Monday, July 31, 2006

Coincidences and Synchronicity Galore: Propaganda by AP for Hezbollah

EU Referendum has a remarkable series of staged photos of the aftermath of the Qana disaster, proving that CNN's Nic Robertson is not the only turncoat western newsman to promote terrorist agendas.

AP seems racing to the front of the pack. Click the link and check out the dozen photos with the same ubiquitous "rescue worker" equipped with radio and regulation Hezbollah helmet, displaying dead bodies explicitly for shock value.

As I suspect, and wrote about in previous posts, this Qana incident was engineered as much as possible by Katyusha trucks hiding next to the building, firing, being observed by a drone and then skedaddling. The concussion from the Israeli bomb may have caused the damage, or Hezbollah may have used the building as an arsenal for its spare rocket horde, which blew up in a secondary explosion.

Not that the hysterical terrorist-lovers in the MSM care how it was staged. They are trying to get as much anti-Bush spin as possible.

And of course, the immediate propaganda responses in Beirut made it impossible to get Sec'y Rice there for negotiations, hmmmm...., those coincidences keep on piling up.

And of course, today, Monday, was when the Security Council was scheduled to consider the Iranian nuclear sanctions proposal. But that's been postponed so impotent incompetent Kofi Annan can rail against Israel and give terrorists a wink and a nod. Them coincidences go on and on and on.......

Could Hezbollah have deliberately blown up the building in Qana at 8AM some eight hours after the Israeli bomb landed nearby? And then gone into immediate hyperdrive on the propaganda front just hours after the collapse?

Inquiring minds want to know.

What we do know already is that Hezbollah has been forbidding people to leave the South and invading Christian and Druze villages to use as fire platforms for their rockets, knowing Israeli retribution might destroy their own political opponents.

One thing seems apparent: Hezbollah hates Israel far more than it loves or cares for its fellow Lebanese.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Just a Bundle of Coincidences in the Timing of the Qana Disaster

The NYTFifth Column keeps churning out misleading news stories almost exulting in the apparent standoff in South Lebanon, proclaiming it a victory for Hezbollah [in not so many words] and beginning the groundwork to eventually proclaim another disaster for George Bush in the making. But a story by Tom Shankar has the following interesting factoids:
The United States and Israel have each fought conventional armies of nation-states and shadowy terror organizations. But Hezbollah, with the sophistication of a national army (it almost sank an Israeli warship with a cruise missile) and the lethal invisibility of a guerrilla army, is a hybrid. Old labels, and old planning, do not apply. Certainly its style of 21st-century combat is known — on paper. The style even has its own labels, including network warfare, or net war, and fourth-generation warfare, although many in the military don’t care for such titles. But the battlefields of south Lebanon prove that it is here, and sooner than expected. And the American national security establishment is struggling to adapt.

“We are now into the first great war between nations and networks,” said John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, and a leading analyst of net warfare. “This proves the growing strength of networks as a threat to American national security.”

In a talk that Mr. Arquilla calls Net Warfare 101, he describes how traditional militaries are organized in a strict hierarchy, from generals down to privates. In contrast, networks flatten the command structure. They are distributed, dispersed, agile, mobile, improvisational. This makes them effective, and hard to track and target.

The circumstances at the Qana collapse are possibly indicative: First, the building is hit around midnight [or suffers a near miss], then almost explodes [or implodes] eight hours later. By noon, placards are prepared with Condi Rice cartoons and Arabic slogans denouncing Qana, demonstrations are organized, Lord Haw Haws like CNN's vapor-head Nic Robertson are guided by Hezbollah minders once again to do breathless pro-Islamist commentary in the midst of shouting crazies, and of course, UN SecGen gets another chance to blame Israel and Bush. All within hours.

And, just coincidentally, on the day Condi Rice was scheduled to go to Beirut. CNN calls this an "amazing coincidence." More serious observers speculate that the victims in Qana were deliberately, by omission or commission, used as shields and then allowed to remain in an area where Hezbollah had weapns caches. When the building crumbled or blew up---Hezbollah was already prepared.

I would not put it past the bearded mad mullahs to have sacrificed 60 lives to win world public opinion---on purpose by commission, perhaps. Why the eight-hour intermission between airstrike and collapse of the building? But more from Shankar:
Hezbollah still possesses the most dangerous aspects of a shadowy terror network. It abides by no laws of war as it attacks civilians indiscriminately. Attacks on its positions carry a high risk of killing innocents. At the same time, it has attained military capabilities and other significant attributes of a nation-state. It holds territory and seats in the Lebanese government. It fields high-tech weapons and possesses the firepower to threaten the entire population of a regional superpower, or at least those in the northern half of Israel.

While Hezbollah has emerged as a new kind of threat, it cannot be forgotten that the network is a creation of Iran, with the support of Syria, and both countries know they cannot attack Israel — or American interests — directly. The Bush administration is debating internally whether the best course of action against Iran and Syria is to negotiate with them, isolate them, or do something stronger.

Hezbollah’s success in surviving Israeli bombardment poses an immediate implication for American military planning as the United States figures out what to do about Iran, either as part of an effort to halt its nuclear ambitions or a broader offensive with political goals, like regime change.

The political demonstrations, the staged events for chronic dupes like CNN's Robertson, the trashing of UN buildings simultaneously in Beirut and Gaza, all point to massive coordination---probably from Damascus where both Hezbollah and Hamas networks do command and control---Hezbollah's Nasrullah was rumored to be in Damascus yesterday. Perhaps there is joint staging done from Damascus to both the Sunni and Shi'ite militias.

Vapid Tom Friedman says better to make jaw with Syria than to make war. Vapid Tim Russert nods sagely---looks like an MSM consensus building. And dissing Condi is the latest game inside the Beltway---even fossils like Warren Christopher, whose tenure at State was all talk and compromise---did Warren tell you how he got N. Korea to accept $4 billion to sign a paper saying they would not develop a nuke? Clever fellow. But Shankar actually suggests the outlines of a solution, then collapses back to Hearts&Minds to end on a minor key:
"We are in a world today where we have a non-state actor using all the tools of weaponry," from drone aircraft to rockets to computer hacking, said P.W. Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in the impact of new technologies on national security. "That’s what this new 21st-century warfare is going to look like. We have now entered an era where non-states or quasi-states do a lot better militarily than states do." He added, "I don’t think we have answers yet for what to do."

The United States also has to take into account Hezbollah’s global reach — it is blamed for the attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets in Argentina in the 1990’s, and its cells operate in Latin America, across the Middle East and in Southeast Asia, and it could attack American interests in any of those places.

Critical to the American response, military officers and academic experts say, is that the United States acknowledge that its takes a network to fight a network. American intelligence agencies and the military proved it can fight this kind of war, as it did in Afghanistan to rout Al Qaeda, when intelligence officers and small groups of Army Special Forces worked with local fighters to call in devastating air strikes and drive the Taliban from power.

Within the Bush adminstration and across the military, a clearer view is emerging out of the chaos in southern Lebanon. It is that nation-states know they cannot directly take on superpowers — either regional or global — without getting their clocks cleaned, and so they use proxies they train and support to take the fight to those superpowers. The fight against groups like Hezbollah requires a strategy for dealing with their sponsors. These networks, Hezbollah included, don’t float around in the ether like free electrons bumping into each other. They alight. They attach themselves to territory. In Afghanistan it was with the full support of the Taliban. In Pakistan, it’s an ungoverned space. In Lebanon, it’s a state within a state. Cut off state support, or eliminate the ability of the networks to survive in ungoverned areas, and they collapse on themselves.

No solution has been written. But it would include military force along with diplomacy, economic assistance, intelligence and information campaigns.

"Most critically, we have to get better at — it’s such a clich? — winning hearts and minds," said a military officer working on counterinsurgency issues. “That is influencing neutral populations toward supporting us and not supporting our terrorist and insurgent enemies.”

Yes, it's national liberation fronts that we must cut off from their core areas by blowing up the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Like the Parrot's Beak, for those who remember. The tendency of the military to upgrade their high-tech networks reminds me of listening to Herman Kahn suggest building a high-tech fence to keep N. Vietnamese from entering S. Vietnam to supply VC and their own military units. Just several generations later, and more complex systems in highly urbanized environments.

I suggest that rather than submit to death by a thousand cuts, the US and Israel consider the twin resource bases of Hamas and Hezbollah---Oh by the way, did I mention the subject of Iranian nuclear weapons was scheduled to come up TOMORROW in the UNSC, but strangely was bumped by the new crisis in Qana?

Hmmm.... Just another coincidence, I suppose!

LATimes: Attack on Seattle Jewish Center "Mystery"

Patterico pontificates well on the Los Angeles Times' conjectures and musings on the mystery inside the enigma of the Seattle shootings.

The MSM bastions of PC want to pin it down to "hatred of women," apparently in one of the LAT paragraphs, even though the culprit kept saying, "I want kill Jews because of Iraq and Lebanon." Or words to that effect. The coincidence that all the victims were female obviously is more important than the stated purpose and the venue of the shootings, a Jewish Community Center.

At least to the brain-impaired pretzel-backbones at the LAT.

It's a bit like the Toronto police statement that the 23 culprits arrested in the plot to blow up Toronto were "typical Canadian citizens."
[Except coincidentally most of them had the surname "Mohammed," that not-so-typical Canadian moniker, and by another coincidence, all were of the same religion; can you guess which one?]

Thoughts on Islamism

Watching Martin Amis on PBS explain the difference between Islam and Islamism, and the complete "Great Leap Backwards" that Islamism displays to the world at large. It's clear that clarity of thinking leads a mature mind to the conclusion that suicide bombers, most better-than-average educated, have completely contradicted the vapid humanistic platitudes of western liberals who believe that the kumbayeh ethos will inevitably triumph.

Amis, best man at Christopher Hitchens first wedding, has not been converted as CH has to grudging support of the Iraq War as some sort of frontline of trench warfare against Islamists and their terror cadres. But he walked the moderator through the fall of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War as the beginning of the Middle East's descent toward the present default mode of religious fanaticism. And his "Great Leap Backward" that the Islamists demonstrate reminded me of my Arabist background and the strange insights language study can provide.

Hearing Amis, I mused on the little-known fact that the Arabic language in its classical form has NO FUTURE VERBAL TENSE. Everything is in the past perfect. Of course, modern Arabic dialects have circumlocuted this grammatical oddity by inserting a future particle, such as sa- in the Levantine dialects. But the hold of the Quran on Islamists and the lack of any sense of progress, except toward a PAST idyllic time of the Prophet, here on earth seems to me to indicate a "wave" of species shame that Martin Amis feels is spreading. That is, the very strong and sustained opposition by Islamist regimes such as Iran, and their apparent morphing into terrorist franchises, might be the antithesis of the liberal bromide that "we can all get along if we just talk to one another."

In other words, one might infer from Amis's own thinking---though Amis may never get to approve of Iraq---that GWB might just be a Churchillian figure when seen from the future, providing of course that we have a future that can look back on a victorious opposition to a reign of terror from religious fanatics.

I personally think that the present debacle in Iraq might have been alleviated, if not avoided, by better management by the Pentagon and L. Paul Bremer's regimen. But an Arabic-speaking US general and his Arabist State Dept assistants were cashiered shortly after the fall of Baghdad to US forces. Given the disastrous consequences of the Bremer/Pentagon model, it is probable that the Arabists might have avoided some of the horrible misjudgments of the Bremer group.

Given the inane penchant of the MSM to support the enemies of western civilization in order to embarrass GWB, Israel may be in jeopardy over the long run. The constant drumbeat of their bias toward bad news transmitted by the media eventually takes hold, as someone admitted on a talk forum recently, when noting that the game plan of the Democrats was to keep media focus on the downside of US involvement in Iraq for the fall elections. Of course, the insurgents in Iraq are aware that the so-called Fourth Estate in the US, with few exceptions, serves as a Fifth Column for their own cause in the minds of American voters. The MSM hates Bush, and will seize any opportunity to make him look bad.

The whole Lebanon border situation, and the relentless MSM focus on Lebanese victims while being silent about Hezbollah's human shield strategy, reminds me of just how fragile Israel, and in a larger sense, fundamental western values of democracy and free public discourse are in the media's successful depiction of GWB's GWOT as some sort of a "Phony War," which the British and French peaceniks derided just before the Wehrmacht went through France like a hot knife through butter.

But I am reminded that the clear and present danger to our civilization is just as dangerous and insidious, because there is no symmetrical balance of terror.

When Kissinger shuttled to Damascus back in the seventies, he and Assad would always be photographed in front of a tapestry depicting the retaking of Jerusalem in 1187 by Saladin. The Arab opponents of Israel will say again and again, or at least they told me after a few drinks in the region, that the Crusaders' occupation of Jerusalem lasted only 88 years and that Israel's hold on the city might not last even that long.

To finalize this dreary post, I just watched John Bolton's interrogation by former DA John Kerry, on how the US should "talk to" North Korea in a bilateral fashion. I am sure the overlawyered Democrats, were they to come to power, would talk and talk just like Billy Jeff did in 1994 with N. Korea, with disastrous results. If you remember, N. Korea promised to cease development of a nuke if the US forked over several billion simoleons. The sucker bit.

And just how did those talks with Arafat go when Barak and Billy Jeff offered him a very large part of what Fatah was asking?

In AA, an addict is someone who keeps doing something and gets a bad result, but does it again and again, in the hopes that someday drinking that next glass will be the ticket.

I don't believe tha Islamists are going to be talked out of their interpretation of the last 13 centuries. And that leaves the Churchillian alternative.

Druse Chief Jumblatt Sees Hezbollah Revenge Coming His Way

The wise old man of the mountain, Jabal Qamar, in the beautiful Druse heartland south of Beirut and north of the Shi'ite stronghold further south, has little hope that Syria can be kept from taking over Lebanon again, since the Americans appear befuddled over the real reason, in his mind, for the Hezbollah kidnappings.

And in a Wall Street Journal opinion journal interview, the venerable sectarian leader waxed pessimistic, as he obviously believes Syrian crosshairs are focussing on him as they did on his father, assassinated by the Syrians almost thirty years ago [by murderers using a car with Iraqi license plates, a nice Syrian touch!]. And Jumblatt may not be exaggerating when he cites Shi'ite megalomania:
Quite a few politicians, including Mr. Jumblatt, have implied that Hezbollah's abduction of two Israelis soldiers was irresponsible, which many of the group's faithful deem to be a stab in the back. This prompted Mr. Nasrallah to declare, ominously, in an Al Jazeera interview last week: "If we succeed in achieving the victory . . . we will never forget all those who supported us. . . . As for those who sinned against us . . . those who let us down, and those who conspired against us . . . this will be left for a day to settle accounts. We might be tolerant with them and we might not."
What does Mr. Jumblatt think of that threat, obviously directed against him and his political comrades? "Nasrallah was talking in the name of the Syrian regime. He thinks he's a demigod. Like [Iran's President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad he's waiting for the 12th Imam, the Mehdi. This aspect of Shiite religious mobilization can be frightening."

Imagine the Christian authors of "The Rapture" in charge of the USA, if you can strain your brain that much. And Jumblatt complains the Hezbollah are using Druzi towns and factories as shields for their rocket-launch sites:
"But if Hezbollah's missiles are pushed back, they will soon be here; no, they may soon be on Hamra Street," a shopping drag in the center of Beirut. "It took us a full 24 hours to negotiate the removal of a single missile from near the Pepsi-Cola factory," an enterprise just south of Beirut owned by a wealthy Druze family.

Mr. Jumblatt laughs at the absurdity of the episode, but he is making a serious point. Hezbollah can wage war from wherever it wants, regardless of its countrymen's preferences.

But Jumblatt's underlying theme is that his country is being hijacked by Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, with Syrian support. No long-term solution, in his mind, will be possible unless these two outside powers can be restrained. And an armed UN peacekeeping force with a tough charter may be the only band-aid.

BB"C" No Evil---Nor Hear Same, but Speak Trash

The BBC's Evening News segment available on American public TV is atrociously produced with frequent glitches and technical mess-ups, but often has perspectives from obscure parts of the planet American TV never explores. Given its POV in its Middle East coverage, one has to wonder about the accuracy of those places less familiar to the American viewer.

The Beeb's body-language and tone on the events in Lebanon each night betray a very strong penchant for Hezbollah and Hamas, and the Wall Street Journal points out that their on-line news does the same.

The Beeb's take on Lebanon [I used to listen to BBC news from Cyprus while living in Beirut long ago before the BBC went bat-shit Bolshie] consistently shows the physical destruction of South Lebanon with frequent references to Hezbollah as some sort of local Red Crescent which helps the victims of the open warfare, not as the protaganist and precipitator of events.

The coverage is so one-sided that even a liberal contrarian like Neil Gabler on the Fox News Media Show Saturday evening at 6:30PM noted the lack of objectivity. And Neil's standard for "objectivity" is far to the left of most observers.

The BBC is making a big push into the US news market, and perhaps believes it is offering an alternative to the pro-Israeli coverage on Fox and CNN [and whoever watches MSNBC] as well as the major networks. Or perhaps is pandering to the large Muslim minorities dwelling in the UK's major cities.

But the moral equivalence the BBC displays toward the two contenders, one of which fires rockets from hide-outs in Lebanese population centers toward Israeli cities to provoke civilian casualties [a major crime not mentioned by the Beeb] and the other using relative discrimination [also not observed by the journalists from the UK in general] is simply unconscionable.

Hillary and the "nutroots," Divide and Conquer

The New Republic has a nice little thought-piece on how Howard Dean's Democratic National Committee has overplayed the unhinged ultras' role in formulating DNC policy and as a result, Hillary Clinton is constructing a parallel organization to operate independently from the radicalized and polarizing Deaniacs emulating their screeching master. Thomas Edsall explains it all:
Dean and Clinton--the Democratic Party's two power centers--find themselves locked in a struggle for intraparty supremacy. Each camp considers the other's political strategy fundamentally flawed. Dean loyalists dislike Clinton's stance on Iraq and her cautious approach to leadership, and they also fear she is too polarizing a figure to win a general election. Meanwhile, Clinton partisans doubt Dean's competence in managing the DNC and believe him to be just the sort of antiwar, elitist, left-wing Democrat who will scare off white middle- and working-class voters.

The insurgency of Dean in 2003 derived from the truism that Democratic Party primaries attract the most committed, and often ideologically deranged, voters of the flat-earth variety. And the conundrum of what happens when the dog who chases cars actually runs one down. What next? The dog caught the DNC, now captive to fringe elements. Edsall goes on:
What makes the Dean-Clinton struggle so interesting is that it represents an inversion of the party's previous power structure. When Dean began his rise to national prominence in 2003, he portrayed himself as an insurgent who would challenge both the Democratic Party's Washington establishment and the ideological legacy of Clintonism, which he argued had pushed the party too far to the center. That tactic once looked likely to propel Dean to the Democratic nomination. But, today, Dean heads the DNC, and it is Clinton who wants her party's nomination. To win, she will have to make inroads among Dean's followers and loosen his grip on the party's apparatus. This time, it is the Clintons who are the insurgents, but insurgents who represent the Democratic establishment.

Dean blamed Democratic losses on consultants, so what did the mad mullah from Vermont do? Hire more consultants. And portray any Clinton successes on a personality cult rather than Billy Jeff's political and people skills.
"The Democrats have made a fundamental mistake in watching Bill Clinton and thinking it was his strategy--and not his extraordinary personality--that enabled him to do all the things he did." He continued to press this theme while running for DNC chair, but, instead of citing either Clinton by name, he simply lashed out at the Democratic establishment. "Here in Washington," he said, "it seems that every time we lose an election, there's a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party that the way to win is to be more like Republicans." Dean's alternative was simple: "The way to rebuild the Democratic Party is not from the consultants down, it is from the ground up." Such rhetoric continued even after Dean won the chairmanship. This spring, Dean told a group of reporters, "We don't really have any consultants. ... We try to do everything in-house. We don't have a stable of Washington consultants telling us what to do."

That's not exactly true. Dean hasn't done away with consultants; he has replaced consultants loyal to Clinton with consultants loyal to him. Dean spent $2.7 million on political consulting fees during his first 18 months at the DNC, substantially more than the $1.7 million former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe spent in the first 24 months of his tenure, according to PoliticalMoneyLine. The major difference lies in who is getting contracts. Under McAuliffe, between January 2001 and December 2002, Harold Ickes's firm received $122,000; Peter Hart and Associates got $131,000; and the Mellman Group, headed by pollster Mark Mellman, got $111,000. All are Democratic loyalists from the Clinton years. Dean, by contrast, has brought in a consulting network dominated by one company, Blue State Digital, which was started by four former Dean workers immediately after the 2004 campaign. Dean's DNC has so far awarded $664,000 to Blue State, another $254,000 to Blue State founder Ben Self, and $137,000 to co-founder Joseph Rospars.

What to do about a recent national survey that asked Americans how they identify themselves, which had the startling outcome that 34% responded "conservative," and only 21% "liberal?" [Jeffrey Goldberg in a recent New Yorker article] And just what are the "grassroots" of the Dem Party, activist bloggers or centrist union-workers?
While Dean was distancing the DNC from Clinton loyalists, his allies in the blogosphere were attacking Hillary Clinton on both ideological and political grounds. To her adversaries, Clinton's positions--especially on the Iraq war--prove that she lacks the authenticity, strength, and heart to stand up against the GOP, the religious right, or corporate America. "We literally hold her, and what she represents within the world of progressive activism, to be responsible for the massive progressive backslide that has taken place over the past twelve years," wrote Chris Bowers of the blog MyDD. In The Washington Post, Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos called Clinton "a heartless, passionless machine, surrounded by the very people who ground down the activist base in the 1990s and have continued to hold the party's grassroots in utter contempt."

Them's fightin' words and the Deaniacs on-line and in the DNC have a two-pronged strategy to hijack the Dems and steer them hard left. Hillary and the centrists have to respond:
Her advisers see Dean as a maverick, and they want to depend on him as little as possible during the general election. "The DNC is going to be peripheral," says one Clinton strategist. "We are going to have our own field staff, starting way before the primaries begin, right through November 7." He points out that she is prepared to reject public financing during the primaries and the general election. (Clinton does not lack for money: She has raised $32.2 million for her Senate reelection and has $22 million in the bank--all transferable to her presidential campaign, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.) This would allow her to keep the field staff she develops during the primaries on her payroll during the general election--instead of shifting it to the DNC, as previous candidates have done. Plus, in a move widely and correctly interpreted as a rebuke to Dean, Clinton strategist Harold Ickes recently established a private voter database to compete with a similar database being built by the DNC. Ickes's move--as well as Clinton's formidable array of experienced advisers, including Terry McAuliffe, Howard Wolfson, James Carville, Mark Penn, and others--will give Clinton added independence from the DNC.

And what about them pesky Kossacks and Puffington Host bloggers? Divide et impera!
Clinton and her operatives have begun working systematically to fracture her online opposition. Perhaps the most noteworthy step in this strategy was her July 4 announcement that she would endorse the winner of the Connecticut primary, ditching Joe Lieberman if he fails to capture the Democratic nomination. Clinton's announcement seemed calculated to win plaudits on the Web--and it did. "Good for Clinton," wrote Duncan Black of the blog Eschaton. "She should get a lot of credit for coming out and making this announcement," wrote blogger David Sirota.

Clinton's move had traction on the Web in part because it came on the heels of a June 25 announcement by blogger Peter Daou that he had been hired by Clinton's Senate campaign as a consultant. In a farewell note on his Salon-based blog, Daou said he was "joining Senator Clinton's team as a blog advisor to facilitate and expand her relationship with the netroots." The acquisition of Daou, engineered by Clinton strategist Wolfson, was preceded by the hiring of the lesser-known Jesse Berney, who ran blog operations for the DNC during the 2004 campaign and who was the online mobilization coordinator for the afl-cio in 2005. The Clinton campaign, according to Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network, is "going to try to master [the blogosphere] the way the Clintons have mastered all other aspects of politics. My prediction is they are going to be very good at this."

When talking about blogs, Clinton's advisers now sound conciliatory notes. "The bloggers are passionate, engaged, informed members of the party who deserve to be treated seriously and taken seriously," Wolfson says about a constituency that has denounced Clinton as a sellout, a stooge for corporate America, and the leader of an elite Democratic cabal determined to silence the party's base. "Blogs have earned a seat at the table," says Clinton pollster Penn.

So now that the lines in the sand are drawn and two segments of the Democratic Party are poised to counter each move of its perceived opponent, what will happen next? Edsall believes that the Old Guard have the upper hand.
So who will win the showdown between Howard and Hillary? In both the long term and the short term, the odds favor Clinton and her allies in the party's more moderate wing. Take the long term first. Many of the troops brought into politics by the Dean campaign are desperate to turn their avocation into a paying profession. Many left-wing bloggers are struggling to survive financially and would love to begin earning salaries as political operatives. For instance, Bowers and two friends, Hale Stewart (aka "bonddad") and David Atkins (aka "thereisnospoon"), recently announced the creation of NetRoots Research, Strategy & Analysis. As bloggers like these enter the competition for consulting contracts and campaign jobs, the pressures of the political marketplace will likely work to moderate idealism--and to make compromise and accommodation more acceptable within the netroots.

In the short term, Clinton's strategy of dividing and conquering the blogosphere will be abetted by the nearimpossibility of Web-based Dean loyalists uniting around a single candidate in 2007. Zack Exley--formerly organizing director for, an Internet specialist on the Dean campaign, and director of online organizing and communications for Kerry-Edwards 2004--puts it this way: "I think Hillary is going to surprise everyone with the netroots. Every candidate who is flirting with the idea of running is trying to do it like Dean did it. You could have ten candidates trying to be the insurgent dark horse. All those candidates are going to split the netroots, leaving Hillary to be the standout." The netroots have simply become too large to be the exclusive agent of any one candidate. With her front-runner status, Clinton doesn't need to actually win the blogosphere outright; she just needs to make sure no one else does. And odds are there will be no repeat of 2003, when the liberal blogosphere rallied overwhelmingly to one contender

But Edsall divines a longer-term Dean strategic plan.
Of course, there is always the possibility that Clinton will falter. But, if she does not, then Dean, with his supporters unable to coalesce behind a single candidate, will likely find himself without a proxy to run against her. Then again, he may not even want one. After all, there is probably only one candidate Dean could ever truly back, and he is sitting out this race. His name, of course, is Howard Dean.

The PC and Twenty-five years.

In 1979, my father-in-law argued and won a patent case for Honeywell before the US Supreme Court, making software a proprietary asset. Nick Prasinos paved the way for Bill Gates and a myriad other inventive types to build Silicon Valley and its knock-offs.

The Economist has an article this week celebrating the 25th anniversary of IBM's introduction of the personal computer onto the US market:
In many ways, the PC triumphed due to the very un-IBM way in which it was developed. When IBM's previous attempts at a PC failed to sell, being too expensive, a “skunk works” team of engineers was convened in Boca Raton, Florida. The team did not report through IBM's stifling bureaucracy, but directly to the top of the company. It was given a year to devise a low-cost machine. “The people doing that work weren't talking about it, there weren't any business cases done, there wasn't any annual budget review,” explains Lewis Branscomb, IBM's chief scientist from 1972 to 1986. “IBM did a lot of radical things—and that proved to be very successful.”

To meet its ambitious goals, the team bucked two IBM traditions. First, instead of using only IBM parts, the team chose off-the-shelf components. Second, rather than keep the design a secret, the team made the specifications open, so that independent software developers could flourish. When the PC finally launched, IBM expected to sell 250,000 units in five years. In the event, it had sold nearly 1m by 1985.

Yet the very factors that led to the PC's success inadvertently prevented IBM from reaping all the benefits itself. The PC used a microprocessor made by Intel and an operating system made by Microsoft (led by a 25-year-old called Bill Gates). Neither was exclusive to IBM, and within a year other companies had worked out how to make much cheaper “clones” of its PC. Microsoft and Intel, not IBM, turned out to be holding personal computing's crown jewels.

"This IBM project was a super-exciting, fun project," Mr Gates told PC magazine in 1982. Asked what the future would bring, Mr Gates was as blunt as he was prescient: "Hardware, in effect, will become a lot less interesting. The total job will be in the software." He was right. Today, society both benefits and suffers from the PC's flexibility and openness. The magic of the PC is that it is a general-purpose machine to which new functions can be added simply by installing a new piece of software. "The PC is a very fertile device," says Dan Bricklin, the inventor of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program. But this versatility comes at a price, since it makes the PC more complex, less secure and less reliable than a dedicated, single-purpose device.

There is a local legend here in Boca that Bill Gates used to have an occasional beer in the local Hooters [or the waterhole that preceded the Hooters spot which in turn has now morphed into a Starbucks!] and tell his fellow tipplers that he was going to be a gazillionaire from this new PC phenomenon. Probably apocryphal, as Gates seems too single-minded to sit around bars and yak about his personal business plan. Yes, the very versatility and fecundity of the PC platform contained the seeds of its eventual superannuation.
As a result of these shortcomings, many technologies incubated on the PC are moving off it. Functions such as e-mail and voice-over-internet calling that were first rendered in software, just as Mr Gates predicted, are now mature enough to be rendered in hardware. As a result, the PC is no longer centre of the technological universe; today it is more likely to be just one of many devices orbiting the user. You can now do e-mail on a BlackBerry, plug your digital camera directly into your printer, and download music directly to your phone—all things that used to require a PC.

At the same time, the PC is under threat as the primary platform for which software is written, as software starts instead to be delivered over the internet. You can call up Google or eBay on any device with a web browser—not just a PC. People have been saying it for years, but this could finally allow much cheaper web terminals, or “network computers”, to displace PCs, at least in some situations.

These shifts are affecting the big firms that grew up around the PC. Microsoft has moved into games consoles and set-top boxes, chiefly in case these other devices emerge as challengers to the PC as “hubs” for digital content. This week it confirmed that it will launch a digital music-player, called Zune, in response to Apple's successful march into non-PC markets with the iPod. As for PC-makers themselves, the falling prices and commoditisation that have so benefited consumers have turned them into low-margin box-shifters. IBM got out of the business in 2004, selling its PC division to Lenovo, a Chinese firm.

Apple under Steve Jobs has proved more supple in the next generation of spin-offs, even though its original dedicated platform was too proprietary to grab market share as Microsoft did in the early years of the PC. [Also, Bill Gates had a leg up on the market by having participated in the original skunk-works project here in Boca]. And the Pentagon's DARPA spawned the internet, which became the world-wide web which in turn generated all sorts of business opportunities and, of course, blogging! The Economist notes this, but says the PC will remain the spawning ground of new tech.
This does not mean the PC is dead. PC sales, at 200m a year, are at an all-time high. The PC's versatility means it will still be the platform on which new technologies tend to appear first. But with the rise of a plethora of other devices and the emergence of the web as a software platform, the PC now faces a struggle against its own technological offspring.

Sort of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, but we all have gained from IBM's original experiment with diversity.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bill Richardson for President?

Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post has an excellent blog which periodically ranks the Top Ten Prez candidates in both parties. His short-takes are always to the point and sometimes very insightful. His paragraph on Bill Richardson is an example:
On paper, Richardson belongs in the top five. No candidate in the field has the resume depth of the New Mexico governor: former member of Congress, U. N. Ambassador, cabinet secretary and now chief executive of a state. Plus he is Hispanic -- the fastest growing population in the country. But we are hesitant about treating Richardson as a top-tier candidate for one reason: discipline (or the lack of it). Richardson is an ebullient personality who seems to love the back and forth of politics. But we are not convinced that he can develop a message and stick to it for months on end. A successful presidential candidate needs to be committed to regular repetition of the basic message each day. Can Richardson stick to that kind of rigid script?

I believe Bill should be in the top five, and not just because I know him personally and to some degree professionally [as a news source while I was International Editor of the Oil Daily].

The reason I support Bill is because he does have discipline, both in his professional and personal life. He is ebullient because he is brilliant, a sort of Larry Summers in politics. Yes, that has a downside---but Bill's political instincts are more finely honed than, say Joe Biden's, who has a high level of expertise, but constantly talks way past the hard break necessary for sustained attention.

Also, I'm reading a book on Teddy Kennedy and am reminded on how well Teddy had adjusted to his profession of politician---but he had a obvious terminally fatal flaw. Richardson is Teddy without the personal demons, but with Kennedy's and Clinton's charisma.

Brainwise, Bill R. beats Teddy and is equal to Billy Jeff Clinton, and common-sense wise, this fellow would be a perfect Vice Presidential contender, if the Dems ever get over their obsession with laundry-list PC codes.

Hillary/Bill R. versus McCain/Condi would be a Fourth of July display of political fireworks on the 2008 March to the White House.

For Somebody.

Warren Christopher: He's BAAAACK!

The State Department's least distinguished Sec'y of State in recent memory, the low-key, low-competence physically-short [5-three or four] Warren Christopher has the nerve to pat himself on the back and bad-mouth Condi Rice on her handling of the Mideast crisis. Along with fellow gasbag Les Gelb, their self-serving commentary ["Shimon Peres asked me to ......"] reveals what short hitters this lil fellow and his team really were.

Bashar Assad was almost certainly the co-sonspirator, if not instigator, of Rafiq Hariri's assassination last year. The incompetent UN still is "investigating" the clear trail back to Damascus, but hopes to sweep the investigation under the rug, if past is prologue, as the UN embarks on another round of anti-Semitic Israel bashing led by chief eff-up Kofi Annan, the dupiest dupe of the Turtle Bay dupe-horde.

Now dupe Christopher wishes to make Boy-Assad part of what lawyers like Warren call "the Process." Lawyer Warren never met a negotiation he didn't like---it's what lawyers like the overlawyered Clinton crowd do, when they're not calling in judges to ask permission to have their drones kill terrorists!

Assad wants to move back into Lebanon, where his sock puppet Emile Lahoud is still president. He's got another Christian turncoat named Michel Aoun also clamoring for his return. Assad started the dominoes falling that encouraged Hezbollah to attack Israel, if he didn't actually give Nasrullah the green light.

Attorney-at-large Christopher wants to help him. I suggest Christopher go to Baghdad instead and help his friend Ramsey Clark defend Saddam Hussein.

BTW, Christopher's incompetence did do the USA one very great favor. He headed Gore's legal team in the Florida fiasco of 2000 and his advice on the recount probably sank Gore's chances to gain that state's electoral votes like a stone.

America thanks Warren Christopher and suggests he rest on his laurels, such as they are!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lindsay Lohan's Benders Catching Up---Party Girl Like her Daddy?

Lindsay Lohan's emotional ups and downs have become a sort of disturbing subtext to what was a shot at superstardom. Lindsay's erratic behavior has again hit the public forums with a Smoking Gun letter from her Executive Producer James Robinson raising the possibility of legal action because of her Marilyn Monroe-level tardinesses and no-shows on the set of her latest movie, Georgia Rule. "All-Night Partying" appears to be the problem, and her residence at the Chateau Marmont, where John Belushi had a cottage where he partied right into the next world, does not bode well for her reform or rehab any time soon. CM is the Hollyweird capital of insane excess.

My daughter is a big Lohan fan and I enjoyed Lohan's Freaky Friday and Mean Girls along with her. I also noticed the problems Lindsay's father had with drinking, and the subsequent imprisonment for four years after frequent fights and car accidents. I have to give her a little parental guidance, if asked.

In our family, though we have never had major problems with the bottle, we call the difficulties LL is encountering "The Irish Curse."

Tour de France Winner Landis: Did the Booze Do It?

Talk about burying the lede, as they say in MSM autopsies. Floyd Landis is asking for a decent interval in the rush to judgement his apparent doping test failure has produced. In about para 15 of a Reuters article, here may be an interesting explanation of Landis's spectacular performance the day he flunked the test:
Landis provided the positive sample after a brilliant ride in the 17th stage, a grueling ride to Morzine in the French Alps, a day after a disastrous showing had appeared to ruin his chances of victory.

The American said that the night before the 17th stage he and his Phonak team mates had been depressed and had drunk beer and whiskey in their hotel room. [my emphasis]

When asked to explain his incredible ride in the crucial 17th stage, Landis replied: "There's 20 stages in the Tour and everyday you see a fabulous performance. Explain the other 19."

NPR had the CEO of the agency which checks Olympic drug testing as well as biking doping. This gentleman, with a Canadian accent, explained the strange eccentricities of biking dope testing, and the multiple opportunities for manipulation the testing procedures present. He even came to the edge of speculating that Landis may be being set up for the fall, given the politicization and other extraneous motivations the World Biking Authority nabobs may be undergoing.

Suffice it to say that Landis may have got a lot of extra energy from the whiskey and beer, which the fabulous athletes of East Germany used to imbibe during their strenuous training regimens back when they were sweeping the table in the Olympics.

Landis, a straight-shooter from a Mennonite background, does not appear a likely candidate to try to cheat. Perhaps his body reacted to the alcoholic stimulants after presumably a long period of abstinence in a way that produced the testoserone on a completely internal basis. I do know that riding a bike during a hangover is not a good experience, but that was back in France when I wasn't trying to beat the clock.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

UN Observers Not Deliberately Targeted by Israel, says UN Observer

The instantaneous reaction of Kofi Annan that Israel had deliberately hit a UN Observer post may have derived from anger at the fact that three of the dead UN peacekeepers were from his homeland of Ghana. Or perhaps it was the gut reaction of an anti-Semite. The New York Sun has an interesting factoid:

"A Canadian U.N. observer, one of four killed at a UNIFIL position near the southern Lebanese town of Khiyam on Tuesday, sent an e-mail to his former commander, a Canadian retired major-general, Lewis MacKenzie, in which he wrote that Hezbollah fighters were "all over" the U.N. position, Mr. MacKenzie said. Hezbollah troops, not the United Nations, were Israel's target, the deceased observer wrote."

A blogger who has observed the UN in action notes that El Baradei at IAEA appears dead-set against inspecting Iran's nuke program. Some other recent UN cooperation with the Arab militants was noted by noiri and it appears that the UN under Annan's "leadership" deserves all the contempt Israel and the US regard it with.

And Annan is in full cover-up mode, as his female entourage begins to disseminate disinformation about Hezbollah being "miles away" from the destroyed outpost. And why was the UN flying a Hezbollah flag?

You can bet the Democrats and the MSM flagships will assist Annan in his deceptions, but luckily the American people don't pay much attention to the UN and the NYT any more.

And the WSJ, for one MSM outlet, deconstructs Annan better than any supporter could help this feckless incompetent:

"All this raises the question of why the U.N. hasn't evacuated its "peacekeepers." The irony is that while they have failed to keep the peace, Israel is carrying out the U.N.-mandated disarmament of Hezbollah. Annan ought to be thanking, not condemning, Jerusalem."

The Republican Senate leadership is taking advantage of Sen. Voinovich's change of heart on John Bolton to schedule another confirmation hearing which will move the Bolton's nomination to a floor vote in the Senate. However, the ever-wobbly Lincoln Chafee, the Republicans' answer to John Kerry, may exercise his inscrutable finger-to-the-wind to go with the Democrats.

As Robert Wexler of Florida said; "because it's a fun thing to do."

Choose Your Poison!

James Pinkerton has a good article about some new books out.

"Michael Tomasky argued that his fellow Democrats need to develop "a politics of the common good," the sort of majoritarian thinking that "made liberalism so successful from 1933 to 1966." Today, Tomasky observed, Democrats lack "a big idea that unites their proposals and converts them from a hodgepodge of narrow and specific fixes into a vision for society." Ouch. But Tomasky aimed still more rhetorical punches at his own team: Dems "don’t even think in philosophical terms and haven’t for quite some time. … They’ve all been trained to believe—by the media, by their pollsters—that their philosophy is an electoral loser."

"We might add that a philosophy of raising taxes, hiring more bureaucrats and multiculturalists, keeping the borders open, endorsing gay marriage, cutting defense, and putting more trust in international organizations would seem to be a political loser. Yet Republicans are concerned, and rightfully so, about their party and its prospects. The neoconservatives who dominate the White House have put forth policies on Iraq and immigration that have demoralized and divided even hardcore GOPers. And over on Capitol Hill, the majority party is sick with a different malady, incumbentitis."

Joe Klein's book, Politics Lost, is the last book Pinkerton writes about. Pinkerton says what Klein implies, the Dems are much farther left of the American public than the Republicans are to the right of the average Joe. And so the Dems try media manipulation and polls and consultants to somehow divine what the magic formula might be to win back majorities without revealing their ultra-left beliefs. Pinkerton believes the Democrats may regain the House and Senate this fall because of massive Republican confusion on key issues like immigration and the unpopular war in Iraq.

"So what will happen if the Democrats come back to power without doing any soul-searching, let alone soul-rediscovering? How will Democrats behave if they are restored without deserving restoration? Right now, Bush makes the Democrats look good. But if the same-old-same-old Democrats are left to shine on their own, based on their own merits—quick, what’s the Democratic position on Iraq? on immigration? on the ACLU vs. Christianity?—then the next Republican comeback might not be far away, and that will be a heckuva story for the Republicans, even if most of the books are still likely to be written about the Democrats."

If the Democrats have Pelosi and Harry Reid as their policy chiefs, they will have a hard time winning the Presidency in 2008, as both are not leadership types. Nor is Howard Dean, whose chronic serial blunders make a 2008 presidential victory for the Dems very improbable.

So I am personally in favor of ousting the Republicans for a couple of years, to give the Dems a chance. Because the odds are heavy that their lack of a leader [Obama is the only one I think would have a real chance] would lead to a McCain or Giuliani victory in 2008.[And since Giuliani can't get the nomination, McCain might finally get the brass ring.

Or maybe not!

Die Welt Editorial Praises American Courageous Leadership

It's fascinating that this should come out of Europe. Mathias Dapfner, Chief Executive of the huge German publisher Axel Springer AG, has written a blistering attack in DIE WELT, Germany's largest daily paper, against the timid reaction of Europe in the face of the Islamic threat. Please excuse typos, as this came in an email and I tried unsuccessfully to fix.
EUROPE - THY NAME IS COWARDICE (Commentary by Mathias Dapfner CEO, Axel
Springer, AG)

A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe - your
family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your
head because it's so terribly true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives, as England
and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before
they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless

Appeasement legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union,
then East Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe, where for
decades, inhuman suppressive, murderous governments were glorified as
the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities.

Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and
even though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans
debated and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally
the Americans had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet
again, and do our work for us.

Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European
Appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now
countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.

Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly
500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated
by the self-righteousness of the peace movement, has the gall to issue
bad grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest
critics of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS
of billions, in the corrupt U.N. Oil-for-Food program.

And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement.
How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic
Fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really
should have a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany?

I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our
(German) Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German
people, actually believe that creating an Official "Muslim Holiday" will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.
One cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain waving the
laughable treaty signed by Adolph Hitler and declaring European "Peace
in our time".

What else has to happen before the European public and its political
leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially
perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims,
focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies,
and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction.

It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great
military conflicts of the last century - a conflict conducted by an
enemy that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is
spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be
taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness. Only two recent American
Presidents had the courage needed for Anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush.

His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know
the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War,
freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and
virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair,
acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War
against Democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after
a number of years have passed.

In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in
the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values
and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the
true great powers, America and China.

On the contrary - we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those
"arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance", which even
(Germany's Interior Minister) Otto Schily justifiably criticizes.
Why? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so
materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of
additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the
American economy - because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes
what is at stake - literally everything.

While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because
they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social
Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather
discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4
weeks of paid vacation... Or listen to TV pastors preach about the need
to "reach out to terrorists. To understand and forgive".

These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands,
frantically hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber
breaking into a neighbor's house.

Europe, thy name is Cowardice.
---God Bless America---

Is Lebanon Ready for a New Civil War?

Michael Totten had recently spent seven months in Lebanon and like I was long ago, became beguiled into a naive optimism that the Lebanese brand of democracy would sustain itself, even though the pessimists among the Christians, Druzis, and even Sunnis told Mike that the Hezbollah refusal to disarm according to UNSC 1559 was corroding the body politic.

When in the Middle East, one notices the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the one that all systems tend toward entropy, rules supreme and works FASTER than elsewhere. Despite its lush and exotic charm, Beirut hides close to a million supporters of a terrorist cult in its southern suburbs. Back in the day, I would drive south to Rammel and then up the mountain road through Shweifat until I reached Suq Al Gharb, where my Assyrian landlord told me he kept a Kalishnikov under his bed for the day when the Muslims would come "to kill our men and rape our women." A few years later, the Muslims did come. As Totten notes:
Sectarian tensions and hatreds run deep in Lebanon, even so, far deeper than those of us in the West can begin to relate to. 32 years ago Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East. But 15 years ago Lebanon was the Somalia of the Middle East. It made the current troubles in Iraq look like a polite debate in a Canadian coffeeshop by comparison. There is no ethnic-religious majority in that country, and every major sect has been, at one time or another, a victim of all the others.

Anecdotes From a Banana Republic has one of the most depressing anecdotes I have heard in a long time, as one of the Christian war criminals [no, not Michel Aoun] followers recounts his past prowess at killing and rapine. Delusions are rampant in the Middle East, and the default position is a praetorian dictatorship---which Totten strangely believes US "conservative realists" are promoting, as well as wishing Syria would reoccupy the country!
Israel and Lebanon (especially Lebanon) will continue to burn as long as Hezbollah exists as a terror miltia freed from the leash of the state. The punishment for taking on Hezbollah is war. The punishment for not taking on Hezbollah is war. Lebanese were doomed to suffer war no matter what. Their liberal democratic project could not withstand the threat from within and the assaults from the east, and it could not stave off another assault from the south. War, as it turned out, was inevitable even if the actual shape of it wasn’t. Peace was not in the cards for Lebanon. Its democracy turned out to be neither a strength nor a weakness. It was irrelevant.

Holding up as a democracy in a dictatorial region isn’t easy. Chalk this up as yet another thing Israel and Lebanon have in common with each other that they don’t have in common with anyone else in the Middle East -- except, perhaps, for the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Unlike Israeli democracy, though, Lebanese democracy may not have the strength to keep breathing. Already some right-wing American "realists" are suggesting Syria return its forces to Lebanon. (Bashar Assad may be as much a foreign policy genius as his late father.) The March 14 Movement, the Cedar Revolution, may be too weak to survive until the region as a whole is transformed. If the Lebanese, the Americans, and the Israelis are not wise in the coming days, weeks, and months it could die the same death as the Prague Spring in the late 1960s, crushed under the treads of Soviet tanks and smothered until the day the world around it had changed.

Whoever thinks Syria will play a helpful role if it returns to Lebanon is not a "realist." Getting the irredentist Syrians out of Lebanon was a triumph of US and French [for once!] diplomatic cooperation and also proves that the UN, like a broken clock, can still be right [just not two times per day!] and useful. I think the US's allies in the region [outside Israel] would love to see the minoritarian Alawites removed and the 60% Sunni majority [strangely the same size as the Shi'ite majority in Iraq] restored to power. But the problem would be, could a Sunni-run Syria resist helping Hamas politically in the West Bank and Gaza? And would the Jordanian monarchy survive if Syria lurched into a democratic framework? [Probably yes, but one can never be certain]? And when Iran's lunatic prez claims Israel is trying to redraw the map of the Middle East, does he mean trying to overthrow his semi-Shi'ite Alawite allies in Syria? And there is a charismatic lunatic in Iraq named Muqtada Al Sadr who may not be able to resist his own personal inclinations towards terrorism and religious dictatorship if Iraq does succumb to its inner demons and a real Lebanon-style civil war ensues---with Iran helping Al Sadr in establishing an "Islamic Republic." Perhaps the wisest American observer examining the Middle East today is David Ignatius at the Washington Post, and he had a long article just after the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 with my former boss at the Oil Daily, a gentleman expatriate in France named Raja Sidawi who grew up in Syria and has some remarkable insights as Ignatius wrote below in 2003:
The March of Folly,’ a study by the historian Barbara Tuchman of history’s costliest blunders, was lying open on the reading table a year ago when I first discussed the prospect of an American invasion of Iraq with my Syrian-born friend, Raja Sidawi. America was about to make a mistake of historic dimensions, warned Sidawi, who made his fortune in the oil business and now runs Petroleum Intelligence Weekly and other industry publications. He likened the Bush administration’s implacable march into Iraq to Britain’s mobilization for the deadly morass of World War I, and America’s self-inflicted wounds in Vietnam. No, no, I told Sidawi. This time it could be different. The Arab world is beginning a period of upheaval and change, and good things will be impossible without the removal of Saddam Hussein. I visited Sidawi a few days ago. The headlines were recounting the deaths of more American and British soldiers in Iraq, as the daily toll of ambushes and firefights continued. The war, it seemed, might only be beginning. "I am sorry for America," Sidawi said. "You are stuck. You have become a country of the Middle East. America will never change Iraq, but Iraq will change America. To survive, you will have to develop a sense of irony." This tragic sensibility ? the sense that in most instances, things do not work out as you might have hoped ? is generally lacking in the American character. That is why Americans are such an optimistic people: They have difficulty imagining the worst. That was why Sept. 11 was so shocking. Most Americans never considered that such devastation could be visited on them. Arabs grow up in a culture where it is always best to assume the worst. Sidawi rattled off the list of wars and disasters that have afflicted the Middle East almost continuously since he was born in 1939. That is the bloody history in which America has now enmeshed itself. "You will learn the culture of death," warned Sidawi. He believes Iraq will change America, as the ambushes that kill one or two soldiers are replaced by truck bombs that kill dozens. Staying the course will make America a tougher country, and a different one, too. Sidawi decided that he wanted to leave that culture of death behind.

Truths don't become falsehoods with the passage of time, and the Israeli attack on South Lebanon may be another milestone on The March of Folly as no exit strategy possible besides the destruction of Hezbollah, impossible without heavy casualties and perhaps provoking a wider war, presents itself to Israel. The Israeli attack on a second front may have American support, but given all the imponderables noted in a previous paragraph, Bush will have trouble sleeping over the next few weeks or months.

I was Fouad Ajami's landlord for a while after my marriage left my condo open and Fouad kept telling me that the Middle East was full of "broken societies" that had had "too much history" and were at their core riven with irreconciliable blood feuds dating back centuries and even millenia. Fouad's new book, "The Foreigner's Gift" is optimistic about Iraq, but his melancholy assessment two and a half decades ago may have been as prescient as Sidawi's prediction three years ago.

Lebanon, and perhaps the entire region, is Humpty Dumpty.

Dean: Let's not be Divisive and BTW, the Iraqi PM is an anti-Semite and Katherine Harris is Joseph Stalin

Yes, the AP headline is "Dean calls for End of Divisiveness" in its clueless headline, but The Florida Masochist points out that Howard Dean cannot open his mouth without self-insertion of foot. The AP, as well as Reuters and UPI, are lipstick-carrying cosmeticians to the Democratic National Committee Chairman pig.

The hilarious self-parody, obviously unconscious, of the AP article mirrors the chronic mindlessness of Dean himself, who begins a talk by calling for comity and then launches into a half-hour of name-calling. As the Florida Masochist, or is it Wizbang, asks, "Whatever Rove is paying Dean, it's not enough!"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Condi Under Fire From Neocons

I like Condi for the enemies she has made. Neocons have launched a ferocious attack on Condi Rice in one of their house organs, Insight that accuses her of attempting to exercise diplomatic means when threats and military measures are needed.
A major problem, critics said, is Miss Rice's ignorance of the Middle East. They said the secretary relies completely on Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who is largely regarded as the architect of U.S. foreign policy. Miss Rice also consults regularly with her supporters on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Richard Lugar and the No. 2 Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

In point of fact, Burns and Asst Sec Welch have served in the Middle East and between them have about thirty years experience with the area. When I was a brown-bagger at DC policy confabs, Sen. Hagel would attend and ask very perceptive questions. Lugar knows more about the Middle East than Richard Perle and John Bolton put together. Not to mention Condi's IQ, which is probably higher than both Perle and Bolton's.

The militaristic wing of the Republican Party, now buttressed by the NeoCon Israeli Fifth Column, has always regarded the State Department as at best an impediment and at worst an obstacle to their muscular foreign policy goals. Colin Powell drank their Kool-Aid on Iraq and was subsequently embarrassed by having touted faulty CIA intelligence in the UNSC on national TV, although he himself was savvy enough to have voiced strong doubts beforehand which George Tenet assured him were baseless.

Insight magazine is run by Arnaud de Borchgrave, whose nickname about press types back when I was in DC was "Farrago de Bullshit." It's possible that Arnaud, a famous name-dropper, has been hyping the anti-Condi sentiment among the far right to bolster Insight and the Washington Times, his other outlet.

But if John Bolton disagrees with Condi, he sure has been putting a mild face on his inner bad-boy. Perhaps he wants to succeed her in the job. Fat chance!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Anderson Cooper Exposes Euro-TV Hezbollista bias.

I somehow missed Nic Robertson's mea culpa for swallowing the Hezbollah agitprop hook, line, rod and sinker. But Anderson Cooper does everyone a service by exposing the Hezbollah terrorists' minders as well as the Euro-dupe TV crews photographing fake ambulance responses.

Anyone watching BBC and Jim Lehrer's duped and stupid PBS Evening News can see that most western [and some US] news organizations lap up the Hezbollah line, with the BBC commentators, Bolsheviks like Simpson, Cowen, et alii, lugubriously intoning in solemn quavering fashion all the crimes of Israel. Oh, the humanity!

Cooper, to his credit, shows the man behind the curtain the other newsies ignore. The Beeb is not a news organization, but a terrorist support-group in the one-sided ultra-left spin the failed journalists give every episode they show. The commentator sounds like the doughty little Hezzies are giving those evil Jews as good as they get, and then some. You'd think you were watching a newsreel from the Second World War with the resounding bravado the Beeb Bolshevik throbs into his mike.

Lehrer's show uses ITN footage. Cooper is CNN's only good reporter, as the Brits like Robertson appear hopelessly agog spinning Hezbollah agitprop. FoxTV stays away from Beirut's southern suburbs, which are terrorist warrens and should be pounded flat.

O'Reilly First and Olbermann LAST!

At a recent Vegas TV get-together/festivity, obnoxious ankle-biter KO put on a mask of O'Reilly and made a Nazi salute. Roger Ailes correctly said the small-ball hitter Keithy went "over the top" with the Hitler salute.

O'Reilly got the last laugh tonight, as the overnites came in and he came in his usual first in the prime eight pm time-slot with CNN second, Headline News third, and Olberboy dead last.

Oh Yeah, Ailes did say that the sleaze-mouthed prankster KO, who has been getting a lot of print lately for his sophomoric verbal antics concerning other MSNBC hosts, basically played the fool to get a ratings boost from the brain-impaired ultra-lefties who get off with nasty pranks and cheap shots at his betters, which for Keithy is everyone else in his time-slot!

If Keith's brain was half the size of his mouth, he would wrack it for a better solution than Nazi salutes!

Good guys First---Sophomoric Short-Hitter fourth out of four!

At least Ted Turner didn't end up last---although he still doesn't look like a prophet when he said CNN would "crush Fox like a bug" way back when FoxNews cable got started.

And Roger Ailes joins Rupert Murdoch as the Twin Towers of Media Moguldum on cable TV.

[And don't forget American Idol and House, 1 & 2 on network TV, twin towers of Fox on the airwaves.]

UPDATE: Numbers on the Four 8PM Cable News Shows: O'Reilly 2,693,000, then CNN ZAHN 890,000; CNNHN GRACE 460,000; MSNBC OLBERMANN 365,000

Looks like O'Reilly pulls a million more viewers than all his competitors put together. And about 7 [seven] times what NBC's manic worst news person in the 8 o'clock lineup pulls!

Dan Abrams will have problems putting enuf lipstick on that pig!

Why Democrats Have Trouble Making People Believe What They Say

There's hope for centrist Democrats, although the Lieberman fiasco makes another Democratic implosion more likely than not. An unusually perceptive article by Chris Bowers explores the Democrats' hopelessly self-absorbed and self-referential tropes, which constantly proclaim strategies and tactics to win Democratic voter allegiance and capture centrist and independent ballots. Bowers says that's all well and good, but it gives the impression that the Dems don't believe in anything in particular, but will support anything that will get them elected.

Back in the day when I worked for Mondale, one of Mondale's chief aides told me that it was very difficult to pry a decision out of Fritz unless he had made dozens of phone calls and triangulated, nay, quadrangulated or septangulated the issues involved among the many contending constituencies that make up the "Democratic base."

Republican conservatives actually believe in certain principles, or at least in God, whether or not they follow through completely on lower taxes or more personal morality.

The Democrats, and in particular the liberal wings, believe passionately in their own issues[e.g. feminists, unions, civil rights] and sometimes only go along with other groups in order to empower their own particular agenda---union Democrats may disagree with abortion-on-demand and lack of educational vouchers, for instance.

And the center is always liable to be deserted by Reagan Democrats who will choose a strong, but moderate Republican like McCain or Giuliani over the endlessly quibbling and squabbling wings of the Democrats, whose ultra-lefties are repulsive to moderates of all stripes. Bowers ends with a lapel-grabbing exhortation:
The bizarre Democratic need, found most often within DLC-type conferences, to preface any proposal with a public claim that the coming proposal will help Democrats win elections is a major factor in the national belief that Democrats do not stand for anything. If you tell the country that your ideas are designed to win elections, then they won't think you stand for anything except winning elections. And then, well, you probably won't win many elections, because Americans don't like politicians who only stand for winning elections. If you want to do something, then just do it. Throwing the "this will get us elected" qualifier in front of your statements just makes us all look like spineless jackasses who are trying to pull one over on the electorate. If you want to talk faith, or be a centrist, or be a hawk, or stand on principles, then just go for it. Stop wasting our time and making us all look bad by telling us you are doing it in order to win elections.

So much for Pelosi's "Contract on America" or a confabulationist like Lukacz telling the Dems they simply have to concoct the right verbal formula to hoodwink the centrists into compliance.

Zell Miller might be the final answer!

Nabih Berri Nixes Rice Cease-Fire Proposal

Ex-Detroit resident Nabih Berri, who reportedly still owns a couple of gas stations up around Hamtramck, has rejected Condi Rice's proposals for a cease-fire. Berri is the Head of Parliament, as well as a Syrian sock puppet, and is probably authorized to speak for Hezbollah, which edged him out of real political power years ago. This first round of visits, especially in Lebanon, is pitched toward sound bites and photo ops rather than serious exchanges of negotiating.

I note that David Welch, Asst Sec of State for the Middle East, sits next to Condi on the American side of the table during all meetings. David is an old drinking buddy---we used to spirit spiked lemonade into Oriole games up in Ballmer and I watched a Redskins game at his home before my wife Marilyn sold him and his wife Gretchen, also an FSO, a new home in a better neighborhood! The importance of having State rather than NSC rep Elliot Abrams be at Condi's side may be more than symbolic. Abrams is a neo-con and may try to insert himself, but it may be Welch who stays behind and does the negotiating after Rice and entourage head back to DC. David was Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, an important player in ongoing negotiations, as well as Egypt, which has been provoking Hamas toward rational stances in behind-the-scenes parleys. Hamas's new offer to release Cpl Shalit is almost certainly due to Egypt's good offices---Mubarak all but accused Syria publicly of torpedoeing Shalit's imminent release two weeks ago.

The most important goal Rice & entourage have, if I get the picture correctly, is the insertion of a NATO [with perhaps robin's-egg-blue helmets] contingent with a kick-ass charter into the region south of the Litani to keep Hezbollah from returning to its old rocket -launching sites. Rice & company will demand full implementation of UNSC Res 1559 as an opening demand, then probably fall back to an exclusion of armed Hezbollah south of the Litani as their ne plus ultra position.

Until the agreement is reached, no cease-fire should be agreed upon, as Hezbollah's feet should be kept to the fire relentlessly, and as long as they launch from downtown Tyre and Sidon, these urban areas should be pounded by Israeli pinpoint bombing---as should the South suburbs of Beirut, where the hostages held by Hezbollah are usually kept. There must be a price to be paid for supporting Hezbollah terrorists, as the south suburbs do. All the BBC and CNN propaganda pitches for Hezbollah's terrorists notwithstanding, these evil war criminals launch their Nazi-style terror weapons at urban areas in Israel without any attempts to avoid civilian casualties. Quisling networks like BBC and CNN may neglect to point this out, in their search for "access" to terrorist warlords. But the American, British and Israeli publics are aware that militias masquerading as political parties deserve destruction, at least of their weapons and delivery systems.

My Congressman Wexler At Work and Play

Boca Raton has representative government in its U.S. House Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat who clearly has higher ambitions, which after his Colbert appearance a couple of nights ago, should be put on hold for a few more years.

By now, the interview by the mysterious Steve has rocketed up to the top of the video charts on the blogosphere, and a sober assessment by the Dem-leaning blog Editor & Publisher describes the hilarious episode in full.

Wexler's local office on Military Trail here in Boca abuts my spouse's Real Estate firms digs, and I notice that his office is usually closed. That doesn't matter much, as Wexler wins by monster numbers in his largely New York Jewish constituency. One of my wife's colleagues was his secretary back when he was an attorney and describes him as a "very nice guy, for a lawyer."

I aqctually wrote Wexlerr a letter of commendation because, disregarding the instructions of Minority Leader Pelosi, Wexler actually submitted a bill seeking to reform Social Security last year, the only Democrat to do so. He actually was following Bill Clinton's own attempts while prez to reform Social Security, the most sacred of all cows on Capitol Hill. But the feckless Dem leadership crew under Nancy and Harry Reid decided that stonewalling was the best politics, regardless of the actual problems the SocSec will face when the baby-boomer pig in the python reaches full bulge sometime around 2020.

The funny part of the whole episode is that Boca is a big consumer of coca and its many forms, including cocaine, and that Wexler's remarks about Bolivian marching powder could actually conceivably HELP him among the metrosexuals and hip NYC refugee types, many of whom, according to an FBI special agent I dealt with a couple of years ago, have themselves dealt a bit fast and loose with legal niceties before heading south to sunny Palm Beach County. Here in Florida, a personal home cannot be seized as part of a legal judgment, and my special agent friend told my that more than 30 wealthy ex-CPAs from the NYC area are wearing Martha Stewart-style ankle bracelets in the wealthiest gated enclave, St. Andrew's, alone. Given the interior amenities of a world-class golf course and cordon-bleu cuisine at the Clubhouse at St. Andrew's, it is truly a gilded cage.

Except for four hurricanes in the last two years, life here is, well, like a day at the beach!

Harris Poll Has 50% of Americans Believe Saddam had WMDs

Remember back when the unctious Billy Jeff Clyntoon was in the habit of fulsomely praising the "great wisdom" of the American people? Well, after the Repubs won the next two elections, the tilting 70% ADA US MSM has been berating Americans for being so silly as believing in God, opposing gay marriage, and supporting GWB at a 40% rate even after three years of a bitter, badly-planned conflict in Iraq.

However, some of Saddam's generals now attest that there was a top-secret exportation of Iraq's WMD that took place a few months before the American Operation Iraqi Freedom. The converted 747's made dozens of trips to Syria, ostensibly as "relief" shipments, to hand over Saddam's deadly toys to the nitwit Syrian boy-Assad, who actually may not have known about the WMDs coming his way, given the intense secrecy of his own five internal intell services!

In any event, Saddam's quick export of chem and bio weapons was so top secret that his own generals were fooled, many of whom expected the US invasion to trigger Iraqi use of the WMD horde.

Of course, the American electronic and print disinformation disseminators exulted in the inability of US and UN inspectors to unearth the WMDs, now safely esconced in Syria, and reportedly Lebanon.

And you can bet that the results of the Harris poll, demonstrating a majority of those polled as believing the US government and not the politicized Dem-leaning MSM, will not be published in, say, the NYT, LAT, Boston Globe, and other lefty organs.

That would be responsible journalism, not a trademark of the three publications mentioned above.

Defeated Mexican Prez Candidate Freaks Out

One good thing about the Hezbollah/Israeli War is that it has moved Mexico's increasingly fractious post-election whackiness off the world news. PAN candidate Calderon beat the populist Obrador by 233,000 votes, more than enough in a well-run election to warrant a seamless transition, one would think.

But this is Mexico, with a history of massive vote-fraud surpassing Chicago's, and Obrador is, to put it mildly, more than a little off his nut. Obrador's call for a recount is a political move that one can argue about, but he now claims that his nefarious opponent put "subliminal messages" in TV ads for potato chips and fruit juices. Yes, you read that sentence right!

Yesterday, Obrador's supporters surrounded Calderon's SUV and started kicking it and threatening the victorious president-elect. Of course, the US press to the extent it has got involved has supported Obrador, including one hilarious puff-piece that only a Pravda-wannabe like the Boston Globe could have allowed past the editors---the female Indian writer compared Obrador to a religious figure whose uplifting message remains the sole hope of the Mexican oppressed classes, or some such twaddle.

Actually, it might be in the US interest to have Obrador win a recount, as the resulting massive dole might keep the human traffic crossing the US borders to a minimum. Better to put them on a Mexican dole than to have them dealing drugs in the USA!

The NYT has put its tabloid two cents behind Obrador and a recount, even though the Mexican constitution does not demand it and Obrador's reckless rhetoric has incited near riots. The fiery Tabasco native has another huge rally in Mexico City's Zocalo, where an adjacent restaurant almost did me in with a near-lethal serving of ceviche years ago. In Mexico, I now recall, the politics can be as poisonous as the food!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Human Shield Casualties in Lebanon International Media Focus

BBC spen t the first fifteen minutes of its thirty minute evening newscast with videos of destruction and mayhem on the Lebanese side of the border. CNN's Nic Robertson did a tour of South Beirut suburbs giving the Hezbollah viewpoint in an uncritical and approving fashion. Tech Central Station has an interesting take by Ralph Bennett on the complete cynicism of the Hezbollah:
Guerrillas like to hide behind civilians. Muslim guerrillas take it a step further: "Civilians" are a weapon to them -- as much a part of the fight as the AK-47 or RPG they carry.

Those who have visited any Hezbollah installation in Lebanon over the years always remark on the fact that there are families, women and children, in and around the place. "Secret" bases are usually hidden in plain site. Houses or apartment buildings become weapons storage or even operations centers. An innocent shed or garage may contain a Toyota or a missile launcher.

Seldom, if ever, has a guerrilla movement been able to so openly and exquisitely weave itself into the fabric of a society as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon.

If the civilians in and around what are in effect operational bases happen to be of Hezbollah's own brand of Islam they automatically become a part of the "sacrificial," suicidal equation. Often without choice or foreknowledge, they die an "honorable" death in the battle against infidels or apostates.

If the civilians happen to be of some other persuasion, Islamic or otherwise, their deaths are not even worth a shrug. However, these mangled bodies and wailing women with arms outstretched do provide an immense propaganda payoff, especially in the Western "crusader" media -- which still places a quaint value on human life.

The gullible "crusader media" leftist dupes from BBC and CNN just lap up the horrific video and sound bites offered them by destroyed civilian homes and lives in Lebanon. Then they take a perfunctory glance at Israel, just to provide "balance." Of course, two minutes of Israel hardly balances 13 minutes of Lebanon. And the breathless reporters in Beirut berate the destruction of the Shi'ite neighborhoods there without providing the perspective that these banlieues are where the Hezbollah get their banking, weapons storage and other logistical/financial support that sustains their murderous terrorist adventures into Israel.

But it's pretty clear with the neutrality of the NYT and Kos, and the open hostility of the European media and wire services to Israel's retaliatory strategy and tactics, [not to mention American politicos like Kerry and Dean] that Hezbollah's propaganda is successful in many countries that should know better in Europe and outside the Middle East.

Granting moral equivalence to a non-governmental terrorist organization promises to be a mistake these short-sighted leftists will rue in the future, when the Muslims invited into their European homelands begin to terrorize first Jewish, then Christian opponents of the Islamic drive to dominate the world.

These short-sighted newsies scoff at that possibility, but a lot of CA-RAY-ZEE religious fanatics, supporting either or both Hamas and Hezbollah, see destroying Israel as just the edge of the wedge to overcoming western civilization.

Samuel Huntington foresaw a clash of civilizations---let's not write him off as just a scaremonger.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Saudis Key to US Strategy to Curb Hezbollah, Detach Syria From Iran

The Washington Post does a quick overview of getting Hezbollah to abide by UNSC Res 1559:
In a bid to contain Hezbollah, the United States is hoping to persuade Arab allies over the next week -- Saudi Arabia in talks today and Egypt and Jordan at an emergency meeting Wednesday in Rome -- to get Syria to stop arming, funding and facilitating Hezbollah's military operations, U.S. officials said. Because Syria is also the physical conduit for all Iranian arms and personnel bound for Lebanon, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad could be pivotal to helping end the current hostilities and ensuring that Hezbollah's options are limited afterward.

The Saudis have their key foreign policy players [Turki Al-Faisal, former head of Saudi Intelligence and now US Amb, his brother Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal, as well as the new head of Saudi Intelligence] in camera with Condoleeza Rice, Steve Hadley, Nick Burns, David Welch, and a Pentagon rep at the Bush ranch in Texas, poring over strategies and modalities. They are trying to solve the conundrum over this problem:
...Israeli, U.S., U.N. and European officials say they do not envision a solution in which Hezbollah is eliminated. Initial U.S., Israeli and U.N. assessments have concluded that Hezbollah's popularity among Lebanese Shiites is likely to remain significant -- and no one but the Shiites will be able to challenge its status, according to U.S. and U.N. officials.

Belling the Hezbollah cat has Saudi and Sunni Arab support all across the board, including the unrepresented Sunni majority in Syria, perhaps. The Hezbollah are reckless, Shi'ite, proxies for the Iranians, and admired by the 'Arab street' who dislikes the passivity of their respective regimes vis-a-vis Israel.

In addition, the Saudis engineered the Treaty of Taif in 1990, which brought a final solution to the decade-and-a-half Lebanese civil war. But the Saudis have always been wary of the Syrian minoritarian Alawite ascendancy, and Saudi King Abdullah has personal ties both to Lebanon and to Syria [one of his wives was Lebanese and his mother was from a tribe which does transhumence in Syrian bedouin territories.] Also, the Saudis have always liked Beirut better than any other Arab capital and many have second homes there.

The Bush-Saudi connection goes back a long way, and the Saudis trust Bush and even admire him, while not enthralled with his democratizing crusade [nor are the Egyptian and Jordanian summiteers in Rome].

Indeed, now that Hamas may be ready to return Cpl Shalit in return for a ceasefire, [perhaps engineered by Egyptian good offices, since Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian "outlawed" Muslim Brotherhood, who often do favors for Mubarak to keep themselves from actually being arrested] the door may be slightly ajar to allow the edge of the Sunni triumvirate wedge onto Syrian turf. The Syrians are broke. And, since their huge $300 million/annum crime-bonus from Lebanon had disappeared with 1559 and thousands of impecunious Lebanese flooding their landscape, the oil-rich Saudis and Gulf States could replace Iran as Syria's paymasters-in-chief. However, this probably won't happen unless some Syrian is thrown to the wolves over the Hariri assassination, since the Saudis regarded the murdered Lebanese president one of their own.

Finally, a real military force, meaning a NATO force with teeth in its charter, will have the replace the UNIFIL force now monitoring the carnage in South Lebanon. And the billion-dollar question, what to do with the Russians who want to participate? The Russkies are tight with Iran, not friendly to NATO, and Putin might use the UNSC veto to nix a NATO force---plus they want to be a player in the endless festival of earthly delights in the Levant.

And UN SecGen Kofi ["forget about Rwanda and Darfur"] Annan may want to salvage his battered reputation, or bolster it in the Third World, by attempting to sabotage the grown-ups' game plan.

So the Merry-Go-Round continues while the MSM in the USA takes various potshots at GWB, in their never-ending chorus-chant: "It's all Bush's fault."

Culture Codes: Tour de France and British Open

Captain's Quarters has an amusing and gracious little blog entitled "American Imperialism in Europe" describing the twin victories of Tiger Woods and Floyd Landis in two of the world's most prestigious sports championships.

Yesterday I bought the book, "Culture Codes," written by a Swiss francophone named Clotaire Rapaille, who describes international marketing nuances and cultural guideposts in interesting anecdotal ways.

For the French, Rapaille says, Americans come across as what he calls "Space Travellers," literally beings from a planet that France is unfamiliar with. Rapaille goes into detail about "the confusion of people in France who were educated into the belief that they were supposed to illuminate the world with their ideas, but that the Americans were actually doing it." [p. 172] To imagine the consternation of the French that Americans have won eight consecutive Tours de France in a broader context, Clotaire goes on to explain on the next page that Americans are seen as "usurpers."
In their minds, we have landed in their world and are trying to impose our culture and our values on them, and because [Americans] are 'travellers,' we don't have the same committment to the well-being of the planet that they have. How can we know what is important to humanity when we ourselves are not fully human?

Yes, it's got the ring of dime-store psychology, but I must admit that during my time living there and during re-visits, there is always a sense of confusion at the way Americans tend to get their way and achieve success. Perhaps this is why US difficulties in Iraq are regarded almost joyfully by the French, whose second-class status in world sports except for imports from their colonial past [North Africans in tennis and soccer], keeps them brooding and even vengeful, as with allegations that Armstrong somehow brilliantly evaded a dope-testing downfall, doubtless because he was a Texan bred of Arcturus E.T.s!

However, to give the French a break, one of their top commentators said the Americans excelled at the Tour de France for their unexcelled "discipline and committment."

Clotaire has another take for the British, whose one-word culture-code mantra is "class." Yes, cliches are cliches because they often happen to be true, at least at the sporting level. But Tiger Woods has succeeded Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus as the most beloved American at the game of golf in the birthplace of that exasperating sport. Tiger's genetic multi-cultural heritage [Thai, Chinese, Black, White, Native American] doesn't seem to have negative reverberations with the sportsmanlike British. They can appreciate unparalleled excellence no matter what the provenance, and their own popular culture now admits all sorts of variations from the Anglo-Saxon norm of manners and behavior nowadays.

I wonder how Clotaire fits the universal Vitruvian Tiger into the circle of his cultural codes?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Fake News" by ABC News Note

The always alert and endlessly estimable Mickey Kaus discovers that there's a Jayson Blair wannabe working in the ABC News Note department inventing fake news to get Democrats pumped for the '06 Fall elections. Here is Mickey's hilarious exhumation of a buried bit of agitprop:
ABC Buries the Lede--For a Reason: Here's Point #4 from yesterday's ABC News Note summary of "key stories" that bear on whether the "Democratic Party [is] on the right track or the wrong track to break from recent electoral patterns ...." Emphasis added:

4. In a front page story, USA Today's Jill Lawrence reports on a resurgence in union membership across the nation and the two main umbrella organizations playing nicely together, which has allowed the House of Labor to move forward with plans to spend $40 million on voter turn out this fall. LINK

Is there "a resurgence in union membership across the nation"? That would be stunning news, since union membership has been in relentless long term decline for fifty years--"from more than 35 percent [in 1955] to 12.5 percent last year, including only 7.9 percent of the private-sector workforce," according to a Thomas Edsall WaPo piece from September, 2005. But I can't find any mention of this surprising resurgence in union membership in the Post, or the New York Times. I can't find it on Google (to the contrary). I can't find it on the website of the "strategic organizing" Change to Win unions--you'd think they'd boast about it. And there's no mention of it in the USA Today story ABC says reports it. (That's a story about unions raising political campaign money and cooperating with each other, which is different.) Tentative conclusion: It doesn't exist. There's no resurgence in union membership. The Note item is in error. [And "it reflects the subconscious liberal yearnings of whatever MSM summer intern wrote it unaware that the cumbersome legalistic mechanisms of Wagner Act unionism are incompatible with productive success in a fast-moving global high-tech economy"?--ed You said that.]

The unaccountable exempt MSM just churns out the pro-Democrat/Hollyweird/leftist tripe and bashes the family/religion/traditional gender and family values. Occasionally their ideologies generate fantasies they regard as "truthiness," ala the NYT's egregious confabulator Frank Rich.

Or, their extremists like Molly Ivins just copy others' newscopy as their own. Molly is a Bush-basher from the very marrow of her osteoporosis-plagued, alcohol-soaked bones and joints---so Molly can fib and fake and pinch to her heart's content. No fault on the left---you could look it up in Comintern's Rules of the Road to Socialism.