Furball - So on the one hand, local Republicans are crying "foul" over Alec Baldwin being in town to raise money for Paul Wellstone. He's engaged in anti-Republican hate speech, say Republicans.
Democrats respond "But, it was all a joke!".
Well, so was Reagan's "we begin bombing in five minutes" quip. Did anyone cut him a break?
I Don't Like Mondays... - I'm in the midst of getting a big software design release packed up and off to our programmers in a third world country. Canada in this case.
Very, very buried.
But I'll make up for it the rest of this week.
...Except - Springsteen is tonight. So this particular Monday's not so bad.
Expect a full report tomorrow.
Why Iraq? - People ask many questions about the apparently-looming invasion of Iraq. Perhaps the best one is "why Iraq at all?"
There are many states in the region that are tied to terrorism. Syria, Iran and North Korea all been intimately linked with state-sponsored terror. Iran is also involved in supporting resistance to our efforts in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, large parts of Saudi, Yemeni, Pakistani, Somali, Sudanese and Algerian society actively support terror, including an incriminatingly-large piece of the Saudi royal family.
So why not invade them?
So many reasons. Where to start?
Saudi Arabia: There's a sort of simplistic moral calculus to the notion of attacking Saudi Arabia. Parts of the House of Saud actively support terror, and most of the September 11 hijackers were Saudis. The Saudi military is tiny. Why not attack them?
Because it'd make our problems in that part of the world vastly worse. Bin Laden used our presence as invited defenders of Saudi Arabia in the birthplace of the Moslem world as grounds for his anti-Americanism. What do you think'd happen if we conquered Saudi Arabia by force? The sight of Marines guarding the Qa'ba in Mecca would sit about as well with Moslems as the notion of Arab terrorists occupying Manger Square would with Christians...er, wait. Maybe the Vatican is a better example.
And if we invaded them, we'd still have Iraq, WMDs and all, to deal with.
But we don't have to do that. Saudi power is not military, it's economic; namely, oil. And if we have bases in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and, soon, Iraq, then Saudi access to the world oil market is completely at our pleasure. We'll control the House of Saud without firing a shot.
Iran: The fiscal paper trail leads directly from Iran to Hamas, Jamiyat-e-Islami, and many other world terrorist groups. Why not invade them?
Two reasons: First, Iran is more populous than Afghanistan, and almost as mountainous. Militarily, it'd be a lot to bite off. But - second -
we don't have to. There are signs, as I noted in this space yesterday, that Iran's internal schisms are ready to split the country's mainstream
from its ruling theocracy. We may see Iran dropping its support of theocratic terror on its own, without needing to act directly.
North Korea - They're behind a lot of terror. They are also the world's largest military, per capita, and while their equipment is 1960's-vintage Soviet and Chinese stuff, they have one of the world's most ruggest countries to defend. Unlike equally-rugged Afghanistan, it's very unlikely that we'd find any internal forces ready to rise up against dictator Kim Jong-Il - his police state seems utterly Orwellian in its thoroughess.
But they're also on the brink (possibly) of collapsing under their own weight. The South Koreans seem satisfied with the headway they've made. Although Clinton's caving-in on their nuclear program has potentially created danger, North Korea can, it seems, wait.
Syria: Syria has backed Arafat, and worse, for decades. There are those, whose opinions I respect, who advocate attacking Syria instead of Iraq. It's a hard case to attack.
But as with the Saudis - if you attack Syria (which has a relatively large, modern military that was not attenuated by the Gulf War), you still have Iraq and its WMDs to deal with. Syria is also harder to get to - we have bases in the Mediterranean, but aside from Turkey they're not as close, and it's doubtful the Turks would grant us carte blanche to use their territory to launch such an attack. If our "war on terrorism" has any integrity, we will truly need to deal with the Syrians. But the Syrians have no chemical weapons, no nuclear program that anyone's heard of, and no oil wealth to prop them up. They are solid candidates to fall into line, if a huge American presence in neighboring Iraq threatens.
I'll take off my armchair general hat now, and see what really happens...
Zogby + Ooops- Ugh, I was wrong before - the new Zogby Poll of 500 Minnesotans shows Norm Coleman leading Paul Wellstone 47-41, with a plus/minus 4% margin of error.
Must make sure brain is connected before typing...
Zogby is a lot more painstaking about isolating variables than most of the other polls, certainly moreso than the very unscientific MPR/PiPress polls that show the two in a dead heat. A few DFL sympathizers have indicated that this poll is the worst news Wellstone's gotten in this campaign so far.
So there's hope...
All About Saddam, Part IV - The British Government has released its official dossier on Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.
The part that Senator Wellstone should read? Paragraph 6 (scroll down):
As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has:But of course, there's "no evidence" that he's of any danger to us.
- continued to produce chemical and biological agents;
- military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them;
- command and control arrangements in place to use chemical and biological weapons. Authority ultimately resides with Saddam Hussein. (There is intelligence that he may have delegated this authority to his son Qusai);
- developed mobile laboratories for military use, corroborating earlier reports about the mobile production of biological warfare agents;
- pursued illegal programmes to procure controlled materials of potential use in the production of chemical and biological weapons programmes;
- tried covertly to acquire technology and materials which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons;
- sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it;
- recalled specialists to work on its nuclear programme;
- illegally retained up to 20 al-Hussein missiles, with a range of 650km, capable of carrying chemical or biological warheads;
- started deploying its al-Samoud liquid propellant missile, and has used the absence of weapons inspectors to work on extending its range to at least 200km, which is beyond the limit of 150km imposed by the United Nations;
- started producing the solid-propellant Ababil-100, and is making efforts to extend its range to at least 200km, which is beyond the limit of 150km imposed by the United Nations;
- constructed a new engine test stand for the development of missiles capable of reaching the UK Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus and NATO members (Greece and Turkey), as well as all Iraq's Gulf neighbours and Israel;
- pursued illegal programmes to procure materials for use in its illegal development of long range missiles;
- learnt lessons from previous UN weapons inspections and has already begun to conceal sensitive equipment and documentation in advance of the return of inspectors.
Wellstone on Iraq - In a Strib article today, Senator Wellstone and challenger Norm Coleman talk about their stances toward Iraq.
Coleman nails the point that the left seems to miss:
"We can ignore the snake...We can even say we'll just wait because he has not bitten us yet. But the fact is this: Ignoring, avoiding and prolonging the situation only benefits the snake. It only increases his chances of slithering within striking range undetected. It only increases the sheer number of opportunities he has to do evil."I'm convinced the left won't see a problem until we see mushroom clouds rising over New York. And then you can be sure Joe Lieberman and John McCain will be demanding an independent commission to find out what the problem was, too...
In the meantime, Wellstone says:
"Nobody believes that Saddam Hussein should be ignored," Wellstone said. But he also said that no connection has been established between Saddam and Al-Qaida and that he has seen no evidence that Iraq has, or is close to getting, weapons it can use against the United States.Nobody but the head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (the German CIA), anyway.
Wellstone said an international program of unfettered weapons inspection can be designed and would work against Iraq.Question, Senator; how does one propose to make this round of inspections any more "unfettered" than the last batch?
He favors the adoption of a U.N. resolution demanding Iraqi cooperation with inspectors and warning Saddam that if he does not comply, "consequences will follow." Wellstone said the administration should give priority to getting such a resolution adopted by the Security Council.Well, at least we'll have another resolution.
We can use stacks of resolutions to rebuild the first American city destroyed by a terrorist bomb...
Unrelated? - Two stories that seem at first blush to be unrelated - but maybe aren't.
Cathy Young writes about the decline of feminism after 9/11 in Reason. The money quote:
Maybe the real gender-related message to be gleaned from Sept. 11 is this: However much we would like to see women's liberation as a natural right, it is the achievement of a complex, advanced civilization. Recent events remind us that this civilization is fragile and that its enemies are hostile to freedom for anyone—but especially women. Feminists, perhaps more than anyone else, should realize that the West is worth defending. Perhaps if they did realize it, they wouldn't be so irrelevant.And, as Young notes, perhaps seeing what real gender-oppression was about - Burkas, public executions, confinement to houses - was a bucket of cold intellectual water to some feminists.
In the meantime, the new Miss America is - heavens to Betsy - a conservative!
Why do I think there's a link here? Because while the post-9/11 reports of the death of irony and insignificance were greatly exaggerated, I think people are taking some of the more life-or-death aspects of our daily lives more seriously. It's harder to call dirty jokes in the office "oppression of women" when we just fought the real thing. And if, indeed, the Miss America pageant wants to pretend to have some semblance of relevance to life today, what would be the point of having yet another blah cheesecake for Miss America?
Feminism - as in "the quest to make women politically and legally equal, and taken seriously", as opposed to whatever Catherine McKinnon and company practice - may be one of the real victors of the post 9/11 world. Just don't tell the feminists.
From the Left - Kenneth M. Pollack was Director for Gulf Affairs on Clinton's National Security Council.
Film at Eleven - Al-Jazeera is beefing up the staff at its New York Bureau.
Do they know something we don't?
The Iranians - Iran's theocratic dictatorship has funded much of the terrorism in the Middle East; they're behind Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, among others.
The country's in immense flux - the people apparently are massively discontented with the rule of the mullahs, while the government itself has begun playing Saddam's two-faced game of proposing peace while readying itself for war.
Michael Ledeen has an excellent article on the subject.
Just...Plain...Wrong... - The National Abortion Rights Action League has a new ad campaign.
Now, for a conservative, I'm relatively moderate on abortion - I think it's wrong, but I'm not sure that government really has a place in the issue.
But these ads are just plain wrong - using exploitive images of children and patriotism to pimp for infanticide. It'd be like putting Susan Smith in an ad for Prozac.
Comeback! - US census data shows that St. Paul rebounded in a big way in the 1990s.
Thanks to changing demographics — including an influx of foreign-born residents, a growth in the educated population and a sharp rise in median household income in several neighborhoods — St. Paul's ethnic and economic diversity is beginning to mirror cities in California, according to the latest 2000 census figures.
In fact, compared with other cities with populations of more than 100,000, St. Paul most closely resembles Berkeley, Calif., says Mark Vander Schaaf of the city's Department of Planning and Economic Development..
Oh, good Lord, let's hope we're smarter than that.
It's worth noting that I moved back to St. Paul in 1990. Coincidence? You be the judge.
The Future? - This is a great article about San Francisco.
Sounds a little like Minneapolis, doesn't it?
Friedman - I listened to the New York Times' Thomas Friedman on MPR today, in a speech he gave at Temple Israel in Minneapolis last night.
Friedman was pretty much as he comes across in the Times - a slightly-less-insane Frank Rich.
But he made one excellent point.
Amid all of the speculation as to whether or not Islam is or is not a bloodthirsty religion, Friedman asked "what is the world's second-largest Moslem state?" India, of course -150 million Moslems, including the country's current president.
And while Indian moslems face many problems, they also do quite well - India's richest man is a Moslem software entrepreneur.
Worth noting, says Friedman, is that none of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were Indian. And nobody held at Guantanamo Bay is from India, either.
The reason, of course, is that India has a stable, mostly democratic government, a relatively free economic system, and a (sometimes chaotic) rule of law. The system works well enough.
The answer is to export democracy - which is where Friedman slips back into liberal cant and drives into the weeds. But it was interesting hearing that someone "gets" part of it, at least...
Czech, Please - Vaclav Havel is, after Tony Blair (and along with the Poles) our greatest ally in Europe.
Who'll Guard the Guards? - Hussein's elite "Republican Guards" are being kept out of Baghdad.
The Guards - the hard core of the Iraqi Army, and Hussein's Praetorian Guard, are apparently of dubious loyalty, and might even turn against Hussein (so says the Guardian).
Bad news for Hussein, good news for any American tankers rolling across the desert. In the First Gulf War, the Guards were the toughest opponents our troops faced.
Your Government, "Protecting" You - Air Marshals run wild and begin acting like...well, Minneapolis cops.
Read the story, and tell me what makes these people any different from East German cops.
New Voting Machine - for Floridians.
They'd Be the Experts - German Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin (pronounced Doy-bler Gmay-lin) compared the President to Hitler. (translation is mine, as are any errors):
Federal Justice Ministar Herta Däubler-Gmelin (SocialDemocrat) spoke directly about her explanation of US Iraq policy before the [German] federal elections in an explanatory note. In a newspaper interview, she linked President Bush's attck plan with criticisms of his internal problems, which she explained was "a favorite method of Hitler's".
Today, Däubler-Gmelin (of the Social Democratic Party - think Sandy Pappas in a brown shirt) tried to correct herself - here, quoted in the relatively-conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, said she was comparing Bush's methods, not personality, with Hitler.
I suggest we demand a refund on the Marshall Plan.
OK, seriously - after spending billions of our money to not only protect them from Soviet expansionism, but also to facilitate their reunification, I think we'd be highly justified (if not well-advised) to throw our weight behind the CDU (sort of conservative) party in the next election.
Gored - Some Floridians don't like Algore.
"How can a guy who ran for president and other offices be such a lousy people person?" wondered one Palm Beach County Democratic operative. "This is a guy who never came back to us after that debacle a couple of years ago, never thanked us for the hundreds of hours we devoted to saving his sorry ass, never called, never wrote. Then he shows up in 2002 like it all never happened. He's useless." (But what does he really think?)
Never mind Gore's lousy personal touch. Perhaps his political timing is even worse. Here he was expecting to be the center of attention, showing the kind of leadership a national candidate would exhibit after an important primary, but instead finding himself shunned by state party hacks who would do anything to avoid reminders of the 2000 debacle. Several high-ranking state and local operatives skipped the Gore events, telling reporters they wanted to focus on more positive party news.
Rock. The Vote - John Fund on why voter-turnout efforts lead to all sorts of problems.
You say Uni, I say Multi - One of the most irritating facets of the current debate is the insistence by some on the left that acting unilaterally is totally incompatible with acting multilaterally with regard to Iraq.
Sullivan spells it out the way I'd like to.
The pursuit of national interest can (and should) lead to multilateral arrangements - NAFTA, GATT, NATO, the EU, etc - that benefit each party...These diplomatic contraptions, in other words, are means, not ends. Bush gets this, I think... But Bush adds a twist. It may be that some multilateral deals only really work when one of the critical parties to them threatens to abandon them and go it alone. Call it "unilateral multilateralism". Thatcher's relationship with the E.U., was rather like this. And Bush's continued insistence that the U.S. reserves the right in the last resort to deal with Iraq by itself has, I think, been the single most important factor in forcing the U.N. to act. His unilateralism made multilateralism possible. And it also gave direction to the multilateralism, reminding the U.N. that it should be concerned with tangible results not just debates and resolutions. I doubt the U.N. is up to the task, but it is one of the ironies of the present moment that without Bush's threat to walk, the U.N. wouldn't even recognize the task in front of it.I need to print this on a 3x5 card before I go to work...
The Real Unilateralists - Germany's Helmut Schröder is ready to go it alone, says William Safire.
The reasons should be chilling to anyone who reads their history:
Bush was motivated to overthrow Saddam by his need to curry favor with what Scharping called "a powerful — perhaps overly powerful — Jewish lobby" in the coming U.S. elections. Jeb Bush needed their votes in Florida as George Pataki did in New York, and Congressional redistricting made Jewish votes central to control of Congress. Germany, the discredited minister said proudly to his discomfited audience, had rejected such pandering.Schröder's Social Democrats took some big hits in the provincial elections last summer, and the Christian Democrats (Germany's conservatives, more like moderate Democrats; think Norm Coleman in lederhosen) were looking up after a dismal decade.
That bigoted political analysis is typical of the way Germany is undermining its Atlantic alliance. Today, Schröder — campaigning for re-election Sunday — seems eager to be more pro-Arab than the Arab League. Not even if the U.N.'s Kofi Annan himself grabbed a rifle and led the charge would his Germany send one soldier to depose Saddam.
...No matter who wins, the German-American relationship loses. Our response cannot be to mutter "how sharper than a serpent's tooth" and demand a refund of the Marshall Plan. It should be to reassess the need for our troop presence in Europe, which a half-century ago was "to keep Russia out, Germany down and America in." With Russia in and Germany up, should America get out?
This next election will be important for us as well as Germany.
Meet the New Look, Same as the Old Look - but I finally put the links to other blogs and media sites where I want them.
Not exactly radical surgery, but hopefully it'll work for a while!
Our Ongoing "Quagmire" - The NRO's Amir Taheri on the real results of the ongoing war on terrorism.
Two of the money quotes, in response to pre-Afghanistan predictions:
No Muslim country has fallen to a radical fundamentalist group. On the contrary there has been a distinct move away from extremist religious-political discourse. In the Sudan, the military-backed regime has disburdened itself from its fundamentalist allies and started an internal peace process brokered by the U.S. At the same time the Turabists have made their mea culpa and are trying to jettison their violent ideology. In Egypt the Gamma Islamiyah (Islamic Society) emirs have declared a complete change of strategy, renouncing terrorism. In Iran the hard-line mullahs are on the defensive, if not yet on the run. In Pakistan the main Islamist movement, led by Ghazi Hussein Ahmad, has renounced violence in pursuit of political goals. Even the Lebanese branch of the Hezbollah has denounced the 11 September attack and the ideology behind it.Why isn't this in the papers?
There has been no "explosion" in the so-called " Arab street." In the past 12 months there have been 17 small anti-American demonstrations in the Muslim world, half the number that happened in 2000. Most of the 17 demonstrations took place in two Pakistani cities: Peshawar and Quetta last November and December. Instead there were also demonstrations of solidarity with the victims of terrorism in several major Islamic centers including Jakarta, Tehran, and Istanbul.
Way of Empire - SciFi writer Jerry Pournelle, on how a genuine empire would handle the Iraq situation.
Pournelle shares a lot of Heinlein's grandiloquence and wonkery, without the fascist overtones. He's always an interesting read.
Cracks - The always-tempestuous relationship between Black and Jewish Democrats took another big hit during this past primary season, with Jewish PACs lining up to unseat Georgia's Cynthia McKinney and Alabama's Earl Hilliard for their support of Palestinian causes.
"People were talking retaliation," said Ron Walters, the director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland, of last week's CBC events in Washington. "They were saying [presidential hopeful] Sen. Joe Lieberman is dead in the water, and so on and so forth."I've learned not to put too much stock or hope in such reports - but if that alliance cracks, it's about time.
Conditional - Virginia Postrel on the Iraqi idea of "unconditional inspections."
As the Japanese and the would-be Confederate States can testify, the U.S. government traditionally takes the idea of "unconditional" a bit more literally than the United Nations seems to.And, we might add, more literally than most of the US left seem to, today. The paeons they're putting up for Hussein's magnanimity are...instructive?
Boing - The President's job approval rating is back up to 70%, according to Gallup.
It seems the public approves of both the presentation to the UN and taking out the Iraq's WMDs and leader.
the latest poll results also show that the public's reaction to a more basic question asking explicitly about the United States' use of ground troops to remove Saddam Hussein from power has stabilized at the 57% level. This is roughly where it has been since the beginning of September. (At the same time, a slightly higher 65% favor military action to prevent Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction, but not necessarily removing Saddam Hussein from power.).It's funny - even Tom Daschle is talking tough these days - he must read the polls, too...
Scratch One Scare - Remember that ozone hole in the Antarctic that was going to eventually leave the whole earth open to UV radiation and give us all skin cancer? The one Woody Harrelson and Ted Danson and the enviromentalist wackoes were all exercised about in 1990?
Ritter - Today's Lileks column in Newhouse is side-splittingly...
The Connection - Again - The Sydney Morning Herald runs a connection between Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
Paranoia = Advanced Awareness - The NRA urges Americans to be on the watch for a "slippery slope" when it comes to gun rights; give up a little now, stand to lose it all later.
"Paranoid Nonsense", we're told.
Not so fast. Eugene Volokh has found the Violence Policy Center (the folks who brought us the "Alexander Hamilton" contest a few weeks ago) talking from both sides of its organizational mouth.
Hm. No paranoia warranted here, is there?
By the way, the "ban" site is flogging a "book" called "Every Handgun is Aimed at You". Ominous, huh? And it's accurate - as long as one lives in a non-"shall issue" state...
Another One - Vaclav Havel is tentatively endorsing pre-emptive action against Hussein.
So is Havel a right-wing tool, too?
RIP Bin Laden? - The London Daily Mirror is carrying an Arab (United Arab Emirates) report that Bin Laden was killed on December 10 by an American cave-buster bomb during the intensive raids on Tora Bora.
The Mirror quotes the UAE's Al Bayan newspaper:
Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead but the Jihad will continue until Judgement Day'', quotes witness Shahid Ayan saying he perished on December 10, 2001.Many questions still remain. Do we actually have any "52-foot-long missiles" that bust caves? Your feedback is appreciated.
He said: "On the 24th night of Ramadan (Dec 10) and at a late hour, there were some scary explosions in the place where Osama bin Laden's cave was.
"The cave was completely erased from the ground and became nothing. This was the only cave of the 15 that was destroyed by an enormous 52ft missile and there is no doubt that bin Laden died.''
Genuine - Peggy Noonan on the difference between Bush and Clinton.
I love this part
Did you see him with the families of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, and then with the mourners in New York, at Ground Zero? He was a genuine comfort. A genuine one. He understood it was about them and not him, and in each case he gave the families what they signaled they needed. If they wanted to talk he stopped and talked; when they wanted to hug him and weep, he took them in his arms. He was there to serve, to give and to represent. Even now, two years after the previous president, it is still a relief--an enormous relief--to have a president who doesn't make every event a sickness-tinged drama in which he simulates emotions he does not feel and draws the cameras with the heat of his need, his persona, his never-sated ego. Smarmy bathos is gone. Thanks again, God.
Jackbooted Liberalism - The New York Times' Nick Kristoff is all for the First Amendment...
His op-ed today is about the various samizdat "cookbooks" for exotic weapons that are all over the Internet (and have always been a part of fringe society, going back to "The Anarchist Cookbook" of the seventies).
I'm a journalist, steeped in First Amendment absolutism, and book-burning grates on my soul. But then again, so does war. As we prepare to go to battle to reduce our vulnerability to weapons of mass destruction, it seems appropriate for us in addition to consider other distasteful steps that can also make us safer.Yup. He's pretty steeped in that First Amendment.
We have a window now, while terrorists still have difficulty obtaining reliable recipes for bio- and chemical weapons. If we continue to allow these cookbooks to improve, buttressed by helpful articles in professional journals, then over the next 10 years we may empower terrorists to kill us on an unimaginable scale.
Blogger Steven Green says:
Ah! Civil rights, war – they’re all just a matter of taste, of how much they might “grate” on your soul. So if we’ve got to have a little war grating on us, we might as well lose some civil liberties, too.
Look, I’m no fan of how-to guides for chemical weapons or backyard nukes. But the genie is out of the bottle, the barn door is unlocked, and the horse has drunk the water. Too late to do anything about it now.
Things My Parents Never Had To Deal With - Last night, my kids dash up to me, as excited as Christmas morning. "Daddy! We can get thoroughbred fillies for just $800 apiece! On Horsetrader.com! Can we get two?"
Rock is Dead, They Say - I'm going to start this with an invocation. "Lord - I'm starting this at 5AM. I hope it makes sense by the time I'm done".
So it's 13 days until the Springsteen concert. So - beyond being merely a great time, why does it matter to me at all?
I was talking last night with a friend of mine. 20 years ago next month (oh, shut up) we came to St. Paul to see our mutual idols, The Who, at the old St. Paul Civic. Bear in mind, we were both from North Dakota, so when we said it was the best concert we'd ever seen, we had roughly nothing to compare it to (I'd seen Molly Hatchet the previous fall, but that's only because I ran a spotlight. Most painful $35 I ever earned).
This, of course, was the beginning of the Eighties, one of the most vibrantly creative periods in music. Punk, so said the legend, had kicked music out of its seventies slumber; in the Seventies, the charts were dominated by dozey fossils like the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt, and bands like Dire Straits and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Police were considered vaguely subversive; by 1983, the chart positions had flipped, and the vaguely subversive was mainstream. The second British Invasion was just kicking off, with Big Country, the Alarm, and especially U2 all just starting to make inroads in the US. The Cars and Elvis Costello had gone from edgy to old school, already. Prince was young and provocative and hadn't progressed through the icon, wierd guy, and little black Elvis stages.
When I worked at an oldies station in the early nineties, the program director quantified what I'd already figured out qualitatively; "People tend to be most attached to the music that was in vogue when they reached their own sexual maturity". Yes, of course that explains, partly, why I still have a soft spot in my heart for Stiff Little Fingers and Cactus World News and Southside Johnny. I always figured there was something more to it than that.
Marketing? Sure, it could be. I graduated from high school a couple of days before MTV started cablecasting. I shared in the first first generation of the McDonaldization of pop culture. And as a hipster (by the local standards, anyway) at the time, I was both "above it" (if only in my mind) and inevitably immersed in it.
But for whatever reason, I was like the protagonist in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, the part John Cusack played; I came up with top five song lists to set off virtually eveything in my life. I still have them, scrawled into notebooks that are still stashed in boxes in my basement; little lists of musical tokens to crushes or categories of emotions or girlfriends or the sheer anticipation or joy at finally leaving my hometown.
The story from there on is probably familiar to everyone that's made the transition from "hipster" to "daddy". I didn't keep up with the latest albums (Albums! I didn't even buy a CD player until 1996!). I fell behind on my favorite, but not quite A-list artists (I haven't bought a John Mellencamp album since, er, 1991, or a U2 disc since Achtung, Baby).
Fast forward...er, slow forward, to last night. My friend, with whom I came to the Big City to see The Who in 1982, had been thinking about seeing them again at the Target Center next week. "But after Entwistle died, it's like, three days later, they're on the road again!...It's like it's all about making money!" And my friend and I both know that it's always about making money, we didn't just fall off the turnip truck, we've both been in one kind of show biz or another. But the cynicism of it struck him. "It's been nine years since Pete Townsend released an album of original stuff - it's all been repackaging old material!".
...the way that the Sex Pistols' current tour struck me. Yes, they're touring again - with Glen Matlock on Bass (since Sid Vicious is still dead). And the crowd seems to be a bunch of, ahem, late-thirty and early-forty-somethings, going through the motions in much the same way that they did 25 years ago, spitting and spraying beer onstage - in much the same way as people at concerts for the latest incarnations of REO Speedwagon or Styx or Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Moody Blues soldier on into infinity, bolstered by waves of faceless sidemen, playing to people who still wave their Bics or yell for Freebird like they did the the seventies.
I could be a curmudgeon and grouse about how music today doesn't mean what it did - but that wouldn't be true. It does. To anyone who needs a channel for their hyperactive adolescent emotions, it's still right there, more than ever, marketed directly at id-level. Music today bores me stiff, mostly - I haven't seen a band I liked since Marah, and that's been two years now.
And yet, I'm looking forward to the Springsteen concert, only 325 hours from now, like I'm 19 and wired on emotion, again.
Sure, Springsteen is one of few artists that has managed to "keep" well. But it's more than him. It's me. And it's us - or, more to the point, the "us" that feels the same way.
Which is what it's about, I think, more than the band or the music they play.
In our wired, crowded-yet-decentralized world, community is a hard thing to find. Some never do. And yet I've found it; the community of beer-soaked post-adolescents at the Replacements; the brotherhood of wry, isolated true believers at Richard Thompson gigs; the international order of the earnest watching the Alarm.
And, probably, the eternal throng of those of us who still plug along but realize that "it ain't no sin to be glad [they are] alive" - indeed, are lucky they didn't die "before they got old" (I wonder if that line embarasses Townsend these days?), two weeks from last night.
The musician matters. The community that gathers around the musician - as temporary, illusory or intoxicated as it might be - matters more.
Winning the Peace - We won the war in Afghanistan with frightening speed.
James Phillips adds to the recent worries about our ability to win the peace.
Huh? - Doug Bando on Algore's selective amnesia.
Like many on both sides of the aisle, Gore is concerned about the war on terrorism's effects on our civil liberties. But Gore apparently forgets his own administration's transgressions.
One selection among many:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development used intimidated opponents of federally subsidized housing projects. HUD launched dozens of investigations against local activists and groups; subpoenaed copies of organization membership lists and financial information, people's diaries, and other records; demanded cessation of public criticism; and threatened protestors with prosecution for speaking outRead the whole article.
Leadership - Sullivan nails it; Brit public opinion is swinging toward intervention.
As Sullivan puts it:
This is called leadership. Bush and Blair have done this. Without them, it would not have happened.
Gulp - The Ukraine may have lost 200 nukes.
Somebody Call Ken Pentel - The peace movement's newest incarnation.
So look at the site, and then let me ask you - are the pictures at the top, especially the vic of attack choppers, supposed to be illustrations, or perhaps aids?
Combat Blog - this is a blog from an Army Reserve unit in "the 'Stans".
I'd say "send 'em an email", but they're probably getting plenty. They've popped up on a couple of big blogs today.
Technical Difficulties - The site I use for publishing this blog, www.blogger.com, is having difficulties. I'll try to catch things up this evening.
Duh - Andrew Sullivan on the Iraqi flim-flam.
Da Bears! - Need I say more?
Oh, maybe I do. I grew up in North Dakota, where Vikings fans are even worse than they are here in Minnesota. But I've been a Bears fan since long before anyone, myself included, can remember.
And how sweet it is.
Penny-Foolish - Tim Penny has, in the past, voted both for and against the rights of gun owners.
In 1998, Jesse Ventura's platform was foursquare in support of concealed carry reform. He did not deliver while in office, of course.
Now, his would-be successor, Tim Penny, is trying to stake out a middle ground on concealed carry reform. He says in the PiPress article:
In an interview, Penny explained that he hopes he can resolve his concerns about background checks. He said he would prefer to change the law from a "probably not'' permit system to a "probably will'' system. "We're basically talking about issuing permits to people who have broken no laws and are not likely to break any,'' Penny said.
So, Mr Penny - what separates the "probably will" system from either the existing one, or the one that Concealed Carry Reform Now has been proposing?
First Shots - As noted in this space last week, a U of Hawaii research team found the wreckage of a Japanese midget submarine sunk by the USS Ward . As I noted, the gun that sank the sub was manned by a group of St. Paul navy reservists.
Today's Strib reports on the survivors of that group - 10 out of 85 St. Paulites on the Ward that morning - and their reaction to the news.
Nice... - that some things never change.
The Sex Pistols reunion proceeds apace, under a rain of beer....
The Iraqi Bomb - According to the London Times, Iraq will have the bomb shortly.
Thank You, Jebus - Algore tells top aides he'll seek the Democrat nomination.
Please, Dems, please, please nominate this hamster again.
Link? - Tony Blair released a link between Al-Quaeda and Saddam Hussein.
The Definition of Injustice - Here it is:
I was listening to Jason Lewis yesterday, bemoaning that Elvis and half of the Beatles are gone. And I thought "cry me a river". Half of the Ramones are gone, and now Zevon. It's just not fair.
Despondence - the New Republic is depressed about the way the Democrats are acting.
The money quote - no, one of several in this piece - is one I've been harping on in this space:
The Democrats rationalize their efforts to keep Iraq off the campaign trail by insinuating that the Bush administration, by proposing a congressional vote on Iraq before Election Day, is exploiting the war for political gain (see "Hidden Profit" by Michael Crowley, page 18). But in fact, the real cynics are the Democrats, who are trying to conceal their views on the war until after November 5 and, thus, deny their constituents the information they need to cast an intelligent vote. As a matter of democratic process, the party's position is untenable. And it is self-defeating even as a matter of crass political self-interest. Today's polls may show the Democrats with an advantage on the domestic issues the public supposedly cares about most, but ultimately that advantage will not matter if the party is timid and irresponsible on questions of war and peace. Do today's Democrats really need to be reminded of the political history of the last two decades of the cold war?
The Longest Day - Robert George on what 9/11/01 - and 9/11/02 - and 9/12/02 - all mean in the long term.
Bush at the UN - A great compendium of reactions, courtesy of the National Review.
Best line, from Edward Feulner:
President Bush did more today than make a case for removing Saddam Hussein from power. He made a case for U.N. delegates to choose between good and evil.Feulner is president of the Heritage Foundation
The Lunatic to the North - Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has been lashing out at America.
The Toronto Sun reacts. I love this part:
Why on earth would Prime Minister Jean Chretien blame America for terrorist attacks on not only the U.S., but Western civilization in a CBC-TV interview scheduled to run on or around Sept. 11 -- a day of remembrance and dedication.I love this line from Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit: "Until the other day, my attitude on Chretien was Bogartesque -- I probably would have despised him, if I had given him any thought. Then he made sure that I gave him thought."
And make no mistake -- it was America he was slamming, using the euphemism of blaming "arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy" western countries for "humiliation" that provokes others to resort to terror.
This, on the anniversary of the greatest ambush attack ever on American civilians that killed similar numbers of Americans that died on D-Day or Pearl Harbour.
Why would Chretien say this now, even if it was pre-recorded? Does he truly think it, or is he simply bursting with bile that America is fighting back, and President George Bush hasn't invited Chretien to his Texas ranch, like he invites Russia's Vladimir Putin or Britain's Tony Blair?
Chretien's diatribe on this day is akin to saying that we are to blame for Hitler and WWII on the anniversary of those who died fighting Nazism.
Trifecta of Shame - Blogger Nick Hoy writes about today's triple-dose of dumb NYT editorials on the Iraq situation.
False Alarms - three wierd incidents in the past three days:
More on the Florida incident, from Kathy Kinsley of the Brigade of Bellicose Women.
Manners - Kate O'Beirne on the double-standard many reporters and editors feel about human rights.
Style, meet Substance - Liz Smith in Sunday's New York Post's "Style" column, whined that the Bush Administration has been just murder on the Washington party scene.
Good heavens - the "Bushies" as she calls them don't socialize much! No huge glittering parties! No hanging out with the Hollywood caste! The nerve! The notion that our President and his employees consider working, especially in a time of deep international, economic and military crisis, more important than putting on the tuxes and hobnobbing.
The transition of our presidency - from a stop on the glitterati itinerary to an institution where serious work gets done - is wonderfully shown by juxtaposing the Smith article about our workaholic administration, with this piece about our vapid, jet-setting previous administration. Or any of many others, for that matter...
Bush at the UN - What a performance.
I liked the way Lileks put it:
It’s of a piece with the administration’s behavior since 9/11: Let all the carpers and obstructionists gather on the tip of the thinnest branch, then show up with a saw and announce they have five minutes to come hug the trunk, which incidentally is covered with sap and stinging ants. It was sheer malicious brilliance to cast the entire case in terms of UN resolutions, because it mean the UN had to chose: either those resolutions mean something, or the UN means nothing. Why, it's almost as if the UN painted itself into a corner - and woke up to find this rude simple cowboy holding the brush. How the hell did he do that?I love the way Bush has the Reagan thing down - let everyone think you're an idiot, while you maneuver behind their hubris and beat them before they know they've been had.
Could Have Been Worse - Tom Shales, on yesterday's wall-to-wall TV coverage.
Radioactive Ship - US Special Operations forces and a NEST team are searching a container ship off the New Jersey coast. Scanning apparently indicated an abnormal level of radioactivity on board the ship.
First, his campaign is 2/3 out-of-state "soft money". Now, his railing about civil campaigning turns out to be a bunch of baked wind.
Could it be that the dead-heat poll results are getting to him?
Back Home in Minnesota - There's still some politics going on.
A well-placed source in the MN GOP reports
The NRSC has Coleman up 46-42% which in my book makes this race a dead heat and dead heats lean towards the incumbent. I wouldn't be surprised if Tricomo (sp?) gets a visit from Wellstone to get him out of the race.
I'd have to wonder how likely that'd be - since the Senate race may be the only one in which the Green Party could draw the 5% vote it needs to retain major party status. Ken Pentel would seem to be polling (from what I've seen) below 5%. I've always suspected the Greens were a flash in the pan, buoyed in 2000 by the celebrity candidacy of Ralph Nader and the free publicity his candidacy got, in droves. Pentel's creating no buzz - a reporter friend of mine said sitting in a Pentel meeting is like being in a Puritan church service. The closest thing the Greens have to "buzz" outside Dinkytown is the fracas over Ed McGaa's bizarre Senate candidacy. Were the Greens to back out...what then?
The source goes on: "A prominent DFL Lobbyist tells me:
a Republican poll" shows the Gov Race has Moe with 28% Penny 26 and Pawlenty 20. I cannot get this confirmedby my contacts.
Jason Lewis was bemoaning Tim Pawlenty's lack of visibility in the gubernatorial race last week - and, as reported in this space a week ago, the GOP is working on it.
Pawlenty's ad is now out and all the insiders are very pleased. I feel that it is OK. The problem is that now is a little late to be building name ID. Tim needs to be on the attack.I continue to wonder if Minnesota Republicans know how to attack. Maybe we were all raised right, and it's totally foreign to us. I don't know, but Minnesota needs its own homegrown Lee Atwater.
Hmmmm. I have been called abrasive...
Again, the source reports:
The endorsed Republican lost in 67A by 12 votes. Our candidate also lost in he Dist. 1 judge race. This is an excellent showing and continues to show the strength of the Republican endorsement. We also were able to remove Rbertson and Kiscaden, although Kiscaden has to be the favorite in Rochester. I hope the Party has the resources to put into this race.One hopes indeed. That's one of my favorite unrequited threads - What Is A Republican. Why do people who are pro-tax, anti-life, anti-gun-rights, pro-lax-sentencing and pro-big government Republicans at all? Because it's easier to get nominated than at a DFL caucus?
Khofi Annan's Message - I listened to the first ten minutes of his speech at the UN this morning.
The gist of the nub: We must act multilaterally, because...multilateralism is required.
Unintentional hilarity - Annan ascribed the liberation of Kuwait to multilateral action. He neglected to mention that the UN needed to be dragged to that action, kicking and screaming, and that the real multilateral action was on the part of the US-built coalition - not a UN-sanctioned force.
Current waiting to hear the President's speech.
The President - He steered,thank God, clear of pathos and went for the Churchillian lip-stiffener
This nation has defeated tyrants and liberated death camps, raised this lamp of liberty to every captive land. We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power. They are discovering, as others before them, the resolve of a great country and a great democracy. In the ruins of two towers, under a flag unfurled at the Pentagon, at the funerals of the lost, we have made a sacred promise, to ourselves and to the world: We will not relent until justice is done and our nation is secure. What our enemies have begun, we will finish.
I believe there is a reason that history has matched this nation with this time. America strives to be tolerant and just. We respect the faith of Islam, even as we fight those whose actions defile that faith. We fight, not to impose our will, but to defend ourselves and extend the blessings of freedom.
My Favorite 9/12 Article So Far - although the day is three hours old...
By “drop your hankies” I mean ball it in your fist and squeeze it dry.I love that line.
Of course, the picture at the top of the page alone is worth the clickthrough.
On Anger - I wrote about my continuing, unrequited anger yesterday.
Andrew Sullivan writes about the anger we all share, today:
It occurs to me that my somewhat insistent view that we need to fight back against the roots of this horror might be misconstrued as a love or passion for war. I hope not. In fact, I think some of the anger many of us felt a year ago is related to our hatred of war. I loved the innocence of America when I came here almost twenty years ago. The one strain of American isolationism I warmed to was the natural and so American desire to be left in peace on this continent, to start the world anew, to live as if the routine of war and threat and danger were forever dispelled by the vast oceans that surround this continent. I love the fact that Americans actively hate war, its trappings, its necessities. No lover of freedom loves war, which always limits freedom. But war was brought here - a vile, almost medieval religious war, fueled by hatred and resentment and paranoia and failure. Their campaign, alas, is not a metaphor. They are brutally opposed to such things. Even imagery is banned under their austere form of Islam. They read literally; they hate with divine dispensation. Our campaign against them and their sponsors and supporters in Baghad and Damascus and Ryadh and Tehran is not therefore a function of our love of war; but our determination to end it, and to liberate that part of the world from the despots and psychoses that now hold it back.If you wake me at 4AM, I won't be angry because I enjoy anger - I'll be angry because I want to get back to sleep.
Food - "I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants".
Have Mercy - The Pope prayed for mercy for those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
But - and this is important - he asked for something more:
"We also want to interrogate the consciences of those who planned and carried out such a barbarous and cruel action"
It's September 12th - ...and it seems we've all survived. The Code Orange security alert seems (as of 4PM on the eleventh) to have been like all the others (I say, hoping Murphy's Law doesn't take over because of it...)
I wrote about 9/11 today (Wednesday) and nothing but. It didn't seem like anything else really mattered.
The Death of -ism - George Will on one of the more justifiable casualties from a year ago.The money quote?
Sometimes gunpowder does smell good because civilization -- especially the highest, ours -- is not inevitable. So we fight.
Wilding - As we approach the date of the signature crime (and act of war) of most of our lifetimes, it's worth looking back at a crime that defined the Bonfire of the Vanities era of the late eighties; the Central Park Jogger case.
Turns out that, apparently, according to DNA testing, it never happened.
As sort of the flip side of the Tawanna Brawley case, it begs a ton of questions:
Tomorrow - I have written - and am still writing - a rather long involved post on 9/11, one year later.
I realize this does not make me unique. I hope it works, in any case.
Mmmmmm - Chicken, swiss and bacon.
Blair - A story that's gone largely unreported in the major media is Tony Blair's courageous break with the British political elite and much of the mainstream over Iraq.
Ridder Redux - George Dawson wrote this post on the Minnesota Politics/National listserv earlier today:
The Wisconsin Project has numerous documents relevant to this issue, including Mr. Ritter's 1998 testimony before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees. In that testimony he described his resignation from UNSOM as being out of frustration "because the U.N. Security Council, and the United States, as its most significant supporter, was failing to enforce the post-Gulf War resolutions designed to disarm Iraq". He also describes some conflict with a member of the Clinton administration at the time as well as the belief that the administration was undermining the efforts of the inspectors. His conclusion about the situation in Iraq at the time was:I thought this post stated it very nicely.
"Iraq, today is not disarmed, and remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and to world peace. Those Americans who think that this is
important and that something should be done about it have to be deeply disappointed in our leadership."
An interesting counterpoint is a less publicized piece in Science magazine, where a number of weapons inspectors agreed to be interviewed under condition of anonymity. According to that document it took the inspectors four years (1991 - 1995) to make any headway
at all. At that point it was apparent that there was 17 tons of culture media unaccounted for. A relevant quote from the article: "U.N. investigators were just starting to get a feel for the top secret program's broad outlines when Iraq slammed the door on them in 1998". A list of biological agents is included in the table for that article.
I would like to call again, for our elected officials to state in clear terms what is known about Iraq's WMD...partisanship and a premature jump into political thinking and rhetoric are not the best way to approach this problem. Neither is keeping quiet.
Tale of Two Spins - Carla Passino on how two different papers spin identicial information on Hussein's nuclear capability, in two completely different ways.
Tuesday - I may not post nearly as much tomorrow. I'll be getting the 9/11 edition of this blog ready.
Birth of a Hawk - James Cramer was a soft-core liberal - no Paul Wellstone, but certainly no Jack Kemp - until 9/11.
It's the War, Stupid - Jonah Goldberg on why the war is about politics - and why it should be.
Penny-Foolish - One of the few things that ever attracted me to Independence-party neo-liberal Tim Penny was his rather broad (for a DFLer) worldview on many issues - to the point where he even worked for a while with the Cato Institute, a libertarian, fiscally-conservative think tank in Washington. It was a fascinating juxtaposition...
...and a sham. He's backing away from the one thing that actually separated him from politics as usual - his record as somone who busted political boundaries - and racing to the left. From the Strib article:
After leaving Congress in 1994, he said, "I was in the private sector. I was doing several things on a volunteer basis and this was something for which [Cato] offered me a retainer. It was just something that kept me in the mix, involved with public policy at the national level."So, Tim - or his apologists - what's the story?
But when Penny was named Cato's fellow for fiscal policy studies, a news release at the time left a different impression of his involvement with the institute.
Penny, the release said, would work closely with institute Chairman William Niskanen and Moore, Penny's coauthor on the federal budget chapter.
In the release, Penny said he joined Cato because its vision of limited government was in tune with the times. "I've long admired the Cato Institute and am delighted to be affiliated with them," he said in the release, noting that he "looked forward" to advancing Cato's goal of a more limited role for government.
The Patriotic Left - I always knew that there was such thing as a patriotic left - my parents lionized JFK and FDR, neither of whom could be mistaken for Berkeley grad students, and living in St. Paul, one meets plenty of flag-waving, red-white-'n-blue union members.
And since 9/11, the patriotic left has made its presence known - Bono wrapped himself in the flag at the last Super Bowl, Springsteen's muted support of the invasion of Afghanistan...
And Christopher Hitchens, who's written this excellent column. As Instapundit says, read the whole thing - but this excerpt is just delicious:
If you remember, there were also those who warned hysterically of a humanitarian disaster as a result of the bombing: a "silent genocide," as one Boston-area academic termed it. But to the contrary, the people of Afghanistan did not have to endure a winter with only the food and medicine that the primeval Taliban would have furnished them. They survived, and now the population has grown by almost 1.2 million, as refugees from the old, atrocious tyranny make their way home. Here is the first country in history to be bombed out of the Stone Age.
Panic - Goverment seems to assume that people's first response to unforeseen calamity is to panic.
Yet one of the great untold stories of 9/11 is the calm with which most people on the scene reacted. People helped each other down from the floors below the airplane impacts, even before the firemen arrived; Pentagon workers (military and civilian) reacted quickly and effectively; and of course, the people on Flight 93 (citizens, not soldiers and cops) assessed their situation quickly, and quickly organized and moved to re-take their plane - hardly a panic response. Says the article:
Note that most of the positive social behavior that saved so many lives was not organized by any formal agency, much less by any command-and-control mechanism. People saved themselves. Other people converged from all over the city to help. As Tierney says, ''The response to the Sept. 11 tragedy was so effective precisely because it was not centrally directed and controlled. Instead it was flexible, adaptive and focused on handling problems as they emerged.''
In some sense, Sept. 11 was a victory over the terrorists. Socially responsible free Americans prevented the loss from being much worse. Yet, the response of the planning agencies has been to establish more and more elaborate command-and-control structures, which will force a population that is not about to panic into panic behavior.
Says Tierney: ''When Sept. 11 demonstrated the enormous resilience in our civil society, why is disaster response now being characterized in militaristic terms?''
Perhaps because those who are determined to control everything don't understand that even in military situations, it's the second lieutenants and the sergeants who win battles, as, for example, in the Omaha Beach chaos at Normandy.
Americans are good at sizing things up and taking charge when the heat is on. One of the most jarring stories from 9/11 was that after the first plane crashed, an automated message went out over the Trade Center's public address system - advising people to stay put in their offices. Fortunately, most of those in the WTC knew better.
People, far from being the panicky rabble, tend to keep their cool and react appropriately.
So - why won't government give us any credit for this?
Scott Ritter - "Scott Ritter says the Iraqis have no weapons of mass destruction".
That's the standard retort from most "peace" activists when the spectre of Iraqi nuclear weapons is broached. Scott Ritter - former weapons inspector who was ushered out of Iraq during the Clinton Administration, has become the celeb du jour against a pre-emptive invasion.
But, says Anthony Andragna, Ritter may have different motivations. Andragna, author of the blog "Shouting 'Cross the Potomac", has put together a fascinating bit of time-lapse journalism that indicates Ritter's mail motivation might be less pacific and more revenge against his former bosses.
The DFL can use it the next time a firearms topic comes up. Don't say I've never done anything for you!
Barry - Dave Barry is a very funny guy.
He can also write, maybe once every couple years, some stunning things. This is his memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93.
And What They Did... - According to Al Quaeda sources (via the BBC), Flight 93 was, indeed, heading for the Capitol. This article is fascinating, by the way - it gives some idea of the organization involved behind the hijackings.
In Contrast - London will host a gathering of fundamentalist Islamofascists on Wednesday, celebrating September 11.
Which isn't the big news - you'll find plenty of Americans, in Berkley, Madison and Dinkytown celebrating the date as well.
Here's the money graf:
The clerics claim that the ICB [Islamic Council of Britain] is funded by Saudi-based businessmen, which, if true, will embarrass Saudi Arabia. The Riyadh government expelled Mr Mohammed in 1986 and recently launched a multi-million-dollar public relations campaign to persuade America that it is rooting out Islamic militants.Celebrating the deaths of 3,116 innocent people.
Al-Muhajiroun claims to have secured a six-figure sum for funding the ICB and said it would build a dozen Islamic centres, launch a website and hold seminars and classes for Muslims..."We have been working on getting the funding for six months: it is from a group of Saudi businessmen. Please don't write about this. I am against the killing of innocent people; we are not at war with anybody in this country."
While I've always been happy to be an ecumenical, there are times, deep in the recesses of my heart, when I think Ann Coulter was right...
More Reasons - why Hussein must go.
La La Land - In Madison - a place that battles Minneapolis for the title "Berkeley on the Prairie" - there's a great congressional race shaping up.
A black conservative former firefighter is trying to get through the primary to face the House of Representatives' only openly lesbian member.
And best of all - it's totally personal!
Hussein, Summarized - The standard bleat from the left is that "we don't have any evidence" that Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).
I guess it figures that this summary doesn't come from any American paper. This is from "The Scotsman".
And, Speaking of Scotsmen... - Scottish news anchor Gavin Esler has figured out something that eludes most of America's nattering classes.
"If It's Nae Scots..." - I have three years to either finish learning the pipes, or just save up to attend, this event.
OK. Enough Scottish news for today.
Drivel Policy Institute - The Violence Policy Center continues its descent into hilarious irrelevance with it's annual "Alexander Hamilton Second Amendment Student Writing Competition". Students (graduate and law,mostly) are to write "the best article, essay, or law review note critically examining the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in United States v. Emerson, No. 99-10331, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 22386 (October 16, 2001), in light of judicial precedent and historical and legal scholarship on the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution"
Why Hamilton? Because he was a "victim of handgun violence", says the VPC.
It was, of course, a duel - a purely consensual form of violence. Barbaric, to be sure, but hardly the sort of thing that's germane to the VPC's gun control agenda.
Uberblogger Volokh says (scroll down - it was posted Friday morning):
Wow, a victim of handgun violence. In some sense, I suppose, it's true -- he was killed in a violent act with a handgun. But surely if the NRA wanted to have a poster child for its "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" campaign, Hamilton would be top of the list! First, what Hamilton did was already illegal -- dueling was and is attempted murder (or, in Burr's case, actual murder). Can you imagine the scenario? "Mr. Burr, I would fight a duel with you, notwithstanding that dueling is a crime -- but because handguns are illegal, I cannot."Volokh goes on to note:
Whatever one may say about Hamilton's death, it most assuredly provides zero support for gun control proposals. Blaming the gun -- as opposed to blaming Hamilton himself, blaming Burr, blaming social attitudes that tolerated or encouraged dueling, or whatever else -- in this case is almost self-parody. If the NRA were trying to mock the anti-gun forces by putting ridiculous words in their mouths, it would be hard for them to beat "Hamilton was himself a victim of handgun violence."In any case - I can't wait to read the winning paper...
At Least They Remembered There's a War On - Congress resolved not only to mourn - but to prosecute the war, in a special session in New York.
Hussein's War on the US - Honestly, I'm never quite sure when to suspend my disbelief.
Jason Lewis was all over a story last night which has been making the rounds of the conservative samizdat media (talkradio and the Internet) for months, now - the alleged connections between the Oklahoma City bombing, the first WTC bombing in 1993, and Saddam Hussein. The story has bubbled up from the "right-wing" media to the rightward edge of the mainstream, with its publication in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.
It doesn't all add up. And the fact that it was broken on WorldNet Daily - a conservative outlet which is about 15% excellent reportage and 50% hysteria - doesn't help. While WND has broken some great stories, they also contended for a while that Bill Clinton was responsible for the sale of transfusable blood from Arkansas prison inmates that led to a large number of AIDS deaths.
You see what we're dealing with, right? The conservative alternative media has some credibility issues, not only among the "mainstream" liberal media (who'll doubt everything not issued under their imprimatur) but among a lot of regular people who remember the Blue Dress and the Mid-Fellatio Phone Calls (both broken by conservative outlets), but also the AIDS scandal and the Clinton Love Child.
Do I want it to be true? It's irrelevant. If it is, it's a smoking gun leading to Hussein, and also perhaps the most egregious coverup in American history.
So my jury is out. For now.
Times Bias...again - Coulter, on the NY Times' endless bias on reporting terrorist incidents.
Unless they're "right wing..."
Much Ado about a 'Do - Hillary! Clinton's new hairdo - "in the style of Susan B. Anthony"...
...makes her look like Barney Fife.
The Races - Lots of Minnesota political news today.
In the Governor's Race - A well-placed source in the Republican Party tells me Tim Pawlenty and the Minnesota Republican Party are both having money trouble. Fundraising this past week has picked up, with some big contributions - but Pawlenty will need it. Polls show Pawlenty anywhere between "slightly behind Penny" and "a close third" - my source notes "If the election were today, Tim Penny would be the next governor. The insiders are very concerned.".
The party is scheduled to start running a million dollars' worth of TV ads statewide on Pawlenty's behalf in about a month (early October) and Pawlenty's campaign will follow up with a similar-sized TV ad campaign.
Pawlenty's campaign management has also come under fire from insiders. Says my source: "Reportedly Tim Commers is not up to the job. This is not a knock on Tim. He has a family and a job...Pawlenty has been reduced to running his own campaign". My source also hears that
staffers do a lot of sitting around doing not much of anything since Commers is unwilling to crack the whip. This news is surprising. Tim has access to some very gifted staffers, particularly Chas Anderson. Talk has been that Dwight Tostenson may be called upon to move into that office. This would be a good thing. Dwight has no problem at all being the heavy.That should change, though - longtime RPM finance manager Dwight Tostenson has come over to crack the whip. "The staff who had been coming in at 10-11am and leaving at 4pm is now reporting to work at 830am and leaving at 9-10pm and everybody worked thru the Labor Day weekend", my source says.
It's going to be a hairy race, in any case. But we knew that, right?
In the Senate Race - Rumors have it that Coleman is down in the latest polls by significant amount. Coleman's campaign has apparently brought in a consultant - the one that helped Asa Hutchinson rebound from a 15 point deficit late in that campaign. They've also brough in, apparently, another heavy-hitter to work with campaign manager Ben Whitney.
Says my source:
I heard 2 days ago that the White House is not satisfied and that Norm is a basket case. He has a nasty temper and is taking Karl Rove's criticism out on the staff. To be fair to Norm (which is difficult for me to do) he is in a close race and believe me, until you experience it, you can't imagine the pressure. The word is that the White House is arranging for 100 field workers to come into the state and situate themselves in every CD in order to push Norm over the top.The report on the field workers is unconfirmed.
This is obviously an important race - to everyone. Says my source: "The White House is calling the shots and it is really going to be expensive."
The Kline Race - The Kline campaign is suffering from internecine strife among the campaign staff - but the race is still Kline's to lose. "Kline's operation is dysfunctional. Joe Weber (Vin's brother) is the Campaign Manager and has not been working full time until recently", says the source, who adds "Apparently there is a lot of back biting in the office, particularly between the professional staff and volunteers from John's previous races.".
In good news for the Kline campaign, there are reports that George Bush the elder (the current President's father, or "George 41") will be visiting to raise funds for Kline.
Paging Oprah Winfrey- The LAX shooter - an Egyptian who constantly spouted hatred for Israel, and who bypassed a score of other terminals and gates to go specifically to the El Al counter to shoot two people on July 4, was not acting as a terrorist, says the FBI.
It was the "personal demons", says the report.
In related news, US and British Special Forces killed four personal demons as they tried to shoot at an American convoy in Afghanistan...
Anniversary Coverage - The first anniversary of the date 19 other personal demons killed 3,116 people is less than a week away. And the networks are all getting into full pretentious lather.
Here's a look ahead to the coverage.
Upset - Where's the anger over the attacks last year?
Hollywood Self-Absorption Alert - The great crimes facing this nation include murder, rape, child-abduction/murder, corporate malfeasance, and ageism against older hollywood actresses.
Doris Roberts, of "Everybody Loves Raymond", says
"When my grandchildren say I rock, they're not talking about a rocking chair," she told the Senate Special Committee on Aging. "Yet society considers me discardable, my opinions irrelevant, my needs comical and my tastes not worth attention in the marketplace. My peers and I are portrayed as dependent, helpless, unproductive and demanding rather than deserving. In reality, the majority of seniors are self-sufficient, middle-class consumers with more assets than most young couples and substantial time and talent to offer society. This is not just a sad situation, Mr. Chairman. This is a crime."
Bloggers Blogging about...Blogging - Andrew Sullivan goes among the unbelievers.
Outflanking to the Middle - the President today pledged to consult Congress before invading Iraq.
Here's the part I love: Tom "Very Concerned" Daschle said:
``We're hoping for more information and greater clarity in the days and weeks ahead,'' said Daschle, D-S.D.Read: Daschle is going to obfuscate, sling mud like a South Dakota cow-chip tosser, and try to make the proceedings anything but clear. Clarity will lead to the obvious conclusion - Hussein must go. Daschle knows that Hussein will fall in plenty of time to give the GOP a big boost in '04. He'd rather have a dictator with nukes and gas on the loose, and terrorist friends ready to use them on us, than have peace.
Here at Home - While the rumors of war and the fallout from last year's attacks have been dominating this space, there is plenty of local news. In the next installment - disarray in the MN GOP's campaigns.
Life is Rich - Regarding the New York Times' anti-war movement, check out this quote from Frank Rich, which seems to equate low public opinion polls with the likelihood of military success:
"Like politicians' assertions that terrorism at home can be deflected by cheap fixes and oratorical optimism, disingenuous official claims of our allies' strengths and our enemies' weaknesses will come back to haunt the administration if all does not go smoothly. Already a Newsweek poll shows that only 56 percent of the country believes 'the war in Afghanistan is going as well as American officials say.'"The quote, of course, was from last November, regarding attacking Afghanistan.
Bush and the War - Andrew Sullivan picked up on something I'd wondered myself - not necessarily attributing it to Lao Tzu, but
Okay, it's a long shot. But Bush's long silence, the contradictory messages from his administration, and mysterious arms buildups around the world leads one reader to wonder whether the president has been boning up on the art of war. Two [of Lao Tzu's] maxims stand out: "When near, make it appear that you are far away, when far away that you are near." And: "Offer the enemy a bait to lure him; feign disorder and strike him." Wishful thinking no doubt. But then this president is often under-estimated.Often, indeed. It's become another left-wing sacrament.
Profile in Courage - Tony Blair bucks his own party's anti-American bigotry to support the potential invasion of Iraq.
Ministry of Truth - while the New York Times, in trying to discredit Bush, demands we take action on Saudi Arabia...
Cry Screed...- I'm working on my 9/11 edition of this blog. It could be one of my best screeds, or it could be a mawkish mess.
Either way, it'll be on this site, a week from Wednesday.
Let Slip the Dogs of Inaction - Victor Davis Hanson on the wisdom - and price - of playing it very safe - as well as on how the proponents of inaction keep recycling the same arguments.
Death with No Parole - I'm that rarest of critters - a conservative who opposes the death penalty. I oppose it rather mildly and without a lot of conviction - I wouldn't mind seeing child-murderers or Osama Bin Laden strapped to a gurney, honestly. But the chances of a wrongful execution are too great. On the average, someone is released from death row, somewhere, once a year, for a wrongful conviction. And there have been executions of the wrong person.
The death penalty is also given disproportionately - a black man killing a black man is unlikely to get it, while one killing a white women stands a pretty fair chance.
John Sullivan points out some of the arguments in the evolving debate. I don't entirely agree with him - and he doesn't touch on all the objections. But it's an interesting read.
Fundamental Inability to Communicate - We share the same planet with Europe. But little else.
Where's Waldo? - Some senior leaders within Joint Special Operations Command - the little-known fifth arm of service, gathering all special forces units on the same level as the Army, Navy or Air Force - contend that Bin Laden was killed in the bombing of Tora Bora.
The belief is far from universal.
"No Evidence..." - the standard bleat of those who don't want to pre-emptively attack Iraq is that "we have no evidence" Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.
But apparently he does, and we do...
Sign O The Times - More on the decline of the New York Times into a slanted liberal broadsheet, courtesy Andrew Sullivan.