Friday, September 27, 2002

More Helpful Advice

Now even Barbra Steisand has cast her lot in defense of the fascist anti-Semitic military dictator and interim leader of Iraq.

According to Barbra, the Democrats are not speaking their minds courageously. Well, hard to argue with that.

What IS a bit hard to swallow is Babs' insight into American politics:

"How can we ignore the obvious influence on the Bush Administration of such special interests as the oil industry, the chemical companies, the logging industry, the defense contractors, the mining industry, and the automobile industry, just to name a few? Many of these industries, run by big Republican donors and insiders, clearly have much to gain if we go to war against Iraq."

Barbra urges the Democrats "to publicly convey this message to the American people." Hmm...a rather complex message, no?

Let's see if I've got this straight. A liberated Iraq would mean millions of gallons of oil on the market which would sent prices plummeting. Bush's good old boys in Houston probably wouldn't like this one bit. No obscene profits here.

The chemicals industry? Well, the market price for a six pack of for Sarin would certainly go down.

Mining? I guess a couple of Daisy Cutters are bound to expose some rich new mineral deposits.

The auto industry? Well, you're gonna need a lot more Toyotas to satisfy a free and prosperous Arab market.

But the timber industry, that's a problem. What do they get out of it?

But wait! The Fertile Crescent runs right down the middle of Mesopotamia. The timber industry has coveted that region for thousands of years. Of course, here's the smoking gun! Bush needs to invade Iraq for its vast timber resources.

I better call Barbra about this. You can too. Her number is 310-395-3599

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Democrats' Dilemma (Part 2)

A Washington Post article today describes the plight of anti-war Democrats. They are in an awful bind. It seems that they want very much to express their opposition to the Bush Administration’s increasingly forceful foreign policy but they can’t because . . . well it’s unpopular with voters.

Now Democrats attract a lot of criticism for their positions on foreign policy . . . some of it fair some of it not.

It is generally thought that the Democrats are uneasy with military power and reluctant to project it. That’s a legitimate position to have. No one wants the armed forces to be deployed casually.

At the extremes there will always be people who oppose any use of military power for whatever reason. That’s admirable in its own way because it takes a certain amount of courage to stake out a position so at odds with the political mainstream (and reality for that matter).

But there is nothing courageous or principled about throttling your opposing a policy that you sincerely believe is wrong only because such opposition is unpopular and might end your career as a politician. Indeed it might, but it would almost certainly be the start of a bright new career as a leader.

Sure there are plenty of perks of Congress. You get to be taken seriously -- which is extraordinarily important to the types of people who enter politics. You get good seats at some cool Washington restaurants – although for New Yorkers that is an oxymoron. And you have the thrill of fame -- even if it’s limited to the fleeting recognition of a bunch of 20-something Capitol Hill drones.

These meager perks are so valuable to some Democrats that they apparently outweigh any principle of conscience.

How different this is from the Democrats of the 1960s who spoke out against what was then a popular war in Southeast Asia and turned the 1968 election into a national referendum on Vietnam. Of course, they lost miserably. But they managed to preserve their dignity.

Today’s Democrats have learned all too well from the 1990s that winning elections is the only thing that matters, not what you do with your mandate.

Choose or Lose.
Getting Chilly in Hell

Strange, North Korea announces it will embrace free market capitalism and there's not even enough frost this morning to coat a red hot pitchfork.

What's up with that?

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Oh to Be in England

Prince Charles has apparently threatened to leave Britain if foxhunting is outlawed there. Now, I like hunting and killing small animals as much as the next guy but I wouldn’t give up the throne for it.

This can only mean that I haven’t any understanding at all of fox hunting or what animates the British soul.

That’s fine with me. I enjoy being mystified by deep cultural differences. I’m happy not being able to see any redeeming value in things that other people revere like lowriders, Vegemite, burkhas, Hello Kitty.

I have a feeling that if I knew enough about the fox hunting issue to have a coherent position on it, Britain would have lost a bit of its appeal for me.

Imagine you are the hereditary heir to the supreme wealth and social standing of one of history’s greatest societies. . . .you put up with everything from lousy weather, appalling food, and foul architecture that took up where the Luftwaffe left off . . . you tolerate grating accents, garish clothing and people who look like they’ve rubbed their hair with greasy newspaper and been slapped across the face with a golf shoe.

You manage to take all that in stride but once there’s a law that says you can no longer pursue little red rodents with a pack of enraged beagles . . . well that’s IT! This country is not fit for habitation. You can take your damn crown jewels and the palaces . . . I’m heading to Romania where I can pursue rodents of all colors without interference from the likes of YOU!

Yup, I’m missing something but I like it that way.

Enjoy it While it Lasts

Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats win “re-election” by the slimmest of margins with the Greens casting the deciding blow. What does this mean? It means that for the next four years Germany will be building toward a greater upheaval than Stoiber could ever have delivered.

This is a good thing . . . eventually.

Before change can happen in Germany things will have to get far worse and the Red-Green alliance is well-positioned to deliver paralysis for the foreseeable future.

Economic reform? Not when the government is more beholden to the Greens than ever before.

Reproachment with America? Not likely since the one thing the Bushes do with religious fervor is hold a grudge.

Enhanced global prestige? They’ve just allied themselves with Iraq. The best Schroeder can hope for now is a disastrous allied defeat at the hands of the Republican Guards.

In the meantime, Europe and the rest of the world will be moving in a different direction, presumably forward, while Germany attempts to square the circle it has sold to the voters: less unemployment with more job security, less military action and more national security, less police action and more personal security.

Wake me when the revolution begins.

Friday, September 20, 2002

"It's Morning in Deutschland"

By now all, like most Americans, I have internalized the myth that political discourse in the United States, especially during an election campaign, is nothing more than vacuous ranting and gauzy feel good images without any reference to policies or matters of substance.

Not like in Europe where they campaign on the issues.

Well that was until I took a look at some the political advertisements currently running on German television during the campaign.

They can be found here and are organized by political party. They are, of course, in German . . . but it doesn't really matter as there is surprisingly little dialogue. Just gauzy feel good images.

An excellent analysis of all of these spots can be found on Rewired.

The Social Democrats begin with a nasty ad attack the likes of which would never be aired in the U.S. It shows 1950s era German housewives cheerfully doing chores and ends with a tag line “Welcome to Stoiber’s Future” or something like that.

The other SDP ad is an innocuous montage of images of Gerhard Schroeder working and leading German to a brighter future.

The Christian Democrats, who have an excellent issue to run on -- Schroeder’s promise to reduce unemployment -- has produced an ad that at least mentions this but then dissolves into fuzzy warm images with a cameo by the stiff and unappealing candidate himself.

The Free Democrats have a spot that looks indistinguishable from an IBM commercial.

The Greens run two spots featuring Joschka Fischer making funny faces.

The Party for Democratic Socialism. or the contrite Communists, has a black and white spot that seems to romanticize the old East Germany.

So much for substance.

These commercials make Reagan’s “Morning in America” spots look like public service announcements. No mention of policies, or proposals, no problems or solutions. Just Joschka doing a fairly good Soupy Sales imitation.

One silver lining: The more I think about this the better I feel about Germany sitting in a corner while the mature nations of the world sort out some serious global issues.

After all, a global war without German participation can't be all bad.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Guardian Gets it Wrong

Thank goodness The Guardian doesn't carry a Page Three girl! Just a troubling thought I felt the need to get of my chest.

Anyway, today the mouthpiece of the permanent revolution identifies Donald Rumsfeld as the "US secretary of state." Common mistake. Many people have a hard time distinguishing between Colin Powell and Rummy, no harm done.

But the story they so breathlessly report is that Rumsfeld was heckled! By anti-war protestors!

Where is the news you might ask? Are Guardian readers of the belief that the Department of Dissent has already rounded up all protestors by now or that these brave souls risked everything to make their plea of peace? Certainly the news that there are some Americans willing to vociferously defend a fascist military dictator in public is noteworthy, especially since today's Gallup poll says that 61% of Americans support military action against the brutal Iraqi regime and 80% think the United Nations is giving Saddam a "get out of hell free" card. But is this interesting tidbit worth front page coverage?

Maybe The Guardian take at least one tip from The Sun and add a "Bizarre" section to the paper.

Well actually, if they did that, what could they possibly call the other sections?
More Fun with Brits

I’ve been enjoying a bit of fun at the expense of a lefty nut from Britain whose blog, appropriately named Codshit, is a Spiegel catalog of bizarre anti-American conspiracy theories. The predominant one these days seems to be that the conflict with Iraq is merely a gambit by US corporations to control the oil fields.

I gently engaged Mr.Shit

So let me get this straight. American oil companies want Iraq’s oil so they can make obscene profits . . . but unleashing Iraqi oil on the world market would depress prices . . . so Bush is pressing for war which would cut off Middle East oil and drive prices back up . . . but that would make oil from Texas more valuable . . . and you wouldn’t need Iraqi oil anymore . . . but then people would use less oil . . . so Bush would then need to get more petroleum from the North Sea on the market . . . but Norway would refuse . . . so American fishing trawlers would attempt to grab the Norwegian herring fields . . . which would put pressure on the tuna industry . . . and, gee this international affairs stuff is really confusing!

To which the ever-earnest Mr. Codshit replies knowingly:

Ultimately the goal is control for US companies over the Middle East’s oil, either in whole or in part. Iraq isn't allowed to export much oil this keeps supply artificially low thus driving up the price. Bush is no doubt hoping that once the yanks have control over Iraqi oil, this will essentially open the flood gates and dump loads more oil onto the market, therefore making the price drop. This would benefit the US economy in terms of more secure and cheaper sources of oil.

With bated breath I baited Mr. Codshit:

Yes but what about all of Bush's oil cronies back in Texas . . . the last thing they want is cheap oil, right? You can't buy a gold-plated Cadillac when oil is in the crapper! So what Bush really wants is control of the oil so he can dump it in the Persian Gulf and muck up all the waterfowl and create an environmental holocaust. But wait, that's what Saddam did in '91 and Bush's father cleaned it up but failed to take over the oil fields when he had the chance. Why? Because he really DID control the oil fields and didn't want anyone to know about it and he secretly diverted the oil to the Caspian Sea region through an underground pipeline built by Unocal Corporation which is covertly headed by Dick Cheney. That’s why while the world is busy trying to get at the Caspian Sea, Neil Bush convinces Detroit to build ridiculously huge cars that no one wants which means Prescott Bush has to convince ad agencies to brainwash consumers into buying massive gas guzzlers instead of the Hyundai sedans that they really prefer so that John D. Bush can continue reaping oil profits and Nelson Bush, the Governor of New York can finance the building of the Bush Center on the site of the old WTC.

Now it all fits!!

All in a day's work.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Trouble With Harry

Today, as everyone knows, is the eighteenth birthday of Prince Harry, the son of Princess Diana and (presumably) the Prince of Wales.

The trouble is, new photos have been released to mark the day and, by God, the boy doesn't look anything like Prince Charles! Hell, he's got bright red hair and a face that is strikingly un-Windsoresque.

Yet I can't find any UK paper drawing attention to this obvious fact. I mean, the guy might as well be black with a thick Jamaican accent and the British papers would act as though nothing was odd.

Any insights from our Commonwealth friends?
The World Be Damned!

How long can the international community tolerate this sort of belligerent unilateral behavior?

First the leader of this country attempts to use Middle East tension to divert attention away from politically embarrassing domestic issues such as a sagging economy and then he boasts that he will defy the U.N.’s wishes regarding Iraq.

In the meantime a diverse and growing ensemble of nations is voicing the opposite view isolating this erstwhile leader of the free world and its staunch but troublesome Middle East ally.

It’s time to make you opinion known.

Let’s tell Germany to stop acting like a Kuhjunge!

Monday, September 16, 2002

Reasons for Regime Change in Iraq

Reason #2: Doesn't Give Peace a Chance.

Saddam Hussein is a lousy neighbor. Not content to murder his own countrymen, his “government” regularly exports violence and rewards those who creatively express their hatreds in other countries. This is exactly the sort of thing that the human rights industry is supposed to vocally oppose. Actually doing something about it is quite another thing:

* UNSCR 687 prohibits Saddam Hussein from committing or supporting terrorism, or allowing terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq. Saddam continues to violate these UNSCR provisions.

* In April 2002, Saddam Hussein increased from $10,000 to $25,000 the money offered to families of Palestinian suicide/homicide bombers. The rules for rewarding suicide/homicide bombers are strict and insist that only someone who blows himself up with a belt of explosives gets the full payment. Payments are made on a strict scale, with different amounts for wounds, disablement, death as a "martyr" and $25,000 for a suicide bomber. Mahmoud Besharat, a representative on the West Bank who is handing out to families the money from Saddam, said, "You would have to ask President Saddam why he is being so generous. But he is a revolutionary and he wants this distinguished struggle, the intifada, to continue."

* Former Iraqi military officers have described a highly secret terrorist training facility in Iraq known as Salman Pak, where both Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs receive training on hijacking planes and trains, planting explosives in cities, sabotage, and assassinations.

* Iraq shelters several prominent Palestinian terrorist organizations in Baghdad, including the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), which is known for aerial attacks against Israel and is headed by Abu Abbas, who carried out the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and murdered U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Is Scott Ritter Insane?

Former U.N. weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, has been making the rounds of TV new programs and vociferously sounding an alarm that the Bush Administration is being dangerously confrontational with Iraq. He’s what he told FoxNews last night:

RITTER: It is enough for us to be extremely concerned about, but when you want to take action, there has to be justification found in an international law. Let's remember there's two documents --

ASMAN: Isn't that what just happened today when George Bush went to the United Nations?

RITTER: No, actually George Bush was dictating to the United Nations and not trying to work with them.

ASMAN: In what way?

RITTER: He said you must hold Iraq accountable for its actions and if you fail to do so, we will step forward.

The trouble is, when he resigned from the U.N. inspection team in 1988 it was, he said, because the United States was not being confrontational enough! Here’s what he said then on the PBS NewsHour:

WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: [The Clinton Administration said] Iraq must be held accountable for the agreement that they have signed with the Secretary-General and which was endorsed by the Security Council in its Resolution 1154. If Iraq didn't, there would be the severest consequences.

You had this statement on the one hand, but on the other hand, this administration's saying, wait a minute, we can't go forward with aggressive inspections because they will lead to a confrontation with Iraq, but let's understand the confrontation is because Iraq will not comply with the law passed by the Security Council.

So we weren't allowed to do our job out of fear of a confrontation in which the United States would not be able to muster the required support of the Security Council to respond effectively.

A stinging indictment of the Clinton Administration for having the temerity to defer to the Security Council on such a vitally important issue. But wait, today Ritter is indicting the Bush Administration for not deferring to the Security Council:

ASMAN: That's not dictating -- that's just mentioning their obligations under the U.N. Charter.

RITTER: Well, the United States' obligation is to go to the Security Council and seek permission.

Gee, I know this arms control stuff is complicated business, but isn't Ritter contradicting himself? Back in 1998, Ritter was painting a pretty grim picture of Iraq without adult supervision:

WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: I think the danger right now is that without effective inspections, without effective monitoring, Iraq can in a very short period of time measure the months, reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program.

A matter months before he has anthrax-tipped ICBMs and a nuclear bomb factory? YIKES!! Ritter must be really scared now that fours years have gone by . . . right? Well, not exactly:

ASMAN: So you think Saddam Hussein still has these chemical weapons capabilities?

RITTER: No, I said Saddam Hussein has the potential of having chemical weapons capability. We haven't completely confirmed the final disposition of these capabilities and they must be of concern. But to say that Saddam Hussein retains chemical weapons -- there's a big difference between weapons and capability.

Holy smokes. My neck is sore from the whiplash. Is Saddam a threat or not? Was Ritter telling the truth then or now?

I have a possible explanation. Scott Ritter is one of those guys who loses touch with the real world in the course of their work in what one CIA legend called the Wilderness of Mirrors. Other totally unhinged spooks include former NSA chief Bobby Ray Inman, FBI traitor Robert Hannsen, JFK confidante Pierre Salinger, and the man who’s name practically means nutjob, Lyndon LaRouche.

These are people who desperately need structure in their lives. They may be highly intelligent and have strong opinions, but they are unable to make sense of a world where the points of reference have been deliberately obscured.

Foreign policy, and especially national security, is just such a world. To thrive there you need to be able to consider many seemingly valid points of view without constantly changing your own.

Ritter can’t seem to do that. He appears to be absolutely convinced that he is as right now as he was then even though he’s saying two totally different things.

I think the television networks should take it easy on Ritter and give him some peace and quiet far away from the lights and cameras where he can sort out everything.

And make sure to take away any sharp objects.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Reasons for Regime Change in Iraq

Reason #1 -- No Freedom of Speech.

Actually in the Iraqi context freedom of speech is one of the more charmingly exotic traditions of the Western World. It goes without saying that no one is complaining about censorship from the editorial pages of Al-Thawra.

By all means let those in the West who disagree with the Bush Administration's foreign policy have their say . . . but when any of them claim that their civil rights are being violated remind them how repression is practiced by professionals:

    * In June 2000, a former Iraqi general reportedly received a videotape of security forces raping a female family member. He subsequently received a telephone call from an intelligence agent who stated that another female relative was being held and warned him to stop speaking out against the Iraqi Government.

    * Iraqi security agents reportedly decapitated numerous women and men in front of their family members. According to Amnesty International, the victims' heads were displayed in front of their homes for several days.

    * In 2000, the authorities reportedly introduced tongue amputation as a punishment for persons who criticize Saddam Hussein or his family, and on July 17, government authorities reportedly amputated the tongue of a person who allegedly criticized Saddam Hussein. Authorities reportedly performed the amputation in front of a large crowd. Similar tongue amputations also reportedly occurred.

    * Former UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Max Van der Stoel's report in April 1998 stated that Iraq had executed at least 1,500 people during the previous year for political reasons.

Nuclear-armed Iraq . . . . hmmm, I don't like the sound of that.

Thursday, September 12, 2002


Aviation Week has a fascinating account of the scramble to get Air National Guard fighters into the air last year at this time. Some were armed only with non-explosive training rounds and were prepared to ram Flight 93 in the event that the passengers had given peace a chance rather that rise up against their murderers.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The Fat Lady Shrieks

On the anniversary of the most horrendous act of violence in American history all Yoko Ono is saying is give peace a chance.

Aside from the fact that she receives money every time a recording of the same name is broadcast or sold, why is Yoko delivering the peace message here in the United States?

That fact is, it was pretty peaceful in New York last year at this time until a bunch of misogynist religious fanatics murdered thousands of innocent people. Wouldn't Yoko be more effective preaching peace in the mosques and streets of the Muslim world?

Well, of course not. The appearance of a rich, opinionated, female, non-believer such as Yoko in the alleys of Mecca would a likely spark a whirlwind of fresh violence.

Here in the West Yoko is free to behave as if she is stoned. In the less tolerant Islamic world . . . well, you can make your own punchline.

I guess my question for Yoko is, if peace is so important, shouldn't we be willing to fight for it? Or must the price of peace always be submission and dishonor?

It costs Yoko nothing to plead for peace on the Upper West Side of Manhattan . . . indeed, it might just earn her some extra royalties. Why isn't she willing to make the same case in a place where peace is in desperately short supply?

I don't really blame her. I don't think I’d have the courage to put my life on the line preaching peace and brotherhood in some squalid Arab ghetto.

But what gets me about Yoko is that while she has tried to make herself into a sort of peace icon, she really doesn't seem to have given the concept much thought.

Presumably, Yoko believes peace comes from somewhere . . . that it can be added to situation or applied to a human interaction. As she puts it, "Let's create peace, unity and light.”

But peace is not like light. It is much more like darkness. Peace is the absence of violence just as darkness is the absence of light. You cannot add darkness to a room, you must first extinguish the sources of light. By the same token, you cannot add peace to a society, but you can extinguish the sources of violence.

Sure, you can do that non-violently . . . until you can’t.

I’m sort of surprised that Yoko would not have grasped this. After all, her husband was murdered by someone who loved and idolized him. Mark David Chapman must have listened to Give Peace of Chance a thousand times yet he still felt compelled to pump bullets into its author. What would have stopped Chapman other than force?

I’m all for giving peace a chance . . . but if it doesn't work there ought to be a Plan B.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

To My Kiwi Friend

Right now there is probably some obscure student on the edge of the earth wasting his time writing a thesis about blogs. No doubt it will be full of analysis about how the blogosphere is dominated by “right wingers” who are acting out some primal frustration fueled by greed, envy and racism. What a bore.

How about just writing a blog instead of writing about a blog? It’s more fun and a hell of a lot more intellectually stimulating. Otherwise you might just end up with a big thick academic paper about a fad that came and went before you even finished studying it.

You know who you are.

Patriot Day?

President Bush has suggested that September 11th be called Patriot Day.

Now I’ve always found decent qualities to admire in George Bush but a command of language is not one of them. Making things worse is the buzzing hive of bureaucracy that tends to drown out more imaginative thinking in Washington, D.C.

Patriot Day is the sort of blandly meaningless title that appeals to the drones who come up with pseudo-stirring titles for legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act which could have about as much to do with school buses as with education for all I know.

These are the same people who came up with the stupefying “Department of Homeland Security” – an agency who’s very name seems to contradict its meaning

It’s no surprise that the most inspiring names to come out of the federal government are the computer-generated ones they assign to military operations – Urgent Fury, Desert Storm, Infinite Justice.

I have a quick solution to the current eloquence shortage that plagues our nation's leaders. President Bush should immediately scrap Patriot Day and reassign the now obscure Flag Day to September 11.

Really, who even knows when Flag Day is anymore? Yet people will be displaying flags on September 11 for years to come. Why not jump in front of this parade and call it what it is?

As for Homeland Security . . . just call it the Department of Defense and rename DoD the Department of War. That would clarify and allocate functions rather than obfuscate them right from the beginning.

Just words, you say? And I suppose your mother was "just a mother."

Thursday, September 05, 2002

The Fat Lady Sings

Well that seals it . . . if Jimmy Carter thinks attacking Iraq is a catastrophically bad idea, it must be a pretty good idea.

After all, Carter is the perfect reverse indicator on issues of national security. He is always wrong . . . always.

In just four years he achieved the most unblemished record of foreign policy failure of any United States president. Today he weighs in on Iraq from the editorial page of The Washington Post:

As has been emphasized vigorously by foreign allies and by responsible leaders of former administrations and incumbent officeholders, there is no current danger to the United States from Baghdad.

Gee, I dunno about that. Does anyone (besides Jimmy) doubt that a military dictatorship fueled by petrodollars with Saddam Hussein as its Fuhrer is a benign entity?

Bermuda poses no current danger to the United States, Baghdad does.

In the face of intense monitoring and overwhelming American military superiority, any belligerent move by Hussein against a neighbor, even the smallest nuclear test (necessary before weapons construction), a tangible threat to use a weapon of mass destruction, or sharing this technology with terrorist organizations would be suicidal.

Yes, Herr Hitler knows that any aggression against Poland would be met with an immediate Anglo-French response and be completely suicidal.

We cannot ignore the development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, but a unilateral war with Iraq is not the answer. There is an urgent need for U.N. action to force unrestricted inspections in Iraq.

Beauty. Here is the Carter Doctrine writ large. We must threaten to use force to achieve our goals but we must state clearly beforehand that we will never actually use force to achieve our goals.

In that way we maintain the moral high ground which is, after all, an end in itself.

If I recall, the U.N. already has a policy of unrestricted weapons inspections in Iraq right now. Correct me if I'm wrong but weren't those U.N. inspectors expelled from Iraq several years ago.

What "force" has the U.N.used since then to resume the urgent inspections? That's where my memory fails. I'm sure a well-armed U.N. peacekeeper brigade entered Iraq and promptly forced the inspections to resume but I can't find any record of it.

Don't get me wrong. Jimmy Carter is a nice guy. But in a dangerous world, nice guys end up as martyrs and while that's fine for Jimmy, I for one tend to discount the national security views of a person more concerned with not hurting anyone's feelings than with his own survival.

Plus, Carter is a notorious sucker.

Upon meeting Kim il Sung, the Michael Jackson of world leaders, Carter said, "I found him to be vigorous, intelligent, surprisingly well-informed about the technical issues and in charge of the decisions about this country."

He told Romanian dictator and cheap suit supermodel Nicolae Ceausescu, "Our goals are the same. ... We believe in enhancing human rights. We believe that we should enhance, as independent nations, the freedom of our own people."

He assured the Stalinist first secretary of Communist Poland, Edward Gierek, "Our concept of human rights is preserved in Poland."

So, yes, by all means, let's hear what Carter has to say on Iraq.

Then let's do the exact opposite.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Shaken vs Stirred Update

Northern Ireland's own Slugger O'Toole kindly links to my previous posting on the division of the world into those who are stirred by all of life's possibilities and those who are shaken by its risks. Slugger make a few additions to my list only his deal with what he knows well and of which I know nothing. But I feel like I know more than I did before now that he has categorized things for me.

One apology to Slugger . . . I'm no longer comfortable with my very first pairing on the list (Tony Blair vs Neil Kinnock). I was trying to make the point that conservatives and liberals can be either shaken or stirred depending on their outlook, but Tony and Neil don't make that point as well as say John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Kennedy was as stirred as Nixon was shaken. But to be fair, Kinnock is no Nixon.

I hereby officially change my list.