Saturday, March 15, 2003

Marching Loons
An Iraqi man shouts during a protest at Saddam city in Baghdad March 15, 2003. Thousands of Iraqis took part in government-organized nationwide marches to show support to President Saddam Hussein, as the clock ticked toward a possible military showdown with the United States. Photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

At least he's got an excuse - if he doesn't march, the Mukhabarat will pay him a visit.
French Free Zone
The new header badge is courtesy of the guys at Milspec Gear.

French Free Zone
That Special Relationship
Orrin Judd expresses something that has startled me too:
You often read in profiles of George W. Bush's extraordinary loyalty to friends and allies, but we're unaware of any other time in great power history when a leader has been so deferential to the internal political needs of a fellow head of state, especially not one of the opposite political party (broadly speaking). The delay in beginning the war, the search for a UN resolution that explicitly authorizes war, and this announcement of plans for a Middle East road map are all of them gracious and unnecessary motions that George Bush has engaged in solely for the purpose of aiding Tony Blair's personal political fortunes. That's remarkable.
Bye Bye!
Gwyn Prins in the Guardian says Farewell to the old world - Iraq is the catalyst for the draining of power from the UN, EU and Nato:
But Iraq is simply a subplot within the play, whose major theme is the definitive end of the post-cold war interregnum, and the opening of the American imperial moment. We are at the passing of the age of Middle Earth. All the agents and the institutions of that age will be profoundly affected.

The previous breakpoint of equivalent importance was in the late 1940s. Emerging from the ashes of the destruction of the Third Reich, and led by the US, the victors found collective will to act: and in that time, they engendered the universal declaration of human rights and initiated the three main multi-lateral political adventures of the next half century: the UN, Nato and the EU.

Today, simultaneously, we are seeing the draining of power from all three, and transformation of the residuum. The catalyst to this profound and rapid change has been Iraq. Stirring this volatile mixture in all three cases has been French foreign policy since 1991. Most immediately, the stirring stick has been President Chirac's opportunistic anti-Americanism.
If you dress up the court jester, he's still the jester.
Chirac has trapped France on the narrow summit of his own rhetoric. So unless quick footwork can sidestep that prospect, and also the unseemly scrabble for the nine votes, the second resolution becomes less about repetition of the "678-687-1441" mandates than precipitating the UN's "Abyssinia moment".
Nato is now passing into the shadows. The spat over defending Turkey was a superficial graze compared with the far deeper wound it sustained after 9/11. The failure to use Nato in Afghanistan maimed its credibility as a military alliance; and ironically the accession of the next wave of militarily weak members, by that act, destroyed what they thought they were joining. It was dead on arrival at Prague. But since nations have permanent interests, and tailor their arrangements accordingly, a functioning successor military alliance has for some time been working quietly inside the dead structure: an "intelligence special relationship" coalition (Australia-Canada-New Zealand-UK-US) with occasional help from others. The French officer's betrayal to Serbia of air tasking orders and Chirac's capriciousness at Pristina during the Kosovo campaign have not been forgotten in Washington.
I was wondering if anyone was going to mention those betrayals.
But the biggest miscalculations of the past few weeks have been about the EU. The EU constitutional convention, as now drafted, is straightforwardly federal. Not a word of what the British and other sceptics said was entertained. When Giscard d'Estaing presented the clauses, he did so with a brutal frankness: this is the future and those who do not like it are free to leave. The assumption is that this is a deadly threat - to be cast out into the cold. But is it?
Put now to Giscard's choice, for the first time in decades it becomes realistic to think that the British, the Dutch, Iberians, Scandinavians, current applicants - and who else? - may decline the federal invitation and prefer to become Europeans marching to a different drum. This other Europe contains the more dynamic European economies, would go with the grain of expressed public desires, and it is Blair's to lead.
France achieves continuing irrelevance. Film at 11.
Full frontal nudity alert! (That ought to do wonders for my search engine hit count!)
Tim Blair has all the dirty details:
YIKES! This cheesy Australian porn site has set up Nude For Peace, where naked freaky hippie chicks get to ... well, I'll let them explain:
We just thing that Bush is a fucking idiot for his 'kill 'em all' rehotric. We all are in favour of a UN ratified solution. If you feel stongly about peace, we urge you to write a message on your body, and send it in more info on the site.
Can you say skanky?

Friday, March 14, 2003

Shhhh! The United Nations at Work
(Via Gweilo Diaries) Marcus Warren reveals that Gossip feeds the chaos and confusion at UN:
In the febrile atmosphere sweeping the building the whisper that Guinea would vote against the US on the advice of its president's witch doctor provoked new excitement.
I'll try to restrain myself.
Today's Hoot
Ben Macintyre in the UK Times amuses with Le Bulldozer takes up tap dancing and learns to love himself:
"The President is in ecstasy," one aide remarked as M Chirac began collecting the bouquets and billets-doux from an adoring French media. "He’s like a man smoking a cigarette after making love." The Lothario who did not love himself has now fallen head over heels, and is playing the moment for all it is worth, unconcerned about the wider outcome: the impact on the UN, the long-term crisis in relations with the US and Britain, and the wreckage of the concept of a European foreign policy. The roar of the crowd is deafening. For the first time, M Chirac is playing to packed houses, a bulldozer tap-dancing in the spotlight.

The uncompromising (some would say vigorously unhelpful) French stance over Iraq reflects a search for an international voice that has gnawed the country throughout the 1990s; for many of M Chirac’s supporters, the issue is not America’s action in Iraq, but France’s role in the world. It is about pride, and principle, and domestic politics, but it is also fundamentally about one man’s idea of himself, a story that started in America, with a young Frenchman working a soda fountain, who wanted to be a film star.
Explain to me again why we're supposed to care about this wanker?
Emperor Kofi's New Duds!
U.S. Protests Annan's Naked Appearance at U.N.:
The U.S. Representative to the United Nations lodged an official protest yesterday claiming that Secretary-General Kofi Annan appeared at a Security Council session naked.

"He was completely nude," said John Negroponte. "He strode in with his head held high, smiling and greeting people, and nobody said anything about it."
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin (who is a man) rejected the U.S. protest.

"Kofi Annan was actually wearing a splendid suit of the finest cloth," said Mr. de Villepin.
It's ScrappleFace.
Bon voyage, ladies
One of many - KC Radio Stations Dump Dixie Chicks:
If you tuned in to any of Kansas City's country music stations Thursday, you did not hear the Dixie Chicks.

Several stations in town have dumped the group's music over the lead singer's controversial comments about President Bush, KMBC's Jeremy Hubbard reported.

At a concert in London earlier this week, Natalie Maines, the band's lead singer said, " Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

The Guardian, a London paper that reported the comment, said Maines' remark got the crowd cheering.

Many local residents, however, were not excited about the singer's point of view.
That's one way of describing it.
"If you guys play another Dixie Chicks song, we'll never listen to you again," one country music fan told KBEQ.

The station logged nearly 700 phone calls Thursday, denouncing Maines' comment.

The reactions from listeners were enough for programmers at all three big Kansas City country radio stations to pull the Dixie Chicks from their playlists, Hubbard reported.
Friday morning, one local station will take the ban a step further. They have invited their listeners to come to the station's studios and dump their Dixie Chicks CDs in a big trash can, Hubbard said.

Vichy Chicks

Bye bye!
Stealth Meme Alert
Hop on over to, home of one of the more hilarious counterprotest efforts:

War has never solved anything

They'll never see it coming.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Stop, you're breaking my heart!
Shrill Sheen loses TV ad gig - "Visa has been getting tons of complaints based on his war stance."

Which reminds me of pot-bellied songbird, Natalie Maines

Our family trees don't branch

whom I mentioned last night. Can you say "reduced airplay"?

Which in turn reminds me. John Fund has an interesting article today in the WSJ Opinion Journal - Stars and Gripes: Hollywood celebs aren't antiwar. They just hate the president. They had no problem with Bubba intervening in various hotspots without the U.N. seal of approval, but now their knickers are tightly knotted.
Subhuman Shield Alert!
Time for an update on subhuman shield impresario, Ken O'Keefe - 'Human Shield' Volunteers Out of Iraq:
AMMAN, Jordan - Five volunteers who went to Iraq to serve as "human shields," including two Americans, were forced out of the country because they were critical of the government's choice of sites to protect, the head of the group said Wednesday.

They had chosen locations "essential to the civilian population," such as food storage warehouses and water and electricity facilities, said Ken O'Keefe, of Haleiwa, Hawaii.

But the Iraqi government wanted the shields in more sensitive locations, he said. He did not elaborate, but some earlier activists have also left Iraq, reportedly after being told they would be posted at potentially strategic targets, such as oil refineries and power plants.

"They removed us from the sites we had chosen because we were critical of the integrity and the autonomy of the Iraqi authorities," said O'Keefe, 33. "I was escorted by Iraqi intelligence officers to the border, because I say what I believe and the Iraqi government wants submissive easy robots."
Too bad Ken didn't get to visit Uday's torture dungeon and meet Mr. Nutcracker.
"The Iraqi government was acting absolutely very stupid," O'Keefe said, dressed in a long Arabic dishdasha robes while talking to The Associated Press at a small hotel in downtown Amman.
Ken, your 15 minutes are up. It's been real.
Doing the PIRG hustle
Radley Balko at Fox News on Nader Scams College Kids:
Each semester, Meremac Community College in St. Louis, Mo., charged Crystal Lewis for a service called "MOPIRG." "I hadn't the slightest idea what it was," she says. The fine print on her bill read: "If you opt not to support MOPIRG, please deduct this amount from your payment." So she did. But she still wasn't sure what she was no longer paying for.

She was paying for a myriad of causes and advocacy efforts sponsored, endorsed and overseen by Ralph Nader. And if you're in college or have kids in college, the odds are pretty good that you're supporting Ralph Nader too. You probably didn't know that, did you? And that's just the way Nader and his nationwide network of Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS) would like to keep it.
A bad memory returns.
The PIRG idea was born in the late 1960s, but really caught on through the 1970s and 1980s. It has again picked up momentum in the last few years, due mainly to the publicity that accompanied Nader's presidential campaign. The scam varies from campus to campus, but it basically works like this:

Each time a college student registers for classes, he or she is automatically billed somewhere between three and eight dollars, all of which goes directly to the local PIRG chapter. There, it's funneled directly to the state chapter, where it's used to lobby state legislatures on issues like tougher emissions standards, campaign finance reform and a bevy of other environmental and anti-corporate causes. Very little if any of the money actually stays at the campus where it's generated.

It's also used as "seed money" for more fund-raising campaigns. And about 10 percent of the money goes to USPIRG, the national chapter, where it's used to lobby on the federal level.

The standard procedure for start-up campus PIRGs works like this:

First, they attempt to institute mandatory, nonrefundable "contributions" from the student body either through a student referendum, a petition drive or by going through school administrators. The University of Wisconsin requires all of its students to donate to the local PIRG chapter, as does the University of Oregon, and about a third of the state colleges in New York's SUNY system.

If that doesn't work, PIRG chapters attempt to institute a "reverse check" system, where each student automatically donates to PIRG each time he registers for classes, unless he specifically knows to look for an already checked box asking for his support -- and "unchecks" it.

If they can't win support there, PIRG groups will attempt a "refundable fee" system, where each student is automatically billed, but can request a refund by taking the bill to the university registrar or bursar's office, filling out some paperwork, then taking the form to the local PIRG's campus office to get the money back.
I can recall demanding and receiving my money back more years ago than I care to count.
What's remarkable is the blatant, transparent hypocrisy the PIRGS use to defend their tactics. The USPIRG Web site claims that mandatory student fees earmarked for liberal activism are "protected by the First Amendment," and are intended to "foster a marketplace of ideas."
All good con artists can lay down a snappy patter.
I've got a solution
Mary Jordan of the Washington Post reveals Legacy of Jesse James lives on along Mexico border:
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - The Mexican bandits wait in the darkness for the sound that tells them pay dirt is approaching. And right on schedule, the Union Pacific train whistle cuts the darkness, shrill and clear, and a slow-moving freight train rumbles around the curve.

The FBI says that for years the bandits have been hustling up to the tracks through a hole in the fence at the U.S.-Mexico border. Using techniques passed down from father to son, they climb aboard and trip the emergency brake to stop the train.

Then, the FBI says, they smash open containers, quickly grab as much loot as they can carry - on a good night television sets, on a bad night toilet paper - and scurry back through the fence into Mexico.
OK, I get the picture.
So after nightfall Sept. 12, Crawford put into action a joint sting operation. About 70 FBI and U.S. Border Patrol agents lay hidden, some in container cars of a train, some near the tracks. On the Mexican side, 70 Juarez police and federal customs agents, also hidden, waited as a half-mile-long freight train chugged toward bandit territory.
The robbers stopped the train as usual that September night. Gang leader Eduardo "Lalo" Calderon and nearly 20 men smashed open a container, where three FBI agents were waiting. FBI agent Samantha Mikeska managed to handcuff Calderon before someone cracked her over the head with a baseball bat. Despite a shattered bone in her face, she held onto Calderon as his buddies dragged both of them through the fence into Mexico.

FBI agent Sergio Barrio, his own skull fractured in the fight, ran through the fence to try to rescue Mikeska. Calderon, still handcuffed, fled into the night with his gang. As the two bleeding FBI agents scrambled back onto U.S. soil, a third FBI agent fired a shot into the air, bringing dozens of U.S. and Mexican agents running.

There the disagreements begin. The Anapra residents and their attorneys say several armed FBI agents, who have no jurisdiction in Mexico and are not allowed to carry guns here, illegally accompanied Juarez police searching for suspects. These accusations, never backed up by evidence, have been widely reported in Mexican media as an "FBI invasion" of Mexico.
And all the usual whiners have their knickers in a twist.

My clarifying suggestion: Instead of wrestling with thugs armed with baseball bats, it's situations like this for which 00 buckshot was invented.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Don't bother coming back

Dixie Chicks demonstrating their collective IQ

And Natalie - fat, loud, and stupid is a hell of a way to go through life.
Missing clue alert!
George Neumayr in the American Prowler relates a Spike Strip Tragedy:
Last Sunday 22 illegal immigrants from Mexico piled into a stolen Chevrolet pickup and led the California Highway Patrol and the U.S. Border Patrol on a chase near San Diego which reached speeds of 95 miles per hour. The wobbly vehicle darted on to a central divider, traveled eastbound on a westbound interstate, and then spun out of control after the driver tried to bypass a police spike strip. The car flipped, resulting in the death of the driver and one other passenger and injuries to the other 20 passengers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Guess who the Mexican Consulate in California is blaming for the crash: the reckless bordercrossers who imperiled innocent motorists and their own lives? No, Mexican officials lay the blame on U.S. authorities. The CHP and Border Patrol are guilty of "gross negligence" for using spike strips, says Consul General Rodulfo Figueroa.

This is crassness of staggering proportions. And yet such crassness largely defines Mexico's policy toward the United States. Mexico says its policy is based on "self-interest."
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know what the consequences are going to be, even if they don't hit the spikes," Figueroa said. Nor, Mr. Figueroa, do you need much of a brain to see that if you encourage your country's citizens to break another country's laws dangers will follow.
Liberal Californians, always ready to side with criminals over cops, are planning a "candlelight vigil" to protest the CHP's spike strips. You see, they violate an illegal immigrant's inalienable right to overload his vehicle and travel at 100 mph. They jeopardize his tires, force him to travel down the wrong side of the street as well as sidewalks and central dividers, and prevent him from escaping justice. They are "dangerous," these activists say, because illegal immigrants typically travel in cars packed to the gills. The police have no business upending such unstable vehicles, they argue.

One can feel some sympathy for the hapless migrants who join these crazy caravans. But here's an idea, Mr. Figueroa: Tell them not to come. Tell them, "If you get into a smuggler's car with 21 other people, you are taking your life into your own hands."
Inmates running the asylum alert!
The Curmudgeon alerts us to the latest foolishness imposed on the US military in Can you spell F-R-A-G?
Lurch alert!
Here's the latest scoop on Mr. Ketchup.

Kerry has a bad case of the sulks:
JOHN KERRY and his staff have got their . . . um . . . Austrian up.

Senator and staff are steamed at The Boston Globe because of a story exploring a couple of incidents where Kerry could be interpreted as donning a mock shamrock, wielding a sham shillelagh. Pretending to be Irish, in other words.

Kerry to skip St. Pat's Day political roast:
His White House ambitions and a lack of Irish heritage make him the perfect target at Sunday's St. Patrick's Day political roast, but U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry apparently won't be there to take the heat.
Meanwhile over at The Corner, Andrew Stuttaford is having a laugh at the Kerry puff piece in Vogue. Aside from posing in a wetsuit, Mr. Ketchup drops various pearls including that Pablo Neruda is his favorite poet. Apparently none of his handlers told John that when you pick a Communist for poesy, you have to put up with stuff like this tribute to Stalin on his demise:
"To be men! That is the Stalinist law!
...We must learn from Stalin
his sincere intensity
his concrete clarity
...Stalin is the noon,
the maturity of man and the peoples.
Stalinists, Let us bear this title with pride.
...Stalinist workers, clerks, women
take care of this day!
The light has not vanished.
The fire has not disappeared,
There is only the growth of
Light, bread, fire and hope
In Stalin’s invincible time!
...In recent years the dove,
Peace, the wandering persecuted rose,
Found herself on his shoulders
And Stalin, the giant,
Carried at the heights of his forehead.
...A wave beats against the stones of the shore.
But Malenkov will continue his work."
Hmm, no mention of warfarin in the vodka.

Oh yeah, Brainiac took time out from his fund raising to bless us with his wisdom - "Visiting New York to raise cash, Sen. Kerry (D-Mass.) contended Bush should delay war and agree to more weapons inspections if that would result in more countries supporting military action." Zzzzzzz.
Day by Day

Run, don't walk, to Dean's World for his interview with cartoonist Chris Muir.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Something in black
Tim Blair's latest column in the Bulletin is filled with all sorts of goodness including interviews with idealistic youth. However, I was deeply saddened to hear of Phatty's latest travail:
Will the torment of Phillip Adams never end? The columnist and broadcaster has been in dispute with the owners of Sydney's Lord Dudley Hotel, which adjoins Phillip's Paddington house, over such matters as laneway access to his property, noisy drinkers, and so on. Now, thanks to Italian airline Alitalia, Adams faces an influx of raucous, temperamental, gesticulating Catholics. The airline's web site lists the Lord Dudley among its "must see" Sydney nightspots, along with the Balgowlah RSL and the Revesby Workers Club. Hilarity will ensue when one of the tipsy visitors mistakes the large, hairy, perpetually black-clad Adams for a grieving Calabrian widow and attempts to buy him a consoling drink.

Something in black
Mama mia!
"Beer goggles" alert!
Thunder Chunder Alert!
If by chance you need a powerful emetic, check out Anti-war hero Chirac finds his destiny:
JACQUES CHIRAC was basking in ecstatic praise from virtually all of France yesterday after his Monday night pledge to defy America and veto a war against Iraq.

Only a few grumbles from the business world and a squeak of dissent from his own conservative camp marred a symphony of tributes for President Chirac and his redemption as a man of destiny after a long and chequered political career.

Only Joan of Arc was missing from the rollcall of heroes, from Charles de Gaulle to Charlemagne, to which M Chirac was likened.

"In the eyes of the world he has attained the kind of stature that Mandela won in Africa," La Croix, the Roman Catholic daily, declared.

Le Figaro called M Chirac a "white knight of peace, champion of all the oppressed of the Earth" and suggested that he might win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The talk from Paris dinner tables to works canteens was about pride in France leading the field in a moral cause. The mood, spurred in part by old Gallic reflexes against the "Anglo-Saxons", reflected the belief that M Chirac had put France back on the map.
Every flyblown pest hole is on some map.
"Maybe Chirac stumbled into this, but the old dodger has finally done something great," was a common refrain among intellectuals who had long regarded him as an unprincipled opportunist.
And we now regard them as unprincipled opportunists.
Le Monde, which until elections last year had led the campaign to expose M Chirac as corrupt, hailed the "nobility" of his cause in defending the international order against "the neo-imperialist Americans". Libération, another perennial opponent, the left-wing daily, marvelled at the way in which he was leading the world towards his vision of a multipolar, international order in the face of superpower hegemony. Serge July, Editor of Libération, said that M Chirac’s intransigence was aimed at saving America from its own "fatal unilateralism".
Thanks pal, we'll pass. More by following the link, but grab a barf bag first.

Hmm, what more could they do to live up to the stereotype? Beats the hell out of me.

Cheese and Whine
Tell us how you really feel alert!
James Bone says in the Times (UK) that Blix should turn the 'smoking gun' on his own head:
Hans Blix has just renewed his contract as chief UN weapons inspector for Iraq until the end of June. He says that summer would be a nice time to return home to Sweden. Why wait, Hans? You can resume your retirement at your retreat on the Baltic island of Graesoe in time for spring. It is time to resign.

Dr Blix’s recent performance has not only discredited himself but has betrayed the trust of all those many millions around the world who put their faith in the United Nations. Worse, his disingenuousness has guaranteed that the world’s sole remaining superpower will never put its security in the hands of a multilateral inspection agency because he has proved it is unreliable. He was hired as a technocrat and seems to have been behaving like a politician.

Resolution 1441 asks the chief inspector to answer a single question: is Iraq co-operating fully? Dr Blix refuses to give a simple answer to this question because he knows what that answer would be. When I asked him it last week, he explained: "There are lots of questions in this world, Mr Reporter, to which you should not answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’."

But this is not "Have you stopped beating your wife?" This is the question he was hired to answer. In his press conference on Thursday, President Bush pushed Dr Blix for a "yes" or "no" answer, too. The next day, Dr Blix took five sentences to give his response.
Hasta la vista, Hans!
Iraqi Hijinks Alert!
(Via Rantburg) Some selections from UPI hears....:
Reports from Paris say that President Jacques Chirac, fearing that intense U.S. diplomatic pressure is having its impact on the wavering votes in the Security Council, is privately urging Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to make a grand gesture. Chirac is proposing that the Iraqi leader convene a big news conference in Baghdad -- including the CNN, BBC, and al-Jazeera TV cameras -- and announce the dismantling of a headline-catching weapons system as a concession to the U.N. inspectors. The only problem seems to be Iraq's previous statements that it has no remaining weapons systems to hand over -- despite the small print of the 173-page UNMOVIC inspectors' report that Hans Blix failed to specify in his U.N. address Friday.
Don't worry Jackanapes - if you talk fast, no one will notice.
Intelligence reports of Iraqi troops placing explosives in the oil fields around Kirkup, apparently preparing the well-heads for demolition, come with the disturbing footnote that local sources claim the troops are not Iraqi soldiers, but Iranians from the Mujaheddin-al-Khalq (MKO). Fierce opponents of the ayatollahs, the MKO have long been given protection, including bases, arms and training grounds, by the Iraqi regime. MKO defectors in Tehran last month told reporters from Britain's Sunday Times that Iraq had hidden large underground laboratories beneath a swimming pool at Ashraf, the MKO's main military base 43 miles north of Baghdad. U.N. inspectors have been barred from Ashraf, because Baghdad says the MKO bases are the sovereign territory of the Iranian government in exile, claiming it has no jurisdiction over them.
Saddam's employment of foreign thugs is no surprise, but I like the extraterritoriality claim for their bases. And, of course, Hans Blix and the UNsters bought it. You truly can't make stuff like this up.
More Work for Kofi Annan!
Crash-prone Thomas frightens kids:
LONDON (Reuters) - Thomas the Tank Engine shows too many crashes and may be making children frightened of going on a train, according to a psychologist.
This ought to be worth a United Nations directorate and a world summit every 3 years or so.
Out of the mouth of babes alert!
The AFP quotes Kofi Annan:
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said any veto in the Security Council of a second resolution on Iraq would not spell the end of the world body, the Dutch news agency ANP reported.
"The United Nations will remain as important as it is now."
Fer sure, dude!
What he said!
Mark Steyn requests Bring on the war - for everyone's sake:
Is there a columnar equivalent of Viagra? I mean, I started writing about the impending war with Iraq in late September 2001 and after a year and a half I'm beginning to flag. I don't think I've had a new thought on Iraq in months. I agree with what I said about toppling Saddam on this page way back on September 27th 2001. Don't bother looking it up. I've said the same words in a slightly different order a gazillion times since and, even taking the President at his word that this is Saddam's last last chance, that still gives me a couple more weeks or so to say it another half-dozen times. I'm like Tony Orlando in Atlantic City, getting older and sadder singing the same song every night.

This is the Mesopotamian desert of punditry. I've been parched of fresh opinion for months, and the damn mirage of war shimmering on the horizon never gets any nearer.

The only consolation is that the anti-war crowd are having an even harder time keeping it up than I am.
Even more telling than the human shields scramming out of town is the alarming failure of recent "naked protests" to get naked. Many of my fellow warmongers have mocked the nude protests mounted by the women of California's Marin County, cruelly pointing out that many of the bits on show are excessively flabby and saggy. But I'll take what's on offer. If we have to have an incoherent, self-loathing "peace" movement, then women showing off their hooters in support of a culture that would stone them to death for showing off their ankles is about as good as it's gonna get.

But, even by the impressive standards of risibility demonstrated by the "peace" movement, has there ever been a sadder "naked protest" than that staged this week by the students of Illinois Wesleyan University? The male "nudes for peace" stood around wearing their boxer shorts and, worse, little white ankle socks and sneakers. C'mon, guys, why so shy about letting us inspect your weapons of mass destruction? According to the Security Council resolution on nude protesting, it's a material breach to put material over your breech. If you don't want to take it off, maybe you should skip the naked thing entirely, stay inside and read up on what's the capital of Saudi Arabia.
And the clincher:
The Iraqi Army is begging to surrender en masse. Why torment them for month after month? This interminable non-rush to non-war is like a long, languorous, humid summer where everyone's sweaty and cranky and longing for the clouds to break and the cool, refreshing rain to fall. Bring it on. Please.
It's long past time to stop shifting the manure around in the United Nations and get it done.
Clare Short says "It's all about me"
Clare Short's memory is failing her. In 1999 it was Short: No going soft on fascism while today it is Clare Short threatens to quit over Iraq. Then again she's got a history:
After all, Ms Short had hinted as long ago as last summer that she might go over Iraq and even a cursory glance at her career shows she has resigned, or at least threatened to do so, more than just about any other living politician.
I wonder if she is allowed access to sharp objects?
By the way
Yesterday, Kofi Annan took time out from reuniting Cyprus to whine about the USA. In case you are wondering how the reunification business is going, Michele Kambas reports for Reuters that U.N. Abandons Cyprus Peace Effort After Talks Fail:
Peace talks between the Greek and Turkish leaders of Cyprus collapsed on Tuesday and the United Nations announced the end of its efforts to reunite the island before it accedes to the European Union.

"Regrettably these (peace) efforts were not a success. We have reached the end of the road," said a statement by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Looks like they are batting 1000.
Where are the inspectors?
(Via Tim Blair) The Viking Pundit:
To the Subscription Department of the New York Times:

I have received your third letter requesting remittance for my New York Times newspaper home delivery. I’m disappointed that you have threatened to cut off delivery of my daily paper, especially in light of my continued efforts towards compliance within the agreed framework of the subscription contract.

Soon after my daily subscription started, I received a bill from the NYT. I immediately complied with this request for payment by sending in $0.25. While this was not a "full" payment (as defined by you), it was clearly a signal that I intended to comply within the structure of our mutual agreement.
More by following the link.
UN Motto Alert
DaghtatorBlog reveals that the United Nations' old motto was "stop! ...or we'll yell stop again!"and points to the Skeptician who has the scoop on the new motto and logo:
The resolution authorizing the new logo and motto was passed 14-0, with only France abstaining from the vote. France had threatened to veto the resolution, but chose instead to protest through abstention.
Hmm, I thought the new motto was "Closed by the Board of Health".

Monday, March 10, 2003

And now for something completely different
The AP stuns with Jerry Springer registers Ohio poll's highest unfavorable rating in 14 years:
Talk show host Jerry Springer, who has said he might run for the Senate, scored the highest unfavorable rating in the 14 years that the Ohio Poll has been taking the state's political pulse.

Springer, a Democrat and former Cincinnati mayor, drew an unfavorable response from 71 percent of those surveyed in the Ohio Poll. Thirteen percent had a favorable opinion, while 14 percent knew little about Springer and 2 percent had not heard of him.
Well, he has excellent name recognition!
Worm boy says no
Reuters alerts that France's Chirac promises veto in U.N. Iraq vote:
French President Jacques Chirac said on Monday France would use its U.N. Security Council veto to block a resolution authorising war against Iraq.

"Whatever happens, France will vote 'no'," Chirac said on France 2 and TF1 television in his first televised interview on the Iraq crisis.

"There could, effectively, be a majority of nine votes or more for a new resolution, one which would authorise war.

"If that was the case, then France would vote 'no'. France will vote 'no' because she considers tonight that there is no reason to wage a war to reach the goal we set ourselves, that is the disarmament of Iraq," he said in the joint interview.
Well, I guess that's that. As they say over at PaveFrance: Paving begins in eight minutes.
Mommy, Daddy, can we tell them to screw off yet?
(Via InstaPundit) Max Boot in the Financial Times says America must not be tied by Lilliputians:
The Security Council does not seem to have got the message. On Friday, it reconvened for another endless round of palaver over the pace of weapons inspections, presided over by the resplendently-robed foreign minister of Guinea. No doubt his countrymen would have been mighty proud of François Fall's star turn on the world stage. If only they had seen it.

Unfortunately, The New York Times reports from Guinea's capital, Conakry, that "electricity is available only every fourth day, and then only between midnight and 6am". Not that CNN would be on even if there were power for TV sets. General-turned-president Lansana Conte, who has ruled with an iron fist since 1984, strictly regulates the flow of information to his subjects.

This is what the UN "process" comes down to: a country that keeps its own people in the dark, literally and figuratively, is asked to shed light on what America and Britain should do with regard to Iraq. Gaining the imprimatur of Guinea - and of such other global giants as Angola, Chile and Syria - is supposed to confer "international legitimacy" on the actions of two of the oldest and most successful democracies in the world.
But serving at the UN is really cushy duty!
The UN isn't entirely useless. A quick perusal of its website shows that it has a lot to keep it busy. "UN agency to launch a new sports and environment initiative for youth," reads the headline of one press release. Another trumpets: "UN banks offer cut-rate loans for solar power development in India." While the UN pursues those weighty projects, the hard work of making the world a bit safer for democracy will be performed, as it always has been, and always will be, by America, Britain and their allies.
Ah! Full employment for 3rd world diplomats!

Until we turn off the funding spigot
Sophie Cannon Alert!
The majordomo of the East River talk shop waxed lyrical today on a visit to the Hague:
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the United States and its allies Monday that the legitimacy of a war to disarm Iraq without U.N. Security Council backing would be "seriously impaired."
Ruh Oh! The prospect is keeping me awake nights.
"If the U.S and others were to go outside the Council and take military action it would not be conformity with the (U.N.) charter," said Annan, who was in The Hague for peace talks to reunite Cyprus.
Zzzzz. Time for another resolution.
The success or failure of the international community to achieve unity on Iraq would have a major impact on its ability to resolve problems in Korea, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Annan said.
And a really swell job the UN has been doing in those places too, Kofi.
"The better the consensus, the better the chance we have to come together again and deal effectively with other burning conflicts in the world, starting with the one between the Israelis and the Palestinians," Annan said.
You've got to admit he has a talent for coming up with this stuff. Maybe he can get a gig at a comedy club?
Lurch Alert!
(Via InstaPundit) Erstwhile presidential candidate and occasional Irishman, John Kerry, demonstrates his foreign affairs gravitas:
"What I do regret is that this administration has not lived up to the standards of diplomacy set forth in the resolution," Kerry told the Des Moines Sunday Register. "The president's diplomacy has been completely lacking."
"The greatest position of strength is by exercising the best judgement in the pursuit of diplomacy," he said, "not in some trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted, but in a genuine coalition."
Our allies undoubtedly thank Johnny Boy for his consideration. I wonder if he would like some cheese with his whine?
Roasted peanut
Jimmy Carter's delusional ravings continue apace, but Steve Dunleavy has some perspective in the NY Post in Busybody Jimmy Carter a Man With No Ex Appeal:
ALEXANDER Hamilton, who founded this great newspaper in 1801, said, "Once presidents complete their terms, they should leave the country. Otherwise, they would be a great mischief."

He added that former presidents are "like discontented ghosts, sighing for a place which they were destined nevermore to possess." President Calvin Coolidge added a note: "I should like to be known as a former president who minds his own business."

Monsieur James Carter, ambassador without portfolio to Jacques "Ch-raq," showed yesterday that he played scant attention to history, and as a president, he was a great peanut farmer.
As easily the most incompetent President of modern times (Bubba included), Jimmy ought to shut his yap and be thankful a vengeful citizenry didn't give him what he really deserved.
I'm shocked!
Sky News stuns with Soldier's Chilling Warning:
An Iraqi defector has told Sky News that Saddam Hussein will use chemical weapons if the country is invaded.

His warning comes amid revelations Saddam Hussein may be planning to use pilotless drone planes to spray British and US troops with anthrax and sarin gas if they attack.

In an exclusive interview, the officer with Saddam's elite Republican Guard, said the use of chemical weapons by Iraq was "100% guaranteed".

The 26-year-old soldier defected 10 days ago near the city of Sulaymaniyah in Northern Iraq.
"A chemical attack is guaranteed," he warned.

"We have been fully provided with complete protection gear, gas masks, first aid kit, injections."
I thought Saddam told the UN that he had destroyed all his chemical and biological weapons. You don't think he was lying, do you?
It's deja vu all over again
George Kerevan in the Scotsman reminds us how much the UN resembles the League of Nations in The UN's weakest link: its inability to take action:
The original UN was never intended as a talking shop. It was crafted as an organ of world collective security whereby the aptly-named Security Council would wage war against aggressor nations. That is why Sweden was originally excluded from UN membership because she was not prepared to abandon her neutrality if the Security Council took military action.

In this, the UN was consciously designed to be the opposite of the earlier League of Nations, which was constructed to resolve conflict through diplomacy. The League failed miserably and ended in the Second World War. First, the League became a diplomatic fig leaf for national self-interest. The best example is the knowing failure of the League arms inspection regime in Germany. The League had 7,000 weapons inspectors in Germany. Their job was to police the Versailles Treaty that forbade Germany from, among other things, building or possessing an offensive airforce.

The Germans got round this disarmament regime in many ways. For instance, those nice Bolsheviks - anxious for German technology - leased them secret military bases in the Soviet Union. Being in Russia, these could not be inspected by the League. A bit like the military camps of the Iranian opposition inside Iraq, which have never, ever been inspected by the UN since 1991 - because they are "extra-territorial". Again, Japanese League inspectors - also anxious for German knowhow - happily informed the Germans of impending inspections so that aircraft companies could hide their wares. Not that that happens today, of course.

The final nail in the League of Nations was the failure of members to deal with rogue states. In 1935, Mussolini invaded Abyssinia and got away with it. The British made a half-hearted attempt to rally the French into retaliatory action. But the French - what’s new? - preferred a "diplomatic" solution as they wanted Mussolini as an ally against Hitler, so they blocked demands for oil sanctions against Italy.

All this is very prescient, for the UN is going the way of the League.
Let's put the UN out of its misery.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Uh Oh!
Breaches In Kuwaiti Fence to Bring 'Wrath of U.N.' on U.S.:
Reports of U.S. troop incursions into the United Nation's demilitarized border between Kuwait and Iraq could "bring down the full wrath of the Security Council" upon the the United States.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded to the charges saying, "There are no holes in the DMZ fence. And if there were, I'm sure the U.N. could send a team of inspectors down there to find them. We certainly wouldn't want to run afoul of the U.N. We've seen the ugly price Saddam has paid for his defiance of the Security Council. Those resolutions really sting. "
It's ScrappleFace.
Big hairy ..., er, deal!
A new milestone in "nude" protests for Saddam.
Today's hoot!
John Derbyshire at The Corner:
Just watched the much-touted Clinton-Dole exchange on 60 Minutes. What a flop! Clinton: "Tax cut for the rich, blah blah blah." Dole: "We know how to spend our money better than Washington, yada yada yada." You'd think a guy who'd been POTUS and a guy who'd been in the Senate for 150 years would have something interesting to say. I hear better stuff than this standing on line at K-Mart.
Gratuitous link alert!
Acidman seeks a spouse, but the ladies frown over his tone, demeanor, and general attitude. What a rascal - using reverse psychology like that!
Whine-a-roni, the San Francisco Treat
C.W. Nevius in the SF Chronicle provides a Bay area view of the rise of NASCAR as a spectator sport in: NASCAR RISING - Why are sports' newest superstars paunchy white men? And how did they take over your TV? But there's lots of amusement among the angst-laden, liberal handwringing about "diversity":
In some ways, the Bay Area is the test tube for it all. There is no more unlikely place for the rise of a Southern-based, self-proclaimed "redneck" recreation than sophisticated San Francisco. Sure, every major sport would like to have a presence in the fifth-largest population center in the United States, but isn't NASCAR a better fit somewhere more removed than the Napa- Sonoma vineyards?

"It probably didn't seem like a very good idea at the time," says Waltrip. "But part of the (sponsorship) deal with Winston was we had to have a race on the West Coast."

So, because no high-speed racing oval existed, one was dropped down here in 1989. The race itself was a strange hybrid in which the drivers horsed their big, lumpish sedans up and down the twisty, hilly road course of what was then Sears Point. It looked like elephant ballet.

But to the surprise of nearly everyone, it has turned into a traffic- clogging, campground-filling sensation - a Wine Country Woodstock. When the Dodge/Savemart 350 happens at Infineon Raceway (June 22), a little city springs up in the RV parking lot, complete with a temporary supermarket.

"It's like North Carolina has been plopped down in the Wine Country for a week," says Lasseter.
I'm sure that's a shock for the oh-so-sensitive ones.
Lasseter, the Bay Area filmmaker, recalls a pilgrimage back to the famous Charlotte track. Although he watched most of the race from the owner's box, he was also escorted into the vast infield and taken to a small rise known proudly as "Redneck Hill."

"They introduced me to a guy they said was the mayor of Redneck Hill," Lasseter said. "He said his name was "Mater." I said, "Excuse me?' He said, 'Mater. You know, like Toe-mater without the Toe.' They were the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. They're just glad you're here."
Yep, a shock indeed.

Ole C.W. also has some thoughts on NASCAR's appeal:
There's also the possibility that what is going on is less about race and more about the perception that wealthy professional athletes in traditional American sports have come to see themselves as rock stars.

ESPN Magazine, for example, is cutting edge in the world of sports but is definitely playing to a young, urban mentality. A recent cover story on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick didn't show him throwing a pass or avoiding a tackle. Vick, by most accounts a pleasant and personable fellow, was decked out in black leather and heavy silver jewelry, standing in the dark street in front of a black Cadillac, practicing his rap star scowl.

That may be perfect for ESPN's youthful audience, but to the work-a-day daddy in the middle class, a picture like that - or the sight of an elaborately tattooed NBA player such as Allen Iverson - looks like a postcard from a parallel universe.
Ya think?
There is also a school of thought that says the average fan is finding it harder and harder to identify with today's athletes physically.

"We have," says Page, "a collection of personalities that people can relate to. They don't seem to be genetic freaks."

The 370-pound football linemen, 7-foot-6 basketball centers and steroid- pumped home-run hitters look nothing like anyone the average couch potato has ever encountered. Meanwhile, NASCAR drivers look like the guy next door.

"Some of them are kind of portly old guys," says Lasseter. "There's a real cross section."
Well yee haw! Much more by following the link.
Radical tinkerers at work
The ecoweenies have a perpetual knicker knot because all the citizens of the USA aren't living in Bauhaus warehouses in large cities. So they have been busy legislating land use restirctions in states across the country under the guise of preventing "sprawl". Peter Whoriskey provides an interesting review of how things are working out in the Washington DC area in Density Limits Only Add To Sprawl - Large Lots Eat Up Area Countryside:
More than half of the land surrounding the nation's capital is now protected from typical suburban housing development, according to a Washington Post review of land plans in 14 counties in Virginia and Maryland. Restrictions in these "rural" areas limit home builders to no more than one house for every three acres, with several counties curtailing development even more.
First, limiting construction to one house per three acres, or five or even 25, doesn't necessarily stop development. It just spreads it out, creating enclaves of estates in "rural" preserves, or what critics call "Gucci sprawl."
Second, even when restrictions are severe enough to halt residential development in one place, Washington's burgeoning population continues to demand new houses, so builders simply go elsewhere, usually farther out.
So what's the result?
Recent limitations in western Loudoun County, for example, have helped push builders into West Virginia, while developers in Montgomery have migrated to Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland.

"As I drive home every day to West Virginia, I go by houses in western Loudoun that must cost $500,000 or $1 million in the rural area," said David Gillette, 39, who commutes to WorldCom in Ashburn. "We laugh because we have to drive by the snobs just to get to work. These houses are on 10-acre or 20-acre lots. Who can afford that?"
"Rural crescent" is a misnomer for the 125 square miles that Prince William has set aside, said Chris Miller, president of the Piedmont Environmental Council, another major anti-sprawl group. "It might better be called the 'mini-estate crescent.' "
Lots more by following the link, but the bottom line is that all kinds of wackiness is going on because the benighted citizens uniformly don't want to live in DC itself and are flowing around the obstructions provided by the "antisprawl" laws.

So what's a good central planner to do?
Efforts at protecting open land grow out of a planning philosophy known as "smart growth," which holds that housing should be directed into compact, efficient nodes close to job centers. Theoretically, this reduces auto travel and land consumption while preserving outlying land in a natural state. The most frequently cited example is Portland, Ore., which maintains an urban growth boundary, outside of which building is sharply limited.

Unlike Portland, however, the Washington area has little regional land planning. More than a dozen counties independently draw growth boundaries, and the result is a regulatory patchwork.
Yep, install regional planning and prohibit building residences outside an "urban growth" boundary. But just think how much "better" it would be if they did all this planning and regulating at the national level? Now there's an issue the Democrat party can really get behind!
Who'd have thunk it?
Andrew Curry provides an interesting biographical piece in US News on Victor Davis Hanson:
SELMA, CALIF.--Victor Davis Hanson's grape farm here is 3 miles straight down Mountain View Road from the Sun-Maid raisin plant his vineyards supply. Orderly rows of Thompson grapevines, dry and bare in the chill of California winter, surround a modest, two-story gray farmhouse. Inside, black-and-white family photos stretch back five generations, evidence of a family clinging to this land since the railroad brought them from Missouri in 1872.

There is no room for nuance here. With just 135 acres of vineyards, equivocation has immediate and very real consequences. Vines are tended properly, or grapes don't grow; fields are irrigated, or orchards die; the decades-old tractor in the shed runs, or the farm fails.

Such clarity may be common in California's fertile Central Valley, but it's rare in the groves of academe--one reason the 49-year-old classicist says he feels more at home here.
Early bird alert!
(Via Drudge) Saddam's Soldiers Surrender:
TERRIFIED Iraqi soldiers have crossed the Kuwait border and tried to surrender to British forces - because they thought the war had already started.

The motley band of a dozen troops waved the white flag as British paratroopers tested their weapons during a routine exercise.

The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.
I hate it when people show up before the party has started.