Friday, January 23, 2004

Happy 20th

Twenty years ago, on January 24, 1984, Apple Computer launched the Macintosh. It contained virtually unknown features, including simple icons, and an odd little attachment called a mouse.

Many newspaper stories at the time had to include a definition. Silicon Valley's newspaper The San Jose (California) Mercury News, for example, described the mouse as "a handheld device that, when slid across a table top, moves the cursor on the Mac's screen."

More here.

I suppose I should be grateful that Macintoshes have always occupied a niche market--Windows is guaranteed job security for an IT worker. Still, I have an old Quadra 605 that I power up about once a year, just to see if it still works (it does, although the monitor is starting to show its age).

Then again, I know that Windows Networking has a MUCH more detailed means of establishing security across a domain (speaking in Windowsese, not quite in the internet sense of the term). Still, a G4 or G5 would be my dream computer. Given the cost, that's exactly where it will remain--in the realm of dreams.

When describing Macs versus Wintel, I use a car analogy (in spite of a certain antipathy towards private fossil burners): Macs are akin to a vehicle like an Infinity or Lexus--smooth, powerful, responsive, and easy to drive. Wintel machines, in contrast, are more like a 1958 Edsel--they feature a push-button transmission, and a BIG steering wheel--but you'll either have to learn how to work on em or they'll spend a lot of time in the shop.

I'll end continuing the theme of the previous post: Macintosh "came to life," as it were, in the year of the Rat. Fitting. BTW--in Spanish, a mouse of the computer variety is called 'el raton.' The rat.

Almost Forgot: Happy Chinese New Year

This is the Year of the Monkey--NOT THE CHIMP!

The spunky Monkey is the original party animal! Charming and energetic, Monkeys crave fun, activity and stimulation. They truly know how to have a good time and can often be seen swinging from one group of friends to another, attracting a motley crew in the process.

And while 2004 might be the year of the Monkey, this is my weblog, so, for purposes of comparison, here's the same website's explanation for my birth year's sign--the Snake:

Diplomatic and popular, the Snake has the sensual art of seduction down. This Sign is an interesting mix of gregariousness paired with introversion, intuitive reasoning paired with savvy business skills. Snakes are considered to be lucky with money and will generally have more than enough to live life to the fullest, regardless of how important it considers money to be; this may be due to the fact that Snakes tend to be rather tight with cash. They're not stingy, they're simply more mentally than physically active. Snakes tend to hang back a bit in order to analyze a situation before jumping into it. Their charming, seductive quality actually belies a rather retiring nature; this Sign is perfectly happy to spend the whole day curled up with a good book and, thus, can be mislabeled as being lazy.

Sounds about right (joke).

Oh, and then, just out out of curiousity, I decided to look up the Resident's sign. So I did an internet search for "miserable failure," and, sure enough, the first site listed was Dubya's bio. Using his birth year, 1946, I discovered that Dubya was born in the year of the Dog (edited only for purposes of space--honest):

Dog People are somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. They can be cold emotionally and sometimes distant at parties. They can find fault with many things and are noted for their sharp tongues.

Maybe there's more to this zodiac stuff than I thought.
Azerbaijan--Our Ally in Iraq

I noted below that Azerbaijan didn't make it into the SOunTrUe address, but instead had to accept the amorphous, anonymous "seventeen other countries" sash to wear. I don't know, maybe Azerbaijan killed in the swimsuit competition, but was found lacking in the talent segment. Or maybe just the opposite. Today's New York Times explains:

Azerbaijan Represses Dissent, Rights Group Says

MOSCOW, Friday, Jan. 23 — In its first three months in office, the new government of Azerbaijan has conducted a campaign of repression marked by arbitrary arrests, beatings, torture and the dismissal of dissenters from government jobs, according to a report released on Friday by the international rights group Human Rights Watch.

The detailed 55-page report describes a wave of up to 1,000 arrests of opposition party leaders and members, democracy activists, journalists and election officials and observers who challenged widespread electoral fraud. It said that more than 100 detainees remained in custody and that the police were still harassing opposition supporters.

The crackdown may reflect the relatively weaker political position of the new president, Ilham Aliyev, who followed his ailing father, Heidar Aliyev, in a strong-arm election on Oct. 15, according to the author of the report, Peter Bouckaert.

It was the first dynastic succession in a former Soviet nation, and opponents of the government were harassed and repressed before, during and after the election.


Azerbaijan, in the talent segment of the contest, will now lead the opposition in a real-life version of the Milgram Experiment. The new president Aliyev invites you to follow along as his main political rival utters the immortal all too mortal line, "Goddamn it, make it stop!"
Rush, This is Tiny--He's Your New Cellmate

Saw this at Mary's site and Rude Pundit posted it as part of a broader theme regarding CPAC--like the Rude One, I'll skip the link.

Ten Felony Counts will be alleged by prosecutors, according to the No word on how many years it might carry, although Roy Black angrily rejected a deal that would have meant no jail time, but instead, three years probation, community service, and random drug testing.

The title above notwithstanding, I actually don't think El Blimpo will actually serve time, regardless of how this works out. That's too bad, because Rush is the kind of guy prison was made for: it could potentially REHABILITATE him. Nothing like seeing the inside to make you realize the error of your ways.

By the way, Rush, I'm now up to 349 on my list of compassion for the 500,000 people in jail on drug charges. You're still at 500,001, but the good news is that you'll be next after only 499,652 others. Oh wait, make that 499,651.


The New York Times Discovers Web Logs

Take a look. Classic Times reportage--a little disdainful, but they manage to equivocate just enough to where you know that one day they'll be posting their own--if they think it will help them.

Bush Administration Uses Titanium MasterCard

Here's the new definition of "fiscal conservative:" Those who lard record amounts of pork into an Omnibus Spending Bill. The Senate version of the bill appropriates $820 Billion dollars, the House comes in at "only" $328 Billion, although the House version is the "discretionary" component of the legislation.

The Sacramento Bee has more information: apparently the bill has already gone to conference, and the almost $500 billion dollar difference is mostly Medicare and Social Security.

Get a state-by-state breakdown here, although I'm linking only to the main page--you should be able to navigate on your own to the breakdowns, which are .pdf files.

Taxpayers for Common Sense (link is above) identify upwards of $11 Billion as nothing more than sop for a number of so-called budget disciplinarians, which gives a real indication of just where they actually stand: belt-tightening is for "other" people.

And the "other" people will soon be increased by roughly 8 million, as a rider attached will allow employers to limit overtime pay for certain "white-collar" employees--congratulations! You're qualified to add hours to your work week--for the same salary!

By the way--regarding government spending: As anyone who reads this is aware, I'm not exactly a libertarian. In that respect, I rarely knock any government program, even a $50 million dollar indoor rain forest in Iowa (hey, give the good people of Iowa a TREE to look at, for chrissakes). But at a certain point there has to be a consideration of how these things will be funded. My attitude is that rich people, i.e., those making more than, say $200,000 a year (like the president) should be required to fork some of the money over. Sure, let 'em deduct stuff--the kids, the mortgage, the IRA, the 401K, whatever--but if, in the end, you've still got a pile of money, too goddamned bad. You have to pay a little for your benefit (who the hell protects your property anyway?), and the benefit of society.

And, no, I don't believe in taking it all--but I think it's right to demand some.

But the Bush attitude is: why pay for government when you can charge it? Let the kids or the grandkids pick up the tab. You can't say we'll leave them with nothing--we'll leave them with less than nothing...

Enjoy your future--hey, the good news is that the old Soviet Union proved that, barring illness, humans can function more or less normally on four hours of sleep a night...
Namath Admits the Obvious

Sorry to be Gossip Central, but I watched Suzy Kolber interview Joe Namath, and my first thought was "man, he's either REALLY aged or he's drunk as a sailor."

Sure enough, it was the latter:

"I can't believe it, and I didn't even see it, and I don't want to see it," Namath told ESPN...

Namath..."told ESPN he had been drinking since 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. that day. Kolber interviewed Namath during the first half of the game, which began at 8:30 p.m. Namath has since apologized to her."

The Times article indicates "that he is seeking professional help for an alcohol problem."

Back when I drove a taxi up in Madison, several cabbies recounted Joe Namath stories to me (Joe showed up a few times to broadcast football games when he worked for ABC): universally, they said he was unpretentious, friendly, and tipped well. My definition of a good passenger.

Good luck, Joe--and I mean that sincerely.

New Hampshire Road Show

Am a little busy this morning, but I had a few impressions I wanted to pass along regarding the debate last night, which, if it did air in my media market, was on the "good" cable tv, which I'm still too cheap to subscribe to.

Nightline carried extensive excerpts. I found the two most amusing moments to be, first, John Edwards expressing support for States' rights, albeit in a "positive" manner (and with a shit-eating grin), while threading the needle on the issue of gay/lesbian marriage. Laff. Actually, he did this reasonably well, even if Sharpton got in a swipe. I don't think this will affect Edwards' position at all, indeed, it might have helped--it gave him a chance to shore up his own base, and Sharpton's retort will not make it into the long-term memory of the electorate. Still, I thought this was pretty funny.

The other moment that made me laugh was when Peter Jennings gratuitously bitch-slapped Michael Moore--who was NOT at the podium--while grilling Wes Clark. Good job, Peter--kick someone who isn't there to defend himself, and try to smear a candidate based on another person's words. Jennings referred to, quote, "discredited" allegations Moore made regarding President Bush and military service. Moore apparently called the Resident a "deserter" in a speech at a Clark rally.

Wes managed to deflect the allegation, although there was a palpable sense of discomfort as he, in truth, defended Moore's First Amendment rights. Jennings, a Canadian, and a high school dropout, must simply be unaware of this fundamental tenet, although he certainly exercised this right in referring to the allegation as "discredited"--especially since, to my knowledge, neither he nor anyone else at ABC News has bothered to ascertain or report the facts.

Actually, in defense of the Resident (you never thought I'd defend him, did you) I don't think desertion is the correct term. I believe the CORRECT designation is A.W.O.L., absent without leave, although I'm sure Michael Moore was simply doing his own version of "Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction......related-program-activities." Hey, it worked for Bush, why shouldn't the private sector give it a try?

I wish Kerry had jumped in at that point: if ABC put this in the extended excerpts, I did NOT see it, although some reports indicated he was asked to dance around the coals in regards to his V.V.A.W. days--I KNEW that was going to happen (see my notes below regarding Iowa). Did he or didn't he throw away his medals? Did he or didn't he sleep in a tent on the Mall?

If the early 70's are relevant for Kerry, then they are relevant for Bush--did he or didn't he go A.W.O.L.? Kerry should have jumped in on the question, and said something like this:

Excuse me, but I would like to respond. Mr. Jennings, desertion might be too strong a word. However, the facts are clear, that, when called upon to serve his country, political connections intervened in the process to ensure Mr. Bush a spot in the National Guard, as opposed to the regular Army. Indeed, the unit in which he served was known as the "Champagne Brigade," and it was common knowledge that it would NOT be called upon to deploy to Vietnam. Finally, in spite of his good-fortune to be stateside, there is evidence that he failed to report for duty for well over a year. Mr. Jennings, I challenge you and your news organization to investigate the charges, determine their veracity, and report your findings to the public. Because these facts point to the issue of character--and character is important.

And the audience would have roared their approval.

A few final notes: Can't they simply cancel Joe Lieberman? This guy is a living cure for insomnia. And regarding Howard Dean: I'm pretty sure this will be his swan song, although he's putting on the best face possible. Public execution is never a pretty sight, even if his "death" in this case is merely political. Howard, though, is being very stoic as he prepares to climb the steps of the gallows. He even allowed himself a small laugh--reading the Top Ten list on the David Letterman show. But the days are getting shorter for Dean.

To be honest, I don't mind the guy. As I've often said, I'm no Deaniac, but he'd get my vote if he won. But too many people were apparently looking for a reason NOT to vote for the guy, and Monday's damage is, to quote Dick Cheney, big time.

I think the real question will be who among the remaining candidates can capture the most important legacy of the Dean movement: the fundraising juggernaut that he and Joe Trippi shrewdly organized. Whoever can capture the concept and effectively pitch it to the base will have the means to actually challenge for the election. Because, let's face it, money trumps all. Which is pretty sad. I'm not saying that elections can be bought--but they certainly must be paid for.

OK, that's a pretty long post--especially considering that I've referenced no one link. I guess it's an editorial.

Will be back a little later with some more thoughts, but I need to do some stuff over here, and I also want to get a feel for what others are saying.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Feelin Groovy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Singer Art Garfunkel got busted for marijuana possession by a New York state trooper who had no idea he was arresting half of the legendary '60s duo Simon and Garfunkel, police said on Thursday.
The trooper arrested Garfunkel, 62, after stopping the driver of his limousine for speeding on Saturday in Hurley, New York, 90 miles north of New York City, police said.

"The trooper noted a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle," police said. "The trooper found a small amount of marijuana in Garfunkel's jacket pocket."

Adding insult to injury, police said the arresting officer did not recognize Garfunkel, known with Paul Simon for singing such rock classics as "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," "Sounds of Silence" and "Scarborough Fair."

Garfunkel, the only passenger, was due to appear next Wednesday at the Town of Hurley Court charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. He faces a $100 fine. The driver got a ticket for driving 61 mph in a 45-mph zone.

Simon and Garfunkel just completed a successful reunion tour in the United States.
Kucinich Wins Here

Check out today's Fanatical Apathy. LOL.
From Mary, via Atrios

The article is from the online version of the Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON -- Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

Once again, Robert Novak is implicated--apparently he received copies of the purloined memos, and used them as the basis of at least one column, if not several. Bob says he won't comment--imagine that--although I wonder if he'd crack under Susan MacDougal-like time for contempt.

This is my favorite paragraph, by the way:

As the extent to which Democratic communications were monitored came into sharper focus, Republicans yesterday offered a new defense. They said that in the summer of 2002, their computer technician informed his Democratic counterpart of the glitch, but Democrats did nothing to fix the problem.

In other words, the "hey, how can you expect Republicans to be ethical?" defense. By the way, the Democrats assert that they were NOT informed of the problem until November 2003.

Regardless of when the Democrats became aware of the problem, the fact that Republicans will stoop to this level of ethical relativism is a clear indication of their patterns of behavior that have been evident certainly since the 2000 election, and indeed, throughout the rise of the neo-con movement. I mean, shit, you had goddamned Henry Hyde on Clinton's Impeachment Committee...Newt Gingrich parsing the difference between oral sex and intercourse...and Bob Livingston almost becoming Speaker, until Larry Flynt cut him down to size.

Then there's Enron "gaming" the energy markets to stick it to California consumers. And, recently a Connecticut utility, in the face of the coldest New England temperatures in fifty years, chose to sell natural gas in the spot market instead of using it to produce electricity--while threatening to impose rolling blackouts on consumers who had the temerity to want to stay warm.

I haven't even mentioned Halliburton, they of the "charge $2.50 a gallon to the government for gasoline that costs seventy cents to buy wholesale." Nothing like a no-bid contract to make you want to take a three-hour lunch.

Now you have this. What the hell else is it going to take before people realize that the Republican neo-con movement doesn't give a damn about anything except keeping their greedy hands in the till for as long as it takes to steal it all? Because that's what they want--all of it. Their attitude is that the public, i.e., the rest of us, have for too long demanded such luxuries as jobs, pensions, health care (I'm sure they thank god we've accepted the patchwork that doubles for a health care system here)--and, heaven's forbid, child-care and public education...

They won't be satisfied until they've returned the country to 19th century conditions...
The Enemy of the Enemy is My Friend

Check out Rolling Stone's interview with Kevin Phillips, conservative author of American Dynasty, which places the Bush family under careful scrutiny, and finds them wanting.


By the time George W. [Bush] came in, he was a product of a family that was more embroiled in the Middle East than almost any other American family -- to say nothing of any other major American political family. The administration has not been interested in turning over any rocks that represent Saudi Arabia, because the Bush family has been in bed with them for so long. In addition, many of the people surrounding the president are former retainers of his father. They wanted to nail Saddam because he got away from them before. That's a central element of restorations: the settling of old scores.


Enron is a prime example of [cronyism]. No other presidential family has made such prolonged efforts on behalf of a single corporation. This was the first scandal spread out over two generations, and it was the biggest in terms of size. Enron was the nation's fifth-largest company when it went belly up -- it had a lot more impact on the economy than the small oil companies in the Teapot Dome scandal. Ken Lay needed government favoritism, and the Bushes supplied it. George W. made calls to drum up business for him in Texas, and George H.W. made Lay the chief planner for a G-7 meeting, which helped Enron get approval for major overseas projects. Thanks in large part to the Bushes, Enron received more than $7 billion in government subsidies.

Why doesn't the media focus on the fact that Bush is alienating at least some of the conservative base, namely, those who recognize the necessity of a world view that involves--sorry to sound like John Madden's football comments--viewing the world. The Bush position on world affairs shows a profound, and dangerous, indifference regarding global opinion. As I've noted before, this could become a REAL problem in the not-too-distant future: The United States needs allies, not organized competition from the rest of the industrial world, or, for that matter, the emerging industrial nations. Either group could cause problems, especially if the under-developed nations view the US as little more than a bully that should be avoided if possible.

Why won't the media look into THAT story?

The Iraq lesson will not be lost on underdeveloped nations. A country that was willing to do business with the US, even as we tacitly encouraged it to press on with a foolish war against Iran. A country that needed to be slapped down because it was getting too uppity--hence, the mixed signals on Kuwait. A country that suffered under sanctions so harsh that the UN coordinator for humanitarian relief in Iraq, Denis Halliday, resigned in disgust. A country where hundreds of thousands of ordinary, innocent people were systematically eliminated in the effort to show it "who was boss." A country that is now literally toxic due to substances like uranium dust (from depleted uranium shells we've fired during the two wars). Finally, a country that was to be the showcase for the younger Bush's electability, via invasion and occupation--although the total breakdown in civil society has made the Iraq issue less a means to coronate Dubya, and more just a pile of dirt to be swept under a rug.

When the facts finally emerge, the right which has bought into the myths of George the younger will have a lot of explaining to do. The media which reports these myths as fact will have some explaining of their own to do as well.

Giordano Applies His Considerable Powers of Intellect

Here and here. BigLeftOutside is a site I hit often--or, in his words, it's "frequently consulted."

Al, as noted below (scroll if you want) predicted a Kerry resurgence. While his reasoning is more described than explained, he pretty much was the ONLY person who beat the polls in his forecast. If you ask me, anyone can write a lead based on Zogby's data. It's a LOT harder to explain a deep down feeling, based on wisdom and experience.

Note: the first link above is to "The Blogging of The President"--look for Giordano's remarks in the comments section.

John Edwards as Rock Star

Man, I'm sitting here watching him on CSpan right now, and he sounds/looks like a political version of Dontrelle Willis. Don't get me wrong: Dontrelle had a rocky post-season, and something tells me that Edwards, at some point, is going to find himself with two on and no outs, facing Ivan Rodriguez. But right now he's looking like he's won eight out of his first ten starts. He just referenced his accent, and, yeah, that means something to me.

The bump from Iowa is helping. The stump speech has some nice talking points, and, while I often forget to take into consideration the looks/star quality factor, something tells me don't count it out in his case. That was one of the big ways I underestimated Clinton back in 1992, even as my attitude at the time was more like "I don't find him quite as disagreeable as Tsongas."

Edwards positions resonate much more positively with me than Clinton--that's for sure. As far as his past as a "trial lawyer:" If I had a consultant's position, I'd urge him to come out swinging--"sure, I argued to convince a jury, in the public setting of a courthouse, open to all who wished to witness. George Bush, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and THEIR LOBBYISTS slink around at closed-door fundraisers, in back rooms, buying and selling influence--you decide what's worse." That could sell to the public, provided the media actually did their job.

Still, I think Edwards is slated for a No. 2 spot on the ticket. Could be a good thing, though. I think it was Rude Pundit that said it best: he could make Dick Cheney look like "the walking corpse that he is."

Just checked: it was Rude Pundit (scroll down for the specific post).

If the press doesn't fall into the "trial lawyer" witchhunt, Edwards could really hurt Bush this fall, as the top or second spot on the ticket.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Alright, One More SOunTrUe Reference

" I have had the honor of meeting our servicemen and women at many posts, from the deck of a carrier in the Pacific, to a mess hall in Baghdad." George W. Bush

Fake turkee and fake fighter jock--what a combination. "The stuff of national leadership?" Sounds like he's been in a spider-hole for a while.
SOunTrUe Part III

Part three of The Godfather Trilogy stunk. I hope that isn't the case with this post.

I'm in total agreement with Timshel on this: Mary's instant analysis made me laugh from start to finish. If you've got a big enough computer monitor, put her comments and the text of the speech side-by-side. Mary hit a grand slam home run.

I took a look at Ken Wheaton's analysis to get a conservative perspective--I'll refrain from comment for now.

Found the swipe at Clinton in the text (and heard it last night on the recast)--raw meat for the fanatics. I noted below that they'll have a field day with this, regardless of the fact that it's a big bullshit rumproast for the storm troopers. This is the kind of crap dished out by the Republicans that must either be repaid in kind, or, by mutual agreement, stopped by the major parties. If they want to cut it out, fine; otherwise, I want to see Bush REALLY being called to task about ALL the evidence he IGNORED in the Summer of 2001 regarding Al Qaeda, airplanes, and targets, or why Iraq means ANYTHING--no Iraqis were involved in 1993, and none in 2001, etc. etc. etc. If the press doesn't NAIL HIM TO THE FUCKING WALL ON THIS, then they are little more than sell-out hacks who should be taken to North Dakota in the middle of winter and dumped without any heavy clothes.

The Kay report: below I wrote about Dean taking chicken-shit and trying to make chicken salad out of Iowa. Bush's comments regarding the Kay report might outdo Dean in this regard. He should be HAMMERED on this, if the press has any sense of responsibility. Last year's speech didn't say "yellowcake," but it DID say uranium.

Another example:

2003: Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax ... 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin…materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent …upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents.

2004: We're seeking all the facts - already the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the dictator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day.

Weapons programs (like, I don't know, the missile drawing in the notebook, say?) are NOT the same thing as 25,000 liters, 38,000 liters, 500 tons, or 30,000 munitions. Sorry, but the only way that can be spun is with a compliant sheep-like media. Which is why I say send 'em to North Dakota: let 'em eat grass.

Below I had a few remarks about the seventeen "willing" countries that made it into the speech, and the seventeen "willing to cheerlead" countries that had to make do with riding the pine, as it were. I also had some comments on just what a bald-faced lie "freedom for the Iraqi people" is. Mark my words: Bush/Rove, et al, are petrified (maybe that explains Cheney's red face and poor posture) that Iraq will explode into civil war before November--sort of an anti-October surprise. There is nothing so low that they won't stoop to in order to hide the disaster there.

Laffed when they introduced "the current president of the Iraqi Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi." Does anyone care that the Iraqis themselves call the I.G.C. the "twenty five thieves?" Pachachi probably makes for a better fit than Chalabi--Bush should thank his lucky stars that the monthy "president" is decided on the basis of last-name-alphabetically.

As far as the "domestic" agenda--Timshel has more good commentary, and Rude Pundit makes an interesting observation: Compare any domestic initiative with the deficit and ask yourself: will this REALLY ever make the light of day? Probably not.

Note: the Rude Pundit makes me laugh, but be warned: he's fond of graphic metaphors that sometimes don't sit all that well with me, at least in regards to 'public' commentary--if blogs can really be considered public, that is.

Finally: Fanatical Apathy had the best SOTU drinking game, in my opinion, check it out here. He apparently survived the game, but today's post seems to suggest that he didn't spend much time as "The Future."
More SOunTrUe

I decided to compare and contrast the seventeen countries that made it by NAME into the speech, and the seventeen countries that had to settle for the much more generic "seventeen other countries:"

Made the list:
Britain--can't argue with that one.
Australia--in firm possession of the bronze medal.
Japan--they promised--so what if they haven't actually delivered yet?
South Korea--"Did you say 'Iraq?' we thought you meant North..."
Phillipines--Fighting a fundamentalist Islamic revolution of their own, and we're providing them with aid, so...
Thailand--Good to hear that Neil Bush has nothing to fear--um, from terrorists, that is.
Italy--Government, si, the public, no.
Spain--See Italy.
Poland--Troops=Expansion fee. Don't expect too many free agents, and you don't get the first pick in the draft either--but here's a little money under the table. Don't expect to rise from the cellar anytime soon.
Denmark--Glad to hear we have support from a genuine first-world nation, more or less. What's their contribution again?
Hungary--See Poland.
Bulgaria--Donated space for small base Amerikanski.
Romania--See Poland.
Ukraine--Airbase Amerikanski, ja.
Norway--Thanks for the limited naming rights. Those Olympics sure were nice back when--whenever they were there.
Netherlands--We won't harass you at the airport--unless you're carrying drugs.

And, last but not least: El Salvador! Congratulations, El Salvador--you've won some surplus US military equipment!

And here are the seventeen that didn't quite have what it takes:

Afghanistan--Can only think that maybe some rubble from Kabul made it across the border.
Albania--Sorry, kid, we're sending you back to the minors.
Azerbaijan--This could have been by mutual agreement between oilmen...
Colombia--Did we tell you that we're also engaged in significant combat operations in our own hemisphere? No? What did I just say? Nothing...(whistles)
Czech Republic--Sending a poem doesn't get you on the "A" list. But, we'll admit, it was real close between you and El Salvador. Better luck next time.
Eritrea--Bet Bush couldn't pronounce it. (Ari--Eerie--Atri--aria?)
Estonia--I'm kind of seeing a trend--could it be that these countries just sorta--signed a list or something? You didn't PAY them for their signiture, did you?
Ethiopia--Could be a nice place to retreat to in a "worst-case" scenario. Sort of like the Pusan--but only "just in case."
Georgia--Was that the Schevardnadze government, or the new government?--hey, who's in charge there anyway?
Latvia--See Estonia.
Lithuania--Could these countries sue for discrimination? Not if we clamp down on frivolous lawsuits!
Macedonia--See Eritrea.
Nicaragua--Another close race with Czech and El Salvador--but we still haven't gotten over that Sandinista thing.
Slovakia--Is that Slovakia or Slovenia? Just want to be sure...ah, what the hell...heads, it's Slovakia, tails..
Turkey--No turkee, but a little cash under the radar. Now, we get flyover rights, right?
Uzbekistan--I can just see this--ok, we'll give you the photo-op, the bases, and the military aid, but otherwise stay out of site, ok Karimov? Look, I don't want anyone to see we're doing business, see? This just wouldn't look, is it I-s-l-O-m or I-s-l-A-m that I need to write on this check?

Actually, I'm sure we have some nice parting gifts for ALL the B-listers.


I've only heard a little of the speech itself, although between the usual websites I'm getting a feel for the event. Great comment on CSPan: "I think [Bush] has one oar in the water and is ready for the rubber room." This after correctly stating that the prescription drug benefit is really a subsidy to pharmeceutical companies. He closed noting the irony of planning a trip to the moon while putting a $500 billion dollar deficit on the credit card.

One Republican--in Little Rock, no less--picked up on something I heard on the drive home: Dan Schoor noted a comment by Bush implying that Clinton didn't finish the job off after the first Trade Center bombing back in 1993. Hell, maybe they'll try to argue that as the idea for invading Iraq--jeez. Anyway, the caller literally said that "the Democrats sure didn't go after them when THEY were in office." Little Rock people cartainly do sound sincere when they lie.

Found a transcript of the speech, and am trying to scan it--although CSpan is running it again really soon. You know, one thing that has been really troubling me for a while is the insistence that Iraq is "free." Hey, everyone, wake up: the Iraqi people are NOT free. They are living under an amalgam of Occupation Law, as defined by the Geneva Conventions, some literal martial law, either via our soldiers or the various militias, gangs, and whatnot, Sharia, or Religious Law, partly defined by I.G.C. fiat (see here, and here), and Religious Law as defined by the various mullahs and ayatollahs depending on their relative importance in a particular region in conjunction with any or all of the above--then there are also local councils, some owing alliegance to the US, others either a combination of the above or something different entirely. This ISN'T "free."

The implications of this is that there is a real good chance of civil war regardless of the presence of US--oh, excuse me, the coalition countries--on the ground. No way this comes even close to freedom.

But the recast is beginning, so I'm gonna close for a spell and listen in. If I hear/read anything that stands out, I'll post above.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Slow Post Day

Hopefully there's plenty of stuff below for folks to peruse, laugh a bit, maybe even get a little angry, etc. etc. Back at work, so light posting today. Also have a tennis match scheduled for tonight--yeah, in spite of the relatively cold temps (should be in the low to mid 40's--above zero, in Fahrenheit--jeez, did I really live for TEN years in the Upper Midwest, where a mid 40 above evening in January would be greeted with a barbeque? Madison reality check here).

If I come across something really good, I'll post it this evening, although those who need a fix ought to check out Counterpunch, which has a good article about Iowa. For those not inclined to think poorly of Democrats, fair warning. Cockburn and St. Clair take no prisioners, repeating Gore Vidal's take on John Kerry: "[He] looks like Lincoln...after the assassination."

But if that upsets you, skip it and go instead to Stan Goff's contribution, which contrasts statements by Martin Luther King, Jr., The Federation of American Scientists, and, I guess because morons need equal time too, remarks by George W. Bush. Goff describes as "pornographic...a snuff film," recent footage showing an Apache helicopter being all it can be. His link is outdated, but a quick google search produced this link, and you can download the mpeg from there. I'll withhold judgement beyond noting that, again, there seems to be a certain dualism vis-a-vis Operation Winning-Hearts-and-Minds and Operation Kill-Them- All-and-Let-God-Sort-Them-Out. Maybe it's just me, but I get the feeling the Iraqis aren't going to exactly accept the hour-by-hour shift in policy and will likely continue to make things miserable for the Anglo-American coalition + the several dozen "beards" from various countries we managed to bribe convince to get with the team and go in for the big win.

But maybe war news isn't really something you want to think about right now. If that's the case, take this out for a spin. Dave Louthan worked at Vern's Moses Lake Meats--that doesn't ring a bell? Here's a hint: This is where the cow diagnosed with BSE was slaughtered. Louthan spoke to the press about it, and gives his account. Short version: guess what--the cow with BSE WASN'T a downer cow, but a "walker" that simply was old. The USDA's response is almost worse than no response at all, especially considering that a simple test could be done to ALL slaughtered cattle. But why let that get in the way of a few pennies extra in profit.

Would you like fries with your BSE?

Back later.
Drunk Driving and Adultery

OK, I saw this quote--after I stopped by Atrios and BigLeftOutside--from Tucker Carlson as cited by Tom Schaler posting at DailyKos.

"Rooting for Dean is fun, it's exciting, but in a way that adultery and drunk driving are fun and exciting - the next day, you're like, `What was I thinking?'," said Carlson.

When I see stuff like this, I'm going to write it down or post it or something. Recently (I think it was an Atrios link) I saw a post listing more than a dozen references to Democrats as Nazis, courtesy of the rightwing media shock troops who work for the Republican party. Before Ed Gillepsie whines and moans about MoveOn, he needs to put his own house in order.

If Tucker Carlson and his ilk want to paint a metaphor using terminology like drunk driving and adultery to describe the Dean campaign, then the right should accept similar images of their own agenda--say, for instance, if one describes the Bush presidency as the equivalent of driving drunk. Or, maybe we can suggest that Bush is in bed with corporate interests.

Or we can drop the whole thing if Carlson and the pundits agree to do the same, although I doubt they will. Their job is to come up with crap like this, which has the dual effect of cheapening the race and ensuring that Tucker has a steady supply of bow ties.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Makes Sense

Late UpdateWatching Kerry's speech again. Max Cleland is on the stage with him. Another individual on the short list for Vice Presidential candidates, if you ask me.

A few quick thoughts on Iowa: John Kerry seems like a good second-choice for a lot of folks. Am watching his speech on C-Span, and haven't looked at the pundits or whatever I write is based on the opinion of one.

Kerry made an out-in-the-open appeal to Gephardt voters--sounded a little like a eulogy. I wonder if he and Gephardt made some sort of deal in the end like the one between Edwards and Kucinich. Watched a little of C-Span's coverage of one precinct but there were plenty of dead spots and I ended up viewing the PBS show on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gephardt is on now--Channel 9 reported he dropped out, and that's what it sounds like right now. The local channel in Iowa that C-Span is airing has head shots of the remaining seven. All they needed was a graphic of the congressman with an "X" through it.

And now they're going to the phones. Republicans will march in lock-step declaring Kerry too liberal or two northern, which to them means the same thing. They've only taken a couple of Democratic calls so far, so no trend there yet. There's an Iowa-line and a caller is giving a blow-by-blow account of the evening (he started with Kucinich, but ended up with Edwards).

Al Giordano has been forecasting a Kerry comeback for a long time, and he got it right on this one. Whether it will propel him to a comeback in New Hampshire is open to question.

Saw just a little bit of the media coverage of Dean at the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. I keep reading conflicting stories as to what was happening at the event. This is bad enough, but the video was worse. (Note: I hate having to think about politics in terms of twenty-seconds of video and sound bytes, but sadly that's become the case).

The Republicans will almost certainly resurrect old footage of Kerry--that is, if Iowa portends a trend--from his V.V.A.W. days in an attempt to make him less palatable to Southern voters.

As for votes breaking for Edwards? I don't know what to think. Certainly some Kucinich votes helped, but there was more than to it than that. The turnout in a number of places was high, according to the C-Span callers who attended. Edwards might also be another good second-choice here--Southern, with a 'positive' message, etc. etc. etc. Clinton without the baggage, but look for the Republicans to tar-and-feather him with the "trial lawyer" smear.

OK, maybe Kerry didn't cut a back-room deal with Gephardt--just saw Edwards give the same eulogy almost line-for-line. Sounds like the winning coach putting in a kind word for the vanquished team.

Edwards invoked the name of JFK--Kennedy, that is. Am thinking that John F. Kerry is said to have self-consciously used the coincidence in his youth--again, red meat for the Republicans, though a good campaign manager should be able to deflect that.

Edwards will have to raise some money quickly if he wants to benefit. Otherwise, in spite of his denials, look for him on a short list of Vice-Presidential candidates. Admission: I tuned into Nightline just in time to catch a beaming John Edwards attributing his showing to essentially the power of positive thinking. It could work...but the Republicans will try to hammer him on national security issues.

Ted's got Dean on the air now: he began with an Abe Lincoln adage, and is playing nice-cop. Dean is trying to turn chicken-shit into chicken salad. He's not displaying any sign of "weakness" or "irony" which is probably the best strategy for now. But now he's invoking the ghost of Harry Truman, which hasn't been a good sign for any candidate since Truman himself.

Kerry gets his two minutes. He's got the presidential lingo down. One thing I've noticed about the Senator is that he always manages to speak a lot but say little. Now, to his credit, he just went through a laundry list of accomplishments and promises. He just hit Bush hard with a number of statements, and nicely summed up his qualifications. Again, if this actually translates into a groundswell of support, he'll have to get the hits on Bush to stick while somehow deflecting a Shock-and- Awe-style barrage of charges from the RNC. This could get interesting if Bush's military record became an issue--this could get REAL interesting--especially watching the Republicans--they will pull out all the stops on all fronts to keep the Lt. AWOL material--and the embarrassing "Mission Accomplished" fiasco--out of the realm of media scrutiny. That could get nasty.

I'll be honest: I thought Dean had this thing pretty well wrapped up, but am beginning to consider otherwise. Of course, the primary process is different from tonight, and he's still got a huge money advantage. He's also the de facto spokesperson for the progressive wing of the party. But I wonder if Iowa portends a trend that will force progressives to look to a compromise: accept Kerry or perhaps Clark--truly the wildcard in the race now--in order to forge a coalition large enough to defeat Bush.

Maybe Joe Lieberman will simply drift away, but I doubt it. He'll go all-in for New Hampshire, and hopefully drop out after a dismal showing, thereby keeping him from sniping away in his droning manner at whoever the front-runner is...

Democrats don't need Joe generating Republican talking points. They'll be working overtime throwing mud on their own, without Joe's help. And, let's face it, this will be a difficult election. Bush, for all his weaknesses as a candidate, will benefit immensely from incumbency and from the national security crisis the Republicans have manufactured. Whether or not there's an October "surprise"--and I'm just cynical enough to believe they'll try one if they think they can get away with it (there's the small possibility that a genuine October surprise could land in Dubya's lap)-- they'll do their best and then some to make sure that no one but a carefully vetted studio audience--or captive audience in the case of a "presidential" event--will have any contact with their candidate. Bush will run the most scripted campaign in history. He'll have as few debates as possible, and will do everything short of physically wrapping himself in a flag--again, in front of a carefully vetted studio audience--while making sure we all see the big plane, the presidential seal, etc. etc.

I guess that a lot of words about one "vote" in the process, but why the hell not add my (adjusted for inflation) two cents worth. To be honest, there were elements of the caucus that I thought were interesting. It can be good to participate in the political process in a slightly more active matter than casting a ballot.

Cut back to C-Span again to watch the Dean speech in longhand. He's preaching hard and heavy to the converted. The strain in his voice is evident. It's probably from sheer exhaustion and a too many speeches, but the pundits will talk about his red-face and shrill tone. And yeah, there's gotta be a good bit of sting as well. This was his to lose as little as a week ago, and he managed to do just that. Again, though, his organization and financing make it hard to say he's through, although the talking heads will paint New Hampshire as a make-or-break State for HIM now.

As I've said before, I'll support anyone who can defeat Bush, because that is the larger issue. I thought Dean had a lock, now it looks like an open race. None of the candidates have blown me away, but I'll take any of them before Bush, who has managed to wreck the economy, develop A.D.D. in regards to eliminating Al Qaeda in favor of "the quagmire strategy" in a foolish war against Iraq, and generally show an arrogance and partisanship that neither befits the office of the Presidency in general nor speaks anything but contempt for the public, considering the manner in which this Administration took office.

Now I'll read a little bit of what others are saying. Later.

Lies and Credibility

A comment from "Holden Caulfield" at Atrios linked to this interesting story in today's Washington Post. To further the point, here's a succinct, easy-to-read table listing the claims by the Bush Administration which are contradicted by the facts as they now stand almost ten months after the invasion.

A summary of the table:

Regarding Biological Weapons in Iraq: No weaponized agents found.

Regarding Chemical Weapons in Iraq: No weapons found. Appears none were produced after 1991.

Regarding Nuclear Weapons in Iraq: No evidence of any active program.

"The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it." Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, December 5, 2002.

"If we do not find it, President Bush will be in serious trouble." Dick Morris, February 18, 2002 (see post below).

Currently Residing in the "Where is He Now?" Bin

The above title is a lot less offensive than my original idea, which was "Dick," to be followed in this post by "Morris, that is." Actually, DM is, among other things, lending his name to As far as any dalliances with prostitutes, well, you'd have to ask him yourself.

A comment at Today In Iraq provided a copy/paste URL to a most interesting article said Mr. Morris wrote for The Hill just about a year ago. Aside: I hear Dubya has a penchant for giving people nicknames. It may just be me, but I get the strangest feeling that Morris' moniker would have been either "Toe," "Toesucker," or, perhaps, simply "DickieMo."

Another aside: I came across this yesterday over at Bad Attitudes. Author Jerome Doolittle recounts his time spent as a roustabout in Odessa, Texas, one summer. Nicknamed "Slim," he notes that one day someone asked him what his real name was:

But one day while we were eating lunch somebody asked me, “Slim, what’s your name, anyway?”

And somebody else jumped right on top of him. “Why, you goddamned old fool,” the second man said, “it ain’t none of your business what that boy’s name is. If he’d have wanted you to know, he’d have told you.”

So that’s what was going on, at least in McCamey. Grown-ups seemed to use nicknames to be courteous, to respect the dignity and privacy of even a boy.

To which I'll add my own observation: historically, Texas was a place to which many settlers uh, for lack of a better term, fled. Under those circumstances, using your real name might not be such a good thing.

But I've once again gone off topic. My post was meant to provide a little bit of the hard-hitting (sarcasm) commentary of Dick Morris. Without further adieu, take a look:

The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility

It doesn't matter what the polls say right now about the war in Iraq. When we invade, we either will or will not find what Secretary of State Colin Powell says is there. If we do not find it, President Bush will be in serious trouble. If we do, all of his critics will be.

Unlike so many issues in public policy, this one will be determined shortly one way or another. One may have to wait years before we can determine if a legislative course succeeds or fails. Usually, by the time the verdict is in, the voters have shifted their attention far away.

But Iraq either will be found to have the chemical and biological weapons we fear it has and the incipient nuclear capacity or these nightmares will prove to have been paranoid. The fact that the denouement will take place in a few weeks, while the whole world is watching, makes this outcome a seminal one for our politics and the new world order.

My money’s on President Bush. He wouldn't be pushing us toward this war unless he felt he had the goods on Saddam.

If Bush is right, the left in the United States will be discredited for many decades to come. In the opposite of the Vietnam syndrome, where the left proved to be correct — it didn't make a bit of difference in the cold war whether we won or lost in Vietnam — it will now be proven massively, totally wrong.

Politically, in the United States, Iraq will become a term like “Munich” to debunk the appeasers. Like “Vietnam” it will be a place that becomes a lesson. It will stand as the prime example of how reflexive opposition to violence undermines the long term cause of world peace. Those who are now marching for peace are on their last march.

You can read the rest of Dick's drivel here. As for more recent commentary suitable for wrapping fish, here's a New Year's Eve message where Dick apparently suffers the kind of memory lapse formerly the exclusive domain of big-shots testifying before Congress or in court. God, I never thought I'd link to the Freeper site, but I assure you it is only by means of example--shit happens.

Oh, by the way--recall the 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war? CNN really played this up--(sung to the tune of "At Last") At last, my WMD has come along, all these foolish justifications are over, and this press conference is like a song...

Uh--wait a minute: Talkingpointsmemo links to a BBC article which states that "Three dozen mortar shells uncovered in Iraq earlier this month had no chemical agents..." although there's still faint hope: "About 50 more shells are thought to still be buried in the area." And if THAT doesn't pan out, they can always go jump in the river: "Local residents told troops they had recovered about 400 shells in recent years and had thrown them in the Tigris river, AP reported."

Reason No. 11--Makes for a Great Secure, Undisclosed Location

From TalkLeft, a link to Balkinization. The Top Ten Reasons for Bush's Mars Initiative.

Flash: Damn. Skippy, in the comments section, linked to David Letterman's Top Ten List on the same theme: Undisclosed Location comes in at Number 10.
You've Gotta be Kidding Me

TalkingPointsMemo has a link to CalPundit that gives you a real good idea of just what kind of loon Richard Perle is--apologies to genuine avian loons, who are unfairly maligned birds (and they make nice decorations on Canadian dollar coins). Drum recently read Charlie Wilson's War, an account of the Texas congressman's effort to supply the mujahadeen during the 1980's. Seems that, back when we were establishing the Afghan mujahadeen movement--which morphed into the Taliban (see post below regarding Rambo III helping the nascent Taliban kick Soviet butt)--Perle hit upon what, in his twisted sense of reality, was a splendid little idea. Why not score a propaganda coup against the godless communists by enticing Soviet soldiers to desert to the Afghan side?

Um--one little problem: Soviet prisoners of war who weren't shot within a day or so usually ended up in a state that probably had them wishing they WERE dead. As far as defectors--well, read the CalPundit link--especially the Bill Casey quote. Ah, what the hell, here's what Casey said:

"What asshole would want to defect to these animals?"

Needless to say, his little scheme went nowhere--apparently they managed to find about a dozen "live" if not exactly living Red Army prisoners, of which three or four managed to make it to the United States, where they were quickly forgotten, including the one who robbed a 7-Eleven in Virginia.

As Mr. Drum says, consider Perle's grasp of reality whenever he opens his mouth. I think he'd have to take several steps back to this side of the fence before he can even be considered a genuine crackpot.

Al Giordano notes that Wes Clark (who Today in Iraq lists as his personal choice for the Democratic nomination) continues to defend the School of the Americas, a Fort Benning, Georgia, institution that has produced some of the most vicious individuals ever to hold official or unofficial positions of power in Latin America.

Giordano links to this Common Dreams article that notes Clark, to his credit, admits that some pretty horrible guys have matriculated at the institution--people like Roberto D'Abuisson, Manuel Noriega, and nineteen individuals implicated in the murders of seven Jesuit priests and two lay workers in El Salvador in 1989.

If Clark wins the nomination--hell, if JOE LIEBERMAN somehow wins it--my vote will go against Bush. But regardless of who comes out on top, the School is a discredited institution that should be shut down. Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois, a Louisianian, and Vietnam veteran, who has made closing the school a lifelong pursuit. Here's some additional information on Father Roy. And here's a speech he delivered not quite two years ago regarding his life, and his work, at SUNY in Stony Brook, New York.

General Clark's support for the school won't keep him from getting my vote if he's the nominee. But I will continue to speak out against what many Latin Americans call La Escuela del Golpes--School of the Coups--or La Escuela de los Asesinos--School of the Assassins. I will continue to support in any way I can the work of Father Bourgeios and those dedicated individuals who seek to rid this nation of one of the most appalling institutions in existence. If General Clark becomes President Clark, we should work strongly to convince him that the school is anathema to the needs of Latin America.
Congratulations to Today in Iraq

The site's traffic topped the 100,000 mark over the weekend. Here yankeedoodle explains his purpose. A small excerpt:

As I watched the US press coverage of the run-up to the war, I realized that the American media is incapable of following a story beyond a 24-hour news cycle, and they will only cover a story if there is dramatic film footage. As a result, the media only covers specific events in a selective fashion. They don't cover patterns...

I've only got two rules. (1) Every soldier killed or wounded gets a specific entry that gives his or her name and something about their lives. When I do my daily news searches, I look for those stories first. (2) Every attack on a US soldier, Iraqi policeman, car bombing, or other act of insurgency gets preceded with "Bring 'em on" in memory of the belligerent fool who invited those attacks.

The comments on the media are about as accurate as it gets. As to noting the individuals who've been killed or wounded, compare this to the form letter send out by Bush--and the closing of Dover Air Base to photographers, and the fact that Bush hasn't attended a single funeral for any of the soldiers lost in the war.

Today in Iraq is on my list of must read websites, and I encourage everyone seeking news about the war to visit the site often.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Almost Forgot--Bill Bennet Got "Punk'd" Last Week:

From the New York Daily News--scroll down to the end.

[William] Bennett, the former drug czar who remains a staunch opponent of legalizing recreational substances, was the victim of a practical joke during a speech to college students in Manchester.

Members of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy passed out plastic cups and invited people to send Bennett urine samples. And one, Brian Gralnik, got Bennett to autograph the inside cover of a book titled "Winning Casino Blackjack for the Non-Counter."

Ex-gambler Bennett - whose preferred Las Vegas pastimes were video poker and the slot machines - said he signed several books on the way out of the auditorium and didn't look at the titles.

No, It's Not Anti-Semitic

Snow White and the Madness of Truth is on exhibit at the Stockholm Museum of Antiquities. The installation consists of a miniature boat floating in blood-red water. On the boat is a picture of Palestinian suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat, a 29-year-old trainee lawyer, who last October detonated a bomb in a Haifa restaurant, killing herself and twenty one others.

The work was created by Israel-born Dror Feiler and his wife Gunilla Skold Feiler. He asserts that the purpose of the piece is "[to] call attention to how weak people left alone can be capable of horrible things."

On Friday, Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel disconnected the cables of a mounted spotlight at Stockholm's Museum of National Antiquities on Friday causing it to crash into the work, the artist Dror Feiler told CNN Sunday.

Mazel told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he did not cut or rip the electrical wires but unplugged electrical projectors that provided lighting to the display. He told Haaretz it was an act of protest.

The New York Times, under the heading Israel Diplomat Defends Attack on Bomber Art in Stockholm notes Mazel as defending his actions based on the photograph of the woman, specifically her rather normal looking, indeed, western-like appearance, which he claims belies her terrorist nature.

The Guardian UK claims that the electrical cables short circuited, creating a potentially deadly situation.

In the press the range of debate runs the gamut from Ariel Sharon, who defended the Ambassador's action, to Ehud Barak, who said, "There are definitely instances where nondiplomatic behavior can send a message in a more correct manner."

The Times article has a small photograph, while the CNN story carries a picture that gives a sense of scale.

Snow White and the Madness of Truth. A photograph on a miniature boat showing a normal-looking young woman in a blood-red sea. A normal looking young woman who committed a horrific act. Doesn't the metaphor "at sea," or "out to sea," or "adrift" mean anything to these so-called critics?

The right has for years simultaneously railed against "political correctness" but at the same time engages in a good bit of it themselves. The narrow-minded individuals who can't see past their noses are at work here. The piece does not glorify suicide bombers any more than saying the young woman was adrift or out-to-sea when she did this is a compliment. It's not.

The piece is a statement on the continued bloodshed in the region, which has lost all sense of meaning, hence the TITLE. The truth is that seemingly normal individuals like Hanadi Jaradat are engaging in acts of madness--the result of being completely adrift in the insanity that is the conflict between Israel and Palestine. What part of that DON'T they get?

Sure, the installation doesn't depict Ms. Jaradat as fanatic and wild-eyed. That's the problem. It is no longer the zanies and the yahoos (yes, yahoos exist in the Middle East--hell, they exist everywhere) who engage in acts of terrorism, although those who are criticizing the piece are definitely displaying a bit of their own inner yahoos. I'll bet one reason why the bomber was able to get as far as she did was BECAUSE she seemed otherwise normal. A "suspicious" looking person would be detained, whatever "suspicious" is supposed to mean. Which is why the so-called critics again just don't get it. They instead become victims of their own blindness to the situation, which is that SOMETHING needs to be done for the sake of EVERYONE in Israel/Palestine, and needs to be done soon. Denying the existence of recent history is the equivalent of hiding your head in the sand.

By the way, you can get an Israeli take on this story here in Haaretz.

Regarding Israel and Palestine in General

The wall/fence is not going to cut it in the long term. The equivalent of bantustans, which, in the end, were what the Barak/Clinton peace plan were all about, are insufficient. The only solution that seems viable at present is a complete withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and Gaza, which will become the state of Palestine--like it or not. The alternative is continued violence which is disasterous for everyone living in the region.

And, in the end, that's what will most likely happen. For one, Jewish Israelis are in danger of becoming a minority in their own country. That alone will cause problems with the idea of a single unified nation. If Jewish people--whether in Israel or not--want to maintain the existing nature of Israel as the JEWISH NATION, then they will have to accomodate a separate nation for Palestinians. Or they will have to exile or kill the Palestinians. Period.

I would like to think that most reasonable people--and, especially, reasonable Jewish people--recognize that option two and three (exile and genocide) are unacceptable. In fact, attempts to exile will certainly result in either large-scale massacre or genocide as well.

Palestinians, for their part, will have to accept a Jewish nation that encompasses most of historical Palestine. Period. Jerusalem, which was divided along the Green Line prior to 1967, will become divided again. They can't have it all. Period. Once the twenty-two percent of historical Palestine is organized into the modern nation, Palestinians will have to aggressively pursue and arrest anyone who attempts to engage in acts of terrorism against the state of Israel--if this requires cooperation with Israeli authorities, then they must do so. Finally, the right of return for Palestinians will have to be renogiated into a means of providing compensation for those individuals and families whose property was confiscated during the 1948 war. In other words, no right to return. Likewise, Israeli citizens living in the ILLEGAL settlements in the Occupied Territories will have to accept compensation and resettlement in Israel proper. End of story.

No one would be real happy with this, but that's why it's called COMPROMISE. The military solution hasn't worked, isn't working, and won't work in the future. At this point, the ONLY possible chance at anything resembling stability in Israel/Palestine will have to be worked out politically.

What's sad is that UN Resolution 242, which essentially sets the groundwork for just this solution, has been on the books since 1967. Thirty-six years have passed since this was unanimously adopted by the UNSC. It's time we began to look into means to carry the resolution out.