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, March 29, 2003
 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXXXII

(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.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you the BLU-82!

But back on message, let’s see if I can let it rip with the Daisy Cutter of 'Common Sense' on Richard Cohen’s 'Road Map' for Colin Powell:

But first, a song:

On the road (map) again,
Dick just can’t wait to get on the road (map) again.
The life he loves is the peace process with his friends,
And Dick can’t wait to get on the road (map) again.

On the road (map) again
Dick goes places that I've never been.
Seeing things like a dreamy utopian,
And Dick can't wait to get on the road (map) again.

On the road (map) again,
Hopeless utopian, he goes down the highway,
With his best of friends.
Insisting that the world keep turning their way.

And their way,
Is on the road (map) again.
Dick just can't wait to get on the road (map) again.
The life he loves is the peace process with his friends,
And Dick can’t wait to get on the road (map) again.

For a time this week I was "embedded" in Secretary of State Colin Powell's office at the State Department.

How “quaint.”

I use the media-military term of the moment…

Media-military. What do you think would be more successful – General Brooks anchoring the evening news or Aaron Brown serving as a staff officer to General Franks?

… because as war is being waged in Iraq, Powell is planning some campaigns of his own.

I should bloody well hope so. Perhaps Secretary Powell is planning on how best to support his boss, rather than undercut him, as Richard desires.

One of them -- maybe the most important -- is to take the Israelis and the Palestinians and knock their heads together.

Yes. Knock heads together – a fine diplomatic technique Richard approves of in all cases. Right? Oh, and nice try at moral equivalence there between the two sides, Dick.

It's about time.

Actually, it’s about land, historical animosity, and – shhh! – religion!

The Bush administration is already on record as favoring the creation of a Palestinian state. It is already on record as demanding that Israel cease building West Bank settlements -- and dismantle some existing ones. It is on record for doing all the right things.

And has received voluminous credit for this stand from, um, well, um, well, uh, Bill Clinton really cared!

Trouble is, it has done none of them.

The Bush administration or Israel?

The failure to deal forthrightly and, in the argot of Washington, robustly with Ariel Sharon and his right-wing government has cost America plenty in the Middle East.

Oh, I see, it’s mostly Sharon’s fault. Boy have I been seeing things the wrong way. Perhaps my inability to reach the same logical conclusion from the facts as Richard Cohen should lead me to reexamine my whole outlook on the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now that Saddam (or someone acting for the deceased or injured Saddam) has adopted the same techniques as Hamas, perhaps I’ve got it all wrong. And what the hell is wrong with all those Israeli’s electing a right-wing government anyway?

The United States is seen as unabashedly in Sharon's corner, which in fact it has been.

This is a classic ruse on the part of Richard Cohen. Note that he can't actually be accused of stating that the US is unabashedly in Sharon's corner, only that they are seen as such. And since perception is reality inside the beltway... Let’s see, we can side with the nation that is a free democracy, side with the nation led by a terrorist tyrant, or stand between them tsk-tsking at both sides. Hmm, that’s a tough one. For Richard Cohen, apparently.

Only recently has the administration said it is serious about getting -- "imposing" is probably the better word -- a plan to end the incessant violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

The administration got serious only recently. Uh huh. Or maybe the US got seriously tired of dealing with the lying terrorist who leads the Palestinians. Maybe the problem here isn’t that the US wasn’t involved, but that it was – at least in a way that refused to accept the reality on the ground.

Before the Israelis and the Palestinians can get their act together, however, the Bush administration will have to do the same.

The hopeless ineptitude of the Bush administration is always taken as a given by Richard Cohen. It’s like a virulent disease amongst the left. They just can’t figure out how such a maroon manages to keep outsmarting them.

At the moment, the State Department, which used to conduct American foreign policy, has been outgunned by the Pentagon, the National Security Council (now with Elliott Abrams) and Dick Cheney, a vice president with very strong views about the Middle East.

The State Department still manages foreign policy, Dick. But they have recently been reminded that they work for the president, and not the other way around. As for the dominance (or outgunning in Richard's too clever by half parlance) of the Pentagon and the NSC, well, yea, that happens in a time of war. Perhaps you saw it Dick, it’s been on TV and in the papers for nine straight days now! And don’t you just love it when Dick reaches into his deep, dank bag of Republican boogey-men (Elliott Abrams in this instance) and pulls one out just to scare the bejezus out of the choir? And finally, what’s the matter – does Mr. Cohen think he’s the only Dick allowed to have “very strong views about the Middle East?”

Suffice it to call them pro-Sharon.

Maybe they are pro-Sharon, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Maybe they are just anti-Arafat, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

For this reason, a certain amount of skepticism is in order.

Since I’m in the middle of a Richard Cohen column, I’m already in full skepticism mode.

So I asked Powell who besides him in the administration favored a plan that would mean going to the mat with Sharon. "The president," he responded quickly.

Shocking! Isn’t it Dick?

I asked if he was certain of that.

Respectful as always. Richard then asked if he was, “really, really certain about it?” And as Secretary Powell’s eyes closed a little as he nodded and took in this further insult to his honor, Richard grew exasperated while completely missing the tense body language of Secretary Powell and asked if he were, “really, really, really certain about it, cross your heart and hope to die?”

"Yeah, I just left him 30 minutes ago and we talked about it," Powell said.

Almost breaking the arms of his finely upholstered chair as his knuckles turned white from his still powerful grip.

"Because I know what some people in the administration think. I also know that there are some, not in the administration but outside, who are saying that he [Bush] wouldn't have done this but for Tony Blair. . . . But he understands that the whole world is going to be looking to him to do something about the Middle East once Iraq has been dealt with."

Of course, the president’s job will be that much harder since most of the whole world will still be hung up about the liberation of Iraq, despite the great outpouring of thanks from the newly liberated people.

The plan is referred to as the "road map," and it asks a lot of both parties.

Whenever you say "road map," remember to say it and act it out as though you were Dr. Evil pronouncing "laser."

The Palestinians would have to end terrorism -- a course already advocated by the new Palestinian prime minister, a moderate named Mahmoud Abbas.

Apparently, asking the Palestinians to give up terrorism is a great hardship for them. Did I read that right?

Still, Yasser Arafat remains the effective head of state and in charge of "national security."

Effective? But don't you actually have to have a nation to be the head of "national security?"

Whether he can or will crack down on Hamas and other terrorist outfits remains to be seen.

Maybe the head cracking should start there first, before condemning Sharon.

Even with the best of intentions -- and who knows Arafat's intentions? -- the Palestinian Authority may now have been so weakened that its wish will be nobody's command.

But it is still Sharon’s fault, eh Dick?

As for Sharon, it's questionable whether his right-wing coalition will even consider the emotional issue of dismantling settlements -- or even if Sharon himself would want to.

He probably won’t until forced to. He’s wrong, but somehow I still find it hard to morally equate building settlements with blowing up pizza parlors. I’m funny that way.

The Israeli leader is a truculent sort who is not given to understatement.

If only Sharon were given to understatement like Richard Cohen’s very model of the modern major leader – Bill Clinton.

After Bush invited Arab and Muslim nations to join the United States in the war against terrorism, Sharon likened that to "the dreadful mistake of 1938" when Czechoslovakia was thrown to Nazi Germany -- in other words, appeasement. Sharon apologized -- but it was the statement, not the apology, that came from his heart.

Yes, it’s so easy to flippantly question motives. No one should ever be allowed to change his mind or accept that he was mistaken. Fortunately for the "road map" Arafat's renunciation of terrorism has been bought hook, line, and sinker. I’m still waiting for Richard Cohen’s columns on Senator Byrd and Senator Hollings for their past mistakes which Richard must clearly feel are unforgivable. Oh darn, I forgot they are Democrats so Dick’s rules don’t apply to them.

In the Arab world, not to mention Europe, the settlements are representative of alleged Israeli oppression and belligerence.

And in the sane world, homicide bombers are representative of Palestinian terrorism and insanity.

Some of this rhetoric is overheated and tinged with anti-Semitism, …

But only some of it, eh Dick?

… but there is no doubt that the seizure of Arab land and the creeping enlargement of Israel into an area forbidden by international law is winning the Jewish state few friends -- not that it had all that many to begin with.

And, of course, it is all about being popular after all.

Powell is determined to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to where they once were -- oh so close to an agreement.

Wouldn’t it be better to bring them to an agreement, rather than leaving them on the doorstep yet again?

As the presidential election nears, it could be Karl Rove as much as Colin Powell who will be making Middle East policy.

This is silly. But that’s redundant at this point.

The longer the plan is delayed, the less likely it will succeed. Powell, after all, may not stick around for a second term.

Richard falls for the Frederick the Great syndrome – only Secretary Powell could possible untie this Gordian knot. But remember, a couple years ago, it was only Bill Clinton that could untie this Gordian knot. And before that it was only Jimmy Carter that could untie this Gordian knot.

Given the makeup of Bush's inner circle, his successor might be someone even to the right of Sharon.

But only if Sharon is facing south.

So it is up to Bush to put his money where his mouth has been.

I’m not going to say it. Oh what the heck – Dick wants Bush to put his money where his mouth is. No, no, I don’t think so.

If Powell is going to be able to crack heads in the Middle East, Bush must first crack heads in his own administration.

Crack heads in the Middle East and crack heads in the Bush administration. Richard uses “crack heads” twice in his final sentence. Hmm, that could explain an awful lot when it comes to this Richard Cohen column.



 

Imagine If This Had Happened 5 Years Ago

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Poor Sissy, Buffy and Jody

If this keeps up, poor old Mr. French -- who is most certainly English -- will be asked to leave, whether he's played by Tim Curry (!!!) or Sebastian Cabot.



 

Postmodern Journalism

Real world objectivity seems to be dying at the BBC (emphasis below is mine):

The bombing does seem to be getting heavier. We've had new territory for the air campaign because we had multiple attacks on the information ministry which is where the BBC's office is. The top floors of the information ministry, which is a building of about 11 or 12 storeys, have been damaged. The equipment is strewn over the floor in several media organisations' offices. Aerials are broken. It's an attack on the journalists here. It's been expected for a long time - we've taken not to going to the information ministry at night because we believed it may be attacked. Even so I think it does take the targeting to a new phase.

So, does this mean that the BBC equates journalism with what comes out of the Iraqi Information Ministry? Has their taxpayer supported status got them a bit confused? Shouldn't the fact that the Iraqi government controls the production and dissemination of "information" give our intrepid reporters some pause? And I'm curious, would the BBC have accepted an office in Berlin throughout WW II if Hitler had offered it to them?

Wouldn't Eric A. Blair and Edward R. Murrow be so proud of the UK's "official" propogandists?



 

Iraqi Regime Ends: Al Qaeda, Media Hit Hardest

Mark Steyn is so much better than I am at this sort of thing.

CNN (Consistently Negative News) continues to be unbearable. In just 45 minutes this morning there were several more dreadful examples. Whether it's Paula Zahn's efforts to keep trying to get an enlisted mother who just gave birth to accept one scenario or another that will require her to abandon her newborn (Ever hear of a general discharge Paula? Or just maybe she will get the requested additional time she mentioned. Or perhaps she'll move into another position within her service that will remove any concern of her being deployed since her husband has already been deployed.); or after days of worrying whether our supply lines are stretched too thin, today's headline is "The Dangers of Waiting;" or the endless comments and questions about the efficacy of a war plan the talking heads neither know nor understand.

Allow me to summarize approximately 90% of the CCN approach to everything the Coalition is doing:
Inquisitive: Has "something" gone wrong ...?
Declarative: "Something" has gone wrong...!
Speculative: If "something" has gone wrong... .
Pejorative: "Something" has gone wrong because "someone" is stupid and/or evil and/or incompetent and/or racist and/or not committed to being subservient to the will of the international community.
Accusative: "Someone" inability to accurately predict the future has caused "something" to go wrong... .
Subjective: I feel "something" has gone wrong... .
Objective: Sorry, no examples available.

I get the feeling that they are all vying to be the one to deliver the next "Cronkite" moment, so they can famously declare for posterity that, "The Iraqi war is no longer winnable."

Bastards.



Thursday, March 27, 2003
 

Big Time

The Guardian runs a nice article listing many relevant warblogs, including The Command Post! And it answers a future trivia question:

For the first time, war has outstripped sex as the most frequent web search term according to internet service Freeserve.

Of course, being The Guardian, they have to finish with:

Meanwhile, my inbox continues to be dominated by messages asking for additions to Guardian Unlimited's guide to anti-war websites.

But, of course.



 

Have You Been Offended Sufficiently Today?

If not, try this.

And then explain it to me.



 

"Blame" Canada

Matt and Trey seemed prophetic in so many, many ways:

A Liberal senator has been thrown into the firestorm of shaky U.S.-Canada relations after the Senate's Debates quoted him shouting "Screw the Americans" during a Senate sitting this week.

This is merely a printable version of the American Ambassador's comments in the movie.



 

Shrinkage Causes Birthrate To Decline

This is news?

Europe shrinking as birthrates decline

My advice is to vacation where the water is warmer.



 

Crushing Dissent

The jack-booted thugs of the United Way at work:

The United Way of Tampa Bay canceled an upcoming event featuring Susan Sarandon after getting three dozen complaints from donors and others about the actor's opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Too bad. But I guess Robyn will just have to miss Ms. Sarandon's Tampa tantrum.



 

A Question On Tactics

Since I have no military training outside of reading a fair amount of history, I have a question for those of you who do. If the Republican Guard is ringing Baghdad, shouldn't we be bombing behind them as much as possible, obliterating the roads and bridges to make it extremely difficult for them to retreat into Baghdad? Is it possible to effectively attack them from the rear with air power and special ops while they are engaged in a frontal assault with as much flanking going on as possible?

Remember Colin Powell's words about the Republican Guard in Gulf War I? He said, "We are going to cut it off, and then we are going to kill it." That looks like the only way to deal with them now.



 

Adopt, Adapt, and Improvise

Despite problems anticipating how truly barbaric the regime would be:

The Army's senior ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, said today that overextended supply lines and a combative adversary using unconventional tactics have stalled the U.S. drive toward Baghdad and increased the likelihood of a longer war than many strategists had anticipated. "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against," Wallace, commander of V Corps, said during a visit to the 101st Airborne Division headquarters here in central Iraq.

Every day, the Coalition gets stronger and Saddam's regime gets weaker. Superior materiel, training, and people will win an overwhelming victory, however anyone wants to measure it. Of course, that still doesn't mean that the efforts, and casualties, taken to limit Iraqi civilian casualties will ever be acknowledged, much less appreciated, by some.



 

Dung-Colored Glasses

Just before All Things Considered today, I was listening to The World (BBC World Service), but not paying too close attention to it, when I heard the following:

... the Coalition forces occupying Kuwait...

Somehow, if the Kuwaiti government had said no to the Coalition, I think we would have respected their decision. We wouldn't have been happy about it and there might have been a diplomatic and economic price to pay, but we wouldn't have "occupied" their country against their will. Apparently, assuming your intellectual opponents are racists with imperial designs is a hard habit to break.



 

Woo Hoo!

I won again. Actually, I tied, yet again. But, let's not be picky.

I fell into a cruder view of things than usual this time, but my homage to BAD's sampling of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly was my favorite.



 

Agony

I'm on the road again for a couple of weeks. Very busy and limited access to the net to do all the things I normally like to do. But what is really painful is being checked into a hotel that does not have FoxNews. I've tried watching CNN, but I cannot take it anymore. Whether it's Larry King interviewing Michael Moore; or Christianne Amanpour emphasizing for the eightieth time in two days that something "completely unexpected" (to her at least) has happened, and this clearly means the allies are not perfect, ergo this is all a humongous mistake; or the obsequious idiocy of Aaron Brown (now there's somebody with a permanent smirk) asking the most inane questions of General Clark (who is making all the Democratic pretenders wet their pants in fear that they may have to debate him); or just the never ending nattering nabobs of negativity who keep insisting that war plan is failing or falling behind schedule when they haven't the faintest bloody clue about what the war plan is -- I'm going through withdrawal of my Iraqi liberation news fix.

And it hurts.



 

I Want Names

I was getting ready for work this morning watching the CentCom briefing when I heard this question:

I mean no disrespect by this question," said a reporter from New York magazine, who asked about the "value" of the CentCom press briefings. "To the extent that we're getting information, it's largely information already released by the Pentagon," Michael Wolf said. "I guess my question is, why should we stay? What's the value to us, for what we learn at this million-dollar press center.”

Well, of course Mr. Wolf meant to be disprespectful, otherwise there wouldn't be a need for the qualifier at the beginning of his pathetic whine. As to what is going on, shouldn’t Mr. Wolf be smart enough to figure that out? I mean, he’s the professional journalist. Does the New Yorker pay him to merely parrot back what he’s been told? But then as the camera switched back to General Brooks …

Other reporters applauded Wolf's question.

Like I said, I want names. I want to know who the disrespectful bastards are that don’t deserve the opportunity to waste any more of CentCom’s time. Identify them and ship the bastards home. By their own admission they can get all their information from the Pentagon. Let someone who can has some investigative skills take their place. Let someone who doesn't automatically assume that General Brooks, General Abizaid, and General Franks act without honor take their place. Let someone who actually knows something about the military take their place.



Monday, March 24, 2003
 

Reality is De-Kofi-nated

All Things Considered mentioned tonight that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is worried about the plight of civilians in Basra. Of course he's worried, but he still won't actually do anything about it. Kind of typifies the whole UN doesn't it?



 

It's All About ...

In this morning's briefing, Ari Fleischer committed a grave sin and called General Frank's great onus, "Operation Iraqi Liberation," instead of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Operation Iraqi Liberation.

Ohmigod! It is all about OIL!





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