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Monthly Archives: March 2006

Hate, Actually

March 20th, 2006 - 12:23 pm

Hitch muses about what the international community should have done during the lead-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom:

The other member states of the United Nations should have said: Mr. President, in principle you are correct. The list of flouted U.N. resolutions is disgracefully long. Law has been broken, genocide has been committed, other member-states have been invaded, and our own weapons inspectors insulted and coerced and cheated. Let us all collectively decide how to move long-suffering Iraq into the post-Saddam era. We shall need to consider how much to set aside to rebuild the Iraqi economy, how to sponsor free elections, how to recuperate the devastated areas of the marshes and Kurdistan, how to try the war criminals, and how many multinational forces to ready for this task. In the meantime

Caution: Naughty Words

March 20th, 2006 - 11:59 am

Richard Belzer says that our soldiers “aren’t the best people” to ask about how things are doing in Iraq. Newsbusters has the transcript and video.

When Bill Maher thinks you’ve gone too far (as he tells Belzer at the end of the clip), then you’re probably this close* to praising Kim Jong Il.


Surprise Surprise Surprise

March 20th, 2006 - 10:33 am

Medienkritik reports that anti-Americanism is on the rise in European media.

Required Reading

March 20th, 2006 - 10:19 am

It’s becoming more and more obvious that Saddam’s support for terrorism extended from Osama bin Laden all the way to the Philippines:

These documents add to the growing body of evidence confirming the Iraqi regime’s longtime support for terrorism abroad. The first of them, a series of memos from the spring of 2001, shows that the Iraqi Intelligence Service funded Abu Sayyaf, despite the reservations of some IIS officials. The second, an internal Iraqi Intelligence memo on the relationships between the IIS and Saudi opposition groups, records that Osama bin Laden requested Iraqi cooperation on terrorism and propaganda and that in January 1997 the Iraqi regime was eager to continue its relationship with bin Laden. The third, a September 15, 2001, report from an Iraqi Intelligence source in Afghanistan, contains speculation about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda and the likely U.S. response to it.

That’s Stephen F. Hayes in The Weekly Standard. Read the rest.

(Hat tip, Randy Piper.)

Give’em a Break

March 20th, 2006 - 9:57 am

In USA Today, Kathy Kiely writes

The House of Representatives is on track this year to be in session for fewer days than the Congress Harry Truman labeled as

Fun Fun Fun

March 20th, 2006 - 9:53 am

Two people emailed me over the weekend with a link to a giant Lego aircraft carrier.

All I can say is, I’m gonna need more gray bricks.

UPDATE: There’s also a life-size Volvo.

Like Whoa, Dude

March 20th, 2006 - 9:33 am

Got a vertebra out of place? Take a muscle relaxer.

Want to blog? Miss the keyboard entirely.

So that was my Sunday night. Kinda fun, if you want to know the truth. Except for walking upstairs to go to bed, and almost missing the staircase. And then almost missing the bed.

Back in a bit.


March 16th, 2006 - 10:35 pm

George Clooney: Neocon idol.

Second Line, First Rate

March 16th, 2006 - 2:38 pm

Matt Labash, one of my favorite writers over the last decade, turns in this stunning Weekly Standard piece about the first post-Katrina Mardi Gras in New Orleans. If I actually had the nerve to write for a living, I would hope to God that I’d be able to write like this:

Shane, once a happy-go-lucky type, quick to laugh and slow to anger, often feels as though he’s losing his mind. His wife, Christine, tells me that he now barks at her and everyone else over the slightest provocation, or over none at all. He also drinks too much. Formerly a good-time social drinker, he now drinks during the day, and can only sleep after several glasses of bourbon and a Xanax. “If I don’t drink, I don’t sleep–period,” he admits. When he’s not thinking about the insurance money that he can’t spend, he thinks about the savings that he already has spent (about $60,000 of it, between rentals, unreimbursed repairs, and transportation to and fro, which has seen him put over 30,000 miles on his truck in four months).

Since Katrina, he’s spent over $10,000 to board his beloved five dogs. He’s considered putting slugs in their brains, just to end their anxiety of being checked in and out of kennels when they’re used to living in a spacious barn, and having pastures to run. Because of it, they have skin problems, and have dropped all kinds of weight. The other night, Shane ended up in the emergency room, his throat swelling so severely that he had to spit in a wastebasket instead of swallowing–perhaps because of the stress, perhaps because of the mold and the toxic mud which comes up through holes in his first floor. The air quality is causing a discharge from the baby’s eyes.

Shane misses a lot of simple things: lying on a couch, which he no longer has, getting a glass of water in the middle of the night without putting on a coat, thawing his seafood in the kitchen instead of the bathroom sink, walking barefoot in his place without getting an infection. He wants out of what was once his dream house, since he can’t afford to fix it. It’s strangling him. But a part of him wants to stay.

Or this:

Rebirth [Brass Band] got their start two decades ago, hauling their high school band instruments home through the Quarter, playing for Popeye’s and beer money. A motley crew in Rocawear jerseys, Saints shirts, and headbands, their music is fierce without being angry, exuberant without being giddy. They do a short set at the Zulu event, then move across the street in front of Harrah’s casino to really air things out. I watch them take the stage, their music pulling in throngs of unsuspecting stragglers as though they had magnets attached to their foreheads. Rebirth doesn’t just kill, they smite, and not just men, but women, children, and livestock.

Their bass drum and tuba lay a tandem, chest-thumping bottom, while their stable of horn players hold the loose groove, careening around each other through the intersection, then smacking together like bumper cars. They sing, “Feel like funkin’ it up.” And they’re not the only ones. White girls in tight jeans feel like funkin’ it up. Black men in Kangols feel like funkin’ it up. Old white women dancing with young black men (not a sight you see everyday, even in New Orleans) feel like funkin’ it up. I might’ve felt like funkin’ it up, too, if I hadn’t been taking notes on all the others funkin’ it up, which, mercifully, I was.

A 12-year-old black kid jumps on the stage and feels like funkin’ it up for the rest of the show, dancing every dance he knows: the dandruff-brush, the jump-the-turnstile, the Azusa Street Fire-Baptized Holiness shake. He dances so hard, and with such conviction, that he distracts the trumpet players, making them forget themselves, as they so skillfully make the rest us do the same. Philip Frazier, the band’s cofounder and tuba player, explains how it works to me after the show: “You get white and black together. Everybody in one accord. The music just takes their souls–that’s when we’re doing our job.”

Or… oh, hell, just read the whole thing.

Three Minutes of Fun

March 16th, 2006 - 10:42 am

Before you get all excited about Microsoft’s “Origami” whatsit, click on this.

(Hat tip, Mike Daley, who made me spill my coffee.)

I suppose this was bound to happen eventually:

Pop icon PRINCE has vowed never to sing 50 of his own songs again, because of their explicit content. The PURPLE RAIN hitmaker, who became a Jehovah’s Witness six years ago (00), has removed songs including CREAM and GET OFF from his live repertoire, and insists there is enough music containing vulgar language already. He says, “You can’t push the envelope any further than I’ve pushed it. So stop. “What’s the point? So much of what we see on TV and hear on the radio is debased. I will not add to that.”

There’s a fun little game I like to play sometimes. It’s called “Summarize a Musical Artist’s Entire Output in One Sentence.” Catchy name, eh? Here are a few examples to get you started.

Morrissey: “I’m a miserable virgin homosexual and nobody loves me.”

Brian Setzer: “My car is fast and so am I and so’s my girl.”

The Bangles: “Whatever the Go-Go’s are doing, but without all the cocaine.”

Billy Idol: “I’m creepy and loud! Look at me! All creepy and loud!”

Liz Phair: “Guys suck, but I’m so so so so so so sexy, damnit.”

Peter Murphy: “When the music is darker than the lyrics are impenetrable, then you can get into the pants of Goth girlies.”

Prince: “I love Jesus, now let’s get naked and fuck before they drop the bomb.”

(And these are the things I come up with for artists I like.)

I really can’t blame Prince for his decision. Besides, it’s not like there aren’t hundreds of bootlegs of his old concerts. And have you heard his last couple albums? They come down to, “I love Jesus, so let’s get sweaty and dance.” Except for the language, not much has changed.


Good Intel

March 15th, 2006 - 10:41 pm

The idea that al Qaeda might have been operating in Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom wasn’t one of the reasons I supported the war. A search through the archives will bear that out.

That said, the al Qaeda/Iraq connection is looking strong than ever. Reading the so-called “Pentagon Papers” just published on the web by the Army, Jason Smith finds this little tidbit:

In fact, if you look at page 5 of that document, you’ll see a familiar photo… that of al-Qaida in Iraq terror leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Now remember, this document is dated before the war began.

Question is, why isn’t anyone in the White House screaming this stuff from the rooftops?

Alternate History

March 15th, 2006 - 10:38 pm

The enemy was close, but the General showed no fear as he inspected the gun emplacements. It was his nature to lead from the front. The General walked from nest to nest, happily chatting with his men but rarely smiling. Easy words and a warm hand on a shoulder got the message across: We will beat back the invaders. The General suspected, but could not reveal, that the British were preparing to withdraw from Gallipoli just as soon as the weather worsened enough to hide their movements. “We have won,” the General thought to himself. Just then, a random artillery shell exploded fifteen feet behind the line. General Mustafa Kemal, the Savior of Gallipoli, was dead.

In the world we know, Mustafa lived on to far greater glories than his victory at Gallipoli. Let me set the stage for you.

The Ottoman Empire’s surrender in 1918 was a pitiable event. The House of Osman’s fabled armies had lost everything almost everything to the Entente forces. Yet the Western Powers planned even more humilations. All of Thrace, bar Istanbul, was deeded to Greece. Armenia was to get almost all of northeastern Anatolia. Russia was moving to occupy the Straits, with Anglo-French concordance. Except for a rump state based around Ankara, the rest of Turkey was to be divvied up between Britain, France, and Italy.

Almost as soon as the Ottoman government signed the surrender instrument in Istanbul, it was repudiated by Mustafa Kemal in Ankara, where he’d established a new, republican government. Unlike the old regime, Mustafa’s government lasted long after the ink was dry on the Treaty of S


March 15th, 2006 - 6:24 pm

Radio host and consumer advisor Clark Howard will announce very soon (possibly tomorrow) that he’ll be a candidate for mayor of Atlanta in 2009.

I wish Howard well, and if I lived inside the city limits I’d vote for him (I don’t), but he’s got one major problem: he’s not even remotely corrupt, and corruption is a primary requirement for any government job in Atlanta or Fulton County.

We stayed at Solmar, which is one of the oldest hotels in Cabo San Lucas, and the last resort before Land’s End on the Pacific Ocean side of Baja California:


Quite nice. I always approve of pools with swim-up bars. If you walk down to the beach from the pool and take a left, you’ll see these rocks on the southern end of Playa Solmar:


… and here’s the view at the shoreline:


If there were only a half-submerged Statue of Liberty in the water, you’d spontaneously yell, “YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP!!!”

Gamer Tag

March 15th, 2006 - 8:48 am

It won’t surprise anybody who’s been paying attention that Sony won’t be delivering the PlayStation 3 to anyone this month. What might surprise you is that even Japan will have to wait until November:

The delay was a painful admission that packing all the newest high-tech goodies into one machine won’t be an easy task. When completed, the PS3 will play all PlayStation games, old and new, as well as high-definition movies. It will let users surf the Internet via a broadband connection and sport a 60-gigabyte hard drive to store downloaded games or music, a wireless antenna to link to other Sony gizmos, and a tiny camera for chatting with friends over a video hookup. “This is not something I like to publicize, but the hardware is going to be costly,” Kutaragi said.

How costly? It will probably cost Sony $800 each to make consoles they won’t be able to market for more than $400. Ouch.

One Last Thing

March 15th, 2006 - 12:49 am

There’s a small chance I won’t get that essay finished by lunchtime. Donald Fagen has a new album out, and I plan to spend some serious time today using it to damage my hearing.

Promises, Promises

March 14th, 2006 - 11:45 pm

Yeah, I’m writing another essay – but it won’t be ready until midday, Wednesday. In the meantime, feel free to ooh and ahh over my 11-week-old baby boy.

Here We Go Again

March 14th, 2006 - 11:06 pm

It’s an election year, and you know what that means: Our politicians are up to no good.

Sore Loser

March 14th, 2006 - 11:01 pm

Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx had a few things to say about the Oscars:

‘We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture,’ Proulx wrote. ‘Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good.

Let me get this straight – no pun intended. Hollywood types are too cloistered to understand how much support the movie version of Brokeback has in Middle America? Which leads us to another question: Is Annie Proulx smoking something?

Christmas In July

March 14th, 2006 - 10:43 pm

Or maybe August, by the time the Air Force’s Air Combat Command dots all the T’s and crosses all the I’s. Spook86 has the story:

After scrutinizing existing AF guidelines, applicable public law, and military tradition, the Command Chaplain has determined that ACC bases can have a Christmas tree, and better yet, they can refer to it as a Christmas Tree, and not a Holiday Tree (whew). In his memo, the chaplain noted that President Bush referred to the national tree in Washington as a Christmas Tree, so if it’s good enough for the commander-in-chief, it’s good enough for ACC.

Unfortunately, the memo is also a paen to political correctness. The command guidance recommends that installation Christmas Trees be located in front of the Base Chapel and not at the Wing Headquarters or Command Headquarters, since that might constitute some sort of official endorsement of the holiday, or the symbol.

And it gets worse. During official lighting ceremonies or similar events, the guidance recommends that speakers (say, the Wing Commander or Senior Installation Chaplain) recognize “other” holidays that are celebrated during the same period, including Ramadan, Hannakuh and, of course, Kwanza. Mentioning “other” holidays is supposed to be a means of promoting diversity and inclusiveness, according to the guidance.

Read the whole thing – it’s hysterically funny, just like doing your taxes.

The Walls Came Down

March 14th, 2006 - 10:13 pm

Reading the news from the West Bank gets more and more like watching an old episode of Crime Story, except with bulldozers instead of shotguns. Here’s the latest:

JERUSALEM — Israeli troops using tanks and bulldozers besieged a Palestinian prison in the West Bank town of Jericho on Tuesday, firing shells and knocking down walls before jailed militants wanted for the killing of an Israeli Cabinet minister surrendered after a 10-hour standoff.

How’s that for some pre-Miranda action?

Black Gold, Tex-Mex Tea

March 14th, 2006 - 10:04 pm

Oil dollars can be a blessing and a curse. Too much, and a country ends up like Saudi Arabia or Venezuela – corrupt and socially backwards. On the plus side: hey, lots of money. Whatever the case, Mexico is going to get a whole lot more of it:

VERACRUZ, Mexico – President Vicente Fox climbed aboard a drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday to formally announce a new deep-water oil discovery he said could eventually yield 10 billion barrels of crude oil.

This single find is almost half of the US’s total proven oil reserves – a figure difficult to square with peak oil theory.

Car Talk

March 14th, 2006 - 9:52 pm

Finally, some good news from an American automaker:

Yesterday, 1,000 Chrysler plant workers who had been idled showed up for shifts at the company

Our favorite stop in Cabo was the Monkey Business Bar, in a little cove off the main drag:


Courtesy of bartenders Ricardo and Victor…


… here’s a recipe for the Best Damn Margaritas, Ever:

2 shots Don Julio Blanco Tequila (if you ever drink Jose Cuervo, you deserve what you get)

1 shot Damiana (a local delicacy in Baja)

1 shot Controy

squirt of Madrile

I wasn’t able to fill in while Steve was sick last week because, er, I was busy drinking and swimming and generally having a good time in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico:

El Arco.jpg

More later…

We Apologize for the Inconvenience

March 14th, 2006 - 11:24 am

Hate to do it, but comment registration will be required starting tomorrow or Thursday.

The comment spambots crashed the site this morning, and only the quick ministrations of Stacy Tabb got everything working again before most people noticed. It’s my understanding that the spambot situation will get worse, so VP is succumbing to the inevitable.

I’m not sure which form of registration we’ll be using, but it ought to be fairly painless.

UPDATE: It looks like Instapundit has crashed, too – and Glenn doesn’t even have comments. Earlier, Samizdata had the same problem I did. Makes you wonder if HostMatters is suffering an organized attack.

Detroit Blues

March 14th, 2006 - 9:04 am

Auto biz journalist Michelle Krebs has given some thought to life after GM and Chapter 11:

But the Fortune piece, as well as other articles, points out the devastating effects of a GM bankruptcy. Those aftershocks make it unfathomable to contemplate for those inside and outside of GM. For starters, about 1.1 million people

Islamic Patent Office #000000006

March 14th, 2006 - 12:20 am

The 20 Most Important Islamic Inventions Ever are… ten, really.


March 14th, 2006 - 12:12 am

This is ominous:

Middle Eastern anger over the decision by the US to block a Dubai company from buying five of its ports hit the dollar yesterday as a number of central banks said they were considering switching reserves into euros.

The United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, said it was looking to move one-tenth of its dollar reserves into euros, while the governor of the Saudi Arabian central bank condemned the US move as “discrimination”.

Separately, Syria responded to US sanctions against two of its banks by confirming plans to use euros instead of dollars for its external transactions.

Forget about Syria – that poor Soviet satrap (still!) doesn’t generate enough commerce to run a small lemonade stand. But…

The UAE’s small move is a warning shot across our bow. In the worst-case scenerio, OPEC could move to the euro. The result? A dollar worth perhaps half of what it is today, along with an inflationary surge like we haven’t seen since Jimmy Carter was President. The Oil States would suffer, too, but not nearly as much as we would.

Which: A) Would explain why we’re still so nice to Saudi Arabia; and B) means we’re going to have to play even nicer for a while. Once again, Congress has passed the Law of Unintended Consequences with a veto-proof majority.

It’s nice to know that sometimes, politics still stops at the waters’ edge. Sometimes so does our long-term thinking.