Saturday, May 10, 2003

Had the great pleasure to hear Israeli Consul General Alon Pinkas today. He discussed in a very realistic and pragmatic way Israeli issues. Starting with the Iraq war, he hesitated to draw conclusions, preferring to wait to see the final geopolitical results, speculating that they may be a decade away. But our audience was amazed that he showed not nearly the universal relief that we have all felt. On a personal note, I've been much more comfortable riding trains and planes since the fall of Iraq (as much of a non-sequitur as that may seem), and I don't think that I'm alone. The Consul, on the contrary, wished to point out that the fundamentalist Arab troublemakers were merely taking a break, only temporarily 'shocked and awed', and with chilling finality, guaranteed their return. Gee, and I thought we were winning the 'war on terror'.

On the Palestinian issue, we were also somewhat surprised by the Consul's approach. Far from being damning of the 'roadmap to peace', Mr. Pinkas was supportive of these efforts, while uncomfortable with certain pieces of the document. He mentioned the inability to find a universally well-regarded plan made by committee, that is, the 'quartet' who composed the roadmap. If it was the hard line I had expected, I was surprised, although Pinkas is from the Left side of the Israeli tracks and has been retained as Consul General at the behest of Sharon. He rolled out the Israeli demographic issue, which we all know quite well: By 2012, the majority of people living within the borders of the State of Israel will no longer be Jewish. For this reason, the Consul is convinced that a 'last chance' opportunity has arrived with the shuffling of the MidEast deck by the US and some solution will soon need to be found to , as he puts it, 'disengage' from the Palestinians. He made the point, correctly I thought, that after such a demographic shift only 9 years away, an Arab argument of 'one man, one vote' would be very persuasive in Israel as well as in the US and fundamentally eliminate Israel as a Jewish State, unless the Israelis abandon true democracy, a course I find difficult to see. Time IS running short......................

We may have some issues with the Bush administration, but we have absolutely NONE with the Bush administration's Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Throughout all the political and diplomatic dealings through the last 8 months, Secretary Powell continues to acquit himself nobly. We believe he will go down in history as the greatest Secretary of State in modern US history. (Take that, Newt!). Another example of the General's great abilities was displayed at the UN Security Council yesterday, as Powell approached the assembly looking to confirm the 'legitimacy' of US occupation of Iraq.

I can hear the hootin' and hollerin' already: "Legitimacy?" "We don' need no stinkin' affirmation of legitimacy from a bunch of stinkin' weasels!!" But, in fact, Powell's trip to the United Nations not only rang of poise and grace, it also lent a bit of generosity and even some much needed humility to accompany the omnipotent recent performance of the US military. Powell has continued to argue his points forcefully in the international arena, without apology. Despite being unable to secure the votes for the use of force in Iraq, he still wasted no time in returning to the UN, again hoping to involve it substantially in the question of reconstruction. High Quality.

There's more: He was quick to organize a personal trip to Syria, not to reward the maniac Assad, as has been suggested, but to remind him how the game has changed, and keep Damascus in the loop ----- while getting at least lip service concessions on controlling some Hezbollah headquarters activity in the Syrian capital. He's just as quickly back on the plane to Israel and the Palestinians, to put emphasis on the 'road map to peace', even though it's been widely speculated that Sharon will not substantially promise anything without a face-to-face with Bush himself. No matter, Powell will hopefully add legitimacy to the ascent of Abu Masen by meeting with him directly, and lessen yet again the impact of Arafat, whose unfortunately slow but inevitable political demise can only help the cause of the Palestinians.

In the long run, the euro- held image of the 'cowboy' Bush is being continually and usefully tempered by the great Statesman.
And, although it is my opinion that the cowboy image has actually helped the President in many ways, he owes a debt to Powell ---------- for maintaining and building relationships entirely necessary to the future. A good team, the two of them, an historic team. And, despite what others may suggest, they're on the SAME team. Can this man actually move the French and Russian state policies closer to US advantage? He's clearly of great skill..........I wouldn't want to entrust the extremely dynamic international political scene to ANY ONE else right now...........................

Friday, May 09, 2003

This is NUTS

I'm no economist, OK? But this latest round of Tax Cuts of 550 billion, considering the state of this economy strikes me as just the most irresponsible move right now. It's not just because of the cost of a recent war, mind you. This is an economy largely inherited by President Bush and not created by him, I'll grant. It's sickness is a swing of the economic pendulum that no one could stop from happening. But can this administration turn a tremendous SURPLUS into an enormous DEFICIT any faster??

Remember, the President was actually looking for $725 billion and was cut down. In any event, while you're contemplating the budget, go to this website and get a good indication of where all the money goes. They'll even give you a chance to frame the US Federal Budget in your image, allowing you to trim or add wherever you like and then click to see the final results. Think you can do better than our elected geniuses in Washington? Give it a try, and when you start cutting, take my advice and go with the biggies first: Social Security, responsible for $500 billion and Health and Human Services, good for $460 billion. Then, move on to the Treasury (mostly servicing debt) at about $400 billion and our Military at $370 billion. Can you find the missing $100 Billion to take us out of debt??????? If you can, then have we got a job for you!!!!!!!!!!

This marks a great day in the short history of this blog because, after much bleating and pleading, Reason of Voice has scored its first (hopefully of many) links with the very wonderful, very well read Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. If I may quote from the Emperor Mischa's email:

While I'm sure that it comes as no surprise to you that I, upon reading through your site, come to the conclusion that we may be on different ends of the spectrum (or maybe I wasn't paying enough attention), I'm also heartened and gladdened to see the way you argue your points and contribute greatly to the debate and it is therefore my great honor and privilege to add you to the Imperial Dept. of "The Other Side of the Hill".

Well it may be true that the Rottweiler and I don't always see eye-to-eye (foaming mouth and all that), it's also true that I have a great respect for the way Emperor Mischa makes his arguments as well.............I'm not happy being labelled a lefty, (cuz I ain't), but it's nice to get noticed!!

A carrot can work as well as a stick

In the true spirit of Globalization, the Bush administration has wasted no time in setting in motion the true force for change in the Middle East, as noted in the WP today. At a speech to be given today at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, the president will outline his plan to create a 'free trade zone' between the US and countries of the Middle East, much like already in place between the US and Israel and Jordan. Provided that countries take initiatives to limit terrorist involvement, the US will make available the economic programs to bring trade equanimity between the Mid East and the West. To quote a top aide in the White House:

The president believes that people of Middle Eastern nations 'deserve to be able to participate in the economic prosperity that has been experienced in many other parts in the world,'

To put it succinctly, it's hard to argue with Televisions and Cdplayers and full store shelves...........bring Western-style opportunity and prosperity to the desert, and we'll see how long backward-thinking governments can survive. Of course, such a process takes decades to fully realize it's goals, but BRAVO to the administration for making it immediately clear, on the heels of a great military triumph, that they will conduct foreign policy as much with a carrot as with a stick....................

Thursday, May 08, 2003

"Top 10...Excuses for Not Finding Weapons
of Mass Destruction"

From the May 6 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten President Bush Excuses for Not Finding Weapons of Mass Destruction." Late Show Web site:

10. "We've only looked through 99% of the country"

9. "We spent entire budget making those playing cards"

8. "Containers are labeled in some crazy language"

7. "They must have been stolen by some of them evil X-Men mutants"

6. "Did I say Iraq has weapons of mass destruction? I meant they have goats"

5. "How are we supposed to find weapons of mass destruction when we can't even find Cheney?"

4. "Still screwed up because of Daylight Savings Time"

3. "When you're trying to find something, it's always in the last place you look, am I right, people?"

2. "Let's face it -- I ain't exactly a genius"

1. "Geraldo took them"

Worth the wait to get to #1.

Ok, with credit to superleftie Brent Baker

We like Mike

Well, here's the poll, just as we figured. Mayor Bloomberg, after looking to bring back the commuter tax, raise the sales tax, cut services across the board on Sanitation, Education, and in the Fire and Police force..........AND........after getting snubbed by Albany and Washington looking for help has absolutely p****ed EVERYBODY off, as the numbers now show:

to quote the pollster: we've never seen anyone poll this low..........

I couldn't think of a better indication that the Mayor is making all the right (and hard) decisions, where no other politicians would DARE go.............. GO MIKE!!!!

One more time.........

Ok, we'll try this again. Received an email from a reader making a BIG deal about this article that's been making the rounds on the front pages of the *ahem* right wing media, while being buried a bit inside the papers on the left. (Although it made the front page of the WashingtonPost). We're not going to claim truth or fiction here, because by all accounts:

The equipment could be used for nonmilitary purposes, but "U.S. and U.K. technical experts have concluded that the unit does not appear to perform any function beyond what the defector said it was for, which was the production of biological agents,"

In other words, the truck holds no evidence at all of being an operative biolab, yet no one seems to know what other purpose it could possibly have. Wow. This is evidence of a teeming chemical and biological warfare program in Saddam's Iraq after 3 weeks of intensive search? Weak.

What's worse is the smug reactions of pundits to the questioning of US intelligence on this issue prior to invasion, particularily by Taranto in the WSJ 'best of the web". In it, he begins his response to Kristof and Krugman of the NYTimes with the headline 'Bring Back Saddam', as if questioning the govenment's intelligence as evidence for Iraqi invasion is tantamount to wishing a return of the deposed leader. What hubris. But Taranto continues:

In any case, before these guys complain about the coalition's failure to find weapons of mass destruction, wouldn't it behoove them to wait at least as long as they wanted to give the U.N. inspectors?

Actually no, it wouldn't, because it should be a helluva lot easier and certainly quicker, to find stuff in a country you control, as opposed to one where you've got a limited number of inspectors moving around within the control of an uncooperative government. If Taranto is correct, inspections of any kind in any country should be abandoned, as it is clear if you cannot find ample evidence of a thriving WMD program in Iraq by now, you were entirely wasting effort thinking that inspections would ever unearth anything. I suppose the only reasonable inspection effort would naturally follow a regime change...............

Absolutely NO ONE is unhappy with the deposing of the Iraqi dictator (including the Arabs) so this will NEVER be an issue for the Bush administration and certainly not a campaign issue for the Democrats as Taranto suggests:

(If weapons are ultimately not found)........ The Democratic nominee, whoever he is, can make righting this wrong his top promise if elected. Sounds like a winning rallying cry: Bring back Saddam!'s that for turning an issue on it's head???

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

this will NOT play in Peoria

another quickie to point up the difficulty of the Democrats..........this article on the wife of John Kerry, Teresa Heinz. Ungaggable, indeed. Of course the now famous 'prenup statement' :
"Everybody has a prenup. You have to have a prenup. You've got to have a prenup. You could be as generous or as sensitive as you want. But you have to have a prenup."

Read this one through and enjoy......Then read this one for a balanced view........First Lady material? She's a brilliant and accomplished woman but this will most definitely NOT play in Peoria.................

Road to Nowhere

We're going to analyze the field of Democratic hopefuls quite alot between now and the primaries, but let me just quickly say that I find the field uninspired, to say the least.Joe Lieberman,

despite my greatest hopes that he would immediately separate himself from the crowd, seems to be a Bush clone as well as unable to raise the big dollars a modern presidential candidate needs. Kerry with the funny hair, Dean with unnecessary commentary about the Iraqi war as well as a decidedly liberal demeanor.........whadda we got left? Nah, could it's Dick Gephardt a bad refrain to a song that won't leave your brain once it's sung, Gephardt is back again to lead the early pack and smash the hopes of the Democrats from ever getting into contention in the presidential election in 2004.

Is this the best they can do? I despair.............................
Small story of interest, admittedly only to NYC'ers in today's NY Sun. Apparently the NYC transit authority has decided to reduce the number of poems displayed on subway cars in their poetry in motion program from 3 per train to 2 per train. Because the new subway cars have 30% less advertising space and because of their perceived need to remind riders of 'anti-terrorist' measures, they've been forced to reduce their quota of Ezra Pound, Walt Whitman, et al.

Of course, this is of major consequence only to someone like me, who rides the NYC subway daily and has often smiled from reading the poems on the subway car walls (no, not the graffitti). There've been days when I've really appreciated those small respites from city life.......and will be sorry to see less of them. Any other NYC'ers out there who feel the same??

Well, it is MY BLOG, so I get to devolve into minutiae once in a while.......................

Monday, May 05, 2003

What's the diff.......?

I've not commented on the Bill Bennett gambling story at all yet. Why? Well, it's not because I don't think Mr. Bennett is a stuffed shirt, who deserves a defrocking of this sort. And certainly, a man who's tried to label himself as the guardian of moral decency in America ought to take it easy in the casinos.........even if he doesn't think that legal gambling is a moral issue. And, it's also not because I believe Mr. Bennett has his habit under control and that his family is 'in fine financial shape' in spite of his losses. I don't care who you are (well, actually, if Mr. Bennett's name was Michael Jordan,) but even so, 6 million is a lot of dough.

No, I don't comment because this is NOBODY'S BUSINESS. And besides, how can a guy like this be such a big roller for so many years and it only becomes a story NOW? The AC and Vegas crowd must have known about Mr. Bennett's habits For years. In this case, I'm more apt to apply the 'Rock Hudson' rule; sure, everyone knew he was gay, but who wanted to be the schnook to report it, when it helps no one and only embarrasses? That's not news, that's idle, useless GOSSIP....

Oh well, I guess I just DID comment..............heh.

Who is the dumbest guy on earth???? Ok, it's a trick question, I admit it, but why not enter Newt Gingrich again for the award? With this beauty of a story running around, with Newt happily running his mouth, I think he's a real contender....... here's a piece:

On deputy State Secretary Armitage:

''a squid blowing out ink to hide from predators.''

On Powell and his staff on the Syria trip:

'' (it was) ludicrous'' and his staff threw away ''all of the fruits of hard-won victory'' in Iraq

Of course Armitage countered Gingrich's original AEI speech with the analysis :

''It's clear Mr. Gingrich is off his meds and out of therapy.''

HA! I love it..........Gingrich is such yesterday's news it's astonishing anyone's listening. But, make no mistake, if anyone IS listening, the White House doesn't want these stupid comments associated with their Republican party and their agenda...........what a meathead!!
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