Sunday, December 30, 2001

This Week - - Segment A: A roundtable of Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House), Stephan Carter (Yale Law Professor), Robert Thompson (Editor at the Financial Times), and John Feinstein (NPR Sports commentator).
NEWT: proclaimed that the popularity of Bush is like that of FDR or JFK-that people have grown to like and feel comfortable with this president. Predictions: Saddam no longer in power; Republicans retake Senate and keep House.
THOMPSON: was boring but offered this, the recession will be, "a digitally compressed recession".
CARTER: Prediction: that the fat years leading to 2001 were not 'our' best and that the future will be one, which is better.
FEINSTEIN: Noted that results in sports are not life and death, but still important. Predictions: That the Olympics are lame and nothing more than a, "corporate television show". He also boldly suggested that George W would have to bring peace, to baseball.

SEGMENT B: Was a snore fest with Michael O'Hanlon from the Brookings Institution and Jeffrey Smith a former CIA General Counsel.

SEGMENT C: was the regular roundtable--Sam Donaldson, George Stephanopoulos, George Will and congressional correspondent Linda Douglass.
WILL: Speculated that long term December 13th (the terrorist attack in India) might be more important to the world than Sept. 11th.
STEPHANOPOULOS & DOUGLASS: both worried that Pakistan is a major problem because they don't have a formal no first use declaration. (Now that is something nobody, I mean nobody, ever talks about)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bush can't stay up at 90% (Oh really? I thought the same thing about that pig Clinton, and he managed to stay at 60% for what seemed like forever)
WILL: countered that it would not be good if he stayed at 90% because that means that we are still under siege. He also predicted that the war will go under the radar (cops and special ops) until we get to Iraq. [He got into a little exchange with Sam Donaldson-Sam: “We can’t do that (war with Iraq like Afghanistan), we tired after the Gulf War. Will: “No we did not!”]
Prediction for 2002 elections:
WILL: “who knows,” the country is tied.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A split-Democrats take the House, lose the Senate
DONALDSON: Bucking conventional wisdom still hold out that Hillary Clinton will challenge Bush in 2004 if he gets in trouble.

Meet the Press - - This morning’s meet the press was pretty good. The first segment was a showdown between Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Don Nickles (Asst. Minority Leader). Daschle spent most of the show grinning like a Cheshire cat (very creepy) and lamely tried to spin the absence of a vote on Otto Reich because he is “not qualified”. Surely he was mistaken-the issue isn't if he isn't qualified, but that Christopher Dodd disagrees with him. But both of them were on high spin content even as Russert grilled them. Dashle's outlook for 2002 legislation: the farm bill, the democratic stimulus package, and he especially complained about campaign finance. Mmmm how interesting Mr. Daschle-and those are the “battleground” issues for an election year-that is rich.

In the roundtable (With David Broder, William Safire, and Robin Wright) the debate was calm-of course it was Broder was there. Wright made some attempt to predict that Saddam would make it through 2002 on the grounds not that it is operationally problematic, but because no one is with us. Safire objected saying that all we need is Turkey and Kuwait and the momentum is already with the US. (So they have a bet for next years MTP year-end show). Broder, to his credit, predicted that by the end of 2002 baseball would come back to Washington DC.

Saturday, December 29, 2001

Art Buchwald on Fire- - I knew of Art Buchwald before but it had been some time since I really read any of his stuff. So I found a couple of great arts. The first is basically on a Tabacco Jihad "Ahmad al-Tuwaijri, lawyer for the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, called the suit part of a "holy war" against the tobacco interests, as if the United States needed another "holy war" at this time. He called tobacco "the biggest corruption on earth." I don't think Mr. al-Tuwaijri has been reading the papers lately."

Buchwald's Christmas was even better. "I did get a wrapped bottle of men's cologne called America's Best, with "Made in the USA" printed on it. I asked the family, "How did this get in here? We'd better open it in the garage." Only good can come from this. Enjoy.

Grinch's - - : grinch Pronunciation: 'grinch [Function: noun Etymology: from the Grinch, character in the children's story How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) Date: 1979]: KILLJOY, SPOILSPORT

I was not surprised that the Senate Democrats did not produce a stimulus package-and frankly it was just a pork-a-thon anyway (it may play bigger politically as 2002 continues though). These 'leaders' have gummed up the appointment process for Bush so much that there is a case to be made for this being a serious campaign issue in 2002? So far, 170 appointments, 20 of which are for foreign policy remain unconfirmed (well that overstates it they still haven’t had a vote yet) -seems terribly Grinchy even for the Democrats. WSJ's editorial nails this one down for us. Here is a couple of the key Grinch’s:

GRINCH ONE: Sen. Joseph Biden - - "Oh, the Senators had their reasons. We're told that Delaware's Mr. Biden was upset that Amtrak's funding hadn't been reauthorized, while Iowa's Mr. Harkin was miffed that the White House opposed his boondoggle of a farm bill. Their revenge is to block State Department nominees who were to take up key positions involving refugee programs in Afghanistan, humanitarian relief and Latin America policy, not to mention an Ambassador to the Philippines--where U.S. Special Forces are fighting Islamic terrorists linked to al Qaeda who are holding Americans hostage. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Biden has an obligation to see that U.S. policy can be executed. And this man wants to be President?"

GRINCH TWO: Sen. Christopher Dodd - - "Nor has Mr. Daschle done anything to halt the Senate's vindictive treatment of Otto Reich, nominated to be Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. Senator Chris Dodd is still smarting from having tangled with Mr. Reich over the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in the 1980s. So now he refuses to give Mr. Reich even a hearing. And then, in a December 20 letter cosigned by GOP Senator Michael Enzi, he warns President Bush not to give Mr. Reich a recess appointment, on the astounding grounds that Mr. Reich "has not gone through the requisite committee process"!"

So why is this not in the news on other prestigious papers. The Sunday NYT’s has many an article (On what the Democrats should do in 2002, or just tone deaf commentary about Bush) about what Democrats need to do, or what how Bush does this or that-but nothing, I mean nothing, that helps explain or criticize these non-appointments. So if Bush does one thing over the holidays he should make all the Who’s in Whoville happy and throw us a bone by doing some recess appointments.

Editorial Hell - - While I was at the Globe and Mail website I came across this editorial. The ed. claims that there is a huge push to invade Iraq (Entirely true, and for good reason I might add) and that, "Such thinking, long prevalent among U.S. State Department hawks, has been reverberating still more loudly recently amid the glow of military success in Afghanistan. Unaltered is the fact that such a campaign would be a recipe for disaster."

First, I would like to know whom these people at the State Department are-because the State Department is not for war planning but diplomatic nicety. The hawks are not there-they are in the Defense department (Wolfowitz), the Defense Policy Board (Richard Perle), and especially the Print Hawks (at the Weekly Standard, NRO, or Charles Krauthammer). So on that point I think the whole premise is off-not naming one person at State who is a "hawk".

Next this Editorial, from the vast depths of Editorial Hell, claims that, "To invade Iraq would be to step into a pit, and probably stay there for years. Unlike the ragtag Taliban, Iraq's army of 430,000 is well trained, well armed and most unlikely to roll over. And if Baghdad does have biochemical weapons of mass destruction -- there is no reason to doubt it -- it would probably use them in a last-ditch stand, even as its leadership went down in flames." This is just nonsense. Back in 1991 the Iraqi army was bigger, better armed, and the US armed forces (and allies-come on, let's stay serious) walked all over them. Now they are smaller, the US is better armed (the Gulf War was really scratching the surface of smart bombs)

This editorial sounds more like those after September 11 and before the Taleban fell apart than the reality today. Especially this little graph: "Above all, invading Iraq would be folly because there is no government-in-waiting. The opposition Iraqi National Congress has no army and no coherent political platform, and is exiled across several countries where it spends much of its time squabbling. Given that vacuum, the likeliest post-Hussein scenario is an Iraq broken into at least three chunks: Kurds in the north, Shiites in the south and Sunni Muslims in the center, all of them propped up by a huge U.S. military presence." Sounds almost like what was the problem in Afghanistan-terrible repressive government, very little resistance (even considering the Northern Alliance), and ethnic divisions and oh wait: guess what, the nation of Afghanistan-however unlikely-is still in one piece and more stable than Argentina.

This is good. The more papers and writers discount the ability of the US the more they will be surprised by even the remotest success. The editorial also uses the usual canard of what the “Arab Street” and in turn Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt will think. The short answer to this, is that the Arab world is no different than anyone else-they don’t like losers. Everyone likes a winner. Why has Osama been unable to rally the street? Because he is a loser! And that suggests that they might not care what happens to Iraq so long as long-term stability is still the end game.

Idiocy - - There is a poll up on the Globe and Mail website on "Who would you pick as newsmaker of the year?"The poll results are incredible. It's not surprising that the number one newsmaker is Osama but where do the 984 morons who voted Stockwell Day as the top newsmaker get off? It just doesn't make sense-unless they are the same 984 who support him as leader. He he.

Media Bias Watch- - Not very newsworthy, but the debate over media bias is back in vogue-big time. I really enjoyed this simple piece in the Washington Times today. As a nice aside, in Canada, media bias is front and center-they are loud and proud. This Toronto Star opinion that was pointed to me on a fellow Canadian blogger's site: Daimnation!-by Damian Penny. The Star prides itself upon being a left wing paper-which I guess is fine. Being up front with that bias is actually a good thing. If only the New York Times and the major networks would do likewise.

And speaking of media bias - - GOLDBERG WATCH: It is nice to see that Bernard Goldberg's book, "Bias" is number "6" on the New York Times bestseller list.

2001 wrap ups IV - - Reason Online has a pretty cool end of year article with links to the top words of 2001. Here is a taste: "A Web site called ("the premier global language portal") got heavy airplay on CNN Headline News in the post-Christmas news rut with its annual Top 10 words of the year list. After surveying world linguists, the site says the "top words" of 2001 include: 1) ground zero; 2) W (or Dubya); 3) jihad; 4) God (including variations such as Allah and Yahweh); and 5) anthrax. Number eight is the suffix -stan (as in Paki- and Afghani-). Compare these with last year’s now-innocent sounding list, topped by chad and followed by millennium, Y2K, Sidney Olympics, and dot-com." I am just wondering why no top votes for terrorist? The fact that wizard is number "7" makes me just want to gag.

Big Book Stores - - Blogger Grand Master Glenn Reynolds had a pretty awesome article in the WSJ this week-now on line. Reynolds is right to point out that these new bigger, badder bookstores are pretty cool places to hang out, and that they came at a time when we needed them. "In 1989, they were. In 2001, they're not--and you can thank the much-maligned chain book superstores for this. Certainly when I moved to my upscale Knoxville suburb in 1989, there weren't many such places. Nor had there been many in Washington, D.C., where I came from: The Afterwords Café at Kramerbooks was the closest thing, but it didn't really fill the bill. When I lived in New Haven, Conn., the famous Atticus Books was like a poor man's Borders--without public rest rooms. (They've since added them, in the face of competition from the palatial Barnes & Noble-operated Yale Co-op down the street.)"

The only thing I'll add is that in Canada our big bookstores (Chapters/Indigo) do have the great coffee and nice chairs and places to hang out. Unfortunately they are really uncontaminated by, well, books. I went to the local one today to buy another book and I was in this month old store and after a half hour couldn't find the politics/history section. I looked at every section-still don't think they have one. They did have hundreds of Oprah's books and self help ones too-but a sparse collection of history-politics-current events here or there. Now I agree with Reynolds when you go to the US-but in Canada it is a different story. That said, they are still better than most of the independents.

In September I really wanted to read Judith Miller's "Germs" book, but my local big store didn't know about it, and they told me they were not going to get it. I said to the moron working there when they would be getting it; he told me, that they were not going to because it is not popular-hello! it debuted at number four or six on the NYT's bestseller list. The service was terrible and they have the book now-but I went on a drive to Bellingham, WA to the big Barnes and Noble where they reserved the book for me. I also wanted to travel across the border to check out the added security. (this was about a week and a half after 9/11). Great service, although the cashier mocked my Canadian money (hey at least I wasn't paying in Argentinean funds). And the store had plenty of books. So if you wonder why I link to for any books here, the answer is that the stores in Canada are not worthy of my links, and I got pretty damn good service in Bellingham. Cheers to the big bookstores! It reminds me the Tom Hanks movie, "You've got mail" where he owns the big bad bookstore and puts Meg Ryan's little 'shop around the corner' out of business-but if you look carefully the store (Meg's of course) has no chairs, no coffee, and is so small you know it hardly has books-so there you are. Big is beautiful, at least in the USA.

Perfect - - I just sat down and smoked a Christmas Cigar from my dear friend Darcy and finished reading Christopher Hitchens' latest book Letters to a Young Contrarian. It is a beautiful day in Vancouver and the combination of Hitchens and a fine cigar can't be beat. It is not that Hitchens is perfect, but if he is anything he is entertaining.

Friday, December 28, 2001

2001 wrap ups III - - Andrew Sullivan does his 2001 wrap up "thang" today. Great Stuff. Read it all. His best award: "ANDREWSULLIVAN.COM’S PERSON OF THE YEAR: Donald Rumsfeld." These are good too:

LOSERS OF THE YEAR: Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Gerald Levin, Bill Clinton, Susan Sontag.

WINNERS OF THE YEAR: Tony Blair, Eminem, Aaron Brown, Condi Rice, Bernard Lewis, Marc Rich.

India-Pakistan III - - But the Frontier Post of Pakistan fires back an interesting point. That India is trying to intimidate Pakistan. The juicy bit is this: "Who, or what, is one to believe? New Delhi has cancelled its traditional Army Day parade on January 15, and is contemplating the cancellation of its Republic Day parade too.

Ostensibly this step has been taken because the armed forces of India say they cannot mount the parade while being on their present high alert. This does not say much for the Indian army’s ability to tackle more than one job at a time, even if one of those jobs is a big one, i.e. attempting to intimidate a neighbouring country through a show of military strength."

That is a good point. India can't have a parade and put the screws to Pakistan at the same time?

India-Pakistan II - - The Times of India lays out a pretty good Indian perspective of what in the hell is going on. This view: "More importantly, India should send a high-powered mission to Afghanistan to gather evidence of Pakistan’s involvement with the Taliban and convince the US leadership that there can be no successful war against terrorism unless the Pakistani hand behind it is effectively curbed." (basically that Musharraf was, and is, pulling the strings of the al Qaeda and Taleban.) This is a little much, Musharraf has gone a long way to help this war (and Rumsfeld is confident in him-so we all should be right) and India can't place the total blame on him. But if you look at what Reynolds said in the last post below, the problem hopefully isn't Musharraf but the culture in the ISI.

India-Pakistan - - Glenn Reynolds has some of the best commentary I have seen about the India-Pakistan showdown. Here is how he breaks it down: "The United States needs to -- and no doubt is trying to -- shut down this confrontation. Both of these nations are our friends, and we don't want them fighting.

But what if that fails? It seems clear that our alliance isn't really with Pakistan, much of which (especially at the ISI) is actually hostile to us. It's with Musharraf and his reformist efforts. We need to make that clear, too. If Musharraf can't control the ISI, he doesn't really control Pakistan. If he doesn't control Pakistan, then -- if the choice is between India or the ISI -- we should support India. (As an intermediate step, of course, we should consider helping Musharraf cement his control, with bayonets if necessary, though that's a risky proposition in a lot of ways).

Our (quiet, behind-the-scenes) line should be: Pakistan must be cleaned up. Preferably by Musharraf. But if not by him, then by any means necessary."

Thursday, December 27, 2001

2001 wrap ups II - - A couple of great end of year thingy's from NRO. First a great IN-and-OUT list (very funny)Click to read the full list but here is a sample.

OUT: Sensitivity training
IN:Racial profiling
OUT:Legal eagles
OUT:Crop dusters
IN:Daisy cutters
OUT:"Have a Nice Day"
IN:"Adios, Abdul"

And another bit about some predictions with what is to come in 2002.

NRO's editor Jonah Goldberg predicts, "National Review Online will feast on the rotting carcass of a defunct" Only good can come from a great website getting stronger and a terrible one (losing $74 million) will, or should die

Kate O'Beirne, NR Senior Editor: "It will be scandal time again in Washington when, after months of hounding by congressional Democrats, the AG appoints a special prosecutor to investigate Enron's demise."

Mark R. Levin, President, Landmark Legal Foundation & NRO contributing editor: "Bill Clinton's memoirs will be the first presidential autobiography with a centerfold." and "Osama bin Laden will not be appearing in the fourth season of CBS's Survivor."

Enron Report - - Forbes has an eye opening bit of news today about some $100,000 given by Enron to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just days before the company filed for bankruptcy. The lawyer representing Enron, Robert Bennett, said it was really just business as usual. The Democrats are trying to now give the money on to charity (Ouch this potatoe is hot!) It is interesting that this lawyer was Clinton's during the Paula Jones deal. Something is rotten in Denmark.

Defending Tribunals - - Always nice to see former Nixon aids plugging away for the cause-in this case John Dean the former counsel to the president during the Nixon administration. I can't believe there is still the need to make the arguments in favor of these tribunals, but then again, I'm not part of the ACLU.

"We have deployed soldiers, not peace officers. And although we are fighting terrorism with both a military and law-enforcement response, these activities should not be confused or conflated. In all past American wars, our law-enforcement officers have turned over enemy belligerents to military authorities. Critics of military tribunals have not explained why it should be different — or the reverse — this time," writes Dean.

Wizards - - And I am not talking about Harry Potter here. You'll notice that from time to time, I talk about baseball-after politics it is the next best thing. This wonderful piece by Bill Conlin makes a serious case for "The Wizard of OZ", Ozzie Smith, to make it into baseball's Hall of Fame on the first ballot. There are those that suggest Ozzie's career .262 batting average is just not good enough. That is a stupid criteria to judge admission on-what about defense, base running, and sportsmanship? He was such a pleasure to watch play defense-that is pure joy. But let's not forget the rest of possible Class of 2002 inductees.

'Pearl' of wisdom - - Sorry about this terrible pun, but Richard Perle has a great article in the New York Times. The article is nothing new, but it will have to be said again and again until people understand that Iraq has to come sooner rather than later.

The Anthrax Trail - - The Times is reporting that Don Foster, the man who solved the mystery of who wrote the book Primary Colors (we all now know it was Joe Klein), is now working on the case of the anthrax.

“It is my opinion that the documents are at least compatible with that of a foreign speaker of Urdu or Arabic — although it’s quite possible that it’s someone using it as a smokescreen. There are some other indications that this person may be a Pakistani,” said Foster.

Top Movies in 2001 - - I have never really cared what Roger Ebert has to say about movies but often he is entertaining. But I will say that I am impressed by his top ten films of the past year (mostly because they do not contain the terrible Lord of the Rings, or the phenomenon of Harry Potter). I will say however that I cannot vouch for the selections as I have not seen even one of the films.

Canada and al Qaeda - - News today that Canada's Prime Minister had worked on diplomatic interventions to aid Ahmad Sa'id al-Kadr a Canadian now number nine on the US most wanted list of terrorist. Not good for the crowds in the US who already think we harbor terrorists.

Oh those Clinton's, VI - - For the past few weeks Clinton's cronies have come out of the woodwork-people like Paul Begala-to defend and improve Bill Clinton's record on fighting terrorism. This Dick Morris column takes the other view: that something always came up to prevent real action on dealing with terrorism. Here is Dick's damning conclusion: "The administrative convenience of the INS and relations with Western Europe were more important than striking at terror-sponsoring nations. Something else always came first."

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...- - One thing has bothered me since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. The weather. Well it is not that simple, I hate the weather report anyway, the minutes of time radio stations and television stations devote to the weather is entirely wasteful, but I digress.

No, what I am talking about is the weather in Afghanistan. Now we were told that the winter there would stop us dead in our tracks. But everytime I see the footage there are reporters still out in short sleeves and vests. What's the deal with that. Please check out this CNN forecast for Kandahar. That is not really too bad. Sunny throughout the week, and highs of 65F and only about -1F after sunset. Was the weather dilemma just as fictitious as the Islamic street? Or simply a butt-covering exercise from the British and USSR? They got beat, must've been the cold. Really check out the averages from Kabul. Average days of snow: Dec: 4; Jan: 7; Feb: 6; March: 3. Ok, so take it up a few days in the mountain peaks, but was this a myth? or what?

Our friends the French - - The western nation to take the most amount of heat since 9/11 has got to France. First there were the massive amounts of writing to remind us that France is an appeaser nation at heart and will likely bail out on the war on terror. More recently have been the Op-eds, particularly one by Ann Coulter, that suggest we should cut out the middle men and invade France first. Well, that's a little bit much, but Jeff Jarvis had this link about how the infamous 'shoe bomber', "spent the night before his flight to America at a four-star hotel where he was taken by French police after being barred from an earlier plane, it was revealed yesterday." HELLO! Who is France's homeland security guy? Hey France, put down the stinky cheese and wake up!

Some good Talking Points on this wierd case too. I don't like to steal thunder from Marshall, but this guy really does seem to look and act about as smart as Bill or Ted from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (or maybe that is giving him too much credit).

2001 wrap ups I - - Lovely end of year piece by Pete du Pont. I particularly enjoyed the last graph: "2001 joins a short list of America's most difficult watershed years--1941, 1861, and 1776. Out of all of them ultimately came a better nation and greater opportunity. Our response to Sept. 11 suggests the same will be true of 2001." That is the best, most uplifting way to greet 2002 I have read thus far.

BTW - - While I was reading the editorials and Op-eds at Dawn, I noticed that the site has a heckuva lot of ads. Mastercard and casino's. Did anyone read this paper/website prior to about September 12th? Amazing. But there was also a very bizarre banner ad that said, "Click here; Nukes for sale" with a quaint mushroom cloud picture. (huh?) I bet that one has stumped bin Laden and Co. a few times. (Hey we can buy nuclear weapons. . . booo it is just some capitalist swine in America making money selling english translations of the Quran and other more smutty books on the region. That Allah has a sense of humor somedays. ) But the ad was actually for a webstore out of Sugar Land Texas. So what you ask? Well in case you left someone off your Christmas list they were selling some wacky stuff. For example, the Holy Quran-an english translation- on 42, FORTY-TWO, CD's. (and on sale for the Christmas door crashing price of $110 US.) Or how about the book "Taboo" which according to the review, "is a journey of discovery into the famous red light district of Shahi Mohalla in Lahore." It is amazing what you can find on the web.

What is the deal with Pakistan-India? - - The latest reports from the growing tension between India and Pakistan is not 'good'. But is this going to turn into a exchange with nuclear weapons? The US has Pakistan in its camp but cannot ignore that India is the world's largest democracy-so can the Americans manage this crisis while fighting a war on terror that needs the help of one side?

This UPI report shows that the leaders of both sides are both saying the same thing: the other side is at fault. There is a book about war by a guy named John Stoessinger that basically boils most conflicts down to a few things; one of which is the personal perceptions of leaders. This seems like the leaders are moving to totally foolish positions during a time when the world is not going to accept it. That said, India recalled its Ambassador to Pakistan and every time they have done that in the past war followed. Furthermore if Pakistan had anything to do with the attack on the Indian parliament it is the same as the Israeli position.

Even Dawn has some forthright commentary about the showdown. What these two nations need is a nice long Cold War to emerge on the other side in 25-50 years as possible partners in the region. Go long on rhetoric and stay aloof on war. Talk tough, carry a very large thermonuclear stick, but get realistic. If the US and USSR can avoid nuclear war these two sorry nations can too.

Back to it - - If anyone really cared, or didn't care to wake up Christmas morning and come to the site (yeah right) I didn't post for the entire day. Then I tried to with the minutes ticking down, and there were some technical difficulties. What is fascinating is that so many fellow bloggers out there kept bloggn' away all through the day. That suggest the power of the blog medium-if you want some opinion someone else, no doubt, is going to give it to you 24-7.

I noticed that Tim Blair out of Australia was great today. IT seems that Australia's largest city was ablaze and none of the networks in the nation cared.

What most of the dedicated bloggers were talking about was that while the Big websites like were slacking over the holidays, the bloggers were posting non-stop. There are over 300,000 bloggers at Blogspot. Salon has about 25,000 paying customers for their "premium" garbage and a bunch of nonsense for free. There might be something to this...

Monday, December 24, 2001

Christmas tales - - I have to go out to do my Christmas shopping and other stuff today and am prepared to deal with that. So here are a few tales of Christmas:

Arizona's AG has banned Santa from the lobby of the Arizona dept. of Justice. Priceless: "Attorney General Napolitano must have had one too many spiked eggnogs," Matt Salmon, a former Republican congressman from Arizona,commented. "Christmas is about kindness, generosity, and spreading good cheer. The only thing Janet is spreading with this Soviet-style directive is bad faith." And it really doesn't seem to make any sense to bother. The most interesting thing that has started to reappear this year is the idea of "love it or leave it." If you don't like Christmas that's your problem. Slate actually has a pretty cool one on the constitutionality of such displays.

Sunday, December 23, 2001

Back to anthrax - - The fear and anxiety over the anthrax letters and the unfortunate deaths of innocent postal workers and other citizens has really drooped off the front page. The FBI is holding on dear to a theory that it is from a lone wolf, from within the US. I still don't buy it, and perhaps the FBI doesn't either but still has nothing else to go on. This WSJ editorial seems to be pointing out some problems with the lone wolf theory too. The article points out two things; first, that America had to obtain this strain from the British in the 1980's and 1990's because the US destroyed their version in the 1970's. Second, it shows that the US got it from a corporation after the production and experimentation of anthrax was privatized in 1993. But read on because the guy who owned that corporation has moved onto the presently named Bioport corporation (responsible for the US anthrax vaccine). Plans of the Bioport renovations turned up, where, you guessed it, in a Kabul, Afghanistan house. Now, this is not to mean that this corporation is the problem, but the plot is very, very, thick. Too thick for one disgruntled US citizen.

Rudy, Man of the year - - Time after much speculation named Rudy Guiliani the Man of the Year. He is the man!

NY Times back talking crazy - - Todya's editorial from the NYT's is a throwback to the pre-9/11 days. The gist of it is that the emergence of issues up for grabs in 2002's midterm elections are upon us, and the most important is the fact that Bush's tax cut has done exactly what it was supposed to, and that is give money back to people. "Congress must recognize that it will not be able to get out of its fiscal problems without rescinding some of the cuts. Without adequate financial resources, the nation cannot wage a war, protect against terrorist attacks and meet the health care and education needs of its citizens," the editorial states. Actually yes you can it just means that somethings, pork agricultural bills for example, have got to go.

Saturday, December 22, 2001

My favorite Grinch - - Andy Rooney is one of the best things going and he's just fun to read. You can just imagine him all grumpy typing out the article in his tiny office at CBS.

Fighting Political Correctness - - Perfect piece about what is wrong with political correctness, especially this time of year. I have a red poinsettia (named Benton by the way) and can guarantee that it is nothing more than a poinsettia. So I was troubled to read this paragraph: "Officials in Ramsey County, Minn., banned "red poinsettias" from display at the capitol in St. Paul because they're symbolic of something, presumably religious. Exactly what the symbolism is is not quite clear, since the plant was named for James R. Poinsett, an early U.S. minister to Mexico, who discovered it there in 1828. As Freud might have said, sometimes a red poinsettia is just a red poinsettia." I thought we got over this type of stuff? Apparently no one got the memo.

The latest on John Walker - - Interesting article in the times today. Thomas Frank writes, "John Walker's generation was encouraged to use "extreme" cordless drills, buy its Dodges from an extreme used car dealer and catch its trout with an extreme fishing rod. Just for them did ecstatic TV hipsters steer their sedans up Himalayan peaks in search of the phattest possible brand experience. Maybe the boy Talib is simply an attentive consumer, his ill-fated affair with extreme Islam merely a twisted continuation of his search for the weapons-grade authenticity promised him so many times by manufacturers of bell-bottom jeans and lemon-lime soda." Um, I still don't really know what to make of this. That watching some ads can lead to terrorist camps in Afghanistan and fighting against one's country-it just doesn't add up. Food for thought.

Friday, December 21, 2001

Wisdom from Homer J Simpson - - "...sure, IN theeoory, in theory communism works..."

Countries that begin with the letter, "A" - - Tomorrow, the interim government in Afghanistan comes to power. Six months ago who would have thought that Afghanistan and Argentina would be like ships passing in the night and that Afghanistan would be the one with a new, less repressive, government while Argentina is slipping into chaos. It's a funny world.

Rumsfeld Watch - - SNL's Rumsfeld briefing sketch. Even in print I laugh. Thanks to Tim Blair's site for pointing this classic out. Here is a sample:

Donald Rumsfeld: Uh.. [ checks his watch ] ..good afternoon. Today marks the end of the sixth week of our military campaign in Afghanistan. Although the campaign continues to meet with success, let me remind you, as I've done many times before, it's only part of the larger war on terror! Now, I'll be happy to take any questions you may have. [ acknowledges reporter ] Yes?

Reporter #1: Today also marks the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Does the U.S. plan on suspending its bombing campaign during this period?

Donald Rumsfeld: Do we plan? Do we plan to cease bombing during Ramadan? I suppose my answer to that would be I'm not gonna tell you. [ acknowledges reporter ] Yes?

Reporter #2: We're getting reports of U.S. special-ops forces being dropped into Taliban areas with camoflauge and night-vision goggles. This means the Taliban soldiers won't be able to see our troops, but we'll be able to see them. Is that fair?

Donald Rumsfeld: Is it fair? I imagine my reply to would be that life itself is not fair. In war, one tries to maximize one's advantage, fair or unfair, wherere possible. [ acknowledges reporter ] Yes.

Reporter #3: Um.. yes. With our military campaign stalled, and the opposition forces seemingly bogged down in a quagmire, isn't there a danger the U.S. will look like a weakling and thus lose support of the Afghan people?

Donald Rumsfeld: Isn't that the same question you asked last week?

Reporter #3: Oh, I'm sorry. Um.. okay.. with our military campaign moving so rapidly, and opposition forces easily running over Taliban areas, isn't their a danger the U.S. will look like a bully, and thus lose its support of the Afghan people?

Donald Rumsfeld: Uh, that sounds like an interesting question, and certainly well-intentioned.. but I'm gonna be honest with you, I drifted off in the middle of it! [ acknowledges reporter ] Yes.

Reporter #4: We're being told that Northern Alliance forces are firing back at Taliban troops who have fired on them, even though the Taliban troops have missed. Does the U.S. condone that?

Donald Rumsfeld: Now, what kind of question is that?

Reporter #4: Thought-provoking?

Donald Rumsfeld: Noooo.

Reporter #4: Incisive?

Donald Rumsfeld: Noooo. Remember what I said about your question the other day?

Reporter #4: That it was.. idioitic?

Donald Rumsfeld: And?

Reporter #4: And that I'm an embarrassment both to myself and my newspaper?

Donald Rumsfeld: That's right!

Memories of Election 2000 - - Two tales of losers from 2000. Ralph Nader has been going around the US since October trashing the war on terrorism asking: "When are we going to learn from history? When are we going to learn that we can't bomb our way to justice?" Hey Nader, you lost, Bush has 85% approval, shut up. And Rick Lazio the man who lost to Hillary Clinton for the NY Senate seat is going to run to get his House seat back.

Man of the Year - - The publications are coming in fast and furious about who will be Time magazine's Man of the Year. Many first though it would be Osama bin Laden (Hitler had been man of the year a couple of times, you see the cover is for who impacted the most people positively or negatively) but no one would be into that. I was listening to Matt Drudge today on the radio and he was pretty sure that it would be a fire fighter on the cover and fire fighters would collectively be men of the year. But here is some votes for George W. Bush.

Human Events has a plethora of articles in praise of Bush as 2001's Man of the Year. Even McCain praises his formal rival: "And there’s no doubt that President Bush, who grasped the magnitude of that challenge, has provided the leadership for this moment. He rallied our nation and much of the world, in this righteous cause to defend our values, our liberty and our very lives." And one of my favorites John Kasich: "Not only has he rallied the country in one of its darkest hours, he has also firmly established a course of action for the nation. He has made the best of a disastrous situation, helping us to feel good about ourselves again and focusing our emotional initial reactions into an American spirit of action and resolve."

Thursday, December 20, 2001

The good news of Enron - - Awesome article at Reason Online by Michael W. Lynch on the other side of the coin of Enron. His take: "A company fails to come clean with investors, possibly crossing the line into illegal behavior. Investors flee, the company collapses, and executives face civil lawsuits and criminal investigations. Other companies move immediately into the vacated market. No one loses service, and the price of the product is not affected. Meanwhile, yes, thousands of employees lose their jobs, and those who heavily invested in company stock lose a lot of their retirement savings.

It’s certainly far from perfect. But it beats all the available alternatives." Indeed!

Bush & Reagan - - Interesting take on Bush in Roll Call. Morton Kondracke makes a great comparison between George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. On popularity: "Politically, Bush is far ahead of where Reagan was at this point in his presidency. Reagan's approval rating rose to a high of 68 percent in May 1981, a month after he was shot. However, that figure slid to 49 percent by the end of his first year in office." So Bush is finishing his first year at 85 percent or more in the polls. On January 20th of this year could anyone predict that?

I have been reading an excellent book this week on Leadership. David Gergen's Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton is a great read and I am almost done. But the comparison by Kondracke between W and RR is apt. Here is why as Gergen writes about Reagan: "American's like straight talk and old-fashioned values in their President, and that's exactly what they saw now. There was an air of Harry Truman about him as he talked plainly to the country and brought a down-home feel to the White House. The Truman parallel ran deep. Both men became president amidst a national crisis; both had to make excruciating decisions; both were simple men from the Midwest. devoted to family; in both cases, their honesty and integrity comforted the nation. Despite uncertainty about their abilities and intelligence, each of them then saw his approval ratings shoot into the stratosphere in the first days in office, only to fall sharply thereafter." Sure some of this doesn't apply to Bush but if you took out Midwest and put in South you could replace these names with W's. I think that come 2004 the thing people will best remember about Bush is him at the WTC rubble with the megaphone-it is exactly what America needed(s).

Survivor watch - - I was really into Survivor I and II but this new one has been pretty lame. But that said, how's this for media bias? One contestant, Frank, already known as a pro-gun sort of guy, started talking about liberals and guns, again, and wham! he gets voted off. I am sure Dan Rather will be pleased.

Saddam the terrorist - - The WSJ has a great overview of why Iraq is going to be a target sooner or later. The editorial is bang on: "All in all, this is a legacy worthy of Stalin or Idi Amin. And Saddam has managed all of this destruction without yet obtaining the most horrific weapon of all, a nuclear bomb. But that may not be all that far away."

Christmas wishes from Rumsfeld - - Donald Rumsfeld's Christmas greeting which you can read or view (gotta love this guy) is great-even in something so simple he is da man. Save it for Christmas Eve and enjoy.

Trouble brewing - - Argentina it seems is in total collapse-their President has resigned, riots, economic collapse, looting. And still no person at the US State Department to oversee that part of the world. Thanks Christopher Dodd and Tom Daschle.

The Bush administration is pretty non committal to help at this point. Clearly the IMF is going to have to do something. But it sure would help if the administration had a point man on this wouldn't it.

Lord of pretty much nothing - - I went to see The Fellowship of the Rings yesterday. I wish I could heartily endorse it as others have. Jonah Goldberg makes a nice case for the film being true to the book and very cool. (Look, Ocean’s 11 was “cool” this film is really Harry Potter for the generation before. Sorry Jonah.) Instapundit also liked it and said it brought tears to his eyes. But I still don’t get it. There were people around us in the theatre who were like that, gasping, and worrying about what would happen. All I wanted to do was ring the neck of some of the characters and dialogue expressing stupid nonsense in the film. As fantasy, the movie is pretty good, but when the movie ends and you don’t care if they succeed-actually you wish they wouldn’t-and by the time the second installment rolls in next Christmas . . . I will wish they hadn’t-and by 2003 I think DVD only would be appropriate.

I had the same feeling after I got out of Pearl Harbor earlier this year. Great special effects and it seems to be appealing (well, Pearl Harbor, the movie, was really a lame Titanic redux emphasizing a few people in a sea of characters but failed to make you even care what happens to them.) But I just didn’t care about the characters-especially the character of Frodo Baggins. Didn’t anyone else want to just slap him every fifteen minutes or so?

I admit that I didn’t really read the book from cover to cover and still don’t quite know why anyone else would. I really can’t understand anyone suggesting that Tolkien is the greatest writer in the 20th century-I weep for 2101 when there are people saying the same thing about J.K. Rowling.

Most of all, and many may disagree; the movie is just plain boring. Many people were getting up and going and getting stuff like popcorn and drinks. I remember other big event movies like Episode I and not one person left (sure they all should have walked out during Jar Jar’s scenes) but the movie has slow, and I mean molasses in winter slow, parts. And is basically repetitive. Danger, battle, man hugging, REPEAT: danger, battle, you get the point. And it goes on for almost three hours.

The good news was that no one I could see yesterday was dressed up like the characters. I was talking to a friend today, who still hasn’t seen it, and claims he may not who made a compelling argument. It goes something like this. 100 million readers, just as the millions of Harry Potter fans, could well be wrong. Lots of people listen to NSYNC too, but that doesn’t make it worth listening too. (Remember New Kids on the Block?) Right.

And if you have to create three movies, based on books, event new worlds, creatures, and spend $300 million, to tell us that power is dangerous and that power corrupts then we must all be in trouble. Well it has to be about this, because if all this time, money, effort, and paper has been only about some goofy freaks, small people, and wizards and wait that sounds like Harry Potter?

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Get your Realism on - - Ramesh Ponnuru has a pretty awesome ditty today about the return and evolving realist thinking that makes up much of Bush's cabinet and foreign policy. Here's one hot quote: "It is tempting to respond to this line of argument by asking why, if Clinton-Gore-style liberal internationalism is so great, eight years of it did nothing to prevent the September 11 attacks. Since it is not difficult to see how that approach to foreign affairs contributed to American vulnerability, the temptation should not be resisted. Indeed, the war so far has been a vindication of Bush's foreign-policy inclinations as against those of his critics, both liberal and neoconservative."

Chomskyvision II - - Great article by David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh that really takes to task Noam Chomsky for his recent rants. "The purpose of Chomsky’s tour was to pursue what he thinks is the real solution: giving aid and comfort to America’s terrorist enemies in the hope that they will win the war against us." Bingo!

Slicing and Dicing the latest Polls - - I got really hooked on polls watching too much Hardball with Chris Mathews. I get his daily email briefing which is pretty good and the guy who sends it out always talks about "slicing and dicing" the latest polls. So here are some numbers were running with this morning.

Bush's Job Approval: The latest (December 14-16) by CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll has Bush 86 %. Which is holding steady since last week, and only 4 % of the post 9/11 highs.

Terror Round-up: The same poll found some other tidbits. People now have only a 17% fear that there will be more terrorism. That is down from what seems to be a low figure of 40% in the second week of October. This is reason enough to keep the public interested and on the ball.

On the other hand the public is more satisfied with the way things are going in Afghanistan. 69% now are satisfied with the progress the military is making- up from 58% at the end of November. Not that this is surprising, success is good; failure bad.

One surprising poll question asked what should be done about John Walker (you know Johnny Jihad)? 22% said he should be executed for treason; 47% said he should be imprisoned; 3% said release him; 26% said they didn't know enough; 2% just didn't answer. Ok, what is with these 26% who don't have an opinion? It is pretty simple what do you do with traitors, period. But perhaps Bush and Guiliani see something that we don't, staying soft on Walker, at least until he is back here and people see him in the flesh. Ahead of the curve? I'm not sure that they really went that far, but am sure that as more info comes out, this "mini me-bin Laden" is going down.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Biden on Missile Defense - - Sen. Joe Biden has a typical Op-ed this morning in the WaPo. Here's Biden: "Thus, the cost of unilaterally walking away from the ABM Treaty and forging ahead with national missile defense includes not only dangerous neglect of the real threats we face but the likelihood that we will unleash a new arms race that will create a nuclearized Asia." Create a nuclearized Asia? Well on Clinton's watch, Pakistan and India came out of the nuclear closet, North Korea did all it could to join the party, and China continually upgraded its arsenal. The reality I see is one where Japan, China, Taiwan, India, and Pakistan all have a credible nuclear deterrent and bring about a stable balance for the region, instead of a treaty bound wild west, that will encourage conventional conflict.

So he writes off missile defense as a purely crazy plan that won't give any greater defense. The key is that if the US didn't pull out of the ABM and begin testing in earnest, then by the time the other threats have been dealt with, we would still be left vulnerable to ICBM's which will not have been uninvented. I agree with Biden that the other threats have to be dealt with equally, but missile defense is a key. In case Biden left a bad taste in your mouth, read yesterday's Washington Times editorial.

Going it alone files - - Thomas Friedman lays out his case for the difficulty in dealing with Iraq as the next phase. But I had heard in various cable segments today that Iran had a suitable beef with Saddam to allow some organizing of opposition from Tehran, and that Turkey has quietly offered up bases of operations. That sounds like enough to wage the rolling revolution type war that Afghanistan was.

The Iraq watch - - Wednesday's Wall Street Journal editorial is about the lessons from the Afghanistan theatre. And this paragraph is what makes this editorial important: "Above all, we still read blind quotes coming from our own State Department and intelligence agencies that Iraq can't be liberated without deploying two Army corps, that the "coalition" will melt away or that the American people will lose their patience--the same conventional wisdom that was preached about Afghanistan a few weeks ago. Mr. Bush will have to mute those voices with his own resolve."

Why is this bit important? Well if you read the latest Seymour Hersh New Yorker ramble this week the importance lies in the grim lack of confidence that some in the defense department have about their own capabilities. There are those who feel that there really is no need for two Army corps. And the WSJ editorial deals with this problem bang on!

Monday, December 17, 2001

Marx comes clean - - I have been pretty hard on the crowd since 9/11. But there are some things you can't help but enjoy. One article is a interview with Karl Marx from hell. Pretty funny stuff. Here is one choice bit: "All socialists, deep down inside, know they’re wrong. They can’t admit it because of self-deception. That’s why they keep trying socialism over and over, even though it never works. 'Just one more time, then we’ll make it work.' One of the saddest but most true definitions of insanity I’ve ever heard is 'to try the same thing over and over and expect a different result.'"

Grading Bush - - Pete du Pont has a pretty cool one tomorrow morning on how well Bush is doing since becoming the President by such a slim margin. I won't spoil his grade, but it is pretty good. Gore who? CNSNews is reporting that conservative publication Human Events is naming Bush man of the year!

From the Hawk Department - - Krauthammer keeps on doing the hawk thing. This time he takes on those who want there to be US troops on the ground peacekeeping. He totally debunks nation building: "Nonsense. What the critics cannot seem to understand is that the conservative critique of nation-building for the past 10 years has been about nation-building in places of strategic irrelevance. No sane person opposes nation-building in places that count. The debate is about nation-building in places that don't." It is not that peacekeeping and nation building are bad, just that the sole super power should not be doing it.

From the where is Osama file - - Sgt. Styker and Glenn Reynolds (as noted earlier) have both been making wonderful guesses as to the whereabouts of terrorist number one is. Sgt. Stryker's idea is that the US already has him and will continue to "chase" him where ever they think the terror war needs to go next. Interesting.

Kobe's Op-ed - - Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has an Op-ed in the next Newsweek which is not bad. It makes the case that sports players can not be heroes. Not that they were before, but the new heroes are a throwback-Firefighters and soldiers.

On alerts - - I almost forgot. There were reports that American Taleban John Walker claimed that there was going to be a second terrorist attack before the end of Ramadan. Well the holiday has come and gone and still no attack. Does this mean we are all going to be fine? Or perhaps is simply means that being on alert actually works-hard to say really. Tom Ridge still has every law enforcement agency on the highest alert but there have been three warnings and no incident. When will we hear number four? Or are we just on permanent alert forever which is likely and not a big deal. One thing seems certain that John Walker doesn't know anything.

Where's Osama - - Glenn Reynolds has a great bit on the possibilities of where Osama bin Laden could be. His fourth is the best, "Osama's head, in brine, has been delivered to King Fahd with a message -- if this happens again, it'll be yours; naturally, that's best not spread around."

Just say no - - Stephen Moore has a wonderful analysis of what could happen if there is a GOP-Daschle stimulus compromise. Basically it doesn't sound like it is worth it. Moore writes, "This deal looks like the houses in Whoville after the Grinch has stolen Christmas. Daschle even greedily stashed away the crumbs on the floor. It makes you want to go up to the White House negotiators and smack them and ask, 'What in the world were you thinking?'" I agree but come 2002 if there was no stimulus package, will the Republicans be able to spin it there way?

The Saul Debate continues - - David Warren has a great one today on the John Ralston Saul book I was bashing in some earlier bloggage. Further evidence that Saul's new book is another example of his intellectual spin, Warren writes, "He utters warnings only, to his credit he is entirely free of bright ideas for fixing any of the problems he describes. But this is because he makes clear that his prescription would be federal government intervention in almost every case." I'm sorry but this makes entire sense: after all Mr. Saul spent way too much time living in France in the 1970's and 1980's. He is not selling anything new-but the same tired old stuff.

Gridlock - - Solid Washington Post editorial this morning on the gridlock in the Senate. I actually like gridlock usually but when the Senate is spending its time on some cooked up farming bill while important legislation such as trade promotion authority it is not helpful.

Yesterday's man - - The press continues to hammer Arafat. Safire has a nice piece and the Wall Street Journaljoins the fray on the political future with or without Arafat. Tick Tock...

Newsmakers this week - - Great stuff at Punditwatch on the tv pundits this week. The top two stories this week: Dick Armey and the bin Laden tape.

A journey into pundit hell - - I didn't catch much of the Sunday news shows except of CNN's "Late Edition". The round table at the end of the show had some strange characters. The guests were Gore's campaign manager Donna Brazile, NRO's Jonah Goldberg, and Robert George. And then this Peter Beinart from the New Republic who started off pretty reasonable, then went into some sort of pundit hell Check out this exchange:.

BLITZER: Welcome back to the "Final Round."

Giuliani leaves office next month enormously popular because of his handling of the September 11 attacks. Will he be singing political songs in the future? Is there a future for him at the next Republican Party convention? What about that?

BRAZILE: He should keep his day job, he's no singer. And I don't know about his future with the Republican Party, but clearly he's done a remarkable job since September 11, and we're all proud of him.


GOLDBERG: Well, you know, contrary to what Donna said, the Republican Party is remarkably diverse, because he's a remarkably liberal guy. And I think he does have a good future in front of him. I'm not sure if he's conservative enough in the Republican Party to win national office, but I think he'll be around quite a bit.

BEINART: He has no future in the Republican Party for one reason. He's too secular. It's become a party that is fundamentally religious at its base. He's a very compelling politician. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has left him without a home.

GEORGE: I would tend to disagree with that. I think especially in the current environment, it wouldn't be completely out of the ordinary, for example, for him to be on the national ticket if Dick Cheney chose not to run the next time around.

My take: I tend to agree with George and Goldberg that Beinart is way off base. There is plenty diversity within the party. I am probably way off base but maybe he hasn't met any-so clearly they don't exist. Any party that has Guiliani, Don Imus, Tom Delay, John McCain, and the guys from South Park. Just look that whatever you think of Tom Ridge's handling of his new OHS job, he is not the same Republican as Bush. And something that Andrew Sullivan has been raising for a year now is the administrations thaw on what had been perceived as anti-gay before. This Newsweek piece is just one such example. Just because the Republicans don't go around touting, and lip biting, every time they do 'something' on these issues is no indication of a lack of diversity.

He added this sagely advice too:
BEINART: No. The Democrats want Bush to own this recession. They don't want any of their fingerprints on it. They're going to let him go out in 2002, see if can he revive this economy. I don't think he can, because there won't be a stimulus bill. No more interest rate cuts. We're going to be in deep recession next year, and the Democrats are going to win big in 2002.

My take: It is going to be tough, but I don't think that the recession is going to be the issue in the fall of 2002. (see the Kudlow prediction earlier) There really is no need for a stimulus to revive the economy-but in terms of perception it is important. So far as I see it the Republicans can trash Daschle on the lack of a stimulus.

Saturday, December 15, 2001

D'oh - - AP has a nice news report noting a new University class on Philosophy that is based on the animated television show, The Simpsons. Only good can come from this. Mmmm philosophy.

In defense of deregulation - - i was surprised that the NY Times, which has delighted in Enrons downfall on its Op-ed pages and in its business section, ran this Op-ed today on why deregulation continues to be sound policy. I particularly liked this graph: "Designed wisely, energy deregulation can produce a wave of innovation in the utility business every bit as sweeping as that which spawned the telecommunications revolution."

Baseball in DC - - The Washington Times editorial today makes an excellent point. If so many of these pathetic teams are losing money, then why is it that there is no team in the lucrative market of Washington DC? For further evidence there is a new article in Washington Monthly that also makes the case for a team in DC.

The dilemma over the Salt Lake Games - - Slate has an interesting take on the upcoming winter Olympics. Take this one impressive nugget: "No, the Winter Olympics must die because its sports—and I use that term loosely—range from the merely dull to the unendurable. The marquee event is figure skating: Ice Capades with awful classical music and worse costumes. Nothing can be called a sport that depends on the whimsy of "artistic impression" and the opinions of nine judges. (Believe me, the Supreme Court makes better theater.) " But the article tries to make a case for America not going to the games, period.

NBC Goes Boozy - - Limbaugh has a great take on the news that NBC is beginning to let distilled spirit ads to run on the network after 9pm. Rush says that, "Now obviously, the network needs money to help pay Katie Couric's new $100 million dollar salary. That's part of what's going on here, and I'll bet if it wasn't illegal, they'd run cigarette ads too."

Special Forces Report - - Rowan Scarborough's latest in the Washington Times breaks down what it is that special forces are doing.

Friday, December 14, 2001

This is a good thing - - Bush administration today made an executive order that is probably the best tax cut EVER. The cut is for all the armed services working in the Afghanistan area as it is now officially a combat zone.

Debunking myths - - Entertaining column this morning at NRO (Yes, I am a junky) on some of the myths that have been shattered by the successes in the war on terror thus far. Must read.

The worst press secretary in the world - - Joshua Micah Marshall has a great post about just how terrible Osama's press secretary is. The tape yesterday is damning. Excellent: "Suleiman Abu Ghaith, OBL's Press Secretary and Spokesman. Not since Pamela Anderson has an ill-considered home video caused its subject so much grief. It was a rotten press day for OBL. But the Press Secretary's always the one who gets left to pick up the pieces."

Enron Meltdown Politics - - The other night on CNBC's new show "America Now" (see earlier post about how good it is) the two guests were Spinmiester Paul Begala and Tony Blankley. Begala was trying to spin the Enron meltdown as a parallel to Clinton's Whitewater-that there needs to be an independent counsel or congressional investigations of the Bush Administration. Whitewater? Come on.

Spinsanity has a pretty good rejoinder to the growing attacks and innuendo on the Bush administration for some wrong doing.

Spinsanity links to a Time piece that show Enron-Clinton Links. Blankley did a pretty good job fighting Begala but what is a shame is that this meltdown has a new political base that is arguing against any or all deregulation-and that is a shame. Begala should shut the hell up at the best of times, but this is nonsense. In the NY Times, Paul Krugman has devoted way too much of his pathetic columns to the issue. Like this one or like this one. Was there problems at Enron, absolutely. Was it Bush and Co's fault? The Bush Administration has done nothing to bail Enron so where is the smoking gun?

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Tommorow's pundits tonight - -

The Hawk - - So far in this war ground zero for the hawks, not surprisingly has been with Charles Krauthammer. His latest outlines the triumph of unilateralism. Choice cut: "A unilateralist does not object to people joining our fight. He only objects when the multilateralists, like Clinton in Kosovo, give 18 countries veto power over bombing targets."-- is he on fire or what?

Is Europe in or out? - - The Wall Street Journal's editorial today is great. What is Europe's problem. Are they serious about fighting terror ou non?

Loving this: "As it happens, Moussaoui was indicted in a civilian court, not by a military tribunal, so the Europeans are declaring their refusal to cooperate with the American civil-justice system. First they said they wouldn't extradite terrorists because of the tribunals, then the reason is the death penalty and now they say they are willing to pay terrorist legal fees. Next they'll hire Johnnie Cochran."

Intelligence failure - - An interesting story on the lack of inquiry into what were probable intelligence failures up to September 11th. The NY Times reports on what could happen. A congressional hearing? Tenent's resignation? The question is which party will blink first and play the blame game. As this article points out, the shoe might drop for the Democrats, because of Clinton, or for the Republicans, because it happened on their watch.

$120 Million Man - - Do the owners of Major League Baseball get it? Just last week the league was in front of a congressional hearing to determine why it is that they want to eliminate two teams. We learned that it was because MLB is losing money, and these teams must be eliminated. And then today, bam, the NY Yankees sign Jason Giambi to a 7-year $120 million contract. Can the Yankees afford it? Of course but is that a good enough reason? Terrible. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate earning money as much as the next guy, but when an industry is in trouble does this crazy pay scale make any sense?

Breaking...- - The Canadian Prime Minister comes to Saul's defense. CP is reporting that on the impact of the earlier news story on the Ralston Saul book there is virtually no response from the government. The Prime Minister: "He is not the governor general," Chretien said after Thursday's cabinet meeting. He is "a Canadian citizen and he has the right to write whatever he wants. It's his problem, not mine."

"This is not how we treat family," said interim leader of the Canadian Alliance John Reynolds. "I would urge the government to rein in these highly inappropriate political remarks by the representative who is supposed to be above politics."

Another Canadian Embaressment - - Today's National Post has a front story today that profiles a book due out by the husband of Canada's Governor General and author John Ralston Saul. The book tittled On Equilibrium lays out partial blame for September 11th at the feet of the west. [The National Post is a terrible website these days and it took awhile to find the link online but here it is]

Saul writes, "For forty years now the West has led a rush to balance its trade figures by agressively selling its armaments abroad. The world is awash in weaponry. You trace the parallel rising lines of unstable areas slipping into violence as the quantity of weapons on the market increases."

Now this seems to be the same argument that gun control advocates use in the domestic sense. It is that guns kill, but left to thier own accord people are not the problem. So I suppose if we, and the other nations like Russia, North Korea, and China who sell weapons (and those last three are, imagine not from the 'west') stopped the flood of weapons everything would be hunky dory.

Saul apparently writes that President George W. Bush was "frail" and "awkward" on television on September 11th. And goes on to say that Americans are "paranoid" for embracing capital punishment. But the other interesting quote in the paper is this: "I sometimes feel that European and North American aggressivity towards arabs over the last half century has had less to do with Middle Eastern politics and more to do with an almost psychotic attempt to forget that it was the Christian civilization and no other which massacred six million Jews."

Saul on Corporations: "Quite simply: corporations are not ethical. That is, they are not meant to be ethical. They are meant to be self interested."

So America has its traitorous American Taleban, Australia has one too. And in Canada we have the husband of the Governor General going around and saying this sort of stuff. It is not that he shouldn't be allowed to exercise his freedom of speech. But there is a time and a place for things. This still, three months later is not the time to do this. It is an embarressment and any more of this kind of press for Canada and Americans might wonder what in the hell we are doing up here.

Calculation, murder, and videotape - - If there was any, and I mean any, doubt as to the connection between Osama bin Laden, Al Qeada, and September 11th, then this videotape (transcript here) must eliminate them. Still, MSNBC had a translator watching the famed Al Jazeera network and they had many commentators who claimed that the video was forged or tampered with in some capacity.Perhaps something will come up on this english translation site. I suppose the next will be on the street interviews with the illusive 'street' that will turn up the same lack of belief. But do we care anymore?

...Still in denial - - At least one member of the 'street' is still in denial. The father of Mohammed Atta still denies that his son ever took place in such a terrorist act. He is the one who says he talked to Atta after September 11th. When are we going to go rough this SOB up?

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Tommorow's pundits tonight - -

Will at his best - - Tommorows Washington Post, you see we on the west coast start getting the early news from tomorrow late tonight (although when it is 9 AM and you are watching the Sunday news shows we have to get up at 6...), has a great new one from George Will. No comments I think this just has to be read.

Safire - - Safire went a bit nuts last week but seems to be back in form detailing the possibilities that missile defense, economic stimulus, and terrorist prosecution are all being won in the center.

WSJ's Editorial - - The big editorial in the Wall Street Journal is pretty on too. The editorial details that in the face of huge problems in Latin America, especially Argentina, the Bush Administrations top person for that area is still yet to be confirmed. Well actually I understated that, Otto Reich hasn't even had a hearing yet to say nothing of the possibility of a vote. Read on at your peril.

More cutting edge stuff - - The 2000 election gave many column inches and television time to the proposition that the two party system just wasn't cutting it anymore. People like Nader and parties like Reform (and possibly the LP-that's the Libertarian Party for those who didn't know and judging by how many voted for them there are many) made the case that the two major political parties in America were just the same thing. Most didn't believe Nader's line anyway, but if anyone did, the idea is pretty dead. The two parties seem to be doing what government is designed to do-as little as possible. Haven't you noticed, even with the war on that 'gridlock' is back-big time. And if Tom Delay becomes House Majority Leader one thing is certain, politics will continue to be a good spectator sport to watch.

There is a great piece by Nick Schulz, at TechCentral Station (brought to Dispatches attention by Virginia Postrel's site) about the 30th birthday of the LP. The article points out that a better strategy than having another political party is to work on advancing your agenda on the inside of another party, in this case the GOP (for those of you in Canada that is the Republican Party and as a side note on Canada's unique political mess that has three, that's right three, right of center parties you might just figure this plan out too-even if that means hangin' out with Joe Clark's Torries and growing up. ). There is no question that libertarian ideas have entered the mainstream and that is good but it makes no sense going on about it-you've won.

Schulz makes some great points: "And there’s a practical consideration at work, too. Outside the distinction-sharpening filter of major and established political parties, debate takes place in an echo chamber and renders the exchange of ideas stale and ineffective. Evidence for this comes in the tone and tenor taken by some libertarians (see, for example, the folks at the Mises Institute and or the self-destructive tendency of some libertarians to antagonize natural political allies and harp on irrelevant or crackpot political issues. This even goes for many libertarians who don’ t ally themselves with the LP. They are leading an exercise in futility, which may only serve to harm the cause of liberty by marginalizing it in the eyes of the public."

I have tried to make some critical points against some libertarians too (especially at LewRockwell). Some, certainly not all, are so wrapped up in terrible misconceptions of what should be done that they don't recognize the possibility that libertarian foreign policy, for example, is just is not on right now. (see one of my recent articles at ESR if you are interested.)

Virginia Postrel has some great things to add on the subject too. She says, "As a small-l libertarian who occasionally votes Libertarian, I'd rather the party just go away. As satisfying as it may be to cast a protest vote, they're bad for the cause." And the bottom line for Postrel is this: "It's not enough that the party's rules have defined "libertarian" to exclude every major libertarian thinker except Murray Rothbard (who was really an anarchist) and that they have a foreign policy that amounts to defending America on the beaches of Santa Monica." Right on! Libertarian thought is awesome but like many things it is better as a loose idea than a political party-what's wrong with a little diversity? The LP in its current incarnation is about as cool as 'the' party in the USSR when Stalin went around and eliminated all his opposition and competing views for kicks. If Andrew Sullivan is a South Park Republican, then why can't some of us Conservative-Libertarians be more cool too. Say "Rat Pack Libertarians". A Rat Pack Libertarian or RPL would be in favor of as much freedom as possible but still would know that some people need a fire lighted under them and occasionally a good butt kicking.

West Wing Update - - I'll watch, so you don't have to. The episode, "Bartlett for America" finds our west wingers dealing with the first congressional hearings about the President's MS cover up (why no one in the show, or critics have begun calling the show, "MSgate" is beyond me-or maybe they have). Most of the Leo's (the Chief of Staff) testimony is a little game because the congressmen were being snooty. Please, this is what I picture the most of the Clinton administration being like.

The one redeeming quality of the episode, although taken out of its context of alcoholism, was the many references to Johnnie Walker Blue Label scotch. It is funny because, and again not because of the context, the scotch is so good not that I really care for it anyways. Did I mention that I haven't tried Blue label because it is way too expensive? It is funny, and Jonah Goldberg gets it too, just how much booze talk there is these days-you know that idiot, 'Johnie Walker' the American Taleban and all.

South Park Republicans - - Andrew Sullivan points out today that Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, are Republicans. (See the Article here) Sullivan for his part now claims that he is a South Park Republican.

Glenn Reynolds on Fire - - Any College-University students should read the Instapundit's new column on the disconnect between what is debated on campus, and what is debated everywhere else. Read it, Love it.

The Return of Red v Blue - - Today was the one-year anniversary of the end of the 2000 election. It is fitting that the memories of that election are about those electoral maps that showed Gore's states in blue and Bush's states in red are back. It is fitting because the analogy of what makes a place red, or blue, has become in vogue yet again. There was a great article yesterday in the New York Times comparing the lives of CIA agent Michael Spann and the erstwhile American Taleban John Walker. But better than I can lay out what all this means is Jonah Goldberg from NRO. Yes that is two days in row that he has been pitching the "high heat" as it were. Check out his take and stash it away, these debates will be around and coming to an election near you throughout 2002.

Rudy Watch - - The best rumor I have heard in weeks is this. Various news sources are reporting, and Dispatches will dish it out too, that NY Mayor and Sec. of Kicking Ass Rudy Giuliani may look for a senate seat in New Jersey. Not only would he challenge dirtbag (or is that sleazebag?) and current Sen. Robert Torricelli-who the NY Post's Neal Travis suggests is, "ethically challenged". I like this, but still would rather see Rudy as Homeland Defense Sec. or better still as CIA director so that other moron Tennet can just go away(you are the weakest link, goodbye!)

Hammer posed to move up - - Just a quick one. I remember in the Summer of 2000 walking around Capital Hill with a group of friends. One of our groups wouldn't stop talking about how if he saw Tom Delay he would ring his neck. Then we passed the House Majority Whip's office and he basically came out right as we were passing-the security, sadly, prevented any neck ringing. I could never really figure out what the problem was with Tom Delay anyhow. That said, I do like Dick Armey the current House Majority Leader and if he does indeed retire at the end of this term, there will be some changes in the GOP.Delay is the most likely to take on the Majority Leaders position and that might bring a conflict between him and the White House.

Limbaugh goes to town on Friedman - - I enjoy listening to Rush regularly, he is some of the best entertainment on the planet, and it sure beats the morning (westcoast) drivel on CNN or MSNBC. Rush has an interesting page on his website trashing Friedman for his sunday article.

Rush suggests that, "For example, he says Bush should urge us all to lower our thermostats, urge CEOs to cut their salaries, tell our children to join the Peace Corps, etc. The idea here clearly being that we Americans are too evil and heartless to help on our own." And goes on to say, "Mr. Friedman is suggesting that the American people will only do the right thing, as he defines it, if your president summons you to do so. You don't have the wherewithal to do it on your own. Of course, this doesn't explain all those donations that came pouring into charities before Bush even thought to ask. It doesn't explain all the volunteers that headed to New York City to help out, does it? It doesn't explain any number of things people do without the government asking us to do it. We can do it on our own. We know what the right things are."

Well in all fairness to Friedman, I think what he was suggesting is that if that is what the president asked the people, they would do it. They (we) would all enlist-or at least 85-90 percent. I just don't buy most of the second cut I reprinted here. I have watched Friedman at Letterman, Mathews, Imus, Russert, Larry King and I don't see him towing the liberal line much. Basically what Rush doesn't approve of is Friedman's openness to the US going to every bad neighborhood on the planet. I just have never seen Friedman to be the one to really place the class warfare deal. Is he a conservative? Not really, but so what. He is pro-free trade, pro-US power, and a great asset during the war. Cut him a little slack Rushbo. I guess this will make me a Friedman apologist. Just bring it!

Biological Attacks yet to come? - - The always reliable Bill Gertz reports on the information that the American Taleban, and no doubt most hated American today, gave to the US in intelligence debreifings.

"John Walker Lindh, the Taliban guerrilla captured near Mazar-e-Sharif, said in intelligence debriefings at the U.S. Marine Corps base near Kandahar that "Phase II" of al Qaeda's war against the United States will occur at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends Sunday," writes Gertz in the Washington Times.

I suppose it is no real surprise that bin Laden and his buddies would have planned an second or third wave of attacks. But the Gertz article seems to take all of these allegations with a grain of salt, considering how low ranking young John was within the Taleban. I'm torn, as much as I would like to believe that these are not true, I cannot think that 9/11 was it. I guess we'll have to be watching Sunday. Stay tuned.

Happy Birthday Sinatra - - It would have been the Chairman's 86th birthday today. Have some gasoline for him. It is also going to be Frank Sinatra Day in Nevada. It was noted in the press release that if anyone deserves their own day in Vegas-Sinatra is the one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

The Greatest Briton of all time? - - I like the Beatles as much as the next person, and since George Harrison died recently I can see to some extent the lure of The Beatles as a staple of Western culture. But are the Brits smoking the same stuff as Chuck Shumer? The BBC and The Times reports that a new poll has John Lennon in the midst of a heated battle for the Briton of all time. He is in a close race with Shakespeare, Newton, and Churchill. I think Sgt. Pepper's is pretty cool too, but didn't Churchill help save the freakn' world?

Lovin' the G-File Today - - NRO's Jonah Goldberg has a wonderful column today. The column"Is Chuck Shumer on Crack" is on fire! To prove I can play fair here is Shumer's article from the Washington Post-I link, you read, and decide! Fairness-blah! Fairness is for CNN. Shumer's a moron, period.

All this talk that Big Government is Back makes about as much sense as this season's West Wing which has gone to show that some use of crack has a place, at least there should be an exception for Aaron Sorkin-who since his drug bust earlier this year has transformed a fairly well written show into absolute garbage. Where was I? Oh right Sen. Chuck Shumer's (D-NY) 'crack' trip on the return of the 'New Deal"

Goldberg points out that the failure of government to foresee or stop 9/11 was not that there wasn't enough government but they are constantly doing really stupid things. Here's one slice (but read the whole deal because JG rocks, dudes): "The more obvious, honest, and accurate conclusion is that the federal government was way too distracted. The federal government spends an awful lot of time — and money — policing the size of classrooms, the ingredients of potato chips, and the generosity of milk subsidies but not nearly enough policing the borders and the airports. If you hired a security guard to watch for shoplifters, wouldn't you be annoyed if he spent all day wearing a walkman, playing video games, and stuffing his face with pork rinds?"

The vision thing - - President Bush's big problem for the the US going forward in this war, is how far can they go? What is the end game after we have smoked some of them out of their caves? At the Citadel Bush, again, laid out some answers in the evolving Bush Doctrine:

"Above all, we're acting to end the state sponsorship of terror. Rogue states are clearly the most likely sources of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons for terrorists. Every nation now knows that we cannot accept -- and we will not accept -- states that harbor, finance, train, or equip the agents of terror. Those nations that violate this principle will be regarded as hostile regimes. They have been warned, they are being watched, and they will be held to account."

The doctrine also has three subparts:

1. Transform the military. In Afghanistan, real-time intelligence, local allied forces, special forces, and precision air power -- has really never been used before. The conflict in Afghanistan has taught us more about the future of our military than a decade of blue ribbon panels and think-tank symposiums." Bush points to the utilization of the unmanned Predator drone and suggests that the future of the military must have even more unmanned weapons on land, sea, in air, and in space. The key word is 'transform'.

2. Stop terrorist from obtaining WMD. To, "prevent mass terror is to protect against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them," is now a major part of the fight on terrorism.

3. Intelligence, Intelligence, Intelligence. As Bush put it, "The last several months have shown that there is no substitute for good intelligence officers, people on the ground. These are the people who find the targets, follow our enemies, and help us disrupt their evil plans."

It is interesting to look back at what, then Govenor Bush, said the last time he was at the Citadel. This cut is basically an early draft of what has now emerged as the Bush Doctrine. "We see the contagious spread of missile technology and weapons of mass destruction. We know that this era of American preeminence is also an era of car bombers and plutonium merchants and cyber terrorists and drug cartels and unbalanced dictators – all the unconventional and invisible threats of new technologies and old hatreds. These challenges can be overcome, but they can not be ignored."

And this cut, down right prescient: "Add to this the threat of biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism – barbarism emboldened by technology. These weapons can be delivered, not just by ballistic missiles, but by everything from airplanes to cruise missiles, from shipping containers to suitcases. And consider the prospect of information warfare, in which hacker terrorists may try to disrupt finance, communication, transportation and public health."

The Bush Doctrine has changed completely since the inauguration in January. In March Frank Gaffney thought it was an extension of Reagan's Doctrine-one which boiled down was about spreading, "freedom by aiding those who were prepared to resist the tyranny of their oppressive governments (as in Sandinista-controlled Nicaragua) or the predations of those who were inflicting violence and suffering across international borders (as in the case of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Nicaragua's guerrilla war against El Salvador)." So it is not that it fundamentally changed, but it has become focused on particular ways in which America seeks to achieve a spread of freedom.

I will also leave you with a sweat tidbit. I have been, slowly, trying to read two Tom Clancy novels since 9/11. Debt of Honor and Executive Orders are novels that deal with massive terrorist attacks and how the new president Jack Ryan deals with them. I won't spoil the endings, but take a look at this article that links these two books to the Bush Doctrine by John Myers.

This just in: One aspect in this transformation and doctrine is the dumping of the ABM treaty asap. Today media sources are reporting that the administration is going to junk it-part of a the growing evidence that the Cold War is over and new challenges are here.