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:

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Saturday, November 23, 2002


I haven't written much about this lately. Honestly, what is there to write? Robert Mugabe if the 21st century's first genocidal maniac. Everyone knows it, but no one seems to care enough to kill him before he kills half the population of Zimbabwe:

Food shortages in Zimbabwe have markedly worsened, causing massive profiteering, political interference in distribution and forcing the hungry to survive on wild fruits and roots, relief agencies said Saturday. An estimated 6.7 million Zimbabweans, more than half the population, are in danger of starvation in the coming months because of food shortages blamed on drought and the government's chaotic program to seize thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black settlers.

There's more, but since some bizarre form of political correctness prevents the international community from responding properly, what's the point. If the UN could stop bitching about the US attacking Iraq and Israel defending itself long enough to look up, maybe there would be hope. Alas, Africa has yet another genocide on its hands and the powers that be are to cowed to stop it. Again.

Pray for the people of Zimbabwe if you are so inclined. If not, just be glad you're not in Zimbabwe now.


This Oughta Piss Off the Quebecois

Apparently, we've already taken over Canada:

As host of a meeting in Paris devoted to aid for Lebanon, the French President glared at and cut off a reporter who dared raise the issue that has dominated Canadian front pages for days. Before the reporter's question had even been fully asked — an attempt to weigh the impact of the fuss on Canada-U.S. relations — Mr. Chirac jumped in angrily. "This is France, we will not discuss Canadian domestic issues here," he said, glowering at the reporter.

So did we add 1 star or 12 to the grand old flag? Or is Jacque being a little simplisme?

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Woo Hoo!

I won again! Well, I tied again in Ipse Dixit's Weekly Caption Contest. This week's offering brought forth an exceptionally good batch of entires, but we had an excellent image to work with. So what's wrong with entering 23 times? And my wife complains that I'm too competitive, ha!

Mr. Harris just celebrated his second anniversary as a blogger, so that puts him way out in front of the pack. Go by and wish him well.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXVI

(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 has been doing a lot of reminiscing lately, remember the glory days of his radical youth. He must have been listening to Supertramp’s 1975 album Crisis? What Crisis? (Personally, I like Crime of the Century a good deal more, no matter what John Mendelson of Rolling Stone thinks. God, what a pretentious git. But I digress.) when this title suddenly occurred to him, Threat? What Threat?:

Now we all live in Amity.

Richard is seriously confused. But why?

That was the fictional summer resort threatened in the 1975 movie "Jaws." Amity's police chief wanted to warn everyone that a dangerous shark was loose, while the mayor, fearful of losing business at the height of the summer season, wanted everyone to keep mum.

Dumb, dumb. Dumb, dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb…

Maybe in the remake…

Maybe Richard missed all the sequels to Jaws, and I’m certain he must have missed this snippet of Christmas in Heaven from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life:

It's Christmas in Heaven.
There's great films on TV:
'The Sound of Music' twice an hour
And 'Jaws' One, Two, and Three.

… the shark will be played by terrorists and both the mayor and the police chief by Bush administration officials.

But certainly not by any Clinton administration officials, right Dick? Hmm, if I were going to assign roles in the Bush administration to characters from Jaws, I think I’d have Paul Wolfowitz as Mr. Hooper, and Donald Rumsfeld as Captain Quint. And just to show that I’m not partisan, Al Gore can be the estuary victim. And let's not forget that the shark does get killed by the police chief in the end.

As for the shark, code it yellow.

The shark is yellow, as in it’s a coward? Good thing I’m a Jet, from my first cigarette to my last dyin’ day.

Last week, for instance, the administration announced that something bad was coming.

Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is, but it is gonna be… bad.

The Arab satellite TV station, al-Jazeera, had received an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden and it warned of all sorts of horrible things.

As if we needed another reason to go after him.

At the same time, there was an apparent increase in "chatter," suggesting that something was possibly afoot.

Release the hounds!

The FBI immediately responded. It issued an alert, saying al Qaeda wanted to kill as many Americans as possible in as spectacular a fashion as possible. It told state and local law enforcement agencies to pay particular attention to the aviation, petroleum and nuclear sectors …

Short of some kind of direct action, it’s hard to know what else they can do. Except to join John Ashcroft’s jack-booted Dissension Crushing Brigades™.

… "sectors" being one of those Washington words that masks a deep ignorance of whatever the hell is actually going on.

Richard Cohen can be found twice a week in the Op-Ed “sector” of the Washington Post, where tedious, knee-jerk, pretentious, self-serving, unable to see beyond the beltway punditry masks a deep ignorance of whatever the hell is actually going on is a way of life.

It was at this point, as I recall, that a colleague popped into my office and asked what in the world we were supposed to do.

So the Washington Post employs morons who must depend on Richard Cohen to help them figure out how to respond to a generic terrorist warning. Ooo, that’s a shock.

Presumably, he asked me because I am older and wiser and somewhat better looking.

Anything I might write would be gratuitous here.

Crushingly, I let him down by shrugging my shoulders and telling him that in Amity, it was either safe to go into the water or it was not. It all depended on whom you listened to.

And presumably, the younger colleague then said, “What in the hell are you talking about?”

As if someone was listening to me…

The Scourges must be working!!!

… Tom Ridge, who is in charge of homeland security, soon announced that there was nothing new in the latest alert. "The threats . . . are the same threats we've been hearing now for a year," he said.

Would you rather he made something up instead, Dick?

The message was clear: Be alert, be relaxed, worry, don't worry -- and please memorize the color chart so you will know the appropriate degree of confusion.

I think Bobby McFerrin covered this ground back in 1988.

It is always required when writing of such matters to say that there is no easy answer to the question of what to tell the public.

Especially since it has the virtue of being true.

Still, one is entitled to wonder if the government knows what it is doing.

One of the smartest statements ever uttered by Mr. Cohen. I am pleased to enlist the august services of Mr. Cohen as we try and limit the scope of government in all its forms, since even he seems to have acknowledged here that the government that governs best, governs least.

For instance, the FBI limited its recent warning to police agencies, intending somehow to keep it from the public.

They must have known that otherwise, some Dick would complain about all the messages to the public losing their potency if they continue to be issued every time something might happen, in some unhappy variant on the “Little Boy and the Wolfowitz” theme.

It apparently did not occur to the bureau that your average police chief might tell his average wife, who, being average, would tell her brother, who would tell his friend, an anchor for the 6 o'clock news.

Just another lament about average people by a below average Dick. Richard’s love and respect for the prols is unbounded, and he demonstrates it in column after column.

The results were shocking headlines and the usual hype on television. A report out of London about a purported plot to attack the subway with cyanide gas got conflated with the FBI warning here and so we were treated to gripping footage of British commuters getting on and off trains. Only the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, said there was nothing to the reports, attributing them to the "fertile imagination of the press," when of course we all know there is no such thing.

He said it, not me.

On the radio, I heard that Washington, New York and San Francisco were key targets of the terrorists. No one was saying what the people in those cities should do or avoid doing.

Here’s a useful suggestion -- buy a gun and a lot of ammunition to celebrate National Ammo Day! Learn how to use your weapon, because like it or not, you're in the army now! Or, at least, your in the front lines, whether you want to be or not. So much for the chickenhawk imbroglio.

And so I, for one, steered clear of nuclear installations and ICBM silos -- also Indian food, which I hate.

Is this supposed to be funny? Of course, I love Indian food, (natch).

I first realized we were all living in Amity last summer when the government issued some serious alerts.

But for some reason, Richard Cohen waited until now to tell us. Kind of like the mayor of Amity, come to think of it.

Among the targets mentioned was the Statue of Liberty. So, naturally enough, New York's governor, George Pataki, went right to the Statue of Liberty to prove either that the report was false or that he was invisible.

Or maybe to demonstrate courage and to stick it in the eye of the bastards by letting them know that we will not be intimidated. Kind of like saying, “I got your target right heah,” in a New York state of mind.

As always in these matters, we were told that we could not allow the terrorists to intimidate us. We must go about our daily business, which includes, for some reason, a visit to the Statue of Liberty.

Uh, maybe because it was explicitly called out as a target?

We denizens of Amity are confused.

If I could get Richard to do one thing for the good of mankind it would be to stop using the royal we in his columns.

Soon, the time will come when we will pay no heed to any alerts, regardless of color, and walk into situations we could have avoided. It's also likely that the police will themselves tire of the constant warnings and relax their vigil.

Yes, it’s called human nature. Not that an illiberal utopian would recognize it even when it jumps up and bites him in the ass.

As for the government, it will appear more and more inept, issuing warnings just so that if anything happens, it can always say afterward that we were warned.

Damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Damned Republican administration, eh Dick?

Here's our warning: It won't work.

As I read Richard Cohen, E.J. Dionne, and David Broder in the Washington Post today, I was stunned by how inane their commentary has become and how utterly unfair they are to the opinions and beliefs of others. The line between what I do in satire and what they do in earnest is getting more and more difficult to discern.

Monday, November 18, 2002

It's All About Us and What We Think Is Important

Is there anything more pathetic -- and telling -- about the selflesslessness of the boomer generation than the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

It would seem to be the undead embodiment of Abbie Hoffman's dictum of, "never trust anyone over 30," until they turned thirty and it suddenly became, "never trust anyone under 30."


Gulf War II Postscript

I wonder what the sequel to David O. Russell's Three Kings will be?


The Iraqi Flashpoint

It won't be a military installation or one of Saddam's palaces. It will be a mosque. Remember, this is Ramadan and the last thing we want to be accused of is violating the religious sensibilities of Muslims or insulting the sanctity of Islam. Do you see Hans Blix entering a mosque to inspect it? I don't.

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