Friday, May 03, 2002

ZoNotes: Longneck bottle, let go my hand...

Major bonus points for those here who know where this infamous third verse comes from:
"She runs back down the hallway, to the bedroom door,
she reaches for the pistol kept in the dresser drawer,
she tells the lady in the mirror, he won't do this again --
'cause tonight will be the last time she'll wonder where he's been..."

The Constituency
Give credit to our allies. They understand the mechanics and the terminology necessary to generate sympathy for their cause. Both Israel and now Colombia have successfully co-opted President Bush's statements on terror and adapted them to their particular situations. In Israel's case, the IDF's offensive created "daylight" between the official White House position and that of Congress, judging by yesterday's House resolution that supported Israel's antiterrorist offensive. While nonbinding, the resolution is a symbolic shot across the bow that should keep the Administration's alleged "even-handedness" from tilting too hard against Israel.
In Colombia's case, the ongoing civil war with the leftist narcoguerrillas and the rightist paramilitaries continues. Even though Colombia has a functioning democracy and enduring electoral legitimacy, at times President Andres Pastrana suffers from a lack of credibility. American military and economic aid helps keep the Colombian government viable in an otherwise untenable situation.

The RMs Come to Afghanistan
A note on the 1,000 British Royal Marines from 45 Commando that are taking part in Operation SNIPE. RMs receive comprehensive, rigorous, and often unforgiving mountain/cold weather training after they earn their Globe and Laurel -- which in itself takes 30 weeks of training. This in part stems from the RM's NATO responsibility to deploy to Norway under the old Cold War rubric. Like their American bretheren, the RMs can deploy rapidly and are highly professional. This operation against al-Qaeda forces also represents a major contribution from our coalition partners. Following a 1990s practice, we are seeing a combination of allied ground troops and American airpower. Hopefully the offensive will be successful.

The Two Towers
They have answered the call. Both David Robinson and Tim Duncan will suit up for the pivotal Game 5 against Seattle. Robinson's sore back is healed considerably and Duncan is back from his father's funeral. This is going to be the most intriguing Spur playoff game since they won the title in Game 5 of the 1999 NBA Finals.

"Before one can really appreciate success, one needs to experience failure." -- Fernando Cortes

Thursday, May 02, 2002

ZoNotes: My Love Don't Cost A Thing...

May Flowers, June Weddings
The month of May will be of titanic importance, as ZoBro Ernesto Cortes graduates from Alexander H.S. and Livy Keithley (C'98) and Sharlene Sidhu (C'00) walk down the aisle in Memphis, TN. Of course, I will be going to both events, taking part in a week of whirlwind activity in the last week of May and early days of June.

Unable to clinch Game 4 against Seattle, the Spurs head back to the Alamodome for the decisive Game 5 to decide who proceeds to the 2nd Round to face the Los Angeles Lakers. Without David Robinson or Tim Duncan, the Spurs fell 91-79 at Key Arena. Hopefully the Spurs will play better on Friday night.

You Can Do That On Television
I'm not a regular viewer of West Wing -- I find it pedantic and annoyingly do-goodish -- but last night I didn't feel like changing the channel so I saw this new episode. If you guys watched it, take note of CJ's little rant about Saudi Arabia in the "press briefing" opening sequence. Had a REAL press secretary mouthed off about a foreign country like that, he/she would be either severely reprimanded or would all of a sudden discover a need to spend more time with his/her family. More importantly, you can HEAR Wing creator Aaron Sorkin mouthing this and thinking, hey, CJ is our feminist liberal for the show, let's have her talk about those nasty Saudis. Not that I disagree -- we all know that the House of Saud has a traditionalist kick -- and an event similar to the one Sorkin's people inserted actually did take place. Plus, to this show's credit, none of the major crises mentioned last night ended up blaming conservatives. After the whole Iran-has-a-heavy-water-reactor subplot, I was expecting Toby or Prez Bartlett to utter: "Damn those Republicans for splitting the atom!"

However, it's this knee-jerk "more perfecter" than thou attitude that is grating. I mean, seriously, it's not like ZoNotes engages in hyperbolic extrapolation of seemingly insignificant events, taking up space and time on something so trivial as a television show that I usually never watch! Please! I'm SO above that.

He's Out
After turning over 6 terrorist murderers involved in the attack on Israel's tourism minister last year, Yasser Arafat was freed from his Ramallah compound and proclaimed his manliness to throngs of loyal Palestinians. One wonders what will happen next -- will both sides return to the table to negotiate, or will assorted terrorist elements celebrate Arafat's return from exile by unleashing another wave of homicide bombers?

"It's not what you're reading, it's what you're understanding."

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

ZoNotes: We Shall be Free...

All The Right Moves
Tim Duncan's father Bill passed away yesterday, and the Spurs' superstar will not play in Game 4 of the best-of-5 series against Seattle as he is attending the funeral. A very sad day for one of the NBA's most dominant players, but this was the only right way to handle it. Even if the Spurs were down 2-1 instead of up 2-1, I'd still recommend, insist, that Duncan not play and go be with his family.
As for the game itself, I suspect forward Malik Rose is going to have to have the game of his life. If the Spurs lose tonight, then it's back to San Antonio for Game 5, where homecourt advantage is a priceless commodity.

Buffy Recap: This is What it Sounds Like, When Couples Cry
Last night's new episode of Buffy continued on the dark trajectory of Season 6, complete with angst and carnal indiscretion. For those following this season's story arc, I have no sympathy for Xander, he of the haughty indignation and lack of marital fortitude. An interesting point here is that the "big bad" of this season isn't a vampire king, nor a lost soul, nor a biological abomination, nor a near-immortal demon. The plight facing the characters this season is a manifestation of their own fears, weaknesses, and inqdequacies. Even the smoochy reconciliation between Tara and Willow speaks to their mutual inability to cope with the prospects of being alone. Keep that in mind next week when...oh, well, just keep that in mind next week, ok? Trust me.

The Baseball War, Continued
As you may know, today is May Day, and various leftist-communist entities will take to the streets to take pride in that great experiment known as the centrally planned economy. Plus, given the fact that it is a glorious spring morning outside, many college undergraduates will march with the proletariat because it's great for their tan. The fact that, well, communism and its assorted cousins never worked is a side point. Today, in Cuba, communist dictator Fidel Castro is holding a rally to denounce Latin American states who condemned Cuba's abysmal human rights record. That Mexico is leading the way here on this entire affair speaks to the backbone of President Vicente Fox and the willingness of democratically-elected leaders to take on the Cuban despot. The Americans could sieze on this initiative by our hemispheric partners -- by using the embargo against Cuba in one of two different ways. One option is to tighten the screws on Cuba by strengthening the embargo. For the first time since Castro took power in 1959, the regional partners seem not to tie the embargo to progress on the Cuban front. In fact, the condemnation was discussed DURING the embargo. Now that we have the numbers, so to speak, we could press the advantage. The second option is a diametric opposite -- to drop the embargo and flood American capital straight to Havana. Consider it a Pepsification of Cuba. Maybe this mechanism will allow our Cuban brothers and sisters to be free of tyranny.

"The past is many things, but one thing it is, is irrevocable. A past to your liking is not an entitlement." - Thomas Sowell

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

ZoNotes: I'll Be There For You, These five words I swear to you...

Cinema Makes Strange Bedfellows...
One of Hollywood's most prominent liberals is a marketing capitalist genius, integrating cinema with merchandising in a way that revolutionized the nature of filmgoing in America. His films are an inspirational bedrock for some conservatives and their political leaders, one of whom modified the films' villanous "evil empire" into a critique of the communist savagery of the Soviet Union. This is the real substantive achievement of Star Wars guru George Lucas -- that a man of decidely leftist-idealistic political orientation would create a pillar of modern capitalist business sense -- and by doing so, clinchig the admiration of his political opposites.

Hell Freezes Over
Up is down, black is white, 2 and 2 are 5, c-a-t spells dog -- UT President Larry Faulkner will speak at Texas A&M's commencenent ceremonies. I have truly seen everything.

Paper of Revelations, Continued
The "easiest" way to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq is to utilize pre-existing facilities in Saudi Arabia and deploy into southern Iraq, beheading the Republican Guard and aiming straight for Baghdad itself. However, the Saudis may not be as accomodating as they were during Operations DESERT STORM and SHIELD, given the delicacy of the House of Saud's rule. How stable is the leadership, even with its suffocating security regime? How prone are they to extremist flights of fancy, and of course we shouldn't forget that Saudi cash helped maintain the viability of the radical Wahhabi sect of Islam. Subsequently, the U.S. has already moved command and control facilities out of the kingdom and into Qatar. Still, logically, the best staging ground is Saudi Arabia. In 1944, so was Pas de Calais -- the perfect point in France at which to land troops to invade Nazi-occupied Europe.
Still, that does not mean that the country will be available for offensive operations, and I don't want to overextend the analogy. The U.S. might end up staging an attack at a difficult point along the Iraqi frontier precisely because it provides adequate strategic surprise. The strain on operations by going through Turkey or staging an amphibious strike are unmistakably clear. We would prefer to have the Saudi facilities available for the jump-off point. That does not preclude other options. But even if the Americans do not have Saudi Arabia as that kind of asset, it could be used as a decoy -- part of an overall large strategic deception.

"Wealth is no guarantor of intelligence."

Monday, April 29, 2002

ZoNotes: I Hope You Dance....

The Warehouse Bar and Grill in Old Towne Alexandria is a winner. Many thanks to the Harpers for a delicious idea for a Saturday night.

For Want of A Point Guard...
Spurs point guard Anthony Parker outdueled perennial superstar Gary Payton on Saturday, scoring 23 points and stacking up highlight material in a 102-75 win at Key Arena in Seattle, propelling the Spurs to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 first round. Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 27 points, as San Antonio overcame an early 11-2 deficit to win decisively. Game 4 is Wednesday night, continuing the NBA's insistence that the playoffs start in April and end in the middle of June, forcing teams to embark on an odyssey of near-indefinite duration.

The Paper of Revelations
A note about yesterday's article claiming that the U.S. was planning for a 2003 invasion of Iraq. This is a helpful case of an article citing statistics and details for an attack while also not revealing anything that we in the general public didn't already know. Perhaps the only factor that should be noted is the fact that an invasion force has a ceiling of 200,000 troops, half of what was assembled for the DESERT STORM operation in 1991. What we don't know, and most likely will not know until the attack starts, is the jump-off point for the invasion force. Will it take the Saudi route, using a process similar to the "Hail Mary" shot into southern Iraq that we saw in 1991? Or, will troops move from Turkey? Will we see an airborne insertion? Veritcal envelopment using air assault elements? What about an amphibious landing through Kuwait? As you can see, the details of that contingency weren't discussed much. We've known for a while the parameters for troop contributions ranged from an Army corps upwards to four or five divisions. Which divisions go, and how will they get there? The NYT doesn't answer those questions. All of this taken into consideration, this article and the surrounding buzz is a bit overwrought. This could have been printed at any point since 9.11 -- the 200,000 troop solution has been thrown about so often by so many observers that it isn't a surprise. Indeed, this speaks to what I think is a diversionary tactic on the part of the planning staffs. Think Pas de Calais. More tomorrow.

"Sleep deprived cannot be made up in 5 more minutes."