Tuesday, December 30, 2003

What a waste of money - - The Prime Minister is off on vacation (a rough first three weeks on the job I suppose) so the Gov. Gen, Adrienne Clarkson, is spending four days visiting our troops in Kabul.

The Globe and Mail has more on the trip. “Suddenly there's something which you can't believe,” she said, sounding astonished. “There's a zoo here, with bears and things they call wild boars that are pink.

“The idea that you keep a zoo alive while the city is struggling for its survival is quite wonderful comment on human resilience.”

What a poignant and astute observation, not. I can’t believe we have to pay to send her there. Nobody cares who she is. She has no power. She spends way to much money. And she’s a waste of space.

Update: Walter Robinson has more commentary on the vacationing Canadian leadership and frankly the small time aid to Iran.

The end of 2003, the beginning of 2004 - - With 2003, America’s post 9/11 coalition toppled Saddam, now has him in custody, scared Libya straight, kept pressure all across the globe up in the War on Terror and yet there are thousands of miles to go. The roadmap for the next stages in this global fight might be found here in this Telegraph article detailing the grand wishes of the hawks (taken directly it would seem from this conviently released book “An End to Evil” by Richard Perle and David Frum) in 2004.

“President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites,” writes David Rennie of the Telegraph. “The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.”

As Jeff Jarvis describes it, “Good cop of the world, bad cop of the world.”

Safire’s Office Pool - - Always a fun read is Bill Safire’s end of the year column. This year is no different. He says to throw it away, but it’s all in good fun. He thinks Howard Dean will “lose to Gephardt in Iowa and do worse than expected in N.H., leading to a long race.” Which would be a political junky dream come true. He also says Paul Bremer as the next Secretary of State (a fine choice), and Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River as best picture. His other ‘big’ prediction is for an October surprise to come in the form of a major terrorist attack in the US.

A white New Years - - Snow is falling in Vancouver tonight, and outside the snow is making a mockery of drivers on the hill outside my apartment! It’s better than television. You’d think living in an Igloo here in the great white north would wear off on people. It’s 10:30 and there are plenty of people out to enjoy the snow in the park across the street, and to help push cars out of the way. Evidence once again that Vancouver is home to the worst drivers in the country-since the snowfall is so minor. Happy New Year’s!

Check out Sgt. Hook - - Sgt. Hook asked for people to stop by his weblog to pass 50,000 hits before he ships off to Afghanistan. By the time I got there this morning, it had already been done. But he’s got plenty of good stuff so go check it out.

Inadequate - - I caught Christopher Hitchens on MSNBC’s HARDBALL last night, and he absolutely savaged Gov. Howard Dean. Roger Simon has more on this and Dean. “He called Dean ‘flippantly wrong’ on matters of life and death (referring to the candidate's inane comments first about Bush knowing in advance about 911, then about Saddam and then about Bin Laden--all of which he backtracked from within one day of making them). Hitchens went on vehemently to attack Dean as inadequte as a ‘person and a politician.’

Simon isn’t sure what to completely make of someone like Hitchens’ being so vehemently opposed to Dean. Well, I would suggest that Hitch has been right about Clinton being a complete pig, 9/11, and Iraq. That’s a pretty good track record I’d say. He’s usually right on the big picture.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

No show update - - The Washington Post has some more information on the cancelled flights. “But U.S. officials said they are suspicious about some of the passengers who did not show up at the airport to claim their seats on the ultimately aborted Flight 68 from Paris to Los Angeles. One of those who did not appear for the Christmas Eve flight apparently is a trained pilot, one U.S. official said.”

The L.A. Times also is set to report some more juicy details. There clearly were some no shows on these cancelled flights, the only question remains, why.

A no show? - - France says that it has found no evidence to be suspicious of their Air France planes being ground into and out of Los Angeles. Whether or not that means that there was a real threat or not is still open to discussion. Perhaps being on higher alert and canceling some flights was enough to abort whatever the terrorists had planned.

More: Kevin Murphy has a great summary of all the juicy details that the L.A. Times reports today. “When FBI counterterrorism agents began reviewing Wednesday's manifest for Flight 68, they discovered that the passenger list included at least one name similar to that of a person linked to the Taliban and others with names linked to Al Qaeda, sources said.”

The New York Times details that the authorities are combing the manifests of planes these days.

Stuck in a rut: Daniel Drezner thinks that it is almost reassuring that Al Qaeda is still thinking about hijacking planes. Unless this is just a ploy. And speaking of Al Qaeda’s tactics, there is a great piece in Reason by Charles Paul Freund/ He’s asking questions of Osama’s number two man. “Are you even aware of the recent growth rate of the American economy? Americans, among them Muslim Americans, are busy attending to their prosperity and liberty. What are you busy attending to? Anything aside from murder?”

Merry Christmas - - Having a lovely time at the Murphy compound this Christmas. I started watching my birthday gift that my super awesome friend Sonja gave me-the DVD version of “The World At War.” It’s fantastic. I am also reading Benjamin Barber’s new book which caused me to put it down at least a few times shaking my head.

Don’t worry; it will all be in a couple of reviews this week. But as a way of preliminary thoughts it is no wonder why Barber is inside the Howard Dean foreign policy brain trust. But even his ramblings couldn’t damper a solid holiday. It’s nice just to be off from work, and reading. Merry Christmas y’all. And when your tucking into the turkey, turducken, or roast beef tonight, think about all the coalition troops scattered around the globe fighting terrorism and trying to keep us safe.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Just finished Shopping - - Last year I did all my shopping on-line but figured to try to limit the amount of books I sent. At any rate, it took two hours and I braved the harsh downtown crowds to do it. It wasn't bad at all. The lines moved very fast and no one was freaking out. 2:22 December 24th and I'm done - well mostly - I'm done enough for today that's for sure.

The Year in Quotes - - Tim Blair is doing the down right Herculean task of collecting a bunch ‘o 2003 quotes. This one made me laugh out loud.

"The obnoxious garlic-breathed drunken homosexual concentration-camp bullfighter who's into organised crime." -- Mark Steyn devises a Single European Stereotype.

And is the holiday season really complete without some Hitch? "Most of the leftists I know are hoping openly or secretly to leverage difficulty in Iraq in order to defeat George Bush. For innumerable reasons, including the one I cited earlier, I think that this is a tactic and a mentality utterly damned by any standard of history or morality. What I mainly do is try to rub that in." -- Christopher Hitchens

Mad French Disease? - - With the single case of Mad Cow found in America yesterday I couldn’t resist thinking that the delusional French might have some similar madness. Andrew Sullivan has a juicy quote from Le Parisien: "If a glorious solitude is the price of greatness, no one can doubt that France lives the highest hours of its civilization." You just have to love them. Infuriating as they may be.

Merry Christmas - - It’s been a week since my last post, which I guess means I’ll get some coal in my stocking for being a lazy blogger. Not to fear, Blogging should actually increase over the holidays. But in the mean time, Merry Christmas y’all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The “E” Word - - This morning I posted something about Slate.com’s Timothy Noah and his underwear being in a not about “Red Dawn” movie references. Now he is frothing about Dick Cheney’s Christmas card quoting Ben Franklin mentioning the word “empire.”

Slow news day around the office Tim?

Props must be given - - I don’t often agree with Oliver Willis very often but props must be given today for his post on the quagmire that is the “Lord of the Ring” hype machine. I whole-heartedly agree with him when he says, “I can truthfully say that the LOTR's rise to cultural phenomenon confuses me more than the fame of Ashton Kutcher.” No argument about that.

I am going to see it anyway, even though I hated the first one, and haven’t seen the second. I will write my “Why do I hate LOTR” article this weekend. Look for it on Blog Critics.

Is Bill Walton Insane? - - “Bill Walton has to be stopped” was the message my friend Anthony sent to me earlier today. In his ESPN.com column today Walton was talking about why Danny Ainge traded Antoine Walker from the Boston Celtics. This is all fine and good. But why is it that Walton then, in a grab bag of utter insanity, decides he needs to begin floating his crackpot ideas about world affairs?

“If Rumsfeld's Pentagon found significant fraud in Cheney's Halliburton during the fleecing -- excuse me, rebuilding of Iraq -- imagine what was really going on? What could possibly be next? Bechtel short-changing the poor little school children of Baghdad? Or maybe even the possibility of Baker Botts or the Carlyle Group getting their clean, unsoiled hands caught in the public cookie jar. The only clear solution to restore complete confidence and trust is to have Henry Kissinger come in and investigate. On our tab, of course.”

Not only is he the most obnoxious and self-indulgent hack NBA commentator in the free world but he is also a smug elite bleeding heart. “Throw it down big man, throw it down.” Dude stop wearing the tie-die, the 1960’s are over. Call your office.

Belted by Gamma Rays… - - Mark Steyn is brilliant today in his look at Howard Dean. Steyn writes that, “when Howard Dean, shortish and stocky, comes out in his rolled-up shirtsleeves, he looks like Bruce Banner just before he turns into the Incredible Hulk, as if his head's about to explode out of his shirt collar.”

He also unearths “the bike path left” and is a ‘must read.’

The Dean/Hillary Ticket? - - Who knows, but that is what Dick Morris is speculating. That Hillary would jump into Dean’s camp and hold him hostage. I don’t know if the Clintons could stomach being in the backseat but Morris’ is right, “Stranger things have happened.”

So let us do some wild speculation on our own. If this were to happen, and it sounds too good to be true for Dean, I think Bush would have to follow suit with a similar arms race. He could promise Cheney a new post, and drop him from the ticket in 2004. How could you spell relief from Hillary joining a ticket in 2004? Rudy Guiliani. I think a Bush/Guiliani ticket would be the political nuclear bomb on Hillary joining Dean. Not only would the GOP then make NY up for grabs, but think of the twin campaign messages? One word: juggernaut.

What’s all the fuss about? - - There seems to be a bit of a stir over the name of the operation that captured Saddam. They called it Operation Red Dawn. Slate’s Timothy Noah is delighted that we captured Saddam, “But couldn't they have given this military operation a better code name than "Operation Red Dawn"?”

Red Dawnis a campy Cold War-era movie depicting the invasion of the United States by Soviet and Cuban troops. A band of youths from a small town in Colorado (including, pre-Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey) name themselves the "Wolverines" and mount a guerrilla resistance against the totalitarians who murdered their families. ("Don't cry, man. Let it turn into something else.") The tip-off that Operation Red Dawn was named deliberately after the movie is that the two hiding places scouted out by the combat team were code-named "Wolverine I" and "Wolverine II." (Saddam was found near Wolverine II.)”

For Noah the problem with this, besides Swayze (who needs a Tarantino makeover), is that it “subverts the righteousness of our action with Orwellian Newspeak.” There is more, but it’s so very tiresome. The Politburu suggests, “So a tongue and cheek reference to a campy 80’s schlock "classic" is Orwellian? Oh, please Tim. All that filthy lucre from your mustache-twisting boss can surely buy you a sense of humor, now can’t it?”

It is funny that the military would think about calling something, anything, after this film. But if you think about it, that film was watched by a generation of young men probably in their late 20’s and early 30’s. They are the ones probably working as aides to the officers planning this operation. It makes complete sense that they will increasingly sprinkle their pop-culture references in now and again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

’04 Journal Update: “Into the Spider Hole” - - Mens News Daily has got my all new “’04 Journal” column up this morning. And if you look closely, yes there was a sweet “Quantum Leap” reference! And yes this picture is a scary harbinger of what might come with a Dean Presidency. Warren Christopher! Yikes!

“Sometimes campaigns are won or loss on the issues. Other times, campaigns are won or loss on the events that simply take them over. The capture of Saddam Hussein looks like an early Christmas gift to the Bush administration and is swinging through the pins of Democratic primary like a bowling ball on league night.” [Read the whole thing]

Tell ‘em Hawks - - I have had a few conversations lately and they always end up with people asking why I am so hawkish and pro-war. Radley Balko took issue with many of us on the hawkish side of things for digging up only the worst comments coming from the anti-war side. He’s probably right; there is plenty of thoughtful anti-Iraq war response to the capture of Saddam Hussein. That’s healthy. But it sure isn’t making me quit this side it is making me even more hawkish. Remake the whole Middle East I say! Let’s overthrow every two-bit tyrannical despot in the region and give them a shot at freedom. Then we can get back to selling them Nike, Disney, and Britney.

Gene Healy has a great quote over at AFF’s Brainwash. I don’t think it’s true by a long shot, but it’s a funny quote never the less. “Since I don't think Saddam Hussein was ever a threat to us, and I don't think we should conduct U.S. foreign policy as if we're the Superfriends hanging out at the Hall of Justice and waiting for evil to show up on the monitor (i.e., I don't think it's a proper goal of U.S. foreign policy to remove evil tyrants simply because they're evil tyrants) of course I don't think we should have gone to war. That doesn't mean I can't take incidental pleasure in the debasement of human scum.”

Well when you make it sound like that who would? Scratch that, I just want to make sure that nobody would claim I may be about as useful as that “space monkey” Gleek I would suggest that the problem is that there exists a lot of what Balko refers to as “BBC call-in opiners, extremist bulletin boards, and the isolated academic left.” And when the biggest Anti-war candidate for President is suggesting that the capture does nothing for American security you have to take a look at these ‘sources.’ Besides the fact that there are people with such radical views is always worth looking at even if it is to mock the other side so openly. But I would hardly call what Bush is doing as acting like the Superfriends (not that there is anything wrong with the Superfriends). We can try to stay out of the affairs of the world all we want, but that won't make us any safer. That is what this is all about long-term security. It's being proactive, and its a messy business. But the way I figure it, its the best option we have.

Jesse Walker over at Reason.com asks some very tough and important questions that should come into the debate. That shouldn’t let people off the hook for saying outrageous things about the timing of the capture, or for Howard Dean’s supporters to cry like babies. And really, pro war or not, isn’t it amazing that anyone could feel anything but joy over the capture of such a brutal man?

More fun: David Letterman at his best. (Via Jeff Jarvis):

*He had a long beard and was confused and disoriented. It’s the same condition that Al Gore was in before he endorsed Howard Dean.

*One day you’re the leader of Iraq and the next day you’re seen having fleas picked out of your hair on Fox News.

*What was amazing and surprising was that he just gave himself up – Michael Jackson put up more of a fight than this guy!

*Did you see Saddam? He was a wreck, he needed cleaned up. What they did was give him an emergency queer makeover.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Interesting Iraq factoid - - Say what you will about Tucker Carlson the bow tied wonder of CNN. I gained a tremendous amount of respect for him in recent months. I’ve been meaning to catch his book which sounds rather amusing, and his last Esquire article about a trip being the whitest man in America to Africa with Rev. Al Sharpton is the funniest, oddest, bit of reporting I’ve read in a long, long time.

Anyway he’s in Iraq right now and his exchange on CROSSFIRE is priceless. But in particular is this part about why there are 4-mile long gas lineups: “Well, they're not at night. But it's interesting. Apparently part of the reason there are these incredibly long gas lines is because there are so many more cars in Baghdad.

Apparently the CPA, the coalition, lifted the duty on cars. Good for them. And so somewhere between -- CNN is saying somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 new cars have come just in Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of new cars. That's part of the problem; it's just there aren't enough gas stations. And there are other reasons for it.

But yes, there's a ton of traffic on the road, which suggests that it's not that dangerous, if people are conducting commerce, and they are. I don't know; I've only been here 12 hours.”

Let me get this straight, since the fall of Baghdad the Iraqi’s have imported between 200,000 and 500,000 cars! That is beyond incredible. That is awesome!

Seriously, Dude, they’ve got him - - One of the priceless things since the capture of Saddam is watching some commentators and people make outlandish statements and, well, do their best Ashton Kutcher stupid impression.

Jeff Jarvis has links to two, that’s right two, competing articles that use the same joke-which is a little something he likes to call, “the laughtrack of the pissy.” Anti-war humor, pricess…

Jarvis also comments: “That's the state we're in with American -- and European -- politics and the Iraq war. Some people want the U.S. and the president to fail in this war -- not stopping to think, of course, that such failure would backfire on the people of Iraq (let's see a few bleeding hearts for them and their future) and on the people of the modern world (with another base for growing terrorism). It's not just short-sighted. It's suicidally selfish.

Let me give you a hint, Deanies and DNCers: The war is not a winning issue for you. Look at the poll results here; it will only help win a primary, not the presidency. How about finding an issue that will really help people -- say, health care. How about turning the Democratic Party back into the party of positive change rather than the party of pissyness.”

And of course Andrew Sullivan. He has a charming list of nominations for what he called “The Galloway Award” (for thinly veiled disappointment at the capture of Saddam). They are absolutely incredible. Shockingly dumb.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

More Saddam Roundup - - Very cool to see that Star Tribune ran a special edition today. Now that’s something you don’t see everyday.

”We Got Elvis” - - Was how one soldier reacted to the news. “That’s right, we got Elvis, we know where he is and he’s going back to Vegas.”

The 4th ID - - One of the most amazing things during all this was reading about the officers in charge who we “met” today. But what about the soldiers carrying out the mission? (Seriously when you read about Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno you have to wonder if he is actually real. He seems to good to be true, as if Hollywood created him somewhere.) Well to start with, check out the 4th Infantry Division’s website. And while it is a great day for them, they have lost some of there fellow soldiers on the way to getting here.

Confronting Saddam - - Fascinating report on the meeting between Iraqi Council members and their old overlord Saddam.

Saddam Capture Round up - - Over at Time who like Newsweek redid their latest issues this morning to reflect the breaking news an interesting report on Saddam’s state of mind.

“When asked ‘How are you?’ said the official, Saddam responded, ‘I am sad because my people are in bondage.’ When offered a glass of water by his interrogators, Saddam replied, ‘If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?’”

Sittn’ on the dock of the bay - - I’ve been telling you to read Austin Bay regularly, and today is no bloody different. Check out this stuff because its exactly what is happening, although it is increasingly clear that many people aren’t quite on the same page:

“America has recast the strategic conflict in The War on Terror as Middle Eastern democrats versus dictators, be the autocrats Baath fascist or Islamo-fascist. Despite Osama bin Laden’s best agitprop efforts, the great struggle isn’t Islam versus the West, but authoritarian thugs versus freedom.

Iraq is thus the key battlefield in this campaign to bring genuine freedom to the Middle East, the world’s most dangerously dysfunctional region. Tyranny –the rule of the warlord-- is the root cause of poverty and terror.”

Bay’s biggest point is how incredible and fortuitous this event was – one of both symbol and substance.

Rich Mullings’ Day - - One of the most interesting reads these days have been Rich Mullings dairy entries. Today’s is no different in that it gives you some insights and color that you aren’t likely to hear anywhere else.

Let Joe be Joe - - If I had a vote in the Democratic Primary I would without hesitation pick Joe Lieberman (that’s about as close to an endorsement as you’ll ever find here at Dispatches). His comments today are worth reading:
“This news also makes clear the choice the Democrats face next year. If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today, not in prison, and the world would be a more dangerous place.”

As Glenn Reynolds noted, “The gloves are off.” Jeff Jarvis is pretty bullish on Joe today too.

Turning on the lights - - It’s been about 30 or more hours since Saddam was captured and as it sinks in, this is going to be the big story for the rest of the year-as it should be. My weekly article over at Enter Stage Right goes beyond my earliest inclinations at just plain jubilation and moves on to how important this is for exposing the tyranny and terror masters for the frauds they always were.

It is a great day for Iraq, a great day for the United States, and a harbinger, hopefully, of even more reckonings to come in the months and years ahead. The toppling of Saddam was a good first step in the remaking of the region, and capturing him like this is a nasty negative campaign poster for those willing to support him or his ilk.

“Those who fail to see the connections between Iraq and the greater war on terror will have trouble understanding how important this is. Finding Saddam, alive, and not fighting to his last breath is a wonderfully huge blow in this war. The hangovers of failed events like Somalia are finally over, and better, one of the biggest problems in the region is exposed as the hypocritical fraud he always was.” [Read the whole article]

While your over at ESR, please check out fellow writer W James Antle III’s piece on the Saddam capture too. He’s asking plenty of questions and has lots to mull over. His take on the bigger picture is spot on: “For all the arguments about WMDs between the pro- and anti-war camps (including key figures in the Bush administration), the purpose of the Iraqi mission has always been wider and more radical than that. The cauldron of terror that boiled over into American cities on September 11, 2001 has been fostered by the Middle East's dysfunctional political climate. The U.S. operation in Iraq has always been about altering that climate.”

Remarks by the President on the Capture of Saddam Hussein
The Cabinet Room

Good afternoon. Yesterday, December the 13th, at around 8:30 p.m. Baghdad time, United States military forces captured Saddam Hussein alive. He was found near a farmhouse outside the city of Tikrit, in a swift raid conducted without casualties. And now the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions.

The capture of this man was crucial to the rise of a free Iraq. It marks the end of the road for him, and for all who bullied and killed in his name. For the Baathist holdouts largely responsible for the current violence, there will be no return to the corrupt power and privilege they once held. For the vast majority of Iraqi citizens who wish to live as free men and women, this event brings further assurance that the torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever.

And this afternoon, I have a message for the Iraqi people: You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again. All Iraqis who take the side of freedom have taken the winning side. The goals of our coalition are the same as your goals -- sovereignty for your country, dignity for your great culture, and for every Iraqi citizen, the opportunity for a better life.

In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over. A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq.
The success of yesterday's mission is a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq. The operation was based on the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers in the hunt for members of the fallen regime, and in their effort to bring hope and freedom to the Iraqi people. Their work continues, and so do the risks. Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them.

I also have a message for all Americans: The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people, and they will be defeated.
We've come to this moment through patience and resolve and focused action. And that is our strategy moving forward. The war on terror is a different kind of war, waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory. Our security is assured by our perseverance and by our sure belief in the success of liberty. And the United States of America will not relent until this war is won.

May God bless the people of Iraq, and may God bless America. Thank you.

This morning’s lesson - - Glenn Reynolds has some early positive analysis. “Saddam's capture also shows the importance of patience, and of ignoring the kvetching of the Coalition Of The Pissy. While people bitched, the military just kept gathering intelligence and keeping Saddam on the run until he slipped and they caught him. And looking at the TV images, he seems docile, exhausted, and ready to be caught. That's the fruit not just of a single lucky break, but of the sustained campaign of keeping him moving.

Those who, frankly, would just as soon see the entire war as a failure, are ready to call anything short of perfection a failure. But persistence pays off. It's worth keeping in mind on other subjects.


Not ready for primetime - - I don’t want to harp on Howard Dean today, well not really. But following his statement (and frankly the statement by every Democratic nominee challenger) about how this was a perfect opportunity to ‘internationalize’ the Iraqi occupation. "This development provides an enormous opportunity to set a new course and take the American label off the war,” said Dean. “We must do everything possible to bring the UN, NATO, and other members of the international community back into this effort. Now that the dictator is captured, we must also accelerate the transition from occupation to full Iraqi sovereignty."

In a response by hardly a Bush partisan, Jeff Jarvis gives Dean’s comments their due. “Damnit, the UN didn't capture Saddam. Old Europe did not capture Saddam. NATO did not capture Saddam. The coalition did. The American label is on this war. Proudly. We got rid of a tyrant and murderer. And now we are about the hard work of bringing security to Iraq and rebuilding the nation and creating a democracy. We're not going to cut and run.”

Great news: Caught like a rat - - The news of Saddam’s capture is awesome. I have been watching the news on TV since about 7 this morning. The TV news is still a very powerful medium, and I wasn’t too interested in missing it yet. Reuters’s early report is amusing: “U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein near his home town of Tikrit in a major coup for Washington's beleaguered occupation force in Iraq.”

Anyways, this is great news and while it is still over a year away my friend Craig already called to wonder if I was celebrating Bush’s second term. Well, it’s still early and there is a long time to go, but this is great news for Iraq and Bush.

As Pappa Murphy already called to point out, this is not so great news for Al Gore (Dec. 13 seems to be Al’s unlucky day as Kathryn Lopez points out it was the same day he made his concession speech) and his newest buddy Howard Dean (read some ‘response’ on the Dean Blog by some of his ‘supporters’ like this shocking one: “I think it is shameful that the ACLU has not commented on the obvious mistreatment Hussein has suffered at the hands of the American military.” And that was in between the posts of people crying etc.) and probably not so good news for our friends in Germany and France.

Mackubin Owens breaks down what my Dad was thinking pretty well. “Al Gore must be thinking life is pretty unfair about now. After dominating the news by endorsing Howard Dean, thereby making a play for the pro-Saddam wing of the Democratic party, he is unceremoniously swept aside by the news that U.S. soldiers have captured Saddam Hussein. Oh well. Unless your approach to investing is to buy high, sell low, and make up the difference in volume, you probably shouldn’t take financial advice from the guy who recently asserted that the war in Iraq is a ‘quagmire’ and the worst foreign-policy mistake in the history of the United States.”

Already I’ve put in two links to National Review Online. The fact that the magazine’s website has ongoing blog coverage of the events of today are amazing, but not as much as getting full on articles from a variety of their regulars. This is where newsmagazines usually fail during the big stories.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Sneak Peak of Dean-Bush match-up - - A new poll in New Hampshire finds Bush would beat Dean nearly 2-1 (57-30). Interesting.

Double Whammy - - Today would have been Frank Sinatra’s 88th birthday. Ring-a-ding-ding! (Get the The Sinatra Christmas Album)

And of course north of the border, our Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has stepped down and Paul Martin is ready to take his place. Our long national nightmare is temporarily over. Well its not that bad really. Boil down 10-years into one paragraph analysis: The pioneer of the “do as little as possible school of politics” navigated 10-years and managed to erode Canada’s place in the world, our military infrastructure, turned our back on our allies over Iraq, boondoggled countless millions on make work projects and gun registration, and farmed out every major decision to the supreme court. But, hey thanks for helping to balance the budget buddy. Chrétien may have done it his way, but so does Burger King. The Chairman he was not.

Memo to the next Prime Minister: Two words: Tax cuts! Okay four words: Cut taxes, rebuild military.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Scathing pile on - - Lewis MacKenzie, who is an increasingly important voice on Canadian military affairs has his take on the latest report suggesting Canada's military might become an extinct part of this country. He savages anyone who would suggest otherwise.

As MacKenzie suggests, "the inability of a G-8 nation of 30 million to maintain a force of 2,000 soldiers in a security role, with a civilian contractor providing the logistics support, beyond a year while stating in its own defence policy documents that we can, "fight alongside the best against the best" stretches our credibility to the breaking point."

Some Questions - - Two columns this morning are offering some of the most interesting analysis and asking tough questions about the Dean camp. David Broder sounds pretty skeptical of Al Gore’s endorsement. He still can figure out, given the numbers, why Gore did it.

“Kohut's national poll of Democrats showed four candidates bunched within the margin of error -- Dean, Clark, Lieberman and Gephardt -- with none having more than 15 percent support; 23 percent said they were undecided,” writes Broder. “In the light of that survey and others like it, Gore's decision to intervene early -- and especially his call on Dean's rivals to "close ranks" behind the governor -- is one of the more eccentric developments in modern political history.”

And George Will. “In the past nine presidential elections (1968-2000), the 11 states of the former Confederacy, plus Kentucky and Oklahoma, have awarded 1,385 electoral votes. Democratic candidates have won just 270 (20 percent) of them. Which Deanisms -- the war is bad, same-sex civil unions are good, Americans are undertaxed -- will be most helpful to Democrats down there? Just wondering.”

There is going to be a lot of people that are going to be seeing the same numbers. And let’s suppose Dean does manage to win New Hampshire and Iowa, but then loses South Carolina. How long will it take insiders to run the numbers on why Dean shouldn’t be the nominee?

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

’04 Blogging: Dean-o, The sitting duck? - - Joe Conason of all people has unearthed one problem and a possible early downfall of a quick Dean primary victory. He’ll be a sitting duck. Andrew Sullivan is calling this period the possible “buyers remorse” part of the Dean campaign.

The Apple Pie angle: Johnny Apple, always good for a laugh, and there can be no doubt about his wordsmith skill, is dishing out a technical foul on Dean. “Meantime, his campaign shows signs of logistical strain that can only get worse as he tries to cope with the demands of reporters and politicians who want a piece of a candidate who now looks like a long-distance runner.

Once proud of being on time everywhere, Dr. Dean was late at most stops last weekend, only partly because of the snow in Iowa. His entourage went without enough work space and sometimes without food and drink. A car built to do 35 miles an hour, the 2004 Dean-mobile tends to wheeze a bit at 90.”

”Dean-O”: The Nickname: Bush calls him Dean-O. Nicknames are cool. What some people will miss in the 2004 campaign is just how serious and driven the Bush team is. They are already gearing up for a Dean nomination. (It’s a good strategy, like preparing for a big fight. If it turns out someone else gets the nomination they’ll be in good shape anyway. The Washington Post’s Mike Allen has the details which sound more like what Dean staffers imagine Karl Rove & Co. feel about Dean.
While the New York Times has a more serious article, that sounds like the Republican’s aren’t worried anymore about Dean then they are about a tight race like 2000. Which it probably will be. It’s sounds like adults doing their homework.

The Neal Pollack View: Only Pollack could cover the campaign weblogs this way. Pollack you magnificent bastard. I really liked his Dean blog post: “So we went over to Dan’s and headed for the roof. He poured some Stoli orange, which is all I’m drinking now…I got so drunk I threw up on my roommate and passed out in her bed. I have to stop doing that.”

It’s just so ridiculously funny. Bravo Pollack. (Via The Kicker)

Weekly dose of David Ignatius - - Mr. Ignatius seems to be the hot flavor of the month for us conservatives and his new article shows more reasons why. It is an interesting one about one the “security dude” on the Iraqi Governing Council. It’s something I haven’t seen anywhere else.

’04 Journal: Running the numbers on Gore’s Endorsement of Dean - - Papa Murphy was really interested in the Al Gore move to endorse Howard Dean so I thought I would do a special ’04 Journal last night. Mens News Daily was kind enough to publish it today. I hope you enjoy too.

“So when Al Gore went to Harlem, basically in his former boss’s ‘hood’, to endorse Howard Dean was this the first day of the 2008 primary season? This could really have been Gore’s Michael Corleone moment from “The Godfather.” In one masterful action he gets back into the spotlight, probably extends his political capital for few more years, whacks his former running mate, slaps Clinton around, warns Hillary that she can have the 2008 nomination when they pry it from his cold dead hands, and publicly reinvents himself.” [Read the whole article here]

More: David Letterman: "Al Gore has endorsed Howard Dean for president. That's pretty fitting, the guy that didn't beat Bush endorsing the guy who won't beat Bush"

Was that a French spit take I just heard? - - I really think this is fantastic. The Bush administration is making sure that if any contracts are up for grabs in Iraq they go to the nations of the fighting coalition. As John J. Miller writes in NRO’s Corner this morning, “it's really a forward-looking policy, because it may teach America's fair-weather allies that their actions have consequences. In the meantime, reconstruction contracts won't lack for bidders: In addition to the United States, there's Britain, Australia, Spain--the list is long. And a lot of Iraqi sub-contractors will be involved as well.”
All this talk, especially by the Democratic candidates to “play nice” with Europe is all fine and good, but I think they because of their stubbornness this is the only way, every once and awhile, to keep them in line. And it’s not a “gratuitous slap” as Sen. Biden suggests. It’s a slap but it was hardly gratuitous.
More: At least one major nation has learned some valuable lessons and is not only sticking by America, but actually going in further to Iraq, and that is Japan. Stanley Kurtz thinks this is even bigger. That Japan is having its coming out party as regional rival to China in the region. Interesting.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Triple shot: Howard Dean, Blogs, David Brooks - - David Brooks has a typical, and typical here meaning top-notch analysis of Howard Dean today and his internet power. Will Vehrs has an excellent and detailed account of the “blog street” reaction and why Brooks is right. And when I read it I agreed with Brooks this morning.

In particular Vehrs point here rings true. “I daresay that if you challenge a Dean position or a quote from the candidate in the comments section of a Dean-leaning blog--or if you challenge Bush in a Bush-leaning blog--you won't get a spirited defense. You'll get called names, accused of apostasy, and treated to a shrill listing of the other's guy's defective positions.” (read his whole post to get caught up on this)

After my latest “’04 Journal” article on Howard Dean over at Mens News Daily (and later republished at American Daily) I got plenty of emails from Dean supporters ranging from calling me a “spinning troll” or clever lines like, “keep spouting out the bile” and “just say it. ‘President Dean’” to some more substantive. But the trend is that when I write about Dean I get email, and much of it is incoherent nonsense.

”A weird sort of genius - - National Review’s Rich Lowry has some priceless commentary in NRO’s Corner tonight on the farce of a debate. Hugh Hewitt found it so amusing he kept cutting in. Most priceless Lowry? Calling Al Sharpton a, “weird sort of genius. Almost every other line is a laugh or applause line.” And in case you were wondering Lowry reports that Gen. Wes Clark does indeed blink. Well that bodes well for those of us who thought he may have been a Clinton built robot.

More Dem Debate Reaction: Hit up some Sullivan today. He’s pretty much on fire. His analysis of Kucinich is worth the price of admission. “Kucinich was mesmerizing in his way, with his huge ears and beady little eyes. He kept arguing as if there were 170,000 U.N. troops sitting around, waiting to be told that it's time to replace all those Americans in Iraq. Presumably he knows this is a fantasy. He doesn't seem to be illiterate. He puts sentences together with correct structure and grammar. So how can he keep reiterating something that is as feasible as handing Iraq over to Martians? And why wasn't he laughed off the stage?”

Monday, December 08, 2003

’04 Journal: The Battle for Iowa - - Mens News Daily published my latest 2004 Journal article on the latest and greatest as we gear up for the Iowa primary next month. A friend of mine suggests that only I could be interested in this, but clearly there is more.

“For a state with just seven electoral votes Iowa has emerged as not just the first but also an extremely important battleground for the Democrats seeking to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Drive. Candidates have already spent $3.8 million in advertising in Iowa, two times the amount in New Hampshire. The question is who is going to win this key early primary state?” [Read the whole article]

More: The big news today was that Al Gore is going to endorse Howard Dean. This could be a big deal. Andrew Sullivan who is running his annual pledge drive (Hey why not donate to dispatches? What a great idea!) has a bunch of talk about the political fallout from this. “Gore has allied himself with the energized, leftist Democratic base, and could position himself in 2008 as the real soul of the party - unlike that centrist opportunist, Senator Clinton. In fact, the minute after a Bush re-election, the Gore-Clinton struggle for control of the party begins again in earnest.”

I don’t know. It’s either the beginning of the end for Dean or end of the beginning for Gore, or maybe it’s just the end of Gore and Dean and the beginning for Mrs. Clinton. If there is a time to jump in, it may be right now.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Navigating by the neon lights of Taco Bell or Tim Hortons - - Sorry for the lack of postings this weekend. But you’ll know that at least I have a brand new article in this week’s issue of Enter Stage Right.

” Navigating by the neon lights of Taco Bell or Tim Hortons” is a long look at the continuing argument by many Canadians that we are really different than our American neighbors and that they live in a cultural wasteland. Have they been to the suburbs of Vancouver? You’ll get a does of Tim Hortons, Starbucks, James Lileks, The Olive Garden, George W. Bush, gun toting hicks in pick up trucks, snotty French waiters, Virginia Postrel, the Rosetta Stone, Christie Blachford, and more! [Read the article now]

Hello Cleveland! The One Car Caravan Redux - - You may have already checked out my book review of Walter Shapiro’s most excellent book One Car Caravan but on Friday it was republished over at www.Cleveland.com.

This is part of a new distribution deal between the Blogcritics.org website and websites like Cleveland.com which serves as the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s web portal. It’s a cool thing, and I’m very excited to be apart of it. So check out this book review and book review section if you haven’t already and make sure you check out Blogcritics early and often.

Friday, December 05, 2003

From the desk of “the Hamma” - - It’s Friday. Ugly and wet looking here in Vancouver. This will cheer anybody up. A column by Charles Krauthammer!. He’s throwing on his lab coat again and he came up with this:

“Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.”

This is what we call “street cred” dudes - - Drudge is reporting new Eminem lyrics suggesting he’d rather see the president dead is the equivalent of “50 Cent” getting another bullet wound to give him more street cred (that’s credibility folks).

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Canada Unilaterally throwing down it’s guns for good? - - A new report is suggesting that Canada’s military beginning with it’s air force will simply cease to exist by 2008-2013. (Read more here)

Somehow, it all makes sense. The surrendering French government must have cloned itself as the current government. This is shocking stuff. More on this later…

And we thought our Military procurement was bad - - I’ve spent plenty of time posting on the state of Canada’s military, especially how rotten and aging equipment. Not to be outdone, France, has an absolute hilarious mess since it embarked on building it’s own nuclear aircraft carrier in 1988.

“France is considering quietly retiring their new nuclear powered aircraft carrier and joining with Britain to buy a new carrier of British design. Actually, the French had planned to built a second nuclear powered carrier, but they are having so many problems with the first one that they are quite reluctant about building another one. Britain is building two 50,000 ton conventionally powered carriers, at a cost of $2.5 billion each. France would order a third of this class, and bring down the cost of all three a bit. The new French nuclear carrier "Charles de Gaulle" has suffered from a seemingly endless string of problems. The 40,000 ton ship has cost over four billion dollars so far and is slower than the diesel powered carrier it replaced. Flaws in the "de Gaulle" have led it to using the propellers from it predecessor, the "Foch," because the ones built for "de Gaulle" never worked right. Worse, the nuclear reactor installation was done poorly, exposing the engine crew to five times the allowable annual dose of radiation. There were also problems with the design of the deck, making it impossible to operate the E-2 radar aircraft that are essential to defending the ship and controlling offensive operations. Many other key components of the ship did not work correctly, and the carrier has been under constant repair and modification. The "de Gaulle" took eleven years to build (1988-99) and was not ready for service until late 2000. It's been downhill ever since.”

Yikes. What a nightmare. They are even surrendering building ships. It’s too much…

(Via Glenn Reynolds)

Running the numbas - - Tim Blair, who I haven’t linked to in far too long, links to Bill Whittle who does the calculations on how much better the war has been compared to Iraq’s peace for the common Iraqi. The math suggests that 13,000 people are alive now that probably would have died at the hands of Saddam.

“Thirteen thousand is about the size of a good basketball game. Perhaps we can convince the Lakers to play a charity game against the Spurs, say. Then we can put 13,000 Iraqi men, women and children into the Staples Center, and make Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, George Clooney, The Dixie Chicks, Janeane Garofalo, and every single person who signed the Not in Our Name petition kill those people in cold blood – electrodes, acid baths or shredders, to get the full effect, although the weak-stomached should be allowed to merely shoot them in the back of the head.

As Blair concludes, “Turns out war is substantially less deadly than Iraq’s "peace".

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Chew on this for awhile: A League of Extraordinary Democracies? - - Jonah Goldberg takes a new old idea out for a short walk. Create a rival organization to the UN composed solely of democracies.

’04 Journal: Howard Dean’s Doctrines - - In one long interview with Chris Mathew’s earlier this week, Howard Dean’s performance left plenty of people with more questions not less about his ability to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Drive. Mens News Daily has my latest ’04 Journal article filed from way outside the beltway.