4/16/2003

From Jay Nordlinger's Impromptu:

How about Gen. Amer al-Saadi, that beauty? He was Saddam's "top scientific adviser," and he surrendered to the Allies. Note this from a report by Gersh Kuntzman in the New York Post:
"Recently, al-Saadi was the public face of Iraq's supposed cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors — but a decade earlier, the British-educated, German-trained scientist helped his country build a chemical testing range near Baghdad.
"He courted German assistance with the project because 'you Germans have great expertise in the killing of Jews with gas,' he told Karlheinz Lohs, a chemical-weapons expert from the former East Germany, in 1991.
"Lohs added that al-Saadi wanted to harness Germany's 'knowledge' to 'destroy Israel.'"
Ah, what a lovely world.

4/15/2003

Red Sox fans noticed the similarities between the Yankees and a fascist regime years ago, but Jim Caple's take on Mohammad Saeed Al-Shahhaf as the Yankees' color man just killed me.

My favorite "quote" by the Iraqi Information Minister:

Bernie steps back into the box as all New York holds its breath ... the war criminal Martinez peers in for the sign ... he winds and delivers ... swung on and belted deep to left! It's going ... going ... and it's gone! ORDER THE SERVANTS TO ROAST THE FATTED CALF AND LAY OUT THE SATIN SHEETS, THE VESTAL VIRGINS HAVE ENTERED THE PALACE!!!! The Yankees lead is 12 runs and Martinez has collapsed on the mound! BOO-YAH!!!
I rewatched Wall Street last night and I found it funny that even over a dozen years ago in a fictional story, it was still the mechanics' union that was the biggest headache.
I took this piece from the Command Post message board, originally taken from RHF. Hysterical:

Here's the open letter published in an Australian newspaper:

An open letter to M. Jacques Chirac:

Mon cher Jack

Je suis a bit fromaged off avec votre decision to blow up La Pacifique avec le Frog bombes nuclears. Je reckon vous must have un spot in La Belle France itself pour les explosions. Le Massive Central? Le Quay d'Orsay? Le Champs Elysees? Votre own back yard, peut etre?

Frappez le crows avec stones, Sport! La guerre cold est fini! Votres forces militaire need la bombe atomique about as beacoup as poisson need les bicyclettes.

Un autre point, cobber. Votre histoire militaire isn't tres flash, consisting, n'est-ce pas, of battailles the likes of Crecy, Agincourt, Poitiers, Trafalgar, Borodino, Waterloo, Sedan, et Dien Bien Phu. Un bombe won't change le tradition. Je/mon pere/ mon grand pere/le cousing third avec ma grandmere/la plume de ma tante fought avec votre soldats against Le Boche in WWI (le Big One). Have vous forgotten?

Reconsider, mon ami, otherwise in le hotels et estaminets de l'Australie le curse anciens d'Angleterre - "Damnation to the French" - will be heard un autre temps.

Votre chums don't want that.

Millo.
I was watching the a Travel Channel show on Las Vegas the other night and I suddenly realized why I love that city so much:

Las Vegas is symbolic of what makes America great and why the rest just doesn't understand us.

I'm not talking about the sinful aspects of Vegas, after all, you can gamble in Monte Carlo or pick up prostitutes in Bangkok. Nothing unique there.

No, what makes Vegas special is that it was built, at least the modern part of the strip, with a particular brand of America presumptiveness.

Over the 1,000 plus year history of Paris and the Venetian Republic, the residents of those regions experienced some good times - the liberation of Paris by American troops - as well as some not so good times - the reign of terror or the rule of Jacques Chirac. Yet through it all, they managed to create two on the great centers of civilization, beautiful, cultured cities whose energy visitors still feel long after their respective empires have fallen away.

And then along comes America, a land unknown to Europeans when Venice was at the height of her power. We don't have great historical meccas like France and Paris, and even our oldest towns like Boston are being built over by modern construction. So what do we do? We take 2 years and a billion dollars and make our own Venice and our Paris.

Chutzpah? You bet. But this is also what makes America great. Unlike the much of the world whose progress is impeded by self-imposed cultural restraints, Americans are limited only by the physical parameters of what we can and cannot do.

Look at the debate at the UN over the liberation of Iraq for proof of this different worldview. The French repeatedly said America "cannot" invade without UN approval. America's response: "Oh yeah? Watch us."

4/14/2003

There's been some consternation among conservatives over recent pro-EU results in voting in Hungary and Malta. Peter Briffa writes:

I can't say I'm a well-travelled bloke, but in my opinion Malta is just about the closest thing on God's planet to a conservative/libertarian paradise. This is a country which, up until about ten years ago, didn't even have compulsory seat belts, nor even a drink driving law. And now it's going to be over run with bureaucrats, liberals, feminists, and Germans. They fought off the Turks, the Romans, Napoleon, Hitler and Mussolini, even the dear old British, but the notoriously fickle charms of the Common Agricultural Policy have proved irresistible. It won't be the same.

I guess I'm more optimistic. The best thing that can happen for the EU, and in turn the US, would be for the center of power to move from France and Germany to pro-American and pro-market states such as Poland and Britain. The more states like Hungary that join, the better chance we have for this shift.
Back on the side of democracy:

Zimbabwe's Catholic Church unleashed a stinging criticism of President Robert Mugabe's regime in a pastoral letter yesterday, accusing it of "frightening" abuses of human rights, misrule and corruption.
The letter from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop's Conference also directly accused the government of deliberately withholding food for political reasons "while people are starving".
The letter is seen as the most critical stance the Catholic church, the most powerful in the country, has taken in the last three years of state-driven lawlessness. It directly attacked Mugabe's leadership.
"Government has failed to provide leadership that enables the creation of an environment that enhances truth, justice, love and freedom," it said. "Economic inequalities have become worse, the gap between the rich and the poor has continued to widen.
"People have continued to suffer social and political violence. There is no sign that corruption is being with effectively. Democratic institutions and processes have been tampered with."
To quote Charles Johnson:

Wow

Prime Minister John Howard wants to reform the United Nations, saying the presence of France as a permanent member of the Security Council "distorts" the council.
He wants Japan, a South American country and India to be represented on the Security Council. France was there only because it was a global power at the end of World War II, he said.
Asking France or any other permanent member of the Security Council to voluntarily surrender their seat was "a major undertaking", he conceded.


Continuing:

Mr Howard offered a compromise, which he said would make the UN more representative of the modern world - three levels of Security Council members, the permanent members, the rotating members and a new group of permanent members that had no veto. It would be "a far better expression of world opinion", he said.

Obviously this proposal has next to no chance of passage, yet as a political statement it could have monumental importance. In addition to putting Howard into contention with Prime Minister Blair for America's favorite subject of the Queen, Howard is probably the only leader in the Anglosphere who can begin a true debate on the future of the United Nations. Bush is far too hated globally, and Blair has too much tied to the status quo, both from domestic politics and from Britain’s own dependence on her permanent Security Council seat.

This is a debate that we must have and, if Howard pushes the issue – perhaps with the support of Japan – it will be telling how France responds. Howard is right that a non-1945 based system would be far more representative of the world today and debate over this issue would provide a platform for a larger discussion over the UN’s overall roll in maintaining global stability and the promotion of worldwide freedom.

Ironically, the worst-case scenario might be an immediate acceptance of the Australian proposal by the French. Instead of giving us a chance for debate, this would force America to voice her support for the new council, giving the effect of once again making American strategic interest subservient to an international body, however improved that body might be.
A potentially big development:

VATICAN CITY, April 14 (Reuters) - The Vatican is attempting to include a stop by Pope John Paul in Russia, the first by any pope, on the way to a planned visit to Mongolia in August, Vatican sources said on Monday.
The sources said the trip to the town of Kazan, which would be either a brief stopover or a one-night stay, was still not certain but officials had been working on it for the past few months.


John Paul II has made improving ecumenical relations a centerpiece of his Papacy. At times, I feel, he has taken this drive to excess as his desire to improve Christian-Muslim relations is one of the reasons he failed to condemn the Palestinian takeover of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or support the liberation of Iraq. Yet many Orthodox believers, using the Venetian sack of Constantinople of 1204 during the Fourth Crusade as justification, have an intense hatred for the Catholic faith. If handled correctly, this visit could be a major step in healing these divisions.
French Chutzpah:

In a statement explaining French views on Iraqi reconstruction, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Monday:

"It is obvious that the U.S. administration has a role to play."

Thanks Dominique!
Interesting on so many levels:

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has rejected a list of cabinet members drawn up by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, according to Palestinian sources.
They say Mr Abbas - a leading moderate also known as Abu Mazen - has demoted senior supporters of Mr Arafat and taken the powerful interior ministry for himself.

4/13/2003

A beautiful ode to America by Kris Murray. Blogger seems to be stopping me from linking directly, so I'll repost the whole thing. It really is worth it:

I love the fact that our brand of democracy makes our leaders deeply beholden to the will of the people. I love that because our politicians must answer to us with every election, they dare not impose their will on us willynilly. I love our free press that keeps politicians and corporations scared at night. I love the fact that whatever you may think of it, the American justice/legal/political system is one of the most corruption-free on the planet. That we still expect more, delights me.
I love the fact that Americans really want to do what's right. I love Americans because we believe. We believe in ourselves, we believe in faith, we believe in inherent good. Americans want to make connections with others. We want to like you.
I love everyday Americans. We smile at each other. We hold the doors for each other. We help each other without reservation when need arises. We may fight amongst ourselves like siblings, but when push comes to shove, we stand shoulder to shoulder against all comers. Then, we help our former enemies. We like to help.
I love Americans. We come from everywhere on the planet and yet have our own unique culture. America has her problems but I love her people. I trust them to want to do what's right and kind and just. We are good folk who don't want to hurt anyone. We just want to make our country a better place for our kids. I love America. But I love Americans even more.
Now this is interesting:

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Actor Sean Penn's car, stolen as he had lunch near the University of California campus at Berkeley, has been recovered but two guns inside were missing, police said Sunday.
The car was found Friday in Richmond, California, nine miles from where it was stolen, said Lt. Arnold Threets of Richmond police department.
Penn, 42, who lives just north of San Francisco, was driving a black 1987 Buick Grand National, a collector's favorite. There were two guns in the car, a handgun and a Smith and Wesson revolver. Penn had permits for the guns.


Sean Penn needs guns? I though the left understood that through peace and understanding we could get beyond violence . . .

Oh, so it's just the Iraqi people that should be brutalized by thugs, but not rich elite American liberals.
I just saw the "Gettysburg Address PowerPoint Presentation." Funny stuff.