Sunday, March 31, 2002

Baseball 2002 preview: - - Here is how my kind editor described my latest over at ESR: "Who needs George Will? ESR's Jackson Murphy offers you his preview of the 2002 Major League Baseball campaign complete with projected World Series winner! Like we don't already know who that is..." Thanks Steve don't tell Mr. Will this news I hear he carries a grudge. Go over and check out my predictions. Email me your thoughts about why you believe I am silly to think so much of the Twins.

Weekend Movie & stuff - - Sorry about the nearly three days of non-posting, and thanks for coming anyway for those who did. I will have more stuff up later, including my 2002 Baseball preview, which will be up at EnterstageRight.com later. My editor at ESR thought I had mistaken the site for SI, but agreed to run it to counter the endless Middle East commentary and other depressing events. (Although his prediction that the Mets will finish above the Braves is unwise.) Don’t forget it is Opening Day! Hazah!

I saw “Death to Smoochy” on Friday afternoon. National Review gave it a pretty good review, but I just wanted it to end. While there were some funny moments, and it was delightful to see Robin Williams do his crazy shtick again, it just wasn’t enough to keep me interested. If my watch had a light I would have checked the time obsessively. On a positive note, the remarks about Ed Norton’s character being a vegetarian and a hippy were lovely. And there were many a rejoinder to Norton who may be the poster child for the anti-globalization set. Save your cash.

Happy Easter - - No bunnies need apply. The MidEast situation on Easter Sunday begins with more suicide bombers in Israel. Sharon framed it as simply war. Hey if it looks like a war, acts like a war, then it’s a war. CNN or MSNBC was reporting that a bunch of peace activists have visited Arafat. Where are they when a sick suicide bomber kills a dozen and injures a hundred Jews? Happy Fun Pundit has some correct words on this phenomenon. (Via the Prof)

Friedman is pretty on today. “A nonviolent Palestinian movement appealing to the conscience of the Israeli silent majority would have delivered a Palestinian state 30 years ago, but they have rejected that strategy, too. The reason the Palestinians have not adopted these alternatives is because they actually want to win their independence in blood and fire. All they can agree on as a community is what they want to destroy, not what they want to build. Have you ever heard Mr. Arafat talk about what sort of education system or economy he would prefer, what sort of constitution he wants? No, because Mr. Arafat is not interested in the content of a Palestinian state, only the contours.”

Ken Layne get it right too: “Yeah, dude. Your idea of an "independent Palestinian state" meant "kill every freakin' Jew." Doesn't work. You had your chance. And all you've done is screw the Palestinian Arabs for decades. Hooray for you!”

And Orrin Judd (Thanks to Patrick Ruffini) has a good headline: “WHY DO THEY HATE...THEMSELVES”. Read the whole post it is mighty good.

He’s so like September 10th - - Newsweek apparently giving up covering something important has turned to an expose on the former President. Here is the quote:

“Clinton’s policy fluency—and unmatched ability to explain a complex world—are already missed in some quarters. But he still must confront the perception that he’s a little “September 10th.” Not a relic; too young and forward-thinking for that, but less relevant than he once seemed. He’s at historical risk of being remembered as a gaudy flower—or tiresome weed—obscured between the Bushes, a prewar luxury of tabloid distraction.”

At risk? Sorry but there is no risk, it is a done deal. I eagerly await more apologetic and revisionist books by Clinton and his buddies. For evidence of what is to come when Clinton’s book comes out in 2003 check out this passage:

“But Clinton made no secret of his frustration over missing the biggest presidential leadership challenge of his generation. “It was painful for him,” says one person who saw him last fall. “He has prepared all of his life for something truly big like this.” Now the ex-president is contesting even that, insisting that the war on terrorism, while important, “is not like World War II at all” and will eventually be seen in the context not of the Bush presidency but of Clinton’s global achievements.”

Of course the true nature of Clinton has always been this: It is all about ‘him’. I can’t wait for things to happen for the next thirty years and Clinton coming out every few years to lay his claim to any success. What fun.

The Iraq War Council - - Primer on the Bush-Blair meeting this week.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Must reads today - - Andrew Sullivan has some excellent words about the Middle East today. This is the ballgame: “Every day, a real full-scale war approaches in which Israel will once again have to fight for survival - but this time against powers that might have access to weapons of mass destruction, and who prefer warfare by surrogates to the conventional conflict in which they have always lost.”

Lileks strikes yet again. “I live in a world which is proving, every day, that Nazism was not the summation of human perfidy. It was just the start. The Nazis had the basics - race hatred, death worship, a bland bureaucracy designed to handle the paperwork of mass extermination. But they lacked the patience of Saddam. It takes foresight and a keen instinct for the long-term to spray towns with chemicals that will kill the next generation of children - and do it as a research project. ” Reading Lileks these past two weeks reminds me of the theme to “The Spy who Loved me”: ”Nobody does it better, makes me feel sad for the rest…” (or not)

Matt Welch gets to the real problem with the shooting in France yesterday. While some chose to focus on the comments by presidential candidate Alain Madelin who said it was evidence of American influence. But the real issue, as Welch points out is that this guy-offending comments ou non-is the only true free market guy in the race and he is only polling 2.5%.

Sacreblue. Well at least the anti-EU guy is getting 3% but what’s the deal with this: left-wing nationalist Jean-Pierre Chevenement (9%), Trotskyite Arlette Laguiller (8%), Communist Robert Hue (5%), Green candidate Noel Mamere (5%). This represents 27% of the vote going; pardon the pun, way out in left field. What’s worse than one far left party? Well that would have to be more than four. What fun, it makes Canada look downright normal.

And finally Brink Lindsey has some great stuff on US foreign policy. “So it seems to me that the proper U.S. foreign policy is sometimes multilateralist and sometimes unilateralist; sometimes realist and sometimes idealist; sometimes noninterventionist and sometimes interventionist. The difference between sound policy and disastrous blunders is knowing what times call for what approaches. The labels do absolutely nothing to illuminate the choices.

The bottom line is that international affairs are irreducibly chaotic. The world of state-to-outside-world interactions is a flux of changing actors, power alignments, threats, and opportunities -- it is not susceptible to grand abstractions. The prevailing abstractions are as useful to the statesman as "buy low, sell high" is to the investor, or "go with the flow" is to the whitewater rafter.” He also has some great stuff on Japan and Melville.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

And you thought the government was bad - - 70 to 90 million doses of the smallpox vaccine were found.

This is all that we need - - Jesse wants to put his meat hooks into the big Middle East pie of lies, hate, and suicide bombers. No comments just quiet contemplation. Screw it, the time for mediated peace is over, period-stay home Jesse.

100 monkey’s on 100 typewriters - - Is it possible that 100 monkey’s writing on 100 typewriters could manage the nations of the Arab League better than the current leadership? Opinion Journal has the whole story. Only 10 of 22 Arab leaders are attending, Arafat’s satellite address was taped for fear that the Israeli’s would hijack the signal, suicide bombing continues, Saudi peace plan DOA, or maybe Syria pulling the strings all along.

These leaders couldn’t find their butts with two hands and flashlight.

Why we hate Michael Moore - - A second helping of Blair this time on Michael Moore. Moore continues to spread outright lies about connections between the US and the Taliban that have been refuted for months. Blairs take on why: “Because he's a waddle-gaited, slobber-chinned, faux-poor compulsive deceiver, that's why.”

Here is the Spinsanity article that Blair was referring too.

Why do they hate us? - - Tim Blair reporting on those Australians who have added another $1 million in aid to help with the recent Afghan earthquake. He asks: “When will the West’s cruelty end?” Indeed we are such brutal oppressors. We kill them with kindness and money; they try to kill us. Lovely.

National Review Online Makeover - - The gang at NRO has updated the site. Looks good.

Bush on ‘suing’ people - - Just was watching Bush’s speech from Georgia and he made light of the fact that the terrorists must have thought we were so materialistic that we would just sue them. Is Bush reading Lileks? The NY Times’ Kristof is getting plenty of flack for his silly little column about suing Iraq. Read Lileks for the finer points.

Bombing over peace - - 15 dead, 100 wounded and people want Israel to make peace with these barbarians?

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

On Bond - - Interesting Hitchens article (actually a reprinted introduction to the new edition of some Bond books) on James Bond and villians and stuff. "A compromise is eventually reached by way of Bond's gruff affection for the brash CIA man, Felix Leiter, but it is generally to be understood that British resolve, pluck and integrity are worth far more than their equivalent weight in Yankee cash and technology." Like I said, it is interesting, although, the Bond metaphor about anticipating globalization and the world of bin Laden has been done.

Morris on Fire - - Dick Morris has been pretty awesome in the past six months, and I would have found this ‘gem’ eventually, but props to the prof for pointing it out. Just read the whole thing.

Bacon and the BK Veggie - - There has been plenty of talk about the new veggie burger at Burger King. Hey I’ll admit that a while back I had some veggie sweet and sour pork and it wasn’t bad-why anyone would think about veggie pork is beyond me but I digress. And you have to know that I spent a few wasted years working for Canada’s biggest Steakhouse chain. Victorino Matus has a pretty funny look at all this at the Weekly Standard.

“With 5 percent of America (13 million people) having gone vegetarian, Burger King is hoping to get an edge over McDonald's--which has about 4,600 more stores than BK. Eventually, the Golden Arches may go national with its own McVeggie (already available in some regions). But when it does, don't panic. Alongside these alternatives, there will be even more offerings for us carnivores. Already, there's the Bacon-Cheddar Whopper. (Talk about finding a way to improve on a classic. You can put two strips of bacon on anything and suddenly you've got yourself a party: Bacon on your cheeseburger, bacon on your pizza, tuck a little bacon in your omelet, bacon on your fried peanut butter sandwich. But I digress.) And this summer Burger King will roll out the Back Porch Griller, a sandwich with even more beef than the Whopper.”

Mmmm Bacon. But at least we won’t ever have a “veggie-meat” problem. That is to say that this is not the Middle East and vegheads and meaties can enjoy breaking the proverbial bread and now they can do it at the hallmarks of meat culture.

All the tech that’s fit to build - - Good article in the Post today about the innovations brought on by the war. War always leads to innovations, and I think that maxim could be changed to war always leads to innovations for the allies. I am waiting to read about the new technology and spin offs that terrorism will bring to the Islamic world. Never mind, suicide bombers don’t count and it is hard to innovate in caves.

Monday, March 25, 2002

Weekend Poll numbers - - CNN/USA Today/Gallop Poll has Bush’s numbers coming in at 79%.

A Newsweek Poll looked at Israel.
"Looking ahead, do you think there will still be a state of Israel in the Middle East 50 years from today, or not?" If "Yes": "Fifty years from today, do you think Israel will still be a JEWISH state, OR that Israel will be a MIXED state in which the Palestinians have a major share of power?"

YES: A Jewish state 34%
YES: A mixed state 23
YES: Don't know which 8
No, will not exist 18
Don' t know 17

"Which side do you think is more to blame for the recent violence in the Middle East: the Israelis or the Palestinians?"
The first number is from 3/02 the second is from 12/01
The Israelis 12 % 11
The Palestinians 49 42
Both equally (vol.) 23 23
Neither/Other (vol.) 3 4
Don' t know 13 20

New Article at ESR - - My latest article is up at ESR. ”The shallowness of debate on campus” is about the somewhat one sided debates on campus. I hope you enjoy.

Hawk Department - - There are reasons why Mr. Krauthammer is so damned fine-and today’s column is one of them. “The advent of suicide bombing coincides precisely with the era of Israeli conciliation and peacemaking: recognition of the PLO, repeated concessions of territory, establishment of the Palestinian Authority, acceptance of an armed Palestinian police -- all culminating in the unprecedented offer of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in a shared Jerusalem. It is precisely in the context of the most accommodating, most conciliatory, most dovish Israeli policy in history that the suicide bombings took hold.”

One paragraph, and that is all Mr. K needs to completely refute the strategy of trying to make, or enforce, peace upon the Palestinians and Israeli’s. It just hasn’t made sense, and while the situation was bad before, it is much worse now. If Arafat doesn’t want peace lets give him a full serving of war.

More on Jeffrey Goldberg - - After his great New Yorker piece this past week, and his contribution to Slate.com I was wondering if there was anything else Jeffrey Goldberg could say to make me an avid reader. The answer is duh! “So, what is conservative, or neoconservative, about Paul Wolfowitz or Richard Perle (or Dick Cheney) standing in the front line against fascism? I didn't realize that the fight against fascism is solely the province of the neoconservative movement. Isn't the real story here not the muscular unilateralism of the neocons, but the moral abdication of the moderate left, which is missing a chance to defeat a genocidal fascist?”

There is also a pretty funny bit about Bush calling the magazine “some East Coast magazine.”

Sunday, March 24, 2002

Delicious - - While over at Patrick Ruffini’s site he brought to my attention this little ditty. Orin Judd believes that Tony Blair is going to bolt the Labor party to the Conservatives. Only good could come from that, and it certainly would solidify his footnote into history.

Being Chris Mathews - - The MSNBC “Hardball” host is facing plenty of criticism lately. Patrick Ruffini has the dish about the “meltdown” and all the other links.

Mathews is increasing his attacks against any future action against Iraq. His latest article repeats his belief that it is going to take 200,000 troops to effect a regime change. His take: “This confluence of interest between ideology and oil has put us on the road to Baghdad. It's time for us to realize that American principles have precious little to do with this costly prospective military campaign.”

Sounds like he has been reading some of the conspiracy websites. This is not good. Hey, I like Mathews, but I think it is tiresome to always have to hear what he really thinks.

Friday, March 22, 2002

My own brush with Michael Moore lore - - What’s the deal with no postings for over a day? Well, yesterday was a busy one-Enough of the excuses though. I attended an AGM of the BC Civil Liberties Association to hear a speech by one of Canada’s “great thinkers” John Ralston Saul. You’re right I don’t think his Excellency is that great, but I just finished reviewing his latest book and thought I would check it out (that review will come online sooner or later if you’re interested).

When it came time for questions one soul regaled the crowd with the sob story about Michael Moore’s latest book. That at one time the publisher had second thoughts about actually printing it. And, “sob, sob” thankfully they went ahead. The self-indulgent statement was supposed to be relating someway to free speech. I guess if a publisher suddenly realizes that Moore is a complete ignoramus-not to mention the hypocritical aspect that he is a millionaire while he trolls for support from the working man (if he was a blogger he would be nothing Moore, sorry that’s more, than a whore) then it is censorship. Forget that this story was told three months ago and definitely forget that the publisher of the book, Harper Collins, is owned by News Corp. Rest assured the nitwit asking the question told us the book is out, although he hadn’t read it, and the ‘man’ was coming to Vancouver soon. This moron was only to be outdone by the old women who spent a few minutes theorizing on the grander conspiracy of 9/11-some wild oil conspiracy (It may have been Oliver Stone’s correspondent in Vancouver but we’ll never know). Clearly lost on the out-of-the-closet Moore-ite is that Moore’s own Website has shut down the online forum because they claim it is too busy. Come on.

All of these met with applause, though Saul didn’t comment on the conspiracy theories. It is interesting, to me anyways, that none of the people in the room (a room full of proud ‘civil libertarians’) have failed to keep up with the Moore watch. See here, here, here, here, and of course the now famous Lilek’s take here.

Iraq-Al Qaeda link - - As promised, I finished the New Yorker article by Jeffrey Goldberg titled “The Great Terror.” The article is still not online so pick it up. Sullivan did likewise and posted a few choice cuts. (He calls it the most important piece of journalism this year-so now take the chance.) There is a cool Q&A with Goldberg here.

Here is his own short summary (well the first bit anyway) : “The piece in question ran about 18,000 words (give or take a thousand), so I'll try to summarize the main points in only 10,000 or so.

There has been a certain amount of discussion this week in Washington about one particular point I raised, which concerns allegations that Saddam is more closely tied to al-Qaida than we had previously thought. I had actually gone to Iraqi Kurdistan in late January not expecting to learn anything new about terrorism (post-Sept. 11 terrorism, that is, not state terror against the Kurds). But when I was in Kurdistan, I started to hear stories about an al-Qaida-style terror group formerly known as the Jund al-Islam, or Soldiers of Islam, which recently changed its name (for the most naked of PR reasons, I believe) to the Ansar al-Islam, or Supporters of Islam. This group controls about 10 villages near the Iranian border, and its membership consists of typical Islamist mayhem-makers; these people kill in various nasty ways and want to impose sharia, Islamic law, on Free Kurdistan (the parts of Kurdistan under the American no-fly zone), which is problematic because the Kurds are, in the main, secular, progressive, and pro-American.”

Slate.com quickly got him on a mini-breakfast table which started yesterday. The other writer thought he was Goldberg from WCW wrestling fame, which was a nice way to neutralize the gravity of talking with this guy. In his post today Goldberg starts off with a bang. “Of course Saddam Hussein cannot be permitted to get nukes. If he gets them, he'll use them to murder large numbers of people, among them American soldiers (think of the nightmare of force concentration in a Middle East dominated by a nuclear-capable Saddam); Kurds (he's already gassed them; I wouldn't put it past him to nuke them as well); Saudis; and, of course, Jews, his ticket to immortality.” Okay. Do we understand why we have to deal with this now?

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

So What - - The Senate passed campaign finance reform, and when I saw Judy Woodruff explain this, she could not have looked happier. This whole thing reminds me of the non-flap flap over the steel tariff business. Look Bush went along with Steel tariffs and it was all politics. If he signs this isn’t just playing a little chicken with the Democrats?

I saw Terry (MacAuliffe that is) and he said he was going to have to raise an additional $100 million in hard money donation now that it looks like Soft money is out. I am sure Karl and W will enjoy a good chuckle over this, but really who cares. Maybe I am too cynical, perhaps too focused on the WWF and the war. But this stuff doesn’t keep me up too late at night.

Riding with the VP - - John King of CNN had a great little wrap up on Inside Politics of his trip with the VP today. He described the way Cheney staffers see him. He has two moods, “serious” and “very serious”. I like that.

Running the Numbers: Nukes & Shadow Gov’t - - New Poll numbers from a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll (March 12-13) on some big issues.

On the Shadow government:
Reassuring 46%
Disturbing 36%
Not Sure 18%

On Tactical Nuclear Weapon Use:
Support 42%
Oppose 48%
Not Sure 10%

It is weird, 42 % of those asked support the use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons in the war on terror. I find that number to be quite good considering the issue is kind of way out there. Sure it isn’t a plurality, but this kind of thing should give Saddam something to think about.

UK is da bomb - - Well, I can barely wait until the European’s get a hold of this news that England will be ready to use nuclear weapons in the event Saddam uses weapons of mass destruction. This Geoff Hoon fellow may well be trying to join the Bush cabinet, or doing an excellent Rumsfeld impression. You go.

The business of wrestling - - Interesting article at Salon.com on the WWF and Wrestlemania. I know, I know, I am obstructing my IQ again, but do the words guilty pleasure mean anything? Is this the end of Vince’s empire? Stay tuned-or not.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Europe talk - - Yesterday I said I was going to find the new issue of the New Yorker [article in question not online], but it is not out here yet. Instead I got the new April issue of the Atlantic [whole issue not online yet]. It is damn good. I am on article three (the David Brooks article on what the next century will be about, and Michael Kelly’s first part on Air Power is also exceptional) and it is fantastic. “The Case against Europe” by Walter Russell Mead is good. Here are some lovely highlights:

“When Jacksonian America does think about Europe, it sees what Sheriff Andy of Mayberry saw in Barney Fife-a scrawny, neurotic deputy whose good heart was overshadowed by bad judgment and vanity. The slow talking, solid Andy tolerated Barney just fine, but he knew that Barney’s self-importance would get him into one humiliating scrape after another.”

“Unfortunately, Europe’s seemingly inbred, unshakable faith in its superiority reminds Americans of Wile E. Coyote, in the Road Runner cartoons. The coyote is convinced that he is smarter than the Road Runner. He builds one intricate Road Runner catcher after another-machines that Road Runner is incapable of understanding, much less duplicating. True, the coyote never quite catches Road Runner, but this has no impact whatsoever on the coyote’s self-esteem. ‘Wile E. Coyote, genius,’ says the mailbox outside his home. To which Jacksonian America says, ‘Beep Beep!’”

All about the aid III - - Now the ‘playas’ are spouting off about foreign aid. Kofi Annan does it in the NY Times. His take: “All governments accept that official aid is only one element in the development mix, but an essential one. Aid can be much more effective today than it was 20 years ago if it is focused on building the capacity of recipient countries to run their own economies, not on tying them to the business or geopolitical interests of the donor countries. Aid today must aim at developing human resources so that growth can be sustained. It must be directed not at securing loyalty but at rewarding sound governance that will last.”

Vincente Fox goes this way in the WAPO: “This week in Monterrey we have the duty to take steps to ensure that future generations in the developing world can be spared the poverty and suffering that until now have been their inevitable destiny. We also have an opportunity to build a bridge between what we promise developing countries today and what we can accomplish tomorrow.

It is not a matter of becoming our brother's keepers, but simply their partners.”

Monday, March 18, 2002

All about the aid II - - You ask and you shall receive. OK, I asked, and we receive. Brink Lindsey answers the call about the real score card on foreign aid He has some great links and says this:

“A big boost in foreign aid would surely produce warm, fuzzy feelings of self-congratulation in donor countries. But actually help people in recipient countries? Don't bet on it.”

All about the aid - - Sabastian Mallaby has an interesting take on Secretary O’Neill and foreign aid. Now I have in the past demanded that he resign, but I am coming around to the fact that he isn’t bad at all. I mentioned the whole ‘aid’ deal when talking about Bono-who is the aid guru.

Nevertheless I was surprised to see Mallaby write this: “O'Neill's head-knocking impatience has its good sides; his fingerprints are visible on last Thursday's announcement of a new $5 billion results-oriented aid fund. But if O'Neill is serious about creating South Koreas everywhere, he ought to be calling for a bigger jump in aid. In the early 1960s, when South Korea embarked on its economic miracle, U.S. aid to the country came to 7 percent of GDP. If the United States did the same for sub-Saharan Africa it would ramp up its support from a bit under $2 billion a year to roughly $20 billion.” Worth the read.

I had hoped that Brink Lindsey would be posting on this-maybe he will. I don’t know; giving aid works (South Korea) but I would imagine that there are structural reasons for this too. So this aid with results demand is at least a healthy medium.

The Iraqi Connection - - Safire takes up the connection between Iraq and 9/11-saying that there is a systematic attempt by Europe, Russia, and the Arab world to make sure that people don’t believe that there is a connection-and consequently we shouldn’t attack Iraq. This is a good start. Another is this CNN “Late Edition” exchange with James Woolsey:

BLITZER: Director Woolsey, there's a new article coming out in the New Yorker magazine by Jeffrey Goldberg, a well-known writer, who makes the case that there is a great connection between Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi military intelligence services to Al Qaeda than previously thought.

Is this credible in your mind?

WOOLSEY: I think it is. And I think Jeff Goldberg's piece is a blockbuster. It comes out tomorrow in the New Yorker.

It details in Northern Iraq cooperation between Al Qaeda and Saddam's Mukhabarat, his intelligence service, in attacks on the Kurds.

WOOLSEY: It details working together between Al Qaeda and Saddam for 10 years. It details smuggling of weapons by Iraqi intelligence into Afghanistan for Al Qaeda. It details Al Qaeda refugees being brought into Iraq. It's quite something.

When I venture out in the snow here in Vancouver today, my mission is to find that New Yorker.

Morning Shooter - - Stephen Green calls Al Gore the “Robot Aldlai Stephenson.” On Fire: “9/11 showed where a Clinton foreign policy could lead, and the stock burst showed that a sizeable chunk of the Clinton economic expansion was illusory. Add the first and subtract the latter, and all you're left with is the sleaze. And since Gore doesn't even have that, he's the Nothing Candidate.”

"Eating candy like a Spaniard." - - Now that you have mocked me “Rib” about the Tapioca (I promise it will be the last time I mention it today) check out this film production blog. Go thou and do likewise El Presidente.

One Meeelion Dollars - - This article by Sullivan is going to be one of those dog pile links. But it is good. Here is a taste: “This is the goofy Bush, the man who allegedly started waving at Stevie Wonder at a recent Washington concert, only to realize his stupidity and crack up at the whole interaction. This is the Bush who started a "stickball" team at college and christened it "the Nads," so as to ensure that the chants from the stands would be "Go Nads! Go Nads!" This is the Bush who does a mean Dr. Evil impression from Austin Powers (one of his favorite movies), who "when he ate French fries, dipped them into puddles of ketchup deeper and broader than anyone over the age of twelve typically amasses," and who, when asked what he had in common with Tony Blair ventured Colgate toothpaste.”

Monday’s contradictions - - Yes, I did watch Wrestlemania which probably lowered my IQ about 65 points-not a good thing, but a bad thing. Special thanks to Rob and Fred who set up a big screen so we could watch this historic event. The Rock did beat Hogan, but then when the “Hulkster” was attacked by his ‘NWO' posse, the Rock lent a hand. Also extra special ‘props’ to Rob who made me some Tapioca Pudding. (You tell some people that you ate some Tapioca and they never leave you alone. The bonus for me, I got to eat some yummy Tapioca.)

On the other hand Little Green Footballs has added Dispatches to his anti-idiotarian list. They may want to reconsider after the whole Wrestling debacle, but I thank them.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

St. Patrick’s Day and WWF - - Off to my friend Rob’s house to watch the ultimate trashy event WWF’s WrestleMania. Will report on that “pop” event later.

Opinion Hell - - If it is Sunday, it must be another Eric Margolis column. His column this week entitled, “Dr. Strangelove with a Texas drawl” continues his streak of shabby foreign affairs commentary.

Margolis: “Last week was not a good one for the Bush administration's crusade against evil. First came news of the government-issued visas for two of the 9/11 hijackers. Next, much ballyhooed Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan turned out to be a dud. Only a handful of al-Qaida or Taliban fighters - and 14 civilians - were killed, at a cost of eight Americans dead and over 40 wounded. Hundreds of other al-Qaida/Taliban once again escaped to fight another day.”

Dispatches: Well, the approval of the visas for two of the hijackers is not good, Margolis is right about that one, but the certainty in which he gleefully reports that Operation Anaconda was a failure is misleading at best. There is scarce intelligence on this fact and there is no other news organization willing to say for certain one way or the other because there could be hundreds buried in caves dead from US bombing.

Margolis: “Worse, exiled King Zahir Shah, whom America intends to restore to the throne of Afghanistan, said the U.S.-led war in his nation was "stupid and useless" and should be called off. The U.S. media ignored this damning comment. “

Dispatches: Indeed when I source articles I often cite ancient monarchs who have not been on the ground for 30 years and have no clue about US operations. The US media ignored this comment, because when was the last time the media has mention Shah, period?

Margolis: “Accordingly, the Bush administration for the first time openly endorsed a Palestinian state, after previously vetoing similar UN Security Council resolutions. Bush, and pro-Israel super-hawk Cheney, who had previously dismissed Palestinians as "terrorists" and opposed a Palestinian state, were forced to shift gears and promise a "viable Palestinian state" to mollify Arab allies. Bush even showed support for the sensible peace plan being advocated by Saudi Arabia. However, cynical Arabs recall the U.S. also promised a viable Palestinian state before attacking Iraq in 1991, but failed to make good on its word.”

Dispatches: This is not entirely true. Colin Powell and Bush have hinted at this Palestinian state since post 9/11. Also writing that Cheney is a, ‘pro-Israel super-hawk’ is really a non starter, since once you are a hawk, how much more hawkish do you have to be to become a “super” one? The labeling of the Saudi plan as “sensible” whitewashes the fact that Saudi Arabia isn’t some two-bit dictatorship but a peacemaker-He fails to note that the plan is a cynical game to ensure the Saudi royal family remains in power-but I suppose that is OK, since the Palestinians are not terrorists.

Margolis: Then, another bombshell exploded under the administration. The Los Angeles Times published a leaked Pentagon document, the secret Nuclear Posture Review, which widened the list of nuclear targets to seven nations and lowered the threshold for U.S. use of nuclear weapons. The list included Russia and China, "axis of evil" baddies North Korea, Iraq, and Iran, plus Libya, and Syria.

The review calls for use of U.S. nuclear weapons in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan, an attack by Iraq against Israel, war in Korea, or, ominously, "surprising military developments."


Dispatches: I have already really gotten into the nuts and bolts of this one (links). But the expansion of targets reflects not some cowboy lunacy but a realization that, and perhaps Margolis is unaware, the Cold War is officially over. It also doesn’t lower any threshold, but many commentators feel uncomfortable that these things need to be talked about and planned. As a counter to Margolis’s dire warnings read this article. Some highlights to counter Margolis: “Let's stop and take a deep breath. Are we actually going to nuke countries ranging from Russia to Libya to North Korea? No. What the government says it will do with nuclear weapons, and what it actually intends to do, are seldom the same thing. The public posture on nuclear use is called "declaratory" strategy. The secret war plans are "operational" strategy.
That's a difference worth bearing in mind. According to recent reports, the Bush administration wants to reduce the size of the nation's nuclear arsenal by about two-thirds while expanding the range of options for selectively applying such weapons. Some journalists have read the changes as evidence that Mr. Bush's advisers are lowering the barriers to employing weapons of mass destruction. In reality, the opposite is true. “

Margolis: “It is appropriate for the U.S. to quietly use the threat of its nuclear arsenal to deter any nation from launching nuclear, chemical, or biological attacks on America. But now, the administration is clearly planning to use tactical nukes against underground bunkers and troop formations - in other words, moving from traditional deterrence to the kind of offensive nuclear war advocated by the Pentagon's Dr. Strangeloves during the Cold War.

This piece of lunacy will surely motivate nations on Bush's target list to rush to acquire nuclear and/or biowarfare weapons in order to forestall possible U.S. nuclear attack, thus defeating the campaign to limit nuclear proliferation. China will now be forced to accelerate its nuclear missile development.”


Dispatches: On the one hand he agrees that this needs to be done in order to maintain deterrence; on the other hand he seems to think that this will prompt more proliferation. The clarity of Margolis who “knows” that this means the Bush administration will use nukes on underground bunkers is odd. The development of new weapons that the US has been using in caves in the war, and their new cousins coming on line denotes that it may not be necessary to use nukes at all-but they should be considered.

Margolis: “U.S. plans to attack Iraq with nuclear weapons in the event of a war with Israel show just how deeply the Bush administration has fallen under the spell of Israel's Gen. Ariel Sharon and his far right Likud party. Why should the U.S. start a nuclear war on Israel's behalf when Israel has 200 nuclear weapons and one of the world's most powerful armed forces? Why target Syria, which poses zero threat to the U.S., while ignoring India, which is fast developing a nuclear-armed ICBM that can reach the USA?”

Dispatches: Whoa. I would hardly say that the Bush administration is under Sharon’s spell. This week especially as he reconfirmed the idea of a Palestinian state, that Israel’s recent actions were “unhelpful”, and sending Anthony Zinni back to the region. Reading this column is nothing like hearing an intelligent conversation on the topic of the Mideast like Friedman-Kristol on “Meet the Press”. The gravity of the situation for Israel is one where a nuclear response may be warranted if under attack and their nation is on the brink of being run over (especially if the 1967 borders are put back, making the situation very “fluid” if the Arab world doesn’t actually come through with there side of the bargain-normal relations). And the US may need to help its ally. Saying that they will defend Israel with nukes is different than the actual reality. You only have to think of the Cold War-seriously would the US have gone nuclear if France was nuked by Russia? The plan was always, of course we will-but that is why France continues to hold on to those nukes. Syria is a threat as far as the terrorism front goes because they are historical sponsors of it. India hasn’t done much to provoke the US yet; not to mention that those ICBM’s are for the needed purpose and context of the China-India relationship. That is one of classic deterrence.

Margolis: “The U.S. previously vowed never to use nuclear weapons against nations that did not possess them. Now, Bush's crusaders are planning to not only break this pledge, but threaten to use tactical nukes to vaporize opponents around the world.

This act of folly is a sign of the growing frustration of the administration over its inability to catch Osama bin Laden, shut down al-Qaida, pacify Afghanistan and deal with hatred of the U.S. throughout the Muslim world.

Nuking Baghdad won't solve the Mideast's problems. In fact, VP Cheney may find on his trip that far more Mideasterners fear America's nuclear weapons than Saddam Hussein's non-existent ones.”


Dispatches: Relax Eric and don’t get all worked up over the Nuclear Posture review which doesn’t do any of these things. The US doesn’t actually need to use tactical nukes, but needs to reinforce the world that we are not weak. The US can rain down thermobaric hell with bombs that are likely to do the same thing but under the guise of being non-nuclear or conventional. Most of the review was a continuation of Clinton’s team and Bush I before it. It also doesn’t seem to me, to be an outgrowth of frustration that they haven’t caught bin Laden. At Bush’s Press Conference last week he seemed confident that they would find him, but it may take time.

As for Nuking Baghdad solving the Mideast problem he is correct. Unfortunately he is wrong that a decapitation of Saddam will help. If we could transform Iraq into a western friendly nation and support its people we could then easily drop support of a regime like Saudi Arabia, subsequently pushing its pathetic royal family over the tipping point. At this point we may end up with a couple of less radical regimes in the region, not to mention the pressure this would all have on a place like Iran to change. That, Mr. Margolis, would transform the whole region. Margolis has a masked left leaning and anti-American agenda that he pushes in his columns. But he offers nothing in terms of an alternative plan and I sense that he may have missed the changes that the North American people have gone through which includes support for every aspect of this war thus far.


Bono as Gump? - - OK I stole the headline sort of, but Bono (of rock band U2) is making the rounds lately getting audiences with the major players. There is this photo (Via: PhotoDude) of Bush hanging out with Bono (Bush waving, Bono flashing peace sign) and Patrick Ruffini makes the key observation about this “bono-ization” of international politics-that he is doing a better job of voicing his concerns about things. Now, if he can play both sides like this, why can't black leaders and voters learn to benefit by doing the same, instead of putting all their eggs in the same fragile left-wing basket time after time?” asks Ruffini. Certainly he has done more for the cause of debt relief than the angry mob at the globalization protests.

Why MTP is better than FNS - - While I like Fox News Sunday’s music and sometimes great panels, I still am going to go back to sleep and skip it today. Why? Main guest is John McCain-the Senator of Boredom-thank goodness he lost the primary. He is a decent guy, but with CFR (that’s Campaign Finance Reform to my friends), and simply how boring and predictable this guy has become it isn’t worth watching-why do people suck up to this guy? Dispatches will return shortly after a nap.

”Airness” - - Great bit on today’s “Meet the Press” when Tim Russert showed guests Tom Friedman and Bill Kristol the end of his interview with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov when he presented Ivanov with a Washington Wizard’s jersey. Russert asked if he knew whose it was, and he simply said, “his airness.” The fact that he knew it was Michael Jordan’s was interesting as Russert noted, that the world sure has changed.

It was also interesting to see Kristol suggest that US Troops would probably have to be on the ground soon in the Palestinian/Israeli area to ensure, in some way, that calm is restored. It was a good discussion with Kristol and Friedman and both said it would be better if the US started telling it like it was-as in hey Saudi Arabia, you’re a nasty regime get with the program. And Kristol really slammed Israel’s government, as being one of the past-both Sharon and Perez in the government would be, to Kristol, like having Bush I and Carter in the same government 2 decades later-ouch.

Friday, March 15, 2002

Being James Lileks - - Lileks is such a must read everyday, and even with his buying habits the guy is funny.

“I have a new scheme for household maintenance: buy what you’re not out of yet. For example: after this winter’s bout of the Eternal Grippe I bought both Dayquil and Nyquil, and put them aside for the day (or ny) we would need them again. Likewise Pepto-Bismol. And the real stuff, too, not “Papti-Bismuth” or “Peptide-Bismalla” or any other store-brand knockoff. I don’t care if it has the same ingredients; they have the mouth-feel of camel drool. I buy light bulbs, batteries, extra boxes of tissue, shampoo, shaving cream, razors. Should Western civilization collapse in a trice, I’m going to spend the last month living like a gentleman. Roasting my neighbors on the grill when the foodstuffs run out, yes, but I will shave before dinner.”

Good News Steel tariff debate fans - - The Instapundit points out this new blog entry by Brink Lindsey. This will raise the level of debate on economics and globalization issues. A good thing-go dig that.

Back to our scheduled nuke briefings - - Crazy day when “The Hawk” isn’t dealing with the war ‘n stuff. Richard D. Sokolsky and Eugene B. Rumer pick up the slack and talk about the nuclear stuff. If this issue was in a nutshell, this would be it: “Countries hostile to the United States are indeed developing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that could do us grave harm. Their leaders may not be deterred by traditional threats of massive nuclear retaliation. And they are producing and storing these weapons in deeply buried and hardened sites that might be invulnerable to all but nuclear weapons.”

Life's a garden, dig it II - - This was also passed along by reader Mike. Satire Wire's Global March Madness is well worth the trip. Here's a sneak:

While the field offered few surprises — nuclear powers China, the United States, and India were the top seeds in three of the four regions — eyebrows were raised at both the 1-seed granted Russia, mired in a late 20th Century slump, and perennial walkover France as a 2-seed in the East. But the committee also lined up marquee first-round matchups, including Great Britain v. Ireland, and Colombia vs. itself, as well as potential later round battles pitting Egypt against Israel, the U.S. against North Korea, and Cuba against Microsoft.

Life’s a garden, dig it - - Sources in the film industry-props to my friend Rob M. -have passed along this ScreenDaily.com story. “Working Title Films' Ali G IndaHouse, the feature debut of UK comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's spoof gangsta rapper, is heading for a showdown with. UK TV advertising watchdog BACC.” You may remember him from the Madonna video, “Music” (or not.)

“Ali G's backer Universal said it has been told by BACC to get permission from the Queen, president George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair before it will approve the film's TV adverts. BACC has vetoed seven proposed spots for the comedy, which UIP is releasing in the UK in less than three weeks.”

Let me get this straight The Queen, Blair, and Bush have to approve ads now? Not exactly, but since they are being mocked in the ads: “One proposed advert features Ali G being asked if he likes President Bush - "Me like Bush," he replies. Another has the line 'Blair Beware', while another shows him accidentally pulling down the Queen's skirt and declaring "respect".”

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Mail Bag - - Regular reader Mike, from Vancouver writes about my comments on Sharon being more Arafat than Arafat and Kelly’s column:

Okay, here we go with Kelly again! I think his argument represents the logical process of the hawkish mind: Keep ratcheting up the war until the Palestinians stop revolting and sue for peace. If its stuck, get a bigger hammer. The problem is not with Kelly's reasoning, its perfectly sensible to think that the present situation needs more force, the problem is, Is this the paradigm that going to solve the ultimate question?

I'll use a traffic jam analogy: When you're in a traffic jam and stuck motionless, you crave to get out and move in ANY direction as long as you're moving. You rationalize, even if you have to double back and travel in the wrong direction, at least you're getting there quickly! The Palestinians and Israelis are in a traffic jam, Kelly wants some movement, so he thinks he can get it by traveling in the opposite direction to peace and that is to escalate the war.

Kelly should be careful what he wishes for, if Sharon tries to ' be more Arafat than Arafat' when will Israel know when to stop? When the object is to stop suicide bombers, success is achieved when the bombing stops. But if the objective is a larger war fought in the occupied lands and not Israel proper, when will Israel know when the Palestinians have quit resisting and are just simply trying to defend themselves? You get into a 'Rodney King' situation where you have the Authority wailing away on a guy, who has long since stopped resisting and is now just trying to ward off the blows. Sharon and Kelly assume that a wider war will mean Palestinians won't continue to resist, but I think the more you make war against them the MORE they will resist not less. Palestine is like the guy at the blackjack table doubling his bet every time he loses, I think Palestinians are perfectly prepared to drive this thing into the ground if Israel tries to crush 'em. Israel loses all of the moral high ground. […]

A cease-fire is desperately needed and I think one could be negotiated, Israel has to continue to find some kind of moderate Palestinian voices (which is going to be very hard because a whole generation has been radicalized, but it'll be worse if Kelly is right and the war is to be enlarged) and some moderate Arab voices. I'm not saying Israel should not defend itself, only that widening the conflict might not provide it with the relief they seek.


To which I would only say: why can’t we just give war a chance? They want to fight, why not let them? I say this only half jokingly. Bush is, rightly, waging a war on terrorism, and Israel should be able to do whatever they think is necessary to stop suicide bombers. They have to know that there are consequences to terrorism, and any appeasement of this sort of crowd, will I think, beg more terrorism in the future. How to get to a ceasefire is the real problem.

I read Slate.com’s “Breakfast Table” all week featuring Fareed Zakaria. But it took them five days to actually talk about the Middle East. What I like about Zakaria’s posting today is that he doesn’t have ‘the’ answer, or ‘any’ answer. He acknowledges that the situation is grim, but doesn’t fake an answer. This raises the question: is there an answer?



Back to basics - - Major League Baseball announced that heavy armor or protection is no longer going to be allowed unless a doctor says so. This is good news for baseball. Especially for old school players, like Mark Grace, who usually don’t even wear gloves or protection. (via Slate.com which dealt with the story last year)

Influence of bloggers - - I am extremely interested in the place where blogging and journalism collide. Mickey Kaus has an excellent look at an article by Natasha Berger who blames the deteriorating career of Doris Kearns Goodwin on the borking taken by bloggers. Silly arguments that Kaus superbly deals with. Her argument is that there is not enough control over bloggers who can print whatever they want!! Goodness, give a person a computer, an Internet connection, and blogger software and they will become character assassins. Hardly, but with these tools and some time bloggers can, shock, find things out-things that many “real” journalists may not want us to know! Googlebombers unite.

Environmental Guru shout out - - J. Bishop Grewell a crazy friend from Montana has a good one today at NRO. Bishop you rock.

Celebrity Boxing - - Have we gotten back to normal? Well Todd Bridges and Vanilla Ice were boxing on TV tonight. And Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams. Only to be outdone by Tonya Harding and Paula Jones. The good thing about the pluralistic and free west is that sometimes even you can shake your head at what goes on here. Ahhh Freedom.

The Lull - - I didn’t do any blogging yesterday-was working on one of four articles on my plate. But it occurs to me that aside from the whole “nuke” story of the past week, this is a lull. The battle at Gardez is winding down, Iraq is on warning-again, and the Middle East is well, the Middle East. But that is pretty much it, so Bush has a press conference-man those are always fun. It makes you wonder if this is the world today or a calm before the storm.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Morning Briefing - - Our starting line up of pundits, op-eds, editorials, and other good stuff. Today: “Nukes, nukes, nukes, baseball, Disney, & Unilateralism, oh and some more nukes”



LEAD OFF: Michael Kelly has some interesting thoughts on the evolution of doctrine for Israel. Basically it is a matter of being more Arafat than Arafat. “What Israel must do is to adopt its own version of Arafat's phased war approach; it must pursue peace, or appear to pursue peace, as a phase in the longer war. It must meet Palestinian war with relentless war in return. But, simultaneously, it must become the aggressor in a new peace process -- whether or not that process will ultimately lead to a peace Israel can accept. The so-called Saudi plan currently on the table is a cynical and moth-eaten fraud put forth by a cynical and moth-eaten regime. In its ultimate proposals -- the abandonment of Jerusalem, the return of all Palestinian refugees -- it is purposely unworkable. Israel should nevertheless grasp it (or something equally unrealistic) as the basis for a new round of negotiations.”



2ND: Matt Welch has an awesome baseball article out today.



3RD: Thomas Friedman continues his hitting streak from the last week and keeps at this Saudi peace plan. “That's why the real question before this Arab summit is: Can the Arabs answer bin Laden by positing a different vision? Can the Arab-Muslim world show a willingness to live with pluralism — with a Jewish state in fair boundaries? Or must the area be free of all "infidels"? An Arab League that can't live with a pluralism of people can't live with a pluralism of ideas. If it can't live with a pluralism of ideas, it will never develop and will remain, at some level, alienated from the West and Israel.” The region is going to have to figure out this little question soon.



CLEAN-UP: WSJ Editorial clears the bases by clearing up the accusations that the US is acting too unilateral. “The President said that 17 nations have forces deployed in and around Afghanistan to help end the fierce resistance of the remaining al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts and to help a provisional government in Kabul get on its feet. He mentioned specifically Britain, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Germany and even "our good ally, France," which has sent one-fourth of its (albeit small) navy to the region. Japanese, Turks, Russians, Jordanians, Spanish and South Koreans were cited for their supporting roles. This is unilateralism?”



5TH: The riverboat gambler (Tony Blankley) takes on the nuclear stuff too. “Whether we think these nations have the weapons now or in five years is inconsequential. The point is to act before they and their terrorist partners can. The point is to act while we have the will of a united people — not wait a few years until that unity and will may have dissipated.”



6TH: Maureen Dowd is back in more comfortable territory debating the whole Disney is the Devil for planning to oust Koppel.



7TH: James Caroll goes on, and on, about nukes too. “Beware the Ides of March? No. Beware the ''war on terrorism,'' and the Nuclear Posture Review! Beware the Bush administration's exploitation of our grief, anger, and fear. We must urgently reconsider the course we have set out upon this year before it leads us into a dead end of our own making. Then survivors will ask, When did America become Sparta? And the answer will come: It was now.” Exploitation? Well, James if terrorists strike again, and possibly use nukes, or chemical, or biological weapons, what are we going to do?



8TH: WAPO Editorial takes on the nuclear stuff. This is not so bad, and certainly less fear mongering than the NY Times editorial from yesterday.



9TH: Slate.com’s Scott Shuger has some excellent stuff on the hysterical coverage of the nuke plans.



STARTING PITCHER: Dick Morris throws some heat. His target: Europe. “When I reminded one journalist, "We helped you twice in the last century when you were under attack and we expect you to help us now," she recoiled and said, "Oh, it was nothing like 9/11, Germany invaded us." Apparently, except for the United Kingdom, the Atlantic is a one-way ocean.”




In Nukes we trust II - - Point: NY Times Editorial “Since the dawn of the nuclear age, American military planners have had to factor these enormously destructive weapons into their calculations. Their behavior has been tempered by the belief, shared by most thoughtful Americans, that the weapons should be used only when the nation's most basic interest or national survival is at risk, and that the unrestrained use of nuclear weapons in war could end life on earth as we know it. Nuclear weapons are not just another part of the military arsenal. They are different, and lowering the threshold for their use is reckless folly.”

Counterpoint: Lowry “The Bush administration, by ignoring or reworking the security assurance, would just be acting in accord with common sense. Nukes are for protecting us — through deterrence, and if that fails through preemption or retaliation — from other countries' weapons of mass destruction.”

Advantage: Lowry.

Dirty lies of Michael Moore - - Tim Blair has some great stuff on the absolute twit Michael Moore is. He makes a career out of pretending to be poor-the sick-o. He is no “Vulcan”, but he sure enjoys damning the rest of us. And Damian Penny has his way with him too.

You go Layne - - Ken Layne has some excellent words about “Enterprise” after he read a review in The Nation. He likes it more now because it is “pissing off humorless ‘feminists.’” And this part is awesome: “Thank the space gods "Enterprise" is getting back to the "Right Stuff" era. Thank the space gods the Vulcans are now playing the role of emotionless European intellectuals, damning each and every advance by those vulgar Americans.”

Monday, March 11, 2002

In Nukes we trust - - How’s that for a headline? That was what we always thought-that having nukes and MAD were enough to prevent the use of said weapons. Oh to be back in the Cold War. Powerful rejoinder to the immediate hysteria of those questioning new nuclear doctrines. Chris Mathews did his best Jimmy Carter democrat indignation routine today. But seriously this type of reevaluation of nuclear doctrine is good.

Send us your tired, your dumb, and your skulls full of mush - - Cool little article at Opinionjournal.com on the campus scene. Good stuff: "’I like to think that if I was in charge before [Sept. 11], none of this would've happened,’ Duncan Wright tells me. Oh, to be young again. Mr. Wright is a freshman studying philosophy and economics at the University of Texas' flagship campus, where I've just completed a month-long fellowship in the journalism school. Even in the Lone Star State, academia is a magnet for those who believe that America is the cause of what's wrong in the world. But the quantity and quality of the "dissidents" I met here suggest that the war effort isn't in much danger.”

George Will on FIRE - - This op-ed is HOT! Here are some highlights:

On Bush - - “President Bush's rhetorical style -- syntactical minimalism: Midland, Tex., meets MBA-speak -- is what it was before Sept. 11, but it suits the new sobriety. Were Bush to attempt the Ciceronian flourishes of John Kennedy ("Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are . . .") it would be like Handel played on a harmonica. Bush's terseness is Ernest Hemingway seasoned by John Wesley.”

On the Last 6 months - - “These have been six difficult months for diversity-mongers who preach that America is a mere "mosaic" -- coagulated groups rather than united individuals. And difficult months for the "everything is just a matter of opinion" chorus. These have been good months.”

Good thing - - Colin Quinn’s new comedy on NBC started tonight. Live, politically incorrect, and damned funny.

Who says all crackpots come from the left - - Disturbing article noticed by Andrew Sullivan by Lew Rockwell. It is a sick, sick, article on the benefits that the destruction of the US capital would produce. Hey I don’t fancy government as much as the next guy, but this sort of talk is nuttier than fruitcake.

Who says Bush is getting a free pass - - Interesting Sebastian Mallaby piece that levels some appropriate criticism on Bush in an intelligent way. Why can’t the left wing have such thoughtful arguments, and why can’t they make them without making us gag?

This is not good - - News from Bill Gertz that an American pilot may still be alive in Iraq held captive for 11 years.

9/11 - - Hard to imagine, but it has been six months since the attacks on 9/11. The documentary by, ironically, two French filmmakers on CBS was really good. The footage from within the lobby of Tower One was unsettling. Seeing Father Judge pacing back and forth just before he is killed is eerie. It is a wonderful tribute to the firefighters and others who did their duties that day including the filmmakers for continuing to roll helping us to remember.


9.11.01 required reading.



Jeff Jarvis has some great thoughts and he was there that day.



Andrew Sullivan’s thoughts on “9/11” are much better than mine. Also worth reading the gang at NRO.



Glenn Reynolds links to take us back to his blogging that day.



Rudy Giuliani has a good reflection too.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Eye on the ball - - Rand Simberg (via Instapundit) has a well fashioned critique of this University student’s article.

The thing that struck me, as someone who covered the 1999 Seattle WTO experience for my college paper is that there are a lot of young people whose understanding of world events is shaped by a hypersensitive political correctness and revisionist mentality. Many of them don’t like the civilization in which they live and don’t understand that from time to time we are called upon to defend it. Part of the problem I would imagine, is the curriculum that students get spoon-fed to them. You can’t enjoy great works or deeds of the past because they over analyzed and sanitized. If only every university had a couple Glenn Reynold’s. (And to be fair my University did have some fair professors who were interested in teaching rather than indoctrinating: Ross, Cohen, Cohn at SFU & I cannot forget to give props to Dixon, Mier, Fuhr, Campbell, Winchester and Sylvester at Cap!) Then again when press runs of conservative papers are being stolen at Berkeley what are we to think? Thankfully as has been written about extensively young people are enlisting in armed forces and intelligence. Read them both-the kids first, then Rand’s.

Op-ed Heaven - - I took you to hell, now lets take the stairway to heaven. Charles Moore has a great one in the WSJ today. Here is the opener:

“European elites witnessing the unilateral exercise of U.S. power in Afghanistan, the Philippines and now Georgia resemble the ex-smoker in a room with someone who still smokes. It reminds them, sometimes intolerably, of what they once were. For obvious historical reasons, Europeans, particularly Continentals, have bad memories of unilaterally exercised power and have long since concluded that the best way to contain war is the multilateral way.

With this belief goes a nostalgia for a time when Europe was the center of the world. America's real power is a reminder that such times are past. The more anti-American European leaders see the construction of Europe not only as a means of containing the Continent's own enmities, but also of combating America's political, economic, cultural and even military power. Sept. 11 has made it more obvious than before that there is a disjunction between European aspiration and international reality, or, to put it more bluntly, between money and mouth. Europe cannot act, so comforts itself by exercising the right to complain.”

More on Steel - - I still think what Bush did, increasing the Steel tariffs, is not a good thing. But it is not, in the words of Jonah Goldberg “like the sound a kitten makes in a blender.” The Prof has some excellent responses to those who are frothing at the mouth over this issue. I think my earlier post is still correct, but I want to emphasize just what a non-issue this is. “The fact is, there's no such thing as free trade in steel anyway, and never has been. In some sort of foul Stalinist afterecho, countries around the world seem to equate a steel industry with prosperity and national security. This probably wasn't true back under Stalin (read Brink Lindsey's great treatment of this in his book Against the Dead Hand) but it sure as hell isn't true now. But just about every country's steelmaking apparatus is heavily subsidized and shielded in various ways by its government. To hear some people talk, you'd think that Bush's action here is like pissing on the virgin snow of free trade. It's actually more like spitting chewing gum into a landfill. There ain't no free trade in steel, nowhere, nohow. We'd be better off if there were, and Bush's action was certainly a betrayal of principle. But, in fact, it wasn't that big a deal in terms of its effect on free trade.” Indeed, it is like my sentiments, big deal.

Op-ed Hell - - Good morning. Sorry for the three days of lazy postings-hey I told you about the donut I had yesterday. Perhaps that is why my readership is dwarfed by more dedicated bloggers.

Nauseating column by Eric Margolis today. Not only does he make a twit of himself by referring to himself as an “old Afghan hand” but he makes the same, sad, accusations of the Bush administration that you find over at Antiwar.com or worse, The Guardian.

Here is his best argument: “But Bush administration crusaders, gripped by a lust for blood and oil, are charging forward. In a truly shameful act, the administration is even sending troops to Georgia to battle Chechen independence fighters in the Caucasus mountains.” Or it may be this: “The Saudis who staged kamikaze attacks on the U.S. did so because of the agony of Palestine and Iraq, and American domination of Saudi Arabia. Deeper U.S. involvement in Asia will likely mean more, not less, risk of terrorist attacks.”

Either way, Margolis is the most superficial columnist on foreign affairs, in Canada, and possibly North America. The agony of Palestine? Bin Laden and his friends don’t care about Palestine; they use it for political play-it is a game to them. Same with Iraq. It is not as if the rest of the region really cares or agonizes about “Iraq”, but that it is used as a political excuse. The hypothesis that more US involvement will be our downfall is interesting but ludicrous. The US has spent over fifty years, with permanent bases in Western Europe and they don’t seem to be more inclined to attack via terrorism-not even France (well there is that guy Bove who likes stinky cheese and hates McDonald’s but I digress). That was nation building and I hate to say it, but that is what we have to do in that region today. Pick some friends and help them. Pakistan is one, Turkey and Jordan two more.

Margolis sees this totally in the guise of some grander imperial plan. Rather than a practical plan to protect America, her allies, and the west in general. It would be refreshing if he just said that he doesn’t like the US doing this instead of making a halfhearted attempt to compare all of this to Vietnam and mission creep.

Saturday, March 09, 2002

Donuts - - Just ate a really good donut. mmmmmm.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Linkages - - Was just watching MSNBC’s “Abrams Report” and Dan Abrams was talking to a viewer named Donna who told Dan that basically if the Republican’s hadn’t been so concerned with sex in the Oval Office, spending the $59.9 million and all that time, then 9/11 may not have happened. This is the worst linkage I have heard. You have to wonder if this was a trial balloon for 2002 democratic strategy rather than some moron MSNBC viewer. Either way it is just plain dumb. I guess by this rational I could say that if Clinton wasn’t fooling around in the Oval Office with an intern he could have stopped the terrorism on his watch.

Canadian Invasion of West Wing - - So I watched the “West Wing”, again. Canadian flags and the anthem playing. I think I have discovered the Rosetta Stone to Aaron Sorkin’s obsession with Canada-he mentions the nation often. Here it is: Sorkin has a romantic notion of Canada as a non-aggressive peaceful nation, and it is a subtle dig at America. Of course there was the line about Canadians being “funnier” and having an “inferiority complex”

The other thing to notice about the episode is that it was entirely about booze. Great news for the Vodka Pundit who has been awesome in his unrelenting criticism of Sorkin’s own drinking and drugs. The episode featured the First Lady getting drunk, and then organizing a quick Canadian celebration when the deputy chief of staff’s secretary is deemed by the INS not to be an American citizen. Then Canadian flags and the Canadian national anthem are played and sung-many of the guests of the party know the words. What kind of fantasy world is this?

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Advice to MSNBC - - Media article (via: Rush Limbaugh) The advice to MSNBC? "GO LEFT" Interesting solution, but the recent debate over news versus profit (Nighline out; Letterman in) would suggest something otherwise. The News Channels are going right-ish, because people are watching. But, sure, MSNBC, go left and then see how many idiots watch.

Airport Security - - Reason has a great tidbit about ABC's plan to terminate an episode of "The Drew Carey Show" which was going to mock the new security members at airports. As Sara Rimensnyder points out ABC doesn't want another post 9/11 Bill Maher fiasco. What is the deal with ABC? Is it a subsidiary of Enron or has Eisner totally lost control of Disney?

BTW, this "Editor's Links" feature on Reason is pretty damn good!

Oscar Watch - - Drudge has the dish on Ron Howards chances for "A Beautiful Mind" to win big oscar gold. "Jew Bashing scenes found in the book "A Beautiful Mind: The Life of the Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash" have been completely scrubbed from the film, directed by Ron Howard and staring Russell Crowe -- even though actor Crowe's picture is featured on the paperback of the biography." Rand Simberg has a nice take: "Yeah, we'll just rewrite history to make it a love story, and not mention the first wife, the homosexual liaisons, or the Jew hating..." What I find interesting is that these celebrity liberals (Say Alec Baldwin, Robert Redford, Robert Altman) are totally silent when it comes to this type of crap in their own backyard, but Bush is the devil and I want to move to France. Hey, door's open.

More on this Long road III - - Jeff Jarvis is also in the "nuclear nightmare" club. His take on Sullivan's sleepless nights, "Join the club! Many of us living here on the Axis of Good -- the East Coast -- are losing sleep. There is nothing these fanatic fascists would not do if they could. Nothing." If only the rest of the world would face facts.

On Steel - - The US is raising tariffs on steel: I haven’t made my mind up on this one. I received an email from a reader in my hometown Vancouver.

Where's the outrage? I hope as a conservative voice you are against, and will soon write, of your displeasure at the trade protectionistic misstep (or is it a trend?) evidenced by the Bush administration vis a vis the new steel tariffs. Along with the softwood imbroglio, what's happening to free trade? When Democrats pander to political interests conservatives bite, I expect the same here. In fact, you could make a case that Canadians (who I think you'd agree support liberal American politicians more than conservative) are better off with a moderate Republican who is pro trade, than a Democrat with potential debts to labor and environmentalists. But is this a case of republicans figuring, just as it can act unilaterally in terms of international affairs, it can act unilaterally in economic/trade affairs? The problem is that when the US screws someone over, memories can be long. The US doesn't need to many friends now, but eventually it is going to need to call in some favors, they need to start putting some deposits into the Karma bank, soon. This should be a no-brainer (even for Bush!, sorry couldn't resist): inefficient American industries have to take one for the American hegemonic team, and if that means US layoffs, I'm sorry, but the majority (especially Americans!) benefit from trade rules that ensure a world-wide level playing field that doesn't hobble foreign competition.

--Mike



So here you are Mike and yes I am, obviously, posting about this. I will begin with a deferral to the gang at Samizdata who take the libertarian line that this idea is really dumb. It is total hypocrisy to go around and preach free trade, and then do something like this. But the Europeans already have a beef with the US, so why not provoke them? Seriously though, the measure does make exceptions for places like Canada and Mexico, and does leave out all developing nations. So the target is solely Europe.

But I am also aware of the “national security” defense of protecting the US steel industry. In the midst of war, making arms requires this sort of industry. This Aaron Schavey piece available at the Heritage Foundation refutes most of that too.

So, I think you have to go with the resolution that this is indeed not a good idea, though part of me loves that they are sticking it to Europe. Delicious. I am not sure that this means the US, particularly Republicans, are transferring ‘unilateralism’ into trade. I don’t think that the US is acting unilateral anyway-at least not as many in the media would have you believe. Furthermore I don’t think that this denotes a storm on the horizon of free trade.

UPDATE (3/6/2002 1:11:21): Virginia Postrel has some excellent links and ideas on this topic. I particularly was glad to see how fairly, or at least understanding, people are to these things that are primarily political. More about votes, and voters, than being "against" free trade. So there. I'm done.

Star Trek, Morality beamed up II - - I wasn’t the only one to read the Trek article at TCS, and NRO’s Jonah Goldberg (And here) has the take of the day. The issue was that the Captain let a civilization die off because that was what was going to happen anyway by way of evolution. The TCS article thought this was repugnant, and having not seen the episode who was I to judge. But as Jonah believes this is a narrative to show that our civilization stumbles through and learns from mistakes. Interesting debate and it makes total sense now.

More on this long road II - - Well it took a few days, but now the hawks and warriors are back. While I was at TCS (What an awesome resource!), I read Ken Adelman’s latest. Not only does he refute the “overstretch” crowd, he pushes the seriousness of this war to new levels. Here is the clarity: “Hence did President Bush announce a new strategic concept - whether he realized it or not. It's ‘preemption.’ ‘Unconditional surrender’ served us well in the global war against Nazism and fascism. ‘Containment’ served nicely in the global war against communism. Henceforth ‘preemption’ will serve us perfectly in the global war against terrorism.

Rather than focus on rollback, as we did with Nazi and Japanese aggression, or keep an expansive empire encaged, as we did with the Soviets, we must preempt threats to our security and civilization. As the most sophisticated weapons come into the most despicable hands, we must take pro-active steps to wipe out those weapons, or, better yet, those hands as well.”

Star Trek, Morality beamed up - - Very interesting TCS column by Raymond J. Keating on the latest Star Trek franchise and its good points and lapse in morality in one episode. I was at TCS checking out the professor's latest.

More on this long road - - Kelly is on, again, but isn't he always? He chimes in to join the Sullivan-Lileks-Dispatches long haul position: "In such circumstances, the first obvious point is that we don't have any immediate choice but to fight and win. That renders mostly pointless most of the doubting. Daschle is right: The administration does not know exactly how, in the end, it is going to prevail. But it does seem to know what Daschle does not -- that in the end it must prevail, that it cannot settle for declaring victory and going home: Home is where they attacked us."(italics mine)

The long road ahead - - Lileks is back again and he is still making sense (I wonder if Alan Keyes still is? Haven't really watched in weeks-but maybe Lileks needs his own show?) "I had that feeling all day - felt like October. Made you realize that it's been October every day since October. And it's going to be October for some time, right up until the day it's September again." Andrew Sullivan is on the jazz too:

"If the terrorists succeed, they could render Washington or Manhattan uninhabitable for decades. They could make the White House and the Capitol off-limits to human beings for a century. And our defense against this? Extremely limited. I’m taken to task sometimes for being impatient with those who keep questioning the need for this war, the necessity to move against the axis of evil that wants to destroy us. What I don’t understand is how they can be so complacent. Don’t they see the greatest danger this republic has ever faced is now in front of us? Don’t they understand that neutralizing Iraq is not some kind of interesting proposal in an unnecessary war – but the bare minimum to prevent a holocaust in the very heart of this country’s democracy? I’m not given to panic, but I can see nowhere any hard evidence that debunks the possibility of this scenario. In fact, the more you think about the amount of nuclear material out there that’s unaccounted for, the inevitable limits of prevention in an open society, and the evil fanaticism of our enemy, the more terrifying our predicament really is. I think this is 1940. I think this is just beginning."

I totally agree. Both these posts are fantastic but they don't leave you with much confidence do they. How can Sen. Daschle then criticize the war effort? What were the goals of WWII once the US entered? They were simple: unconditional surrender for both Germany and Japan. What is so difficult to understand about defeating terrorism and evil wherever it exists, unconditionally, period?

Exit strategy? The exit strategy is whenever the job is done! Why isn’t victory enough of an exit strategy Tom? Destroy the enemy; that is the task at hand. Terrorists operate in 60 or more nations-so far we are operating in Afghanistan, Georgia, The Philippines, and Yemen-by my count that means there are still 56 or more to go. And so far that is what we are doing, and we better damn well keep at it. It is 1940, and many of us better wake up to the fact that we are at war, and not some holiday camp.

Late night snack - - Condit loses. mmmmmm.

Question of the week - - Thomas Friedman, back from his Saudi peace plan nonsense, has some good stuff today. The question: "The latest death toll in the Indian violence between Hindus and Muslims is 544 people, many of them Muslims. Why is it that when Hindus kill hundreds of Muslims it elicits an emotionally muted headline in the Arab media, but when Israel kills a dozen Muslims, in a war in which Muslims are also killing Jews, it inflames the entire Muslim world?" Excellent, as Mr. Burns would say.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Before dinner drink - - I don't really know what the deal is with my food and drink theme today, probably trying to be like the Vodkapundit who has way too many posts today. Anyway, here is a really great article by Deroy Murdock. I like Deroy, and had the chance to hang out with him a few summers ago in DC. He is helping to organize a "Bluegrass for our Bravest" concert in NY for Engine 235. Check out the article and if you ever wanted to give Dispatches some cash, send it on to this charity.

Tasting Menu - - Dispatches will heat up later tonight when I have some time, but until then here is a taste for the day. Redford and the ridiculous is a piece on Robert Redford's post 9/11 views-like anyone cares. On fire!!

Monday, March 04, 2002

Oped Hell - - Jessica Mathews tries to find a way to deal with Iraq without an attack or regime change. The problem she writes, is not with Saddam, but with his pursuit of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Huh? So let me get this straight, Saddam is fine, but because he seeks WMD he is bad. Doesn’t that mean that he is the problem?

I particularly like the point she tries to make on the regime change. That getting rid of Saddam doesn’t ensure that the next regime will not also pursue WMD. But Jessica, it couldn’t get much worse could it?

Laying the smack down - - Great piece by Michael Ledeen on the evil of Iran and why the “axis of evil” language is not enough.

Good Morning Blogging Fans - - Just a short announcement. I am contributing to another blog that you may want to check out-especially you Canadian readers and bloggers. The Media Empire Project is a site that will try, if it is at all possible, to counter the media in Canada. Check it out. It will have lots of stuff in the coming weeks. Email me and tell me what you think, or give out any suggestions.

Sunday, March 03, 2002

We interrupt our lazy weekend…- - Greetings friends. It is another beautiful day here in Vancouver, birds chirping etc. Anyway, I interrupt the weekend to say one thing: could Maureen Dowd get any more annoying? Read on if you dare. I can understand her point on the “secrecy” of the Administration, but is it really all that secret? Maybe it is just right, and we are just used to the bumbling of eight years of Clinton who couldn’t keep a secret unless it was on his often bitten lower lip.

It is almost as bad as Mara Liasson on “Fox News Sunday” who suggested that the administration is the rebirth of Nixon. Right. It is not as if Bush needs to bug the DNC, they have no ideas, nothing, kaput.

Friday, March 01, 2002

EDITOR’S NOTE: - - How much blogging will I do this weekend? Well to explain, I am more in the Welch and Layne School of Blogging time off and tacos are a good thing. While the Professor and the Dean Martin of Blogs struggle with who can post more in a single day I may have another nap at a not-so-secure location.

Much ado about nothing - - The media is goo-goo over the news, is it really news?, that Bush has instructed certain members of the government to work in secure locations at all times to ensure the government survives a terrorist attack. I am sure that the hard-core libertarians are frightened about this. David Plotz has some funny additions over at Slate.com. I particularly enjoyed the idea that the GOP would want to ensure that Clinton survives, for various political and strategic reasons. "The Republican Party, for the good of the American people, wants to make sure that blaming, conspiracy-theory mongering, and ad hominem attacks can continue uninterrupted. Without President Clinton to attack, Americans will be confused and demoralized. His safety must be our No. 1 priority."

Bush Numbers - - 10 days until the six month mark, and Bush, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll he is at 83%.

Done and Done - - Thankfully the mutual appreciation society of Carlson and Mathews has ended at Slate.com. Where is the fun in such a “love in.” Here is Mathews again: “Another suicide attack in Israel. It shows the weakness of a "get-tough" policy. How do you deter someone from killing themselves by threatening to kill them? This is Sharon's conundrum. What he has, the willingness to be brutal, is absolutely worthless.“

Well Chris, there is a difference between being “tough” and destroying your enemies. Sharon could eliminate the problem outright, but just imagine what the “street” or Europe would say. He is right about one thing, it is like trying to square the circle.

Don’t be a playa hater - - I don’t give much credence to the “why do they hate us” garbage, but last week it was the “Glutton Bowl” now it is celebrity boxing. Hey world don’t be a playa hater! Amy Fisher versus Tonya Harding. Does it get better than that? The Corner states it best: “Can your camel-stinking Mohammedan dictatorship, cheese-eating surrender-monkeying republique, or Marmite-sucking, dentally-blighted constitutional monarchy do that? Didn't think so. Let's roll, Beavis!”

”Donuts, is there anything they can’t do?” - - Clearly the answer is no. Thank you Homer J. Simpson

Hawk Dept. - - You though Kelly was hot the other day? Wait till you read Krauthammer today. Does it get any better than this: “The ``axis of evil'' caused a sensation around the world because it established a new American foreign policy based on three distinctive principles: morality, pre-emption and unilateralism.”

Democrats strike back - - Andrew Sullivan (Item 6th up) proclaims that the anti-war left is back. Something in the water today?: “I don’t think it’s an accident that the Democrats have launched an attack on the war’s direction the day it becomes clear that the recession, even if it existed in the first place, is now history. Enron didn’t stick; no one cares about the GAO vs. Cheney; Bush has neutralized the education issue. Daschle figures he has no choice but to risk everything to undermine the war in order to gain some political traction against the president. So far, it’s been under-stated – the usual Daschle-like mealy-mouthed worries about future conflicts. But the shift in tactics is real. Liberal opinion leaders are egging the Dems on.” (Three interesting articles to read linked by AS)

Noonan on Sorkin - - Is there any place the lovely Peggy Noonan doesn’t get cash from? First Enron, now the “West Wing”? Well good for her. Her latest takes on Sorkin in a different way, and defends the show even with it’s liberal warts and all. Hey I watch the show too and I see her point.