Friday, February 15, 2002

ZoNotes: I'm Not Always There When You Call, But I'm Always On Time...

Tomorrow I head down to Memphis, TN for a brief weekend visit with my uncle Nando and his family. BBQ!! BBQ!!!

Enronning Rampant
I was always somewhat leery of Enron "whistleblower" Sherron S. Watkins. The public praise heaped upon her by congressmen and the media came from the reality that former chairman Ken Lay looked like the devil in comparison. Plus, during her testimony yesterday, Watkins didn't finger Lay, she targeted most of her venom for former CEO Jeff K. Skilling. That came as a mild surprise not only to ZoNotes, but to observers I usually don't agree with.

Patriot Games
How does one remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq? Or, should we just neuter him by destroying his capacity to generate weapons of mass destruction? These are fundamentally different questions with two general theoretcial approaches. Option 1 would involve the use of massed conventional forces -- armored divisions, expeditionary units, full air wings, carrier-based air support, smart bombs -- perhaps even a few nuclear weapons if Saddam really misbehaved. For starters, you need at least 100,000-200,000 troops, and you have to move all their weapons into the theater of operations, and then you need basing rights, and then you need to keep the Europeans from complaining, etc., etc. Option 2, some think, might require much less -- perhaps even a few bombers armed with the latest precision-guided munitions. This is unilateralism on the cheap, because the way the option is presented, you won't need much more than bases for your bombers.
That's only part of the story. The Americans cannot merely afford to pull a larger Osirak and expect the problem to go away. The 1981 Israeli strike on Saddam's Osirak nuclear complex smacked of the bravery and initiative the beseiged Israelis have to utilize to remain a viable state. Conversely, the Israeli attack did nothing to strike at Saddam's conventional forces, and eventually his strength in SW Asia grew. For all of the impact that it had -- pushing back the Iraqi nuclear program by at least 10 years -- it was merely a preemptory action.
The proper analogies for American action is the Six-Day War and the culminating phase of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Territory must be captured, armies must be defeated, and leaders must be removed. The Arab states have a reputation for building large armed forces that subsequently melt like butter when faced with superior adversaries. Consider the way the Egyptians went from crossing the Sinai to having its famed Third Army encircled by none other than Ariel Sharon. Or, the way the regular units of the Iraqi Army were overwhelmed in DESERT STORM. What of the Republican Guard, you may ask. It is still well-armed and motivated. But it can be defeated.
What of bases and rights? Are not our European and moderate Arab associates tepid about a second go-round with Iraq? But let's be serious. The objections, especially as voiced by the Europeans, originate with their own problems as opposed to concerns about American hyperpower. They are weak sisters not only in NATO, but individually as well. When the West preempts its enemies, it can win wars. Wars -- including this one -- started because our enemies believed we didn't have the willpower to fight back. Iraq isn't a test of resources or power -- the West has the means to dispose of the regime in Baghdad. It needs to believe that it can be done.

"Risk is either rewarded with sweet victory or punished with embarrassing defeat -- but respect for it will never diminish."

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Be wary of VD. Make sure you don't fall for its seductive overtones. Today is Valentine's Day. Ignore the mushy agitprop of "Big Greeting Card" and scoop up all the candy. Yum!

Just a Good Ol' Boy, Never Meanin' No Harm...
Do you know what's terrible about drinking, shooting, and singing? It all catches up with you. Unfortunately, the death rate is still at 100%, and you live life knowing that someday the Good Lord will cash in that option and bring you back to Heaven, and that your say in the matter is pretty much limited to "I'm gonna die!" Let us all stop and pay reverence to one of country music's legends, Waylon Jennings, who passed on last night from complications related to his diabetes. Waylon was old-school before old-school was old-school, and along with Willie Nelson, spurred the good ol' days of drinking, shooting, drinking, and singing. Or, more appropriately, shootin' and drinkin' and singin'. From Premont to Robstown to Freer, people are taking off their cowboy hats in respect.

Gutless Cowards
The House of Representatives is home to cowards, after the spineless goons passed the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill this morning. Let's clear something up here. All the hand-wringing by Bull Mooosian Republicans notwithstanding, it's the American way to give big unregulated soft money and run inane "push ads" 60 days before an election! CFR, at least in this form, is fundamentally anti-American! Why? Because it forces us to keep our wallets in our pockets and blows away a crucial 1st Amendment right. In America, if you can't spend money and shoot your mouth off freely, what the hell are we here for?
It annoys me to no end that CFR's anointed saint teuton, John McCain, was one of the Keating Five!! Only a couple of factors explain all of this -- 1) the House was chicken, 2) the House thinks that the Supreme Court will tear this abomination of legislation asunder, or 3) they really meant it. It's a combination of 1 and 2, IMHO.

The other side of the pond breathlessly reports about the forces we are assembling to oust Saddam from Iraq. The last time we went into Iraq, we basically had about 2 more armored divisions and an extra army corps than we do right now. Plus, we had coalition partners' most powerful armored formations, namely the 1st (UK) Armoured Division and some assorted units. Plus, we had the use of Saudi bases. It seems that we are going to operate from a different template than even DESERT STORM and Afghanistan options presented. I'll tell you, though, 200,000 troops isn't small change for a massive conventional operation. Could we see the first visible deployment of combined Israeli-U.S. strike groups? Will nukes or chem/bio be part of the equation? Will our Allies really not support us, or just shut up and stand in line like they should?

Stupid Hoya Tricks
If SFS grads can't mock themselves from time to time, who can? Of course, not all of us could have the (in)famous "F" after their names! (You can take that where you wish!)

Intramural Smack Talk
Sean Mullaney (B'00) and Livy Keithley (C'98) traded barbs over this Anne Coulter piece on the Senator For Life of West Virginia, Robert C. Byrd. If he is the conscience of the Senate, God help the Senate.

"Pleasure is not induced by providing all this pain."

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

HOYA METER: KIDS IN THE HALL! Freshman Tony Bethel keyed a 10-0 run in the second half to lift Georgetown to an 84-77 win over Seton Hall last night in the Meadowlands, leaving my beloved Hoyas at 15-8, (6-5 Big East). Playboy All-American and the Next Georgetown Big Man Michael Sweetney was held to just one field goal, but chipped in seven assists. Next up for the NCAA-Tournament bubble Hoyas: A game on 2.16 against hated rival Villanova at First Union Center in Philadelphia, PA

Less Ghetto, More Perky
Last night's episode of Buffy departed from the Cinemax pseudo-porn between Buffy and Spike, instead delving on Dawn's wish that no one ever leave the house. A vengeance demon grants her wish during Buffy's birthday party. I really enjoyed this episode, as it featured lots of fighting and the usual witty dialogue between the characters. However, knowing how this season has gone, I expect the Cinemax pseudo-porn to come back when a new episode airs. Ah, and it seems that recovering wiccaholic Willow is renewing her syrupy lesbian relationship with Tara. Of course, Tara has always been a bit coquettish anyway.

Guilt, Sin, Guilt, Sin
Ah, with the conclusion of Mardi Gras, we are now in the Lent season. Catholicism has so many advantages, just think of the perks. We get to engage in decadent behavior right before Lent, then we really have to wait just 40 days by giving something up of value to us, and THEN we get to go back to sinning again! Is this the faith or is this the faith?

The Axis of Tacky
Anyone who saw the Winter Olympics pairs figure skating on Monday night knows that the Canadian team got jobbed like an old lady in a dark alley when the judges stiffed their gold medal-worthy performance and gave it to the Russkies. It now seems that the French and Russian judges have engaged in a sort of Double Entente. I seem to think that the French judge was the one coerced into this seedy arrangement of lower middle-class European powers. ZoNotes thinks that this is how the conversation went:
Russkie: "You veel geeve the gold medal to da Russieens."
French: "WE SURRENDER!!!"
Maybe this will finally rouse the Canadians from their decades-long slumber, and they will finally use the weapons that they have let sit for so long.

Blog Plugs
ZoNotes recommends that you visit here and here. These are two blog pages in particular that I enjoy reading, and they are part of my formal morning round of reading material.

By making the information public, President Bush begins to move from keeping Iraq "in the box" to crushing the box. Interestingly, the two political parties seem to be lining up on this one, which is interesting because during the conclusive endgame of the Cold War, the Democrats and the Republicans supported different policies. Even former VP Al Gore, speaking to the Coundil of Foreign Relations in his first speech that mattered since his December 2000 concession after the election rumble, supported Bush. That served as a stinging rebuttal to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, (D-SD), who had to retract statements critical of the axis of evil terminology. Of course, this may be jockeying between the lefty appeaser and hawkish take-no-prisoners-roll-the-tanks sides of the Party. The only thing that sticks in my jaw about hawkish Democrat policy is that it still relies too much on the sensibilities of the weak-kneed, cynical, pushy, lame, whiny, defeatist, timid European elites. You know why nobody in America knows who the foreign minister of France is? It is because he is unimportant. The Europeans like to ride in the back of the car, and love to give directions, but you tickle their ire when we actually decide to go somewhere. Plus, note that even Gore's speech, supportive as it was, still tilts slightly in favor of letting the Euros sit on our hands.

"The more you put on your plate, the less hungry you will be."

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

NOTE---The Response was made to Aaron, not Miss Manners herself! :)
One Day of the Yemeni
What are to make of the current threat against our country? The number of targets in the continental U.S. are varied, and I don't want to say the obvious and point to the Winter Olympic Games over in Salt Lake City, UT. Perhaps it will fizzle out. But we have names, and we have photos. This is as clear an ID that we've had since the dark day of 9.11.

Medal Sweep
Yesterday's medal sweep of the Men's Halfpipe Snowboarding competition was a watershed for the Americans. The men join 18-year old ubersnowboarderess Kelly Clark, who won America's first gold of the Salt Lake games in the Women's Halfpipe. A picture of Ms. Clark performing a snowboard jump adorns my computer wallpaper at work.

Texas, My Texas
When I'm not pulling for A&M's football team, rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, reading Texas Monthly, eating double burgers at Whataburger, drinking creamy milkshakes from Dairy Queen, eating at Taco Palenque in Laredo, or watching my beloved San Antonio Spurs, I am reading up on the musdslinging intramural dogfighting that is primary season in Texas. Yesterday I sent some of you a very enlightening article about the bloviating, hemming, hawing, and smack talking between gubenatorial hopefuls Dan Morales and Laredo's own multimillionaire, Tony Sanchez. Morales seems to be the ultimate party crasher, jumping into the race unexpectedly on 1.02.02 after being edged out of the U.S. Senate race between former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, U.S. Rep Ken Bentsen, and man-in-truck, Victor Morales (no relation). Morales of the truck, incidentally, is actually winning right now as a result of a snap poll taken recently (thanks for the info, Aaron).
Anyway, Dan was just in Laredo trying to garner support from the local politicians, help he probably knew he wasn't going to get, but what he did was kind of akin to kicking dirt on someone's boots.

Film Recommendation
Tom Mullaney, twin bro to Sean Mullaney (B'00), gives me this bit of info:
"On on Sunday I saw a touching and
poignant film, A Walk to
Remember. I highly reccomend it, and the soundtrack
which I just purchased
and am listening to now. A great film, a little
corny but as Roger Ebert
said in his review, "a little corniness is good
sometimes. A Walk to Remember. I know I'll never forget."

Don't Get VD
Aaron Ammerman (F'00) sent me this:
from Judith Martin (2/10/02):

"Nice guys are said to be back in romantic favor. These are the gentlemen who are unfailingly polite and dependable and who grow even more useful and sympathetic when things go terribly wrong. Miss Manners trusts that it is not hard to figure out what national event brought them out of ignominy.

"So, a happy Valentine's Day to all who are always told what dear, good friends they are. They have the testimony of numerous attractive ladies who turned to them for comfort when they were badly treated by the cads they adore and needed a brotherly shoulder on which to cry before returning to the romantic fray.

"Miss Manners happens to admire these gentlemen, who take care to follow her strictures about proper behavior. They listen as well as talk and take into consideration other people's needs and preferences, along with their own. They honor their word, even if it drives them to the extreme of having to show up for an appointment they themselves contracted or accepted. They give thanks when it is due and have been known to produce something nice, such as flowers or candy, when it is not required. They even know how to dress, eat, speak and perform other ordinary human functions.

"In theory, they are much beloved for all these good qualities. It is only when they try to have an actual romance that they run into trouble. So do the objects of their affections, but in that case, the trouble comes when the ladies in question try to explain to their hopeful parents why they are not interested.

"Like those poor parents, Miss Manners has never understood what was so unappealing about gentlemen's roses and reliability, and so appealing about the shenanigans and sloppiness of their rude rivals. Or rather she understands, but does not share, these tastes. Therefore she feels obliged to warn those nice gentlemen not to get their hopes up.

"It takes more than a national tragedy to make maturity seem exciting for long. It takes maturity. The jump-start kind that comes with unusual fear doesn't last. If the world calms down, Miss Manners can't see its pubescent girls giggling to one another, "I can't help myself -- he's just so sensible! When he gets all responsible like that, I could die!"

"It's not the era that is important but the stage of life reached by the individual. Through their teenage-hood, most people are testing their desirability by aiming high, which means looking for someone who can afford to treat them badly. A few seem to be born with the maturity to realize what a dumb standard this is, some wise up after years of disillusionment and some never do, but the average person should catch on in early adulthood.

"So what the nice gentlemen need to look for in a romantic partner is the fine qualities they themselves possess. But then, maybe they would find that comforting but dull and can find excitement only in being scorned."

Here is my response, with colorful metaphors exculpted. This is a family show!

"She should have just said that nice guys make good backups.
Martin is playing on a wish instead of the reality. My chances have not improved since the aforementioned "national tragedy," and it's sick to think that now, after all the fun, then we're ok to settle with."

""Maybe" is a "no" five minutes away from happening."

Monday, February 11, 2002

HOYA METER: The Hoya Meter worked the midnight oil on Saturday afternoon, and finally melted down after a depressing 116-111, 4OT loss to Notre Dame at MCI Center. The Hoyas (14-8, 5-5 Big East)may have seen their NCAA Tournament bubble burst with this loss. I hate UND's sports teams.

Silence, Peon!
After watching Meet The Press yesterday, I realized that this Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Reform bill is a big mess. The constitutional ramifications -- banning political "push issue" ads 60 days before the election -- are big enough for me to loathe the bill. If you think the media exert control over campaigns now, wait until this bill passes, and then the newspapers and magazines will REALLY run the show now. Why do you think the editorial boards of the Washington Post and New York Times support CFR? It enhances their leverage! They can decide how to cover a race, and incumbent politicians can continue to buy ad space at the lowest commercially available rate. And, by focusing on the soft money ban of the Shays-Meehan bill , the media conveniently omits the more important provisions banning "issue ads."

Easy like Sunday Asahi
Aaron Ammerman (F'00) directed me to a fine Japanese establishment in Courthouse Plaza in Arlington, Asahi. Not only is the sushi aesthetically pleasing, it is fresh and rich with flavor. The miso soup has a sharp resonance that is pleasing to the taste buds. The exotically decadent Japanese lasanga rolls offer a spicy, cheesy flavoration that I haven't had the pleasure of engaging in since I started eating sushi regularly.

Hello, Little Friend
I caught the tail end of the Al Pacino classic Scarface last night, and I remember why I liked it so. The film does a great job playing up the sleaze-violence-killing-drugs factor, and the role of Tony Montana allowed Pacino to engage in a 4-hour long tirade instead of the bursts that last only a minute or so in his other movies.

Beater Uppers
Last night I sat down and watched a full episode of the ABC spy show Alias, and was treated to a special guest appearance by Quentin Tarantino of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction fame. While his role as a rogue operator was a bit predictable and outlandish, I did enjoy the overall plot and the premise of this show. Jennifer Garner kicks tail all over the show, giving ABC its own Buffy and Xena wrapped into one.

"Fear does not defeat you. Hesitation does."