Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Muschamp the Magnificent

The latest plans for rebuilding the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan has The New York Times’ evil architecture critic, Herbert Muschamp, completely unhinged.

This morning he shares with us his euphoria over the transformational power of these new designs. You know, the ones unveiled last week by the world’s most prestigious architects . . . the ones that have met with near universal inertia?

If you haven’t seen them, take a look here. There’s lots of glass, big jumbly buildings, colossal towers, and tiny little stick figures moping around in their shadows . . . those are meant to be us.

Most of the designs include towers as tall or taller than the old Trade Center. All of the architects talked about the safety of their designs with their blast absorbing facades and multiple escape routes. They all spoke of honoring the site with contemporary visions.

But these are mostly just a bunch of glass cubes stacked high just like almost every banal skyscraper built from Shanghai to Atlanta in the past 35 years. Some in fact look no better than the smoking pile of rubble that was there on September 12th. Rather than think out of the box, the best architects in the world only offer us more glass boxes some of which have “sky parks” on high floors. As if anyone would ever go to the 70th floor to sit under a tree.

Muschamp, of course, recognizes that these designs are unrealistic . . . but that’s what make them so great. “Don’t they see that attempting the impossible is the whole point,” he practically bellows from the page wild-eyed with the sheer audacity of it. You see, as an elitist, Muschamp has to constantly keep pushing himself into realms were common folk can’t follow. Ugly, unbuildable, ridiculous scribbles that have no hope of ever be constructed, “why yes, it’s brilliant. Bwaahahaha!!!”

For the past week Muschamp has been going on about “contemporary architecture” and how these designs are at last exposing the ignorati to the dazzling genius of this unappreciated cultural movement. Today he claims people are enraptured with the designs. “Public response has reached an extraordinary pitch of enthusiasm,” he says.

Funny, the Times itself reported on the public’s ambivalence just two days ago:
The man in the beret summed up all the proposals with a snort. "Looks like they're trying to make it look like Hong Kong," he said. His wife was writing "Try again!" on her comment card.

Muschamp, though, is not talking about actual people . . . he’s talking about The People. He does all their thinking for them so he should know what they want and what they need.

The People demand buildings that challenge the status quo. True enough, but Muschamp and his fellow big brains ARE the status quo.

His contempt for popular tastes in architecture is virulent. Today is the third time in a week he has slammed the husband and wife design team of Peterson Littenberg which he dismissed on Sunday as “followers of the reactionary architect Leon Krier. Prince Charles’ architectural adviser.” Today, he can’t even be bothered to mention the team’s name and refers to their contribution only as “a reworked version of last summer’s retro motif.”

These are valuable clues for the unintiated reader. Peterson Littenberg is also working with Mayor Bloomberg to create two new livable neighborhoods in lower Manhattan that will include direct links to area airports and a grand boulevard where West Street is now. The Petersen Littenberg design for Ground Zero restores the original city grid and includes human sized parks and circles that recall past successes such as Gramercy Park and Hanover Square. Peterson Littenberg are the good guys in all this and thankfully seem to have the ear of those who will make decisions about the site.

This doesn’t sit well with Muschamp. To him the future must not include any reference to the past. It must challenge people, not accommodate them. It must disturb, not harmonize.

Fortunately, Muschamp has no money of his own to build the city of his dreams. Otherwise the streets of New York would be littered with titanium coprolites like Frank Gehry’s instantly obsolete creations.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, has the money and like Nelson Rockefeller he also has the will to fill the WTC vacuum and become the default client. Hopefully, his taste will be better than Rockefeller’s who tended toward the Brehznev school of architecture.

On the other hand, I’d love for Muschamp to occupy an office on the 120th floor of Norman Foster’s absurdly inhumane “kissing towers.” Yeah Herb, just take this express elevator to the sky lobby, then wait for the local, walk down a couple of dark over-air conditioned corridors, and your desk is right up against that inward-slanting plate glass window with southern exposure.

A bit hot in there? Oh well, that’s the price you pay for culture.

The Bottom Line

The BBC reports that Joe Strummer of The Clash has died of old age at 50.

For those of you with memories that don’t extend back quite that far, The Clash were a bracing blast of fresh air following years of fetid musical nonsense from stagnant marketing projects like The Eagles and Earth, Wind and Fire.

The Clash was the first mainstream thrash band. They saved “punk” music from self-parody and Sandinista remains a great album although its context has become all but unrecognizable.

See, Strummer thought he had a vehicle for raising political consciousness. According to Billy Bragg, a like minded left-wing bully, "Within The Clash, Joe was the political engine of the band, and without Joe there's no political Clash and without The Clash the whole political edge of punk would have been severely dulled."

Well, in fact, the political posturing was what doomed the band.

Mick Jones, the musical engine of the band, quit and formed Big Audio Dynamite, the greatest band of all time if I may say so. While Strummer droned on about socialism, Jones expressed a libertarian ethic as refreshingly different from The Clash as The Clash was from LeChic.

The Strummer/Jones relationship mirrored the decline of Michael Foot socialism and the rise of Thatcher-Blairism. Strummer was fun when you were drunk and aggressive. Jones and B.I.G. was for when you sobered up, realized you were on a dead end and decided it was more fun to turn yourself around.

Strummer, it seems, reached the dead end.

Of course, who do you think will be remembered in the media, the guy who wrote "Pick yourself up off the floor, anything you want is yours" or the one who ranted "I'm so bored with the U.S.A."?

Friday, December 20, 2002

More Ozark Wisdom

For those of you who missed the most recent issue of Iceland Review, let me summarize a short article that appears today about that lovable lug of an ex-president, Bill Clinton.

According to IR, Clinton shared some geopolitical wisdom with Einar Gústavsson, chairman of the board and the manager of the Icelandic Tourist Board in New York, during a recent conference at which Bubba was the hired entertainment.

Aside from the usual pandering, in this case claiming to be very interested in taking a golf trip to the dismal volcanic outcropping in the North Atlantic that is Iceland and playing at some of the 50 “extremely beautiful” courses there. Hmmm . . . I suspect what Bill is really interested in is the legend of Iceland’s extremely beautiful women.

In any case, Clinton slips in to pain-feeling mode rather quickly and says we ought to be more welcoming to our Islamic brothers.

. . . he stated that the travel industry is, in its nature, global. Therefore, it is impossible to think about it as localised and say, for instance, that Europe is safe from terrorism. To face the problem it would be best to open the world up for muslims and get more closer to them than in the past. This would be a project for everybody and for no one to decline.”

Now think about that for moment. What does Bill mean by “open(ing) the world up for muslims?” We’ve seen very few limitations on the movements of Muslims in this country. Indeed, some might say they were a bit too free to move about in the months leading up to the barbarous attacks on innocent civilians in New York, Arlington and above Pennsylvania.

Every city, store, museum and church in America is open to everyone including Muslims. Can the same be said for the Muslim world? For an answer, try making a reservation at the W hotel in Mecca sometime, infidel.

And what could Bill possibly mean by “get closer to them than in the past?”

Perhaps he means we should raise our awareness of Islam and the concepts that animate it. I certainly agree with that Indeed, I’d say we know a hell of lot more about Islamic world now that we did on Labor Day weekend 2001. . . and the more we learn the more disturbing it all becomes.

Of course, what Bill is really talking about is no different than what Rodney King had to say after igniting the Los Angeles riots, “why can’t we just get along?”

In the case of Islamofascism there are very good reasons for not getting along and most of them have to do with defending freedom and tolerance against a suicidal strain of medieval religious fanaticism.

But those are issues above Bill’s pay grade at the moment, thank goodness.

Let me go out on a limb here and say that if we had elected Strom Thurmond president in 1992 instead of Bill Clinton we wouldn’t be having all the trouble we have today.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Problems of Multilateralism -- Lesson One

Deutsche Welle is reporting that the weapons dossier Iraq submitted to the United Nations last week reveals Germany to be the Iraqi regime's top foreign supplier of weapons.

According to Tageszeitung, a left-wing rag out of Berlin, the number of German firms supplying the Saddam Administration exceeds by far the number of firms from other foreign countries.

Well now, this certainly puts Gerhard Schroeder's opposition to using force against Iraq in a new and less honorable light.

But we Americans . . . we're so simple.

Sad news.

Zal of the Lovin' Spoonful has died. He ought to be remembered for his song "Bald Headed Lena" which is all but forgotten today although it captured more of the true 60s ethos than any dreary protest dirge.
Lott’s Got to Go

Is there something about serving in the U.S. Senate that scrambles your thought processes? I mean, just take a look at Strom Thurmond and you can see the toll it’s taken on him.

But I’m really thinking about Sen. Trent Lott. Does he actually believe that going on BET and saying he now favors affirmative action will earn him support among African Americans? Among anyone at all?

I think what he said at Thurmond’s birthday party is typical Senate log rolling. They always praise their fellow Senators in over the top language. What’s appalling to me is Lott’s behavior since then.

He’s proven to be a political ignoramus and, even worse, a self-deluded boor. Outside the Senate, craven political sausage making just doesn’t look very appetizing. “I’ll trade you one quasi-racist bon mot for my support of your destructive social policy.” Doesn’t fly. Certainly not on national television.

If Lott were in the Senate for any other reason than the perks and prestige he would have said on BET that there are a lot of problems with race in America but not one of them has anything to do with the cadaverous centegenarian from South Carolina.

Indeed, the problem with race in this country is that while most whites support integration lock stock and barrel, those who claim to speak for the African-American community are pushing for separate dorms on college campuses, separate standards for hiring, separate expectations for success and civic duty.

Lott could have used his appearance to ask some provocative questions of his own, like at what point did Dr. King’s dream of society ‘where we are judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character’ become a vision of a world were skin color is the factor that trumps every other consideration?

He could have noted how ironic it was that he grew up in a segregated state controlled by Democrats and now works in a segregated city controlled by Democrats. He might even have asked exactly what the Democrat party had done in the last 35 years that justified such lockstep support from African American voters.

Of course, he did none of these things because, to Senator Lott, the only things that matter are the continuance of his Senatorial privileges.

That’s the reason Lott should go and go now. Hell, let him resign throw control of the Senate back to the Dems.

Just keep him far away from the Republican Party

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

What’s Byrd Got to Say About it

Trent Lott justifiably caught hell for his remarks at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. But what did the other celebrants have to say?

I’m thinking in particular Senator Robert Byrd, the “Conscience of the Senate.”

Byrd is well known for his reverence of the U.S. Senate and those who serve in it. Surely he had something to say about the Senate’s longest serving member.

As it turns out he did speak on that occasion. According to The State in South Carolina, Senator Byrd expressed regret that Thurmond, the former Democrat, switched parties in 1964:

"Our loss, your gain," Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., told Republicans in the chamber.

And there’s more, although no transcript seems to be available. According to the paper Byrd offered one of the most emotional tributes to Thurmond of the evening. You don’t suppose there were some comments that, in the harsh light of day, might sound a bit . . . say, out-of-date?

Monday, December 16, 2002

Christmas Greetings From the Permanent Opposition

Every year my wife and I receive a Christmas card from a grad school classmate of hers who is now serving our country in the Foreign Service.

Actually to call it a Christmas card is a bit of a stretch. It’s really an annual partisan rant that manages to be equal parts offensive to the reader and embarrassing to the writer. To give you a flavor, two years ago he sent a card with him and Al Gore on the front . . . and Gore was not dressed as Santa Claus either.

This year he outdid himself. Keep in mind that this is written by a fairly senior State Department official in Southeast Asia and that he is charged with representing and carrying out the foreign policy of the Bush Administration in one of the critical theaters of the war on terrorism.

Happy Holidays! With bombings in Bali, nukes in North Korea, a sniper (captured at last) in Washington, Republicans controlling every branch of the U.S. government, and war looming in Iraq, the world feels like a dangerous place. But this time of year still prompts me to count some blessings.”

Hmmm . . . Republicans on par with terror bombings and nuclear blackmail . . . and framed with hackneyed cliches no less.

Replicate this sort of reflexive hyper-partisanship a couple of dozen times throughout the State Department and CIA and you get an idea of why it is so difficult to break with the foreign policy status quo even in wartime.

Another even more troubling example comes from today’s Washington Post that is running a story about how a Clinton appointee has replaced “Radio Freedom,” a highly influential VOA-type news program broadcasting to revolutionary Iran with “Radio Tomorrow” a sugary top 40 pop music program that is supposed to enhance America’s image on the Arab Street but has no news value whatsoever.

Pretty hard to move forward with so many Lilliputians holding you back.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Race Matters

Funny how touchy racial issues are just about the only thing that gets the Democratic Party to its feet. Looking at the last couple of years of voting results it’s easy to see why.

The lesson of the 2000 national election is that even with 93% of the African-American vote, the Democratic Party can barely scrape together a win. The Republicans on the other hand have proven they can win nationally without significant the support of the African American community.

What this means in practical terms is that Republicans need only increase their support among blacks by a few percentage points to become virtually invincible. The Dems have to not only hold on their near monopoly of the black electorate but extend it just to remain competitive.

Adam Clymer, for whom President Bush coined the playful nickname “major league asshole,” described the Republican Party strategy on race in a column published on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times as:

“not to seek black votes . . . but to soothe whites who generally support Republican policies but do not think of themselves as supporting racism.”

This, of course, assumes that the Republican Party does indeed support racism and that segregation is more important to the GOP than the votes of black people, which would otherwise propel the party to an unassailable national majority.

As you can see Clymer's nickname is richly deserved.

The Times would rather believe that the GOP values racism over votes than to envision the alternative: that the Democrats have a vested interest in enflaming racial discord.

To get 95% percent of a diverse population to vote for your party requires an emotional driver. As the recent Saddam campaign proved, appealing to reason may get you a plurality of voters on your side, but to get ALL of them you need to convince them that the alternative is death or worse.

That’s why it is essential for the Democrats to portray the Republicans as racists. No matter how bad the Democrats are, no African American is going to risk voting for a racist.

Into this poisonous atmosphere strolls Trent Lott.

That he doesn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation is proof of a political tin ear that has always annoyed a certain segment of GOP. For instance, why does the government build warships in Mississippi? Certainly not because of the state’s maritime tradition. Lott’s brazen support of pork barrel waste makes it difficult to argue with befuddled old legislation pimps like Sen. Robert Byrd.

That Lott may actually be a racist is deeply troubling. That he is willing to damage the Republican Party and an Administration that is actually doing something to enable progress for African Americans (rather than talking about it as Clinton did, or worse, polarizing the nation as Gore did) is irresponsible and unpatriotic.

The nation is more important than Trent Lott’s political career. Rather than fuel the noxious myth than allows the Democrats to exploit African-American fears and translate them into votes, Lott should take a hit – whether it is deserved or not – and walk away from the Majority Leader post with his dignity.

Lott had an opportunity last night. He had the nation’s full attention for about 30 minutes. He could have used that time not only to save his own future but also to advance the debate on race in this country.

But one must never underestimate the vanity of a career politician.

Lott believes this is all about him.

He spoke of his impoverished background as if growing up poor and white in Mississippi is somehow reassuring to the rest of us who suspect he might just be an ignorant cracker.

He grinned in that peculiarly Southern way that practically broadcasts insincerity to a Northeasterner.

He held his most important new conference in a crowd of hooting supporters in some utterly unpronounceable backwater fever swamp of a town rather than in DC under the hot glare of a hostile media.

He totally missed the significance of the moment. A smarter person would have made this a fight for something important. Lott gave no one any reason to support him

As a result, the Democrats get to perpetuate their illusion of morality and African-Americans are again left to wonder about the credibility of the Republican Party.

Thanks a Lott.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

“This Is a European Decision”

The European Union acted with characteristic provincialism by denying even to discuss admitting Turkey to the EU until December 2004. At that time the unelected Eurocrats will decide if Turkey is democratic enough to join the club and only then will negotiations begin.

The New York Times reports today that when asked when the negotiations would begin, the Danish prime minister, Anders Rasmussen, the current president of the European Union explained:
"Well, it's a very clear message," he said. "The answer to that, well, you ask me, when. It is a good question and the answer is very clear. As soon as possible. Because we stick to principle. We stick to principle that Turkey can get a date for the start of accession negotiations when Turkey fulfills the political criteria."

According to the Times, a draft communiqué, which has not been made public, is more vague and says nothing about opening negotiations with Turkey "as soon as possible" after it fulfills the requisite conditions.

I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time the Euros decide to talk that Turkey’s leaders wake up and realize that they needn’t stoop to join such a blinkered and bigoted organization.

Rather, the United States should step up and invite Turkey to join an expanded NAFTA. That’s an economic club worth joining.

Mr. Rasmussen, normally a soft-spoken conciliator, made clear that the United States had no role to play. "I would like to stress that this is a European decision," he said in a news conference before the summit meeting opened.

Yes, now let’s let them live with it.

Friday, December 13, 2002

A Bad Day For Europe

On the same day its heavy-lift super rocket exploded 3 minutes after liftoff, Europe itself seems to be tearing itself apart as it attempts to enlarge its Union.

The EU is about to set the enrollment conditions for 10 new members, mostly from the unfashionable Eastern part of the continent. In doing so, the Western Europeans are demonstrating why they are particularly unfit to pass judgment on the domestic policies of more diverse democracies such as the United States.

The debate is formally over the terms of membership for Poland (and its cohorts) and Turkey but the subtext is much more interesting. The Eastern democracies have had a far different Cold War experience than that of their counterparts in the West. As a result, the Osties are a lot more receptive to what in America we would recognize as the free-market conservative political point of view.

In Western Europe, “conservative” simply means a socialist wearing an armband. There is very little substantive debate about the limits of government authority.

But the East has experienced half a century of abuse at the hands of unbridled socialists. They suffer from fewer illusions than their better off neighbors. They want prosperity and they know state control of the economy is not the way to achieve it.

They want to join the EU and be part of an economic powerhouse. But the Euro-haves in the West seem to think the EU is a welfare system to be guarded jealously.

Accordingly, new members to the EU will not be given access to the gravy all at once. Poland, for example, would have to wait ten years before qualifying for full agricultural subsidies. Presumably if they behave badly, the full members of the EU might string the Poles on a bit longer.

The real fear is that any new members will dilute the power of the founding members. Of course, that’s true . . . especially if the founding members have no new ideas or visions for the future. Rather, the Western Europeans seem more concerned about defending the status quo and pulling up the drawbridge if necessary.

Their treatment of Turkey is especially galling. According to former President of France, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, “Turkey is not part of Europe,” demonstrating a statesman’s grasp of geography and a bureaucrat's understanding of politics.

Integrating Turkey into the liberal democratic tradition is essential to providing the Islamic world with a vision for the future to rival the Islamofascists. This critical opportunity seems totally lost on the Euros. Rather than welcome all comers to the community of liberal democracies, the Eurocrats are more interested in their own dwindling prestige.

If you're wondering why the United States is a "hyperpower" while Europe is becoming a posturing backwater you need not look any further than Europe's "leadership" on the challenge of radicalized Islam.

Progress in Europe will not come from the frightened turf defenders in Brussels but from the fresh and energetic people of the East. And a the future of liberalized Islam will not be determined in some ghetto off the Parisian ring highway but in Ankara and Istanbul where every encouragement must be given to the fragile secular democracy taking root there.

The Europeans talk a lot about balancing the American influence with their own power, but they forget that the source of American power is not so much based on economic resources as it is on human resources.

Anyone can become as American as the Bush family in about a generation. But show me a second generation immigrant living in France who feels as welcome in the 16th Arrondisment as Giscard and I’ll show you an Saudi prince with bankroll of Francs.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Another Knife Related Death

An American barbarian was recently found in a car at the bottom of Kashima harbor just north of Tokyo.

Yasushi Dustin Rutledge was, until last week, living in Japan with American citizenship. Rutledge had been stabbed before entering the harbor in his vehicle. Two of Rutledge’s buddies, Keiichi and Takuya, have been arrested by Japanese police in connection with the death.

This incident should galvanize the knife-control movement in Japan.

For far too long the Japanese fascination with sharp objects has gone unchecked. The cost of such recklessness is measured in innocent lives cut short. The Japanese “blade culture” makes killing all too easy, especially in the heat of passion.

Indeed the rate of suicide by knife, sword, or pointy stick in Japan is far higher than in any other industrialized nation. And no one knows how many of these "suicides" where actually the result of accidents while cleaning the deadly instruments.

It’s time for this silent holocaust to stop, although it’s too late for Yasushi Dustin Rutledge.

Maybe they should ban cars while they’re at it.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

The Case Against Saddam, Again, and Again, and Again

There's just no satisfying some people.

You'd think by now the case against Saddam would have been made to even the most blinkered observers weeks ago. But just for good measure the UK has released another dossier on the Iraqi police state and the only surprises it contains concern the extent of Saddam's nastiness.

According to the report issued today by the British Foreign Office, Saddam Hussein’s Baa’th regime has perfected the art of systemic torture against political opponents. In a record remarkable even by 20th century standards, the Hussein Administration granted itself the power to suppress dissent with impunity.

A decree from the Revolutionary Command Council dated 21 December 1992 guarantees immunity for Ba'ath party members who cause damage to property, bodily harm and even death when pursuing enemies of the regime.

The RCC, issued a series of decrees establishing severe penalties (amputation, branding, cutting off of ears, or other forms of mutilation) for criminal offences.

In mid-2000, the RCC approved amputation of the tongue as a new penalty for slander or abusive remarks about the President or his family. No doubt this edict had a particularly “chilling effect” on free speech in Iraq.

The report catalogs a gruesome variety of brutal practices and includes sidebars on Uday Hussein’s private torture chamber, which he charmingly calls “The Red Room,” the business card of a professional rapist, and a memorandum chiding some overzealous local official for beheading a suspect before interrogating him.

The dossier on Iraq comes as U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq near the end of their 1 million Mississippi countdown before shouting “ready or not, here we come.” Yet the propitious timing has Amnesty International in a huff.

The human rights situation in Iraq or elsewhere should not be used selectively. The US and other Western governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and ignored Amnesty International's campaign on behalf of the thousands of unarmed Kurdish civilians killed in the 1988 attacks on Halabja.

So wouldn’t not turning a blind eye now be a good thing??

Not according to AI. No, they're concerned that using military force to stop the human rights abuses may result in human rights abuses.

I guess I see the logic here, although it’s a bit cynical – stamp out all the human rights abusers and the professional scolds at Amnesty International will have to go into market research or something.

So let’s see now. Congress has voted to give President Bush authority to attack Iraq with the goal of toppling Saddam and the voters validated that decision a few days later, the U.N. Security Council unanimously backs a Bush Administration-drafted resolution against Iraq, Nato gives its unanimous consent to using force against Iraq, and a coalition of the United States, Britain and Australia has agreed to use aggressive means to force Iraq’s compliance with U.N. resolutions.

Why do I get the feeling that some multilateralists still aren’t satisfied?

Thursday, November 28, 2002

I Like Yacht Racing

This is the golden age of sailboat racing yet you'd never know it.

The boats these days can barely be considered yachts any more than a Formula One Ferrari can be considered an expensive sports car.

Rather today’s sailboats are high-tech racing machines that harness the wind in ways that 19th century schooner captains could never imagine. Just look at this magnificent multi-hull competitor in the transatlantic Route du Rhum and keep in mind that there is only one person on it.

Unfortunately, most of the exciting races now take place in the middle of the Atlantic or way down in New Zealand. For American audiences, they might as well be taking place in . . . well, New Zealand.

The America's Cup race, which used to be held every four years off the stormy coast of Rhode Island is now held wherever the incumbent winning team says they want it held.

When the Americans, under skipper Dennis Conner, an old-school, whiney, blowhard, lost the Cup to the Australians in 1983 -- an upset comparable to the Harlem Globetrotters losing a world-champion game to their perennial straw man opponents, the Washington Generals -- the Cup virtually disappeared from American consciousness. This collective national amnesia is surely one of the worst examples of American poor-sportsmanship in history.

Conner, obsessed with restoring his reputation, has been spending the rest of his life trying to win back the Cup with a mixed record of success. When he did eventually win it back he was representing a team based in San Diego and consequently the America's Cup has never returned to Rhode Island.

Today Conner is sailing for the New York Yacht Club in the Louis Vuitton Cup -- the qualifying round for the America's Cup. If his boat, Stars and Stripes, qualifies as the official challenger and goes on to prevail over the incumbent New Zealanders in the final competition, the America's Cup would be restored to it's home on West 44th Street and the race itself would likely return to Newport where it belongs.

This restoration would be a tremendous boost to a sport often ridiculed as a pastime of the rich, the white, and the uber-privileged. In reality, competition sailing is an intellectually challenging, physically taxing and fiercely competitive meritocracy where many of the best skippers are women. Above all it is spectacularly beautiful.

It it’s own way, yacht racing puts yet another nail in the coffin of 20th century progressivism.

How? Well, the myth of progressivism cannot tolerate beauty in anything deemed bourgeois or plutocratic. That goes for architecture, literature, and the performing arts. To be worthy, these endeavors must make a political statement. That’s why so much of our culture is now so coarse and preachy, why our buildings are brutal and ugly, why contemporary art no longer strives for divinity.

Yacht racing makes its own rather subtly subversive political statement – it is everything progressives claim to desire. It’s international, it’s environmentally friendly, and it’s increasingly gender neutral.

Imagine if yacht racing were to become a truly popular spectator sport? It would require a great deal of explaining.

Elitist? Well, so was golf.

Expensive? Peanuts compared to fielding an NBA team.

Restricted? Yes, to those with ability. If the Americans lose to the Italians there will be no Americans competing in the America’s Cup.

There’s plenty of money and ego involved in the sport but generally it’s behind the scenes. On the decks of the boats themselves are athletes competing for the love of the sport.

Now that’s progressive.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Peaceful Non-Existence Watch

The web has so many resources for children these days. Check out this lovely kids' site sponsored by Hamas.

My Arabic is a bit rusty but what I can discern from the imagery is that Hamas is teaching kids the fine art of medieval-style blind hatred.

It contains sections where you can meet a real martyr and some tips on how you to can grow up to blow up. It's charming to see how Hamas is preparing the next generation to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors.

Remember this the next time someone says the Palestinians only want to co-exist peacefully with "the Zionist Entity."

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Psy-Ops Clinton Style

Remember how the Clinton-Gore team used to huff and puff about covert projects underway to overthrown Saddam Hussein?

Well according to the Asia Times, part of that effort was a series of radio skits broadcast into Iraq featuring a talented Harvard grad student who did a mean Saddam imitation.

“The point was to discredit Saddam, but the stuff was complete slapstick," the student says. "We did skits where Saddam would get mixed up in his own lies, or where [Saddam's son] Qusay would stumble over his own delusions of grandeur."

Not exactly a powerful regime change-agent.

The unnamed Saddam impersonator eventually grew disenchanted with the project because the skips were so lame. "Who in Iraq is going to think it's funny to poke fun at Saddam's mustache," the student notes, "when the vast majority of Iraqi men themselves have mustaches?"

The project was run with taxpayer money by The Rendon Group, a PR agency made up of former Democrat Party spin doctors who have lately been shilling for the Saudi Government and their highly successful “Got Sand?” public relations campaign.

The article quotes a spook who says the who anti-Saddam effort was a waste of time and money adding "the scripts were put together by 23-year-olds with connections to the Democratic National Committee."

I think it failed because Saddam is one of those chicken hawks who refuses to get in touch with his inner child.

Doesn’t he understand that the pen is mightier than the sword?

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Saddam to the Rescue

It looks like our French allies and the United Nations have finally reached some compromise on the Iraq disarmament resolution. But luckily, Saddam Hussein is a truly reliable fellow and is about to make the whole inspection process irrelevant.

The resolution passed unanimously by the Security Council last week seemingly gave the peace-at-all-costs bloc exactly what they wanted . . . a two part process with enough ambiguity to delegitimize any United States military response to the inevitable Iraqi breach.

If it followed the letter of the resolution, the U.S. and its coalition allies would not be able to apply military force against the fascist junta in Baghdad until late February 2003 at the earliest. And that's only if the Security Council is decisive enough to give the go ahead.

Fortunately, Saddam is about to break the diplomatic logjam and give the U.S. all the pretext it needs to launch a regime-changing attack.

You see, everyone figured the wily Saddam would accept the resolution and then cleverly conceal its weapons from inspectors amongst the shadows of doubt. Indeed, our friends on the Security Council were counting on that happening. But now it looks like Saddam is going to reject the resolution. Why, he must be mad!

This morning the Iraqi “parliament” vociferously recommended to Il Duce that he graciously and wisely kick the world community in the groin and reject the UN resolution outright. Doing so would give the U.S. coalition a green light to attack immediately . . . within hours!

I can almost hear the thousands of targeting mechanisms clicking into place. The flight decks of a dozen aircraft carriers are probably already swarming with ordinance specialists scrambling to paint clever graffiti on their smart bombs. Fresh young employees are excitedly taking one last run through their java lingo before pulling the tarps off the new Basra Starbucks.

The “international community” has always assumed that while Saddam is brutal and Machiavellian, he’s not nuts. But actually he is quite nuts.

In the past, unhinged totalitarians like Saddam would eventually get what was coming to them from the more rational nations who reach their tolerance threshold for such bad behavior. But in the multiculturalist world, where every opinion is equally valid, the natural culling mechanism has rusted shut from lack of use. Saddam should have been knocked off years ago but everyone from Bush the Elder to Gerhard the Lame have forestalled the final reckoning.

Saddam wasn’t clever . . . he was extraordinarily lucky.

Today or tomorrow Saddam will deliver a defiant speech to the world in which he upholds Iraqi sovereignty and rejects the UN’s conciliatory resolution. He will do it because he believes the streets of Washington, Florence and Copenhagen are thronged with mobs of pro-Iraqi demonstrators who are on the verge of overthrowing their leaders and ushering in a global Saddamist political movement that will make him the most important and respected goomba in the whole wide world.

Saddam’s dreams of world where he can fire his rifle from the well of the UN General Assembly chamber to the approving applause of its members, where he can drive his black Mercedes down the Unter den Linden over the feet of his adoring fans, where he can romance infidel starlets like Farrah Fawcett under the flickering neon of the Vegas Strip, are all about to come true . . . in his mind at least.

Saddam will listen to all the obsequious advisors in his Revolutionary Council and conclude that he has the United States completely cornered. To him, this makes perfect sense. Now all is left is for Saddam the Magnificent to deliver the final coup de grace that will topple the corrupt Bush dynasty.

This will be a rare moment of clarity in the geopolitical madhouse . . . I expect President Bush to exploit it.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Hope Trumps Experience

Now that the planets have aligned with Congress and the United Nations giving George Bush the authority he asked for – and the American voters putting a red cherry on top just for luck last week – a veritable festival of handwringing has broken out around the world.

The New York Times today contains a cornucopia of amusing quotes from teethgnashers around the world.

On the front page Syria’s foreign minister tries to put the best possible spin on what amounts to a global declaration of war against his fellow Baa’thists,

”Now America cannot strike Iraq under U.N. auspices, although of course the United States can strike Iraq unilaterally outside international law.

If this happens, the world will not be with the Americans. It will have to deal with all those demonstrators from Los Angeles to the Far East and the Arab countries.”

So the choice is either deal with a fascist military dictatorship armed with chemical, biological and quite possibly nuclear weapons, or with angry anti-everything demonstrators.

While this may not seem like a tough decision here in the civilized world, in the medieval Islamist wonderland government officials are indeed faced with exactly this choice – brutal repression or angry mobs.

Of course, to the leaders in that region the spectre of spontaneous demonstrations is enough to make any elected despot quake in his jackboots. Surely Bush is no fool!

Further nonsense ensues on the Letters to the Editor section.

Here we find Joyce Appleby of Los Angeles, one of the weapons of mass disgruntlement the Syrian diplomat referred to above, making the case that Republican gains on Election Day are illegitimate because only 40% of American voters bothered to vote. Appleby draws the logical conclusion that every one of those nonvoting 60% supports her view of the world.

”With a 40 percent turnout, American elections no longer test the mood of the people; they measure who is motivated to vote.”

Careful there Joyce, you’re about to trip over the Democrats’ “Every Vote Counts” principle. Or perhaps this is a clarification of the principle . . . something like “Every Democrat Vote Counts, Even If They Didn’t Vote.”

By Joyce’s standard, of course, the outcome of Iraq’s referendum with 100% voter turnout is a more accurate gauge of the national mood than the American elections.

But perhaps the mood of the American electorate is that 60% or more or less satisfied with their representatives, 40% are concerned enough to vote and the majority of those people want the Republicans to have more influence.

That seems to be a fairly plausible reflection of the mood in the United States, unless you live in an insular community where dissent is an alien concept. I suggest Joyce get out and meet some new people.

And finally this morning, J.B. Holston of Golden, Colorado is outraged that the Times . . . THE TIMES . . . would side with George Bush on something as vital to American security as a union featherbedding:

”I am astonished that you urged Democrats in Congress to pass President Bush’s homeland security legislation.

The bill would eviscerate federal unions by reducing civil service protection for employees of the new department.”

Let’s imagine what sort of things a fully union-protected federal employee is shielded from.

Well first of all there is the fear of being fired for any reason including ineptitude, chronic illness, rudeness, treason, sexual manifestation, alcoholism, drug abuse, or the complete inability to perform your job.

But getting fired for threatening your boss in a drunken rage and sabotaging the office data retrieval systems on your way out isn't as bad as all that. There are plenty government agencies where someone with all these deficiencies would fit right in including the Department of Transportation, the General Services Administration, or the Department of Redundancy Department.

And if you can’t hack it at the federal level there is the bloated D.C. government waiting with open arms.

J.B. articulates one of the great unmentionables of the Democratic Party: that unions don’t protect good workers, only incompetent ones. And that’s fine as long as it’s applied to totally inconsequential government make-work programs. But is should be wholly unacceptable when the lives of innocent people are at stake.

Thankfully, people like J.B. are a minority of the 40% of voting Americans. A less considerate blogger might even say that putting the interests of the federal employee labor unions ahead of the safely and sovereignty of the entire nation is inherently unpatriotic.

Some might say that, but certainly not me.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places

I’m always amazed when people tell me that the U.S. playing into the hands of religious terrorists like bin Laden by reacting to terrorism with force. By this logic we thwart al Queda by being open and loving.

Tom Friedman made this argument last week:

The terrorists want us to shutter our windows, reject visa requests from Muslim youth and turn off our beacon of idealism so we will be less attractive as an alternative to their medieval fanaticism. Because the bin Ladenites know something Mr. Bush doesn't: that it is American optimism and soft power - not American hard power - that really threatens them.

That’s a nice thought . . . but I doubt it.

In fact, I think al Queda and the Islamofascist movement is counting on the US to be soft and indecisive as always. That way they can continue to bully the weak and illegitimate governments of the Middle East and subjugate the people who live there. If optimism and idealism is such a threat to Arab fundamentalism then how come they want to eliminate Israel? Not because they are a fun-loving people.

We will earn the respect of the people and leaders in the Middle east by standing up to the fascists and meeting their terror "operations" with overwhelming military force. And that is what will give hope to the ordinary people of Syria, and Iraq and Saudi Arabia who want their children to live in peace and prosperity. The dictators who lead them now have totally failed to deliver these two fundamental conditions.

As for the Europeans, they're really not playing geopolitics with a strong hand. They are economically and militarily weak. They have no vision for the future besides maintaining the status quo. It's pretty obvious that France is totally miscast as a permanent member of the Security Council in the 21st century. What this conflict vividly demonstrates is that France and every other Western European nation save Britain is now occupying the second tier of influence in the world.

I disagree with Friedman. The Bush agenda of bringing revolutionary change to the dysfunctional Middle East and replacing authoritarian governments with open and tolerant societies is based entirely on American optimism . . . and that's exactly what the Euros and terrorists are afraid of.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

So Long Terry

The Dems haven't wasted any time getting together an online petition calling for the ouster of Terry McAuliffe as head of the Democratic National Committee.

Of course it's well deserved. McAuliffe embodies all that is wrong with the Democratic Party these days -- he's a lying, moneygrubbing, vulgarian hypocrite.

Guys like McAuliffe and his "best friend" Bill Clinton hijacked the party of Harry Truman and JFK and severely soiled the linens at the White House and in Congress.

Democrats made a Faustian deal with these vile chad counters: if you help us beat the Republicans we'll hold our noses and avert our gaze from the kneecapping and race-baiting you need to get the job done. Some Democrats drank their own kool-aid and ended up just like Terry and Bill.

But for the most part, I think Democrats were mortified by the lack of idealism, the greed and the baseness. Now they have an excuse for cleaning house.

McAuliffe must go even though it would mean improved fortunes for the Democrats in the future. At least they'll be the sort of Democrats I could respect.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Euros Perplexed

Europeans this morning are again baffled by George Bush's remarkable popularity with Americans. As the results of yesterday's election sink in, the continent's unelected are left with a distinctly uneasy feeling:

"This is not going to make transatlantic relations easier because we have many issues on the table which could be complicated to handle with a Republican president and Congress," one diplomat said, citing Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular.

Actually, what this Eurocrat is bothered by is the fact that Republican control of Congress makes issues like Iraq and the Palestinians decidedly uncomplicated. There can be little doubt now that the Bush Administration has received a mandate for its approach to the Middle East which treats Iraqi fascism and Palestinian imperialism as threats to world peace.

No, this won't make transatlantic relations any easier for the defenders of the status quo. But for those who seek a revolution in the Middle East, the future just got a bit brighter.

Over at Le Monde, the online forums are buzzing with apocalyptic predictions. Check out this post from a political sophisticate named c-naptik:

It is really a very sad day for the United States and the World in general, because one includes/understands well what it will occur soon...

Already Bush prepare a new resolution of force in the United Nations.

All the conditions are now in place for the creation of 4th Reich! The dictatorship soon will be essential, maintaining the rest of the world does not have more bother the US and they'll start a 3rd World war before long...

I guess this is what it feel like to be French.

Perhaps this sort of rant makes more sense coming at the end of a long evening drinking bright green liquor and discussing Mickey Rourke.

But in the cold light of day it seems . . . how do you say . . . infantile?

A Voice in the Wilderness

My sister, who is stocking up on frankincense before the holidays, directed my attention to the Yemen Times, a woefully overlooked media outlet.

There are several interesting items in today’s edition but my eye was caught by a cogent letter to the editor from someone named Paula Coviello.

Muslims are not the only ones who feel rage, Americans feel it too. It is a quiet, simmering rage that has been building for years and is expressing itself in burgeoning support for Israel, for war in Iraq, for stricter immigration laws, for decreased humanitarian aid in favor of military spending.

American rage is real and it is growing and it is no less lethal for its restrained nature.

Well said.

Interesting. Here’s a person who, like my encyclopedically knowledgeable sister, not only reads the Yemen Times but she has enough wattage to write and get published a smart letter rebutting their coverage. This, my friends, is a born blogger.

I googled Coviello and found only two other citations on widely disparate topics . . . and each time she was intelligent and on target.

I certainly hope Paula joins the blogosphere in the near future so I can enjoy more of her writing without having to travel to a newsstand in Sana’a.
Hussein Makes the Case for Attacking Hussein

Saddam Hussein gave his first media interview in 12 years and he sounds surprisingly lucid.

He admits that he is buying time so that the useful idiots in the “American Street” can erode support for an attack that might topple his fascist military dictatorship.

He also makes it clear what he thinks the US is after: a reliable sources of petroleum, security for Israel, and a moderate, democratic Iraq that would stand as stark contrast to the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East and an inspiration to opponents.

Nassar: "Mr. President, do you think that time is working in your favor, or against you?"

Saddam: "No doubt, time is working for us. We have to buy some more time, and the American-British coalition will disintegrate because of internal reasons and because of the pressure of public opinion in the American and British street. Nations know the truth and are more capable of understanding than the leaders who are preoccupied with the Zionist conspiracies that are hatched by the media, conspiracies that blind those leaders."

Nassar: "Mr. President, let's go back to where we started: What exactly does the U.S. want from Iraq?"

Saddam: "It wants an Iraq that accepts the American political and geographical hegemony over Arab resources. It also wants an Iraq that acknowledges the Zionist existence and its control over Palestine. Furthermore, it wants an Iraq free of the pan-Arab ideology, an Iraq that would agree to destroying the Arab League and establishing a Middle-East organization. It wants a non-Arab Iraq [divided] into separate nations."

Sounds to me like a pretty strong well-reasoned case for a pre-emptive strike.

Gee, I hope Senator Byrd reads the Egyptian weekly, Al-Usbou’, were the interview was published.

Actually, he may well have . . . if it was printed in hieroglyphics.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Times Reports “Democrats in Serious Trouble”

I watched the Coleman-Mondale debate yesterday but since I am totally biased I felt unable to judge which of the two Minnesotan candidates for Senator prevailed. Rather, I waited for The New York Times to report on the debate. The Times is so fundementally biased that in such circumstances it can be remarkably informative. But you need to understand the lingo.

Based on this morning’s coverage, I would have to say that the Republican candidate, Norm Coleman, spent an hour feeding out great lengths of rope which Mondale dutifully coiled around his shoulders and neck.

According to the Times, Mondale “took control early with pointed partisan attacks that painted his opponent as a right wing tool of the White House.”

As for Coleman, “he refused to get rattled, repeatedly reciting his record as a jobs builder and respectfully observing that Mr. Mondale’s was precisely the kind of tone he hoped to change in Washington.”

During the debate, Mondale “frequently leaned forward in his chair, wagged his finger at his opponent and spoke to him as a scolding father.”

In Timespeak™ this means Mondale came on like a sputtering arm-waving old fool accusing his opponent, a former Democrat, of Ku Klux Klan affiliations and ties to the Austrian Freedom Party while Coleman coolly stuck to the high ground and allowed Mondale to implode on national television.

For all I know, Norm Coleman may be the most vicious, negative, slash-and-burn partisan campaigner in the nation right now, in which case Mondale’s approach may have helped him win the support of knowledgeable Minnesotans.

But the debate was watched by far more people outside the Gopher State and to the rest of us, the debate appeared quite different. It was a stark contest between the exhausted old guard Democrats and the young can-do Republicans. In that sense, the debate may help the Democrats win Minnesota but lose just about everywhere else.

Apparently Coleman, who was born in Brooklyn and retains a slight New York accent, comes off as an obvious out-of-stater up North. I, of course, find Coleman’s demeanor to be perfectly attuned to my stereotype of a leader – a serious, reasonable, meritocrat with little tolerance for bullshit.

That may not play well outside of New York but when the revolution comes, I believe we will all speak like Coleman.

Perhaps the Times recognized this affinity.

Coleman is one of ours. Mondale is from Duluth and ought to stay there.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

All We Have Is Fear Itself

My sister recently endured a car ride with friends who believe George Bush is evil.

Now these are educated, reasonable, professional people trained to weigh facts and draw conclusions. It’s not often they relegate people or concepts to the out box of evil. But for some reason, Bush has got them spooked.

I’ve experienced the same phenomenon and I have to admit, I’m mystified by it. After all, George Bush seems to be a pretty nice guy . . . the sort you’d want to go to a ballgame with. Certainly he’d be fun to have a beer with (if he wasn’t on the wagon).

Yet some people can’t stand him.

Why is it that people who don’t like Clinton are "Clinton haters" and those who viscerally hate Bush are . . . well, they’re just regular folks, I guess.

I find it interesting how Democrats rarely deny that Clinton was phony and superficial. On the other hand, no one doubts that Bush is dead serious about at least some issues.

Maybe Democrats really just want to be distracted from what would otherwise be uncomfortable truth.

If Bush is right then we are in terrible danger right here at home. If he is to be believed we are defenseless against a nuclear tipped missile lobbed from North Korea.

If Bush is sincere then the Democrats have hijacked the civil rights movement and made it a corrupt exercise in crony politics.

If Bush is to be believed then the lunatic religious right may actually be a group of compassionate do-gooders who are making a difference in social justice.

But that can't be right because Bush is EVIL! He can't even speak. He's a moron!

The truth is that while many Democrats talk about social justice, compassion, and peace and all the rest, they often do it from behind the safety of corporate glass doors, or gated town home communities.

They're guilty about the inconsistency between their ideals and their lives.

There was a great letter to the Washington Post from a reader not long ago saying that she supports public schools 100% but she can't wait for them to improve. "Sadly" she said she was putting her kids in private school.

Well, that "sadly" speaks volumes.

Clinton was comforting because he winked and nodded at all that traditional liberal stuff. He sort of said it’s the thought that counts. As long as your intentions are in the right place then you've done your part.

The whole liberal movement has boiled down to stopping the "right wing extremists." Of course we want to build a newer world but first we have to hold the line of the right wing. The extremists want to roll back our gains. It's a rear guard action. Progress is not possible with the right wingers in power. Status quo is victory.

After a while, all you had to do to be part of the legacy of RFK and MLK was to not vote Republican. Stay home if you have to but don't be a Republican!

That's why the key messages of the Democrats are about how the GOP is evil, racist, intolerant, elitist, white-supremacist, extreme, racist, super-wealthy, did I mention racist.

Sure the Democrats suck but the Republicans are evil. Stay away. Stay away!

That both soothes the anxiety of liberal wannabes and depresses voter turnout except for those who are gung-ho and there a lots more acolytes to the church of government in the Democrat party than the GOP.

Just a theory.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Death to Partisanship!

The “memorial service” for seven men and women killed in a airplane crash including the mother and grandparents of a tragically grieving child turned into a foot-stomping political rally last night in Minnesota attended by a joyful septuagenarian Walter Mondale and a lower-lip biting Bill Clinton.

The Democratic Party turned out en masse to dance on the graves of U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife, daughter and their fellow aircraft passengers and claim that the best way to honor their untimely deaths would be to defeat the Republicans.

These politicians, who distanced themselves from Wellstone in life, last night celebrated his integrity and commitment to unpopular principles. Wellstone was fondly remembered as the Senator most likely to find himself on the short end of a 99-to-1 vote in Congress. Of course, that would mean that every one of his colleagues in the Senate, including the Democrats, was voting against him.

But no matter. The most fitting tribute to Wellstone, they said, would be to elect another bland, exhausted, Democratic has-been to the Senate.

Why Mondale? He’s a doddering old man. I can still hear him spouting out some dull dated campaign line about Reagan, “Where’s the Beef? . . . Where’s the Beef?” Hell, he makes Reagan look hip and 'with it" in comparison.

Aside from the crass partisanship last night which, no doubt, every person on that doomed plane would likely have endorsed, I was left wondering, why not let Wellstone’s son run instead?

No, not the burned out one, I mean David. He was eloquent, sincere, intelligent, and presumably authentically bereft.

Wouldn’t David Wellstone be a more appropriate candidate to “honor the Wellstone legacy” than a stiff and awkward political hack who last held office when “Staying Alive” was popular song, not a mission statement.

Of course, that would be the principled, honest, and genuine thing to do. But we’re talking about mainstream Democrats here. There’s an election in a week and they’ve already bought a lot of airtime. This is no time for candor. Damn it. We need to win!

As Wellstone himself said is a truly moving video tribute shown last night, “Politics isn’t about power, or money or winning at all costs. Politics is about helping people.”

I’m sure Clinton got a chuckle out of that one.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Aussies For Islam

An uplifting story in today’s Arab News about the remarkable growth of Islam in Australia. It seems the religion of peace and tolerance is growing faster in Australia than any other faith.

According to Mr. Ridwaan Jadwat, the second secretary at the Australian Embassy in Riyadh, “Muslims have contributed much to Australia’s political, economic, and social life, and have cemented their place in Australia’s religious and cultural landscape.”

This unarguably true. Australia is a richer, more cosmopolitan, and less isolated place because of the presence of Muslims down under. Mr. Jadwat, an official of the Australian government, is living proof of that.

He’s also rather clever.

Jadwat concludes his story by noting that Muslims “occupy an increasingly important place on the Australian public square, and are embracing opportunities to participate in a tolerant, inclusive and culturally diverse Australia.”

Hmmm. What wrong with this picture?

Could it be that perhaps Saudi Arabia, which punishes non-Muslims with lashings, does not allow Muslims to embrace opportunities to participate in a tolerant, inclusive and culturally diverse Saudi Arabia?

Saturday, October 26, 2002

People Off Earth Now!

Shocking news today!

No, no, not about the sudden death of a U.S. Senator and his family, or vicious Chechin terrorists threatening to broadcast the murder of 800 hostages, or father and step-son sniper teams with Islamofascist sympathies, or even mysterious attacks on military aircraft high over Helsinki.

No, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, people take up most of the planet!

People and all their houses and cars and hospitals, schools, playgrounds, and libraries are leaving very little room for elephants, and rattlesnakes, and squawking crows, snapping turtles, poison ivy, ticks, and ferocious lions.

Of course, this study can be debunked instantly by looking at a globe and noting that the planet is mostly water. Moreover, the damn fish are hogging all that space to themselves.

Sure, the Dutch have made a valiant effort to convert as much of the ocean into land fit for beer drinkers and licensed hookers as possible, but they have a long way to go before the tuna and lamprey communities are threatened.

The study actually seems to suggest that all these people are a bad thing which is an odd conclusion to reach assuming that the study was designed, conducted, and analyzed under the supervision of people and not otters.

But I could be wrong. The pullout quote talks about saving "wild lands in pristine areas."

These "pristine" areas just happen to be the places that are even less hospitable than the places people are already taking up space like Irkutsk, Riyadh, or Melbourne.

Frankly, the sooner we clean up the "pristine" fever swamps, tundra steppes, and unheated high mountain plateaus the better. We need the room.

And anyway, what's so great about animals? They're rude, dirty, and lazy. Hell, some animals are synonymous with the sort of parasitic behavior that is not tolerated in the human world.

Fine, people take up most of the planet. I'm OK with that. Some of my best friends are people. I've learned a lot from people and many of the devices I use to read studies from the Wildlife Conservation Society were created by people. (Full Disclosure: I am a person and so are many in my family.)

But the WCS analysis of what threatens our world is woefully skewed.

It would be far more enlightening to ruminate on the fact that people take up most of the space in the Nord-Ost Theatre in Moscow, or that people take up most of the space at North Korea's Jimmy Carter Thermonuclear Device Manufacturing Plant Number 6, or that people take up most of the space in the International Space Station, although white mice might have the run of the place at the moment.

Frankly, it sounds like the people at the Wildlife Conservation Society don't get out with people all that much. If they did they might find that they're not all bad after all.

My suggestion? Sell the name of your dreary society to some college fraternity and go out and actually experience some wild life first hand.

Friday, October 25, 2002

They’ll Be Working on the Railroad

The FBI is warning that al Qaeda may be planning another attack on the United States, possibly targeting “the railway sector.”

As a rail commuter into and out of the Naked City everyday I am always on the lookout for possible disruptions of the mighty steel veins that pulse with the lifeblood of this great land. Besides, MetroNorth takes a dim view of railway sabotage by amateurs as it infringes on their expertise.

The FBI distributed the warning across the country on Wednesday, citing information from recent debriefings of detained al Qaeda members. It said the group has considered directly targeting U.S. passenger trains, possibly using operatives who have a Western appearance.

Well, that makes things rather simple.

Tomorrow morning you can bet that no matter how crowded the train is, I will forgo that one free seat next to the cowboy or grizzled old prospector.

And while I don’t care for racial profiling, I will nonetheless try to avoid any Commanche Indians getting on in Greenwich or dusty Mexicans sleeping under those great big sombreros at Grand Central.

Monday, October 21, 2002

The Clinton Version

This weekend the Clinton legacy brigade tested out some new talking points on North Korea in the hopes of deflecting blame for negotiating the greatest foreign policy sham treaty since Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich with a sign pasted to his back reading "mißbrauchen Sie mich."

According to Ash Carter, a former Clinton Defense Department appointee, who’s name in English literally means “Garbage Hauler,” the Clinton Administration was this close (tiny space between thumb and index finger) to attacking North Korea in 1994 when it announced that it would withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Comeback Kid supposedly weighted the options and was poised to act with uncharacteristic boldness to prevent North Korea from plunging the world into the abyss of nuclear terrorism.

All this, by the way, seemed to escape the notice of the news media at the time.

Ash Carter says the crisis was “defused” at the 11th hour by the “Agreed Framework” hammered out by Clinton’s steely negotiating team of Jimmy Carter and Warren Christopher et al.

Well, considering that the North Koreans never actually honored that agreement and in fact embarked on an even more ambitious nuclear weapons program just after agreeing to it, that hardly qualifies as a crisis defused. The most charitable interpretation would be a crisis hidden in the attic for the next tenants to discover.

It sounds a hell of a lot more like confronted with a determined Communist dictator the Clinton Administration surrendered unilaterally.

The essence of the crisis is that in 1994 North Korea threatened to build a nuclear weapon. Today, after the Clinton Administration defused the crisis, North Korea is threatening to use the nuclear weapon its claims to have built.

Nice work guys.

By the way, what do you have to do in Washington to “never work in this town again?”

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Put Yourself in Kim Jong Il’s Shoes

If the New York Times is a circus, then the Letters section is its sideshow filled with monstrosities so disturbing that they fascinate.

Today’s is a keeper as Times readers share their “thoughts” on North Korea’s revelation that treaties are not worth the ink cartridges they’re printed with.

Jeremy Meyer of Haverford, PA sees grande mal intent on the Bush Administration’s behalf for keeping the startling news a secret until after Congress had voted on the Iraq resolution:

“The Administration’s decision to withhold this information was apparently another cynical ploy to force a vote in Congress about Iraq while withholding critical and relevant facts.”

Is this guy for real? The vote would have been 100 to nothing to ice Iraq if the Senate knew that Kim Jung Il had just dissed us so blatantly.

More likely, Bush figured if he released the news before the vote, guys like Jeremy here would say it was a cynical ploy to force a vote in Congress about Iraq.

That’s why these guys are irrelevant. You’ll never win them over, so why bother?

Next up is David Hayden, of Wilton, CT. David apologizes for Gerneralissimo Kim by saying that Cowboy Bush forced him to seek nukes to defend himself and his Magic Kingdom.

“ . . .the Administration’s declared intention to pre-emptively attack any country that it deems a terrorist threat will encourage many countries to aggressicvely pursue technology that promises protection agianst more powerful foes.”

Well, actually, all countries naturally seek protection against powerful foes. To not do so would make you irresponsible, like Canada.

David has a good point though. Threats without action will indeed encourage the Saddams of the world to seek WMDs. That’s why we must vaporize Saddam. That would then make the Kims of the world think twice about pulling the sort of shit he did this week.

And finally there is Kwan Ha Yim of Purchase, NY who sounds like Kim himself writing under a pseudonym. I’d deconstruct his letter too, but I’m too tired to do any more damage to him that he has not already inflicted on himself.

Thanks Tony

Tony Pierce takes time out from an important XBI operation in Cannes to post a link to The Invisible Hand. Although busblog is a forum notorious for its misogyny and exaggeration, it is also an amusing read that is a bit like Los Angeles, where Pierce happens to live.

At first it seems like a wasteland of closed doors and inside jokes. But once you get behind the facade where the cool people are, it’s pretty damn fun.

P.S.: Break up with Ashley? Sober up, Tony.

Friday, October 18, 2002

North Korea Admits It Actually Is Evil

Gosh, it seems that North Korea actually lied to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright and Wendy Sherman when it agreed to stop its nuclear weapons program in exchange for billions of dollars in food aid and help on the construction of a "peaceful" nuclear reactor.

Yesterday North Korea officials admitted that they had a secret nuclear weapons development program that was developing secret nuclear weapons in secret. Hell, they even said they're working on a weapon even more powerful than a nuke!

This came as a great shock and a surprise to just about everyone who thinks George W. Bush is a moron especially those complete suckers (foreign policy experts) from the Clinton Administration who claimed North Korea was not like Iraq or Iran because it abided by nonproliferation treaties and that including it in the “axis of evil” was simplistic, unproductive, disagreeable, rude, mean, macho, jingoistic, testosterone-charged, sabre-rattling, fascist, etc.

I wonder if any of these dupes will now apologize and retreat into obscurity where they belong. Jimmy Carter, unfortunately, looks like he’ll be with us for quite a while but at least it’s entertaining to see his many foreign policy peace initiatives bear their strange fruit.

Here is a very short list of nonsense about North Korea that should be thrown back in the face of their authors with a resounding, “told you so!”

I look upon this, this commitment by Kim Il Sung as being very important,"
Jimmy Carter
June 15, 1994 after negotiating a deal with North Korea in which Pyongyang confirms its willingness to "freeze" its nuclear weapons program and resume high-level talks with the United States.

(“Axis of Evil”) was very understandable as a rhetorical device to rally the American people to cause against terrorism and to the cause against weapons of mass destruction, which none of us want. What I think was wrong about it in terms of North Korea is North Korea has negotiated successfully with us.

We have a 1994 framework agreement that stops the production of fissile material, which is the plutonium, the kind of plutonium needed to build nuclear weapons. They agreed to that framework agreement.

Wendy Sherman
The NewsHour
Feb. 20, 2002

It has been six years since his father has died. He is in charge of what is called kind of a hermit kingdom. And we had... he listened very carefully. He didn't lecture me. I went through all my talking points with him. And he gave rational answers. And he seems pragmatic. I made a big point of saying that these glasses that I have are not rose-colored. And I've spent my whole life studying communist systems, so I know what we're dealing with. But I think it's really worth exploring.
Madeline Albright
The PBS NewsHour
Oct. 30, 2000

The June 1994 crisis was a turning point in American nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. For three years the United States had tried to coerce North Korea into halting its nuclear arming, and failed. Then it tried cooperation and succeeded. It was a triumph of Track II diplomacy.
Leon V. Sigal
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

The second error in current U.S. policy toward the DPRK is misinterpretation. The Bush administration believes that North Korea poses a direct threat to the United States. Like the previously touted Soviet menace, the North Korean threat is inflated.
John Feffer
“Bush Policy Undermines Progress on Korean Peninsula"
Foreign Policy

George Bush is on the verge of making a big foreign policy blunder. Instead of running with the Clinton policy on North Korea, the Bush team appears to be fumbling the hand-off. At the meeting, Bush accused North Korea of not adhering to agreements. When pressed by journalists, he was unable to give details. North Korea has predictably bristled at the new hard line. U.S.-North Korean relations could quickly degenerate into rhetorical one-upmanship.
John Feffer
The Progressive Media Project

Now I'm sure that by posting these contemptible excerpts along with the names of the morons who wrote or spoke them I will be contributing to a general stifling of dissent.

So be it. Anything I can do to that has a "chilling effect" on idiocy in time of war would be an honor and a pleasure.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

The White Van

Saying you saw a white van leaving the scene of a crime is about as useful as noting that there was a bird in the sky at the time. Look around you right now . . . go to your window and look outside. If you don't see a white van somewhere in your line of sight within 60 seconds you are probably living a sheltered life. For those inclined to paranoia it's pretty damn easy to convince yourself that white vans are shadowing your every move.

Keep in mind the white van didn't appear until sniper shot #8. After that, the whole damn world was seeing speeding white vans. Hell, didn't one witness say he collided with the white van? "White van" is synonymous with bafflingly undistinguished omnipresent vehicle.

Now, if witnesses had said they saw a grey Aston Martin at three separate crime scenes instead of a white van that would be a lot more useful.

UPDATE: Prince George's County Police now believe the sniper may be motivated by an unreasoning hatred of cans.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The DC Sniper Is a Foreign Terrorist

I believe that the sniper currently prowling the suburbs of Washington, D.C. is part of an Islamofascist terror cell. He is working with accomplices, and the “white truck” is a decoy.

The shootings will stop in Washington as mysteriously as they began while the team moves to another region only to begin the cycle once again.

The sniper has no job because he needs no money. He’s been trained and selected for this assignment by an organization that can afford to support him with funds.

The White Van. – This van appears at scene of the shootings and drives off after the attack presumably in the opposite direction of the sniper. The van has probably been stopped and examined but waved through any number of checkpoints when nothing suspicious turns up. It also seems to change shape from one occasion to the next.

Most likely the shooter finds a secluded spot and waits . . . waits for a victim . . . and then waits for a random white van to drive by. Think about it. If you’re looking for a white van, you'll find one . . . they’re all around you. Hell, there are websites devoted to white van conspiracy theories.

Witnesses now hear a shot and are conditioned to look for a white van and sure enough there they are . . . going in all directions.

Certainly, no one wanted for murder would be foolish enough to drive a white van around the beltway today.

The Timing – It is said that the sniper must have a day job because the attacks only happen in the morning or late afternoon and evening after normal working hours. Absurd. The attacks have happened as late at 9:30am and as early as 2:30 pm. Keep in mind that Washington traffic is among the worst in the country and driving 50 miles to Fredricksburg is a major undertaking.

Domestic Psychopath – Frankly, our preconceptions do not allow us to believe that a skilled sniper could be anything other than a white man. Americans have a difficult time imagining, say, an Arab man with the ability to remain calm long enough to squeeze off a highly accurate shot.

If such a person showed up at an al Qaeda training camp they wouldn’t turn him into a suicide bomber . . . not with such a valuable skill. Instead they’re design an operation around his talent. They’d deploy him somewhere where he could disrupt the rhythm of life and the government at the same time.

A Precursor? One of the discussion threads on FreeRepublic has this chillingly reasonable suggestion: what better way to divert the attention of law enforcement away from a larger terror operation in DC itself?

I never bought into the theory that the anthrax attacks were just some random act of a homegrown lunatic. It denies the fact that we at war. The same is true in this case. aside from all the rhetoric and evidence, there are still many Americans who deny that a war exists. They don’t want to believe it but the reality is that we are fighting a war on our own territory. And we’re not winning.

Not yet at least.

Monday, October 14, 2002

The War Arrives in Paradise

Australia is bracing for an appalling toll of death and suffering in the aftermath of the terrorist bombing in Bali. No one knows for sure how many people died in the blast but surely the smug indifference to the War on Terrorism is a collateral casualty.

Do I have inside information that the Bali blast was the work of Islamofascists? Yes I do. Having seen their handy work first hand a little more than a year ago in lower Manhattan, the descriptions of the scene, such as this one from The Independent, sound remarkably similar:

"It was surreal," Mr. Norton said. "You can't believe you're really there. It's something you see on the telly, but it never happens to you."

Other descriptions go far beyond anything I’d ever imagined. Read this one from the Sydney Morning Herald:

“I saw all the television screens around the bar explode. I saw heaps of people burning and dying around me. It was an inferno. I saw one guy whose leg had been blown open - he couldn't walk - he was just lying there screaming. I saw another man with severe facial burns - it was hard to tell if he was dead or alive. There was so much screaming."

Or this one from Australian television:

"It was like a bloody war movie. One bloke ... looked like a bit of wood, that's how burnt he was. A few of us helped this German lady out. She had no clothes on ... maybe it was burning and she ripped them off. You just think about it and you break into tears."

I’m very sorry to say that the war has now come to another doorstep and another peaceful and complacent population in the tolerant West has finally awoken to the danger.

Why would Islamofascists make such a provocative move now, when they could simply lay low and let their main protagonist, the United States, flail about at seemingly unseen threats? Because, they don’t want to avoid confrontation. Radical Islam’s intention is to spark a worldwide confrontation against the West on every front.

Watch now as the secular government of Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic country, is criticized by Australia for not doing enough to thwart terrorism and by it’s own Islamofascists minority for siding with the infidels.

This is just the sort of destabilization the Islamofascist movement wants unlike a toppled Taliban dictatorship or an overthrown Iraqi dictatorship which is the sort of destabilization that impedes their cause.

We are entering a transformational period in history. Instability is unavoidable. The status quo is indefensible. The best response is to manage change before the change manages you.

Very fortunately, this is the expressed policy of the United States and in time it will be the conventional wisdom of all those nations that value peace, tolerance and freedom.

Just a guess.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Corrections From the Other Side of the Earth

Natalie at PixelKitty has reacted far more positively to my description of Melbourne than I had initially feared. But she does have some corrections to make which I began to incorporate in my original posting but then decided that her version was far more worthwhile:

Just a couple of things, pedant that I am:

Proudly Reports - um no it was a little dig at the people who vote for these stupid things. I don’t like Melbourne. I'm not from Melbourne. I'm from Perth - the most remote capital city in the world - but at least we have sun, surf and no pokie machines. (Additionally, Perth came third in that stupid liveable city crap. Yay!)

Aussie - not ozzie
Qantas - no U its an acronym for Queensland And Northern Territory Airline Service Koala not koala bear - they are not bears, the vicious, stinking, rotten things

Crown Casino, one of the most appalling aberrations to ever foul the skyline, is one of about a dozen casinos in Australia. God knows why Melbourne needs one, considering you can use a pokie machine (one armed bandit?) in any pub, club or RSL. *shudder*

Flies - The One Armed Salute has been a well known Aussie term for over 80 years - it means to be waving those blasted flies away from your face. Something we have to do all the time in Australia. Melbourne has the least flies of any capital city bar Hobart, that's worth remembering.

Bats - there aren't any. They are in fact Flying Foxes, a type of winged possum almost. They have pouches for their young. Its sad that they are reduced to living in the Botanical Gardens, given that we have destroyed all of their natural habitat.

Weather - the weather in Melbourne sucks, it’s the only way to put it. Freezing cold and wet for 5 months of the year, 30-45 Celsius plus for the rest, with the ability to have every temperature between -5 and 35 in one day, along with wind, rain, sleet, sunstroke and heat exhaustion.

Flying Foxes?? Perhaps this is what Prince Charles had in mind when he threatened to leave Britain forever.
Watch Closely Now

When an unpopular Democrat in New Jersey dropped out of the election rather than go down to certain defeat and was replaced by a more palatable candidate at the last minute, the Democrats and the New York Times said that the election laws on the books in that state barring late substitutions were of no importance compared to the right of the electorate to a “lively campaign.”

Well, now the shoe is on the other foot.

It seems that the Republican candidate for Senate in Montana has just dropped out his race. He was trailing his Democrat rival 54 to 35.

What are the chances that the Times and the Democrats will demonstrate intellectual consistency and encourage a more popular Republican to enter the race in his stead?

Complicating the picture considerably is that fact the Democrat had just run an advertisement accusing the Republican of being a homosexual (not that there's anything wrong with that). Watch the spot and decide for yourself.

Oh, this is going to be exquisitely painful.

(via Jane Galt)
Misty Watercolored Memories

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility. I welcome it. . . . The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world."
-- President John F. Kennedy, inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1961

"We did not ask for this present challenge, but we accept it. Like other generations of Americans, we will meet the responsibility of defending human liberty against violence and aggression. By our resolve, we will give strength to others. By our courage, we will give hope to others. And by our actions, we will secure the peace and lead the world to a better day."
-- President George W. Bush, Oct. 7, 2002

"The question of whether our country should attack Iraq is playing out in the context of a more fundamental debate about how, when and where in the years ahead our country will use its unsurpassed military might. . . . The administration's doctrine is a call for 21st-century imperialism that no other nation can or should accept."
-- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Oct. 7, 2002