Friday, April 26, 2002

ZoNotes: Sssssudiiooooo

The sound heard by two ZoNoters after LA beat Colorado 1-0 in overtime of the best-of-7 NHL first round "AHHHHRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH."

From the Halls of Fort Myer...
Last night I had the opportunity to attend a Marine Corps ground dinner at the O-Club at Ft. Myer. I was almost late for the dinner because my car was searched from fender to bumper and all points in between. BGen Mattis, the commander of Task Force 58 that established Camp Rhino, spoke to assembled Marine Corps and Navy brass and media to explain the successes of the Marine operation into Afghanistan.
Three things stick out prominently in my opinion:

A) -- Logistics is king. There is one thing American forces do that makes them so much more capable than their contemporaries or adversaries -- they can span any distance using existing resources. There are precious few countries on earth, in history, that have or had this kind of global reach. Ours, at the moment, exceeds all others. Operating at the edge of its envelope, the Marine contingent moved 400 miles inland and were successful in resupply. This ship-to-objective manuver was so ambitious that the operation ranks up there with Inchon and Guadalcanal in its importance. The real workhorses of the Afghan phase were CH-53E transport helos, C-130 cargo planes, and, oddly enough, P-3 antisubmarine warfare aircraft, who used their extensive suite of sensors to identify Taliban locations.
B) Interoperability. This was the most comprehensive joint/combined operation in the history of American warfare. All Services contributed to the overall victory, from Special Operations Forces troops, to coalition nation specialists, to Navy pilots, Marine infantry, to sailors, you name it, we had it.
C) Ingenuity. The TF58 staff was very small as these ops go. Those of you who study military decisionmaking are most likely familiar with the orient-observe-decide-act (OODA) loop that allows for large organizations to make cogent orders. Mattis told us at the dinner that there "was no" OODA loop, which was a good thing because all involved worked very hard to achieve the end result.

Overall, it was a very enlightening experience. The dinner's highlights also included an awards ceremony for the Marines of the Year for the 4 Marine divisions. T'was a pleasure seeing Marines get honored like that, even though it was weird setting up shop at an Army base. The good thing was that I live close to Ft. Myer, so I didn't have to worry about falling asleep in my car at the end of the night.

The Saudi Risk
The Saudi diplomatic manuevering of the past month or so was a buildup to the current summit at the TX White House in Crawford. Prince Abdullah manufactured a "peace plan" for the Israeli-PLO war to fulfill numerous objectives -- deflect attention from Saudi financing of radical Islamic theology and present a "moderate" package to an increasingly suspicious Washington. The Saudis are showing alot of chutzpah coming to their #1 military and commercial patron to demand things from the U.S. The entire SW Asian diplomatic framework is entrenched in a 1973 framework. Ohhh, we can't make the Arabs mad, or they'll take away our oil! Do you see any farms in the desert? Oil is a double-edged sword for the Saudis, as it is for the entire OPEC cartel. Beyond oil, these economies have nothing, may I stress, nothing to offer to the rest of the world. The Russians' willingness to up production could keep prices lower than they would be otherwise -- but an Arab move to cut off oil could backfire. As for basing rights, it's no coincidence that American command and control elements are moving to Qatar. Jack Kemp, courtesy of Sean Mullaney (B'00) gives us his thoughts on the crisis.

And When they came for us...
...they did nothing. The Vatican, judging by the tame nonresponse to the priestly excesses and abuses, has decided that it will avoid taking decisive action. So, the old men of the Church single the American clergy out for what is documented to be a global problem, slaps the wrists of the Cardinals, and then sends them home with nothing in the way of concrete action. All the while, the Pope John Paul II, the same Pope who faced down communism, will not move in a swift manner. The explosive revelations of Fr. Shanley's activity are nearly unmentionable -- but is precisely because it is nearly unmentionable that the Boston Globe is running frontpage stories nearly everyday.

The Baseball War
Here's an interesting one. Earlier this week Latin American partner Uruguay broke off diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba. That comes on the heels of the finger-pointing between Mexico and Cuba after Castro was "encouraged" to leave the UN's Monterrey development summit. When Fidel released audio tapes of conversations with Mexican President Vicente Fox, Fox's Foreign Minister George CastaƱeda forcefully replied. This is odd, especially because CastaƱeda is an unreconstructed leftist. This is the equivalent of Colin Powell calling Canadian PM Chretien a feckless thug.

"Dictators' power can flow from consent."

Thursday, April 25, 2002

ZoNotes: 'Cause I'm Already Gone, And I'm Feeeeeeeeeelin' Strong, And I Will Siiiiiing My Victory Song...

I continue to judge the AWS essays. There are some intriguing ideas that I will discuss later. For those interested, think of two things for tomorrow's discussion -- SUV's and helicopters.

For Want of A Lone Star: The Texas Top 10
Every morning when I wake up, I thank God for giving me another day to live my life. I then thank Him for having made me a Texan. God Bless Texas. From the northern reaches of Amarillo to the southern expanse of Harlingen, from the mountainous beauty of El Paso to the ports of Houston, I love it so. Blue skies, great music, big trucks, and glorious resplendency. The Texas 10 was compiled from the contributions of many Texans on the ZoNotes mailing list. This is but a representative sample of what the motherland has to offer. Texas has rich land where ranchers wake up early to work, resources that drive our great Republic. To the West, Texas. We are born there, and some of us in the Diaspora will not live there forever, but we will die there, thus always "being there."
10. The FOOD -- Whether you're mowing down chicken fried steak at Strickland's in Falfurrias or chewing on BBQ at the storied State Line in El Paso, Texas offers delicacies bar none. Sure, it's fattening, but the death rate stands at 100% anyway. Even the fast food is on another plane -- two-for-one burgers at Whataburger, ice cream from Dairy Queen that withstands the most tortuous of heat, and the Taco Bell-crushing superiority of locales such as Taco Cabana and Taco Palenque in Laredo.
9. The PARTY -- Texas is a land of celebration and jubilation. As Mary J. Blige says, ain't no room for hateration. Freer has its Rattlesnake Roundup, Laredo the GW Birthday celebration, San Antonio its Fiesta, Corpus Christi its Bucanneer Days, and Poteet its refreshingly breezy Strawberry Festival. Each gathering highlights a unique strand of life in Texas.
8. The BLUEBONNETTS -- God never made a prettier flower. From San Antonio to Austin, the neatly arranged rows are a virtual red carpet for travels to our state's capital. God Bless 'em.
7. The PEOPLE -- Where men are men and women are women. Where a smile is authentic and the spirits warm with bristling optimism.
6. The MUSIC -- From the old-school country "King" George Strait to the rock genius of ZZ Top, Texas is a place of cultural renown the world over. Such a diverse state has produced the Dixie Chicks, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, Pantera, Erykah Badu, Freddy "wasted days and wasted nights" Fender, and a host of others
5. The BASKETBALL -- The Houston Rockets own back-to-back championships, led by the immutable Dream Shake of Hakeem Olajuwon. The San Antonio Spurs own one, thanks to the herculean work of Tim Duncan and the enduring patience of one-time MVP David Robinson. The Dallas Mavericks are one of the NBA's hottest young teams, featuring a United Nations-esque lineup -- from Mexico, China, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. Cheryl Swoops led Texas Tech and the Houston Comets to many championships. San Antonio hosted the 1998 Final Four and the 2002 Women's Final Four.
4. The BASEBALL -- Chuck Knoblauch, Nolan Ryan, Jeff Bagwell, The Ballpark in Arlington (without the pitching), the field formerly known as Enron, one of the country's most grueling state high school tournaments, Texas' College World Series titles, Texas A&M's competitive program, a lively minor league environment, this is a great baseball state.
3. The ECONOMY -- The traditional barometers of power -- land and oil -- still ring true in our great state. As for Enron, well, it simply reinforces the reality that you can't write checks your body can't cash. However, Texas remains a land of opportunity - with an emerging tech sector and a permanent international trading partner with Mexico.
2. The FOOTBALL -- In the fall the weekend starts on Friday night and rolls through Sunday. The great HS football baronies take the field, followed by their counterparts in College Station, Austin, and Lubbock. Then, on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys take to the field, soon to be joined by the Houston Texans. Look across the Red River to Oklahoma, and you see Texans suiting up for the Sooners. Football has been, is, and will forever be the sports lifeblood of Texas. Too many people have too many memories for that reality to change. Who can forget Tony Dorsett's 99-yard romp against Minnesota? Or Odessa Permian's tragic 1988 season, chronicled in H.G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights? Who can ignore the seething rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M, a game that transcends whereever you went to school?
1. The LONE STAR -- The Texas flag embodies all that we are -- standing alone, tall, and proud. We are not the "south," nor are we the midwest, nor are we the southwest. We occupy a unique place in time and space, a combination of many different features and cultures.
All of this proves that you can be somewhere else, yet never really leave.

"Pride is the one thing you can't afford to mess with."

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

ZoNotes: Shoulda been a Cowboy....

ZoNotes goes light on the mayo today, as I am taking part in the judging of some essays from the Amphibious Warfare School down in Quantico...but tomorrow be primed for an exercise in Texan pride and shameless self-promotion, when I unveil the Texas Top 10.

Many thanks to the Harpers for a fine Persian dinner in Tyson's Corner last night. Many ZoNoters were there, it was a smashing good time. I love the Persian kabobs. The meat is seasoned deliciously, offering a decadent flavor that rivals even the best fajitas of my nascent youth back in Texas.

America, Home of the Harley...
As I was driving down I-95S this morning, I was passed by a beautiful Harley Davidson. In about a month thousands of bikers will descend on our Nation's capital for Memorial Day "rides" to honor fallen soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen. On Memorial Day 2000, I had the pleasure of going downtown to watch the Harleys and other fine bikes motor past the Capitol. The Harley is the quintissential American vehicle -- men and women can ride alone, or with a partner, across the great thoroughfare that is the U. S. of A. It embraces power, grace, speed, durability, and crosses all lines. The Harley knows no boundaries that can inhibit it, no force that can repel it. It is the product of hard work and dedicated care. Like the Jeep, the Stealth bomber, and the Corvette, it is uniquely, undeniably, American. Yamaha, eat your heart out.

"Defending yourself at times involves offending others."

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

ZoNotes: I breathe in. I breathe out. I put one foot in front of the other...

For starters, thanks to Aaron Ammerman (F'00) for some help with the lectures I gave on Friday on the federal bureaucracy.

The Spurs follow up their great game on Saturday with a clunker. A dark cloud surrounds the land as the Spurs fall 98-90 to the Sonics!

Cassius Is Fuming!
You are Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Since 2001, you've held the line for the Democrat Party against George W. Bush and those wascally Wepublicans -- even scoring a victory when Jim "Turncoat" Jeffords crossed the aisle last summer. What the hell was Al Gore doing? Growing a beard and lecturing at Columbia? John Edwards is a pretty boy -- Clinton without all the sex -- therefore making him "charismatic." Besides, Clinton's ratings went up after Monica. John Kerry is a threat only b/c he's a veteran, but once voters hear "Massachusetts" -- they may get flashbacks of Dukakis in the tank.
You are affable. Moderate. Even-handed. The 2004 Dem nomination is yours, right?
Then why the hell are Jonathan Chait and Josh Green trumpeting John McCain? And why is Tim Noah shilling for McCain, too? This is your Democrat media here. Are they off-message or something? Since when the hell was Brutus -- oops, McCain -- supposed to actually do anything? You know that McCain has been good for your cause -- he is "even a Republican" who stands for Campaign Finance Reform, health insurance, and soft feather blankets for spotted owls. As long as Brutus -- er, McCain -- was using the dagger to "et tu" President Bush, he was ok. But eventually, he'd have to get out of the way again. You have a candidacy to pitch, damn it!
It's one thing that Gore is back in the picture. Yesterday was Earth Day, that's his thing. The smart money won't go into that pony again, liplock of Tipper or no liplock of Tipper. No, Tom, this was your moment, and Brutus -- sorry, McCain, I keep mixing them up -- is stealing all the spotlight. Maybe you should've recruited Lincoln Chafee.
You've got to fix this, Tom. Sooner or later the voters' opinions might actually matter. Mo Dowd could write soliloquies extolling her love of McCain's tender manliness. Gail Collins and the mavens on the NYT ed page may actually endorse him! Madness! Chris Matthews could scream to the rooftops after a couple of lagers at the Tombs. Net thing you know people are circulating "Draft McCain" bumper stickers in Ames and Concord. Not good. Not very good at all.
After nearly 2 years of opposition politics, your party will end up choosing the GOP's scond-place finisher. Somewhere, Adlai Stevenson is crying.

In Summary...
I'll spare you the drama of the fact-finding mission to Jenin to figure out what happened during the Israeli antiterror offensive -- in conclusion, the UN blames the Zionist entity for daring to defend itself from peace-loving homicide bombers. Perhaps it won't be so bad. One of my professors from my time at GU Major General William Nash, USA (Ret), will be the military advisor to the fact-finding mission. Nash commanded 1st Armored Division in 1995 when it crossed the Sava river as part of the Bosnia peacekeeping mission and is currently the UN administrator for the Kosovar city of Mitrovica. He taught my Military and the Media course in Spring 2000.

The Phony Runoff
I once saw an Anthony Quinn movie where he played a French paratrooper commander who brings his men together for a final mission down in Algeria. It wasn't Quinn's best role, but it was mildly entertaining. What is it with paratroopers? Once they hang up the berets, they go straight to the podium. Such is the story of French rightist presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, who pieced together enough votes in a crowded first-round field to secure a spot against incumbent Jaques Chirac. The leftists, predictably, are furious. Chirac just locked himself in for another term, as the disparate elements of the otherwise dominant French left will have to line up behind him in hopes that their lion, current PM Lionel Jospin, will not be sent to the pasture of political irrelevance. The French system is a real mess, where every third- and fourth-party can weild enormous destructive electoral power. Every man a Nader, every man a Nader....

The Sky is Blue, the Grass is Green...
...and the Pope condemns child abuse in the Church. The gathering of the American cardinals in Rome is part successful, part farce, part tragedy. The singling out of the American clergy is an adept political move by the old men in the Vatican, but it overlooks cases in Europe and in Africa. The manifestation of the American problem in a public forum should not distract the Holy See from the reality that rogue priests operate on every continent where the Catholic Church tends to the flock. It is not enough to point to the Americans and to frame it as solely our problem. Mary Magdalene would understand the gist of my point here.

"Contributions are required. Donations are requested."

Monday, April 22, 2002

ZoNotes: Liber Mihi Opus Est

It's NO POLITICS day at ZoNotes! There were too many other things going on this weekend!

Eat Your Vitamins, Say Your Prayers...
...and visit Ms. Spiers and Mr. Green at their respective blogs. Both Ms. Spiers and Mr. Green have noted my blog on their sites.

Bountiful Weekending
My Uncle Corky is in town this week on business, but this weekend I meandered over to the hotel in Pentagon City where he is staying and enjoyed a couple of days. I highly recommend that you all eat at the quaint Alexandria Italian eatery, Monroe's. I had some smashing fried chicken with pasta and a rich tomato sauce that made me miss the old country. 'Cause, you know, I ate a lot of Italian food in Laredo.

When Fire Cries
Many thanks to ZoNoters Michelle Sparkman and Daniel Alvarez (F'00) for inviting me to an entertaining night of minor league baseball out in Prince William County. The Potomac Cannons, an AA team in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, lost 4-0 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The game was alot closer than the score indicates. Attorney General John Ashcroft threw the first pitch, an unexpected bonus on a beautiful Saturday evening. Even with the small rain shower we received, I didn't have to break out my poncho. Well, because I didn't bring it. Still, I didn't need to use it. I had a cheeseburger and a Sprite. After the game, we were treated to a fireworks display. Unfortunately, due to some wind issues, the ashes from some of the disintegrating festivities drifted over to our seats, cascading our group with confetti-like projectiles that sprinkled our heads like so many raindrops. All in all, a fun way to spend a Saturday night. Additional thanks to Michelle and her housemate Ana Chapa, who adeptly aided my parallel parking endeavor in Crystal City after the game.

Cuba Libre
Like all fashionable 20ish people do, I own a copy of Buena Vista Social Club's Miguel Ferrer. A fascinating piece of work, the acoustics of the disc take you to Havana, a lush land of historic beauty. My next Big Vacation in Life is going to be to Cuba, after our Cuban brothers and sisters break their chains of servitude from Fidel Castro (egads! I said NO POLITICS!!!) and march to the freedom of unrestrained hypercapitalism. My journey will be one of both spiritual renewal and personal enjoyment.

Do You Feel a Draft?
At some point during Dallas' time on the draft clock, I thought, well, we're gonna blow it again. I only heard second-hand stuff, but apparently the Cowboys used up so much time on their clock that Minnesota almost moved in to steal the #6 pick. Luckily, using an old Texas connection, the Cowboys traded the 6 for Kansas City's #8 slot (Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt is old old old old Texas money -- he was counting his first million when Jerry Jones was still playing for Barry Switzer on the Arkansas freshman team!). The whole sequence reminded me of the vote-counting in South Texas. The whole trade picks-for-time episode reminded me of a classy dirty trick that JR Ewing would play on Barnes -- with Minnesota playing the role of Barnes. That's the second time the 'Boys had applied the shotgun to "adjust" Minnesota's draft hopes -- the first, of course being the 1989 Herchel Walker-for-the-entire-NFL- draft-and-some-beans trade.
With the 6, the Chiefs took North Carolina defensive tackle Ryan Sims, and when the Vikes took Miami tackle/freak of nature as we know it on this earthly plane Bryant McKinnie, the Cowboys' war room erupted in self-congratulatory praise and jolly relief, similar to that felt when one has his wisdom teeth removed. The Boys then triumphantly snagged OU safety Roy Williams. A note for the Texas Exes and current students -- The 'Horns had two players (CB Quentin Jammer and OT/"light on his feet" Mike Williams (he of 380 pounds)) go in the Top 10 picks -- a first in Horns history. Grrrrrrr. As I told Daniel and Pete Renz (C'00) on Saturday, I heard that "if Williams goes through months of intense workouts, we can get him down to 375."

They Ate a Sonic
Riding Tim Duncan's historic triple-double on Saturday, the Spurs broke the Gordian Knot of a halftime tie to throttle the Seattle Supersonics, 110-89. The Men in Black continue their manichean journey to the promised land of a second NBA championship tonight against the Sonics in Game 2 of the first-round best of 5 series. A note, though -- many props to a fine Dallas squad that used a 12-0 surge in the second half to turn back the Minnesota Timberwolves 101-94 at the American Airlines Center.

"Today's geek is tomorrow's CEO."