The Third Rail

Friday, August 01, 2003


All right. That's the big catch up. It's Friday night and I need beer. But before I leave I'll leave one question.

Who else knows that "cannot" is one word?

I frequently see "can not" as two words. This is important to me. One of the rudest shocks I received in my life is when my second grade teacher marked off a point for misspelling cannot because I used "can not" as two words. She explicitly wrote that "cannot" was the spelling. The gross injustice of the act was forever seared in my mind as I futilely tried to justify it because obviously "can" and "not" were individualy spelled correctly. Ever since, I have forever spelled it "cannot" lest some other evil witch likewise take away hard earned letter grades.

But no one else seems to care. Many may think me a curmudgeon for complaining so, but believe me, if you had Mrs. Rostenkowski in 2nd Grade you'd insist on "cannot" too.


Let's face it, I missed an amazing 12 months. What would I have thought about Bush's speech to the UN? The debate in the Security Council? The prelude to war, and the major fighting itself? And that's just the main narrative. Then there would have been all the minor interesting anecdotes along the way. Of course I can't state everything, but for those of you who care about the major points:

I supported the war in Iraq. 9/11 required the US to rethink our security concerns. One important element was to adjust the criteria on when we considered ourselves at war. Looking back it was obvious we were at war with Al Qaeda ever since they bombed our embassies in Africa - years before the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, much less 9/11/01. Our standards for war (fighting back) before 9/11 was inadequate. We needed a new criteria and then needed to reevaluate our current relations according to that.

To give an example of what I mean consider the Pan Am Locherbie bombing. We knew Libya did it, but pursued legal remedies, not by war. If anything like that happened again, we'd invade Libya not send Qaddafi stern telegrams.

In Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech he basically warned three nations - Iraq, Iran, and North Korea - that their activities were peirlously close to being considered acts of war with the US. With Korea is was their policy of nuclear blacmail. With Iran it was their support of terrorist organizations. And with Iraq it was Saddam's continued non-compliance with the terms he agreed to in 1991 that ended the Gulf War. Everything Bush did prior to war stated - comply with those terms or we'll remove you. He didn't, so we did.

I don't think we could have continued to let Saddam Hussein get away with non-compliance. It was 10 years and it needed to end. Continued stalemate at the UN was not an option. President Bush cut the gordian knot, and now we can move on. Non-compliance covered many issues. It certainly involved the UN, but I don't think that tied our hands legally in deciding to go to war when France and others decided to not fulfill their responsibilities in the Security Council. It certainly involved the issue of WMD, but I don't think that not finding them (so far) means this issue was void. By the UN's own standards Saddam did not comply. The only debate was whether to enforce the resolutions. It also involved Saddam's brutal treatment against his own people. The US already had ongoing military involvement in Iraq for 10 years in enforcing No-Fly Zones to help the Kurds and Marsh Arabs. And Saddam also supported terrorist groups as a foreign policy - even if direct ties with Al Qaeda was nebulous. I think all these issues together are compelling reasons for war - even if one might not have been sufficient.

I think our boys are doing splendidly in Iraq, and while I'm concerned over ongoing sniping I don't share the defeatist tendencies of too many in this country's media. Mass uprising does not seem to be in the making, and there is no foreign source that can supply or intervene the Baathist sympathizers who fear the coming order. I think within the year we'll be pulled out of Iraq except for perhaps some small units in intelligence.

My estimation of George W. Bush has certainly grown. I still criticize him heavily, but I've noticed that my criticisms of him are different from the criticisms of my liberal friends which concerns me as a Democrat. I don't think they understand how canny and successful a political operative he is (or whoever the mysterious "they" who pull his strings as some put it). They dangerously underestimate this man. Who the Democrats nominate is very important. While I do not intend to vote for Bush, if a real loser gets nominated I'm likely to look for another candidate - and at this point Bush himself is an option.


OK, it's been another 8 months. Lay off.

I've had terrible experiences with Internet Explorer all this time. It simply didn't want to access certain sites. I tried fixing it by downloading patches and bringing in tech friends, but it was hopeless. A frequest recommendation was to delete IE entirely and install a new one, but I was a) too lazy, and b) worried that it might somehow complicate things more. However, I finally listened to one friend and downloaded the free browser Mozilla and things seem to be good.

I intend to delete my old Microsoft email and browser program this weekend and load it again. If something goes wrong, I'll still have Mozilla to work with. In other words, I'm back to blogging. This should exicte the few family members and friends who may still check this site.

However, I also think I'm known to a few comments boards on other blogs, so who knows.


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