April 30, 2003

But We Knew This All Along

"Men are more than twice as likely as women to die during thunderstorms, mainly because they do not come in from the rain, new research suggests," the National Post reports.

Mainly because we don't know enough to come in from the rain.

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April 29, 2003

MT Follies

If anyone wonders what is going on: Moveable Type seems to occasionally "lose" entries. I was able to access them live, but not in the database. Curious, but annoying. So I had to reconstruct entries. Now I have to figure out how to stop that from happening again.

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The Slo-o-o-o-w Creep of Fascism

Henry Norr, tech writer, was suspended and then fired by the San Francisco Chronicle after being arrested in an antiwar protest. Fascist suppression of dissent or innocent labor dispute? I'll let you conspiracy nuts sort that one out.

Norr himself apparently feels that the real reason was... Well, it was the usual reason. You know, the Jewish conspiracy. According to an interview on the loonatarian web site, Indymedia, Norr published an article last July that was too pro-Palestinian. Gee, 10 months before they figured out a way to get rid of him. I guess when fascism comes to America, it will creep in on little cat feet, with the slow oozing of a Canadian royal commission.

Lizard of AskMrLizard was pondering how a technology writer could get too political:

Capitalist pig William Gates today released a new version of the Windows Operating System, continuing to enrich his bloated, parasitic empire while billions starve in the street.

The new interface is workable, but fails to express the isolation and disempowerment of the oppressed office workers who will use it.

The new 'helper' characters for Word include the usual assortment of anthropomorphized animals, contributing to the humanocentric worldview which pervades decadent Western culture. Also, it didn't work with my graphics card.

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A Croissant Too Far

Boy, here's news that will have Rummy shaking in his shoes:
noted military powerhouses Belgium and Luxembourg are joining with "weasels" Germany and France to form a defense union.

If they make a war movie, let's see who'll play the military command:

Belgium: Barney Fife (Don Knotts)
Luxembourg: Mini-Me (Verne Troyer)
Germany: Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer)
France: Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers)

We could call it A Croissant Too Far.

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George Figures it Out for Me

George figured out what Berger was getting at. He posted a comment which is well worth reading.

Thanks, George. (If you don't know George, you should know George).

He has given me something to think about. I honestly felt that Berger had just gone over the edge. But, yes, this makes more sense than he was able to achieve.

I see this Berger article as an attempt, so common to the semiotically-inclined (of which I am not one, I have finally figured out after some 30 years) to invest politics with a motivation that arises from someone's, dare we say it, soul or at the least psyche.

Which I guess is behind this "Bush is a moron, bush is an idiot" mantra that seems to substitute for political debate these days. That is just a simplified form of the same ascribing of metapsychology to what are pretty open political issues.

Unfortunately, I also feel that this is all springing from the same well as the romantic myth-movements of the early twentieth-century that led so disastrously to the Fascist and the Communist movements. I wish I had time to explore that terrain. It may not be a mystery that this is the time when Lord of the Rings is being released. Mind you, I love the movies, but I recognize the dark form present beneath the surface.

That romantic notion is that there is some healthy, truth-seeking, peaceful path that Europeans are following and the bad, dark forces of America are undermining.

One of the problems in the world is that those on the left cannot shake off their extreme prejudice and ideological blinders and come up with a new paradigm.

But I'm too old and dull and busy, even if I were so inclined. (And lazy, of course).

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April 28, 2003

John Berger: Not Dead Yet

It's nice to know that John Berger is not dead, just brain-dead.

It is beyond me why The Nation would waste its paper and ink on such landfill as this.

Can anyone tell me what the hell this means?

Married as they are to fear, they cannot come to terms with, or find a place for, death. Fear keeps death out, and so the dead desert them. And people deserted by the dead lose any sense of continuity. The past becomes obsolete and the future frenetic and short-term. The present is reduced to a sequence of instants, unrelated to the experience of past and future lives. Those deserted by the dead find themselves alone on the planet. Married to fear, deserted by the dead, they still wield incomparable power, both economic and military, and are terrifyingly dangerous. But, in the long run, can their power survive? Ask the dead and the not-yet-born. I doubt it.

Oh well, Ways of Seeing was a pretty good book for it's time, but Berger's kindergarten Marxism got old long before this.

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Italians require Pantone intervention

Seems that some Italians are seeing red (and green) about a subtle shift in the colors of their flag. They are accusing Silvio Berlusconi of tampering with the shades, darkening the green and red and making the white ivory.

"It's a veritable chromatic coup d'etat," said Green Party president Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio. The party is so angry it wants a national referendum to allow the public to choose the right shades.

Given that Berlusconi was a publisher in his earlier life, I would be surprised if he didn't muck with the colors, it's bred in the bone. As a designer, though, I shudder at the opening of design decisions to a committee as large as a country. Looks like an opportunity for civil war.

Meanwhile, Serbia and Montenegro (the last remaining components of the rump Yugoslavia) are at knife point over their respective flags.

Looks like the UN could do more for world peace if it parachuted elite art director troops into these countries packing some serious Pantone chips and the will to use them.

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April 27, 2003

Talk about "Heavenly Coffee"

Generally I steer clear of religion, but this item was too good to pass up: The pope has beatified the "father of cappucino."

Marco d'Aviano, a wandering preacher for the Capuchin monastic order, is credited with rallying Catholics and Protestants on the eve of the Battle of Vienna in 1683, which was crucial to halting the advance of Turkish soldiers into Europe.

He is also remembered by some as the man who, by legend, inspired the fashionable cappuccino coffee now drunk by millions across the globe.

The monk, who was born in the city of his name in northern Italy in 1631, was sent by the pope of the day to unite Christians in the face of a huge Ottoman army.

Legend has it that, following the victory, the Viennese reportedly found sacks of coffee abandoned by the enemy and, finding it too strong for their taste, diluted it with cream and honey.

The drink being of a brown colour like that of the Capuchins' robes, the Viennese named it cappuccino in honour of Marco D'Aviano's order.

The BBC also notes out that the Catholic Church once considered coffee an "infidel drink."

More big "saint" news: the pope also beatified Giacomo Alberione, who will certainly someday become the Patron Saint of Mass Media. Sorry, Marshall McLuhan.

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April 26, 2003

Soap and Design, Again

The earlier post on method liquid detergent reminds me that I should also plug the products of people I actually know. Laura Cabot markets aromatherapy-related bubblebaths and shower gels under her Not Soap, Radio label. Simple packaging and smart body copy. The web site could use some work, but it has its entertainments. Shown here: Liquid Freud, when you need to turn up the volume on your inner voice of reason. Fun stuff.

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Cheating Death Yet Again

Yes, it's true. My family and I have once again cheated death, this time by visiting Toronto in the hysterical epidemic of SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

Every day that we visited my mother-in-law at her residence, the concierge stuck an electronic thermometer in our ears and made us fill in a questionnaire (admittedly it is a facility for older adults). We competed for the high/low, but I always lost (way too moderate, me).

The city was remarkably subdued, even for Toronto; except for the papers and TV news, which were foaming at the mouth. On the day I left, the WHO issued its travel advisory. Some in TO feel this was a sneaky attempt to strike a racial/ethnic/geographic balance since it wasn't yet another Asian city being smacked, but a solidly Western city this time. Ah well, Canada likes to tout itself as a solid member of the world community. So I guess that means it gives itself over freely to other's whims and agendas. There's a political message there I'm sure.

Basia was worried Friday when she flew back by reports that people were being turned away from travelling to the US. These turned out to be only rumors but it indicates the level of panic many are feeling.

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April 25, 2003

The Virtuti Militari

The Virtuti Militari is the highest honor in the Polish military, equivalent to the American Medal of Honor and the British Victoria Cross. It was instituted in 1792 and is conferred on Polish soldiers "solely for deeds of exceptional bravery and valor at the risk of their lives before an armed enemy, above and beyond the call of duty." For more on this and other Polish medals.

Andrew Hellwig (Andrzej Panczakiewicz) also held the Medal of Valor and the Monte Cassino Cross.

Update: I probably should mention that Andrew's father Adolf Panczakiewicz also received the Virtuti Militari during World War I.

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Andrew Hellwig 1921-2003

HELLWIG-PANCZAKIEWICZ, Andrew Joseph (Retired Imperial Oil engineer)

Died on April 14, 2003 in Toronto at 81. The cause was complications from Parkinson's disease.

Born on August 22, 1921 in Warsaw, Poland, Andrew was just beginning medical school in 1939 when World War II broke out. Escaping from Poland on skis, he joined the Polish 2nd Army Corps. He served as Lieutenant and was awarded Poland's highest medal for bravery, the Virtuti Militari, in Italy. After the war he completed a chemical engineering degree in London, England, where he met his wife, Betty. They emigrated to Canada in 1957 and Andrew worked at Imperial Oil from 1957-1983.

Throughout his life, Andrew took great pleasure in his time with family organizing picnics on the shores of Lake Huron, rowing and fishing in Georgian Bay, or simply tending his rose garden and watching the birds with Betty. His smile was infectious as was his deep love of his land of birth, which he passed on to all of us. His curiosity made him a wonderful travel companion, and over decades he maintained friendships with many in faraway places. We will all miss him.

He is survived by his wife, Betty, his brother, Adam, his children, Basia, John and Stefan, and his five grandchildren, Christopher, Stefan, Sasha, Zoe and Michael. Friends may call at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home, 159 Eglinton Avenue West, on Monday, April 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Basil's, 50 St. Joseph Street (at Bay) on Tuesday, April 22 at 10 am. Interment Mount Hope Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Parkinson Society Canada, 4211 Yonge Street, Suite 316, Toronto, Ontario M2P 2A9 or to the Charitable Foundation of Canadian Polish Congress, 288 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M6R 2M4. The family gives special thanks to the staff at Kensington Gardens.

Goodbye, Andrew

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April 17, 2003

method packaging

Some categories just cry out for redesign. Household cleaning products seem so locked into the Ajax/Comet/Mr. Clean, 1960's era, that it is refreshing to see an alternative.

Target Stores are selling dish detergent from method. It come in innovative, opening-on-the-bottom bottles designed by Karim Rashid.

Very nice graphics and bottles. I love the shape of the teardrop, but the dumbbell shape is more ergonomic with wet hands.

Posted by campbell at 09:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Paul Jané is my source for all things Kim Jong Il-ian. Today he posts a number of amusing DPRK news items . One in particular caught my eye (besides that Phil met Ha):

Pyongyang, March 21 (KCNA) -- A visiting group of the "Love-Neighbor Society" of South Korea led by its chairman Ri Il Ha arrived here today. They were greeted at the airport by Ho Hyok Phil, vice-chairman of the National Reconciliation Council, and officials concerned with compatriotic feelings.

I tried to start one of those societies, but my wife found out. Badaboom.

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April 16, 2003


Recently, Über-retailer IKEA launched its unböring marketing campaign. In doing so, it joined myriad ice cream manufacturers and hard rock bands in obeying the urge to umlaut.

Just published in a design/marketing publication The Ethical Huckster, a thorough history of the umlaut. You'll laugh, you'll cry ... Well, maybe not. But you'll find 2700 of my words on an orthographical mark.

Here's the original in pdf format.

By the way, The Ethical Huckster is an excellent journal of marketing published by CHMajor Design. If you ask nicely (or flash enough cash), you might get on the mailing list. Tell him I sent you.

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Honda as Art

Cars swooping over oceanfront landscapes, speeding across dry lake beds. Nah. This Honda commercial from the UK is moving in a different way.

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April 15, 2003

Stanislaw Lec

Thought for the week:

"When smashing monuments, save the pedestals — they always come in handy."
—Unkempt Thoughts

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Franchises Available

I had delayed my new empire of chip shacks because I needed a celebrity spokesman.

But now it's a go, because:

No one says "food, folks, and fun" like Vladimir Putin. Et Voila!

For the full size logo: cliquez ici

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Ancient Art

Julie at Lone Prairie is wondering about the looted and smashed archaeology museum.

It is true that, had the U.S. not taken action in Iraq, these treasures of antiquity would still be intact and safe.

But is a ancient clay vase worth more than a present-day human life? Is a map of Catal Huyuk or a Sumerian tablet the equivalent of living without oppression? What is the value of preserving the ancient while the present sinks into bloody oblivion?

Clearly, force protection is number one for the military mind. Rightly.

Second is population protection. Nobody (sane) in the world watching the last half dozen US military actions can deny that our soldiers take extraordinary care to reduce civilian and even enemy casualties.

So I guess Julie's question could be phrased another way: Which soldier do you want to die in exchange for that vase? Which child should be killed to protect that statue?

I heard some people opining today that "yes, the killing is bad, but the museum destruction broke my heart." I pointed out that this has not been the first time in history that the artwork of this region was sacked. (Vandalize comes from the Vandals, after all.) It will resurface some time, some place. Some will be destroyed utterly, some will be rebuilt. I'm still dismayed by the shelling of the Parthenon by Morosini in 1687.

That we are still so close to the jungle is all the more reason to be ready to make peace and to make war. And to know the difference.

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April 14, 2003

Kucinich wants a DOPe in the White House

Got this in an e-mail from Dennis Kucinich. Seems he wants a DOPe in the White House, and I don't just mean him.

They're running a DOPe campaign:

Today, we redoubled our efforts to promote peace at the national level. Forty-seven of my fellow Members of Congress and I introduced H.R. 2459, a bill to establish the Department of Peace at the Cabinet level. The Members of Congress who joined with me were: [trimmed out list of usual suspects -ed].

Please read more about our bill here: www.dopcampaign.org/read_bill.htm.

The co-sponsors and I encourage you to get involved in this campaign. The Department of Peace website offers you ways to do this. We have found that just talking about the Department of Peace with your friends and family is an excellent and effective way to introduce a discussion on the issue of peace.

I can see it now, uniformed volunteers fanning out across the world, singing Kumbiya... I'm getting all misty.

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Today's Philosophy Lesson

"The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk."
— Hegel

I will have to spend the day pondering the significance to philosophy of the reported jailbreak in London of a pet owl.

Police appealed to residents to report sightings of Jazz, described as dark brown and 20 inches tall, with a 6-foot wingspan. The European eagle owl is the world's largest species of owl, and has been known to hunt foxes and small deer.

Police said hunger might drive Jazz to hunt rabbits, cats "or even small dogs."

"It is unlikely that he would attempt to catch small children as he lives with children at home," police said.

That last is comforting, I think.

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Saddam and the Jihadists

Ah, yes, I endlessly heard how Saddam was secular and Al-Qaeda was religious and they hated each other and they could never work together. and yadda yadda.

Whoa. Here's news, Saddam was best buddies with the jihadists, you know, like the guys that kill innocent Israelis and blew up the World Trade Center.

Another peace movement meme destroyed by truth.

PRESIDENT Saddam Hussein imported hundreds of well-trained Islamic guerrillas before the war to spearhead his fight against American and British forces, The Times has learnt.

Documents and captives seized by British troops in Basra reveal that the recruits were arriving in Baghdad from Muslim countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen as little as ten days before the war began.

They came to wage jihad against the Western military, and provided some of the fiercest resistance as the coalition advanced northwards. Survivors are still mounting occasional attacks in Baghdad and other cities.

US officials are seizing on the guerrillas' presence as evidence of links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist organisation - links that the Bush Administration has long cited as a justification for the war.

The foreign fighters provide a 'direct tie between Saddam Hussein and terrorist organisations', a Pentagon spokeswoman said last night.
[ ... ]
The foreign fighters were given money, and operated alongside Fedayin units rather than Baath party militias, and never the regular army. What is now apparent is that it was these foreign fighters who led the resistance inside Iraq's second city.

Weaponry found shows they were well-supplied with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machineguns, and that the tactics they employed proved that they knew how to use such hardware to attempt to disable tanks and armoured personnel carriers.

Okay, so who trained them? Al-Qaeda, probably.

The extended battle for Basra was seized on by the antiwar side as proving how Iraqis would fight for their land. Obviously, it just shows the close ties of Islamic Fascism and Islamic Fundamentalism and their common cause.

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The Hunt for WMD

The last holding action for the much-battered antiwar forces is the whine "But they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction..."

Well, leave aside all those chem suits and atropine capsules found around Iraq, leave aside the fact that the military has been very busy pacifying the area around Baghdad for just 1 week, leave aside that there is still a war going on, let's just look at the scale of the task. Here's General Tommy Franks on the hunt as the US starts the real search for WMD.

"But you're talking about 2,000, 3,000 perhaps, places in this country where we know we're going to go and investigate each one of them. We may have ... somewhere between five and 10 and 15 site exploitations ongoing in a 24-hour period of time."

So, if they get to 10 site inspections a day (on average) it could take 7 to 10 months to visit all the already-suspected sites. If in the course of interrogation of Baathists and scientists, they uncover another 1,000 sites to visit, that's 4 more months. So 11 to 14 months just to inspect.

The UN had two, maybe three teams with much reduced leverage, zero control of the country, virtually no access to interviewing scientists and very poor operational and intelligence security than is now the case. So a rough guess is that it would have taken 5 years to even approach a fraction of the effectiveness we will now see. With the Iraqis scurrying around covering tracks, moving sites.

Looks like UN inspections had zero chance of actually working.

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Trying to Get the Left on Track

A nice summation of the current schism in the left between those who support tyrannical murderous regimes and those who oppose them. This is an extract from a letter sent by John Lloyd, a New Statesman columnist resigning his post:

France and Germany, the two leading anti-war states in Europe, baulked at acting against murderous tyrannies or collapsed states throughout the 1990s - in Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, as well as Iraq. Where action to overthrow dictatorial regimes has been taken in Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan and now Iraq, it has been taken either with US prompting, or with the US military in the lead. In the first three cases, the result was a lifting of tyranny and the chance of a better life for the peoples of those countries.

European states are far more active and efficient in providing development assistance and peacekeeping forces than is the US. But there are times when peace must be made before it can be kept; and Europe as a whole has seen such moments as none of its business, relying on the US, and then usually blaming it for carrying the can.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, UN leaders have spread the message that their organisation could now enter into its own - as a protector of the downtrodden who, most often, are trodden on by their own rulers. This movement culminated, less than two years ago, in a Canadian-sponsored report, A Responsibility to Protect -- a brilliant summation of the arguments for stripping tyrants of sovereign inviolability. Of the major government leaders, only Blair has embraced the report, as the logical extension of the ethical dimension in foreign policy that Labour promulgated when it came to office.

Most of the left refused to follow this line. For some, it has been enough to declare all ethical dimensions phoney, since states such as Britain continued to shake hands with tyrants. For others, state sovereignty seems a necessary protection against what they see as the largest threat to the world: US imperialism.

US imperialism, in this view of a now resurgent part of the left, is composed of a mixture of things: efforts to control energy resources, principally oil; the repression of the Palestinians to ensure the security of the US "client state" Israel; a US refusal to tolerate any power that counterbalances its own; a hatred of all cultures other than its own, and a determination to destroy such cultures to make the world passively receptive to American values and merchandise.

Will the end of the war and the effort to rebuild decent government in Iraq change the view of the left? It would seem unlikely: the anti-US reflex is too ingrained, the dislike of Blair too great.

Yet the left's programme now should be to argue in favour of committing resources to those multilateral agencies that work, and to seek agreement from those forces everywhere in the world that are committed to democratic (or at least more responsive) government and to an observation of human and civil rights. The aim, as the US political scientist Michael Walzer has put it, should be a "strong international system, organised and designed to defeat aggression, to stop massacres and ethnic cleansing, to control weapons of mass destruction and to guarantee the physical security of all the world's peoples".

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April 13, 2003

Ignore Previous Posting, If You Know What's Good for You

Sorry, I don't know how that memo got misdirected to the Snoofmadrune weblog. Maybe you should just forget that you saw it.

Or else.

While we're on the topic of Canadian Invasions, though, it reminds of a little story I tell to explain how the "Anglo-Saxon" became dominant for the past 300 years on the northern 2/3rds of the continent.

Seems a new commander came over to take control of the French forces in Quebec. Deciding that February was just the right time to launch a scouting patrol that could handle some Indian raiding problems, he marched the forces out of the encampment and into the woods.

L'hiver, he reasoned, was no big deal in France for an army. So a couple of days later, he and his poorly outfitted troops were trying to plow through 6 foot snow banks without snowshoes or food (since they couldn't live off the land when nothing was moving). He managed finally to return to town with a much reduced force and learned that the arrogance of being French was no substitute for good equipment and strategy.

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Canadian Invasion Plans

Unilateral Hegemon Industries

To: Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney
From: BC

Suggest that you delay Syrian invasion plans until fall as summer is a
lousy time for a desert war.

Maybe you should consider dealing with that Canada thing this summer.

It could probably be done in a couple of days with a brigade from Fort
Drum. If the 10th Mountain isn't back from the 'stans, you could just
send in the New York Reserves. Hell, you could probably send in the
Monroe County Girl Scouts.

Suggest seizing Ottawa on a weekend in July. Black flies aren't as bad
then, and every damn person in the government will be at their
cottages. Chances are they won't even notice they don't have jobs until
sometime in September, if then.

In addition, if you seize and occupy every Tim Hortons donut shop along
the way, you will both neutralize all the provincial police permanently
stationed there and cut off the native food supply.

That is all.

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April 12, 2003

Gagarin Day

Today is Gagarin Day, the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's trip into space in 1961. Salyut.

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al-Sahhaf Jokes Losing Steam

I guess the absence of true creativity in the Press shows in how quickly they have worn out the joke of Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf. Almost all of them have him being hired for some one or another political or entertainment figure: George Steinbrenner, George Pataki, Harvey Weinstein, etc.

Stop. Please stop. In the name of all that is funny...

But before it stops, I wanted to pass along this Canadian version, from Mark Steyn in the National Post:

It's surely only a matter of time before he's hired as Chrétien's press officer. "These are all lies that the Americans are annoyed with Canada! The whole world knows Washington is terrified of our great leader and quakes before his heroic display of principles and sovereignty! America is our best friend and neighbour and if they dare say otherwise we will crush them like the Zionist tools they are! The 49th parallel is littered with the burnt-out shells of their tanks, those bastards!"

Sorry. couldn't resist.

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Reality Distortion Field: Paris

Now this is rich. French peace protestors are marching this weekend. Get this — they're claiming victory! Why, because they got rid of Hussein! That was their prime objective all along, it turns out.

«On est supercontents que l'un de nos objectifs : la chute du régime de Saddam Hussein, soit atteint,» explique, imperturbable, Arielle Denis, du Mouvement pour la paix. «Mais la prise de Bagdad risque de ne pas signifier pour autant la fin du conflit. Tout reste à faire.» Mot d'ordre de la journée : «L'Irak aux Irakiens»

Huh! I forget. Did anyone actually see those Down with Hussein banners or Iraq for Iraqians, without Saddam signs.

What is the French for chutzpah? Oh, right, that would be French.

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Weasel Poutine

While cruising a batch of articles at Le Monde, I happened to notice for the first time (since I don't look for Russian news in French papers) that President Putin of Russia is actually referred to in France as le président Poutine.

Well, now that is amusing, at least to a sometime Montrealer. Poutine is a popular snack food in Quebec. It consists of french fries covered with cheese curds and gravy (chicken or undefinable).

So, this weekend the three pillars of the Security Council weasels are meeting to decide the future of Iraq (in their dreams). Like the three pillars of the poutine. I can't sort out if Chirac is the cheese, Putin the fries and Schroeder the gravy, or some other metaphor. Whatever, they're still just a snack aspiring to be a meal.

There's more on the history and transcendant nature of poutine at Kuro5hin. And there's a quite promising, haute cuisine recipe available at the FoodTV Canada web site. Most poutine is way more plebeian than this.

Political commentary and cooking tips in one posting.

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April 11, 2003

To Celebrate What He Dreaded Most: Victory

An antiwar author celebrates the liberation of the Iraqis from the monster. Some on the right are pointing to his comments about secretly hoping for the worst-case, massive-US-soldier-death. And that has been a leitmotif among a certain (not inconsiderable) strata, but I would focus on his hopes, shared by those on the pro-liberation left.

It is possible that we who celebrate today will be forced to recant tomorrow. But that should not stop us. Nor should it be our concern. Those who opposed this war in part because they feared what it would do to the Iraqi people must now make every effort to protect and raise up those people. And to do that, they must pay attention to what is happening to them -- the good, the bad and the in-between. This is the most compelling reason to celebrate the end of Saddam. Call that celebration a leap of faith, if you will -- but you could also call it a binding contract, American to Iraqi, human heart to human heart. We smashed your country and we killed your people and we freed you from a monster: We are bound together now by blood. We owe each other, but we owe you more because we are stronger and because we came into your country.

The left's role, now, must be to make sure that debt is paid.

There are also some moving passages from Albert Camus on the liberation of Paris. Worth the read.

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April 10, 2003

Hicks Mix with Lethal Chicks Pix

This photo of British soldier Samantha Sheppard in Iraq has a mind-bending, gender-switching quality of a good sort. It's could almost be a Benetton ad, based on some WWII model.

Samantha, like Jessica Lynch, in almost all earlier eras would have been the girl the soldier left at home. It does an aging, feminist heart good to see this.

The headline comes from friend David Smith. It's brilliant.

For the larger image, click here.

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Schroeder Welcomes Victory

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder:

There are joyous signs that show that this could soon be the end of the war. The important thing now is to make a political profit out of a probable and welcome victory. That will only be the case if the Iraqi people can decide itself on its political and economic conditions.

And in what way does this differ from the original intention of the United States in conducting this war?

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April 09, 2003

DominiqueDe Returns

Dominique , Gallic superhero, has returned from his Chateau of Solitude to confuse everyone with his hyper-vision.

We have to maintain that the future of Iraq is going to be done because it is going to be difficult and our responsibility is to make sure things are sorted out there. We have got to look at reconstructing Iraq and it is very important that the international community has a central role.

That needs to come from the United Nations, It needs to have a central role. It is not a question of a vital role or a central role. I think we would all agree that the United Nations will play a key role.

Central! Non, Non. Not vital, not central, but key! Somebody get me a translator.

To see the whole comic book cover, just cliquez ici.

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Where's al-Sahhaf?

Iraq's irrepressible information minister didn't show up for his daily stand-up at the Palestine Hotel. Seasoned observers of Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf are wondering if the presence of the United States Marine Corps in the audience might have forced him to think up some new material.

Have you seen this man?

"We will bomb their brains out." Mohhamed Said al-Sahhaf cutting up for the international press corps in happier times.

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Cakewalk defined

Well, Ken Adelman sure got a lot of grief for predicting a "cakewalk".

I believe demolishing (Iraqi President Saddam) Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.

Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps."

I'm not sure how much less effort it would take before we can, in future, declare a cakewalk.

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Heeeere's al-Sahhaf...

And now, live from a 3 week tour at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, the Prince of Propaganda, the Pharaoh of Denial, the Caliph of Calumny, the Buffoon of Baghdad. The one, the only, inimitable, irrepressible, Mohammed al-Sahhaf...

"They are going to surrender or be burned in their tanks."

"The infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad."

"They're leeches, animals and rats. They will only leave the airport alive if they surrender."

The lies are amusing, but al-Sahhaf is a master at billingsgate.

Apparently he has quite a following in the Arab world, starved as they are for good comedy:

Al-Sahhaf has even introduced insults virtually unknown to the Arab public. His use, for example, of "uluj," an obscure and particularly insulting term for "infidel," sent viewers leafing through their dictionaries and calling TV stations for a definition.

His enemies are never just the Americans or the British. They are "outlaws," "war criminals," "fools," "stooges," an "international gang of villains."

Al-Sahhaf has singled out Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, describing him as a "crook" and "the most despicable creature."

This article, in Le Monde has more of his insults.

L'un de ses qualificatifs les plus célèbres est sans doute le terme "alouj", pluriel de "ilje", aux acceptions multiples, dont celui de "grosse ânesse" ou de "gros zèbre", ou encore —et c'est la définition la plus répandue — de "mécréant".

I sure hope he gets an extended run after this Baghdad gig runs out. I'd miss him.

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Linguistic Completeness

One thing I learned on my recent trip to Montréal was that the French for "shock and awe" is

choc et stupeur.

Kind of what Chirac is feeling just about now.

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April 07, 2003

Black Watch Defeats Iraq

I just had to post this piece from the Scotsman, for obvious reasons.

The Black Watch regiment was formed by the Campbells and other loyal clans in 1725. They fought at Ticonderoga. For their ferocity in the First World War, the Germans dubbed the Highland Regiments the "Ladies from Hell".

They may not wear the kilt when they attack, but they still play the pipes ... and they still kick butt ... Cruachan!

GETHIN CHAMBERLAIN with the Black Watch in Basra

THE Iraqis were hiding in a bunker at the side of the road when the tanks first spotted them. There were four of them, waiting at a crossroads in the Al Hadi area of Basra, slotting another rocket-propelled grenade into their launcher to fire at the advancing British troops.

The request to engage came over the commanding officer?s radio. A moment?s pause, and then the reply crackled back: "You are now clear to engage the bunker with four men with HESH and co-ax."

High explosive shells and chain gun - that?s what the jargon meant, and nothing could stand in their way. Inside the bunker, the militia had only a few seconds left. The sound of a dull explosion rolled across the city. Over the radio, the Challenger crew reported the kill. "The target was engaged and the job was done."

On the other side of the bridge over the Shatt al-Basra canal, Lieutenant William Colquhoun had unpacked his bagpipes and sat on the turret of his Warrior waiting for the order to advance. As the sun attempted to poke through smoke rolling lazily across desolate marshland stretching away on either side of the bridge, wading birds were picking their way among the long grasses.

As he began to play, the sound of Scotland the Brave drifted across the bridge towards the city, competing with the clatter of rotor blades as four Cobra helicopters raced in to join the attack.

For more on the Black Watch, see the Regimental web site.

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"Moderate" Muslim Calls Saddam a Terrorist

Despite my debunking of him as an "Islamic moderate"  last week, Sheikh Tantawi won't stay down. He does seem to have seen the handwriting on the Baghdad wall, though and criticizes both Saddam and the US.

In a case of the "pot calling the kettle black" Tantawi labels Saddam a terrorist.

From the BBC: Leading cleric blames Saddam

Sheikh Tantawi said the war was not a crusade against Islam and condemned Saddam Hussein for not accepting a call from the United Arab Emirates to resign in order to prevent war.

He still likes suicide bombing as a tactic against US troops. So one step forward, one step back...

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April 06, 2003

Cannabis Link to Schizophrenia

The Guardian (UK) is reporting concern that increased use of stronger cannabis can lead to increased rates of schizophrenia, a concern heightened by planned decreases in criminal penalties for use in the UK.

Professor Robin Murray, who is leading the study, said his view of the drug had changed in recent years. He used to be sceptical when cannabis was blamed. 'Relatives would say "It seems to be the cannabis that makes my son or daughter or brother psychotic" and I would say, "Oh, they're being hysterical, they're just trying to look for something to blame". We've come to realise that it does have a significant effect, but it has taken us a long time to wake up to this.' [...] 'We know that for those who take the drug there is a fourfold increase in schizophrenia and a fourfold increase in the chances of suffering major depressive illness.'

I guess my question would be how we can quantify effects in illnesses that are as ill-defined as schizophrenia. It is just as likely that schizophrenic-prone individuals seek cannabis to self-medicate. As always, these studies seem to be lobbed in to affect the legal process than to aid the treatment process.

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Rated PG. May Contain Violence.

The movie so far—

Most of the work for this production has been carried by some fine comedic talents. Information Minister al-Sahhaf provides light comic relief with his daily briefings 'Iraqi authorities however said they had repulsed an American attack from the south, claiming: "We were able to chop off their rotten heads." ' Despite the weakness in the script and the occasional worried look as he wonders if this is the appearance when he'll get his head shot off by a US sniper, al-Sahhaf does yeoman work with his lines: admitting that the airport had been taken by US troops, he gamely describes it as "the Americans' graveyard."

The irrepressible Tariq Aziz, whose game early work in "Gulf War I" guaranteed him a major supporting role in this sequel, deals masterfully with such lines as "it's best not to fight them in the desert, but to lure them into the cities and towns and to populated areas". But we barely get to see him. I suspect he is phoning in his role from Syria.

But the marquee star has barely shown up. For being mostly about "Saddam", the lead actor in this production is offscreen for most of the action. Like Harry Lime in The Third Man, we seem to spend most of our time waiting for him to show up in the story.

And when Saddam does show up finally, the staging has been weak, weak, weak. The Iraqi propaganda machine's idea of a set: a white wall and a flag. Where's the map, the model tanks, the pointers? Come on guys, I know times are hard, but even a high school production could come up with a painting of Saladin for that set. The only prop: a single TV set showing a tank. And he sits in front of it!

Those ensemble scenes with his council of war — no tension or drama, no conflict, no clash of advisors. Everyone sits around rapt as Saddam seemingly tediously details the latest episode of Friends.

And those outdoor shots! You would think that 70 years of propaganda films would have come down to something better than that stroll-around. Leni Reifenstahl must be spinning in her grave. Where are the shots of Saddam looking through binoculars? Saddam brandishing an AK-47? Saddam firmly pounding on a tank? Saddam on the steps of a palace defying the Stealth fighters? Saddam directing sandbag fortifications?

No, he walks around aimlessly — paunchy, cockeyed grin, ill-defined hand gestures. Did he have his director banished? Shot? And could they have tried to make him look shorter and more insignificant? He looks like the big-head Goofy figure at Disneyland. Not even Mickey, endowed with that awe, majesty and suave presence: Goofy.

Look guys, if this is the best you can do to rally the people, this movie is closing faster than Madonna's Swept Away.

Thumbs down.

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April 05, 2003

Montreal Gazette: Compassing the Zeitgeist

Mike Boone of the Montreal Gazette captures a bit of the zeitgeist in "I haven't left the Left (have I?), which also mentions Snoofmadrune (and deftly captures a bit of the snoof philosophy). He seized on the chance I offered to take his own political pulse and see if he had gone over to the Dark Side.

I was particularly keen because I'm going through an unsettling political metamorphosis. My support for the invasion of Iraq makes me a pariah among my left-wing friends, some of whom do not own country houses.

It's difficult, over lattés, to make the case for pre-emptive war. But armed intervention might have saved European Jewry. And Rwandan Tutsis. And Bosnian Muslims. Not to mention Iraqi Kurds and Shiites.

Untroubled by being out of step with French foreign policy, I still feel I'm somehow dishonouring the memory of my grandparents, who repose not far from Fred Rose, the only communist ever elected to the House of Commons.

As I find myself uncomfortably "embedded" with the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, those unrepentant Marxists are spinning in their graves. It's like a political werewolf movie: I'm agreeing with neo-con Charles Krauthammer (another former Dailyite) and waiting for tufts of hair to spring out of my ears.

Are you a commie rat? A fascist pig? A fence-sitting capon? Take The Political Compass test at www.politicalcompass.org

Because of the survey I am running with my Kameraden, I must defer publishing my results.

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April 04, 2003

All About George

George, at allaboutgeorge.com sent me a response to today's Lazy Quote:

A difference is that the industrious, more often than not, find ways to go 'round in circles — compounding any effects added by the earth's rotation.

Great observation. I am in awe and bow to fine intellect.

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Lazy Quote II

The lazy manage to keep up with the earth's rotation just as well as the industrious.

—Mason Cooley

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April 03, 2003

Draft Jessica Lynch 2020

Just wanted to start the ball rolling a little early. She'll be 20 soon, which makes her eligible to run in 2020.

Larger image available.

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Montréal and Politics: Full Contact Blood Sport

What can I say?

This is shameful to me as a born-Canadian and patriot to both my birth country and the US, where I am now a citizen and have spent most of my life.

Canadians hurl abuse at U.S. hockey peewees

MONTREAL -- A peewee hockey tournament in Montreal became a trip into hostile territory for a busload of Americans who say they encountered such fierce anti-Americanism that they will think twice before returning.

During a four-day visit, boys travelling with their Massachusetts hockey team witnessed the burning of the Stars and Stripes and the booing of the U.S. national anthem. When travelling in their bus emblazoned with a red-white-and-blue "Coach USA" logo, they saw people on the street who extended their middle fingers or made other angry gestures.
The children watched as several demonstrators made obscene gestures toward the bus. A U.S. flag was dragged through the street.
Mr. Carpenter came across a knot of demonstrators surrounding a protester who, with an Iraqi flag and a U.S. flag, had climbed atop a traffic light.

The crowd cheered when the man waved the Iraqi flag, and booed the U.S. flag, Mr. Carpenter said. Then the protester doused the U.S. flag in kerosene.

By a strange coincidence, we were in Montreal at the time of these events, taking the eldest and his friends on a college tour of our alma mater, McGill.

I'm not surprised this happened. It was actually quite a raucous time in the city, with all these loud hockey players roaming around. Our friends were staying in the Holiday Inn with seeming endless streams of boisterous kids humping huge hockey bags and sticks around.

My wife and I didn't feel these tensions. Of course, we weren't in a truly foreign country or city. But I will say I felt a little apprehensive about leaving my car overnight on the street with the New York plates. But I felt the McGill sticker in the back window would act like a little totem of protection. Yes, I'm guilty of denying my country. "See, I'm not really one of them."

Yet I still wore my American Flag pin proudly in downtown Montreal. Maybe a little apprehension. But 200 pounds and a red belt in Tae Kwon Do give one a certain confidence if not arrogance.

Some observations, not to excuse but maybe to cast light:

— Hockey is a rough sport, with rough people. I personally don't watch it much (Formula One is more my style). Some of that always spills on the ice when there is tension between teams, cities, countries. What happens at hockey games should never be taken as characteristic of a people.

— Canadians can get pretty pissed off at Americans. They will often comment on how Americans joke around at ball games during the Canadian national anthem. A bit of getting back at the Yanks might have been in play. Government officials stepped in almost immediately to denounce this behavior. If it had happened to adults, it would have been annoying. That it happened to young kids is just horrid.

— Montreal is a highly charged, politicized environment. I know it is hard for Americans to realize that they are not the primum mobile around which all action revolves, but the politics has almost nothing to do with the US. It is in Montreal's very nature.

Politics is apocalyptic.

There is the French-English tension on a citywide level.
That is also a class tension, as a large chunk of the French population is working class, and traditionally the ruling class in the city was English. That has changed in recent decades as, frankly, the English have fled, but it's bred in the bone. There is literally a street running down the middle of the town: to the East, predominantly French-speaking; to the West, English.

There is a language tension. Laws restricting English have been a source of strife and high feelings.
There is a city agglomeration tension, as traditional independent communities have been forced to join a larger urban entity.
There is economic tension. Things just aren't that rosy in Montreal and haven't been for 30 years. At one point in the 60s and 70s (when I lived there), gun battles and bus burnings broke out between rival gangs of taxi drivers. I kid you not.
There is nationalist tension. Strained relations with the rest of Canada stretch back to 1760. In 1970, that led to bombings, kidnappings, assassination and the imposition of martial law.
The license plates say "I remember" but that might be better expressed as "we never forget".
There have been repeated attempts by up to 50% of the province to redraw the map of Canada. These campaigns are brutal, vicious affairs that leave everyone bruised and bleeding (often literally).

There are ethnic tensions that often explode. I hate to characterize people too broadly, but there is a strain of xenophobia in the Quebec populace. During a recent electoral failure, a senior government official actually referred darkly and threateningly to the "new" Quebecers who had defeated the separatist referendum. The implication was that they would be dealt with.

These things pop up like "whack-a-mole" periodically and need to be beaten down. Usually with a royal commission.

Italian immigration in the 60s led to French-Italian conflict in the 70s. Traditional anti-semitism can run up against a substantial Hasidic community and a more ordinary Jewish presence. Large numbers of Africans and Caribbeans have moved to the city, adding a racial tension.

And in recent years (a surprise to me on this trip), large numbers of Muslims have moved there from the French-speaking North African countries. Concordia U (the other English university) has ongoing, often physically violent struggles between traditional ethnic rivals. I am told that the nickname for the college is Al Qaeda U.

In addition, the Gallic intellectual does tend to the Marxist, adding a soupçon of the romantic revolutionary to the mix. Your average French college student (not in business school) tends to fancy himself or herself a dashing mix of Che and Communard. The one-finger salute and the rude comment are their way of demonstrating their street cred. Hey, it's better than a molotov cocktail or a brick.

In other words, politics in Montreal is a full contact blood sport.

By contrast, Americans are used to way more gentility and bipartisanship than you find on a good day up there.

So never fear. Last month Montrealers were throwing the finger at Americans.
The likelihood is that tomorrow they'll go back to giving each other the finger. Like God intended.

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April 02, 2003

Lazy Quote of the Day

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

Attributed to Milan Kundera

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Cheese-Eating Tyrant Worshippers

I have been told repeatedly that "People who are Anti-war are not Anti-American." To which, I can now safely say au contraire.

Ordinarily, I would be quoting the French paper on this, but Le Monde has a poor interface for finding anything. So here's the scoop from The Times of London:

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the [French] Prime Minister, said: "The Americans are not the enemy; just because we are against this war, it does not mean that we want the victory of dictatorship over democracy."

Excusez-moi, J-P! Check out these numbers from a survey by Le Monde:

only a third of the French felt that they were on the same side as the Americans and British, and that another third desired outright Iraqi victory over "les anglo-saxons".

One Third want the victory of dictatorship over democracy!

Well, I guess that's vastly more support for Saddam in France than in Iraq, from the look of things. I have a nomination for that new Axis of Evil once Iraq is finished.

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Le Monde Seized By Aliens

There used to be a respectable newspaper in France called Le Monde. But an odious Saddam propaganda rag has succeeded in stealing the name and running articles headlined:

Les proches des 250 000 militaires envoyés dans le Golfe dénoncent "une sale guerre dont rien ne prouve la nécessité". "Nous n'avons pas épuisé toutes les solutions", précisent-ils.

Really, the families of all 250,000 soldiers think this is a dirty war? Who would have thought?

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Fantasy Lives at Washington Monthly

To those of them what wants to read this long piece by Joshua Micah Marshall:

Practice to Deceive
Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks' nightmare scenario—it's their plan.

To the rest: my gloss with hefty excising of blah blah blah. Not nearly as long, at least twice as entertaining, and non-fattening.

Well, it certainly was long. and dull. and ultimately pointless. Look, policy articles need to be descriptive and prescriptive.

The entire prescription this makes is:

For God's Sake, don't do anything. Let the Muslims run over the West. Give them whatever they want. Let them blow up our towers, nuke our cities. Institute Sharia in France. Whatever it takes.

Let's just lie back and hope we live until we die. Even if it's in a fireball.

The fact that many neocons were Jewish, and outraged by Moscow's increasingly visible persecution of Jews, also caused them to reject both the McGovernite and Kissingerian tendencies to ignore such abuses.

Those darn Jews. There's always in there somewhere.

Hawks like Perle and William Kristol pulled their hair out when Kissingerians like Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell left Saddam's regime in place after the first Gulf War. They watched with mounting fury as terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists claimed more and more American and Israeli lives. They considered the Oslo accords an obvious mistake (how can you negotiate with a man like Yasir Arafat?), and as the decade progressed they became increasingly convinced that there was a nexus linking burgeoning terrorism and mounting anti-Semitism with repressive but nominally "pro-American" regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
When the Oslo process crumbled and Saudi Arabian terrorists killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, the hawks felt, not without some justification, that they had seen this danger coming all along, while others had ignored it. The timing was propitious, because in September 2001 many already held jobs with a new conservative president willing to hear their pitch.

Those darn neocons. Being right and all. Shit!

The pitch was this: The Middle East today is like the Soviet Union 30 years ago. Politically warped fundamentalism is the contemporary equivalent of communism or fascism. Terrorists with potential access to weapons of mass destruction are like an arsenal pointed at the United States. The primary cause of all this danger is the Arab world's endemic despotism, corruption, poverty, and economic stagnation. Repressive regimes channel dissent into the mosques, where the hopeless and disenfranchised are taught a brand of Islam that combines anti-modernism, anti-Americanism, and a worship of violence that borders on nihilism. Unable to overthrow their own authoritarian rulers, the citizenry turns its fury against the foreign power that funds and supports these corrupt regimes to maintain stability and access to oil: the United States. As Johns Hopkins University professor Fouad Ajami recently wrote in Foreign Affairs, "The great indulgence granted to the ways and phobias of Arabs has reaped a terrible harvest"--terrorism.

I like how he actually gets at the truth here, also. It's refreshing in this otherwise fanciful article.

[... Much fantasy clipped out of here ... ]

Why do we imagine that our invasion and occupation of Iraq, or whatever countries come next, will turn out any differently?

Which occupation led to September 11? He can't mean the defense of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the brutal invasion by Iraq of that latter country in 1991. How is that the US's fault?

The Bush administration also insists that our right to act preemptively and unilaterally, with or without the international community's formal approval, rests on the need to protect American lives. But with the exception of al Qaeda, most terrorist organizations in the world, and certainly in the Middle East, do not target Americans. Hamas certainly doesn't. Hezbollah, the most fearsome of terrorist organizations beside al Qaeda, has killed American troops in the Middle East, but not for some years, and it has never targeted American civilians on American soil. Yet like Hamas, Hezbollah has an extensive fundraising cell operation in the States (as do many terrorist organizations, including the Irish Republican Army). If we target them in the Middle East, can't we reasonably assume they will respond by activating these cells and taking the war worldwide?

This is my favorite passage: where he asks us to
1) Leave Hamas alone (after all they only kill Jews)
2) Allow Hezbollah to run terrorist cells in the US.

No question these are problem countries. Their governments buy our weapons and accept our foreign aid yet allow vicious anti-Semitism to spew from the state run airwaves and tolerate clerics who preach jihad against the West. But is it really in our interests to work for their overthrow?

In other words, why change? They are only anti-Semites. That's acceptable.

The tyrannies in these countries are home grown, and the U.S. government has supported them, rightly or wrongly, for decades, even as we've ignored (in the eyes of Arabs) the plight of the Palestinians.

Home grown tyrannies are terrific. Let them kill, maim, imprison, torture and rape.
Why? Because we've let them for years. Good thing the cops in New York didn't treat the crack house on my street the same way. After all, it was here for almost five years. That's got to be some kind of grandfather clause.

"We need to be more assertive," argues Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, "and stop letting all these two-bit dictators and rogue regimes push us around and stop being a patsy for our so-called allies, especially in Saudi Arabia."

It worked out so well so far, letting Saudi spew hate and provide support for terrorists had nothing to do with those 9/11 hijackers who grew up there.

  empire is our destiny and we might as well embrace it.

You say Unilateral Hegemon like it's a bad thing.

Such a strategy might keep the fundamentalists in power for years longer than they otherwise might have been.

Yeah. Better not encourage democracy in Iran either.

the assumption that we can turn it into a self-governing democracy--that the very presence of that example will transform politics in the Middle East. But what if we can't really create a democratic, self-governing Iraq, at least not very quickly?

God. You're right. Forget about encouraging democracy in Iraq.

And that's yet another reason why overthrowing the Middle East won't be the same as overthrowing communism. We did the latter, after all, within a tight formal alliance, NATO. Reagan's most effective military move against Moscow, for instance, placing Pershing II missiles in Western Europe, could never have happened, given widespread public protests, except that NATO itself voted to let the weapons in.

Here's where he really outdoes himself. Earlier, he told us that Communism collapsed from within, without the West's encouragement. Now it was NATO that did it.

Oh, and those wouldn't be the same Pershings that the people who are now demonstrating in Europe were so violently opposed to in the 80s. Nah. Got to be different. Those peace-loving folks would no more support the continuation of the Soviet gulag than they would argue to extend the regime of Saddam Hussein. Would they?

In the Middle East, however, we're largely alone. If things go badly, what allies we might have left are liable to say to us: You broke it, you fix it.

I see. So the French, who rely on Iraq's oil for a great part of their economy and the future growth of Europe will walk away at the end of the war. They'll be bellying up to the table demanding their cut soon enough. Already, in fact.

Franklin Roosevelt said he was trying to keep the United States out of World War II even as he--in some key ways--courted a confrontation with the Axis powers that he saw as both inevitable and necessary. History has judged him well for this.

But God forbid we should emulate him.

Far more brazenly, Lyndon Johnson's administration greatly exaggerated the Gulf of Tonkin incident to gin up support for full-throttle engagement in Vietnam. The war proved to be Johnson's undoing.

Ahh, the Great White Quagmire. Thar she blows!

When President Clinton used American troops to quell the fighting in Bosnia he said publicly that our troops would be there no longer than a year, even though it was widely under stood that they would be there far longer. But in the case of these deceptions, the public was at least told what the goals of the wars were and whom and where we would be fighting.

So some lies are OK, and some are not. Now who is showing moral cloudiness.

Today, however, the great majority of the American people have no concept of what kind of conflict the president is leading them into. The White House has presented this as a war to depose Saddam Hussein in order to keep him from acquiring weapons of mass destruction--a goal that the majority of Americans support.

Wait, wait. I thought you said the people have no concept what kind of conflict. Then you say its to depose Hussein.

I think they have pretty well signed on to this goal and will hold Bush's feet to the fire on this goal alone. I haven't seen any free passes handed out.

The author begs the question by assuming he has proved some case that we are on the road to this global US jihad. But you have to prove the case to the American people before you can claim that it is proven. Saying don't make it so. The beauty of democracy is the contention of ideas.

The problem for the antiwar fringe is not that Americans are not listening to their arguments. The problem is they've heard the antiwar argument (including all this stuff) and have rejected it.

[ ... clip much other mandated pulling in of taxes, social benefit stuff to show
how evil Bush is .... ]

Ending Saddam Hussein's regime and replacing it with something stable and democratic was always going to be a difficult task, even with the most able leadership and the broadest coalition.

But we wouldn't want to try that.

Ridding the world of Islamic terrorism by rooting out its ultimate sources--Muslim fundamentalism and the Arab world's endemic despotism, corruption, and poverty--might work. But the costs will be immense.

But we wouldn't want to try that.

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Iraq War Diaries

In response to the chiding of a soft-headed loon, I roused from my CNN-induced stupor and added the link to Kanan Makiya's War Diary over at The New Republic Online.

Do not believe any commentator who says that a rising surge of "nationalism" is preventing Iraqis from greeting U.S. and British troops in the streets with open arms.


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White House Ends Drug Terror Ads

Ad Age:

The White House anti-drug office will end its controversial drugs-and-terror advertising campaign and, in a reversal, shift more of its $150 million budget toward children's media as it fights for Congress to extend the program another five years.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy will also cease a polarizing $8 million annual study that found the ads aimed at youth were not working and that pitted the drug office against the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Good riddance.

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April 01, 2003


Okay. Okay. This whole war thing is getting way way too hot for me.

Deep Breath.

I really should be getting back to work, but I wanted to take 15 minutes to tell about my day. There is a point, so bear with me for a bit.

As I waited for the elevator this morning, a little head popped out down the hall. It was my newly-moved-in little 3 year old neighbor.

"I can't get back in my house." Standing by him was his 2 year-old sister, sucking her thumb. Apparently they had come out in the hall to play and the apartment door had closed and locked behind them. They were so adorable and worried and since they come up to the knees of my hulking babies, my heart started melting right away.

"Where's your mommy?" "She's asleep." "OK. Well I'll fix that!" And I did. A moment later a completely disoriented mom in her pyjamas was rescuing her ducklings.

Then I got on the subway. Sitting across from where I stood was a man, probably Haitian, sitting with his 3 year old son on his lap. As we rode down to Times Square, I caught snatches of their conversation. When we got to 50th street, the man was intoning "Cinquante", teaching his son something about numbers. Then as we approached the next station, he said "Circle" and just as the doors opened for me to leave: "Trapezoid".

That did it. God I love this city. I know that Dennis Hammill and Jimmy Breslin are lurking in the subway somewhere testing our mood and telling us how we live and travel in fear and anxiety.

But I see life and kids and teaching kids and our aspirations for them. And hope. In our subways ... and in Baghdad.

If you're going to fill your heart with something, it's way better to fill with it hope than dread.

Just thought you should know what I'm thinking on the first day of April in the greatest city on Earth.


Posted by campbell at 01:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Journalism's Dream Team: Sahhaferaldo

Iraqi's irrepresible information minister has been unemployed for almost a month now. But don't fear. Looks like a job is coming his way, according to this Arab News article.

DAMMAM, 30 April 2003 - The Al-Arabiya satellite channel has confirmed that it has offered employment to the former Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf ... he could choose between presenting special programs or being a political analyst or both ... [...] In explaining the offer, the director said that Al-Sahaf had been part of the former Iraqi government and that because of that, he knew many things of interest to viewers. He also has wide knowledge and experience that could help in explaining Iraq's history and discussing the country's future. [...] Al-Sahaf is internationally known and many people, especially in the Arab world, would welcome him as a TV personality. Even President Bush admitted last week that he sometimes broke off his official meetings so that he could watch the Iraqi information minister on TV. His press conferences were eagerly awaited during the war when he was called the minister of misinformation.

Why stop there? I propose MSNBC's new dream team to replace Press and Buchanan: presenting Sahhaferaldo:

Posted by campbell at 12:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack