Saturday, May 24, 2003

that explains everything

It seems that the deadly virus SARS is actually an invader from outer space. No, really. It makes sense, right? No, really.........

reports appearing that Uday Hussein has surfaced and is trying to cut a deal for his surrender. Seems the US isn't interested in any deal, assuming it's just a matter of time before he's found without having to promise anything. Having seen underground tapes of Hussein brutalities on 20/20, he personifies pure evil. I hope they show him no mercy.

Cynics wanted

Say what you like, and this isn't exactly going to happen next week, but reports that Israel is considering application into the EU is a very good thing.............

Friday, May 23, 2003

This from a reader in response to my despair over anarchy in Iraq:

Just one further comment on your analogy of uncivilized behavior of the Iraqi (Arabs in general) The enlightened nation of Beethoven, Schopenhauer,Marx,Buber,Remarque, etc.etc.etc. used cyclon "b" and ovens on 6 million. The nation of Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Rachmaninoff,Chekov, Turgenev etc etc etc put 20 million to death between purges, the Gulag, forced collectivization and plain old assassination. If I were really knowledgeable I probably could cite a few more "civilized societies" that performed in the same vein. All this not to exonerate the Iraqi or the Arabs but to say that unfortunately man is still an object in need of perfection.

Quite right, quite right!! excellent response! Time to perhaps retire quick-witted views on Western superiority? Examine: It is every generation's great hope and failing to believe that it is living in the 'beknighted' time of history, where man has examined and found the great majority of errors in his ways and corrected them, improved on them, made his society better and more utopian. We try to believe that our recent progress in technology and media would preclude the kind of genocide in the West that the reader was referring to. With only 2 generations separating us and those historical disasters, such utopian hopes are surely premature.

But, even so, aren't we in the West in a position of further development than the 'savage' Arab world and therefore capable of creating progressive societal change? Surely the 'medieval Islamic World' would benefit from a push from us toward the 21st Century and a more contributing part of the 'globalized' world (and make us all a lot safer to boot)? A good question........economic and military strength naturally place us in that leadership role, as incapable as we might yet be to fulfill it wisely. But a note of humility, considering our own recent bloody history would be very useful.

Excellent, this was just the kind of dialogue this blog was aiming for...........

Is this what you want???

Ok, we've upgraded the look of the blog, which you most certainly are welcome to comment on, but hits are down to a paltry 20 or so a day. One reader made the suggestion that issues shouldn't be so weighty, should more often appeal to the 'human interest' side. so, a bit peeved, I have to wonder:

Why would ANYONE give one half of a shit whether the really fat black talentless singer should beat out the really skinny white talentless singer from Appalachia? And, even more? That 35 million people should dial in a vote on such a ridiculous contest? And??? And that questions of manipulations or voting irregularities should rivet a nation??

AND MORE?????? If we were really looking for talent and hard work personified and want to glorify real ability in the country, could we find 30 cents to help out the THOUSANDS of music students studying their instruments for 4-5 hours a day? Or the thousands of dancers working in pain for their art while support of dance companies dwindles to nothing?? I tell ya, I hear 50 people singing to their MP3 players on the subway EVERY DAY as good as the two they made such a big deal about on 'American Idol'...........sheeeeeesh!!! Is this why the Arabs want to kill us? Why fundamentalists consider the US a race of superficial, moral-less money grubbers?? Because we lionize really REALLY BAD SINGERS!!!!!!!!!!! WILL SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT'S USEFUL ABOUT THIS STORY???

Thank you...........that is all.
Without needing a formal sit-down with Bush, Ariel Sharon has cleared the path for formal acceptance of the 'road map to peace' today. Excellent. Now, there are reasons to expect progress as the ball is squarely in the Palestinians' court, squarely on the shoulders of their new Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas. Despite the hesitancy and skepticism that must greet any plan for quiet with Israel's neighbors, I have great hopes.................

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Go on, Take this test

this one, linked from Michael Totten, designed to determine exactly where you fall on the Left/Right, Authoritarian/Libertarian spectrum.

Yes, I took it......but for me it wasn't that interesting. I landed Almost dead center. Well, maybe just a little left of center. I'll accept that.

Now, take one of your own!
Well they've done it, given a $318 Billion dollar tax cut in the midst of an ever worsening economic picture. The NYTimes, despite it's recent lack of credibility, argues that: (it will) do far more to deepen the nation's deficits and debt than to stimulate the wallowing economy. I most assuredly agree. This is a tax cut aimed at the wealthiest Americans, programmed as it is almost entirely on the basis of a reduced dividend tax. Yesterday, on NPR, I heard Republican spinners claiming that 50% of Americans own stock and that the tax cut on dividend will average about $700 per household. Conveniently left out of the equation is the fact that, by and large, the middle class ownership of stock is in IRA and SEP funds, which are already tax-free, but still uses those households to come up with the $700 average. Absolute bullshit. In addition, the top tax rate was cut from 38.5% to 35% as part of the package. It's just a fact that the lion's share of gains in this tax cut will be accrued by the 5% most wealthy in this nation ------ everything else is pure spin. Whether it can be argued that such a move is eventually healthiest for the economy is problematic at best ------ I'm not buying. This country is looking at a near $200 billion deficit for fiscal 2003, after having a $100 billion surplus just 2 years ago. In addition the national debt is $6.4 trillion dollars, which most economists believe will increase to $7.3 trillion because of this tax cut and the subsequent increase in the debt ceiling.

And what is the administration response? They've begun a campaign to hammer the dollar against all foreign currencies, hoping to increase exports in the short term and at least HOLD the balance of debt.........almost certainly a long term disaster in an interconnected economic world. But, who denies Bush this neat opportunity to kick the French and German economies one more time for free?? It's just bad policy, and it will ricochet and hurt us --------- but for Bush, hopefully not until the 2004 elections are done.

OOhhh, that's bad

Nicole Kidman caught smoking during an interview? This causes controversy?

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

In the jungles (of Iraq)

Latest in restoration procedure --- Allied officials have ordered the seizing of automatic weapons (mostly Kalashnikov AK-47's) from Iraqi citizens. Seems just about everybody's got one, too. While Eric Umansky in Slate claims that:
The Times says officials don't really expect most Iraqis to give up their guns. Instead authorities are hoping that the new rules will encourage people to keep their Kalashnikovs off the streets. I saw nothing in the article to suggest that the coalition doesn't expect full compliance.

In any event, why is it that I have a recurring image of Cortez travelling into the jungles of Central America in the 16th Century, looking to "civilize the savages"? (although he hardly accomplished this). Is this a racist view of the Arab world? I probably just don't understand that assault rifles, the murder of clergymen, revenge killings of Baathists and looting are just part of the natural culture. With no other roots to claim for civility, not only does the clamor for a religious government grow ever louder, it even starts to make some sense for Western occupiers.

Although I usually find Cox and Forkum cartoons off-base, this one seemed right on the mark.............unfortunately.

Need more money? Sure!

It gets worse. The White House has asked for an extension of the debt ceiling officially to Congress. Here's the money quote:

One is that the proposal to increase the current $6.4 trillion debt by another $984 billion would be the largest one-time increase in history, coming only a few years after budget surpluses led Bush administration officials to forecast an end to the national debt.

This, on top of a tax cut? Uhhhmmm.....this be baaaad medicine, Kimosabe.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Mugabe expels another journalist

Andrew Meldrum, a reporter for the UK Guardian was thrown out of Zimbabwe today (while being threatened with far worse), despite court orders declaring his right to remain in a country he has maintained citizenship for 23 years.

Mugabe proves again he has no respect for any rule of law. This is a very bad man..........

I can see clearly now (?)

Both the NYTimes and the WP have written independent editorials today urging Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to, in effect, ignore the recent terrorist attacks (5 suicide bombings in 48 hours!) and move forward in the 1st stage of the 'road map to peace'.....or at least make a public committment to it.

Indeed, it seems that halting whatever diplomatic progress could be made here between the Palestinians and Israelis is precisely what the terrorists were aiming at, with their timed and deadly attacks. David Ignatius of the WP would seem to concur, believing Mahmoud Abbas a trustworthy partner in the peace process.

I am tired of the double standard toward Israel which needs no further discussion. If such terrorist attacks were occurring on US soil, no American would call for a policy ignoring them and, by nature, rewardingthem. Be that as it may, I cannot help but agree with the Times and Washington Post. The events of the last 2 years, starting with 9/11 and ending with the fall of Baghdad, would portend a watershed moment in the relations between Israel and the Palestinians............and every effort must be made for an agreement now, while the opportunity exists. I believe that Bush can do it, and ONLY a hawk like Sharon can make it work.

Monday, May 19, 2003

I can't hold this back any longer.


this history of ineptitude goes way back from a suffering Mets fan who's heart has been ripped out time and time again. And now, after years of searching for the chance to contend, throwing money after aging losers and trading away young winners, the final straw......... After finally starting to look somewhat alive, the Mets have lost their slugger , Mike Piazza, for the rest of the first half. This will take 5 years at least to straighten out. Just the wait for the expiration of those debilitating contracts of Cedeno, Burnitz, Vaughn and Alomar et al, is too much to bear. Can you trade an owner too? That Nelson Doubleday couldn't bear to remain partnered with that pr**k Wilpon anymore speaks volumes. And their GM, Steve Phillips, wife-cheater with young employees, is the laughing stock of the league, having been correctly labelled an absolute SAP by A's GM Billy Beane in his book.


There, I feel much better.

This isn't healthy...

There was a time when our colleges represented the best of our american culture, where intellectual respect for ideas was universal and understood. But this weekend's activities at 2 college campuses lead me to wonder what the hell is going on. First came the catcalling and walkout at the commencement speech of Phil Donahue at NC State University, where right-wing ideologues found it necessary to add to Mr. Donohue's speech with boos and directions to "get off the stage".

Not to be outdone, Liberal idjots at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia were 'given' the opportunity to walk out before the keynote address of Senator Rick Santorum, whose comments about gay rights earlier last month caused controversy. To their discredit and embarrassment, about 1 in 8 graduating seniors availed themselves of this opportunity to a smattering of boos and cheers from the rest of the assembled.

What a god-awful shame that this country would display such a lack of respect for both of these men's considered (and sincere) views in an environment supposedly representing the most culturally diverse and tolerant in our nation?

Whatever happened to that great saying of Voltaire's: "I do not agree with a word you say but I fight to the death your right to say it". That attitude is a large part of what makes this country uniquely great. These graduates really acted like babies.........

Sunday, May 18, 2003

No way out

It is painfully obvious that attacks like this latest suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem are carefully timed. This one coincided with the meeting between PA Prime Minister Abbas and Israeli PM Sharon. As Alon Pinkas made clear to me , the percentage of Palestinians who support this kind of terrorist action do not comprise a small minority, he estimated their forces at 30-40% of the Palestinian community at large. With such a percentage supporting the actions of Hamas and Al-Aksa, how does Mahmoud Abbas intend to deliver on his piece of the 'road map' and control these types of attacks? Obviously, this latest attack was precisely timed by the terrorists to provide the answer; he can't.

In addition, the terrorists have also at least postponed Sharon's trip to Washington, which would hopefully have resulted in either a acceptable 'reworking' of the plan for Sharon, or a committment to the first stages of the 'road map' by the Prime Minister; a committment he has expressly refused the Secretary of State recently.

These attacks are designed to scream, "You can't make peace with the Jews, we won't let you".How to make progress? Can the Israelis 'ignore' this savage, but continually viable minority of killers inside the Palestinian community that their leadership is unable, or unwilling to control? Do they press forward with the understanding that the US will coopt their security issues as their own? Or, is the 'road map to peace' destined for the same scrap heap as the Mitchell plan?

I don't have any you?
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