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Month: March 2003

Another log on the fire

Rumsfeld just told Syria to stop sending arms to Iraq, and stated that he considered supplying arms to Iraq to be “hostile acts.” Does that mean we’re threatening military action? “I’m saying exactly what I’m saying. It was carefully phrased.”

Three things.

First: Rumsfeld ain’t Secretary of State. Why isn’t Powell saying this? (Yeah, OK, so it’s a rhetorical question.)

Second: if Syria’s actions are a hostile act, what is it when Russia supplies arms to Iraq?

Third: I liked Rumsfeld better when he was being blunt. Can we have the blunt Rumsfeld back? I don’t think I trust him to send subtle messages.

Oh, yeah, and he warned Iran too. See, that’s a blunt warning, that was good.

Man. We all knew that Iraq was only the first step in a series of Middle Eastern wars, but this is heating up a little more quickly than I expected.

Dancing fool

Hah. I’ve mathematically clinched victory in my group in the Yahoo March Madness pool. Nobody can stop Mr. Domino! I’m actually doing pretty well overall, being in the 77th percentile. If Kentucky holds on and goes all the way I’ll have a respectable record. If not, well, I selected Florida to be in the finals, which tells you what you need to know about that eventuality.

Getting one's feet dirty

Gary Hart has a weblog. He has made the fundamental mistake of turning on comments. Word to the wise: some of the most popular bloggers on the Internet don’t have comments. You can do without ‘em, and if you have ‘em, people will expect you to respond to them. The pitfall of opening lines of communication is that you might be forced to close them, and that’s worse than never opening ‘em at all.

But hey — good luck. And upgrade Movable Type, there’s a security hole in the version you’re using.

A Richard Perle moment

So of course, Richard Perle is gonna stay on the Defense Policy Board. Good news for Perle; he still gets to make money from a venture capital fund which invests in homeland security, and he still gets to officially advise the President on matters which will affect those investments.

I’d like to officially redefine the term “”Trent Lott moment”:” as follows: a Trent Lott moment is when someone in the public eye is caught doing something unethical, and as a result steps down from his or her former position in a way which doesn’t actually cause him or her any significant inconvenience beyond a loss of prestige. Thank you for your attention to this detail.

Bad signs

I’m getting really obsessive; I’m tempted to subscribe to Stratfor’s War on Iraq service. Fifty bucks… well, Kit Paypaled me a buck yesterday, so call it forty-nine bucks. I’ll think about it. I am an admitted information junkie.

It occurred to me yesterday that I’d have a blast taking a year off, travelling around the world, and blogging the whole thing. Sort of like Allbritton, but less dangerous and not really anything like a professional journalist. I’m committed to my current job for a few years minimum, so it won’t happen any time soon, but one never knows. Maybe someday. I could have done it the other year, while I was unemployed, and come to think of it I should have. I hadn’t expected such a long period of unemployment, though. (Laugh at my naivety.)

Prince of darkness

Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, resigned today. The proximate cause is the $725,000 he was gonna be paid for lobbying on behalf of Global Crossing. However, the real meat of the story is this article, which outlines the ways in which Perle’s venture capital company benefits from the War on Terror.

It’s a chicken and an egg question; if Perle really believes that the War on Terror is the right thing to do and he would advocate it no matter what his finances, then there’s nothing morally flawed in his venture capital activities. The problem is that you can’t tell which came first from the outside. That’s why, in these situations, you simply avoid the entire problem and refrain from any investments which could possibly be perceived as a conflict of interest. Pleading innocence doesn’t absolve you; divesting does.

As it happens, Perle agreed to give up the cash he’d have gotten from Global Crossing. It’s a distraction. He didn’t say a thing about his venture capital activities, which are where the real money is.

Note also that he apparently doesn’t have too high an opinion of the value of his advice. He decided that when it comes down to a choice between helping America and making money, the cold hard cash wins. Bush will just have to do without his counsel.

At least in public.

Allbritton on the move

Interesting little tidbit from Christopher Allbritton, who has arrived in Ankara:

Mehmet also said that the Turks, Iranians and Syrians were coming to an ‘understanding’ regarding Iraqi Kurdistan. The upshot is that Iran and Syria would get Turkey’s back if it moved on the Kurdish enclave in defiance of America’s wishes. Iran would even send in its own troops, he said, if the Turks invaded unilaterally. I have no idea if this is true, but Stratfor had something on this not too long ago claiming the exact same thing. Either conspiracy theories are contagious or perhaps there’s something to this rumor. Time will tell.

Read the whole post; there’s good stuff on the mood in Turkey, possible scenarios, and so on. It’s helpful to keep this piece by Joshua Marshall in mind. It would be a bad sign for US diplomacy if Turkey decides to place membership in the EU above friendship with the US, but the current trend is leaning in that direction.

Got food?

One of the things that happens during wars is that we pass resolutions supporting our troops and calling for various forms of recognition; and this is a good thing. For example, the Massachusetts House carefully passed a resolution that supported the troops but which did not endorse the war. It can be done. And prayers are non-denominational.

On the other hand, it can go too far. Prayer is one thing, but fasting — that signifies a particular type of religious activity. It’s not a type that I condemn; self-deprivation for religious purposes has a long and respectable history. Bush’s brand of fundamentalism is one example, but so is the Sufi tradition.

The commonality, though, is the place such religions take in one’s everyday life. To fast for one’s religion signifies that even the basic functions of existence are less important than one’s god. I believe that it is inappropriate to call upon Americans to hold their god in that place of supremacy over their lives; we are a free country, and one aspect of that freedom is the freedom to choose precisely what of our wills we subjugate to a higher power.

By passing this resolution, our Congress has indicated that they believe Americans should take a very specific action in order to properly honor their god. It is an action which represents a kind of surrender. I think that’s a matter of personal choice: to demand it is, simply, wrong.

Not meant to eat

As you know, royal jelly are the food of the queen bee. When the old person take it specially, the white hair comes to be black, there is a spirit obstacle, a melancholia and a dementia gadfly effect.

Go, read, and enjoy. I’m not trying any of it, though.

Your Dixie Chick update service

The Dixie Chicks are still #1 on the country charts, but Home took a dive on the Amazon rankings lately. Wide Open Spaces and Fly both dropped back down from the dizzying sales heights generated by the controversy, but then trended back up again just as Home was diving. Meanwhile, Rolling Stone pointed out that there really wasn’t all that much boycotting, and Rosanne Cash is appalled. By the media, not by the Chicks.

However, what everyone really wants to know: are they any good? Um… OK. Wide Open Spaces really was not anywhere near anything I want to hear, and while I’m not a country fan I did try and give it a fair shake. Lots of preprocessed strings, gloss, and so on. Nice close harmonies but man, if I want good close harmonies I can find ‘em someplace with some genuine feeling.

Being diligent, I loaded Home into my CD player for the drive back into work the next day. And, surprise, not actually half-bad. It’s not my favorite kind of music, but the production was stripped down and free of gooey studio backing the Chicks were a lot more palatable. From the lyrics sheet, they wrote some of the songs themselves, which is at least a start. Not recommended per se, but I wouldn’t leap through a plate glass window to avoid it either.