Monday, January 31, 2005


Good News From Iraq, Part 20

A Guy In Pajamas: The Musical!
Michael Moore, Desperado

BACKDROP: On a movie screen, gray with rain, Michael Moore in battered cowboy hat, drover's coat hanging to the ground, boots and spurs, sitting slumped in the saddle of a pinto pony. The pony's head droops. They are beside a barbed wire fence.

ON STAGE: A Guy in Pajamas, also in cowboy hat and boots, sits on a stool in front of the screen, holding his battered old guitar. He strums a chord.

"This here song is dedicated to Michael Moore." He begins playing.

Why don't you come to your senses
You been spitting out nonsense
For so long now
Oh, you're a hard one, I know that you've got your reasons
But these things that are pleasin' you
Will hurt us somehow

Don't you draw the queen of diamonds dude
She'll beat you if she's able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
Now it seems to me some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can't get

Oh you ain't getting no younger
Your pain and your hunger
They'll drive you insane
And freedom, oh freedom
You say it's not for the Arabs
All you can care about is glory and rage

Don't your blood run cold at election time
Your "minutemen" run and the red states shine
It's hard to remember which lies that you've told
You're losing all sense of right and wrong
They're putting your words in the butcher's song
You know

Why don't you come to your senses
Come down off your nonsense
Open the gate
It may be raining, but there's a rainbow above you
You better let the truth shine through
Before it's too late


(With apologies to The Eagles.)

Thank the Troops

If you want to thank the troops, there's still a few hours left to head on over to this Dept. of Defense site and put your name on their card. Apparently it'll be up through the 31st and then be sent to the troops.

Mug tip to the Politburo Diktat.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iraq the Inspiration

One more step has been taken on the road to victory.

From Iraq the Model:
The people have won.
We would love to share what we did this morning with the whole world, we can't describe the feelings we've been through but we'll try to share as much as we can with you.
We woke up this morning one hour before the alarm clock was supposed to ring. As a matter of fact, we barely slept at all last night out of excitement and anxiety.

The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was ...

From Friends of Democracy, on the ground in Iraq:
Q: Ms. Alaa Rabih, what is your feeling on elections?

A: My feeling is a feeling of nationalism and revolution. For the first time, we feel secure and stable, we will have a new constitution and live in a peaceful Iraq.

On a different note (as usual), Scott Ott reports:
Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings
by Scott Ott

(2005-01-30) -- News reports of terrorist bombings in Iraq were marred Sunday by shocking graphic images of Iraqi "insurgents" voting by the millions in their first free democratic election.

Despite reporters' hopes ...

Mug tips to Instapundit and Instapundit, where you can find a lot more.

Also check out the roundup and letters over at Chrenkoff's and some more links and photos over at Riding Sun.

Finally, after every victory, remember: 「勝って兜の緒を締めよ。」 "When you win, tighten your helmet straps."

There's still a long road ahead.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Hitler of the Week

Fox News has won the Hitler of the Week award!

Best Iraqi Coverage I've Seen

Friends of Democracy is an Iraqi organization with Iraqi reporters covering Iraq. They have an English site (linked above) and an Arabic site.

Right now they are wall-to-wall with the upcoming elections. You can read about debates, political ads, security, and a lot more.

It's done in a blog format, so you can comment as well. I'll be checking back there frequently.

(Mug tip to Blackfive.)

Japanese MSM Don't Get Bloggers Either

Gaijinbiker, in his Tokyo-based blog Riding Sun, blogs on Japanese blogs:
...the NHK [Japan's national television network] piece lacked any discussion of blogs as a medium for political awareness and debate, or as a mainstream media watchdog -- probably the most high-profile roles of blogs in the U.S. Instead, it showed how blogs can be used for reading celebrity gossip, keeping personal diaries, following community events, or getting updates after an earthquake hits.

I'm not sure whether this omission reflects the stereotypical Japanese distaste for open conflict, overall cluelessness on the part of NHK, a desire to keep Japanese popular anti-war sentiment under wraps, or a sinister plot to cultivate apathy among the citizenry. Whatever the reason, it's a glaring omission.

Ironically, Japanese bloggers themselves fully understand the importance of what they are doing with respect to the existing media hierarchy.

The whole thing is good, and while you're over there, check out the rest of his stuff. I wish I'd found his blog earlier.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Today's Season Word: 氷 (koori)


Ice may form any time in winter, but indicates later winter in haikai because it seems almost omnipresent then in much of the temperate zone.

From A Haiku World by William J. Higginson.

(Image hosted at Flickr.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Is Fox News Fair And Balanced, You Ask?

New Sisyphus counts the score:
But is Fox News really "Fair and Balanced?"


Fortunately for us, there is an objective way to measure the claims of the various networks to journalistic integrity and fairness. All it takes it to accept two general propositions, neither of which will excite (we trust) much controversy:

General Proposition One: The most important story and political topic of 2004 was the War in Iraq.

General Proposition Two: The most important news programme in a news network's lineup is its Sunday morning show.

From there, New Sisyphus compares the major news broadcasters to draw a conclusion. It's a worthwhile read.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Are You Geddon It?

Yeah, Armor Geddon It:
"Well that was fun. Let’s go find some more s#!% to blow up.” SGT P said. It was around 1200. We had just silenced a row of houses where the enemy had entrenched themselves and lit up Outlaw platoon. It was south west of the cloverleaf and in the open desert. The city itself sort of funneled southwest. Picture a big fat Y. Well actually, I guess HY would be a better graphic, since the west side of the city where the Marines were, went straight north and south. We were at the junction of the Y, which was the industrial zone, looking southwest.

“Hey, Sir. Look at all those houses out there. It looks like a whole ‘nother city. Do you think we are going there?” I bent down into the GPSE. Several kilometers away, SGT P was looking at what seemed like an annex to the city. There was an open landfill between the industrial zone and the start of another built up area. But this built up area had magnificent two and three story houses. The houses looked pretty big. And they were immaculate. Unmolested by artillery and main gun rounds.

“No way. There’s no way we’re going down there. That s#!% looks another city; as big as what we just cleared up here.” I was under the impression that now that we had cleared the industrial zone, we would establish strongholds in the city, and run humvee patrols out of them in an effort to mop up the mess. I also didn’t fully grasp how big the city really was. Nor did anybody at the company level and below know exactly how the plan would unfold from here.

Back at the LRP

"Well the Marines have finally caught up with us. We are moving south to clear everything south of the Industrial Zone,” CPT Mayfield told us.

Shows how much I know.

Armor LT Neil Prakash, USA, blogs his highly explosive quest to blow up the bad guys and bring liberty and peace to Iraq.

Living in the great outdoors and blowing things up, those were the days, my friends. I gotta say, I'm sorry I'm not there.

Mug tip to Blackfive.

A Guy In Pajamas: The Musical!
We're All Friends In the United Nations

(This may look familiar to the old regulars ... see the bottom of the post.)

SETTING: Kofi Annan in a cowboy hat, shirt and vest, jeans, boots and spurs, stands at the front of the stage with his guitar. Chirac, Putin, and Zhu in dancehall girl outfits, a warm glow on their faces, do a cancan behind him.

KOFI SINGS (To the tune of "I've Got Friends In Low Places"):

Blame it all on George Bush
Rumsfeld kiss my tush
You ruined our perfect affair
We'd bought everyone
And all had such fun
You were the last one we thought we'd see there

Well Saddam was a-gloat
'Cause he paid for our votes
And we told him you'd never invade
We'd argue and stall
And then veto it all
You'd never get a mandate!

'Cause we're all friends in the 'nited Nations
Where the crude oil drowns and the free food chases
Our blues away
And we'll be OK
Well we're not big on the moral basis
Just a wink and a nod at the oasis
Oh we're all friends in the 'nited Nations

Well I guess we were wrong
But it's good to belong
To a gang that answers to none
Everything's all right
We'll all just sit tight
And ask ol' George for a loan

Hey you can't afford
To push this much more
You need our seal Mr. Shrub
So why don't you drop this in-vesti-ga-tion
And bring back the love!

'Cause we're all friends in the 'nited Nations
Where the crude oil drowns and the free food chases
Our blues away
And we'll be OK
Well we're not big on the moral basis
Just a wink and a nod at the oasis
Oh we're all friends in the 'nited Nations


We're all friends in the 'nited Nations
Where the sweet crude drowns and the free food chases
Our blues away
Just get along, nkay?
Well we're not big on the moral basis
Just a wink and a nod at the oasis
Oh we're all friends in the 'nited Nations

(With sincerest apologies to Garth Brooks.)

Note: This was originally posted back in October with a bunch of commentary that turned out to be rather muddled. As a way to redeem myself introduce my musical, I felt this song would set the scene well. Don't worry, though, there'll be new songs in the near future!

(OK, go ahead and worry. I'm still posting them, darn it!)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Good Car Video

Now this is a good VW. And a pretty funny video.

Update: Hello to everyone visiting from Blackfive! Thanks for dropping by. If you like videos of bad guys nailing themselves, check out this security video over at Evil White Guy.

Update 2: The brilliant guys who made the ad have apologized to VW and VW has dropped their suit against them.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Constitutional Amendment Plan

According to The Japan Times:

An independent think tank led by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone on Thursday unveiled its draft for revising the Constitution.


The draft, issued by the Institute for International Policy Studies, redefined the Self-Defense Forces as the Defense Forces, and allowed them to use force when carrying out humanitarian aid and other activities to maintain international peace and security within the framework of the United Nations or international cooperation.


The use of force would be subject to either advance or ex post facto approval by the Diet, the draft says. It left Section 1 of Article 9, which renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation, and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes, untouched.

An NHK program on this topic last night, discussing not just this proposal but others for changing Article 9 and other parts of the constitution, took a poll in which the Japanese participants were evenly split: 39% think there is a need to change it, 39% think there is no need to change it.

I have no problem with Japan having a normal military. The Japanese were no more militant or imperialistic than the Germans, Soviets, or Chinese. I certainly trust the Japanese more than China or Russia, or for that matter, more than most of the other nations on the planet.

Of course, the evil, alternate-universe Guy In Black Pyjamas would mention that we should watch that ex post facto permission bit. The Japanese conquest of Manchuria in the 1930s was carried out by the Imperial Army first, then presented to the government as a fait accompli. This left the government in the position of denouncing an entire Japanese Army, or getting behind the invasion after the fact. The government sanctioned the Army's action, setting a precedent for the Army to make decisions instead of the civilian government.

To which the Guy In White Pajamas would reply that, certain historical events aside, it's essential to trust the commander on the ground, and so to make sure you train trustworthy commanders.

Viva la Resistance!

New Sisyphus tells us about an encounter on the streets of Paris:

We idly chatted in FSI French for a bit, when, looking a bit nervous, he suddenly asked, "You are Americans?"

We steeled ourselves for the onslaught that would come. At the very least we would get a sad-toned explanation about how lamentable it was that our good friends the Americans had lost their collective minds; at worst, we would be called war-mongers and baby-killers. All we wanted was crepes.

"Yes," we said proudly. We don't have time for those lame-asses (or I suppose I should say "lame-arses") who play the Pretend to Be Canadian Game abroad. If we were going to get it, we were going to get it, but we weren't about to hide who we were, sullen crepe makers be damned.

"Well," he said in heavily-accented basic English,"I thought so. I want to tell you something, but the words I do not know too good, so please excuse if I say it wrong." ...

(Yes, you have to go read it to find out what he said. Yes, I'm evil.)

Along these lines, the Daily Demarche carries a post about foreigners talking to Americans which is also worth a read.

Off to Play Go

Have a great Saturday night!

Update: So much for that idea. All the Goers had got up and gone. What's a guy gotta do to get a game of Go in this country?

This is the problem with playing with retired people; they play all day and feel no duty whatsoever to hang out for us poor employed people to finish our work and get to the club.

Old people these days. Hmph!

Friday, January 21, 2005

8 Rules For Mideast Reporting

Check them out over at GeoPolitical Review. Here's a sample:
Rule 6 The most oft-used phrase of Mideast moderates is: "We were just about to stand up to the bad guys when you stupid Americans did that stupid thing. Had you stupid Americans not done that stupid thing, we would have stood up, but now it's too late. It's all your fault for being so stupid."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: AD 2025

In my What If the US Hadn't Invaded Iraq scenario, two commenters challenged my idea that a Japan-China alliance could replace the US-Japan alliance. It was, of course, the weakest part of my scenario. Even though I know it is improbable, there were interesting reasons I put it in.

Now, as my long-time readers know, the real, angelic (ahem) Guy In White Pajamas considers Japan a very good friend and ally of the US. However, we have now crossed over into another dimension, a dimension where the US did not invade Iraq, a dimension where realpolitik rules, a dimension where an evil, goateed Guy In Black Pyjamas controls the vertical, the horizontal, and the counterfactual.


We begin our tale in 1999, where a goateed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is just comtemplating a recently passed bill making Kimigayo the official Japanese national anthem. It had been a hard road, full of silly arguments with that strain of peaceful, well-intentioned and terminally naive politicians and ad hoc people's representatives Japan had bred by the thousands since the end of The War. Yes, Kimigayo, had been the national anthem before and during the Greater East Asia War, when Japan was at its nationalistic peak, which was naturally the reason the LDP had wanted to make it official again. And Koizumi's party had ensured that the Diet had confirmed that "kimi," one of many Japanese words for "you," specifically referred to the emperor. "Kimigayo," "The Emperor's Reign," not the silly "The People's Reign" the peaceniks had wanted it to mean. 55 years, a generation of remorse, was enough.

Other laws passed over the previous decade had permitted Japanese Self-Defense Forces to operate overseas, one more step towards getting the Japanese people to accept a greater role in the world for the Japanese military. As the Japanese people saw the good the Japanese military could do, they would gradually begin to accept that the constitution must be changed. Of course, a centrally controlled education system helped. And the constitution would only be changed in seemingly small ways: get rid of the silly term "Self-Defense Forces" and give Japan an army, navy, and air force; allow Japanese troops to operate abroad under a UN mandate or to protect Japanese interests, like sea lanes; and give Japan the right to exercise collective defense. Yes, those things would be enough. How to make it all happen? Koizumi pondered long behind his mahogany desk, but nothing especially leapt to mind.

Then, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush called on Japan to stand with the US against the terrorists. How could Koizumi refuse? The entire world had seen the horror, the people jumping from the twin towers, the devastation. The US was Japan's greatest ally, and its protector. Of course Japan would stand with the US. Japanese Martime Self-Defense Forces supply ships, guarded by Japanese Aegis cruisers, ran beans, bullets, and fuel to the Coalition fleet.

Soon the Taliban fell and it was time to rebuild. New laws were passed allowing the Self-Defense Forces to serve in dangerous areas for humanitarian reasons, and 600 ground troops were dispatched to Afghanistan. Yes, the pacifists demonstrated. Yes, there were claims it was unconstitutional. Yes, Koizumi suggested changing the constitution. Clearly, the third greatest economic power in the world, a power looking for a permanent UN Security Council seat, should have a real military. It was Japan's duty. "Yes," Koizumi smiled privately. "Duty is still a big thing in Japan." The constitution was changed.

But, after Afghanistan, the US faltered, allowing the UN to take over. Then, as it increasingly looked like a quagmire, the US gradually withdrew from Afghanistan, and from an increasingly hostile world it did not seem to understand or be able to deal with. There were no more US requests for Japanese military assistance, and as US power receded, Japan looked to its own future.

With the constitution changed, the Japanese no longer needed to rely on the US to protect them. In 2010, Japan finally won it's permanent seat on the UN Security Council and increasingly stepped in to fill America's shoes in Asia. In 2012, under Prime Minister Higuchi, Japan announced it could no longer afford to rely entirely on the US to protect it from North Korea and other threats, and publicly declared its intention to join the nuclear club.

The US, weary of playing world cop, made no complaints. China, North Korea, and South Korea all wailed, moaned and threatened Armageddon would follow, but with the US 7th Fleet between them and Japan, did nothing else. There were huge demonstrations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki against the idea of Japan having nukes, to no avail. Missile subs were added to the Japanese fleet and by 2015 Japan was a nuclear power with silo-based and submarine-based nuclear weapons. Japan's new military capabilities coupled with increasing demonstrations against US bases in Japan led to the US 7th Fleet moving to Southeast Asian waters, abandoning its bases in Japan and re-establishing bases in Vietnam and the Philippines.

Finally, Higuchi mused while stroking his graying goatee, Japan's dependence on America had been ended and Japan had taken its rightful place in the world. Japan had followed America's lead in foreign affairs and put its people at risk of nuclear war by allowing US bases on its soil for decades, and the US consistently took Japan for granted, whining over Japanese car exports and other petty nonsense. Japan had kowtowed to US political wishes for decades only to be treated like third-world peasants. This was because the US knew Japan had to rely on it for defense, and knew Japan had a strong sense of indebtedness to the US. But no more.

China rose in power, but was still far behind in technology. The Europeans provided quite a bit, but there was nothing to match US-Japanese technology. Desperate to match the American hyperpower, China finally accepted Japan as a nation that would not be conquered or bullied anymore, edited its history books, and made criticizing Japan politically costly. Then it opened its gates and traded its incredibly cheap manufacturing capabilities and raw resources for Japanese technology. The exchange was very beneficial for both parties. One of China's key goals, to match US weapons technology, was nearly met, although the Japanese stubbornly refused to give China the know-how in the most recent systems, always staying a step or two ahead.

With Japanese brainpower to bring it up to speed, China quickly moved to rival the US and finally achieved junior superpower status. With China's new power, the US could no longer guarantee Taiwan's independence without risking a very costly war. Since the vast majority of Americans believed most US action abroad was at best misguided and at worst downright greedy and dangerous, Americans were reluctant to press China on the matter outside of diplomatic circles. By 2025, China had effectively isolated Taiwan and was able to threaten it, interdict trade, etc., with little repercussion outside of the occasional demarche. Taiwan clung tenuously to independence, although the world had acknowledged it was only a matter of time, probably less than five years, before it would be forced to rejoin China.

The Japanese over the years thoroughly intermingled their corporations with Chinese bureaus and corporations, ensuring that the Chinese could not hurt Japan without hurting themselves, just as the Japanese did with US corporations in the 1970s and '80s. Japanese influence, already strong in the 1990's, rose dramatically throughout Asia. Japanese and Chinese forces gradually replaced US forces in the rest of Asia as the primary stabilizers, and as other nations linked themselves to the rising dragons, an Asian renaissance blossomed.

Japan, although it shared power with China, had at last achieved its long-desired Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.


We now return you to your regularly scheduled universe.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

R.I.P. Suburbs of the Afterlife

Is there life after blogging? Noisy ghost intends to find out. He sent me (and all the others who have linked him) an email stating that he is ending his brief stint as a blogger at Suburbs of the Afterlife. He is now de-bagelled.

I'll miss the blog, but it sounds like he needs to get on with other things, like, well, life.

He is leaving it up, however, and what he's written is pretty good. It's still worth a stop if you haven't been there yet.

Happy trails, noisy ghost.


Blackfive -- one of my favorite military bloggers.

GeoPoliticalReview offers daily news and analaysis in the age of global terrorism. An excellent resource for keeping track of what's going on in the world.

Hilarity, thy name is Iowahawk.

Pejmanesque, my favorite ex-Iranian Jewish lawyer. He also plays Go - what more could you ask?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Self-Defense Forces Update:
Iraq and China

Iraqis Like the SDF

From the Japan Times:
Nearly 80 percent of residents polled in Iraq's Al-Muthanna Province have backed Japan's decision to extend by one year its humanitarian and reconstruction mission in the area, according to a local newspaper survey.

Update: This makes the GSDF deployment much more popular among the Iraqis being helped than it is among the Japanese people. Another set of elections are coming up in Japan on January 30, so I expect to hear more about evil American attacks on poor Iraqi grandmothers and children from the usual motley crew of Communists, Democratic Socialists, and Democrats (they have their own Democrat Party here, unrelated to the US Democrat Party).


Defense Agency Plans For Chinese Invasion

Again, from the Japan Times:

The Defense Agency has prepared a plan to defend the southern remote islands off Kyushu and Okinawa from possible invasion amid rising security concerns about China, according to documents obtained Saturday by Kyodo News.

The agency compiled the plan in November on the assumption of an invasion of the islands located within a 1,000-km zone between the southern end of Kyushu and Taiwan.

Thousands of islands are scattered in the area. The Senkaku Islands, claimed by both Japan and China, are among them.

The plan calls for a dispatch of 55,000 troops from the Ground Self-Defense Force as well as planes, warships and submarines from the main islands in the event the remote islands are attacked.


"China has been expanding its scope of activities as seen in the case of an incursion of Japanese territorial waters (by a Chinese nuclear submarine) in November. We need to monitor its moves," the official said.

Under the plan, patrol planes of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the airborne warning and control system of the Air Self-Defense Force would collect information on the remote islands.

Fighters, submarines and destroyers dispatched from the Kyushu and Chugoku regions would be divided into two groups to prevent aggressors from landing on the islands or block their supply routes.


The GSDF [Ground Self-Defense Forces] would mobilize its Western Army Infantry Regiment based in Nagasaki Prefecture, which consists of specially trained soldiers in charge of defending remote islands, and members of a planned rapid deployment force. They would descend onto the islands from the air.

I have a hard time seeing the Japanese retaking an island from the Chinese if the Chinese have decided to stay. Of course, it is possible the Japanese plan relies on unstated support from the US 7th Fleet, which considerably changes the odds.

According to Global Security, the Chinese navy possibly has nine destroyer flotillas, seven submarine flotillas, and five amphibious flotillas with two marine brigades. The Japanese Maritime SDF has about nine destroyer flotillas and two submarine flotillas, though I have no idea how Japanese flotillas and Chinese flotillas compare,

The Japanese MSDF are also primarily trained and equipped for defense; most of their fleet and aircraft are designed to hunt subs and interdict aircraft, not perform assaults. They don't have aircraft carriers, so their ability to project sea power is limited. However, the change in plans at the Defense Agency may very well herald a change in force structure.

(Of course, the MSDF seems to be very well designed to gather naval intelligence for the US 7th Fleet ... )

Getting Back Into The Groove

Dr. Demarche had the most excellent idea to set up a blog for everyone without a blog, My Blog Is Your Blog:
Feel free to add just about whatever you want here. I don't plan to edit, modify or manage this blog in any meaningful way. My hope is that this site will be used to continue threads started elsewhere, or to provide a place of their own for folks who aren't otherwise inclined to set up and run a blog. Got something to say in a comment field on another blog that is just too long to fit? Post it here and leave a link in the comments at the referenced blog. Found a news article or other item online that you want to share? Post it here! Got your own blog and want to promote it? Here is your place!

Ideally I'd like to see some debate, blue staters and red staters, right, left and center, all contributing. Will it work? Who knows. Will anyone post here? Beats me.


Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq, Part 19, is up. Always good to counterbalance the eeyoresque views of most of the mainstream media.


Evil Pundit of Doom discusses the evolution of morals, in a very literal way.


Tim Blair notes the anthropological trip a blue-stater took through some red states. He gives us a glimpse inside the head of a truly ... sheltered ... individual.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Few Thousand Words About My Trip

Thanks to everyone who dropped by while I was gone! I had a great trip, and it was very nice to come back to the blog from time to time and trade comments with you while I was home. You make this whole blogging thing a pleasure.

I know no one really comes here to find out about me, and after this post I'll be back to my usual PJ'd punditry, but today you'll have to indulge me. Yes, this is where we all gather round and pretend to be interested in someone else's trip photos. Everyone ready? Got your tea? OK, here we go.

Over the rainbow.

I ran into a whole flock of French folk in Narita airport. Until then, I had assumed the French were fictional, mere foils for rightwing bloggers, and it was pretty odd to find out there really are French people. Who'd a thunk?

"Welcome home! Wanna play?"

Sunrise at the lake.

A walk out on the range. Soon after I was on my way back east.

Back in Japan.

These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be

- Dire Straits

Now that I have that out of my system, it's back to my usual paeans to absurdity.

Y'all come back now, hear?


(Images hosted at Flickr.)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Good morning from Japan!

I finally made it back to my apartment. You know, jetlag isn't so ba .... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

OK, This Is Really the Last One

In less than eight hours I'll be on the big bird back to Japan. Despite previous false warnings, this is my last post from US soil for a while. Once I've arrived and slept off the jet lag, I'll resume what passes for normal posting.

While I'm flying, check out Aviation and the Promethean Vision
over at Promethean Antagonist (the part I'm referring to is down a bit, but the whole post to that point is worth reading, too).

Catch you on the other side of the planet.

Monday, January 10, 2005

CBS Fires Four Over Memogate

AP, via the Canadian CBC, tells the story:

Four CBS News executives were fired Monday after the release of an independent investigation that said a "myopic zeal" led to a 60 Minutes Wednesday story about President George W. Bush's military service that relied on allegedly forged documents.

The network fired Mary Mapes, producer of the report; Josh Howard, executive producer of 60 Minutes Wednesday; his top deputy Mary Murphy; and senior vice-president Betsy West.

Dan Rather, who narrated the report, announced in November that he was stepping down as anchor of the CBS Evening News, but insisted the timing had nothing to do with the investigation.

Rather "asked the right questions initially, but then made the same errors of credulity and over-enthusiasm that beset many of his colleagues in regard to this segment," top CBS executive Leslie Moonves said.

Given Rather's apology and announcement that he was stepping down, Moonves said further action against Rather was not warranted.

I know, I said I wouldn't bet on any posts until I was back in Japan. But for this ...

Update: Instapundit is all over this, so maybe I didn't need to after all. But Memogate was a key factor in the birth of this blog, so I guess posting on it is warranted.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Odds and Ends

My time in the US is rapidly running out. I will be traveling around a bit before heading back to Japan next Thursday, and have a ton of things on my to-do list that are as yet undone. Were I a gambling man, I wouldn't bet on any more posting on this blog until the author is back in the Kingdom of Wa, jet lag is slept off, and blood seafood levels reach normal again.

In the meantime...

Suburbs of the Afterlife has an excellent post on what it means to call someone "Hitler" in the public debate.

Iowahawk plays fast and loose with Ask an Imam:
Q: Is it permissible to read a book or newspaper in the toilet?
A: Why would you be in a toilet? Rather than browsing a book it seems you should be desperately trying to get out. I suppose if the book was "How To Get Out of Toilet," that might make sense.

Harry Hutton, over at Chase Me Ladies, I'm In The Cavalry, opens voting on your favorite Baltic Republic.

And finally, Dr. Demarche posts a riveting account of an attack on a US consulate in Jeddah:
Another loud explosion occurred and over the radio in the Safehaven, we heard Post One say, "Three at the front!" The terrorists let out a spray of bullets against the glass doors...

When you're done with that, check out the great blogs on my bagel -- or, have a cup of tea. Your call.

Happy trails!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Observations from America #2

Listening to various types of music, from alternative rock to country, the nature of most types of music dosn't seem to have changed that much since I was last in the US. However, I've noticed a lot of current country music has moral and pro-family messages, and I've noticed more religious references as well. Also, there are a couple of songs out (e.g., Letters From Home) that take no overt position on the war in Iraq, but instead simply relate some part of what a soldier's life is like over there. I haven't heard any of that from rock, etc.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What If the US Hadn't Invaded Iraq?

Dr. Demarche and Smiley over on The Daily Demarche play "what if" with the question "What if the US had never invaded Iraq?"

Pretty interesting analysis from two State Department types.

Marc Shulman over at American Future and gEye at The Glittering Eye take pretty interesting shots at it, too.

Eric Martin, at Total Information Awareness, provides an alternate viewpoint and a fascinating look at a very positive future that might have occurred had the US not invaded Iraq.

Finally, Dr. Demarche posts readers' comments on the topic.

My own "what if" scenario would begin with Bush bowing to international pressure and allowing the UN six more months to scour Iraq for WMDs. They find very little, and certainly nothing provocative. The sanctions are ended, and with them the no-fly zones.

Meanwhile, the US concentrates more on securing and rebuilding Afghanistan. Reconstruction is faster than has happened in reality, and increased troop strength there leads to increased pressure on warlords to work with Karzai's government. However, the Pakistani border increasingly becomes a rallying point for anti-American jihadis, leading to frequent bombings, temporary jihadi capture and "cleansing" of Afghan villages, and a continuing need for Coalition security operations there. The Pakistani military begins operations against jihadi forces in Pakistan, but is only moderately effective due to widespread sympathy in Pakistan (and the Pakistani army) for the jihadi cause.

Saddam proclaims the lifting of sanctions a great victory over the West in general and the US in specific. He declares the day sanctions end as "Iraq Victory Day." It becomes a new national holiday with mandatory anti-US and pro-Saddam demonstrations. Saddam is confirmed as the hero of the Arabic world and is almost universally praised in Arabic media for his stoicism and refusal to give in to American hegemony.

The Europeans do not lionize Saddam much, but rather focus on how America has been defanged, with condescending praise of the new US multilateralism and harsh criticism of Bush for dragging the sanctions out for so long. The number of Iraqis who died or are projected to have died because of sanctions is emphasized again in European media just to remind everyone that America's "good deed" was something that should have happened years earlier and, because it didn't, killed hundreds of thousands. The idea that Bush actually agreed to end the sanctions in order to secure cheap oil contracts with Iraq becomes "common wisdom" in Europe and the US is demonized for it's greed and destructiveness.

Saddam begins calling for jihad to free Afghanistan from the Crusaders' boots, and secretly begins providing millions of dollars to recruiting, training, and arming jihadis for the war there. Arab leaders around the world follow his lead and begin calling for a return of the Taliban, declaring jihad the duty of every Muslim. Arab jihadists pay drug runners to smuggle them through southern Iran on their way to southern Afghanistan. The smugglers make a bundle, shipping opium out and jihadis in. The Iranians, threatened by a strong US military presence in Afghanistan, turn a blind eye to jihadi smuggling. There are unsubstantiated reports that Iranian special forces are conducting their own operations against US troops in Afghanistan. As violence increases, the US media continues to report it as a quagmire, citing the US defeat in Vietnam and the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan to call for US withdrawal. Ignoring the lessons of past insurgencies, the US sends more troops to Afghanistan, to no real effect. Losing confidence, the US increasingly turns responsibility for Afghanistan over to the UN.

Naom Chomsky writes a book blaming American imperialism for the whole affair. Michael Moore, bent on removing Bush from office in 2004, receives permission from Saddam and makes a documentary in Iraq about the effects of sanctions and depleted uranium munitions used by US forces in the 1991 Gulf War. His interviews with several maimed and deformed Iraqi children and their families, complete with Iraqi doctors claiming these are the results of US actions and use of DU, shock many and fan hatred of the US. Although wildly overestimating the number of Iraqis who died under sanctions (and ignoring Saddam's role in their deaths), and taking the most conspiratorial tone about DU munitions (he suggests it was an attempt at genocide), it becomes an instant mainstay of anti-US, anti-Bush movements in Europe, the US, and the Arab world, though not getting much big screen time in America. American actors and musicians denounce the US for the effects of the sanctions and DU rounds.

Around Christmas, 2003, the no-fly zones ended and with nothing to stand between it and the rebellious Kurds, Saddam's Republican Guard sweeps into the Kurdish region. The Kurdish militias fight valiantly, but are overwhelmed. The UN Security Council, while recognizing the need for Iraq to consolidate its sovereign territory, offers mild condemnation of the killing of civilians and asks Saddam to be gentle, but French and Russian oil contracts signed during the sanctions era (not to mention outright bribes to French and Russian officials) ensure vetoes of any UN move to prevent the slaughter. Concerned about Kurdish insurgents, Turkish and Iranian soldiers seal their respective borders, leaving the Kurds alone and trapped, facing the Republican Guard. Entire Kurdish towns are butchered. No one knows how many Kurdish civilians die, but certainly tens of thousands, maybe more. When Kurdish resistance fighters begin guerrilla warfare against the Republican Guard, scoring early successes, Kurdish towns near their victories are destroyed by heavy and sustained artillery fire, killing tens of thousands more, and the guerrillas quickly lose any popular support. UN condemnation becomes shrill, but no actions are agreed upon or taken by the Security Council. European editorialists claim the slaughter is unfortunate but necessary for a sovereign nation to secure its lands, and ultimately the fault of the US for building Kurdish autonomy during the sanctions era.

The Arabic media portray the slaughter as a necessary action to end US/Israeli-inspired and funded revolt, although no evidence exists that the US or Israel encouraged or funded the Kurdish resistance. There is an international outcry in the press against the slaughter, especially in Europe and the US. Both Europeans in general and many American scholars and military leaders blame the US for not protecting the Kurds. There are demonstrations and street protests against Bush for helping Saddam commit genocide, although the US does not participate in any way and in fact is the loudest voice calling for UN action to protect the Kurds and places unilateral sanctions on Iraq over the massacres. Where noticed, these US efforts are seen as cynical attempts to pretend innocence.

Leftist cartoonists begin depicting Bush and Saddam as twins or lovers. Bush is often depicted in an Iraqi military uniform (much like the one Saddam wears) eating Kurdish children. A few photos of the carnage leak out and become instant Internet sensations, as well as finding use in anti-Bush / anti-US posters in demonstrations. Leftist sources in the US begin circulating the European idea that Bush backed off the sanctions not out of multilateralism or respect for world opinion, but rather in exchange for promises of cheap Iraqi oil, and the "No Blood For Oil" slogan (this time no Kurdish blood) makes a comeback. World opinion about the slaughter in Iraq spills over to American involvement in Afghanistan, and there are increasing calls for the US to get out of Afghanistan. American popularity sinks to an all-time low, even in America.

The Shiites may or may not take the fight with the Kurds as an opportunity to rebel, but if they do, it merely results in pinprick attacks against Saddam's army and brutal reprisals against Shiite towns.

In 2004, Bush is defeated. The world says "good riddance" and welcomes the new Democrat in the White House. American popularity briefly sees a rise in Europe. Dan Rather retires as one of American journalism's heroes and publishes his best-selling autobiography. Of no consequence whatsoever, A Guy In Pajamas is chosen as a blog name by an ex-pat Hugh Hefner fan living in Brazil, who dedicates his site to pleasure and leasure, and completely ignores politics.

Saddam, after consolidating his nation, continues ruling Iraq for some years. He rebuilds the Iraqi armed forces, increases funding for Palestinian terrorist organizations and Afghanistan-bound jihadis, and rebuilds his WMD stocks, secretly at first, although increasingly openly as European powers help him. He maintains his limited ties with Al Qaeda, funelling money to them secretly and providing a constant stream of jihadis for their campaigns in Afghanistan. Attacks against US institutions abroad increase and are increasingly sophisticated. American foreign policy becomes increasingly isolationist, with "send money" becoming its primary response to international problems. When Arafat dies, Saddam's money and a number of political assassinations ensure a Palestinian leader with similar views succeeds him. The Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed worsens as Hamas uses its increased Iraqi funds well.

Libya, on the other hand, announces its break with Saddam and declares its intent to eliminate all its WMDs. This is hailed as a great victory for multilateralism and European diplomacy, with some positive comments on the US contribution and Johnny-come-lately multilateral cooperation.

The US finally leaves Afghanistan in the care of the UN and European peace keepers, and France takes the lion's share of credit for the rebuilding and for democratic elections there. The Arab world rejoices in a second American defeat. With the US gone, the jihadis in Afghanistan declare victory. They cut some behind-the-scenes deals with France, hide their weapons, and re-infiltrate Afghanistan. Their threat, and a number of assassinations, prevents real democratic elections from continuing, although the pretense of democracy is maintained, and gradually extremist Muslim rule is reintroduced. Already well-organized and funded, these veterans form the basis for a stronger Al Qaeda. The jihad having died down, the UN declares Afghanistan a success story and ends the peacekeeping mission.

As America gradually withdraws from the world and China becomes more powerful, Japan slowly begins to realign itself with China. China opens its markets more to Japanese companies and in exchange Japan increases investment there and gives China more and more technology. Chinese threats against Taiwan increase, and European opinion, led by the French, puts pressure on the US to end the standoff in the Formosa Straits. North Korea continues to be a boil on the world's butt, but massive food aid from the US and Japan, along with Chinese inducements, keep the peace on the Korean peninsula.

At some point, for some reason, Saddam dies and is succeeded by one of his sons, who continues his father's reign. Saddam may have died from old age, or it may have been assassination. The world doesn't know, although the Arabic press claims the Jews poisoned him for being an Arabic hero and this precipitates anti-Israeli and anti-US demonstrations, and a few riots in the Arabic world. Saddam is proclaimed a martyr. Many world leaders gather for his funeral, praising his stoicism and the leadership he gave to the Arabic world.

Conspiracy theorists note that no US companies ever got Iraqi oil contracts and theorize the US had Saddam killed for breaking his promises to provide it with cheap oil in exchange for an end to sanctions. With broad domestic support for the US president, these remain in the conspiracy theorist realm until surfacing in a Naom Chomsky book published just before a presidential election. The same book also notes that Muslim extremists have regained control in Afghanistan and blames it on lack of US commitment there. Although unrelated, the Democrats increase their hold on American political power. Chomsky goes on an international speaking tour.


Update 1: The Daily Demarche's update link is fixed.

Update 2: I defend my honor and my Japan-China alliance assertions. Hah! Take that!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly News

The Good: Suburbs of the Afterlife notes life is better in the world.

The Bad: For all your UN-mockery needs, soak up The Diplomad's ongoing UN mock-fest. Be sure to check out the rest of their mockumentation as well.

The Ugly: As you would expect, Evil Pundit of Doom has that covered.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Observations from America #1: Branding Opponents

During the election, the Bush campaign was able to brand Kerry a flip-flopper, and Kerry couldn't shake it.

After the election, the anti-Bushites have branded the pro-Bush crowd. In my conversations with them, they can discuss issues, but when it comes to why they lost the election, their answer is along the lines of "most pro-Bush voters are religious fanatics" and they are convinced the amendments against homosexual marriage brought out tons of super-religious voters for Bush.

I started a conversation in the comments of another blog with an anti-Bushite that showed this branding at work. I am very careful not to brand my opponents in such conversations; you never really know what they believe until they tell you. I never call someone "liberal" or whatever unless they call themselves that. The arguments I made were relevant to the discussion and backed with links to articles that supported my points, and my points were pretty basic. My anti-Bush opponent replied to every comment I made by implying I was a religious fanatic, naive, brainwashed, etc., and then ignored my points. A true moonbat.

My answer to this is not to counter-brand, but to remain rational and treat each person as an individual. As I've written before, it's vital to remember that even someone who brands himself as something (e.g., liberal, conservative, etc.) will have variations -- very few people follow the party line 100%. Consequently, if you want to have any real discussion, it is essential to avoid putting words in your opponent's mouth. For example, just because someone claims to be a liberal, you can't assume they are pro-choice. Or, just because someone supported the invasion of Iraq, you can't assume they even care about WMDs.

But wait a second, Pajama Guy. You just called the guy a moonbat; isn't that branding him?

Sure is. He proved he was one, and brands are often true. But I don't brand everyone who opposes Bush a moonbat; they have to prove to me whether they are moonbats or not on an individual basis. I don't assume it from the beginning. There are some very intelligent, well-educated, well-meaning people who oppose Bush. If we who support Bush cannot recognize that, then we are fanatics, just as those on the other side are fanatics when they can't recognize there are some intelligent, well-educated, well-meaning people who support Bush.

We need discussion; we need the two halves of America to come together and understand each other. You can't do that if you aren't listening, or if you're calling them names so loud they can't speak.

"United, we stand. Divided, we fall." It's not just a catchy saying.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Your Headquarters for "Gaijin Bakkari"

Just checking my referral logs and a guy in pajamas is the number one result on Google for "gaijin bakkari."

I don't have Japanese input here so I'll have to put the Japanese up later, but "gaijin bakkari" could very loosely be translated as "Man, there's nothing but foreigners here!"

Funny things you find in your referral logs, eh?

Welcome to the Year of the Rooster!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope it brings you all the best!

Also, thanks to all of you who've dropped by and left comments over the last couple of weeks. I've been greedily soaking up every moment in the US and haven't done much on the blog until today. If you've commented on one of my recent posts, odds are I've now posted a reply.

I've also added two new blogs to my blog bagel:

Metrolingua is a blog about language and expression - pretty interesting stuff from a multilingual perspective.
Suburbs of the Afterlife is a wicked, funny look at society.

Head on over and peck away!