Friday, February 08, 2002

Into the Doghouse
How did Yasser Arafat blow it this time? And who would've thought that I cite TNR more than I do more right-center stuff? Perhaps it is because I like the foreign policy pieces that the TNR people write, they are grounded in realism and good work than just perky agitprop. Can you imagine how ugly it would have been if the Karine A had made it to port?

West Wing Replies
Many thanks to Daniel Alvarez (F'00), Simon J. Torres (F'00), and R. Livy Keithley (C'98) for responding to my question regarding who said what on the show on Wednesday.

Here are some snippets:
"The character making the utterance was
Communications Director Toby
Ziegler...he was talking to a (very) Democratic
House Member who was
complaining that language in an upcoming speech to
the UN; the language was
to the effect that, "the largest scourge in the
world is oppression; we will
not stop until democracy and freedom is spread
around the world. And we as a
freedom-loving people will no longer tolerate the
hell imposed by oppressive
movements, be they Nazis or Fascists, or those
'suffering from the disease of
Islamic fanaticism.'" (last part is actual quote).
But, as the situation in West Wing
last night exemplified,
we should really firm up our reactions with our
international partners to let
them know that we will not and do not tolerate such
"hate speech," whether it
be in our own country or our neighbors abroad.
Even here, free speech is
protected; but speech which deliberately and
incessantly incites violence is
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law -
rightfully. If you want to
make a statement, make a statement and begin a
diplomatic dialogue, realizing
the whole time that words are the medium to the
solution. If you want to
declare a jihad, and bring young boys from around
the world, and plant in
their head the idea that "dying for your cause" is
somehow right and just,
and you better plan to have an American GI or FBI
agent knocking on your door
REAL DAMN soon."
"the west wing character in question is toby, who
was responding to some
congressional criticisms (in particular, his
ex-wife's) of a speech they are
writing for bartlet to give at the un general
assembly. he was quite
serious. i think he said "they'll like us when we
win" about 8 or 9 times
during this conversation."

"That was an accurate quote from the show, and it was spoken by Toby Zielger in an answer to criticism that a speech to be given by the president at a UN General Assembly gathering outlining a new foreign policy was too abrasive and pushy of US ideals. He also went on to say that it is hypocriticial of the US and the "administration" to push ideals such as freedom of speech and religion while tolerating "fascist dictators, totalitarianism, and dare I say it, Islamic fundamentalism." It was quite good, and provoked a debate between me and Beth about the langauge. I said that he was dead on, and we shouldn't have to kiss ass of the very people and states that are stockpiling weapons and training children towards the single goal of eliminating the United States. She says that perhaps a speech given to the world wasn't the right place to come out guns blazing. I can't think of a better place, either fictional or actual. I don't know how "axis of evil" sits with me, though."

Unlawful Detainees of Prisoners of War, We Think
You know what the President has exclusive capability to do that makes him the most powerful man on earth? He can split the difference and get away with it. That is the only way one can explain the position adjustment made in reference to distinguishing between Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters detained at Camp X-Ray.
Aaron Ammerman (F'00) relays this to us:
"Can you offer any explanation for why the Bush
administration distinction between Taliban detainees
and Al-Qaeda detainees for the purposes of the Geneva
Convention does not apply equally to their status
as/as-not POWs.
Because the Taliban soldiers represent combatants
for an actual state (even if the U.S. didn't
recognize it) and the Al-Qaeda members represent a
stateless terrorist organization, the Taliban detainees
shall officially be considered captured under the
terms of the Geneva Convention ... but they're not
POWs because they're still considered "unlawful
I think W just really muddied the waters. it's one
thing to offer a bogus policy but it's another to
offer up two simultaneously contradictory policies
and expect us to swallow it.
Granted, the important point is that their captors
are treating everyone equally humanely to a degree
that far exceeds the minimum requirements of
generally accepted decency"

I think this is the best Bush was going to manage, staking a position that made neither the Pentagon nor the handwringers at State happy, but it didn't necessarily make them angry, either. On a practical level, it mutes the obnoxious Fleet Street British press from its disgustingly inane "Camp Aushwitz" talk. Substantively, I don't think it changes anything. The prisoners aren't going anywhere anyway. But do you honestly think that by formally extending the Geneva Convention to murderous thugs that if our soldiers and Marines get captured, that it will be extended to them? Do you remember what they did to Allied pilots during DESERT STORM? Or, more importantly, what the NVA and Viet Cong did to our pilots? I'm telling you, the ZoNotes original term of "detainee of war" -- DOW -- is the way to go!

"Sleep feels the best right as it is about to end."

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Who Are You, And What Did You Do To The Marxist TV Show?
As is being relayed in the Corner segment of National Review's website, here is a quote from last night's West Wing on NBC:
"Why does the United States have to take every Arab country out for an ice cream cone? They'll like us when we win."
Was Aaron Sorkin on crack, or did he of the unrepentant socialism just script a politically incorrect statement? As I did not see this show, I want input from those who did. Was this said in sarcasm? Or did the character mean it? And which character was it?

Signing Day Recap
This is the biggest amoprhous moment in sports, even more so than the pro drafts. The speculative component of college recruiting is so much more visible than it is in scouting pro prospects. Yesterday was the first day that D1 schools could sign their recruits to letters of intent. Texas A&M did very well, with the jewel of the class being Lufkin QB and Texas' No. 2 prospect, Reggie McNeal. Allegedly he is drawing comparisons to Virginia Tech legend and current Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick (speaking of Vick, his brother Marcus will be suiting up for the Hokies this year. Gasp! Does this mean that when Lindsey Parker is at VA Tech next year she will have football bragging rights over UVA-bound ZoNoter Armine Razavi?) Along with some fine defensive recruits, A&M locked up a Top 20 recruiting class. Unfortunately, the damned Texas Longhorns had an even better year, signing 18 of the Top 100 players in the country, solidifying the #1 class in the nation. The standout is Houston Madison QB Vincent Young, who also has Vickish skills and should ascend to the starting QB position when Chris Simms departs the Texas program.
As for Georgetown, the venerable is reporting a couple of recruiting coups for the fledgling progam of my alma mater:
For us Texans who went to the Hilltop, here are some Lone Star State natives heading to DC:
DL Paul Rowsey (Highland Park)
WR/DB Rocco Millazotto (Dallas Jesuit)

I was toiling on the elliptical machine at the gym last night when I saw the news alert on Headline News stating that American forces had killed a senior al-Qaeda official with a single Hellfire missile. The precision is astounding. This says something about how the West wages its wars. I mean, consider for a moment the evolution of American targeting systems dating back to the Norden bombsight in World War II, and then the bulky tv-guided bombs we used at the end of Vietnam, to the smart bombs in DESERT STORM, etc., etc. Amazing now that we can send little drones armed with missiles to kill one target.

Ain't Got No Hateration, Stimulation
Today's New York Times
documents the debacle that was the stiumulus bill voting yesterday. I wasn't really big on this idea in the first place, seemed like a porkish excuse to add excess government spending to the system. And I don't see how the conservatives in Congress had such a feather under their feet to get it done. Thankfully, better to slice apart two noxious competing bills than have one of them pass.

"Don't ever get used to bad flavor."

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Historical note: Today is 40th President Ronald Reagan's birthday.

Buffy Be Baaad
Last night's episode of Buffy was as dark and cryptic as I've seen in a long time. The raunchy sex angle is surprising for network tv, but then again this is UPN. Well, if you were also watching Will and Grace last night, Grace was going to be swinging...alas, I changed the channel after the commercials on UPN wrapped up, so I missed out on what actually happened. I keep thinking that any episode now before the season finale, Buffy and Spike are going to face off in mortal combat. The whole lust-sex thing is the perfect prerequisite for that kind of thing. Just a thought.

More Thoughts on the Single-Front War
Again, reveling in the profundness of the discovery, this war isn't about who's next, it should be "who isn't next?" I emailed some of you the following article by Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Based on yesterday's remarks about Venezuela's thug leftist President Hugo Chavez, I suspect that eventually the Americas will become part of the war on terrorism. Consider for a moment the fighting power of the leftist FARC and ELN armies in Colombia, and consider who might be aiding them in the region...a Cuba-friendly Venezuelan government, perhaps? Read Foreign Affairs November-December 2001 article, "Will Chavez Lose His Luster?" It doesn't particularly matter that he was democratically elected -- that doesn't make him a saint alone. Remember his history, the 1992 coup attempt. That doesn't even take into account how the Colombian Army has been compromised by the rightist paramilitaries operating in the country. If we do go in hard, it will be on nominally "friendly" territory, but the problem will be multifaceted.
What is revealing about Kennedy's article is not so much the overwhelming American strength, it is the lack of competing resources. Not even our British allies have the globe-spanning capabaility of the United States. Even during the dreadnaught/battleship era leading up to World War II, everybody had at least one big capital ship -- Chile here, Argentina there, Germany, France, Italy, the U.S., Japan, Russia. Now, the only country with a Navy of global consequence is the U.S. Navy. Not only do we provide access for commercial security, we create it where it is not readily visible -- like in Afghanistan, where we went from no presence to Marines on the ground and bombers operating at will over the skies.

"Your aging is obvious to everybody else except you."

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Day Job, I dub thee
Sorry for the late posting this afternoon. I was at a media breakfast featuring VADM Cebrowski from DoD. I got a free bagel and cream cheese plus some orange juice, so I was well-fed.

Lay Away
Ha ha ha, I made a funny. Such is the way, how scandals ascend from disaster to theater to farce. Former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay's decision not to testify to congressmen is both, at the same time, legally smart yet profundly stupid from a PR-standpoint. As earlier cases show us (Clinton, Condit), you can always either overcome or escape bad press. And if you have enough legal forces at your disposal, you can escape anything. However, you cannot escape the law forever. Lay wasn't going to talk without a grant of immunity, what with all the investigations underway. The Senate's decision to order a subopena was then unsurprising but nonetheless very interesting. It helps Democrats and campaign-finance reform googoo Republicans if Lay goes to Congress and pleads the 5th as opposed to just standing them up. Also, as if his reputation couldn't erode enough after all the stupid illegal things he has been accused of doing, it also nails the final portion of the cofffin in regards to public sympathy. I don't know what the hell Lay's PR people were thinking when they put his wife in front of MSNBC's cameras. I have no sympathy for these wahoos. And Enron isn't a groundbreaking form of scandal. It essentially has all the workings of a typical Texas collapse.

"Often, when they say "prove it," they aren't offering a denial."

Monday, February 04, 2002

HOYA METER: Country Road, take me the place, I belooooong! The Hoyas beat West Virginia, country momma, country road, take me home! 84-77 victory moves the Hoyas to 14-7 (5-4, Big East)

Super Bowl XXXVI Recap
After a Saturday night of fun and spirits at the Harper residence, I spent most of my Sunday getting over the buzz of drinking both red wine and fresh margaritas. Safely enconsonced in my apartment, I watched one of the most dramatic Super Bowl upsets in history, the New England Patriots' 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
During the pregame introductions to Super Bowl XXXVI, I was psyched by the Patriots' decision to be introduced as a team. The Patriots, united. I loved it! And then came the game key moving NFL Films overture here.
Under the fiery lights of the Louisiana Superdome, the Patriots rode the vibrant whirlwind to capture victory from an enemy almost guaranteed the crown. Rams QB Kurt Warner fought the (Ty) Law, and the Law stepped in front of an errant pass, and stormed into the endzone, accompanied by a blockade of P-Men defenders.
New England did a brilliant job of masking coverages and making timely and uneven use of blitz formations. The Rams' high-powered offense is a timing-based system. Disturb the timing, even slightly, and 50-yard plays are either trimmed in half or negated entirely by a sack. Even though Rams QB Kurt Warner was only sacked twice, the P-Men were always knocking on the door, and were doing so even in 3-man fronts because they were sending deep anywhere between 5-7 defensive backs.
The P-Men offense did what it had to do, and did so with a certain daring not seen in previous Super Bowls. WR Troy Brown exploited his strengths by going over the middle and catching some nifty offensive screens. RB Antwain Smith bursted for 92 yards, often picking up 5-7 yards on first down running plays. That set the table for QB Tom Brady to manage the game and the clock, building a 17-3 lead.
All of that said, the Rams' 4th quarter rally came about because they finally stopped the P-Men pass rush. Had the Rams gotten the ball again in Overtime, they would have scored on either a big play or a time-consuming drive.
This was why the P-Men opened up the playbook when they got the ball back with the game tied at 17 with 1:21 left in the game. I totally don't agree with John Madden, who was barking that the Patriots should sit on the ball because they had no timeouts. Hogwash, I said. This is the Super Bowl. You don't play to not lose, you play to win. You take your shot. The P-Men went dinky until the Rams defense loosened up, and bang, 23-yard pass to Troy Brown. Adam Vinieteri's field goal was dramatic, but never in doubt.
Hats off to the P-Men! God Bless America!

U2's Halftime Performance
God, please don't belt out Sunday Bloody Sunday I thought to myself when the E-Trade intro to the U2 show started. When I heard the opening notes to "Beautiful Day," I cracked a smile. U2's electrifying rendition of "Beautiful Day" and rousing "Where the Streets Have No Name" made for the best Super Bowl halftime show in the history of the game. That said, I didn't know what to quite make of the scrolling list of 9.11 victims during the Edge's intro guitar rip. Perhaps this is as close to a solemn requiem for the fallen that we are going to get from postpostpost-irony U2. When Bono unveiled his jacket to reveal the Stars and Stripes, I realized that it was totally sincere. I liked the way he walked in from the crowd. Great show.

"Victory is the fleeting speculation of the defeated."