Click here to go to Opinions You Should Have at tomburka.com. TITLE: AUTHOR: Tom DATE: 2/11/2003 10:19:00 PM ----- BODY: When attending a wedding, eat as many of the hors d'ouvres at the reception as you can. The dinner following will never be as good as the food served earlier, and it will be a good two to three hours before the main course comes anywhere near you. -------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Tom DATE: 2/11/2003 01:42:00 PM ----- BODY: This American Life is the finest show on the radio, and possibly the best on TV, or anywhere. Latest episodes: Somwhere in the Arabian Sea "Last year, during the conflict in Afghanistan, the staff of This American Life spent two days aboard an aircraft carrier stationed in the Arabian Sea. This week, as more and more troops deploy to the Gulf in preparation for a new war, we rebroadcast that hour of stories from the people on the ship, about what life is like fighting in the war on terrorism." This episode includes the profile of a woman who spends 12 hours a day simply restocking the vending machines with Cheez-its and a Navy sailor who got there because, in Texas, they offer military enlistment as an alternative to prison. When asked how he liked being there, he replied, "I hate it. This is like a big prison on the ocean." Why We Fight An exploration of the reasons for and against the war with Iraq, which includes some thoughtful explanation by foreign policy experts on the reasons for and against the war. Time to Save The World "The story of a standardized test, just eighteen questions long, created by scientists, that not only can tell you things about yourself that will haunt you for weeks, it can diagnose just how good you are ... and how evil. That and other simple schemes to make the world a better place. " This American Life covers this stuff -- American life -- in a way you'll never hear or see on the news programs, reality shows, anywhere else. (Every episode ever aired is available at their site.) -------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Tom DATE: 2/11/2003 01:25:00 PM ----- BODY: Is attacking Iraq increasing our security or is it greatly heightening tensions and endangering us? One thing is for sure, it is helping Muslim extremists band together: Hamas is joining the fray. -------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Tom DATE: 2/11/2003 11:12:00 AM ----- BODY: The war is already hitting home. I haven't been able to post because this very good friend of mine -- ok, my wife -- has been very concerned about the threat of a terrorist attack and I've been scurrying around getting supplies for the next disaster. We live in New York. (Don't try to find me -- I have an intelligence network on the street that will sweep you up and spirit you away to an undisclosed location in the Bronx. Ok, Yankee Stadium, but you won't get out of there until you buy a $6 Coke and a humongous soft pretzel for $10.) The spectre of 9/11 looms large here. I don't know a family who doesn't have a disaster plan or kit or something. (My single friends are like, I'm prepared. I have voicemail and stuff.) I have a friend who keeps 20 gallons of water somewhere in his small, cluttered apartment and rotates his stock once a month. I notice that Tom Ridge has been careful to say that the elevated terrosist threat alert has "nothing to do with Iraq," and today the White House is suddenly handing out detailed advice on how to prepare for a chemical or biological attack but saying that "there is no specific, credible intelligence that says an attack using chemical or biological weapons is imminent." Just an amazing coincidence. Our disaster kit includes calamine lotion in case someone gets smallpox. I don't really think that will be much help. I'm not sure how much the kit will help us in an emergency. I know that stocking the kit is giving us some sense of control -- that there's something we can do to prepare us for a disaster. And how I wish that there was something we really could do, that there is something that we can do today, besides putting some bacitracin in a bag, to make us all safe. My wife just returned from the hardware store triumphant. She got the last roll of plastic sheeting. It all sold out today. -------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Tom DATE: 2/11/2003 10:24:00 AM ----- BODY: A good rant is worth, like, a picture. -------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Tom DATE: 2/11/2003 10:22:00 AM ----- BODY:

War is Cathartic

America loves a good war. They like the drama, they like the excitement, they like the idea of really teaching somebody a lesson -- the lesson being that if push comes to shove, America will kick your booty if you don't shape up. Americans love the spectacle and the notion of American Might, and the illusion of American Might Makes Right. In our role as "global policeman," (a role which Bush campaigned on relinquishing), we have sent troops helter skelter and willy-nilly all over the world ousting dictators, rebuffing attempts to annex other countries, promoting human rights, even stopping warlords from stealing the food from the mouths of the hungry. Since Vietnam, almost all of those conflicts has been very small and involved the use of American force against small armies, or merely organized militant bands. (The sole exception is, of course, Operation Desert Storm, rebuffing the invasion of Kuwait by Hussein.) The action in Afghanistan did not seem like a real war because, while it took place in that country, we were not at war with the country but really only at war with terrorists who had set up bases of activity inside of that realm.) It's been too long since we've had a really good conventional war, one where there is some real opposition, one where we can send in lots of reporters who can be right on the battlefield, attached to actual units, transmitting pictures and dispatches from the front lines. Very soon American television will be filled with wall-to-wall coverage of the war. When they're not showing us clips of the battles or summaries of the action, they'll be interviewing every military pundit they can find, all of whom will be filling us in on each particular weapon and explaining how they are used and how effective they are. Every sports event will begin with a jingoistic salute to our men and women of the armed forces fighting the good fight for us overseas (it's already started -- remember the Superbowl?) They'll be plenty of pro-military press and a lot of rah-rah-ing from us lucky folk they're defending. Initially the support for the war will be high -- finally, many people will think, we're going to get that bastard Saddam -- and polls will indicate popularity for the President and his position on the war. Bush's ratings will go up even as the economy continues to tank. As the war goes on, and it is discovered that the effort involves a prolonged and difficult, bloody ground attack, with street fighting in Bagdad that never seems to let up, this initial swell of support will erode, at least to some degree. There will be reports of civilian casualties, U.S. losses caused by friendly fire, tragic mistakes and missteps, and grisly photographs. The reality of war will come home to some people. The Bush administration will try to shore up support by aggressively controlling the media and by manipulating the information released to demonstrate that the war is justified. there will be news of the truly horrific crimes Saddam has committed against his people, people liberated from torture, and many, many claims of discoveries of prohibited weapons and weapons facilities, and much evidence presented of how close Saddam was to using them. Inevitably, because he has nothing to lose, Saddam will use his weapons of mass destruction -- certainly on the battlefield and perhaps, if he can, in the U.S. -- and the Bush administration will point to this as confirmation of every prediction they ever made. (There will certainly not be any acknowledgment of the fact that invading Iraq will be the direct cause of the unleashing of these weapons. Indeed, absent a U.N. resolution calling for war, U.S. actions would be in violation of international law while Saddam's -- defending an invasion of his country --- would not.) The war is inevitable. There will be a massive anti-war protest in cities all over the country on February 15. More people will turn out than did at the beginning of the Vietnam war. (I'm pretty sure of this -- the recent demonstration in Washington, D.C. at the beginning of the awful January cold snap satisfied this statistic.) The war will probably begin the week after. (Maybe two weeks after, but certainly no later than early March.) Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times puts forth a cogent and compelling argument that containment is a far more effective solution to any threat posed by Saddam Hussein here. It's too bad that no one in the Administration is listening to him, or us. --------