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.