Thursday, February 28, 2002

The West Wing Time Warp - -

”The West Wing” is what Aaron Sorkin wished Clinton’s presidency was. This isn’t a new concept, it is a fact. Except that tonight’s episode shows the fictional president playing multiple games of chess-you see, he (Martin Sheen’s Bartlet), is the visionary who “sees the whole board” and that is of course both the chessboard and the grand chessboard of foreign policy. Of course it is a stretch. Tonight’s episode was a sad retelling of the events of the Clinton Presidency and the Taiwan Straights showdown-does Sorkin even think of anything original?

The problem is that we all know Clinton wasn’t hanging around playing chess; he was laying around the Oval Office in his boxers, surrounded by empty pizza boxes. He was a pig. But at least, and I have always believed this, at least I would have had a drink with Bill Clinton. You know that while he was disgusting politically and, well, morally, it would be a shame not to slosh one down with the party president wouldn’t it? But Bartlet? Come on, that is the kind of guy you want to slap in the face with a large white glove-southern style, and exclaim, "Sir, I said, Sir, I demand satisfaction."

Why Blog’s exist - - Ever wonder why blogs are growing, exponentially it seems? It is because of just how fast they can smartly, logically, and savagely expose stupidity in the mainstream. James Lileks has done some great work lately and his rejoinder (note the compliance with the Ruffini amendment on not using the phrase ‘take down?) to a terrible Guardian piece. Here is my favorite part:

“The West is a set of ideas that need defending. Forgive us our passable wines; forgive our standardized veal. Forgive us our simple-mindedness, for we - from Alabama on outward to outer, distant Alabama and beyond - have a gut feeling that “quarrels” usually boil down to two sides. Forgive us for believing that fascism's side ought to lose.

And if we seem arrogant when it comes to beating fascism, forgive us once more, for we have something you don’t.


Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Column of the Day - - Kelly is da bomb and today’s column shows why. Here is a taste: “Do-nothingism -- Carterism -- is no longer an option.” Indeed.

Stereotypical Celeb - - I only linked to this story about the annoying Alanis Morissette for one reason. Here is why: “She's thrown a few elbows, too, but mostly she just wants to be loved. She's the Hillary Clinton of pop.”

Deputy Welch - - Matt Welch is on the job deputizing new blogs. You go Matt.

David Lynch in Afghanistan - - Ken Layne has some great stuff this morning including the observation that Afghanistan, “is a funky place, like "Twin Peaks" with turbans.” Layne also thinks there needs to be more reporters in Afghanistan. All to true, but how ‘bout some Afghan-based blogs?

More blogs, More blogs! Ken Layne also wants to see more big-named blogs. His list of suggestions: “Friedman, Safire, Dave Barry, Tony Blair, Condi Rice, Hunter Thompson, Steve Earle, Chuck D, Elmore Leonard, Jon Stewart, Courtney Love, Willie Nelson.” Oh hell, if Condi had a blog I might not leave the house.

Crossfire shakedown - - Drudge has the scoop again. This time it is the shakedown at CNN’s “Crossfire”. Bill Press is out; James Carville and his lickspittle friend Begala are in. The format is to be pushed to an hour, in front of an audience. Poor Bob Novak, this might push him over the edge.

Mixed feelings - - Germany is in recession, and I giggle like a school boy. Is that wrong?

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Quotable - - CNBC's Jim Cramer: "Who would have thought that today's [Enron] hearings would have made us wish for Olympic coverage."

Culture scene - - I am always getting email suggesting that there is not enough-or any-“popculture” here at Dispatches. So today I will link to some culure stories:

Fashion: Andrew Stuttaford has an interesting piece that juxtaposes the European condemnation of the use of “evil” as a way to describe regimes, with a little noted Fashion show last week. It had some designs inspired by, naturally, the Soviet utopia. The Europeans wouldn’t know evil unless it started rounding them.

Music: Ken Layne’s Fox Blog today deals with the Music industry. He makes the case that it is more Enron, than well, Enron.

Music II: Birthday wishes to Johnny Cash who turns 70 today.

Crack’d Up Sorkin: The New Yorker has the dish on “West Wing” creator-writer-egomaniac Aaron Sorkin’s ranting against Bush. Could it be that he is upset that Bush is more popular than his own fictional President Bartlet? No, couldn’t be. The Vodka Pundit is also having some fun with this.

Party Animal: Byron York updates us, like we wanted to know, on what the lip-biting fat pig is up to. It is not pretty, but we always stop to watch car wrecks don’t we. I can’t wait for the movie: “Dude Where’s my legacy.”

Mathews and Carlson - -’s feature “The Breakfast Table” which has two people gabbing has had some pretty cool people lately-Kaplan, Brooks, etc. But the choice this week seems odd. Chris Mathews and Margaret Carlson. The funny thing is that I would have never imagined that I would be rooting for Carlson. I generally like Mathews, sure he is a total old school Liberal-Democrat, but he is all over the place here. I especially can’t believe that he of all people is still worried about the mythical Arab Street. Here is a sample:

Mathews: “Whatever benefit we would gain by knocking over Saddam and the Baathist Party would be overtaken in time by the wrath of the Arabs generally, but specifically the young. I try to always think of two groups: the 15 year-old kid in Cairo just picking up his worldview and the 25-year-old graduate who doesn't have a job but spends his days drinking coffee and talking politics. What percent of either group would we have rooting for us in a war with Iraq, a war to take over Iraq and replace the Baathists with a government of our selection? I think we're nuts to even contemplate such a campaign.”

Carlson: “You're right, Chris: We wouldn't have the 15-year-old kid in Cairo or the 25-year-old jobless grad rooting for us in a war with Iraq. But do we have them with us now? Isn't there already a limitless supply of young Arabs willing to kill themselves out of hatred for America, not just hatred for Israel?”

Frum out - - The supposed author of the “axis of evil” phrase, David Frum, is leaving the White House speech writing team. Drudge has all the details, and it would seem that he sent in his resignation before the speech. Interesting. At any rate it means that Frum will return to writing for the masses.

Monday, February 25, 2002

Rumsfeld watch - - Many have already linked to this interview but the best thing I have seen today about Rumsfeld is at Happy Fun Pundit. Here is ‘HFP’s’ take:

“Don't let his straight-shootin' ways fool you - Rumsfeld is a master at this stuff. He is like Yoda with better skin and smaller ears (same squint-and-grin, though). Any day now I expect him to say, "No! There is no try. Only do, or do not. But there is no try."”

Woolsey and his six shooter - - Since 9/11 James Woolsey has been consistently one of the best, and most hawkish, talking heads going. Forget that he once worked, or tried to work in the Clinton White House, and enjoy his current rants. Today he has a wonderful piece that boils down the preposterous European look at Bush’s “AOE” talk into a metaphor for the film “High Noon”. Enjoy this:

“Second, like the U.S. today in moving against the axis, the marshal in "High Noon" was trying very hard to be multilateral--he desperately wanted a posse. He just had no takers. What the marshal was unwilling to do is to give up doing his duty just because everyone else found excuses to stay out of the fight.”

“Go on home to your kids, Europeans. Go on home to your kids. And then start praying that when it's over we won't drop our badge in the dirt.”

Olympic Gold & the CDN dollar - - So all that euphoric Canadian pride from yesterday’s Gold Medal in Men’s Hockey and the dollar is as limp as a wet noodle.

Information War - - My latest article is up on The piece deals with the controversy over last weeks New York Times story-a-thon on the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence. Enjoy.

Delicious - - Grasshoppa (via Damian Penny) saw Noam Chomsky driving an Audi A4. Now, what does Michael Moore drive?

Say it isn’t so - - Just saw the CNN promo spot for tonight’s Larry King Live. The guest for the whole hour? You guessed it, Gary Condit.

Condit Update - - A disgusting hour of Condit on LKL tonight. Full weasel transcript here and my favorite exchange here:

KING: “When you see theories offered like Dominic Dunn gets contacted by someone who thinks a motorcycle picked her up? A friend –“

GARY CONDIT: “That guy is just unbelievable. He just makes up stuff. Just absolutely makes it up with no evidence. And you let him come on here and make up stuff. He just made it up, Larry.”

One of the last people I would get into a war of words with, especially over a criminal matter, is Dominic Dunne. The surprising thing about this guy is how he was ever elected in the first place.

The AOE Dept. - - The Instapundit has a great link Sunday on some compelling stats on the AOE. The Media Research Center has done a run down on the coverage so far:

“In the three weeks since President Bush labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea an "axis of evil" which threatens the free world, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news programs have spent relatively little time reporting on the nature and threat posed by those regimes, emphasizing the "controversy" over the statement itself, a Media Research Center study has determined.“

“MRC analysts reviewed all 37 network stories which discussed the "axis of evil" on World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News from January 30 (the day after Bush’s State of the Union address) through February 19. Only five of those stories (14%) focused on Iraq, Iran or North Korea themselves, compared with 73% whose main focus was negative reaction to the President’s declaration. In framing their stories, reporters invariably cast the "axis" comment as incendiary and counter-productive. Out of 19 "talking heads" invited by reporters to react to the administration’s policy, 89 percent condemned Bush’s statement. (This excludes both the summarized views of Iraqi, Iranian and North Korean officials, plus administration explanations of the "axis" policy.)”

Hardly shocking anymore. Is it any wonder then, that is using the power of bloggers, whom as Reynold’s notes have generally given the AOE a warmer reception (especially yours truly), to pump up their site? Here is an idea: we bloggers need our own TV news program-fast paced, high octane, pointing out the good and the bad of the week. CNN, MSNBC, FOX hello are you listening? Please for the love of god, take stupid shows like “Talkback Live” off the air and give us our own show. (Just a thought) Want me to run the numbers on this? Take Bloggers and other newsies in North America and you could bury the other shows with ratings.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Axis of Evil Apologist club - - There is a gold mine of Op-ed's today that continue to slam the AOE stance the US has taken. Eric Margolis is the latest appeaser. Margolis writes: "His "axis of evil" speech played superbly to yahoos and know-nothings back home, but it ignited a storm of outrage during the president's trip to Asia." Well now I don't know if I am a "know-nothing" or simply a "yahoo."

Bold Predictions - - Interesting political speculation at Toddsplace (Via: Patrick Ruffini) Here is the scene in 2008:

2008 Elections: Governor Jeb Bush of Florida beats a crowded field, including Governor Steve Largent of Oklahoma, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, for the Republican presidential nomination. Bush names Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice as his running mate.

On the Democratic side, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York narrowly squeezes past Senator John Edwards of North Carolina and Governor Robert Reich of Massachusetts for the nomination. She names Edwards as her running mate.

Despite early polls which suggest a close race, the younger Bush triumphs by a solid seven points in the popular vote and 348-to-190 in the Electoral College vote. Republicans keep both houses of Congress.

There is also a pretty funny post on the pundit all-star team, inspired by Ruffini's. I'll have to think about my own pundit all-star list. Both lists don't mention Rich Lowry or Jonah Goldberg, so there is a start to my 'dream team'. They also only mention one blogger, Andrew Sullivan. And surely some bloggers would be able to compete on these teams. I would find it hard to pick any team that wouldn't at least consider having someone like Welch or Layne. Honestly you can't tell me that Ken Layne and his obsession with good Taco's wouldn't work well with Jonah Goldberg's obsession with, well, pepperoni or mayo? The pundit team would have to eat! More on this later...

Nice Source - - Maureen Dowd is especially bad today. Her column is, gasp, surprise, about Rumsfeld, again. Worse than her usual 'clever' double speak, is her using Dan Rather as some sort of "expert."

Props - - Props to the Canadian mens hockey team for winning the Gold medal after 50 years. I had to watch the game in a secure location, a la Dick Cheney, as I had been cheering for the Americans. I may have to stay here for some time, or at least until tuesday when Canadians will get back to complaining about our lack of patriotism and just how pathetic our federal government is. I cringed when they flashed to the troops in Khandahar and they were still in green camo! What do I have to do to get deported from this place? Wasn't cheering for Team USA enough? It was an excellent hockey game, and everyone in North America should be proud that none of the Europeans won gold or silver.

Friday, February 22, 2002

Oh, those kids - - (I know, I know it’s self torture) has an interesting look at a new video game. State of Emergency is the WTO home game. Not cool- I was at the WTO in 1999 covering the event for my student newspaper with my lefty friend Sonja. Now we can play the home version. The article is from what I quickly read simply a rehashing of tired old leftist garbage. Fun nevertheless.

Bad blogger - - This is a lame first post for the day. Have I been sleeping the day away? Hardly. I have been working on my latest two articles-hopefully they will be up by Monday or Tuesday. And don’t expect too much from me until Saturday night. C’est la vie.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Truth, liberals, Language, & the ‘W – E – S – T!’ - - I was sent this article (via Ryan W.) about whether or not it is cultural genocide for the west to impose our values on others. Ted Byfield finds it hard to reconcile the two schools on the Islamic world. 1. Most tolerant religion in the world versus 2. Least tolerant. Byfield also really wants to get to the bottom of the question: is the west best?

For Christians to have educated Native Indians in new ways is still condemned as invasive, despicable and cause for immense financial penalty. But for the Americans to re-educate Afghans (forcibly, at that) is suddenly not only praiseworthy, but absolutely obligatory. How do we reconcile this with the revered liberal dogma that no culture can be considered "better" or "superior" to another?

It remained for columnist Robert Fulford, a liberal increasingly inhibited by lapses into the rational, to bite the bullet by recognizing profound differences between cultures. The fact is, he wrote, that "Islamic political life remains a scandal. Islam has spawned no democracies, and no Islamic countries have joined the developed world." His column heading sums it up: "Why deny the obvious? The West is best."

True enough, we agree, but this conclusion carries implications. If one culture may be "better" than another, whence comes the standard of comparison? What authority lies behind it? Who or what sanctions this comparison? God, maybe? Perhaps Mr. Fulford will set about addressing this question too, now that he has raised it.

What is interesting is that it is liberals who seem to be uncomfortable in this new world. They have spent their time in the past decade criticizing everything about the west especially since the onset of the whole globalization debate. McDonald’s is bad, Disney is bad. So how is it that now that the west is under attack that they are finally deciding to come back aboard the freedom train. It is a total farce. The whole postmodern constructivist garbage that Universities are peddling like crack to the anti-globalization junkies has ended up hurting their cause. Now that the ‘west’ is going after those who attacked us the left now either doesn’t want us to (people like Ralph Nader), or if we do we have to fight the good fights and bring human rights to all. As Byfield tries to point out, this is now exactly what the left didn’t want us to do, because other cultures are not inferior to the west, just different so who are we to tell them to smarten up.

So has 9/11 shocked many in academia and journalism into abandoning the postmodern way of think of things? Does anyone know what this means? Jonah Goldberg lays it out here: “For those of you who have better things to do, there's this school of "thought" called "postmodernism" which — kind of like WASPs with mayonnaise — put quotation marks on everything. The reason so-called "PoMos" do this is because they believe there are no "capital-T" Truths. Rather, everything is mired in "perspective," which in turn is determined by various "interests," "privileges," and other "biases" and "prejudices," etc., etc. It's no exaggeration to say that postmodernism, of one flavor or another, is the dominant way of thinking in academia and on the cultural Left.”

Goldberg continues his argument here: “America and the West aren't better than anyone else, we just define the concept of "better" in such a way that it works for us. You can't say the Arab world is backward or stagnant — not because that would be untrue, but because it would hurt the feelings of those whose self-esteem is dependent upon such things. And you certainly can't say such things about these cultures if you're not a member of them.”
I read something this week that claimed that half of the world’s 6,000 languages are going to disappear. The question the post modernists will likely ask, is whether or not this is some sort of cultural genocide? John Miller puts all this in perspective in NRO’s The Corner when he writes: “It's not like these people aren't speaking anymore--they're simply abandoning obscure languages in favor of more common ones that will help them flourish in a globalized environment. Telling them they shouldn't do this is not much different from saying they shouldn't have running water, either; it confines them to a premodern world. If they want to speak a lingua franca, UNESCO bureaucrats in Paris shouldn't get in their way. The planet is not a cultural museum for the wine-and-cheese crowd. Professional anthropologists should make sure our actual museums and libraries contain extensive recordings of native speakers, but we should let these languages go.”

So if we are prepared to, some of us anyway, let some languages go are we not then prepared to let some cultures too? Now this will sound like some real cultural genocide and perhaps I should state, that it is not about killing off some cultures but making them evolve. Imagine what people would be saying if America had never evolved from 1776? The Islamic world has done a terrible job of evolving in a 1,000 years and as we fight this war on terrorism, we should be unabashedly criticizing them for a laundry list of things. It can hardly said to be cultural genocide, or cultural imperialism, for the west to criticize another civilization. So what’s the big deal of us, me, you, Bush, telling them so. The West much like democracy is just the best of what we have to offer. The truth hurts and that shouldn’t mean that there isn’t any. We have lots of it and nations like those in the Axis of Evil are just starting to hear about it.

AOE Dept: - - WSJ’s Best of the Web has some great links today undermining the proposition that the Axis of Evil speech was going to hurt the reformers in Iran. The First BBC article is about reformists getting bolder while the
second BBC article is about the reformers in parliament calling to investigate the arms shipment to Palestinians that was intercepted.

Column of the day - - Mark Steyn is one of the best opinion writers today, period. Here is the kicker in today’s column:

“The ‘axis of evil’ is actually a pretty sophisticated construct. When the Rest of the West protests that it’s not an ‘axis’, they’re missing the point. It’s like the new Ocean’s Eleven: they’re not really buddies, but they’ve been cast together in a remake of an old-time buddy caper. Ocean’s has George Clooney, the ultimate smooth operator, Brad Pitt, the all-purpose con-man, and Don Cheadle, the black guy who’s there to make up the numbers. In the axis of evil, these roles are played respectively by Iraq, Iran and North Korea, who, like Cheadle, is mainly there for ethnic variety.”

GOP CFR Turf war - - Should Bush sign the Campaign Finance bill or veto it? National Review believes that by signing the bill he is making a big mistake.Andrew Sullivan disagrees (item below this one). Does it even really matter is what I am asking myself today. Free Speech is very important, that can’t be stressed enough, but Sullivan and Mickey Kaus make a pretty compelling argument that like the war on terror is disrupting Al Qaeda, the CFR will disrupt some dirty back dealing shenanigans. Most of all, as Sullivan points out, Bush will ultimately persevere by out raising Democrats in hard money-seriously how much money can someone like Daschle raise?

[UPDATE: Rich Lowry of NR has a nice rejoinder to all this. This is a healthy debate-much more so than the actual one between the McCainiacs and the rest of us.]

Blogn’ for the masses - - Today it is Rand Simberg’s turn at the new Fox News Blog. Go thou and enjoy. Which organization will next go blog?

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Press Release Hell - - I sometimes check the press release wire to see what is coming up in the future. This morning, I found this gripping release from the Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan on the hope for a ceasefire. Here is most of it:

Government of Sudan Calls for Ceasefire in Southern Sudan
To: National and International Desks
Contact: Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In an interview with
Reuters in Nairobi, Kenya, the minister of foreign affairs of the
Republic of the Sudan, Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, reiterated the
commitment of the government of Sudan to accept an internationally
monitored ceasefire in southern Sudan immediately. He announced,
"The government of Sudan is ready for a ceasefire tomorrow and for
that ceasefire to be monitored by international monitors." He
added, "We have been fighting for almost 19 years. The question is
are we going to continue fighting until there is nothing in the
south except bushes and trees?"

He emphasized the diversity of the country by saying, "We admit
that Sudan is a diverse society. It is a multi-ethnic,
multi-cultural and multi-religious society. What we need is a
system that caters for everybody." (Italics mine)

My take: Indeed a system that “caters for everyone” and I am talking McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, etc will make all those Sudan kids happy. As for admitting that the Sudan is diverse, shhhh don’t talk too loud or you’ll be the envy of the Moslem world.

Intellectual dishonesty - - Sometimes you just can help look at the things that make you most cringe. I feel this way every time I just can’t control myself enough to look away from the latest Robert Sheer column. His latest, entitled: “Making money, the Bush way” is typical. Sheer has probably raises his blood pressure every time he mentions things like, Bush, Enron, scandal. Relax Robert, breath.

Anyway, his latest is about Bush (41) who, shame on him, has spent his post-White House years making money. Unlike some former presidents-“Clinton”-who never actually had a non-public sector job, Bush Sr. did, does, and continues to work. Sheer makes a lot of hay about 41’s 175-fold increase in Global Crossing stock he once got for giving a speech-he also wants to see if congress will look into how much he sold before it went all Enron. This really does seem more like old leftist whining rather than worthy criticism. He fails to mention other people who are still in the political game-a certain DNC chair comes to mind-who also made this kind of money of GC. Here is the best Sheer has got:

“Most former presidents putter around their presidential libraries, getting in a game of golf or two while they shuffle papers for their memoirs. Then there's Jimmy Carter, trying to atone for sins he didn't commit in office by becoming a carpenter for the poor, and poor Bill Clinton who still has to prove to right-wing talk show nuts and their spokespersons in Congress that his wife didn't steal the White House silverware.”

”Nothing like that for George, who has returned to the spirit of his early days, when he used the connections of his family name to strike it rich in the Texas oil fields. This time, the big prize lies in the defense budget. With his son the president defending the biggest military buildup since the darkest days of the Cold War by pointing to the grim work of Saudi-sponsored terrorists, no weapons system is too gaudy or implausible to be embraced with bipartisan fervor.”

He goes on to really lay one on Bush Sr. for his work, as a consultant, for the Carlyle Group. (Which Sheer explains is a “$12-billion equity investment firm heavy into the defense and energy games.”) Carlyle in one of its holdings produces some huge gun (the Crusader Howitzer), that Clinton wanted to scrap it, Bush while running for office mocked it, but now that there is a global war on terror has changed his mind.

So here is Sheer’s logical conclusion: “No biggie. What's $11 billion for the Crusader in a defense budget designed to grow to $451 billion by 2007? Only a bleeding heart pinko pacifist would point out that $11 billion is what this "education" president is planning to spend on educating the nation's poor children under next year's Title I appropriation. But hey, child poverty is not the Carlyle Group's business.”

Does he simply want someone to call him a bleeding heart pinko pacifist? Ok, Robert you’re a bleeding heart pinko pacifist! Happy? I just don’t get the whole point of this. A whole column to say that the $11 bill for the Crusader is the same amount as the money to be spent on educating poor children, jeez Mr. Sheer how original. Sorry it is really a post-Enron attack on the money in politics. It is a shame that campaign finance reform does nothing to stop this sort of sore loser sob story garbage.

Three-for - - The WaPo, today, has some really great stuff. Bush continues to pound the AOE on the road adding the word ‘despotic’ to describe North Korea. While Cheney does the Leno-Nixon circuit-Leno nicknamed him “One Take”. And better still, the news that China really is rolling out the red carpet for Bush. The question is this: what is the relationship between the leadership of Bush, and China’s willingness to at least try to change-and I do use ‘try’ very loosely.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Stein-licious - - Ben Stein has been on a tear lately, and this Op-ed is, well, all I can say is that only good can come from it.

Axis of Evil Department; Day 22 - - You’ve noticed it, Dispatches has tried to keep the Axis of Evil watch going, and pundits and outspoken French diplomats sure have helped. (Later I will be putting up some special links on the sidebar-The Axis of Evil Dept or AOE DEPT for short) Todays must read is from the always-good Bill Gertz. Read it all here but his first graph lays it all out: “U.S. intelligence agencies have spotted scores of Iranian intelligence and military personnel deep inside Afghanistan working to destabilize the interim government.”

And we are supposed to not call this regime evil? Hello?

Buckley on Bush - - Great piece today by WFB on Bush’s latest trip. Two words, ‘ON FIRE’: “He is breathing the same air that Ronald Reagan breathed when he gave attention to the Evil Empire. One wishes one had been there in a White House closet when Reagan scratched those words into the speech and handed it up to the chain of detoxifiers, getting back an etiolated version, into which he calmly, but decisively, reinserted the Evil Empire phrase, whereafter it sounded out and lives happily forever in the airwaves of hygienic diplomatic thought.”

Desperately Seeking Condie Rice - - Unlike Rich Lowry I can say without any problems whatsoever that Condie Rice rocks. Whether or not I would hang out at the east gate with flowers…not sure. Even though I am surely in the Ariel Sharon camp who approve of her legs. To understand why Mr. Lowry and I have a crush on Miss Rice you might peruse her Op-ed today in the USA Today. How could anyone resist: “And he has offered these regimes a choice: remain international outcasts or abandon their dangerous path and join the community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for their people.” (especially Kim Jong Il?)

Blogapalooza - - Everyone got pretty testy today when blogger went down multiple times-apparently the Dispatches staff is too lazy to notice, as we were either sleeping, or eating corned beef hash. Even if we had noticed, I would imagine that it would mean, hazah to more napping or mmm more corned beef.

Ken Layne wonders when some super rich person will come save blogger and ensure that the blogging continues. Vodka Pundit is looking for his own server as a solution. Hey if I don’t get to post for a few hours, hell days, I won’t get too worked up over it just yet. And I am not yet willing to abandon Blogger-the whole system rocks.

Layne is great and Fox News is the latest media giant to understand that scooping up talented bloggers-ala with mutually beneficial, so perhaps someone will just buy the whole Blogger deal.

Monday, February 18, 2002

Axis of Evil Watch: DAY 21 - - So the conventional wisdom holds that the labeling of Iran as one third of the axis of evil will hurt the pro-democracy movement there. Interesting, but this Washington Post article says that the hard liners were already doing their best to crack down on them in the months and weeks before the SOTU. The truth is that what goes on in Iran rarely has anything to do with action, spoken or otherwise, by the US.

New article - - My latest article is up on the site. This week: a look at the Winter Olympics and why it is so damned boring-oh and a nod to hairy armpit Amazon women. (Google where are you?)

Sunday, February 17, 2002

The France department II - - The NY Times does have a similar debate question on the US vs Allies topic. “At the core of the debate lies a deeper question about American foreign policy that now bedevils Mr. Bush and his aides: is America stronger when it acts in an unfettered manner and defends its national interests directly, or when it acts with allies whose interests may frustrate Washington's goals?” I’ll leave the question for awhile and come up with an answer-but feel free to email me (see right) and tell me what you think.

The France department - - There has been plenty, perhaps too much even for Jonah Goldberg, on the French people’s long and illustrious flirtation with appeasement and foolish foreign policy. Matt Welch makes a pretty decent case that those Frenchies ain’t too bad. To wit:

“By all means, continue smacking around whatever Euro-nonsense is deserving, but for heaven’s sake, don’t mistake the barkings of a single commentator or politician or even newspaper for that of 280 million very different humans. If you don’t like the byproducts of negative foreign opinion about America’s outsized military power, ask yourself for how long you want, say, 37,000 U.S. troops to be stationed in Korea.”

This is a good point. The Europeans maybe unfairly taking heat for the stupidity of their leadership and I am in no way backing down from any previous anti-French naughty bits I have posted or written. Just think of how the leadership across Europe continues to preach how wrong the death penalty is, while the majority of Europeans (the people, not the faceless bureaucrats) tent to support it. Surely however, the lessons the Europeans have learned in the past 100 years have primarily been the wrong ones. Welch’s comments and some others at Glenn Reynolds’ site were based on reactions to a half decent UPI article by James Bennett

Bennett’s best line: “The French are not a nation of cowards, as the "surrender-monkey" epithet implies. They are a nation of talented, creative, and brave individuals. Unfortunately, they seem to alternate being led by a crowd of moral dwarves, alleviated by the rule of the occasional flawed giant. It has been three decades since the last such grand, albeit irritating, giant disappeared. What gives France its current bad name has been the pack of moral munchkins in charge ever since.”

So are the French getting a bad rap? Hardly, they give as good as they get and rather than this being a harbinger of a deteriorating relationship the back and forth is probably healthy. I have admired from a far the French’s strong nuclear policies-the question in the Cold War, and the reason France so desperately clings to nukes, was that they couldn’t in their wildest dreams expect the US to start offering up American cities if the Commies took Paris out. I think the key here is to realize that unlike Britain which has come to grips with the fact that they no longer ‘pull the strings’ the French are more reluctant to give up their past glory, especially when their immediate history paints them rightly or wrongly as the great “surrender-monkey.” It is an interesting debate.

Must read - - When I read the NY Times Op-ed page earlier this morning, I thought that Thomas Friedman was a little off-at least for my sensibilities. has a lovely rejoinder on the issue of a possible solution to the Mid East problem. Basically that it is just not on, and is probably a bad idea anyway. Really good stuff.

Great line - - This morning on “MTP” there was a segment with Ed Gillespie the GOP strategist. His line went something like this: “It is sad that the party of Franklin Roosevelt who said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself and now the Democrats have nothing to say but fear itself.” It was part of his analysis of the Democrats strategy in 2002, which he claimed could be summed up in one word: “BOO.” (and it was kind of like Halloween with Democrat James Carville there-aka serpent head.)

Good times in the Axis of Evil - - Well, today is the birthday of North Korea’s Kim Jung Il. What will that party be like? No doubt it will be something along the lines of this. I am all about the inclusion of this place in the Axis of Evil, but can it have concurrent membership in the Axis of Creepy too? The regime is about as unsettling as an episode of “Twin Peaks”-I can picture the strange talking midget now. David Lynch was born to direct the future biopic of this weirdo.

Friday, February 15, 2002

Required Axis of Evil reading - - First rate essay by David Warren on the Bush trip to the far east. Here are 2 graphs on North Korea and a short version of why they are part of the axis of evil:

“How does this ruling class support itself, and support a ground army among the largest in the world, given its almost complete destruction of agriculture, as well as anything resembling "civil society"? Partly by appropriating to itself the bulk of foreign food aid, much of it coming directly from the South. Partly from the kindly ministrations of its one remaining strategic sponsor, the People's Republic of China. But for real hard currency, the North Korean slave state has found itself a niche in the international arms trade.”

“For the regime has developed a real and effective expertise in rocket science. Its genius consists in adapting 1960s missile technology to 21st century terrorist requirements. It makes and exports to every rotten regime in the Middle East, but especially to Iran, a range of both short, and now long-range, Scud missiles.”

Mmm yummy lamb…drops? - - Buzz today that the US will drop live lamb on Afghanistan. Will PETA have a field day with this one…stay tuned.

Crystal ball? - - David Brooks has an interesting little one at the Weekly Standard. Basically Brooks, after listening to Norman Podhoretz address the American Enterprise Institute, is asking if there might be a backlash to the war if it starts to go not quite as swimmingly as it did in phase I.

Here is an interesting graph: “But now, to borrow a Thatcherite phrase, the New Left is yesterday's vision of the future. There may be radicals in the universities who say stupid things. Susan Sontag may be inane. Norman Mailer may be his own worst enemy (or second worst, as long as Norman Podhoretz is around). But nobody thinks these people are important. Students at all universities regard them not only as wrong, worse, they regard them as stale. The same view is held by most liberal reporters, and, in my experience, most liberal academics.”

Perhaps. Most students probably can’t spell Sontag. However they certainly can spell Choamsky and Nader. So to think that students writ large find these thinkers stale I think overstates it a bit.

Axis of Evil talking points for DAY 18 - - The daily amount of column inches given toward the “axis of evil” continues. Roll ‘em:

*Anne Applebaum has a pretty decent look at why North Korea belongs in the Axis of Evil in today. Her take:

“If nothing else, the attack on the World Trade Center proved how much damage can be done to the American economy and the American psyche using tiny amounts of money and small numbers of fanatics. North Korea, while probably too weird and isolated to inspire even small numbers of fanatics, is quite keen to sell weapons to them, for relatively tiny amounts of money, and has done so in the past.”

*Meanwhile Canada seems to be unwilling to deal with the expansion of the war on terror. A Toronto Star article finds Canada-sorry Canada’s government-in opposition to the references to the Axis of Evil. But as the National Post points out in this editorial Canada’s Prime Minister has always had a hard time standing up to Saddam Hussien. It also quotes Canada’s new Foreign Minister, Bill Graham, as saying that attacking Iraq would lead to “international chaos.” Huh? Have they been talking to France? Is it any wonder that the US increasingly feels like it has to act alone?

*Edward Luttwak who you may remember from such renowned essay’s as “Give War a Chance” has a nice Op-ed today. “Of course, in each case the U.S. aim is different -- to induce Iran to turn away from extremism to the moderation so evidently favoured by voters in every recent election; to induce the North Korean dictatorship to stop selling its most dangerous weapons; and to end Iraq's dicta- torship, by force if necessary.”

*Austin Bay writes, “Yes, America spends as much on defense as the planet's next nine nations combined. But consider the 50-year-long trend in Western Europe to push the harshest burdens of mutual defense onto the backs of the Yanks. America's Euro critics can't have it both ways.” Indeed, you can’t ask America to defend you for 50 years then start complain about how we do it. Sound familiar?

Sounds vaguely of the dilemma offered by the movie “A Few Good Men”. In the exchange between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson:

Nicholson: “You want answers?”
Cruise: “I want the truth”
N: “You can’t handle the truth. Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know-that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”

For fun think of Nicholson as “America” and Tom Cruise as “France”, “Germany”, “The EU” or “Canada. Good times. Europe just doesn’t like the thought the US is on the walls while they are not.

With a twist - - The Vodka Pundit wanted to know what he deserved to be linked from Dispatches (see right), well nothing in particular. It is just that, well, generally I like my opinion with a slice of lime. Go check it out-it’s refreshing stuff. Mmm lime-y.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Can you hear me in the back? - - Late night fun with Google. Yesterday someone translated Dispatches:

Blah! Glücklicher Tag Valentines, Dank für CFR - - OH- gut, das Haus führte Kampagnenfinanzverbesserung und das heißt, wenn es möglich sein kann, sickening, als Tag Valentines [ sehen Sie die Details ], dieses Mittel McCain kann jetzt sich zurückziehen tut?


World Cup anti-terror measures - - Interesting little dispatch about the request for additional security for the upcoming World Cup, which will take place in South Korea and Japan. This is pretty cool, and the event may do wonders for spotlighting the little evil nation that could North Korea-Also a great opp. for spying on them too.

Blah! Happy Valentines Day, Thanks for CFR - - Oh well, the House passed Campaign Finance Reform and that is, if it can be possible, more sickening than Valentines Day. [See the details] Does this mean McCain can retire now?

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Fineman’s latest & backlash - - Josh Marshall is demanding that Newsweek pull an intervention on Howard Fineman. Marshall believes that this latest Fineman column is a “puff piece.” Maybe it is, but I don’t see anything in it that isn’t, well, true.

Bellicose Valentines Update - - Julia Gorin will make the Instapundit proud today, as she sends a Valentine out to the President whom she thinks is sexy. “So I offer this Valentine to George W. Bush. In return, he is planning to deliver to me — and to all the girls — something a lot better than flowers, candy or dinner: Saddam on a platter.” Awe ain’t that cute.

Evil watch: Day 16 - - Well it is day 16 and Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are still evil. Even Al Gore agrees. (Note this is not to be confused with the more important Pairs Skating nightmare-it is only Day 3 of the “Axel of Evil” watch)

Your Axis of Evil Articles for Thursday Day 17 [Updated as needed or found]:

Good - -Claudia Rosett: ”Even in diplomacy, there can be great virtue at times to telling the truth. Once it has been spoken, it becomes a lot harder to ignore. As long as Mr. Bush is willing to take an honest stand, that stance not only leaves room for his critics to indulge themselves in promoting peace in our time, it also raises the chance that we will actually get it.”

My Take: Indeed it must be hard to ignore as the 17 days of commentary shows.

**New: Bruce Thornton: "Yet despite these differences, we continue to defer to Europe's opinion and obsess over its criticism, partly because of the elitist pretensions of our own political and intellectual class. Like naïve Yankee ingénues in a Henry James novel, they have always looked longingly to Europe as the cultural arbiter superior to the grubby vulgarity of their fellow Americans, thus mistaking moral exhaustion for sophistication, and snobbery for good taste."

My take: More sound anti-euro realism. Great stuff.

Annoying - - Robert Kuttner: “Now, emboldened by military triumph and by bloated public opinion polls, President Bush has stumbled. By lumping Iraq, Iran, and North Korea together with Al Qaeda as an ''axis of evil,'' Bush has managed to create an equally improbable axis of worry about America's reliability if not our sanity.”

My take: what is with the “bloated” reference? Just because Kuttner doesn’t like being bellicose doesn’t mean the rest of America isn’t. Check the polls buddy we’re like Alfred E. Newman: what me worry?

Oh no… - - As if the eminent passage of Campaign Finance Reform and its unconstitutionality isn’t enough, the news that Congress is also trying to prohibit cockfighting. It is really amazing that anyone would give politicians any money at all if they are going to monkey around like this.

Another internet development - - Props to the gang at They have obviously been “macking it” hard and I just came across their new deal with

This is obviously a good thing for, which has some terrible content. The cool thing is that the great stuff from Brendan Nyhan and his peeps will continue to be available on their site. Good for them!! Between Sullivan’s book club, and now this content sharing the net economic models might be starting to shape up.

More CFR bashing - - Pete Du Pont is good too. Bottom line: if this CFR looks like it will hurt free speech, talks like it will, then it will. It is true this legislation is the “duck”. Quack.

More goodies in the Wapo - - I’ve said it before-hell many have-but the Washington Post Op-ed pages lately are ON FIRE. In addition to the Kelly piece, there is a gem by Robert J. Samuelson. If there is a house vote today on CFR (campaign finance reform) they should all have to read this article first. In not so many words, Samuelson basically says that CFR’s backers are just as delusional as Enron’s execs.

And Kelly too - - Michael Kelly in today’s Wapo does more of the same treatment of Bush’s doctrine and war. He makes two excellent points. The first is simply about showing European weakness:

“It is "simplisme." It is simplistic, or simple-minded, as the French foreign minister, whose name is Petain or Maginot or something, sniffed last week. C'est vrai. It is indeed "simplisme" to pick fights with evil regimes just because those regimes want to kill you or enslave you or at least force you to knuckle under and collaborate in their evil, when one might choose the far safer and far more profitable path of shrugging one's shoulders in a fetchingly Gallic fashion and sending one's Jews off to the camps, as one's new masters in government request.”

The second echoes Friedman: “It is dangerous, expensive and may end in disaster. True. But what is the better alternative?”

Friedman to the rescue - - Thomas Friedman strikes again with an excellent piece this morning. In a nut shell: “No, the axis-of-evil idea isn't thought through — but that's what I like about it. It says to these countries and their terrorist pals: "We know what you're cooking in your bathtubs. We don't know exactly what we're going to do about it, but if you think we are going to just sit back and take another dose from you, you're wrong. Meet Don Rumsfeld — he's even crazier than you are."

Hey, you don’t like us calling these three the axis of evil, tough. Bush is willing to go above and beyond to reestablish credible deterrence.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

The Axis of evil Poll numbers - - Well, Bush continues to lead, and America continues to follow. A CNN/USA Today/Gallap Poll produced in the past week shows that 86% of Americans think that the US should take action to prevent nations that sponsor terrorism from threatening American or her allies with weapons of mass destruction.

The interesting question was what countries people thought were evil. Iraq, 82%; Iran, 69%; North Korea, 54%; Cuba, 45%; China, 38%; and Russia, 17%. So the Axis of Evil line is working better than the NY Times and BBC are letting on.

Protesting in the Axis of evil? - - Michael Ledeen has a great piece today that basically states that the media is wrong to think that the axis of evil SOTU would blowback on Bush. But you’d never know it if you watch BBC or the NY Times. Shameful. (Via: Patrick Ruffini)

Firing line - - The CRTC should be mighty pleased today, I think. There is plenty of Canadian content-problem is, most of it is absolutely dumb.

First, Damian Penny does some excellent work breaking down the ridiculous notion that there is a war going on in my home province, British Columbia. For the record it is almost sunny, a beautiful and crisp February day, and I have not seen anyone die yet. (see here for the dirt that Damian has uncovered-must read) I’d write about this kind of stuff, but I am too busy trying to get deported and sucking up to America.

Then there is the fabulous work of Rand Simberg who does an excellent job of dissecting this silly article by Canada’s own moron du jour ‘Eric Margolis’ (Read the whole thing, you won’t be disappointed). Simberg wants us here in the Great White North to eat him for breakfast, but alas the plate I found was already licked clean. Bravo.

Some days I am convinced that Canada is scarcely a few years and elections away from becoming the equivalent of a North Americanized France. “Eee-UUU.”

Pitch perfect - - Jonah Goldberg’s column today is incredible. It is a must read.

Throw away the moral compass - - Ted Turner made some, well, er, Ted Turner like comments at a lecture at Brown University. Turner said: "The reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life."

Right, so the moment you become poor you lose your moral compass and hijack planes crashing them into buildings. Well, I guess we’d have to ask Sen. Byrd or Sec. O’Neill about that one.

Compare that to the views of America’s ambassador to the UN. “We sometimes read that terrorism is bred in poverty, that poverty is its root cause and conveyor belt, and that the best palliative would be substantial transfers of money from the developed to the developing world," said John Negroponte. "I would think we should be wary of this argument."

"People do not suddenly loose their moral compass because they are poor, and terrorism does not represent or benefit the poor," he said. "One look at what terrorism did to Afghanistan's people and economy demonstrates exactly what might be called the terrorist's ethic of social and economic justice."

Man, sure would have been nice had this guy been confirmed earlier. “Straight talk plus.” So Turner gives a billion to the UN to let them muck around like some first year Political Studies students and Bush gives the UN Negroponte who in turn sounds like a Professor in frankness. I am not grumpy anymore-or maybe I am just all cranked up on Lemon Diet Cokes.

Why do we still deal with Arafat? - -
One other related observation. On “60 Minutes” this Sunday, Wallace was interviewing Yasser Arafat. Wallace, as only he can, continued to ask why the Israeli’s were in occupying Palestinian territory and he really couldn’t, didn’t, or wouldn’t answer-he simply said he didn’t know. I don’t know? So why the suicide bombers?

So let me get this straight: the Palestinians are ‘led’ by Arafat and he doesn’t know the score? Please, he knows why, and I always trust Thomas Friedman’s creed that you should never trust Arafat when he is talking in English or to western media-ever.

Who is the real cowboy? : The fallout from the State of the Union continues

I was watching Chris Mathews last night on MSNBC’s “Hardball” with the always-good Howard Fineman. I was surprised by the debate over the ‘axis of evil’ phrase but I think that some people in the media, and certainly many from around the world, don’t really get this next phase of the war. It must be noted that this is still a war.

Mathews made two points. His bottom line has been that we need to get those who perpetrated 9/11 before running the table on terror writ large. Secondly, he thinks that the axis of evil was a bad move. He said that Bush’s speechwriters “need to write more like Teddy Roosevelt and less like Rodney Dangerfield.” Yes, we need to get bin Laden. But gearing up for the heavy lifting is necessary now.

I think Mathews is the real cowboy, not Bush. Bush and his team understand that this war has totally upset the terrorists. But at the same time nations like Iran are still feeding them or interfering with phase one (the shipment to Palestinians for instance). Can any war on terror leave nations like Iran, Iraq, or North Korea as is? Sure Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt could be added too. The cowboy would round up the posse, get bin Laden, then disband waiting for the next terrible atrocity and then the need for another posse. That’s why Bush has put America on the offensive this time. Moreover when it comes to writing the history of this war I believe that all of these nations will be found to have played a significant role in 9/11.

I think, and it has been written elsewhere, that these harsh words don’t have to mean dropping of bombs. Talking hard can lead to a compromise where in the case of Iraq weapons inspectors could come back or revolution in Iran.

Mr. Sullivan goes to London - - Anyone who reads Dispatches knows that we are big AS fans. But he has been especially good since going to London this week. Click here and read and scroll up.

I particularly like the stuff on Iran and how the British don’t seem really comfortable with the post 9/11 world. Still wanting proof that Bush isn’t a moron is still the underbelly of thought in many parts of the world. There is a word for these attitudes: DENIAL. And we aren’t talking ‘bout the river in Egypt. There is denial about Bush’s ability, and denial about calling regimes like Iran, evil.

Grumpy - - Maybe its just me, but everything, after “Imus in the Morning” has made me grumpy. OK I will admit that while surfing and reading the headlines I am watching CNN. Christiane Amanpour reporting from the War Crimes trial of Milosevic used the word “historic” no less than three times, and important, groundbreaking, and forget it your done CNN. Is it me or is she the most annoying reporter in the world today? Going back to sleep.

Required Reading Instapundit has some wise words about the Enron show trials. Really is campaign finance reform really going to stop Senators and Congressman from acting like morons to get on camera? Nope. If only the money these media whores took would get them to stop. We don’t need less money in Politics, apparently we need to pay these politicians off more, in hopes that they smarten up.

Worth Looking at - - Check out this editorial cartoon in The Globe & Mail about Canada’s military and camouflage. Nice.

Olympic Dispatches - - The Olympics are absolutely a waste of time, but I am following it anyway. I am rooting for the US to win (USA, USA) in hopes of being deported from Canada and escaping the tyranny of the Liberal Party.

Apparently the Canadian pairs figure skating team only won silver last night. I know, who really cares. But imagine my surprise when I read something funny in on these two. Here is the deal:

“I decided I was a fan of the Canadian pair, Sale and David Pelletier, when I saw their outfits. She wore a charcoal miniskirt and a gray, clingy sweater that somehow made her -- all 5-foot-1, 103-pound world-class athlete of her -- look dumpy. He wore gray slacks, a gray shirt and a gray sleeveless sweater. She looked like the new temp in accounts payable and he looked like an assistant manager over at the J.C. Penney, but at least they didn't look like a hooker working a Tinkerbell angle and David Copperfield, as most skating pairs do, and I found it endearing.”

It was embarrassing to watch the post skate interviews with these two Canadian morons. David Pelletier said that the last 5 months have been hell, and that he hasn’t slept very well because of all the training. SHUT UP! Good lord it is nice to know that this idiot believes that his training and figure skating is so hard that it is like hell. No wonder our troops think that the warmer weather in Afghanistan is so bad. Why don’t people hate us?

The medal count today finds the US tied with Germany for first. I will note that Afghanistan, whose knowledge of the ‘dreaded winter’ should have made them frontrunners have no medals. Do they even have a team?

Monday, February 11, 2002

Pat's thesis - - I have not yet read Pat Buchanan's latest book "The Death of the West". It is getting plenty of play on the NY Times Bestseller list and he is on evey television gabfest you can imagine. His thesis: the west is dying. There is a great article today by Rod Dreher on why this may not be so. Oh and Buchanan's numbers might not be so sound either. Worth the read.

Shameless plugging - - My latest article is up now. This week a further look at the axis of evil. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Daschle watch - - Pretty interesting take on Daschle's and Democrats plans for November in today.This cut seems to sum up the problem Dems are facing:

"At least when Democrats were Keynesians they had some intellectual consistency. More federal spending would force-feed economic recovery by putting cash in consumers' pockets. A few still believe this, such as economist Rudi Dornbusch and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, but they're in exile in Massachusetts. Today's Beltway Democrats merely seem confused."

Friday, February 08, 2002

The Enronization of all things - - Enron and its meltdown have led to new phrases, verbs, words, and, no doubt, drinking games. But as the Banana Counting Monkey notes, it is also great for mocking things like the Canadian Dollar (The Enron Dollar!). Why not the whole nation? Let's investigate all those UN awards we've been getting? Chretien as Ken Lay? mmm...

Dumping on France - - Ok, there is nothing wrong with that, and yes I hope that this headline will bring in the we-hate-France-crowd. The International Herald Tribune has a marginally good look at why France needs the US more than the US needs France. That much is obvious to pretty much everyone. It is not that the French are really all that bad. I like stinky cheese as much as the next guy. Brie rocks so did that charming little French film “Amelie”.

This part works well: “The stark fact is that America is a lot more important and visible to France than France is to America. Much of what I read in the French press about the French role in the Middle East, or with regard to Russia, or about President Jacques Chirac's visits hither and thither, never reaches even the most serious American media. To be sure, that is in part because Americans like to be ignorant about the world. But it is also because it is truly not very important to us.”

But even this article doesn’t fully look at the problem with France. France, like the Democratic Party, Canada, and the Olympics hasn’t come up with any new ideas in years. Well if you count appeasement maybe one-but that isn’t so much a good idea as a good idea for France. When it comes down to the wire France always comes along, but they really do enjoy bitching the entire way like children on a long car ride: “are we there yet? Are we there yet?” While America is the driver: “Don’t make me come back there you little…”

Common Sense vs Procedurism - - Daniel Henninger has another excellent article today about, well, the lack of common sense. What I like about this article is this: “One of this country's greatest attributes through its history has been an admirable willingness to encourage rather than repress (as in Europe) individuals determined to live on the edge of business, science, technology, medicine and the arts.”

So instead of applying common sense, the fallout from Enron will be a never-ending laundry list of rules, procedures, and law that won’t necessarily make things better.

Great minds think alike - - Thanks to Mark Byron who noticed that Dispatches went Python yesterday and Rich Lowry in NRO’s The Corner did the same-only a few hours later. As to whether or not Rich reads Dispatches? We can hope! Thanks Mark.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Government of silly walks - - Incredible Washington Post article today about the very important Budget hearing in the Senate. Do you remember the Monty Python skit where the guys are arguing over who had it worse growing up? We’ll it would seem that Treasury Secretary O’Neill and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va) do. Here is the deal:

"I just want to remind you, Mr. Secretary, that a lot of us were here before you came," said Byrd, 84. "And with all due respect to you, you're not Alexander Hamilton," the nation's first treasury secretary.

O'Neill, 66, paused to gather himself at the witness table, then answered in a voice quivering with indignation.

"I've dedicated my life to doing what I can to get rid of rules that limit human potential," he said. "And I'm not going to stop."
Byrd repeatedly said that he, and not O'Neill, a former chairman of Alcoa, had been elected by voters.

"They're not CEOs of multibillion-dollar corporations," Byrd said of the voters. "They can't just pick up the phone and call a Cabinet secretary. In time of need, they come to us, the people come to us."

O'Neill, who grew up poor in St. Louis, Mo., snapped back: "I started my life in a house without water or electricity. So I don't cede to you the high moral ground of not knowing what life is like in a ditch."

"Well, Mr. Secretary," Byrd responded, "I lived in a house without electricity, too, no running water, no telephone, a little wooden outhouse." He was raised by his aunt and uncle in West Virginia's coal country.

O'Neill appeared teary at several points.

Compare that to the Monty Python script:

MP: Aye. In them days, we'd a' been glad to have the price of a cup o' tea.

GC: A cup ' COLD tea.

EI: Without milk or sugar.

TG: OR tea!

MP: In a filthy, cracked cup.

EI: We never used to have a cup. We used to have to drink out of a
rolled up newspaper.

GC: The best WE could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.

TG: But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.

MP: Aye. BECAUSE we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, "Money
doesn't buy you happiness."

EI: 'E was right. I was happier then and I had NOTHIN'. We used to live in this tiiiny old house, with greaaaaat big holes in the roof.

GC: House? You were lucky to have a HOUSE! We used to live in one room, all hundred and twenty-six of us, no furniture. Half the floor was missing; we were all huddled together in one corner for fear of FALLING!

TG: You were lucky to have a ROOM! *We* used to have to live in a corridor!

MP: Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin' in a corridor! Woulda' been a
palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House!? Hmph.

EI: Well when I say "house" it was only a hole in the ground covered
by a piece of tarpolin, but it was a house to US.

GC: We were evicted from *our* hole in the ground; we had to go and live in a lake!

TG: You were lucky to have a LAKE! There were a hundred and sixty
of us living in a small shoebox in the middle of the road.

MP: Cardboard box?

TG: Aye.

MP: You were lucky. We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in
a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o'clock in the morning, clean the bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down mill for fourteen hours a day week in-week out. When we got home, out Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!

GC: Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at three o'clock in
the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, go to work at the mill every day for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would beat us around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were LUCKY!

TG: Well we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoebox at twelve o'clock at night, and LICK the road clean with our tongues. We had half a handful of freezing cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at the mill for fourpence every six years, and when we got home, our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife.

EI: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, (pause for laughter), eat a lump of cold poison, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing "Hallelujah."

MP: But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't
believe ya'.

ALL: Nope, nope..

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

The power of Sullivan - - Earlier this week I mentioned Andrew Sullivan's book club that is set to begin on the 18th. I ran the numbers a bit, but it seems today that Amazon sold right out of the book! See Sullivan's surprise here Ain't that something!

Corrections notice - - The motto of the blogging world is we are here to fact check the big boys. I didn't do that very well the other day. I spelled republican consultant Niger Innis's name exactly how MSNBC spelled it. Very strange, when I was watching MSNBC Niger's name was mispelled with two "g's". So I had spelled it the way the television had it on air. I didn't think much of it until the hits started rolling in-no I was not trolling for hits. It was my mistake I should have searched the web, but what's going on at MSNBC? There is a picture of it floating around the web. Is it real or what? Today (Wednesday) I got a huge volume of hits from Google based on that MSNBC spelling. I made a mistake and apologize for the error. It seems to be huge news around the web. In all this everyone seems to have missed the fact that Niger Innis totally rocks! And that is why I mentioned him. He just said it like it was.

Dispatches Complaint Department - - This is a shout out to my friend, we’ll simply-in the interests of anonymity-call him “Rib”, who is worried that the description of my website is all wrong, since there is not enough Pop culture. He’s right there isn’t.

He wants more Britney Spears commentary. I realize that even mentioning her is like trolling for web hits-if you’re coming from a Google search there is no Britney Spears picture here, no pictures, sorry. And boy are all those people going to be mad when all they get here is politics, politics, and politics. Oh and many reports about the weather in Afghanistan-damn you dreaded winter.

To appease my friend Rib, here is a UPI wire story with all sorts of juicy tidbits. I went and saw “Freddie Got Fingered” in the theatres last year and now, it seems, Tom Green will be the big Razzie winner. And I thought he was just a big loser when he dumped Drew Barrymore. Read on to hear about dead Manatees, ads for beautiful minds, and the naming of Enron field. Are you happy now?

Happy 91 President Reagan - - Here is a little Q & A that NRO posted today with former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan. And no, I am not going to give props out to the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth which is also today.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Run the numbers - - Post SOTU numbers are rolling in for Bush. Here is the breakdown:

Bush Job Approval:

ABC News/Washington Post 83%
Bloomberg News 79%
CBS/NY Times 82%
CNN/Time 77%
Fox News 81%
Gallop Poll 84%
NBC/Wall Street Journal 82%

No real bump yet for Bush from the SOTU, but still the numbers are unbelievable-and coming up on five straight months at that level.

Baseball-conomics watch - - Well it seems that MLB is now going to postpone contraction of the league until at least 2003-that’s what UPI is reporting today. But the owners still don’t get it. Contracting teams is not the answer; paying players less is the answer.

Afghan vs Canadian Winter Con’t - - Another attempt to report on the weather conditions of Kandahar by the Canadian troops. Here is the opening of the Canadian Press article:
Kandahar, Afghanistan - When Capt. Eric Mcfee peered out of his tent early Monday morning prior to stepping out for a shave, he quickly changed his mind and went right back in.

Although he's used to the cold - he just came from sub-zero temperatures in Edmonton - the chilly desert air was too much to bear on his first morning in Afghanistan.

I don’t want to beat the old dead horse but this nonsense has to stop. Tomorrow:
Kandahar: High 57F (14C) Low 19F (-7C)
Edmonton: High 26F (-3C) Low 10F (-12C)

Why does the press still print stories that do not seriously reflect the weather?

Monday, February 04, 2002

The dreaded Afghan winter strikes again - - More Canadian troops land in Kandahar, the city that the CBC website says is both dirty and cold. But the Lt.Col in charge doesn’t leave me with much confidence. [I will say that I support the troops-the Canadian ones-in the action but when they arrive in green camo and not dessert camo what is a country to think?]

Commander Lt.-Col. Pat Stogran told CBC News shortly after the first plane landed that they will spend the next few days adjusting to the new time zone and climate. Adjusting to the climate? Jesus, these boys are from Canada right? The article does not mention the temperature in Kandahar, because if they did they would discover that Kandahar is warmer than most of Canada. They are coming from Edmonton, which is colder, so the reality is that this is like an escape from the cold.

The forecast for Kandahar today said it is partly cloudy and and 43F (7C). And CNN has the the rest of the week forcast. Note that the weekly high, today, will be 61F (16C).

Meanwhile back in Canada -Some temps from around the nation right now:

Edmonton: 20F, -7C
Regina: 17F, -8C
Ottawa: 12F, -11C
Vancouver: 39F, 4C

Babies on Parade - - So, Ken Lay doesn’t come to Washington and the Senators from the Commerce committee feel totally ripped off. Damn it, we were gonna be all over the news today. So some of them hold a press conference-a dreadful display of ‘surprise’ indignation.

The worst was Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) who said that this is a “cash and carry administration.” So they had quickly gotten over the fact that after [see the Professor for more analysis.] a weekend of accusations why would Lay show up and then turn their ‘energy’ on the Bush administration. We call this the ole switcher-oo. I am not defending this pig Lay, but seriously

Sen. Barbara Boxer thought she was being clever by blaming California’s energy crisis on Enron. Whatever…take our news headlines away will you Ken boy! Don’t mess with the commerce committee. I have a word for this kind of thing: “childish”. By all means get to the bottom of things but holding a press conference to whine like children, or worse, starting blaming the administration for everything, do we really need this?

[UPDATE: Okay the analysis of the ‘news’ conference by MSNBC’s anchor and’s Jake Tapper (who looked like he a few too many at a Super Bowl party the night before) was twice as annoying as the Senators. I am not prepared to even try CNN.]

[UPDATE II: Thankfully MSNBC just brought in Joshua Marshall to comment further and he at least made sense. And they also brought in Niger Innis, a Republican consultant, who called this what it really is: GRANDSTANDING!]

[Very strange, when I was watching MSNBC Niger's name was mispelled with two "g's". So I had spelled it the way the television had it on air. I didn't think much of it until the hits started rolling in-no I was not trolling for hits. It was my mistake I should have searched the web, but what's going on at MSNBC. Today (Wednesday) I got a huge volume of hits from Google based on that MSNBC spelling. I made a mistake and apologize for the error. It seems to be huge news around the web. In all this everyone seems to have missed the fact that Niger Innis totally rocks! And that is why I mention him. He just said it like it was.]

Sunday, February 03, 2002

Goldberg watch - - Jonah was on CNN Late Edition today:
JONAH GOLDBERG,"NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Well, I agree, it's not an axis. And actually, there's this funny thing going around the Web these days, where China, Libya and Syria have announced that they're upset by not being mentioned, and they're forming the "axis of almost as evil."

Post 9/11 opinion pages star - - This is a nod to one of the best Op-ed contributors since the terrorist attacks back in September. He is the novelist Salman Rushdie. He has been excellent in his analysis of the events since 9/11. And who knew he was such a great writer at 800 words or less?

His latest piece from the Sunday New York Times is but an example. Here is a taste: “Critics of the Afghan campaign in the West are enraged because they have been shown to be wrong at every step: no, American forces weren't humiliated the way the Russians had been; and yes, the air strikes did work; and no, the Northern Alliance didn't massacre people in Kabul; and yes, the Taliban did crumble away like the hated tyrants they were, even in their southern strongholds; and no, it wasn't that difficult to get the militants out of their cave fortresses; and yes, the various factions succeeded in putting together a new government that seems to have broad support among the people.” You go Mr. Rushdie.

It is not that I agree 100% with everything he has to say, but he raises issues in a way that doesn’t come off as smug, condescending, or obnoxious like most of the other Op-ed contributors who have questioned the war.

Still #1 - - Bernard Goldberg’ book, “Bias” is still number one at the Times’ bestseller list.

The future? - - Certainly books have helped Oprah and obviously the authors of the books she picks sell many, many copies. But can there be such a thing as a smart book club? Andrew Sullivan thinks so, and he thinks it might also help to pay for online journalism too. Sullivan is starting his own online book club. It is an astonishingly good idea: reading along and discussing a book with relevance to current events (his first choice is Robert Kaplan’s “Warrior Politics”). It sounds like a book club for smart people.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS: As for it as an economic model for Internet journalism? Well ‘AS’ says he will get 15% of sales of books bought through the links on his site. So if the book is $16.06, his take would be around $2.40. So lets say 1000 people do it. That is $2400 per month. Not a bad haul. Certainly enough to run a website, and do some postings blog style. We’ll have to wait and see.

Super Bowl - - I will tell you straight off: I don’t follow or watch football. I went over to a friend’s house and watched the game today. To be honest I was reading Nietzsche for the first two quarters. But the whole spectacle of the event was pretty cool.

Friday, February 01, 2002

Why not come here and say that… - - North Korea strongly condemned Bush’s State of the Union and what it called his “Moral leprosy.” Right, a biting shot from the troglodyte capital of the world. I have some words for you: Decap and Mopup.