Monday, March 31, 2003

Now that's sarcasm!
United States and France sign cooperative accord; U.S. takes command of French warship!

From today’s Washington Times:

French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte will sign an accord today giving the United States command of the French warship La Belle.

The only problem is that the ship sank in the 17th century in the Gulf of Mexico, about 75 miles west of Houston.

Still, this is the best sign of French-American cooperation since France took the lead of the antiwar faction in the U.N. Security Council to try to block the U.S. attack against Iraq that began March 19.

The accord "highlights U.S.-French common interests and cooperation in regard to ownership, research, preservation and display of historic warships," the State Department said last week.

The wreck was discovered in 1995 and raised to be put on display at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. The ship sank in 1686 in an expedition led by the French explorer Rene-Robert de La Salle.

Mr. Levitte is to sign the agreement in the elegant Treaty Room of the State Department. Under the accord, the United States will recognize the warship as French property, and France will turn over custody of the wreckage to the Texas Historical Society. The accord calls for the agreement to be renewed every 99 years.

Viva la France!
Game theory in war and poker

A compelling article in the Boston Globe "The Poker of War" details how mathematical game theory applies to both Texas Hold’em Poker and military strategy. (Hat tip to Arts & Letters Daily)

From Sports Night:
Jeremy Goodwin: Natalie, listen to me. You've lost a lot of money to me tonight. You're basically gonna be living the rest of your life on a charitable donation from the Jeremy Goodwin Foundation. Take the hundred bucks back and fold.
Natalie Hurley: Scared?
Jeremy Goodwin: I've got a straight, you've got three sevens.
Natalie Hurley: You don't have a straight.
Jeremy Goodwin: Look at me. I'm not lying to you. I have a straight.
Natalie Hurley: How do you know I don't have a big house.
Jeremy Goodwin: A FULL house. Dan already folded the six you needed, and I have the other one. You don't have a house of any sort, you don't even have a pup tent. You've got trip sevens, and I have a straight. I want you to trust me right now. I want you to say to yourself, yeah, I've dated a string of jerks in my life, they were stupid, they were mean to me, but maybe this one's different. Maybe I should take a chance and not adopt the break-up-with-him-before-he-breaks-my-heart strategy. I want you to remember that when I started liking you, I didn't stop liking tennis. And I want you to know that I don' t think there's a woman in the world that you need to be threatened by, no matter how glamorous you think she is. But mostly, I want you to trust me, just once, when I tell you, you have three sevens, and I have a straight.

He had the straight.
Bill Whittle has a new essay posted on Eject! Eject! Eject! (another triplet! - aaaaaahhhhh!!!!)
Revenge of the triplets?

Hmmm....Kim Jong Il has been quiet lately:

SEOUL, South Korea - Where's Kim Jong Il?

The North Korean leader has mysteriously vanished from public life for six weeks. The official newspaper, which carries regular and laudatory accounts of his activities, has been conspicuously silent on that account since Feb. 12, when Kim celebrated his 61st birthday at the Russian embassy in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang

Saturday, March 29, 2003

The Axis of Evil meets Shakespeare

Macbeth is told by the Witches that he will never be defeated by a man "of woman borne". Macduff, who finally kills Macbeth, was born by Cesarean section or, as the witches put it, is "not of woman borne" (4.1.79).

From the Herald Sun, via Fark: ALL triplets in North Korea are being forcibly removed from parents after their birth and dumped in bleak orphanages. The policy is carried out on the orders of Stalinist dictator Kim Jong-il, who has an irrational belief that a triplet could one day topple his regime.
Pro-Iraqi-liberation demonstration in San Francisco. Police are baffled.
Very light blogging here because I've been working on my monthly page: Smarter Harper's Index

I just updated (about 10 minutes ago) so check it out. Thanks!
Nite - see you tomorow

Friday, March 28, 2003

What Iraqis say when the "minders" aren't around

A remarkable account from Assyrian Christian News about a peace worker in Iraq who learns "I Was Wrong". It seems like these stories are coming more frequently - the "unminded" Iraqi expressing how he/she really feels about Saddam Hussein and the war.

From a former member of the Army to a person working with the police to taxi drivers to store owners to mothers to government officials without exception when allowed to speak freely the message was the same - `Please bring on the war. We are ready. We have suffered long enough. We may lose our lives but some of us will survive and for our children's sake please,, please end our misery." [Emphasis in original]

Hold tight. We're coming.

Luck with a capital "F"

Here's a quote from Susan Sarandon, found on IMDB:

"You're so lucky in Ireland, England and Spain. Everyone there already knows what it's like to have inexplicable terrorist violence."

Words escape me.
The Yaccs server seems to be up, so comments are enabled again. Good luck.
Definition of redundancy: Mark Steyn must-read

Excerpt from “War is Purgatory”:

On the first night of ‘Shock and Awe’ in Baghdad, the TV boys’ preferred line was ‘it looks like Dresden’. The next day, the Iraqi foreign minister announced a civilian death toll of ...four. Four? You mean, four thousand? But no. Single figures. Not exactly Dresdenesque, and a long way from the anti-war movement’s thoughtful projections.

Our secret plans discovered!

From today’s Washington Post:

TUKH, Egypt, March 27 -- At the small farm where he grows onions and oranges, Hady Said Hassan wraps a pet sheep around his shoulders and stretches out his legs as his friends gather to watch the U.S.-led war against Iraq unfold on television.

"America has killed thousands of Iraqi children," said Hassan, 34, in this small town an hour's drive north of Cairo, the Egyptian capital. "They want to destroy Islam as a religion."

From his hairdressing salon in Amman, Jordan, Abdullah Alami, 37, said he believes the United States started the war to steal truckloads of oil for Israel. In glittery downtown Beirut, Hani Dannawi, 28, a bank employee, said he thinks the war is a ploy by the United States to colonize the Middle East; he thinks Syria and Lebanon will be next.

Here’s what we have to do throughout the Middle East, starting with Iran and Saudi Arabia: we should be parachuting offset printing machines. Let a thousand underground newspapers spring up to counter the state-run media that spreads this nonsense propaganda.

Why do these governments spread, indeed encourage, such obvious and hateful lies? Here’s noted Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis in the Wall Street Journal:

In the same way, the dictatorships that rule much of the Middle East today will not, indeed cannot, make peace, because they need conflict to justify their tyrannical oppression of their own people, and to deflect their peoples' anger against an external enemy. As with the Axis and the Soviet Union, real peace will come only with their defeat or, preferably, collapse, and their replacement by governments that have been chosen and can be dismissed by their people and will therefore seek to resolve, not provoke, conflicts. [Emphasis added]

A change is gonna’ come.
John Kerry – A man of (checking polls) principle!

On Tuesday, Mickey Kaus wrote this withering analysis of John Kerry’s flip-flops and ambiguities:

Executive Summary: Let's see ... 1) Was Kerry Irish? It was hard to say! 2) Did he throw his medals over the wall? Hard to say! 3) Does he support or oppose the Iraq war? Hard to say! 4) Is he for dividend double taxation? Hard to say! 5) Is he rethinking his support of race preferences? Hard to say! 6) Is he opposed to the death penalty? Hard to say! 7) Will he use his wife's money? Hard to say! ... I sense a pattern! ... Bonus question: Has he ever taken a clear stand on an issue when it might have cost him enough votes to threaten his career?

And here’s a choice quote from today’s Boston Globe:

''To this day I don't know what John Kerry's position is,'' [Vermont Gov. Howard] Dean said. ''It's still hard to figure out, reading his statements, which way he's going to come down on it, and I think you all ought to ask him.''

There’s one thing that’s clear about Kerry: he wants to be President of the United States. Well, except for the South – screw them! NewsMax reported in “John Kerry to South: Drop Dead” that the Massachusetts Senator told a fundraising crowd in San Francisco he doesn’t need the South to win the Presidential election.

But today Political Wire is reporting: “Sen. John Kerry "has been passing notes on the Senate floor, assuring his Southern Democratic colleagues that he plans to compete in their home states," the Boston Globe reports.”

No word if Senator Kerry was wearing a NASCAR jumpsuit at the time. Mickey, time to add #8
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Religion of Peace watch

I'm surprised this photo isn't on Little Green Footballs (or anywhere else) yet...maybe I'm the first to see it.

A Pakistani student wears a headband with the words 'kill jews,' during an anti-war rally at a university in Islamabad, March 26, 2003. The students of Quaid-i-Azam University gathered on Wednesday to protest against the U.S.-led war in Iraq (news - web sites). REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

Also, here's the Yahoo link.
Quick note: I love Dagh Nielsen's Daghtator Blog but, man, does it load slow. Dagh, is there anything you can do to speed it up? Maybe lighten up some of the graphics? Maybe put my link in *BOLD*? (It can't hurt!)
Speaking of the hacks at the New York Times

Media Minded notes that the Media Research Center is picking up where Smarter Times left off by starting TimesWatch to track the bias at the Paper of Record.

Smarter Times was my inspiration for Smarter Harper's Index (which I hope to update this weekend), so I'm glad to see somebody is staying on Howell Raines' ass.
That's not right

Reading over a pile of blogs every morning leads to a lot of skimming and I missed this post by Dr. Weevil noting that he lost his job until it was pointed out by Terpsboy. What's up with that? Dr. Weevil hasn't said yet, but I wish him well. Some major newspaper should hire him and get rid of the hacks like Maureen Dowd.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

The other conservative in Massachusetts

Jeff Jacoby in today's Boston Globe - "America the Liberator":

But it will go down fighting, and it will remain brutal and fascist to the last. And how do brutal fascists fight? They shoot POWs in the head and flaunt their corpses on camera. They site military hardware near hospitals and schools, turning civilians into human shields. They wave a white flag to indicate surrender, then open up with machine guns or rocket-propelled grenades. They order noncombatants in front-line cities to attack allied troops, threatening to kill them if they refuse. They build a military bunker under the hotel at which foreign reporters are required to stay.

Well put.
Cool headlines

U.S. Informally Renames Airport for Bush
Senate Approves Owen's Nomination to Appeals Court
Dog saves dog in Australian shark attack
Oh no! I mean Oh Yes! Susanna Cornett of Cut on the Bias linked me (twice!) today! Must put in new post to make permalinks work!

BTW, go check out Susanna's site today - she's really working overtime.
A verb is born

From the Drudge Report:

DREAMWORKS is preparing to release the comedy [“Head of State”]on Friday. There are deep concerns that [Chris] Rock may unleash a fresh diatribe on President Bush and the Iraq war, studio insiders reveal, which could ignite a public backlash and boycott of the film.

In the movie, Rock plays a character who is the Democratic party's choice for its 2004 presidential nomination. Rock is also director, producer and co-scenarist.

"We are confident Chris knows this is not the appropriate time to make jokes about war and the president," said one top studio source. "We don't want to get Dixie-Chicked, or anything like that, out of the gate. We've invested tens of millions of dollars in the making of the movie and its marketing."

Is that anything like "Fisked"?

Saddam Hussein’s military strategy lives on…in the Future!

Fry: I heard one time you single handedly defeated a horde of rampaging somethings in the something something system.
Zapp: The Killbots? A trifle. It was simply a matter of outsmarting them.
Fry: Wow, I never would've thought of that.
Zapp: You see the killbots have a preset kill limit; knowing their weakness I sent wave after wave of my own men at them until they reached their limit and shutdown.

Kif !!!
Tales of the Tyrant

Here's an excerpt from an upcoming Atlantic magazine article "Tales of the Tyrant" graciously available online:

When Saddam appeared, they all rose. He stood before his chair and smiled at them. Wearing his military uniform, decorated with medals and gold epaulets, he looked fit, impressive, and self-assured. When he sat, everyone sat. Saddam did not reach for his tea, so the others in the room didn't touch theirs. He told Khodada and the others that they were the best men in the nation, the most trusted and able. That was why they had been selected to meet with him, and to work at the terrorist camps where warriors were being trained to strike back at America. The United States, he said, because of its reckless treatment of Arab nations and the Arab people, was a necessary target for revenge and destruction. American aggression must be stopped in order for Iraq to rebuild and to resume leadership of the Arab world. Saddam talked for almost two hours. Khodada could sense the great hatred in him, the anger over what America had done to his ambitions and to Iraq. Saddam blamed the United States for all the poverty, backwardness, and suffering in his country.

Khodada took notes. He glanced around the room. Few of the others, he concluded, were buying what Saddam told them. These were battle-hardened men of experience from all over the nation. Most had fought in the war with Iran and the Persian Gulf War. They had few illusions about Saddam, his regime, or the troubles of their country. They coped daily with real problems in cities and military camps all over Iraq. They could have told Saddam a lot. But nothing would pass from them to the tyrant. Not one word, not one microorganism.

The meeting had been designed to allow communication in only one direction, and even in this it failed. Saddam's speech was meaningless to his listeners. Khodada despised him, and suspected that others in the room did too. The major knew he was no coward, but, like many of the other military men there, he was filled with fear. He was afraid to make a wrong move, afraid he might accidentally draw attention to himself, do something unscripted. He was grateful that he felt no urge to sneeze, sniffle, or cough.

[Emphasis added]

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Mural found in Iraq

NASIRIYA, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Marines searching Iraqi military headquarters in this southern city that was the site of intensive fighting came across a mural depicting a plane crashing into a building complex resembling New York's twin towers, a news agency photograph showed Wednesday.
Too funny not to mention: On the syndicated episode of "Jeopardy!" tonight, the last question of the game (before Final Jeopardy) was "In 1998, a bridge on the Seine was dedicated to this French general."

Complete bafflement ensued. After time ran out, Alex Trebek said "Charles DeGaulle". Oh man....(shaking head)
He’s everywhere!!!

From today’s NY Times Corrections page:

An article yesterday about a change in tone of news coverage of the war in recent days referred incompletely to an Australian report on Saturday that naval aircraft had used napalm in Iraq. In a later edition, the newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, added the Navy's denial, and on Monday the newspaper published a clarification pointing out the update. Yesterday a Defense Department spokesman, Maj. Tim Blair, said United States forces had not used napalm in Iraq and would not use it.

Academy Awards wrapup

The Village Voice reviews the turbulent mixture of Oscar and politics over the history of the award. Includes this joke from the other night:

"What is a movie star?" Oscar host Steve Martin riffed Sunday night. "They can be thin or skinny. They can be Democrats or . . . skinny."

And then Michael Medved ices the issue with this great Opinion Journal article: “The Little People

Beyond threats of boycotts and petitions (which scare no one), there is a pervasive sense of disillusionment and anger that ought to alarm the industry. For years, Hollywood has promoted messages that neither reflect nor respect the values of everyday Americans. On Oscar night, the contrast between our struggling troops in Iraq and the stars who wouldn't support their efforts proved too glaring to ignore--or forget.

The only movies I plan to see in the theater in 2003 will be the ones with the word “Matrix.”
Home field advantage

This past weekend was filled with hand-wringing over the war in Iraq, fallen and captured soldiers, and guerilla warfare. This week is bringing a little more perspective and understanding of the huge undertaking in progress half-a-world away, but there’s a lingering consternation over the behavior of the Iraqi people. Why are they fighting for Saddam Hussein? Why isn’t this Kuwait Part 2 with charred trucks lining the Highway to Hell and an Iraqi army in full retreat?

Part of the answer may be summed up in an anecdote told by Civil War historian Shelby Foote:

"Early on in the war, a Union squad closed in on a single ragged Confederate. He didn't own any slaves, and he obviously didn't have much interest in the Constitution or anything else. And they asked him, What are you fighting for? And he said, 'I'm fighting because you're down here.' "

Almost none of the Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War owned slaves. They weren’t particularly keen on slavery or states rights. But they fought, to a large degree, because somebody was invading their land. (See this excellent review on the motivations of Rebel soldiers during the Civil War).

This may explain, in part, the resistance the allied forces are seeing in Iraq. Everything in the Iraqi culture has supported the idea that the Western forces are “crusaders” bent on the subjugation of the Arab world. Expelling the Iraqi army from Kuwait was easy because they did not have a nationalistic stake in the land. But now we’re on their land, their patch of Earth, and the conflict is much different. And, much as I hate to contemplate it, there might be a significant portion of the Iraqi population who think “Saddam Hussein is a bastard….but he’s our bastard and this is our country."
This one’s for Tim Blair

From yesterday’s CentCom briefing

Q (Off mike) -- Channel 9, Australia. Australia has a relatively small contingent here taking part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Have you been impressed by their capability? (Laughter.)
GEN. RENUART: Absolutely! (Laughter.) No, actually it -- my good friend General Maurie McNairn, their senior commander here, is -- we chat daily. And I have said to him on a number of occasions how absolutely impressed -- and that really, truly, honestly I mentioned the Polish, I mentioned the U.K., and certainly the Australians and other nations who are contributing in many ways. No nation has given us a second team. We have the first team of every nation in the coalition participating and aggressively accomplishing their missions, the Australians contributing both in the air, on the ground and at sea.

The National Review & The Simpsons on midnight basketball

From Jay Nordlinger’s “Impromptus” column:

We have heard, endlessly, of the cost of the war, and that's as it should be — cost is not nothing. But it's time for a couple of elementary points. First, Democrats and liberals rarely fret about government expenditure, so their worries merit some skepticism. Second, this is what government is for: what the central government is for. The physical protection of the nation, first and foremost. Not midnight basketball, not "free false teeth," as Bill Buckley would say. The physical defense of the nation. Everything else is gravy.
The individual states can't provide national protection on their own; this is Washington's job; and it is doing it. Midnight basketball can be the province of a town. Or, better, some church or YMCA.

President Lisa: As you know, we've inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump. How bad is it Secretary Van Houten?
Milhouse: [shows a chart] We're broke.
Lisa: The country is broke? How can that be?
Milhouse: Well, remember when the last administration decided to invest in our nation's children? Big mistake.
Aide: The balanced breakfast program just created a generation of ultra-strong super-criminals.
Milhouse: And midnight basketball taught them to function without sleep.
I visited my son’s first grade class last week and witnessed a kid put his backpack on the ground then whip out the telescoping handle and walk to the school bus as if he was catching the red-eye to JFK. This encroachment of grown-up behavior in an elementary school struck me as exceedingly strange. But then I checked out Lileks this morning, and there’s a picture of Gnat with her “Hello Kitty” travel backpack.
Radley Balko always cracks me up when he refers to former trial lawyer John Edwards as “Senator Handsome”. Here’s a post on a Florida hospital that will no longer deliver babies because of malpractice insurance costs.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The effect of eating cheese that has fermented too long

From AP story: "France determined to play big role in rebuilding Iraq"

Worried it could be shut out of business deals in postwar Iraq, France is drawing up plans to win French companies access to lucrative oil and reconstruction contracts, officials said Tuesday.

We have zee plans, monsieur Rumsfeeld!

Some French are concerned that a U.S.-led administration in Iraq will favor companies from the United States and other pro-war countries while penalizing companies from France and other war opponents.

Perish the thought!

French oil giant TotalFinaElf probably has the biggest stake. It spent six years in the 1990s doing preparatory work on two giant oil fields and has signed two tentative agreements with Saddam to develop them.

Didn't you hear Bush's speech? That oil belongs to the Iraqi people. But thanks for the prep work!

France opposes any U.S. reconstruction plan that would sideline United Nations development agencies, multilateral organizations and non-governmental aid groups.

Chirac has warned that France would vote against any U.N. Security Council resolution that would give "the American and British belligerents the right to administer Iraq."

Wait, wait…let me get this straight. If the United States decides that it will not work through the United Nations to rebuild Iraq, then France will veto the resolution that we will not be introducing. Is this, like, Jerry Lewis-type humor? I don't get it.
Why I do not follow college sports

A study released Monday showed that 10 of the schools in this week's round of 16 have failed to graduate even half of their players in recent years. Black players are less likely than whites to finish their careers with degrees, according to the study of NCAA graduation rates.

From the Boston Globe via Fark.
Now you've done it

From the NY Post: "Marines out to avenge blood of “executed” GIs":

THE Marines at this chopper base near the Iraqi border are seething with rage and talking revenge over the treatment of American POWs - paraded on TV and some possibly executed.
"OK, they want to play that way. We can play that way," vowed one enraged pilot.

Krugman watch

Tom Maguire on Just One Minute and Robert Musil on Man without Qualities tag-team Paul Krugman today. But where's Matthew Hoy? Moving into his new condo!?! Get back to work, slacker!
The second job is much easier.....

F the French

The war in Iraq has been all-consuming, with the news organizations and blogosphere scrambling for every scrap of information, so it seems trivial to discuss other matters. But then I’m reminded: there’s always time to hate the French.

Check out Today’s Front Pages from the Newseum and click on the graphic to see the front page of today’s edition of Le Monde. If you have Adobe Acrobat, you can click here.

First of all, the French daily decided that nothing was so important than to put Michael Moore on the front page, holding an Oscar and flashing the peace sign. But more disturbing is their little editorial graphic of an American tank passing Iraqi people who appear to be in ditches while holding up human skulls (or oddly shaped flowers) on sticks. The text attached to this cartoon is “La foule en liesse” which I found out means “The crowd is jubilant” – obviously added for ironic effect.

If there’s any justice in this war, France will be on the receiving end of a serious attitude adjustment.
The Economist on where we stand so far

AFTER another night of air raids, American and British forces are approaching Baghdad and encountering fierce resistance from Saddam Hussein’s most loyal troops. As the noose tightens around the Iraqi regime, American officials are concerned that some Iraqi units have been given the go-ahead to use chemical weapons. The war is about to enter one of its most critical stages.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Speaking of "Landslide"

I have a long commute to work everyday and the number of times I heard the Dixie Chicks' version of "Landslide" was nearly comical. It was not uncommon to hear it four of five times a day. But since Natalie Maines comment, I don't think I've heard it once. Today I heard it again, but it was the original Stevie Nicks version.

So the Dixie Chicks mix was nixed for Nicks.

I crack myself up.
The rhetoric of failure

The Washington Post tries to get the “All is Lost!” landslide going with today’s “U.S. Losses Expose Risks, Raise Doubts about Strategy.” But Andrew Sullivan puts the recent “setbacks” for the U.S. military into perspective: “The setbacks the allies have suffered these last couple of days are all due to one thing: some Saddam units acting as terrorists.” A perceptive reader on NRO’s Corner also lists the causes for the battle deaths so far – and most of them don’t involve battle.
Stupid White Man swears to keep his cakehole open until January 2009

Michael Moore backstage at the Oscars: “The majority of Americans do not want to see our young boys killed, and the majority of people didn't vote for the man sitting in the White House, and I'll keep saying that until he's out of there.''

In related news: President Bush’s re-election may be guaranteed. Go Al!
Saddam Hussein is right!

The first sentence of this Fox News article, “Allies push to within 50 miles of Baghdad” gave me an involuntary chuckle of irony overload:

Coalition forces continued their northward dash through Iraq Monday, coming to within 50 miles of Baghdad. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein appeared on television, promising "victory is soon."

More redundant links: You probably have these also, but if you don’t, you should. Centcom and the Command Post (new address as of yesterday).
The new Lileks bleat today is priceless. Go check it out.

What? You say everybody else has already posted it? So what. At least I can help to push it to the top of Blogdex. So there.
Comments are disabled due to a problem with the Yaccs server.

Update: Well, it seems to be back, so let's try again. I apologize for the wait.

Quagmire watch at the BBC

A question from yesterday’s Centcom press conference:

Q General, Mitchell Switch (sp) from the BBC. Nobody thought this was going to be simple, but, given the degree of resistance, which I think you concede has been unexpected -- the level of casualties, now the prisoners of war -- is it not the case that this is proving to be significantly more difficult than you might have hoped?

That was his whole answer which, I think, shows his contempt for the question.
Furthermore, General, have you stopped beating your wife?

Q Ahmed Samir (sp), Abu Dhabi Television. We have been seeing reports of U.S. soldiers killed, missing, and captured, and the state of resistance of Iraqi in many cities which you claimed before taken full control, such as An Nasiriyah and Umm Qasr. Are you facing a new Vietnam in Iraq, or are you victims of over-self-confidence?
GEN. ABIZAID: War is a very, very risky business for everybody. We are not over-confident about this endeavor. We are confident about the ultimate outcome of this endeavor. We are soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in a combined, in a joint team that is very powerful, and one of the most integrated and well-trained forces ever put together. There won't be anything that stops us on the battlefield.

This question betrays a hint of panic among the Arab states: What? They’re not running away like in Somalia? The Americans are going to keep going? That’s right, Ahmed – tell your readers.
Michael Moore praises free speech in America - bashes America

I'm getting a bunch of hits for a Google search on Michael Moore at the Oscars last night, which you can mostly find at this link.

My take is that Moore's rant was so over the top, that he looked foolish in his overarching self-righteousness. The boos were much louder than the scattered applause (Tim Robbins & Susan Sarandon) and Steve Martin followed up perfectly by noting that "The Teamsters are now helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his car." Those poor shock absorbers.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

More fog of war

There's a lot of confusion about that chemical plant in Iraq, but the Jerusalem Post believes it, and now Fox News is reporting that a senior Pentagon official confirms that coalition forces seized a chemical plant.

A senior Pentagon official has confirmed to Fox News on Sunday that coalition forces have discovered a "huge" chemical weapons factory near the Iraqi city of An Najaf, which is situated some 225 miles south of Baghdad.

We'll know more, soon, but this could be a major development.
The top three posts on Little Green Footballs right now are stunning. An illegal chemical plant has been found in Iraq, the latest on the captured (and possibly summarily executed) Americans, and an update that coalition forces are 100 miles from Baghdad.

I pray those POWs can hold out for just a couple more days.....
See you tomorrow.
Here's the main editorial from the Sunday NYT: "Hunting for Iraq's Terror Weapons"

America will not be able to claim victory in Iraq until it secures Saddam Hussein's missing troves of unconventional weapons, the ingredients for making them and the network of scientists able to produce them. This is a long-term challenge.

"We will never, never, accept victory! We will set the bar ever higher to insure the failure of this Republican President. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!!"

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Choking on the irony

From the Daily Telegraph (again) with the great title: "I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam"

Anyone with half a brain must see that Saddam has to be taken out. It is extraordinarily ironic that the anti-war protesters are marching to defend a government which stops its people exercising that freedom.

This is the concluding paragraph from somebody who actually went to Baghdad to become a human shield. Talk about "there's no zealot like a convert".
L.T. Smash is a little busy right now, but he had time to update his address. You should too.
The Daily Telegraph in England is reporting that Saddam Hussein was seriously injured last week, and crazy Uday may be dead.
Parable of the Two Giants. Nice allegory for our times.
Not good

Midwest Conservative Journal is reporting, based on a release from the Jerusalem Post, that the U.S. soldier who launched the grenade attack against a commanding officer at the 101st Airborne Division in Kuwait is a Muslim.

Furthermore, Little Green Footballs found a CBS report that listed the attacker as a black Muslim, before the description was changed to "engineering sargeant."

If true, this attack will be an enormous boon to the people who believe that we should not extend the benefits of our free society to those who would tear it down. On the one hand, I feel that the Westernization of Islam could help to modernize it and bring the religion out of the the 16th century; and that by this modernization, we can find middle ground (think Turkey). On the other hand, well, what's our option? We can't ban a religion followed by a billion people. We can, however, enforce deportation and support strict tracking of money flowing from American-Islamic "charities". This could be a bad season for hate crimes.

Friday, March 21, 2003

The usefulness of a degree in social justice

I was forced to watch Peter Jennings because I have a little TV next to my computer and it only picks up ABC & NBC. NBC was showing "Law and Order" – ABC was showing a comedy.

Actually it was "student activist" Max Uhlenbeck (I was very careful to copy the name) from United for Peace and Justice. (Oddly, a search on his name on the UPJ website doesn't turn up his name, although it pops up for an NYU protest).

Joke #1: [paraphrasing] "We're holding a protest in New York City tomorrow and expect several hundred thousand people."

Joke #2: (After Mr. U goes on quite a bit about the role of students in political protests)
Peter Jennings: "So you're a student."
Uhlenbeck: "No, I graduated."
Jennings: "So you're a full-time student organizer."

Joke #3: (after the interview) Jennings: "I didn't know there was a protest in New York City tomorrow."

Heh-heh. Sometimes unintentional humor is the best.
OK, I gotta cycle through the blogs tonight. Spent all day at my kids' schools. Be back soon!
Poisoned Apple

Here's a news release posted on Apple Computer's web site:

“In the wake of Apple’s announcement late yesterday that former Vice President Al Gore was elected to the company’s board of directors, President George Bush announced this morning that he would demand a recount… The Bush administration indicated that if a recount was not successful, they would take the matter to the Supreme Court,” reports Crazy Apple Rumors. [Mar 20]

I guess after you've sold your soul to Bill Gates, put Al Gore on your board of directors, and watch your stock fall to near a 52-week low, the only way to hold onto your dignity is to make fun of the President. Keep an eye on this one - I'll bet it "disappears" soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Goin' to bed now.
Here's the list of presenters and performers for this Sunday's Academy Awards. I think most of them will be neutral on Iraq, but a couple (Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, U2) won't be able to help themselves.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is going to sing a song from "Chicago"; she's 8 1/2 months pregnant. If there are any Academy Award drinking games going and she breaks water on stage, there's going to be a lot of hungover people come Monday morning.
So you think the United Nations is an ineffective debating society out of step with reality?'re right. William Saletan recounts what happened in the U.N. today while the Yanks, Brits, and Aussies were liberating Iraq. Hilarious. Hint: it involves French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and Hans Blix. 'nuf said.
Do yourself a favor and read, by comparison, today’s main editorial in the Washington Post titled “First Strike”. It's almost poetic in its clear-headed, logical exposition.
My fisking of the NYT editorial page

Although I had girded myself, still I was shocked by the besotted equivocation of the New York Times’ main editorial today “The War Begins.” This noxious spackle, slapped against the wall in the most desultory and unprincipled manner, isn’t fit for The Mini Page, much less the paper that holds itself up as the paper of record. If Andrew Sullivan rejoined as a contributor to the NYT, the wattage in the Howell Raines’ office would triple by the simple physics of radiant absorption.

As you can see, I’m quite upset. Just like picking up my dog’s crap (what an appropriate metaphor!), let’s get to the unpleasant, but necessary, task of deconstructing the mottled fruit of the NYT’s labor:

From here, the sound of the war that began last night is inaudible. As veterans realize and almost every writer on the subject of war has reminded us, the experience of this new, unwanted war will be unknowable except among those who will be there for the fighting. The job of the soldiers, men and women alike, is transcendently clear. No one who knows the American military doubts that it will do its job to the best of its ability and with an unswerving consciousness of the balance between opportunity and risk. The lives wagered in this operation belong to young Americans and to Iraqis of all ages. Perhaps no military has ever known as well as this one how important it is to have a care for those lives.

The prose on this paragraph flows as smoothly as a Western Union telegraph. War is here – STOP. The soldiers are good – STOP. The lives of the soldiers are theirs – HUH? And what’s the deal with the word “unwanted” before “war”? It’s redundant like “delicious” before “tiramisu” or “biased” before “Paul Krugman.” Every war is “unwanted.” The NYT clearly slipped in that adjective to remind us that the war is “unwanted” by certain establishments that live outside of reality – like the New York Times and the United Nations.

Many Americans remember the first gulf war all too vividly, and the temptation will be to read this war against the backdrop of that one. The terrain is the same, but everything else has changed. A military that, even a dozen years ago, still found itself shuttling paper battle orders back and forth is now electronically linked and coordinated in ways that would have seemed unimaginable then. There is no strategic exit in the offing, as there was when the coalition forces stopped well short of Baghdad in 1991. Now it is Saddam or nothing. There is no sense of international coalescence, a mission that bound disparate nations together. This mission has unbound the world.

I don’t think the NYT remembers the first gulf war so vividly. Here’s a clue: it was a success. It aimed to enforce United Nation resolutions, liberate a conquered country from a wacked dictator and re-establish the rule of law. But that’s unlike now: “everything else has changed.” Everything!
“This mission has unbound the world” – please. The approval of France does not constitute “international coalescence” and I’d move to Mars if it did.

Our job here is not as transcendently clear as the soldiers' job. Now that the first strikes have begun, even those who vehemently opposed this war will find themselves in the strange position of hoping for just what the president they have opposed is himself hoping for: a quick, conclusive resolution fought as bloodlessly as possible. People who have supported Mr. Bush all along may feel tempted to try to silence those who voice dissent. It will be necessary to remind them that we are in this fight to bring freedom of speech to Iraq, not to smother it back home.

Here’s that tired and spurious “dissent=martyrdom” syndrome so popularized by people like Mike Farrell. I’m not trying to silence you, Howell Raines. I want to ridicule, refute, and roil you. Blather on, you ivory tower twit!

It would take a very set mind to judge what comes next on any ground but the success of the effort. If things go as well as we hope, even those who sharply disagree with the logic behind this war are likely to end up feeling reassured, almost against their will, by the successful projection of American power. Whether they felt the idea of war in Iraq was a bad one from the beginning, or — like us — they felt it should be undertaken only with broad international support, the yearning to go back to a time when we felt in control of our own destiny still runs strong. Of all the reasons for this mission, the unspoken one, deepest and most hopeless, is to erase Sept. 11 from our hearts.

Pop quiz: America’s war with Iraq is for (pick one) 1.) to enforce U.N. resolutions and make the world body relevant 2.) to eliminate weapons of mass destruction 3.) to deny terrorists a base of operations 4.) to liberate a country from a brutal dictatorship 5.) a purely emotional reaction in a desperate attempt to “erase Sept. 11 from our hearts.” Paging Dr. Phil!

This is now, as Mr. Bush has said repeatedly, a war with two missions: disarming Iraq and then transforming it into a free and hopeful society. That second goal is also an end everyone would like to see. Yet as a nation we have scarcely begun to talk about how it should be accomplished. Even as we sit here at home, worrying about the outcome of the fighting, we must start to debate what comes next.

Oh, must we? This is the NYT running on pure peeve. The war is a day old and they’re bitching that we haven’t outlined a Marshall plan yet.

That public discussion has to start soon, even tomorrow. But for now, all our other thoughts have come to rest. We simply hope for the welfare of those men and women — sons and daughters — who will be flinging themselves into the Iraqi desert.

This is the most incoherent hypocrisy imaginable: right now we should keep our thoughts and prayers with our American sons and daughters…until tomorrow. Then screw ‘em, they’ll be fine. And WTF is up with that word “flinging”? Not “marching bravely” or “facing the enemy”; no, the NYT chose a word that is most closely associated with a sexual misadventure or a reckless impulse (or scatological projectiles). Do they choose these words indiscriminately, or are they trying to be too-clever-by-half? Brain-dead or not, the New York Times editorial page is a non-stop assault on the mind and sensibilities of the American people.
DEBKA confirms:

Hussein likely killed, wounded, or unscathed by attack.

(Right on - lifted from this thread on Free Republic)
Agonistic Academy Award Airheads Assail America

From American Prowler (hat tip to Curmudgeonly):

Perhaps out of concern that their vast left-wing membership would use the numerous open mikes available to them leading into and during Sunday's Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to pull the plug on the nationally (and internationally) televised red carpet entrance at the top of the show.

Also, presenter Susan Sarandon has been shifted to host the "In Memoriam" segment, in the hopes that that solemn moment will limit her abilities to be political.

The Academy, however, will allow the distribution of ribbons at the ceremony which can be worn to show solidarity with the antiwar movement.

Will there be any red, white & blue ribbons in support of the liberation of Iraq and our troops overseas? Or is that gauche?
Please no more Debka rumors

There’s a lot of speculation on the blogs this morning that the Saddam Hussein on Baghdad TV last night wasn’t really Saddam Hussein, that he had on weird glasses, his mustache was too thin/thick, whatever. Even the White House is getting into the act: “Bush Administration Questions Hussein Video.” While I chalk this up to wishful thinking, I can understand how everybody would be enchanted with the idea that a bunker-buster could sidetrack a wider conflict.

That said, I know from reading the book “Poker Nation” that you should always consider the “worst case scenario” when playing cards. That is, if you can gauge the best possible hand your opponent can make (based on the “up” or “common” cards), it will better inform your play.

Thus, I think the speculation that Saddam is eating 72 raisins in the great hereafter is counterproductive to the war effort. At least for the time being, we should assume he’s alive, that his communications are not disrupted, and he’s still holding his iron fist control over Iraq. This will keep our military forces on alert and focused on the goal at hand. If we start spreading the idea that Saddam has assumed room temperature, it will cause the troops to relax and let their guard down.

This is not about us – it’s about the troops fighting in a faraway land to keep us safe. Let’s not do anything to jeopardize their safety.

Just my two cents
There's a load of great news and opinion links at Real Clear Politics this morning. A good place to start.
So far: Here's LT Smash this morning

Saddam fired a couple of those Scuds that he doesn't have at me this afternoon.

He missed

Good night. I'm praying that I'll wake up to good news.
So much for the war in Iraq as a "distraction" from the war on terrorism

From Fox News: BAGRAM, Afghanistan About 1,000 U.S. troops launched a raid on villages in southeastern Afghanistan Wednesday night, hunting for members of the Al Qaeda terrorist network, military officials said.

Looks like there's a lot going on tonight. This is just skylarking, but it's possible that we'll remember March 20th as the day we got Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

I'll take either one.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Transcript of the President's speech tonight.
Yep - it was a "decapitation attack" aimed at Hussein.
The fog of war

It would appear that the President "called an audible" and launched a cruise missile and/or stealth bomber strike on a "target of opportunity" based on a particularly good piece of information. The British (apparently) were unaware that this strike was taking place, so I can only imagine that Bush was so compelled by the intel that he authorized the strike.

What else could it be but Hussein? Stay tuned....

God protect our troops

I'm absolutely confident the war with Iraq will start tonight. The air bombardment will start for sure, and tanks may start the northward push so that they'll be outside Baghdad by sunup. I would be very shocked to wake up tomorrow and find Iraq untouched - that would give Saddam Hussein the incorrect impression that he's dodged the bullet again. It won't happen. I may be wrong...but I don't think I am.

The next four hours will tell.
Krugman watch

Tom the Minuteman finally sobers up from St. Patty’s Day and gets back to work fisking Paul Krugman.
More Daschle backlash

Michael Barone in U.S. News & World Report: “Daschle's words can only be explained as the product of a kind of hatred, unbuttressed by any serious intellectual argument, likely to hurt the party of the speaker far more than the party of the president they were directed against.”
More unhinged Democrats

From Political Wire: "Sen. John Kerry "is becoming a fresh target of some Democrats for supporting a resolution giving President Bush authority to wage war, but scolding Bush on the stump," the Boston Herald reports. The Boston Globe notes that Kerry said "a failure of diplomacy of a massive order" by President Bush "has left the country on the brink of war with Iraq, with an unnecessarily small group of fighting partners... and without the strongest possible support of the American people."

"Unnecessarily small group of fighters"? There's the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. Does John Kerry really believe the French army is going to add a lot to that?
Addressing the Naysayers

George Will gets medieval on Tom Daschle in the Washington Post today. Some choice grafs:

Speaking of indiscriminate chaos, many elements of the Democratic Party, including most of its base and many of its most conspicuous leaders, seem deranged, unhinged by the toxic fumes of hatred and contempt they emit for the president. From what does this arise? It cannot just be Florida, the grievance that Democrats, assiduous cultivators of victimhood, love to nurse. No, many Democrats' problem, which threatens to disqualify their party from presidential responsibilities for a generation, is their incontinent love of snobbery and nostalgia -- condescension toward a president they consider ignorant, and a longing for the fun of antiwar days of yore.

I think there was a Michael Moore slam buried in there. And there’s this concluding section:

So Daschle's position is: America is "forced to war" because presidential diplomacy failed to produce a broader coalition for war. With that descent into absurdity, Daschle would have forfeited his reputation for seriousness, if he had one.

There are many honorable exceptions -- although with varying degrees of clarity -- among the Democrats. Presidential candidates Joseph Lieberman and Dick Gephardt particularly stand out as plausible presidents.

As for Daschle, he has become the Democrats' Trent Lott, with two differences. Lott was embarrassing about 1948, not 2003. And his fellow Republicans were embarrassed.

The Democratic Party continues its deadly dance with bathos (take that, Sheryl Crow!)

Here's Rod Dreher on The Corner, channelling my thoughts (below):

Is it just me, or is anybody else actually looking forward, in an ironic way, to the Academy Awards ceremony? You just know Hollywood will not be able to keep itself from pontificating for "peace" and denouncing the country, even as our troops will (likely) be engaged in battle.

Morning graphics

I was going to publish a great editorial cartoon by Bill Deore, but American Realpolitik beat me to it. Go there for some good stuff this morning.

I will, however, copy this great picture from the Courier News of Australia from an article titled "Get out or die: Bush" - how's that for subtlety?



Tuesday, March 18, 2003

God save Tony Blair: Here's the transcript of his impassioned speech to the House of Commons today.
Sheryl Crow's Humble Opinion and Search for The Truth

Sheryl Crow takes off the sequined T-shirt and the "No War" guitar strap and tries to explain her anti-war stance in something a little longer than a bumper-sticker slogan. Unfortunately, she gets off to a bad start pretty early on:

I consider myself a citizen of the world as well as a proud American. I love my country and all it has to offer. I believe in the pathos it was founded on...the right to express what one feels without loss of freedom, the right to worship, the right to vote, the right to bear arms in a respectful manner, etc. I am not un-American in my stance but simply exercising my right to free speech. [Emphasis added]

Um….that would be "ethos", Sheryl.

That might be a little unfair. Say what you want about Sheryl's opinion piece – and there's a lot to criticize – she is clearly earnest. Putting aside the faux sacrifice ("I am currently selling my BMW SUV"), she believes these things and backs up her viewpoint with facts and opinions to support her case, including a couple of hyperlinks at the bottom of the page. She is not, let's just say as a hypothetical figure, a Senator from South Dakota, cynically grasping for some political points. She makes a principled case and stands by her beliefs. So, as much as I disagree with her, at least her exposition is refreshing in its candor.
This is very good news (if true)

WASHINGTON — As the 48-hour clock continues to wind down on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, there are signs that thousands of Iraqi troops are planning to surrender to the U.S. and its allies even in the first hours of war, Fox News has learned.
From Fox News: Republicans blast Daschle

"I think Sen. Daschle clearly articulated the French position," said Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., referring to French opposition to war. "This is uncalled for, I hope he retracts it."

Strange - I'm getting a whole bunch of hits from a site called "Football Guys Talk", but I can't view the page link. Seeing as there's very little football chat here, what are you guys looking at?
Night of a thousand losers

Nothing could do more to expose the dichotomy between Hollywood and the rest of America than a parade of pampered screen stars foaming at the mouth against the liberation of Iraq. With that in mind, I have a new favorite choice for the Best Director Oscar: go Stephen Daldry!

Stephen Daldry, Britain's brightest hope of an Oscar at this year's Academy Awards ceremony, has vowed to denounce the war on Iraq from the podium if he wins.

Anyone else we should be on the lookout for?

Foreign nominees who are likely to denounce the war from the podium should they win include Bono, the Irish rock star who is nominated for Best Song and is due to perform at the ceremony; Pedro Almodovar, the Spanish film-maker who is in the running for two awards, and Michael Moore, the favourite to take the Best Documentary Oscar. All have previously condemned the proposed military action.

I think we're all in "agreeance" that the upcoming Academy Awards could be a watershed moment for Hollywood. Think Dixie Chicks.
Slate's Saddameter holding steady at 99% chance of war. The only way to go now is up.

34 hours to go.....
From Iraq Daily: "President: Ten times America can not brush Iraqis off their freedom"

[Saddam Hussein] told his guest that though hoping war not break out, ten times America can not brush Iraqi people off its independence and rights; and “If the US attacked, it would find fighters behind every rock, wall or tree in defence of their land and freedom.”

Wanna bet?
Is this why we went to Level Orange?

This is certainly an odd story from Washington: A man drove his tractor into the shallow water of a pond on the Washington D.C. Mall - N.C. Truck Driver continues standoff on Mall

The Washington Post reported earlier that the man in the tractor, identified by law enforcement sources as Dwight W. Watson, 50, of Whitakers, N.C., drove into the pond in Constitution Gardens, between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, about noon yesterday. Law enforcement officers are continuing to keep watch on the man, whom they have described as distraught. Although they had made contact with him by cell phone, it remained unclear why he was there and what he wanted.

Given that law enforcement in Washington is a bit on the edge right now, I hope this ends favorably for Mr. Watson.
Doncha just love James Lileks?:

It’s as if the devotees of diplomacy think that international negotiations are like a mortgage closing. But if mortgage closings were like Security Council resolutions, we’d all be living on the lawn, waiting for the housing inspectors to verify that the previous owners not only didn’t fix the leaky gas line, they weren't still holed up in the attic with shotguns and canned food.

Send in the housing inspectors!
Kicker to make permalinks work.
Tom says: "I'm not the President". Millions rejoice.

Everybody is blowing a gasket over Tom Daschle's comments to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (see American Realpolitik, Curmudgeonly, and Pejman). I wish I could say I'm surprised, but Daschle has long ago co-opted the Groucho Marx character Prof. Wagstaff from "Horse Feathers" who says "Whatever it is, I'm against it!"

Take pity on this blackened amoeba, Tom Daschle. Once, he could have been President. Now, he's a shadow of a man-child, grasping for the talking points of the day which are always centered around his deep disappointment, his profound regret, his endless hand-wringing, his troubled troublement at the President's policies. Woe, woe is Tom Daschle, that he has to seek solace from the #2 overall donor to the Democrats in a desperate search for a sympathetic audience.

Oh Tom, Tom. Does it hurt much?
Best line of Bush's speech: "Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety."

Or, as some have suggested, should we wait until we're attacked again? No. Is it better to take action against Saddam Hussein and be wrong about weapons of mass destruction, or wait until we're proven wrong when Washington is vaporized? Now is the time.
From Fox News: "Iraq arming troops with chemical weapons"

You know, the ones they don't have
Meet me in St. Louis

I'm back from my trip. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't bore you with the details of a business trip, but I'm making an exception here, given the developments of the past 24 hours or so. If you're not interested, then skip this post; I won't be insulted.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm a Product Development Engineer for a specialty fiber optics company called OFS (until recently, we were part of Lucent). We make optical fibers for just about everything except telecommunications. So we make large fibers used for laser applications for medical procedures, high-temperature fibers used for temperature sensing down oil wells, and fibers used as data links in high-temperature, high-vibration environments such as on fighter jets.

The trip I just got back from was to Boeing in St. Louis. They were looking to use a fiber optic cable as an early detection system for failure around electrical systems. Although I've been working for defense contractors for years, this was the first time I'd ever been given the chance to see the "end product" up close at the famous Boeing Phantom Works. I'm not going to get into too much detail – the Defense Department and/or Homeland Security might be watching – but I'm just going to make a few observations:

1.) Fighter jets are enormously complicated pieces of machinery. Parts of the planes were everywhere, held in space with huge positioning jacks as the machinists ran electrical lines, hydraulic lines, fuel lines, etc. It is an unimaginable jigsaw puzzle of technology. The corollary to this is…..

2.) You can see where all that defense money goes.

3.) On every wall is an oversized American flag.

4.) Also on the walls: numerous safety reminders, a checklist of progress (e.g. planes completed), and an urging for quality from young men in flight suits.

5.) The workers: a snapshot of America. Black and white, men and women, young and old, almost universally dressed in blue jeans. Lots of high-top sneakers and T-shirts with (American) Eagles and (St. Louis) Rams.

6.) In their personal spaces and tool boxes: pictures of Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes) pissing on Saddam Hussein's head, union slogans, some mild sexual humor, a sandstorm rising with an Eagle at the apex, and slogans like "The Aggressive Pursuit of Peace."

I guess what I'm saying here is that I was really proud to be an American today. Maybe "proud" isn't the word – more like "gratified." This country is extraordinarily blessed in so many ways, and I thank God that we have the will and the means to defend our way of life. Foreigners seem baffled by the patriotism Americans have for our country (that decadent America) but there's a simple reason for it, and it's summed up by (of all people) Demi Moore in "A Few Good Men":

Lieutenant Sam Weinberg: Why do you like them so much?
Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway: Because they stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch."

I saw a lot of people today standing on that wall. Sure, they're working for a paycheck, but they're also working for something more. And they're not going to leave a bolt untightened because it's close to quitting time, or half-ass the quality tests because they want to meet a quota. They're doing their best work for you and for me, and God bless them.

OK, that's enough of my sentimental crap. I gotta scroll through all the blogs I've been missing over the past two days. Love and kisses – Eric

(P.S. – Sadly, I didn't have time to get to the Budweiser brewery)

Sunday, March 16, 2003

No free ice cream for a couple of days - business trip.

Like it looks like Blogger is refusing to publish anyway. Peace out - Eric
U.S. says Al-Qaeda ready to topple

The United States is within reach of dismantling the leadership of the al Qaeda terrorist network responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Bush administration officials and U.S. intelligence experts said.

CIA and FBI officials are cautious in public not to overstate their optimism about breaking up al Qaeda and capturing Osama bin Laden, the organization's leader. But people who receive regular briefings on U.S. counterterrorism operations said the arrest and subsequent cooperation under interrogation of al Qaeda lieutenant Khalid Sheik Mohammed this month have given them concrete reasons to come to this conclusion.

Premium Births (from today's NYT Magazine)

Highest insurance premium rates paid by obstetricians and gynecologists, reported by insurers, July 2001:

Miami-Dade/Broward Counties, FL: $202,949
Dallas, Houston, Galveston, TX: $160,746
New York City, Nassau & Suffolk Counties, NY: $115,429

Lowest rates:

South Dakota: $11,580
Nebraska: $12,288
Indiana: $13,874

Saturday, March 15, 2003

The Sting

The New York Times Magazine has a feature called "What they were thinking" where a photograph is shown along with dialogue from the subjects in the picture explaining what's on their mind. It's been one of my favorite features ever since I saw a picture of a middle-aged man dressed up like Gene Simmons of KISS, holding a briefcase as his elderly father fixes a buckle on one of his boots.

But I digress.... In today's paper, there's testimony from a pair of women who suffered from chronic fatigue and multiple sclerosis but have discovered a wonder drug that has turned their lives around. The medicine? Bee stings. They swear by it. The husband of one of the women became a bee-keeper.
Patrick Ruffini has his "Closing Argument" for war with Iraq. Unlike Lewis Lapham's supercilious shotgun logic in Harper's this month (it came this morning), Ruffini uses logic, historical perspective, and facts to back up his viewpoint instead of visceral grandstanding. Too good to excerpt - go read it all.
Wow - I just did a tour of the blogs and there's a lot of Dixie Chicks bashing goin' on. Natalie Maines picked both the wrong place (Europe) and wrong time (on the brink of war) to make disparaging remarks about the President - now, reap the whirlwind.
Estrada update

Zell Miller, Democrat Senator from Georgia, weighs in on Senate obstructionism on Miguel Estrada in "Senate Math"

A portly British statesman once famously said that "democracy is based on reason and fair play." But there's nothing reasonable or fair about what's been happening in the Senate recently. The filibuster against Bush nominee Miguel Estrada is not just an expensive waste of time and taxpayer money, it's also an affront to majority rule, the principle that democracy operates on everywhere.

So intelligent, so upstanding, and yet a Democrat! Join us, Zell - come over to the dark side [evil laughter]
Good night. (Kicker to make permalinks work)
Why, oh why, do I read Arab News?

God, or Allah, or Buddah, or L. Ron Hubbard help me, why do I read the Saudi-run English-language web page Arab News? Dear Lord, I know it's supposed to show the best side of Islamic opinion. But then I read something like this, and I can't help but think, Abraham help me, that maybe (just maybe) Islam isn't a religion of peace. Some excerpts from a hatchet job on Colin Powell:

Nelson Mandela was right. The bribing, bullying, horse-trading and warmongering we are witnessing in the world today are all because there’s a black man sitting at the helm of the United Nations.

It's all a racist plot! We wouldn't have these problems if Kurt Waldheim was still running the U.N.

Uncle Ben’s Rice literally sold itself because it was good, nutritious and healthy; Uncle Sam isn’t selling because the product is bad, unwholesome and malevolent. Powell can no more sell his stale product than a grocery store can sell rotten apples and tomatoes, except to the starved and dying of the world, except to the famine-struck African peoples of Guinea, Angola and Cameroon.

Don't forget about Zimbabwe, governed by wacko and friend-of-the-French Robert Mugabe. Or how about Islamic Sudan? How's the slavery trade going over there?

Powell first used the method in his PowerPoint presentation to the UN when he tried to convince us that the rabbit shape we see in the moon really is a live gigantic rabbit.

WTF? Can somebody help me? What is this clown talking about?

Notice, for example, the digital link used by Bush when he claimed in his first speech after the tragedy of Sept. 11 that 130 Israelis had died in the twin towers when the correct number was actually 3 (out of the 3,000 Israeli employees that were supposed to have been in the WTC at the time of the explosions).

Stop. Hammer time. I'm stopping right here, at this hateful urban legend. Read the rest if you want to be annoyed by this "Professor of Stylistics" (no kidding), but the only thing you'll learn is how far the Muslim mindset is from the 21st century. Or the 20th.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Ted Rall sucks.
I like music

My review of the Elvis Costello cover CD "Almost You" is now up at Blogcritics.

By the way, I caught the first 15 minutes of Elvis guest-hosting for Letterman the other night. He was surprisingly good - he was funny and had a good monologue which he closed with a version of "Alison" where he sang "Oh....Letterman, I want my own talk show now / Letterman...don't hurry back." (It helps if you know the song).
Nope, no racists here!

Here’s part of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s official statement on Trent Lott back in December: “This is an astounding betrayal of what was on his mind.”

Take note: Pelosi makes it clear that the subject of condemnation is Trent Lott, the man and his mind.

Now here’s Pelosi’s statement about the removal of Virginia Democrat James Moran from the Democratic leadership after suggesting that the Jewish lobby is pushing for war in Iraq:

"I have taken this action because Congressman Moran's irresponsible remarks were a serious mistake," Pelosi said. "As I said earlier this week, his comments were not only inappropriate, they were offensive and have no place in the Democratic Party." [Emphasis added]

The man is good. Only his comments were bad. Mistakes were made.

Intention vs. obsession

The now-too-long buildup to war with Iraq has now given rise to a new round of psychoanalysis of the President and his motivations. Now he’s no longer interested in protecting Americans or enforcing U.N. resolutions or disarming Saddam Hussein. Now he’s just obsessed. “Obsessed” with the intrinsic suggestion of “irrational” is the latest tactic used by the anti-war crowd to smear the president without addressing the issue of the terrorist threat in the post-9/11 world.

So here’s Paul Krugman today, in full character assassination-mode, attacking Bush with an article titled “George W. Queeg”:

Aboard the U.S.S. Caine, it was the business with the strawberries that finally convinced the doubters that something was amiss with the captain. Is foreign policy George W. Bush's quart of strawberries?

It’s beneath Paul Krugman’s station to explain why this war should not be fought, when it’s so much easier to just question the President’s motives and mentality. For the takedown of Krugman, see (who else?) Matthew Hoy’s page today.

Last night on Wolf Blitzer, Ron Silver made mince-meat of Bill Maher, but not before the “Politically Incorrect” outcast regurgitated this spittle:

BLITZER: Bill, why do you think President Bush, who's privy obviously, to the top national security intelligence information, wants to go to war against Iraq?

MAHER: Well, I think it's an obsession. I think it's a leftover obsession in that administration. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they didn't get bin Laden. And if they would just be honest about that and a few other things like the cost of the war I'd be more ready to go along with it.

In psychological terms, this is known as displacement, where the main object of emotion (e.g. anger) is transferred to a substitute. For armchair Freuds like Krugman and Maher, failure to capture Bin Laden, or the inability to confront North Korea, is driving Bush’s war with Iraq. There really can’t be any other reason, right Norman Mailer?

Then Mailer takes us on a fantasy trip that incorporates virtually every leftist cliché ever directed at the United States. I paraphrase: America has allowed big corporations to rob its soul, and destroy the environment. Bush is obsessed with building an American empire, thus the rush to war. Bush's embrace of empire as a way of life is rooted in his near messianic obsessions about good versus evil, a dangerous road that could literally embroil us endlessly in conflicts around the world.

He’s crazy, I tells ya! It takes a special brand of cynicism to engage in this kind of amorphous smear, this baseless insult. If there’s an argument against war with Iraq, then just make it. Unfortunately, for these pundits and their Hollywood amen-corner, the pacifist argument is quickly swept away. What remains is nothing more than a house of cards built with vapid ad hominem attacks.
Oh, sure, you've probably seen this, but it makes me laugh

War has never solved anything

From Protest Warrior (via Country Store)

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Good night.
Guess the movie

The main character is single-minded in his mission of acquiring a weapon
He believes that this weapon will give him the power to vanquish his enemies and there is an elaborate fantasy scene where these enemies retreat in abject defeat due to the overwhelming power of this weapon
He engages in both overt and covert propaganda to obtain the weapon (e.g. subconscious propaganda and documents stating his intent)
However, he is rebuffed by an agent of the government, a quasi-religious figure, and the main authority figures in his world.
He uses vile language and tells untruths.
He engages in other challenges to authority and subterfuges involving, for example, code-breaking and an obscene disguise.
All the while, he is threatened with force by a dominant figure (described as a bully)
This dominant figure is accompanied by another (described in amphibian terms) who acts tough but, without protection, promptly retreats when faced with danger.

Later, the main character stands up to that dominant figure and his weak ally.
Although he commits an unpardonable sin in the process, a member of that main authority fails to report it to the other member of the group and the danger passes.
A disagreement forms between the members of this main authority group on weapon policy.
He acquires the weapon.
He promptly misuses the weapon and causes the very damage warned about from the start.

A chilling political thriller? A parable for our times? Click HERE or on the comments button for the movie (if you haven't guessed it yet).
Fun with Google News

Strategy? Feh! New ideas? Bah! For Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe, it’s always, always about getting more money….and then blowing it on the wrong races.

Just for laughs, I did a Google News search on McAuliffe + DNC + money = 73 hits
By comparison a search on (RNC chairman Marc) Racicot + RNC + money = 32 hits

A regular Google search yields McAuliffe + DNC + money = 3620 hits
While Racicot + RNC + money = 906 hits

And yet, with all this begging and money-grubbing, the Dems are broke!

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican National Committee is starting the march toward the 2004 election with a multimillion-dollar advantage on its Democratic rival. The RNC began the new year with $5 million in the bank; the Democratic Party was $106,000 in debt.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Terry McAuliffe is a gift to Republicans. Big fan, Terry, big fan!
George Will cracks me up sometimes because I’m convinced that when he makes up a phrase he’s particularly proud of, he feels compelled to repeat it over and over. On “This Week” this past Sunday he said: “The United Nations is not a good idea badly executed; it’s a bad idea.” Today, he picks up on that theme, using the same phrase (with “implemented” replacing “executed”) in his opening paragraph.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read his incisive article today, “U.N. Absurdity,” where he fleshes out all the thoughts he started on the Sunday Roundtable.
Why was Helen Thomas dissed by President Bush at his press conference?

Because she’s a royal pain in the ass. Jack Shafer on Slate presents the evidence.
Speaking of Hollywood activists

Here’s a line from the WSJ Opinion Journal article “Stars and Gripes” about hypocritical celebrities who found nothing whatsoever wrong with Clinton’s unilateral approach to Kosovo and elsewhere:

Some celebrities are at least honest about their hypocrisy. Comedian Janeane Garofalo was blunt in explaining why Hollywood types didn't protest any of Mr. Clinton's military ventures: "It wasn't very hip."

It. Wasn’t. Very. Hip. In my opinion, these Hollywood types can’t be ridiculed enough.
The Capitalist System Works

From the New York Post’s “Page Six” section this morning:

MARTIN Sheen's politicking against the war on terrorism may have cost him a lucrative endorsement contract.

Sheen and his son Charlie starred in a spot for Visa's Check Card which was cited as one of the top TV commercials of 2002. But it was abruptly canceled last week.

Insiders say Sheen's vitriolic George W. Bush-bashing was the reason. "Visa has been getting tons of complaints based on his war stance," said one source.


Wednesday, March 12, 2003

New hope for Paul Krugman!

From New Scientist: World's first brain prosthesis revealed

The world's first brain prosthesis - an artificial hippocampus - is about to be tested in California. Unlike devices like cochlear implants, which merely stimulate brain activity, this silicon chip implant will perform the same processes as the damaged part of the brain it is replacing.
Viking Pundit News

I’m in the top 10 of “Interesting Newcomers” according to Technorati, right behind some French blogs but ahead of “Howard Dean 2004”.

And, just one day after setting up my Amazon tip jar, a kind soul (from Massachusetts!) put in enough to keep off that annoying Blogger banner. Thanks!
NOW tries to revive ERA – tells Muslim women: TS

Last week, the Wall Street Journal/Opinion Journal ran a powerful piece by Kay S. Hymowitz called “Liberation’s Limits” with the telling subtitle: “Feminists to Muslim Women: Drop Dead.” In the article, she berates American feminists for being so focused on their own culture of victimization, they willfully ignore the persecution of women in the Middle East:

Feminists had an extraordinary opportunity after Sept. 11, when pictures of other-worldly creatures in blue burkhas shocked even beer-chugging Super Bowl fans into becoming women's rights advocates. But instead of seizing the moment to revive an anemic movement by raising their voices against genuine female oppression, they have given the ultimate illustration of their preference for partisan politics and smug resentments over principles.

Today, NOW president Kim Gandy put out a press release with this concluding paragraph:

Women need a constitutional equality amendment to effectively counter what is already a full- blown campaign to weaken and limit civil rights and to diminish women's rights. As we look to a future where conservative ideologues will dominate judicial thought and action, progressive leaders must stimulate debate among our elected representatives, women's rights advocates and the public-at-large on the meaning of equal protection for the sexes under the law. Passage of a strong constitutional equality amendment will assure that this most important advance in human rights is undertaken. [Emphasis added]

Put aside the vast-right-wing-conspiracy paranoia for a moment. According to NOW, the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution – essentially a re-iteration of the 14th Amendment – will be the “most important advance in human rights.” Moreso than, oh, say the Magna Carta or the Emancipation Proclamation, or the liberation of Afghanistan from Taliban rule. This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. It’s Marie Antoinette logic: “How can we worry about the murder of girls in Saudi Arabia when women in America are only making 80 cents to a man’s dollar?” Pitiful.
Best article title today: “French Disconnection

By suggesting that France will oppose any second resolution, whatever the wording and whenever it is introduced, M Chirac, as Tony Blair noted yesterday, has sent a message to Saddam Hussein that he is “off the hook.” It will encourage dictators around the world, from Pyongyang to Harare, to believe that they can defy UN resolutions, oppress their people and get away with it, safe in the knowledge that France will take a self-indulgent and unprincipled stand, at least as long as M Chirac is in the Elysée.

C’est le cheese-eating surrender monkeys.
Roasting the French

I, for one, don’t think Congress should stoop to such pettiness such as renaming “French Fries” at the House cafeteria as “Freedom Fries.” Our elected officials should leave that kind of crudeness to us, the unwashed masses. Here’s what I propose we do [rubbing hands together and grinning devilishly]

At any office superstore, you can purchase “sticker” paper for your inkjet printer. Print whatever, then peel off the back and you’re ready to go. I’m going to get some yellow paper (natch) and print “Cowardly” a hundred times and cut it up into little inch-long strips. At the local Mobil where I get my coffee in the morning, they always have one of those pump-containers with “French Roast.” I’m going to put a sticker there so it reads “Cowardly French Roast.”

Heh-heh-heh. I’ll let you know how it pans out.
Good deeds

Mike at Cold Fury and Susanna at Cut on the Bias have put together a list of employers who are going above-and-beyond to help our men (and women) in uniform while stationed in the Middle East. Visit The Home Front to see the full list. (And link the page so we can push it to the top of Blogdex). Support these businesses and support our troops.
Oil drilling saves the whales

Two years ago, Charles Krauthammer wrote an article called “Supply and Demand Realities” where he derided the liberal position toward energy policy. On the topic of developing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil development, he noted: “ANWR is the poster child of cake-and-eat-it-too eco-petulance. It's a place so remote and so desolate that not one American in a million will ever see it. Exploration would affect no more than 8 percent of the refuge. Rather than disturb the mating grounds of caribou, however, our exquisite environmentalists have prevented exploration of what could be our next Prudhoe Bay.” Take note that this was written before 9/11, before Iraq, before the Venezuelan strikes, and before a bitter Northeast winter, all of which have driven gas prices above $2/gallon. Considering how the price of oil affects the American economy, maybe now’s a good time to reconsider development of ANWR.

Not so fast, says the Boston Globe, in an editorial today that is a breathtaking pique of eco-petulance, bordering on self-parody. An excerpt from “The Damage in Alaska”:

Although there have been no major spills on the North Slope itself, the noise of exploratory drilling and other activities has forced bowhead whales into more distant migration patterns, which has hurt hunting of the whales by natives. The garbage of oil field workers has increased the populations of predators like brown bears, foxes, ravens, and gulls that also feed on the eggs and fledglings of arctic birds, cutting into their populations.
The greatest harm has been done by roads and structures such as drilling platforms, which cause dust, flooding, and thawing of the permafrost. Off-road travel leads to surface erosion, changes in water flow, and damage to tundra vegetation. All of these effects are aggravated by the fact that nature's repair of damaged areas is slower in the harsh climate. Because it is costly to remove structures or restore road surfaces to their natural state after they are no longer needed, little of this environmental repair work is ever done.

Even now I’m shaking my head at this gaseous display of greenish foot-stomping. So oil drilling in Alaska 1.) saves the whales 2.) feeds the animals and (gasp!) 3.) thaws the permafrost. I can see the protest posters going up all across the Berkeley campus now: “Stop the Melting of the Alaskan Permafrost!” “Billions of ice crystals are being reduced to their liquid form!” “Stop putting asphalt over the frozen ground!”

Completely absent from this peevish rant is any mention of the potential cost of not drilling in ANWR, most notably our increasing dependence on Mideast oil and the funneling of petro-dollars into the hands of terrorists through Saddam Hussein and Saudi princes. The editors at the Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times) really do live in a different world than you and me.