Sine Qua Non Pundit

And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ------ ------ ------ ------ E-mail: charlesaustin@earthlink.net

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Saturday, May 25, 2002
 

Ow, That Hurts

Via, Political Hobbyist, I still haven't stopped laughing...




 

All Things Illiberally Considered

Remember that little bias thing I wrote about NPR a couple weeks ago?

Turns out, I'm not alone Ben Domench and Moira Breen think they've gone off the deep end as well.




 

It's Greek To Me

The family went to the semi-annual West County Greek Festival today at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Des Peres. The kids wouldn't tolerate waiting in line for the food, and we had to leave the Bouzouki stage before we wanted to feed the hungry children, we did buy two pieces of pottery. Yea, I know they're cheap knockoffs of museum pieces, but I'm happy to have them to help my kids learn a little bit more about where the ideas came from that we think are important. I'm quite conforatble putting these two pieces with some marvellous artwork of Athena, Artemis, and Poseidon (Ed. -- I tried to post the greek spelling, but the characters wouldn't come out right when pasted from MS Word to Blogspot, perhaps Dr. Weevil can offer some advice) next to our authentic Acoma pottery. I can neither afford, nor would I want, any 5th century BC pottery. Let it stay in the museums.

Check out the blurb in the St. Louis Post-Disgrace that mentions this event:

West County Greek Festival

Featuring a variety of Greek food, traditional performances, a Taverna that will provide Greek music and dancing and a Greek Marketplace with merchants selling jewelry, pottery and other gift items. Festival hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and the taverna will remain open until 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


Even though it shows up in the "Get Out" section of the paper under "School, church and organization events", the St. Louis Post-Disgrace cannot be bothered to even note that the event was held at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. Any bias here?




 

Samuel Jackson Snead, R.I.P.

Perhaps the purest natural golf swing, ever. Info here and here.

Amongst his many acheivements, he is the youngest man to shoot his age on the PGA with a 67. Two days later, he shot a 66.

Goodbye.




 

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Is it just me, or soes anyone else think that President Bush and Presdident Putin are getting seriously short shirft when it comes to credit for reducing the nuclear stockpiles? I wonder if the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will move the Doomsday Clock back to, oh, 2130, from 2351. Or, perhaps it should be moved up to about 2359 with India and Pakistan right now. But then, it never really was meant to do anything but try to influence US policy towards disarmament, now was it. Bastards.

What would the legacy media have said and written if President Clinton had pulled this off? Off course, that would have meant that something other than domestic policy mattered.




 

WWGD (What Would Gandhi Do?)

I'll give the "I'm With Wanker" publication a little credit where it is due. Their article on the fear that the India - Pakistan war could bleed over into hostilities in England is spot on. This merits a lot more attention than it is getting. I'm not sure if we'll have as much trouble in the US, but in the UK there are significant populations of Indians and Pakistanis, and if hostilities break out, things could get pretty damn difficult for our friends in the UK when the battle lines extend into the populace there.

Isn't it fascinating how quickly the India - Pakistan skirmishes have accelerated into a fear of the use of nuclear weapons? Shouldn't this be yet another very powerful rationale for putting an end to Saddam (and Syria and Iran, et al) right now?




 

Which Finger is That Now?

Henry Porter advises President Bush in the "I'm With Wanker" publication -- the Observer:

Henry Porter, a proud friend of America, reluctantly concludes that the President must listen more and lecture less if he is to win Europe's support.

Sorry, old chap, but I think you've got the wrong President in mind when it comes to finger wagging. And should then be 'enery Porter?

Here's a few choice excerpts from ol' 'enery:

The President's lecture tour of Europe and Russia reminds us how little experience he has of foreign affairs and how recent is his discovery of the history and complexities of issues which have been unquestionably better covered and probably better understood in Europe than in the US.

Eight months on from the 11 September attacks George Bush's reflection on the grave new world appears to be no more than a couple of slogans deep.

Mercifully for the White House, Bush's tour has occurred just as the first serious doubts about the President's behaviour prior to 11 September were raised by the US media and in Congress. While Bush was warning the Bundestag that if we ignore the threat presented by the 'axis of evil' we invite certain blackmail and place millions of our citizens in danger, America was gripped by the story that on 6 August last year Bush ignored just such a warning. (Ed. -- Note what passes for factual information here!)

What Americans - currently in a more edgy and defensive mood than I can ever remember - do not recognise is that the vast majority of Europeans are not at base anti-American. It's just that we require more in the way of solid reasoning and debate if we are to support serial campaigns against the members of the 'axis of evil' - an awkward phrase which was, incidentally, chosen by the great wordsmith himself.

At the end of this week it is clear that Bush's presidency is showing signs of being disorganised and intellectually under-powered.


Good thing he's a "proud friend" of America, i'nt it?




 

Sorry, Charles

Wanted to link to an article in the London Times, but since they now demand ₤39.99 for the next year, they can kiss my Fisk.

What I can see says:

The interrogation of Taliban and Al-Qaeda detainees at the American military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has turned into a politically correct farce because of Washington’s fear of the human rights lobby

If this is true, it is despicable. But, mind you, I don't really blame President Bush too much. We have to be realistic and note that he's not a dictator and that the Congress is either actively opposed to his success or only marginally in favor. The legacy media is much more interested in finding fault that reporting or helping. And finally, our "allies" are less than helpful on this front. So, until public opinion swings around a little more or Congress becomes a littel friendlier this fall, this will continue to be a fact of life. Don't get me wrong, I don't like it, but President Bush is damned no matter what he does on this front -- by all but 74% of the populace at last count. And, hey, wait a minute, wasn't the British press up in arms about Gitmo a few months ago?




 

There's Something Wrong Here, There's Something Very, Very Wrong Here

According to the UPI, 16 Priests Have Committed Suicide:

At least 16 Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children, including 12 priests in the United States, have killed themselves since 1986... Suicide is rare among priests and is considered a sin by the church

Well, which is it? Rare or frequent? If it is rare, does it really merit discussion in this context? Or is it perhaps not rare after all. I'd be very curious to know how many priests committed suicide that were not accused of molesting children. Pehaps I'm wrong, but it seems like perhaps some are more worried about the sin of suicide here than the sin of child molestation. And notice that UPI used the term "child molestation" and that I didn't just insert it as a hyper-critical interpretation of something else.

The more I think about this, the angrier I get. I have a deep and abiding hatred for people that hurt children to begin with, but the way the church hierarchy has dealt with it recently and in the more distant past is absolutely disgraceful and probably criminal. Where the bishops aiding and abetting child abuse when their actions where to get them counseling and then move some of these priests around without informing the authorities, the communities, and the parishoners?




Friday, May 24, 2002
 

Star Wars -- Episode 2: Attack Of the Clones

Took daughter #1 to see Star Wars -- Episode 2: Attack of the Clones this evening. Unfortunately, every showing was sold out so we went to see Spider-Man instead. My first time, daughter #1's second time.

A pretty darn good flick. For the first time in a long time, I lost myself in a movie, not thinking of it as a movie, not standing outside with a cynical recognition of my suspended disbelief. It was a wonderful feeling. But enough about me.

I guess I'd give it about 3 (out of 4) stars. I enjoyed it, I recommend it, heck, I may even see it again. It didn't thrill me the war LOTR did, but it did make me think a lot more. Since I am less familiar with Spider-Man than LOTR, maybe that's understandable. Perhaps my reluctance to grade it higher is because the Green Goblin can't quite deliver the same impact as Sauron, I don't know. The effects are very good but I think LOTR's was better. For a movie based on a comic book, I thought it was pretty darned good and stayed true to the style and intent of the original comic book, as I understand it. I've read a few reviews and I think most of their criticisms miss the point, especially Roger Ebert's. The teen angst was captured awfully well -- and not just Peter Parker's, but his friend Harry and even Mary Jane. I thought Roger Ebert was smart enough to figure out why Peter Parker cannot be more than MJ's friend. I guess I was wrong. Willem Dafoe is awfully good. When Norman Osborne had his conversation with his alter-ego, he sure looked and sounded an awful lot like Jack Nicholson. Keep that thought in mind next time you see the movie and see if you don't concur.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next two installments, before Tobey gets a little too old to play Peter Parker.

Possumblog has a good writeup on his experience viewing Spider-Man as well. He's got a crush on Kirsten Dunst too.




Thursday, May 23, 2002
 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXVI

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Liars, and suck-ups, and straw men, oh my! I feel like Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson, hyperventilating over all the choices offered up in today’s Cohencopia of half-truths, white lies, innuendos, guilt by association, ad hominem attacks, false dichotomies, and that old standby – the straw man, ready to be kicked, pummeled, and ultimately torched to satisfy the bi-weekly illiberal utopian statist hallucinations of our favorite overrated columnist. But what’s a poor Scourger to do to keep it fresh, kickin’, and real? Should I be funny, wry, brutal, or serious – or at least, should I try to be funny, wry, brutal or serious? Should I write in a fatuous, preening, self-serving style like Richard Cohen, in haiku, or perhaps iambic pentameter? Hmm…

Richard Cohen has to be kicking himself right now. I’ll do it for him in a few moments, but, if he had just waited one more day like he did while missing his deadline last week, he could have read in the Washington Post about Bush being in Berlin, and gone loopy with the Bush = Hitler – Rove = Goebbels – Ashcroft = Goering – War on Terrorism = Blitzkrieg, or is it annexing the Sudetenland – Beer Hall Putsch = Supreme Court Selection – angles. But Richard Cohen doesn’t read to learn history, he watches TV! Sorry, it’s not TV, its HBO! But Richard’s impatience robbed him of the opportunity to make the worst of his casual, over-the-top, Nazi guilt by association slanders; and instead he has to settle for more of his twice a week, conventional, Bush is LBJ – War on Terrorism = Vietnam – Best and Brightest vice Worst and Evilest – Clinton Good, Bush Bad – analogies in When the Yes Men Have It:

On a recent Saturday, an infinitesimal number of Americans sat down to watch "Path to War," a nearly three-hour TV movie about how Lyndon Johnson became a casualty of the Vietnam War.

Infinitesimal? Is this a bad thing? Was this on the Word A Day calendar yesterday? What’s it got to do with anything that follows?

Lyndon Baines Johnson
Senator and president
Vietnam victim

Sorry, but lacking time for verse right now.
Perhaps, another time – post summer blues.

But, how about a I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Sigh-Rag?

Come on all of you big strong men
Richard Cohen’s getting’ Scourged again.
Yeah, he’s slanderin’ Bush on Afghanistan
This week it’s gonna be Vietnam.
So get a browser, I’m almost done
Gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And its 1, 2, 3, what is he writin’ for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn.
This week it’s Vietnam.
And its 5, 6, 7, Dickie and his squirrelly hates
Well, ain’t got time to wonder why
Whoopee, we’re all gonna sigh.

Yeah, S U Vs, don't be slow,
Enron, ANWR, war au-go-go
There's plenty good money to be made
In the oil business for Cheney’s mates
Just hope and pray that all the evidence
Don’t lead us to Billy Jeff.

And its 1, 2, 3, what is he writin’ for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn.
This week it’s Vietnam.
And its 5, 6, 7, Dickie and his squirrelly hates
Well, ain’t got time to wonder why
Whoopee, we’re all gonna sigh.

Well, come on Democrats, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Regain the house and the presidency
Keepin’ those Republicans in the minority
And our final sign of victory’s
When we elect President Hillary!

And its 1, 2, 3, what is he writin’ for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn.
This week it’s Vietnam.
And its 5, 6, 7, Dickie and his squirrelly hates
Well, ain’t got time to wonder why
Whoopee, we’re all gonna sigh.

This admirable and absorbing HBO movie begins with Johnson's exuberant hootin' and hollerin' inaugural ball and ends, dismally, with his White House speech announcing that he would not, as expected, seek reelection. Instead, he was actually planning to go home to Texas and die.

Texas and death are eerily recurrent themes for Mr. Cohen, here, here, and here.

I saw this movie at a screening that was followed by a panel discussion about whether Johnson had been accurately portrayed. Richard Holbrooke, the longtime diplomat and old Vietnam hand, said the movie was right on target. David Halberstam, a historian of the war and much else, said LBJ had been treated too kindly.

Richard, pick up all those names you just dropped. And it is important that we know that Richard knows that we know that he gets to go to special screenings that us mere mortals cannot attend.

Who's right?

Generally speaking, The Scourge of Richard Cohen. Richard Cohen is left, or wrong – which in his case is roughly synonymous.

For the sake of this column, I don't particularly care.

What’s so special about this column? Richard Cohen gets away with telling his readers that he is above such petty concerns as facts and truth more than any columnist I’ve ever encountered.

What matters more to me is how policy is made…

Remember, for Richard Cohen, as far as Israel is concerned, the peace process is more important than peace!

-- step by step -- sometimes by yes men with no views of their own, sometimes by strong advisers who are on intimate terms with certainty.

Yes men with no views of their own, please step to the right. Strong advisors on intimate terms with certainty, please step to the left. Richard’s intoxication with his own moral certainty makes him sure that decent, intelligent, thoughtful, dedicated, public servants trying to implement the President’s policies are just a fantasy.

In either case the outcome is the same: a smug unanimity, an aversion to dissent, a tendency to conflate the good of the president with the good of the nation and, in all but the most comfortable ranges, an acute loss of hearing.

Is Richard writing about his feelings for Bill Clinton again?

Now, once again, we have a president from Texas who always cared more about his domestic program than anything to do with foreign policy.

I thought it was Bill Clinton and his merry band of enablers who told us that “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”

Man, does Richard Cohen have a jones for Texas, or what?

Now, once again, we have a president who neatly divides the world into good and evil -- and is amazed that others don't see it that way.

Wow, there are at least three straw men constructed there in one sentence. It must take years of practice to be able to achieve this so easily. Time to call the fire marshal before things get out of hand!

Now, once again, we have a president who has set us on a course -- confrontation with Iraq -- that may or may not be the wise course of action but that seems to have nearly universal support within the administration and Congress.

Looks like Dick lost his grip on Johnson and slipped in a Bush there. I’ll admit I was kind of young and might have missed it, but I don’t remember LBJ going for the daily double of communist containment – Vietnam and Iraq! The only other president I can think of who went after Iraq was Bush 41. But once again, Richard Cohen’s goblin’ up small minds with consistent foolishness.

What's more, we also now have an administration that is intent on keeping congressional busybodies at bay.

And this would be bad because…?

Does Richard believe that Congressional busybodies are supposed to hamper the President in his duties? Funny, but I don’t remember Mr. Cohen thinking this was such a good idea when Bill Clinton was president.

Whether it is the names of the gas and oilmen Dick Cheney met with or a willingness to invoke the word "war" as a way of stifling debate, this White House does not like to be questioned.

Better keep all that straw away from this oil and gas discussion. And, please, Richard, name one debate that has been stifled. Just one, that’s all I ask.

I get the sense the wagons are being circled around a president who, as we all know, is incurious enough to begin with.

Now I understand. It’s drinking your own bathwater that gives one that intoxication of moral certainty that let’s one believe the slander one wrote last week. And how dare those political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the President actually try to value and protect him. Why, they’d join Richard’s team and try to undermine him at every turn if only they had half a brain – like Richard Cohen.

At the moment, the administration is fighting a proposal to have an independent commission investigate how the government handled the terrorist threat before Sept. 11.

2001 or 1998?

The preliminary conclusion such a commission presumably would make is: not well.

Perhaps, Richard needs to read the thread on Mr. Quick’s site about how funding of the intelligence community dropped 20% during Clinton’s reign of error. Richard Cohen doesn’t think that President Bush managed to inhibit and limit the ability of the intelligence services to do their job in less than 9 months on the job, does he?

This is not to say that Bush himself was negligent or incompetent but rather that various government agencies bobbled the ball.

Guess we’ll have to wait another week before Richard can “jump with a certain glee.”

The goal of such a panel would not be to assign blame or punish but merely to find out what went wrong and ensure it does not happen again.

Uh huh.

Maybe -- who knows? -- it would conclude that after years of trying to starve the government, conservatives got precisely what they paid for -- agencies, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, that barely functioned.

And which years would those be?

But where this administration reminds me of the one HBO put on the screen the other night is in its swaggering arrogance.

Confidence and competence are not arrogance. Confidence and incompetence breed arrogance. McNamara’s best and brightest? No, I don’t think so. Or, perhaps, arrogance is in only keeping the promises you mean to keep, as Mr. Stephanopoulos once said.

Especially in foreign policy, it came into office with a cockiness produced by ideology, a Kennedy-esque quality of being born for the moment.

I just cannot muster the strength to go after every damn sentence the way it needs to be done. Does he just make this stuff so he can drop Kennedy’s name?

Multilateralism was bad.

Is. Is bad. I know that Bill Clinton’s sycophants have trouble with this word, but multilateralism as manifested in SALT, the Kyoto Accords, the ICC, and generally the UN are bad. Present tense.

Most treaties stink. Rogue states were the real enemy. Missile defense was the top priority.

If only he meant it.

And, oh, yeah, Bill Clinton was a dummy for getting so involved in the Middle East.

No, not for getting involved. For acting like a self-centered moron once he was involved. For being willing to sell out the safety of Israel and his Israeli friends to burnish his legacy with a Nobel Peace Prize. Bill Clinton thinks its all about Bill Clinton. Richard Cohen also thinks it s all about Bill Clinton.

Now much of that has been junked.

And who else has ratified Kyoto? The Russians don’t seem to care about SALT. And I cannot recall any sane American thinking the ICC is a good idea.

But the same group of supremely smug advisers still motors to the White House for Cabinet and other meetings.

Damn those supremely smug advisors. Damn them!

They still clutch their secrets away from prying eyes and invoke the war to reject inquiry. They pretend that they always knew what they were doing even though, manifestly, they did not. Maybe no one could. Probably that is the case.

AAARRRGGHHHH!!!

Often nowadays, when Vietnam gets mentioned, the word gets coupled with another: syndrome. The war left us too cautious, unwilling to use force, crippled by second-guessing and a fear of taking casualties.

Almost true. Careful, he's feinting to land a big blow!

Evil triumphed because good men trembled. In Vietnam, we lost more than the war -- we lost our nerve.

But, isn’t it simplisme to speak in terms of good and evil? How dare we assume to be the good?

And yet, if there is such a thing as a Vietnam syndrome, it has to apply not only to the war's aftermath but also to what caused the war in the first place -- a president who heard almost nothing to make him believe he was on the wrong course and who saw his critics only as political opportunists.

Ok, there’s no such thing as the Vietnam syndrome. So can we dispense with the lunacy that the President’s opponents are not political opportunists? Or was it merely love of country that had Democrats jumping with a certain glee last week?

This is the path George W. Bush must not take.

As Robert Frost wrote:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Let’s hope that President Bush is able to continue to choose the right path -- the hard path -- rather than the path of fleeting popularity and self-promotion. Perhaps if his critics started acting like men and women with honor, he could -- and would -- start listening to what they have to say.




 

Richard Cohen

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhhh!!!

Bush is from Texas, LBJ was from Texas. Therefore, Afghanistan = Viet Nam! How could I have missed this?

More later.




Wednesday, May 22, 2002
 

The Unthinkable?

I've seen a lot of references on a lot of blogs and on a lot of major media articles lately to nuclear war being "the unthinkable," as things continue to heat up in and around Kashmir.

This wouldn't be the same kind of "the unthinkable" as hijackers flying planes into buildings pre 9/11, would it?




 

Willful Ignorance, or Lomborg's Revenge

You'd think an iceberg had never broken off before. Guess they never heard about this.




 

Bones

Unbelievable. Not that Chandra Levy has been found dead, but that her corpse went undiscovered for so long that only bones are left in the middle of a large city after an extensive search.




 

India - Pakistan War

If they go to war, how long before someone from the Axis of Feeble blames the US for it?

If they go nuclear (heaven forbid!), how long before Cynthia McKinney blames President George W. Bush?

The old Cold War stand-off was never driven by religious fervor, but by power politics and ideology. Since each side wanted to survive, we have to grudgingly admit that MAD served its purpose, even if we want to move on now. But when you start dealing with people who have clearly demonstrated that they are willing to sacrifice themselves for religious beliefs, its time to start worrying. Whose finger is on the proverbial button?

Which "side" will we be on when the shooting starts in earnest? ... and when the first nuclear weapon is detonated? ... and the second?




 

Pearl Before Swine

How's that for a title of the video of Daniel Pearl's murder.

And yes, the last title was from Scarface, right before Tony Montana shot the non-English speaking bomber terrorist, because not even he could stomach blowing up children. It was also sampled by Big Audio Dynamite in BAD. The didn't quite swear like that in the 1932 version starring Paul Muni and George Raft.




Tuesday, May 21, 2002
 

This Is So F*cking Bad, This Is So F*cking Bad

It was bound to happen. I'm quite sure I don't want to see it, but if you're interested, Damian Penny has watched the gruesome Daniel Pearl murder and reports on it. You can also find out what you need to know to look it up for yourself. This is a very bad thing. Damian encourages people to view it, but I don't think it's necessary. I won't think badly of anyone who feels they need to see it, but I just do not want to go there.

I'm quite content following Damian's prescription for dealing with the situation. Scarface was a fine upstanding citizen compared to these bastards.




 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXV

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

This is a very ominous sign. Richard’s love for Bill Clinton and hatred for his enemies seems to have been transformed into love for Hillary Clinton and hatred for her imagined enemies. If you thought the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VWRC) was a force to be reckoned with, wait until Richard Cohen unleashes the Vast West Wing Conspiracy (VWWC) to attack First Lady Laura Bush. Richard has said plenty of mean, hateful things before, but he has sunk to a new low with Answers, Not Scapegoats:

In the battle of first ladies -- the former one and the current one -- Hillary Clinton won hands down.

The Battle of First Ladies! How could I have missed this one on Fox? But since Fox has cancelled so many shows, I guess they’ll get their programming from just about anywhere. In the Battle of First Ladies Tournament, my money is on Nancy Reagan. Barbara Bush would probably come in second. Without a lamp in her hands, Hillary doesn’t stand a chance.

Oh, and Hillary is no longer a first lady. Her husband is no longer president. There is also substantial doubt about whether Hillary has the qualities commonly expected of ladies in polite society. And there are several other former first ladies as well. Why is Richard excluding them from this “battle?”

But, still, the battle of first ladies?

In a brief Senate speech the other day, she pointed out that she, better than most, knew something about "second-guessers and Monday morning quarterbacks."

Ah yes, the Vast West Wing Conspiracy springs into action. It is interesting that even here, Richard just assumes that Hillary and the VWWC were always correct, or at least they acted with the purest of motives, and that prevents anyone from criticizing their actions, then and now!

I never knew Hillary had a thing for quarterbacks on Monday mornings though.

So she was not attempting "to blame the president," but merely to ask what went wrong before Sept. 11 and what can be done to ensure "that 9/11 never happens again."

Oh, really. Remember the old SNL joke that went under the title, “Bad News for Christie Brinkley” in which it was reported that over time, married people start to look like each other? Well, I also think that over time, married people start to think and act like each other. Even Richard Cohen can acknowledge that Bill Clinton is more than a little preoccupied with, well, Bill Clinton. It seems eminently reasonable that Hillary’s already substantial hubris was nurtured and sustained during her years with the Big He. And yet, Richard wants us to believe that Hillary walked to the floor of the Senate with no concern other than the welfare of everyone other than herself. Sure. Anything you say, Dick.

And the only way to make sure that 9/11 never happens again would be to destroy the earth. But a good illiberal utopian statist will not so easily abandon his simple faith in the wisdom of our self-anointed ruling masters and their ability to protect us – if only we will sacrifice our liberties and freedom and allow them to do so.

Laura Bush's response was to call people like her ghouls.

That’s because Laura isn’t likely in polite company to start calling them what they really are.

Before I am e-mailed to death, let me quickly stipulate that Mrs. Bush said nothing specifically about Hillary Clinton.

Then how can Richard write that “Laura Bush’s response was to call people like her ghouls?” Unless, of course, even Richard Cohen can see that the shoe fits.

I wouldn’t worry about Richard being e-mailed to death. Just two weeks ago Richard indicated that he doesn’t read a lot of his e-mail, and since The Washington Post doesn’t provide e-mails for its columnists, it’s a moot point anyway.

The first lady was merely responding to all those who she thought were questioning how her husband's administration handled -- or mishandled -- the hints it got that Osama bin Laden was up to something big.

So subtle, so smooth. Notice how he slipped that Cynthia McKinney-like remark in there. He has no proof that President Clinton mishandled anything, but perhaps a full investigation is needed because of the seriousness of the charge. Ooops, did I say Clinton? I meant Bush. After all, it was President Bush that ignored all that information about Al Qaeda in 2000, according to CBS.

"I think it is very sad that people would play upon the victims' families' emotions," she said.

Cheap shot, Laura.


From a cheap shot artist like Richard Cohen, that is high praise indeed! After all, Richard Cohen has virtually made a career out of playing upon the emotions of victims and their families. First Lady Laura Bush is threatening to take bread off Richard’s table if he isn’t allowed to slander others so easily for the betterment of the VWWC.

Now let me stipulate something else. Democrats, both in Congress and elsewhere, did jump with a certain glee on the news that George Bush had been alerted back in August to the possibility of a terrorist attack by bin Laden.

Amazing, isn’t it? And I am supposed to have any respect for people so lacking in decency? People so wanting to succeed in their partisan struggles that they actually wanted it to be true that Bush knew and didn’t prevent it! Bastards. Utterly reprehensible, evil-enabling bastards.

But let me also add that much of this criticism was not only warranted, it was healthy.

Healthy? Which part of “jump with a certain glee” constitutes criticism?

The events of Sept. 11, which is to say the mass murder of about 3,000 Americans, represented a monumental intelligence failure.

I disagree.

While it may have been possible to have prevented the events of 9/11, it is less than clear to me that any system that respects the liberties and freedoms we hold dear could have absolutely prevented this. Much the same effect could have been achieved had they only had one pilot and one plane crashed into the WTC. Think about how incredibly hard this would have been to detect. Think about what the WTC area would look like now if only one plane had hit? Would the other tower have survived the collapse of the first? Would the tragedy have been any less? What if they had come in a few floors lower or an hour later? Just as many people would have died there and the overall effect would have been comparable.

It’s just too easy to say with hindsight that the intelligence agencies should have been able to prevent this. One minute before the first plane hit the WTC Tower 2; no one thought this was really possible. No one. I read somewhere that if the passengers on Flight 93 only needed 100 minutes to work up a plan and fight back, then how could our intelligence agencies have failed so badly with years of data to work with. Well, this ignores the fact that the heroes of Flight 93 were effectively working with some hindsight. They knew that two planes had hit the WTC and another had hit the Pentagon. It didn’t take a great leap of faith to figure out what was going on at that point. Even now, airport security still remains something of a really bad jobs program joke. I don’t mean to diminish the heroic actions of the passengers who died in a field in Pennsylvania in the least, but to use their heroism to denigrate others is uncalled for.

Neither the administration -- which has been more protective of the CIA and FBI than is warranted -- nor Congress has yet to get to the bottom of this.

Wow, I can actually agree with this one sentence, albeit it must be taken out of context.

Partisan wrangling is nearly always ugly.

Good thing Hillary never stoops to anything like this. I’d hate to see anyone call her ugly.

But it is not half as ugly as the suggestion that criticism is either unpatriotic or, just as bad, exploitative of grief. Consider Vice President Cheney, who characterized the criticism he was hearing as "thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in time of war."

Criticism, per se, is not necessarily unpatriotic or exploitative of grief. But it can be, especially when we see all the men and women who would be President “jump with a certain glee” to make wild accusations, hoping to do anything to get President Bush’s approval ratings back into a challengeable range. Yea, I’m talking about Daschle, Gephardt, Lieberman, Clinton, Edwards, and Kerry. And it is sickening, though not unexpected, to watch the VWWC kick in and beat the drum, repeating the unsubstantiated accusations often enough to allow all those predisposed to expect the worst to feel secure in their unthinking hatred. Yea, I’m talking about CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, PBS, CNN, the NYT, the WaPo, the LAT, and a veritable cornucopia of others.

If the uber-patriotic Cheney should, however, look over his shoulder he will find that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is his chief of staff.

The proper spelling would be “über-patriotic,” but can Richard please retire the feeble attempts at Nazi-like guilt by association? As Barry Goldwater once said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the defense of liberty is no virtue."

This is the same Libby who told the New Yorker recently how Sept. 11 happened. "Let's stack it up," he said. He listed the U.S. retreat from Somalia, the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the discovery of the al Qaeda plot in the Philippines, the attempt to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush, the 1995 Riyadh bombing, the Khobar Towers bombing, the bombing of two embassies in Africa, the bombing of the USS Cole and the foiled Millennium attack. "Did we respond in a way which discouraged people from supporting terrorist activities . . .?" he asked. He provided his own answer. The Clinton administration had acted in a way that made it "easier for someone like Osama bin Laden to rise up and say credibly, 'The Americans don't have the stomach to defend themselves. . . . They are morally weak.' "

Thanks God the adults are back in charge.

So, you see, it is all right to blame the Clinton administration for what happened, but not the administration that happened to be in office on Sept. 11.

That is a willful misrepresentation of what Mr. Libby said. Mr. Libby did not say that Bill Clinton was directly to blame. Mr. Libby rightly did say that the previous administration’s cowardly responses created an environment that made this possible. Which of Bill Clinton’s activities in response to this litany of shame does Richard Cohen think “discouraged people from supporting terrorist activities?”

And it is for some reason unpatriotic and in the worst taste to suggest that the Bush administration was not paying attention to the terrorist threat.

Not unpatriotic, just uninformed or willfully ignorant. Vice President Cheney did not say it was “unpatriotic,” he said it was "thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in time of war." There is a difference. President Bush had in fact asked for a plan to address the threat of Al Qaeda, but it arrived too late. Had the attack been planned for 10/11, perhaps it would never have happened and President Bush’s approval ratings would be hovering in the mid 40’s. I can see President Bush accepting this as a better alternative. Former President Clinton, on the other hand, wishes it had happened on his watch.

Let's stack it up. Sandy Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, told Condoleezza Rice that terrorism should be her No. 1 concern.

How do we know it wasn’t? But it sure didn’t seem like Mr. Berger’s No. 1 concern.

At the Pentagon, Bill Cohen said the same thing to Donald Rumsfeld.

Not “don’t ask, don’t tell?”

Clinton had already authorized the assassination of bin Laden.

But somehow, he just couldn't bring himself to arrest bin Laden when offered the opportunity.

Yet, under Bush, hints that an attack was being prepared by al Qaeda were ignored.

Demonstrably wrong, as indicated above. Richard Cohen is a liar or a fool. Or both.

Do I blame Bush?

… wait for it …

No.

Hmm.

Not on the basis of what so far has come out.

So Richard hedges his bets. You can just tell that he so wants to believe there’s a smoking gun there somewhere so he too can “jump with a certain glee.”

But do I think that all of this has to be looked into? Absolutely.

Concur. If people have made serious errors, then they should go. But my experience leads me to believe the problems, to the extent that they are problems, are systemic and beyond the responsibility and ability of any individual GS-14 who’ll probably end up being blamed for it.

This administration has not hesitated to suggest that Bill Clinton made the United States soft so that it got sucker-punched by bin Laden.

The truth is tough medicine sometimes, eh Dick?

Now, for obvious reasons, it thinks it's either downright unpatriotic or in the worst possible taste merely to ask what in the world was everyone doing when a bunch of terrorists were attending flight school.

I’ve tried to avoid mentioning straw men until this point. While there were several above, I wanted to try and get through a Scourge without mentioning them, but damn it all to hell, Richard just won’t stop. He must be able to build them in his sleep.

Exactly who has said it is unpatriotic to question what a bunch of terrorists where doing attending flight school? I know that it constitutes racial profiling to search anyone in an airport other than grandmothers of Scandinavian origin. I’ve read that the FBI backed away from the info from fears of being accused of racial profiling. I know that the intelligence agencies have been emasculated over the last 10 years. I know that the INS is hopelessly understaffed and under funded to deal with the massive immigration problems throughout the country. But I’ve heard no one say it is unpatriotic to ask why terrorists where able to attend flight school.

Well, no one except the straw man that Richard Cohen just built.

Laura Bush misspoke.

No, I don’t think so.

Hillary Clinton did not.

Uh, sure.

We don't need a scapegoat.

Even if it turns out to be President Bush?

We need answers.

But what if there aren’t any answers? I realize this is a difficult concept for an illiberal utopian statist, but in the immortal words of Jack Nicholson as Colonel Jessup, “You can’t handle the truth!” Even when those words were written by the ringleader and founding member of the Vast West Wing Conspiracy – Mr. Aaron Sorkin! When watching A Few Good Men, you can just tell that Mr. Sorkin and Mr. Reiner really don’t like the military. The problem for me is that, except for the actions surrounding the cover-up, I find myself agreeing with almost everything else that Colonel Jessup says about the military, duty, honor, and the defense of our country. Who should be emulated and admired, the slacker military lawyer or the decorated military men? Somehow, I’m not sure that’s what the Vast West Wing Conspiracy had in mind.




Monday, May 20, 2002
 
The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXIV

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Richard Cohen gets a pass on the Champion of the Opera column. While it’s chock full of silliness, pretentiousness, and elitism, after a while I just gave up – because I just couldn’t get enthused about the topic. But, as we all know, we cannot keep a bad man down. By Thursday, Richard was back to his myopic, selective fact-rendering worst with: Abstinence Or Obstinacy?

Before I tell you what Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) did, I want to tell you something about her. She is the daughter of a Lutheran minister. She has a degree in religion, and her late husband graduated from divinity school. She was head nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital and director of the Santa Barbara school system's teenage pregnancy and parenting program.

A fine set of credentials, but let’s read what she has to say first. As we all know by now, who says something is much more important than what is said in Richard Cohen’s world.

Last month, she offered an amendment to the government's sexual abstinence program, asking only that it be medically and scientifically accurate. She lost, 31 to 19.

There’s not enough straw in Maryland to fill in the muscle and sinews of this straw man. Like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, if he only had a brain! No information is provided about what constitutes a medically and scientifically accurate amendment, but 62% of Rep. Capps’ colleagues are fighting hard to maintain ignorance and stupidity. With those numbers, they can’t all be Republicans either! It was only three weeks ago that the Missouri state legislature was trying to bring back the dark ages, and now the US House of Representatives has taken up the challenge. Hmm, I’ll bet John Ashcroft had something to do with this!

An aside: this happened a month ago? Somehow it was less important than Champion of the Opera? But, then again, we never would have known that Richard hated opera, but now he loves opera, but not as much as his dad; or that Richard has friends who can score him a primo ticket for Pavarotti’s last performance at the Met. And who else would drop the names of Luciano Pavarotti, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, Brad Pitt, Woody Allen, and Floyd Patterson so easily.

Soon after, the measure providing more money for President Bush's cherished abstinence-only program sailed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, heading to the floor, where it passed yesterday.

Is there any better rationale for limiting the scope of government than money being appropriated by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for sex education?

But, somehow I think I can guess where this is headed. After all, anything that stupid President Bush is in favor of has to be bad – at least in the eyes of Richard Cohen.

No surprise there.

Try a box of Cracker Jacks next time. But Richard will probably have to wait for the World Series for another friend to score him those tickets that are out of reach for us plebeians.

The provision to keep America's teenagers as ignorant as possible about sex -- even, as Capps knows, to teach them what is false -- is embedded in a whale of a bill that contains so much for so many that, should it have failed, it could only meant that our cherished political system has collapsed and reason has triumphed.

Whew, what a sentence. Let’s see if I can deconstruct it in less than 200 words.

I’m not sure where to start, since I doubt that the problem is teenage ignorance of sex, but more likely teenage ignorance of the consequences of sex. I think they’ve got that sex thing down pretty well these days judging by what passes for journalism at Yale. But I am struggling with what exactly was in the bill that was “false” that is being proffered to these juvenile wannabe-delinquents. I must admit I haven’t read the bill, but I’m guessing that it must have stated something along the lines of: “Abstinence will prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and AIDS. Oh, and fellatio is sex.” I’d bet that last bit really got Richard’s blood up.

A whale of a bill? Since most of Richard’s friends read the Annual Federal Budget, I wonder how big this bill must have been. And if I understand this sentence, whose structure and punctuation would rival one from Caesar’s Commentaries, I think Richard thinks that it would be a good thing for the bill to fail because of its gargantuan size and overwhelming scope. But, nevertheless, Richard was hoping to add just one more wafer thin amendment to this bill which would dwarf Mr. Creosote. But is it really necessary for our Republic to collapse for reason to triumph?

Nope, 213 words. Roughly 27% of a typical Richard Cohen column. Just goes to demonstrate that it is far easier to destroy than to build.

The abstinence-only provision is a measure so illogical that just to contemplate it raises the sound fear that you will lose your mind.

Do you ever get the feeling that Richard Cohen conducts his entire life as though he were Jack Nicholson sitting in a diner trying to order a chicken salad sandwich without the chicken salad?

It offers the states $50 million a year to teach abstinence as the only way to deal with sex. That's it. Nothing about sex education.

Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that at least one form of sex education? Or is Richard speaking of coitus education? There is a difference. Even so, $50 million a year?

Nothing about how to avoid pregnancy, venereal disease or HIV-AIDS.

Nothing? Richard Cohen apparently subscribes to the pre-germ theory of disease transmission. God knows where he thinks babies come from.

Condoms may be mentioned, but only in the context of their failure rates. The fact that they most often are effective must not be mentioned.

A failure rate of 5% in a population of 25,000,000 teenagers, many of whom are sexually active and “educated” is pretty damn significant.

In effect, teachers must lie.

There you have it. Agree with Richard or you are a liar, or at least forcing teachers to lie to their charges. We’ve seen this many, many times, as Richard calls people who disagree with him liars or stupid or even crazy! Richard apparently respects diversity of condom colors more than diversity of opinion.

Now consider the American teenager. More than half of those aged 15 to 19 have had sex.

Is this a good thing? It may be a fact, but truth is a different matter.

For 18-year-olds, the figure is 70 percent.

So, 19-year-olds are less sexually active than 18-year-olds? Or is Richard too lazy to do enough research other than to read off a sheet provided him by Planned Parenthood?

More than 750,000 teenagers a year become pregnant.

Maybe 5% was too low a figure for condom failure. Or like I wrote earlier, I don’t think the problem is lack of knowledge about sex, but lack of knowledge of the consequences of sex.

Compared with teenagers in, say, sexually rambunctious Sweden or France, those in America are a sorry lot. They have the highest rate of adolescent childbearing (22 percent for the United States; 4 percent for Sweden) and the highest abortion rate. The figures speak for themselves: When it comes to sex, our kids don't know what they are doing.

Slackers. But, no, I think it means quite the opposite.

The same can be said for our political leaders.

If they’re not starving children, or buying guns, or refusing to meet with lying terrorists, they’re out knocking up teenagers!

It's not, mind you, that there is anything wrong with abstinence, which is, as our tautology-addicted president tells us, 100 percent effective.

But, I thought President Bush was stupid? And why do I have this sneaking suspicion that Richard believes there is something wrong with abstinence?

Rather, it's that abstinence only works when it works.

And President Bush is the one with a tautology addiction problem?

When it doesn't -- when the well-intentioned kid falls off the wagon -- he or she ought to know what to do.

Well-intentioned? Not every laid pipe is meant for a well.

The consequences can be lethal -- HIV-AIDS, for instance.

Not to mention what happened to Melissa Drexler’s son.

The abstinence-only program did not, as you may think, spring from the brow of George W. Bush.

And who thought that, aside from a straw man lacking a brain?

It has been around since 1996, when some legislators with dirty minds slipped it into the welfare reform bill.

Dirty minds? What the hell is Mr. Cohen talking about? I guess we can add pervert to the long list of epithets Richard feels comfortable calling those who disagree with him. It’s a good thing Richard hates labels.

But both in concept and as legislation it has been embraced by Bush, who mentions it frequently and with enthusiasm. "It works every time," he said recently.

That stupid President Bush.

So does death.

And this is supposed to mean what exactly? That President Bush wants people to die? And I thought Cynthia McKinney was bad!

In a sense, abstinence-only is the intellectual heart of Bushism.

And tedious, knee-jerk, pretentious, self-serving, and unable to see beyond the beltway punditry is the intellectual groin of Cohenism. Or is it the colon of Cohenism?

It is based solely on faith, on conviction -- on what ought to be and not on what is.

Intemperate words from an illiberal utopian statist. Aren’t we supposed to seek out the better angels of our nature?

The program persists despite no evidence that it works and in the face of some evidence that it does not. It is a muddled aspiration, coupled with such sanctimonious nonsense about chastity until marriage that it simply cannot be taken seriously.

Stunning, absolutely stunning! What an incredible fantasy world Richard is able to construct. I’m not naïve and I know young people will always answer nature’s call, but is this what the argument is really about? Is it necessary to call people fools for having an ideal and trying to encourage their children to live up to it? And this ideal didn’t spring out of President Bush’s forehead either. Richard desperately needs to take a gander at the Bible sometime.

But even if abstinence was the way to go, what could be wrong with teaching sex education as well -- just in case?

Logic is not one of Richard’s strong points. Let’s translate: Assume A, what’s wrong with not A, just in case our capacity for reason stops functioning in this universe.

Where else, in what other area, do we insist on ignorance and maintain that knowledge is wrong?

A Richard Cohen column?

This is not our way. This is a totalitarian concept. It amounts, truly, to abuse of power.

Abstinence = Totalitarianism.

Abstinence corrupts. Absolute abstinence corrupts absolutely.

So how do you think Richard Cohen feels about celibacy in the Catholic Church?

The power and authority of the teacher rest on his or her greater knowledge. What do you call it, then, when information that could be necessary for a full and happy life is withheld?

Illiberal utopian statism?

What do you call it when, through avoidable ignorance and its handmaiden, shame, a teenager gets pregnant, has an abortion or has a child?

A tragedy? Teenage promiscuity? Nature?

What can you call it when, for lack of knowledge, a child gets AIDS and dies?

Pray tell, what does sex education for teenagers have to do with a child getting AIDS? Is Richard referring to “biblical” knowledge and children?

Is this what George Bush wants? I hope not.

Hope is the best Richard can come up with. He’s not sure that teenage pregnancy, abortions, and children dying of AIDS aren’t what President Bush secretly desires. What a complete prat.

But this is what he is going to get.

Especially if that abstinence thing works!

The United States is far and away the most religiously observant of all Western nations. Yet it has teenage pregnancy rates that also lead the Western world.

Cause left for the left coast yesterday. Effect caught the train to Cleveland this morning.

Our kids are not immoral or irreligious.

They aren’t “our” kids. That’s the biggest part of the problem, by the way, but it’s late and I don’t have the energy to explain it in terms simple enough for even Richard Cohen to understand right now.

They are too often woefully ignorant -- ashamed of their sexuality, hiding it and its consequences from everyone, not even knowing that a condom can save their lives.

With 750,000 teenage pregnancies last year, I’d say they haven’t been hiding “it” or the consequences all that well.

Lois Capps -- mother and nurse -- asked, in essence, only for the government to tell kids the truth.

The truth, or the facts? They aren’t necessarily the same thing.

It abstained.

Richard’s arguments, on the other hand, just leave a stain.




 

Nute Gunray

Over on NRO, saw Edward Hudgins' comment on AOTC that:

And the head of the Federation is Nute Gunray. Get it, Newt Gingrich?

I don't think so. George Lucas may or may not be taking a whack at Newt, but the real nemesis he's trying to demean is Reagan.




 

Illiberal Utopian Statists Piss Me Off

What bugs me more than anything else concerning the brouhaha about what President Bush knew and when he knew it, is the underlying assumption that the government should be able to prevent anything bad from happening -- or it is someone's fault. Do you really want to live in a world where the government has this kind of knowledge and control over events? I don't. Next time you hear Senator Torricelli talk about this on NPR, keep in mind the battle he waged to restrict the ability of our intelligence agencies in the name of human rights. While a good liberal can make an argument that Senator Torricelli's concern was valid, one cannot make that argument and then turn around and blame the government for not having been able to prevent really bad things from happening. Personally, I think Senator Torricelli's motivations were flawed because, like so many of his fellow travelers, he didn't (and perhaps still doesn't) see the world as an inherently dangerous place where constant vigilance is required. This desire for perfection from the government helps to reinforce my concern that most illiberal utopian statists secretly long for a dictator, a strong man, a caudillo, to make the hard decisions for them. A variant of this is the way that Castro's "I've outlasted 10 US Presidents" is so frequently presented as a good thing -- and I am sick to death of the Cuba lovefest on NPR and PRI the last week.

Personally, I don't particularly give a damn one way or another about whether Congress investigates or whether there is a Blue Ribbon panel convened. I am deservedly skeptical of how useful the investigations will be, that politics and scapegoating can be kept out of it sufficiently for it to be a positive step towards making us more secure. Note, not secure, just more secure. There is no such thing as completely secure. Never has been, never will be -- and that includes the new MDA. Tonight Senator Torricelli suggested that a Blue Ribbon panel could have a solid report together in a year. A YEAR! Nothing like this should take that long. While they are meeting the one year anniversary of 9/11 will take place. Any bets now that something bad will happen then? I sure as hell don't plan on being in my 17th floor office that morning.

No one knows what comes next. Some modification and ratcheting up of the Mutual Assured Destruction strategy used during the Cold War seems to be in order. Where we can identify the perpetrators and their enablers after a terrorist attack, we take them out. There is likely to be a need to be somewhat less than surgical in these instances and perhaps to broaden our damage to hurt something they hold dear. Where we can identify potential perpetrators and their enablers, we take them out too. The threshhold for determining how non-surgically we act and how broadly we expand our destruction will depend to a very large extent on how successful they are. The same is true for how high we set the bar in determining whether we believe someone is a potential perpetrator or enabler. If bombs start going off in shopping malls, schools, or hospitals, I expect we will start getting substantially less sensitive about collateral damage for punitive and preventative reasons. If a nuclear device is ever used, then the gloves will come off in a way not seen since WW II, or perhaps since even the Romans. Terrorists would then be treated with extreme prejudice, and the criteria for whose a terrorist will be a lot less strict. I don't look forward to this, but it would seem to be inevitable.

For what it's worth, if there was anything that got me going more than Senator Torricelli arguing about the need for a Blue Ribbon panel this evening on the drive home, it was Senator McConnell arguing aginst it with the flimsiest logic and weakest rhetoric imaginable. Like I wrote, I don't really care about what he was arguing about, but that performance was embarassing.




Sunday, May 19, 2002
 

Midwest Blogbash 2000

Been there. Done that. Bought the hat.

The Mysterious Juan Gato was the first to arrive with his friend from Caddyshack, or was that Herman's Hermits? At least he was there when I got there. Now that I've met him, I think he's still mysterious. In his own words: as a very handsome man, one of the perils I face is that everyone wants to take my picture. Fortunately no one had a "working" camera.

We'd barely got stuck in on the first pint when Mr. Johnson arrived to get things rolling. Hmm, no note on the gathering up on the Midwest Conservative Journal yet. He seemed like he enjoyed it.

Almost immediately Anne Wilson and "Bill" joined us along with two newcomers, Quantum Tea and In a mirror, dimly, which necessitated our deconvening from the cozy bar stall and heading up to the restaurant. With a little arm twisting we took over an entire elevated area at TNG's, usually reserved for smokers, but no one dared appraoch once we got encsonced. Not long after that, Spinline (the professional graphic artist) and No Watermelons rounded out the evening's participants. We laughed, we cried, we kissed a few bucks goodbye. The restaurant closed at 1100, but we didn't all leave until about 1215.

General thoughts and observations:

What a fine group of folks. I'd love to sit and chat over a beer with any, or all of them, anytime.

Don't sit too close to Juan if he starts talking about rocks and rivers.

Our two new (at least to us) British friends added a lot to the evening for an anglophile like myself. I'll take "interesting" as a compliment.

It is a fairy, though the waitress had to practically move into R-rated territory to demonstrate to Mr. Bowen that it was not an angel. Since I was sitting across from him the whole evening, I cannot fathom how he managed to see it in the first place without all of us noticing. (Looking forward to that article in the fall!)

Amazing how many defunct companies such a small number of people have been a part of.

If you want to catch all the inside jokes and references, you'll just have to attend the next gathering!

UPDATE: Or 2002. Whatever.




 

What is is with Women Named Madeleine?

In the Wanker Madeleine Bunting punts, effectively saying that since we haven't won yet, we'lll never win.

By the time of the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul it will no longer be possible to ignore the accumulation of these awkward details, and we will be embarrassed to be reminded of our naive triumphalism. The war was a crude and clumsy intervention which did little for the wretched Afghans, and even less for the struggle against terrorism.

I wish I had the time to give this one a good scourging.




 

Axis of Evil Envy

From Ha'aretz:

Syria is pressing Hamas and Islamic Jihad to renew their suicide operations against Israel, contrary to Saudi Arabian demands on Yasser Arafat and Palestinian organizations to desist from such attacks. ... Syria is assumed to be coordinating its efforts with Tehran. Internationally, this has created the unusual situation of a state sitting on the UN Security Council making clearly aggressive moves. American intelligence is aware of all this, but Bush has meanwhile refrained from including Syria in his "axis of evil."




 

It Must Suck to be Terry McAuliffe

According to MSNBC:

1. In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?
Approve: 75%
Disapprove: 18%
(Previous polling: 4/02 — 74%-20%; 1/02 — 82%-13%; 12/01 — 85%-11%; 11/01 — 88%-7%; 9/01 — 82%-12%; 6/01 — 50%-35%)





 

Everything's Gonna Be Albright

Madeleine Half Bright makes my day as she Blasts Bush Foreign Policy.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Sunday accused President Bush's foreign policy team of suffering from ``untreated bipolar disorder.''

Grown up Secretary of State Colin Powell nailed it pretty well though:

It is unusual for a former secretary of state to attack an incumbent administration, but Albright and current Secretary of State Colin Powell have clashed before.

At the beginning of the Clinton presidency, Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argued against U.S. military involvement in Bosnia's ethnic conflict.

Albright, then ambassador to the United Nations and a strong advocate of using force to end ethnic slaughter, is said to have stared at Powell and asked: ``What's the point in having this superb military you are always talking about if we can't use it?''

In his book, Powell said of the incident: ``I thought I would have an aneurysm. American GIs were not toy soldiers to be moved around on some sort of global game board.''


Having someone who's consistently wrong can be just as valuable as having someone who's consistently right.




 

Pootie-Poot

Drudge claims that President Bush's secret name for Russian President Vladimar Putin is "Pootie-Poot."

At least it's not Pootie Tang.




 

Kentucky Derby Analogy

I believe that equality means that we all start at the same time using the same rules on a level playing field, with all that entails. At Churchill Downs, this means that all horses carry the same weight when the pull out of the gate and whichever horse and jockey reach the finish line first win. Sometimes the track conditions favor one kind of horse over another. Sometimes a good horse gets a bad post position, a poor jockey, or gets boxed into a bad position that inhibits the horses chances. Sometimes a longshot has the race of his life and beats the expectations and sometimes a favorite just has a bad day. When the race is over the is a champion and after the pictures are taken and the bloom is off the roses, win or lose -- everybody starts preparing for the next race. And the race is conducted over and over and over, year after year.

I also believe that illiberal utopian statists do not accept this version of equality. For them, horses of different abilities must be handicapped in ways so as to make it possible for all horses to reach the finish line at the same time. That may mean that a horse that is very good or has a more experienced jockey must carry substantially more weight than the other horses. But even this is not good enough for some. To avoid hurting the self esteem of some horses and jockeys, at each quarter mile all the horses will be stopped and realigned allowing outside horses to move to the inside and vice versa, and allowing for any slower horses to catch up rather than having to view the race from behind another horse who might be just a little quicker from post to post. Eventually this race will be over, but it will probably take closer to 30 minutes than 2, it won't be much fun to watch, and when it is over nothing will have been settled. And come to think of it, why should the race be limited to the best and fastest horses, or even just to thoroughbreds?

How does this strike you?




 

Reparations

One of the most loathsome aspects of the discussion concerning reparations for slavery is the underlying assumption that the balm for any such festering wound is ... money. Not justice, not peace, not freedom, not equality ... just money.

To hear ordained ministers speaking of something so at odds with the tenth commandment is quite disgusting.






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