Linking to the InstaPundit
Next, I tell you how to heat water to boil eggs. But props to the Insta-man: his comment about Senatorial ethics is cold.
More on Banana Republics
In his piece titled "Our Banana Republics", Paul Krugman was quite heated on the subject of opaque accounting in New Jersey, Tennessee, Alabama, and (shock!) the US Budget as prepared by the Bush Administration. Well, it looks like he needs to extend the list slightly. Look eastward, and pass the fruit.
I Am Not Worthy
The Economist is so good that I may just have to quit reading it. Sure, I know it is brilliantly written and well-informed, but their ability to deliver a subtle yet brutal takedown is awe-inspiring.
I refer to their latest cover, which may appear here. George Bush is walking along, looking over his shoulder to peer with concern at the bob-tailed dog behind him. The caption says "It's the economy, boss".
The first part is easy. We all know that the original expression, courtesy of James Carville, is "It's the economy, stupid". So, who is the Economist calling stupid?
But beyond that, what is up with that dog? It's tail is bobbed, so it's not wagging its tail. Could George Bush be thinking about wagging the dog? Ouch.
They note in their editorial that they endorsed Bush in 2000 and have supported his war on terror. But when these guys take a shot at someone, they hit hard. My advice? Stay on their good side, and hope they never start a blog.
Maureen Dowd Again?
Maureen likes Hollywood again. That took one week. Now, Mo is appraising various Democratic Presidential hopefuls, including Mrs. Clinton. Her big finish picks up on the Eddie Murphy trailer:
"Hollywood prefers actresses under 40, but doesn't mind women over 40 running studios, Senate offices or the country. In the new futuristic Eddie Murphy movie set in the year 2087, Mrs. Clinton was a beloved president long ago. In space, $10,000 bills have her face on them and are known not as dollars, but as Hillaries."
John Kerry, Dem from Massachusetts (NO, not the war hero turned war criminal, that's Bob Kerrey! This is John Kerry, war hero turned GREAT GUY!) unleashes an assault on the English language with this logical explosion, uncorked while criticizing the US tactics in Tora Bora:
"He has been most scathing, however, on Afghanistan, arguing that the Pentagon's decision to rely on Afghan troops instead of American soldiers in the battle of Tora Bora in March probably allowed Mr. bin Laden and his lieutenants to escape.
Asked who should be held accountable for the Tora Bora strategy, Mr. Kerry points to the president. "If you are the skipper of the ship, and the ship runs aground while you are asleep in your stateroom, you are relieved of duty, no excuse," he said."
Well, hold the phone! First of all, anyone trying to skipper a ship through the mountains of Tora Bora deserves whatever hideous fate befalls them. But more importantly, what about that other John from Massachusets, John Kennedy? His ship sank, didn't it?
And seriously, folks, this sort of second-guessing is at best ludicrous and at worst dangerous. The war in Afghanistan was live improvisation. If Bush had sat around waiting for the perfect, fool-proof plan, we would still be waiting for the attack to begin. The military developed sensible plans, implemented them, evaluated the results, and adapted. The Tora-Bora plan was subsequently identified as relying too heavily on local troops, and in a later attack (Operation Snipe), greater use was made of American and British forces.
Now, if Kerry is arguing that no reasonable person could ever have imagined the Tora Bora plan to be plausible, well, good for him. I guess the Pentagon wasn't watching the Psychic Network that weekend. But at the time, there seemed to be sound reasons to prefer local troops who knew the terrain, thereby sparing American casualties. After the fact, the plan didn't work. Is Kerry seriously arguing that it failed because of lax, inadequate planning, that Bush was "asleep" in the stateroom? Does Kerry seriously believe that Bush should resign, or that a general should be sacked? This is a dangerous road to "paralysis by analysis": if ex-post perfection is the objective, the Pentagon will never do anything.
Kerry was, per the NY Times, one of the 45 Democratic Senators "voting against letting Mr. Bush's father use force to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait". He is also a decorated Vietnam veteran turned anti-Vietnam war organizer. So it is possible that Pentagon paralysis is exactly Kerry's objective. But if you think the football team should pack up and go home, just say so; this Monday morning quarterbacking where you criticize the play selection on third down is disingenuous.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan dumps on Kerry too, but not nearly as viciously as your truly.
Getting to Know You
A special link for those hoping to learn about The MinuteMan. It all comes clear now. And what a great alias.
Oh, this is terrific. Here we get a glimpse of the sensitive side of Jeff Hauser.
Ooops. Now Hauser gives us the bird.
Clinton and the Corporate "Culture of Crime"
So, did the ethical challenges of our former President contribute to a corporate "culture of crime"? Some have argued this to be the case; if I had any pretense to intellectual honesty or consistency, I think I could find examples of The MinuteMan arguing that point. But here are someone else's Deep Thoughts:
"To be honest, much as I would like to blame Bill Clinton for the financial scandals of the last few months, intellectual honesty forbids it. Clinton did many bad things, but the idea that he's responsible for the bad acts of WorldCom or Enron just doesn't scan.
Corporate executives do not commit crimes because the president of the United States commits crimes. They don't behave recklessly because the president behaves recklessly. Indeed, CEOs probably became a bit more careful about taking the Nestea plunge into the intern pool after witnessing Bill Clinton's troubles. But the idea that some CEO okayed the transfer of debts into the earnings column because of Bill Clinton's presidency is just plain silly."
Well, my marching orders are clear - when Jonah Goldberg speaks, I listen.
If You Missed the InstaPundit Link
Here is an interesting thought about a baseball strike and the upcoming elections. Since he is a former owner, I don't see how a strike helps Bush. Some NY sportswriters are actually calling for presidential involvement in the baseball situation. Bizarre? Well, FDR did encourage baseball to continue during WWII, and we are at war now....
Shocking Drug Bust in Tulia, Texas
Bob Herbert of the Times recaps a shocking drug bust in Tulia. Briefly, in July 1999, 43 people in Tulia (pop 5000) were arrested as drug dealers, essentially on the word of one undercover cop. Most of those arrested were black, and suspicions that the local police had targeted the black community were rampant. The national media ignored this story for a year, but now it is getting some attention. The ACLU, the NAACP, and various drug-law reform groups have been involved.
For additional information beyond Herbert's column, CNN has a piece from Oct. 10, 2000. The Austin Chronicle ran a long, detailed piece called "The Color of Justice". Perhaps the most interesting side character to emerge from this story is Tulia school board member Gary Gardner. Gardner looks and, according to the reporter, talks like a racist redneck sent over from Central Casting. However, he has tussled with local law enforcement for years on behalf of his own Mexican workers, and was one of the first to criticize these arrests, reminding us yet again of the old rule that if you are in a hurry to make generalizations, you are in a hurry to make mistakes.
The Texas Observer, a small independent newspaper, standing tall as they watch their story go national. Could be any blogger.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal on the fate of several bills that were introduced in the Texas State Legislature in response to the Tulia arrests. And here is a second reform. The second reform was an attempt to ban uncorroborated testimony by a peace officer. This was watered down to "informant", but advocates are in a "half a loaf" mode in this story.
And could we end without a nod to Arianna Huffington? She denounces the whole thing.
An intriguing theory mentioned in one of these stories explains a peculiar discrepancy: The arrests were often for powdered cocaine, but most of the users were crack smokers. The allegation? That the undercover cop bought a few bags of powdered coacaine, cut them (OK, diluted them, get with the party) into many bags of now-weak cocaine, and introduced them as evidence. Motive? Cash. He is reimbursed for many bags of coke, when his real expense is a few bags of coke and a lots of baby powder and wall gypsum. It would sound crazy if another undercover informant had not been busted for exactly that.
So, did the system work? These arrests seem to be a disasterous confluence of a drug war run amok and some local rednecks run amok. Is the sytem working now? Well, there have been minor changes in the drug laws, the Governor is being pressured to pardon some people, and even the people (and prosecutor) in Tulias seem to be wondering just what they have done. But the situation is an outrage.
And what do we do? Nathan Newman has a short post on this subject. I'm not interested in approaching this as a "Right vs. Left" question; I think we are talking about "Right vs. Wrong". But Newman is an activist lawyer, and may have some good ideas about who to write to, and support. Go bug him.
Coal Miners Rescued
Nothing in this story will refute an atheist arguing that the success of this rescue can be attributed entirely to the hard work, ingenuity, and optimism of a bunch of heroes. But anyone looking for evidence of Providential guidance will find a lot in this story too.
As a strange postscript, did anyone not love Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker? He had been Lt. Governor, and stepped up when Tom Ridge went to Washington. However, he has already announced that he will not seek re-election this fall. Too bad - a good man is hard to find, to paraphrase Mae West.
Hiding in Plain Sight
The always-interesting (and Krugman approved!) Josh Marshall awards a prize today for the first to argue thusly:
"Someone had to argue that the recent stock market skid wasn't the cause of congress's new anti-corporate corruption bill, but rather its result."
J Marsh gives the prize to the hapless "Dow 36,000" author James Glassman for a Weekly Standard piece dated Aug. 5.
But c'mon, Josh! Check out the Wall Street Journal from July 22:
"Since President Bush unleashed the political furies on the private sector with his speech on July 9, stocks on the Dow have fallen by about 13.5%, including another 4.6% on Friday. This can only mean that investors are demanding more regulation, more punitive laws and more anti-business rhetoric, right?
Believe it or not, that's what some people with allegedly above-average IQs are writing. The truth is closer to the opposite, with investors now discounting not just for market risk but for a new and dangerous element of political and regulatory risk. With Congress in a stampede, and Mr. Bush abdicating veto oversight, the law of unintended consequences is in the saddle riding events."
I suspect I could find similar lamentations from Jonah Goldberg at NRO, but since he never links to me, why should I link back?
So hold the prize, Josh. The winner is hiding in plain sight.
UPDATE: I relent and link to Jonah, and I hope they can handle the traffic. He doesn't blame the current stock slide on the current corporate reform effort, but he does argue that "time may tell" that we are going to far. Clear winner so far: WSJ.
Get Out the Decoder Rings
The Times has front page stories on welfare reform and our plans for a strike against Iraq. Kaus seem to have the full decoder set for welfare reform, so, without even checking, I predict a comment eventually, although these Left Coasters often need a cup of coffee to get going. As to Iraq, the sourcing will be interesting. The State Dept. and many military men prefer a "wait and see" approach with Sadaam. Some civilian adventurers in the Pentagon (read "Wolfowitz") want Sadaam now. Who leaked, and why? I may even offer my own humble opinion after I finish some morning chores.
UPDATE: One day later, Mickey Kaus fills a page with his "Quickie Nina B. Talking Points" on welfare reform. Full analysis to follow? How much more can we take?
Movie Review: Minority Report
It's doing huge box office, and the critics loved it, but here is my minority report: don't bother. I like to think that I have a good capability for suspending disbelief (Bush supporter!) and I don't even demand internal consistency in sci-fi movies. For example, the logic of the "Terminator" movies doesn't stand up to a great deal of scrutiny, but the logic is clearly just a plot device to trigger a kick-ass adventure. However, "Minority Report has at its core a murder mystery, and I expect a who-dunnit to play by the rules, even if it initially makes up a few of them. By that measure, this movie is frustratingly inconsistent, and for large stretches the viewer is left wondering how what they are seing now could possibly jibe with what they saw twenty minutes ago. Spielberg spent a lot of money and delivers some great visuals. He also had a very intiguing premise. Too bad he decided to stop making sense.
Michael Pine is Dreaming Out Loud
But this nightmare won't end so easily. The estimable Mr. Pine, in an otherwise laudable plea for responsible black leadership, hopes that Al Sharpton's "drug bust" tape will derail Sharpton's Presidential bid in 2004. Time to wake up, Mike. We are talking about Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton. His constituency will see right through this transparent set-up by "The Man", as the urban legend grows.
But you are right to worry. The 2004 race for the Democratic Presidential nomination will be "The Tale of Two Als". Sharpton, a witty, telegenic quote machine with a racially divisive message based on slavery reparations, will energize the ethnic component of the Democratic base, and then threaten to keep them home for the general election unless his demands are met. Can the Democrats negotiate with this Al without frightening independent voters?
Meanwhile, Al Gore will be relying on his name recognition, fund raising network, "Rage Against the Machine" populism of 2000, and a record as the most sucessful Democratic vote-getter ever for his 2004 run. With a front loaded Primary schedule, will a sucessful challenger have time to emerge?
I have seem my cat struggling with a hairball, so I have a good idea of what to expect as the Democrats attempt to cough up a candidate in 2004. Worrying about Al Sharpton is just the beginning.
Did You Get Something Special for That Special Someone?
It's Valentine's Day in July, judging from this adoring appraisal of Colin Powell on the front page of Thursday's Times. We turn to Sullivan for insight into the Times dark motives - why this news-free puff piece, why now? Sully notices the piece, but doesn't deliver the motive.
Well, fine. I have removed the tin-foil lining from my Yankees cap, and am in touch with the conspiracy. By happy coincidence it is linked to the "Why Iraq? Why Now" debate that has broken out in advance of Senate hearings next week, and which I comment on below. We know Powell is very cautious about military action against Iraq. The Times is annointing him as the fount of all wisdom to bolster a "go slow" agenda. And, if Powell comes out swinging against Sadaam, he is simply being a loyal team player toeing the Bush line. The Times wins either way. JustOneGuess, but that is one more guess than Sullivan provides.
UPDATE: In the Sunday Editorials, the Times tips their hand a bit:
"The Bush foreign policy agenda is filled with issues that Mr. Powell is ideally suited to address, including the ongoing war against terrorism, efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and the pending decision about how to deal with Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush will need Mr. Powell's help if he hopes to secure international support for a confrontation with Iraq."
Jason Has Questions. We Have Answers.
Jason Rylander excerpts a James Carrol piece from the Boston Globe and call for a debate on our war aims with respect to Saddam Hussein. For a comprehensive look at this, Josh Marshall of Talking Points has an article in the Washington Monthly, as well as two supplementary posts from his blog. The posts make a nice summary, and here is the money quote:
"But along the way I came to an unexpected and for me troubling conclusion. I decided that the hawks were right. By that I mean that containment isn't working and that what the right-wingers like to call 'regime change' really should be our national policy. And, if necessary, we should do it by overwhelming military force."
Jason, I hope this helps answer these questions, and I completely agree that Congress and the President need to make this case strongly and clearly to the American people and the world. Tony Blair seems to be doing so already.
UPDATE: Two chaps from the Brookings Institution offer their thoughts on a war with Iraq in Thursday's Times. After a review of the risks and benefits, they offer their big finish:
"There is a case to be made that these costs are worth sustaining. But if so, we need Mr. Bush to make it. He has not yet done so."
Whoa, I don't want to be with these guys when they are ordering lunch. "There is a case to be made for the tuna salad. The lasagna, while perhaps tasty, exposes one to the risk of a stained neck-tie. On the other hand...".
C'mon, guys, fish, cut bait, what?
UPDATE 2: So many updates! The Brothers Judd wrestle with our friends from Brookings.
"Friends of Torture
The Bush administration is opposing an amendment to the International Convention Against Torture that would send out inspectors to ensure that countries are not torturing prisoners. This puts us in good company. The only other nations opposing the amendment are China, Iran, India and Cuba.
That's some company we've got there. I think TalkLeft has it right when they ask-- "Excuse us, but what exactly are we hiding down in Guantanamo Bay?"
Let me take a shot at this. First of all, the International Red Cross is monitoring the camp. Secondly, Al-quaeda, we presume, is trying to regroup. At this point, I suspect that they are having a difficult time figuring out who is dead, who is simply missing, in hiding, or out of contact, and who has been captured by the U.S. for interrogation. If Al-quaeda leaders could get a reliable roster of the detainees at Guantanomo, it might help them evaluate the types of information which the U.S. might be getting, based on the information available to the Al-quaeda detainees. Accurate guesses as to what we might have learned could help them revise or improve current plans.
So, will the UN inspectors keep quiet about who they meet? If I were commanding U.S. troops, I wouldn't risk one soldier's life on it. And if some of that information is available through other channels, well, the fewer the channels the fewer the leaks.
I think that is a strong enough case there, but I will add another point. Control of information is apparently vital in interogating prisoners. The UN inspector arrives: "Your brother is doing well. Your cousin sends his regards". Ooops. We didn't want the prisoner to know that. Again, why trust the UN and risk American lives?
Well, that's just my guess as to what we might be hiding down in Guantanamo. What was your guess, again?
UPDATE: The plan moves forward despite US objections. And why do we oppose it? According to the Times, it's not just Guantanamo, but an odd "states's rights" objection. The US can't negotiate a treaty that might allow the UN into state-run prisons? Seems very legalistic. However, this proposed protocol is a side agreement to the international convention against torture, and what do we learn about that?
"The [American] official also said there was no question of withdrawing support for the convention on torture itself, which he called "an important human rights instrument." The United States, which signed the convention during the Clinton administration, is the largest contributor to a United Nations fund to aid torture victims."
"Friends of Torture"? Please.
Pursuing the Evildoers
The House and Senate agree on a deal to address corporate wrong-doing. Here is a clever compromise:
"The final congressional measure, agreed to earlier on Wednesday, preserved most of the stricter auditing oversight sought by the Democratic Senate but also with the stiffer penalties passed by the Republican House".
And can Treasury Secretary O'Neil deliver a sound-bite? How about this, on Moneyline:
"I'm very glad that the members of Congress have now come to an agreement to send a bill to President... It's the lock on the barn door."
Oh, good, we locked the barn door. Now I have to see a man about a horse.
Fire Up The Base!
The House passes a partial birth abortion ban. OK, it has been a Republican agenda item for years, and we have an August recess and a fall election, but still: if someone thinks that this makes me forget about corporate malefactors, and the weird economy, and Norm Mineta, and Sadaam Hussein, well, I haven't forgotten. But I do seem to have forgotten where I put my checkbook.
Boo the InstaPundit!
Oh, go ahead and strike me dead, I'm too busy to blog much in the next few days (years?) anyway. But what is up with this, from Insta-man?
"JASON RYLANDER has very handsomely revised and extended his remarks on Congressional pay raises in light of the fact that I had said the exact opposite of the view he attributed to me. He also addresses Jeff Hauser's claim that it's not a raise, but a COLA. I don't buy that either. I got a three percent raise this year, which was basically a COLA, but it was called a "raise." Everyone (not just conservative Congress-bashers, of which Hauser too seems to think I am one) has been calling this a pay raise."
So, c'mon, Glenn, your linker is broken? The link to Jason Rylander is working, no, it can't be that your linker is broken. You want to rebut Hauser, link to Hauser. Man, I feel like I'm reading a NY Times column, not the best damn blog in Tennessee.
Now, at the risk of adding something sensible to this discussion, why are we giving Congresspeople "Cost of Living" adjustments pegged to inflation? Aren't they among the leaders in the fight for a sound currency, and the battle against inflation? Surely a "COLA" is a perverse incentive, and I certainly hope Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's contract doesn't include one.
UPDATE: NO, I don't intend to e-mail Insta-man with this complaint. I'm way too busy and not nearly that stupid.
UPDATE 2: Wow, how did he know? The link to Hauser now appears in its proper place, and my respect (oh, go ahead and say it) and awe are restored.
Israeli Strike in Gaza Kills a Hamas Leader and Fouteeen Others
This story and the followup has made the front page of the Times two days running. My quick survey of the blogosphere showed very little reaction at all. The Oooold Crow gave us :
"One more terrorist is taking the eternal celestial dirtnap.
Henry Hanks // 11:42 AM"
This doesn't seem to fully explore the issues, although there is a "reap what you sow" attitude implied here that I can get behind. However, my "thought-through" reaction is that of Michael Pine, if I were thinking and writing clearly, and who has the time?
My only quibble with the Pine piece? He closes with "The Israeli government continues to think tactically, rather than strategically...". I do not think (and I suspect Mr. Pine does not think) that the Israeli governnment is monolithic on the subject of how best to deal with Hamas, and offer this article in evidence.
UPDATE: OK, I lack patience. The blogosphere is now humming with this. Instapundit provides links to Alterman, the Bear, and many others.
We Interrupt This Blog...
To bring you the following announcement: due to the impending arrival of friends and family, I will almost surely be blog-free for several days. However, I would like to leave you with a long-ish "think piece" I have been working on. It is amusing and insightful, topical yet timeless, and weaves together, I might say effortlessly, the Bush Administration Election 2002 strategy, the history of the Middle East, ideas for African development, and my thoughts on cyronics, Ted Williams, and the attempted colonization of Mars. I simply need to update a few links and.....
Hey, "Blogger" shouldn't do that! And what kind of a message is this: "File Not Found. Not Now, Not Ever, Never!". Do they think this is funny? Do they see me smiling? And what is that car rolling up the driveway? They are like, two hours early! This is not my morning. Well, another time, perhaps.
Krugman Dons His Economist's Hat
Krugman played political strategist, attacking Bush with "The Angry People". He played climatologist, attacking Bush with "Elvis and You". He played SEC investigator, attacking Bush with his rehashing of the Harken Energy scandal. And now he would like to imagine that his credibility as an objective observer of the macroeconomic scene is intact, as he attacks Bush yet again. Oh, dear.
If I may summarize:
The economy is down, but not out. The Fed should cut rates. OK. And we need fiscal stimulus now, but fiscal restraint later. Since the Bush tax cut is back-ended, it is a terrible idea. Economic circumstances have changed, it is time for Bush's plan to change with them.
Well, what do we think? Back when the government was predicting surpluses, Krugman thought that this tax cut was a bad idea. Now that we are looking at deficits, he thinks it is a bad idea. The predictions of surplus and deficit don't seem to be particularly stable over time. Two things are stable: Bush supports this tax cut, and Krugman opposes it. And I suppose a third thing is stable: Krugman does not impress me as objective.
OK, Let the Dogs Out On This
Lynn likes grammar puzzles. Well, I have been plagued for several days by a word problem, to wit, "canny" and "uncanny". No fair using a dictionary: I think "canny" is crafty, shrewd, knowledgeable. "Uncanny" is crafty or capable in a way that surpassses the understanding of us mere mortals. However, the two words are clearly not opposites, and a casual writer might use them interchangeably, as in "The uncanny Mickey Kaus today salutes the canny Andrew Sullivan...".
So, my question. Regardless of "irregardless", are there other "word - unword" pairings with a comparable "near-synonym" status? I have been bugged by this for several days, and need help. Thanks.
UPDATE: Valuable, invaluable; estimable, inestimable. OK.
UPDATE 2: Lynn (Un)Leashed offers flammable / inflammable. And what's this about "uncouth"? I lose my couth all the time.
Working for TIPS, and More
Charles Murtaugh does a round-up of the NY Times Week in Review, and Operation TIPS. Gee, he didn't seem to like Maureen Dowd either (see below). But he does notice that the right wing is weighing in against TIPS, the proposed citizen-volunteer "I Spy" program.
Totally overlooked in the TIPS debate: Just prior to the 9/11 hijackings, many of the conspirators were reveling in a strip club. Not my cup of tea, but if duty calls, shouldn't more guys be stepping up their surveillance of this kind of action in order to serve their country?
How Screwed is Bush? Wonders Andrew Sullivan
And how screwed is Sullivan's calendar, we wonder. Mine, and I suspect Karl Rove's, still says it's 2002. All the big dates circled in red on Karl's calendar are in 2004, with a big finish tabbed for November 2. So yes, it would be nice for Bush if the Republicans in Congress could hold up well this fall. But Bush's domestic agenda seems to have run out of steam and he might do fine as a counterpuncher, battling Congressional Democrats and "Fighting for the Right". This worked, in a mirror image way, for Wild Bill. So, how screwed are the Republicans? Good question. How screwed is Bush? Way, way too early to tell.
Maureen Dowd Buys a Copy of "TV Guide"
In her latest column, "Big Mo" discovers that Hollywood exploits sex and violence. Remarkably, for a Times editorialist, there is no clarion call for greater government regulation, thus allowing "Mo" to neatly sidestep the dependence of the Democratic Party on Hollywood cash. Her one interesting point:
"A recent study in The Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that people who watch shows drenched in sex and violence can remember only the sex and violence, not the ads. If companies take that to heart, they may decide to advertise on more sober shows, like PBS's "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," where their products would shine more vividly."
Nice to see her new commitment to free markets. Now, how long until her column resumes the knowing references to "Sex in the City", and "The Sopranos"?
Sgt. Schulz! Maybe You'd Like to be Sent to the Northern Front!
To help fight in our "War on Drugs". The Canadians may follow the lead of the British, and decriminalize marijuana. And what's this? Vancouver, with its lax drug enforcement, is compared to Amsterdam? Hey, I thought all my friends were going there for the skiing!
The French Have a Word For It
According to Frenchmen discussing the relative military capabilities of Europe and the U.S., the French and British are actually quite martial. However, some of the other European countries, who flee from military power and its responsibilities, are described by the French as "les Woodstockians".
And in another demonstration of the narrowing gap between ourselves and our allies, consider this comment by Pascal Lamy, the European Union trade commissioner and, evidently, prospective right wing blogger:
"Stop pretending that the United States and Europe share a common view of the world, recognize we have different world views and interests and then manage our relations." To Americans, he said, "Europeans seem a bunch of unprincipled wimps who complain and embrace multilateralism out of weakness, because unilateralism is out of reach." ...[Mr. Kagan's article] "pushes the debate to the next question: how far will Europeans go to defend their rule-based systems? Will we take risks, lose lives and pay more? That's the real question, which we Europeans have carefully organized ourselves not to ask."
He hears us! All this and more in a fascinating Times article.
It's Summertime, and a Middle-Aged Man's Fancy
Turns to thoughts of.... lawncare? Well, yes. Sorry, ladies. Victor Davis Hanson of NRO tells us how to brighten the tedium of uprooting dandelions by pretending each one is a member of Al-quaeda. Oh, you know he didn't; he presents an extended metaphor comparing Johnsonweed, which apparently overran vineyards in California at one time, with our fight against Al-quaeda. Strike at the roots! Go after Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Libya! But hold on. Hanson knows a lot more about military history, and apparently weed history, than I do. But I read NRO. Surely he left out some roots?
Oh, here it is:
"We should seek out more liberal members of the Saudi royal family and explain to them that democratic reform alone can now prevent the collapse of their entire regime."
Oh, OK. Better explain it slowly.
Another thriller in the Bronx on Sunday, as 55,000 screaming maniacs head for home delighted with the Yankees 9-8 victory over their dreaded AL East rivals, the Red Sox. The Red Sox show good character by twice overcoming deficits and taking the lead, but reveal their true character in a thrilling bottom of the ninth.
The Yankees are trailing 8-7 to start the bottom of the ninth. The Stadium is rocking as the crowd stands and pleads for a rally. Jason Giambi works back from an 0-2 count to tap a checked-swing single down the left field line on a 3-2 pitch; Enrique Wilson comes in to run for him. Bernie Williams then singles to right. First and third, nobody out? NO! Rightfielder Trot Nixon chooses this moment to pay a personal homage to '86 Series goat Bill Buckner by allowing the ball to roll under his glove and back to the right field wall. The two base error allows Wilson to score from first as Williams chugs into third.
Holy Cow! Score tied at 8, a man on third, nobody out. The Sox elect to intentionally walk the next two batters and load the bases. Then, with the Stadium in bedlam, the Sox show that this "walk" idea can be taken to far by walking Jorge Posada on a 3-2 pitch, forcing Williams in from third. "Start spreading the word. I'm leaving today. I want to be a part of it..." as a full house roars its approval.
A great three game set that exceeded the hype. And how can the Sox lift "The Curse"? Got me. Maybe spread Ted Williams' ashes, or ice chips, around Fenway. But talk about a good team that is not quite good enough...
UPDATE: Can we get some quotes, please? How about from Jeff Weaver, a newly acquired Yankee from the Tigers. Weaver tied a Yankee record by giving up five homers and then sat in the dugout to watch as his teammates bailed him out of the "L":
"If you struggle and your team pulls you through, that's what it's all about," said Weaver, who failed to protect leads of 5-1 and 7-6. "That's the best three games I've seen in professional baseball, no doubt about it."
And from Red Sox manager and baseball fan at heart, Grady Little:
"You can call them heartbreakers if you want to, but this was one of the most exciting weekends I've ever spent in the game of baseball."
The Yankess are hosting the Boston Red Sox in a critical, yet simultaneously meaningless battle in the AL East.
Top of the ninth, tie score, bases loaded, two outs, Doug Mirabelli batting for the Sox: stand up and cheer, fans, this is why you bought a ticket. Baseball doesn't get much more exciting. Ooops, pop-up to Jeter. Onward....
Top of the eleventh, tie score, bases loaded, two outs, Doug Mirabelli batting for the Sox: OK, baseball is supposed to be timeless, but this is more like a time-warp. Tap it back to the pitcher, Doug, great job.
And finally, bases loaded in the bottom of the eleventh with one out for Robin Ventura of the Yanks. Just a ground ball to second, but enough to score Soriano, so it's the Ventura Highway for the Sox. Don't turn down the sound if you're watching at home or you'll miss "I want to be a part of it....". Another great day of Yankee baseball, showing Friday's result was just a fluke.
There have been some questions about what we laughingly call an "editorial policy" around here, so, to set the record straight, here is JustOneRule, and some addendum, presumptuously offered as a guide to bloggers everywhere.
There are no strangers here, as Will Rogers reminds us, just friends we haven't met yet.
Simple, huh? But a little supplementation might be helpful, so:
A. "Be nice, and have fun". If you can't manage both, you pretty much have to tip towards "Have Fun". But if you are encountering this conflict a lot, you might want to look into your heart.
B. "Attack the idea, not the person". I know some wonderful people with some wonderfully daft ideas, so the distinction is worth maintaining. However, it is important to note the limitations to this "Attack the idea" concept. At a cocktail party, many a raving knucklehead who can not seem to grasp your subtle yet irrefutable logic can be silenced by a sharp blow to the solar plexus. Worth remembering, especially if you are wearing your track shoes and the wife remembered the Mace.
C. "Keep your sense of humor". Remember - someday, somebody somewhere will be laughing, or snorting derisively, at one of your opinions. So you may as well laugh at someone else's right now. Carpe diem!
D. "Don't come between a person and their tirade". There are therapeutic rants all over the blogosphere, sometimes even sneaking into otherwise serious posts. You sort of spoil the fun by dissecting these rants in a spirit other than the one in which they were offered, and you know how we feel about "Having Fun". Any exceptions? Sure: for otherwise responsible journalists, or anyone who attempts to seriously defend their own fevered ravings, anything goes.
E. "E is for e-mail: privacy, please". If you send me something with a juicy, red-hot, smoking gun, career ending quote, you know I will be tempted to post it. However, I will respect your privacy and would be ever so grateful if you could reciprocate.
Simple rules, really. And other than (E), don't hold me to them: a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Nice weekend, all.
More Evidence That I Am Not Quite Dumb Enough...
to be a Professional Golf Executive.
From today's Times, "Don't Stretch a Course; Tighten It, we learn that:
"JUDGING by what's happening at Muirfield in the 131st British Open, the Masters and the United States Open made a mistake this year in adding length for the sake of length.
The increased length was supposed to make it more difficult for Tiger Woods and the other 300-yard sluggers. Instead, it made it easier for Woods to win both major tournaments because of golf's titanium theory of reverse relativity: the longer the yardage at Augusta National and the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, the fewer golfers in serious contention."
Really? Making a course longer doesn't make it harder for long hitters? Knock me over with a feather. Or better yet, hit me in the head with a nine-iron, so I can qualify for a job at Augusta.
Still "Aloha" to Harken Energy
We predicted its death. Now, a humble word search at the Times and the WaPo for "aloha harken" turns up nothing since we commented on 7/14. You don't care? Neither does Nathan Newman.
UPDATE: Sunday, July 21: If you want to create more cars in a minute than Detroit can produce in a month, just say the magic words: "I think we'll be on time. I can't believe traffic is so light." Works with Harken Energy, too. Apparently, the WaPo has a story on it. Well, they may be on this 24/7, but I'm covering this 2/5. Don't they have a ballgame to watch, or anything? I'll try again Monday, but leave you with this damning quote from the Center for Public Integrity:
"[The documents]...do not unambiguously resolve the question of what Bush knew about Harken's reporting of the sale."
The trifecta, that is. Oh, c'mon, you remember the Bush trifecta: Bush claims to have said his economic plan would not result in deficits except in the case of war, national emergency, or recession, and now we have all three. Critics have said "Bush is lying, when did he say it?". We have covered this whole ghastly mess before.
And why are we back? Well, an alert reader writes in "Hey, MinuteThing, "Spinsanity" is back with the trifecta, what about you?" Well, good point. Both Spinsanity and The Daily Howler are howling about the trifecta again, so why shouldn't we? (The Howler mentions the trifecta in a long story from July 16 titled "New Morning", but I can't figure out their timestamps.)
OK, so back to my questions: for Brendan at Spinsanity, my original question had been: are you still comfortable with the "Bush is lying" spin? We are making great progress here, as this evolution suggests:
Spinsanity, June 18: "It takes a brazen politician to make up a story that can be proven false and then to keep lying about it after being busted repeatedly."
Spinsanity, June 20: "...even if it was, it doesn't negate the "trifecta" lie Bush has been pushing."
Spinsanity, July 2 Update: "When questioned about Gore's statement by the Post's Glenn Kessler, Bush economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay said the exceptions would apply to Bush as well. But there is still no evidence that Bush "told the American people" this during the campaign as he has claimed, either in Chicago or in general."
Spinsanity, July 17. lead: "President Bush may finally stop repeating his fictitious "trifecta" story for good due to growing national press coverage..."
Spinsanity, July 17, body of report: "senior Bush advisors have asked the President to stop repeating his undocumented and unsupported claim"
BINGO! The claim is "undocumented and unsupported", other than by Bush aides, and who believes them? But there is a general agreement that it was, in fact, part of Bush's economic plan during the campaign.
So, Brendan, as an "accuracy in media" guy, would you care to comment on your earlier "Bush lies" coverage, and perhaps modify the "fictitious story" lead in your July 17 piece? I'll grant that the heated rhetoric may have helped move the story, and I'm not really the type to sit in my glass house and urge restraint on others. On the other hand, you are a serious journalist, whereas I am a serious a**.... well, that's not coming out right. Let's say that as a serious journalist, you should aim for a high standard of accuracy. And, as a leader on this story, I think a correction, or clarification, from you would help set straight a big part of the blogosphere, as I can recall seeing the "Bush lies about trifecta" theme repeated elsewhere. So, how about it?
And speaking of the blogosphere, what about our friend Ben Domenech? Ben offered a mysterious document supporting Bush's position as the fruits of a Westlaw search. However, no one else seems to be able to find the document, and Ben admits it doesn't seem to be accurate. So, some of us still wonder whether Ben has a Westlaw signifier for the document, or any help at all in resolving this particular database mystery. It does leave the rest of us scratching our heads as we do these google searches and imagine that we can rely on what we come up with. And more importantly, if we can clear up this little cloud, then we pretty much have a Clean Sweep for the Right on this "trifecta". Oh, sure, I'm strutting a little now, but if Ben can clear this up I'll bring out the full frolic with backflip. My secret hope, anyway.
So, questions for Brendan, questions for Ben. I cannot seem to find Ben's e-mail at his site, so I am posting this without a "heads-up" to Ben. Hideous breach of etiquette, and I apologize. I am relying on "Murphy's Law", which in this case suggests that roughly five minutes after posting this I will find Ben's e-mail and look like a darn fool. Again. Today. But we get used to it.
So, questions for everyone. The truth is out there.
UPDATE: Oh, fine, a Clean Sweep would be videotape of Bush saying it to Tim Russert and Dan Rather before a cheering crowd at Wrigley Field. I'll settle for "not a lie".
UPDATE 2: NEVER underestimate "Murphy's Law". I finally find Ben's contact info, cleverly concealed under "Contact". Man, maybe I need new contacts. I send him a little note and BOOM - recipient has exceeded his storage limit, mail can not be delivered. Some days chicken salad, some days chicken shit.
Religion in America
He may call himself "The Man Without Qualities", but to us, Robert Musil is simply "The Man". On Thursday he had a fascinating post on religion and the Founding Fathers. The Jefferson Bible? Who knew.
Link to his archives? C'mon, this is "Blogger", none of these archives are working! I'll link to his front page, look near the top.