph.D.'s in political science, sociology, and anthropology are forged. And we'll slowly grow accustomed to our taxes continuing to rise as a significant portion of our nation's budget each year goes to the "maintenance" of Iraq. This may be in the form of administration of the new "government", or just stopping it from sparking back up into open hostilities.

That's the best case scenario, by the way. An alternate, and far less appetizing one, is a rapid and massive destabilization of the area, leading to a middle eastern war the likes of which we haven't seen since the middle ages. The problem with removing a lion from the plains is that it provides a new opportunity for the biggest of the jackals.

And don't leave us out of the equation, either. There's still Iran right next door, and our fearless leader already identified them as one third of the Axis of Evil, as you'll recall.

The Arab League is already drafting a proposal condemning the United States in the UN. They're only going to put up with just so much war in their back yard. An analyst on television (and I'm kicking myself for not jotting down the author for a reference) was recently asked what Iran thought about all this. His answer was quite revealing. In summary, he felt that Iran hates Iraq, make no mistake about it. But as much as they hate Iraq, it's not nearly as much as they hate the United States and they definitely don't want a massive army of ours on their borders. They are watching all this very closely and to think they don't have contingency plans in place would be very foolish.

If you thought we were going to be "in and out" of there quickly, it's time to readjust your expectations. Your children will be dealing with this decision.