Friday, June 21, 2002

ZoNotes: Easy Come, Easy Go

ZoNotes is up early as the car is getting its safety-emission inspection.

The Eagle Flies Against the Condor
We are little under a half-hour away from the USA-Germany match. Will Sam's Army and the gooolll-crushing goalkeeper Friedel lead the Republic to victory?

What's That?
That, my friends, is the juice of victory -- the sweet nectar that flows from the lush earth, filling us with hope, energy, and exuberance. Fellow Laredoan Myra Garcia, now a litigator in San Diego, CA, just won her first case as a California state defense attorney. Let us all render praise and good cheer upon her.

"This is the most important game in U.S. soccer history."
---U.S. vs. Mexico, Monday
"This is the most important game in U.S. soccer history."
----U.S. vs. Germany, Friday

Thursday, June 20, 2002

ZoNotes: Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?

For Want of an Imagination
Interesting rundown of the news this morning. If you were watching any of the big news networks last night, you know that the White House was evacuated when a Cessna entered the restricted airspace over Washington, DC. A revealing snippet from the evacuation was that not all staffers left the building. Kind of reminds me when the fire drill goes off here in the office, and you don't bother to walk out until somebody says that you have to do so. However, in this case, a freakin' airplane was in restricted airspace. Yes, accidents happen all the time over that particular area, given the proximity to Reagan National Airport. But this warranted the get-out protocol for the Secret Service, so you'd think that the staffers would have been a little quicker.
The second piece of information relates to the National Security Agency's (NSA's) revelation that they intercepted communications on 10 September stating that the next day would be "zero hour." This oversight reminds me of the scene in Tora! Tora! Tora! when GEN Short and ADM Kimmel received at Pearl Harbor that an attack was imminent soon after the attack had completed. Again, having facts on hand doesn't mean that you know what they mean. I would have guessed that zero hour references pertained to nuclear-chem-bio weapons, not airliners ramming into buildings. Which, if you want to extend this even further, reminds me of a chapter of Hesketh Pearson's Whispering Gallery. In this fictional account of a diplomat's "diary" -- a World War I British general warns a counterpart that the Brits didn't have the imagination to credit the Germans with innovation.

A Nation Waiting For a Homeland
Perhaps we in the West are viewing the intifada through the wrong lens. All this on-again, off-again talk of declaring an interim Palestinian state is a backwards negotiating option, providing an end result with absolutely no parameters. The Palestinians' apologists in the West keep clamoring for a formal Palestine rubbing against established formal Israel. Nothing in the Palestinian literature, or even in their negotiating posture, lends me to think that they want a state. They want, put more appropriately, a homeland.
One of the big mistakes we in the West made in that area seems to be that we took homelands and made them "states." Up to now, only Israel has successfully managed both a state and a homeland.

The Palestinians, IMHO, don't want a state and all its responsibilities as much as it wants a homeland. Unfortunately for them, that homeland consists of kicking out all of the Jews that live in Israel. Similar cases can be made for the Kurds and the Shiites in Iraq. Saudi-occupied Arabia is a fiefdom masked by both the mechanisms of a modern state and the trappings of a homeland. Perhaps the House of Saud would be content if there were no Saudis in it, just contractors from foreign multinationals.

"Send them to Jordan" is the battlecry of the Greater Israel types, but if you want a homeland, you halve Jordan and let the Hashemite kingdom rule over Amman, which is probably easier for King Abdullah to manage. Of course, even that seems tenuous, given the nasty Jordanian-Palestinian history. Queen Rania can stand with Cherie Blair and harp all she wants about Palestinians being desperate and lacking hope, largely because car bombs aren't detonating in the Hashemite kingdom. Provisional state talk and structures and reforms of the PLO don't amount to much outside what we see on paper.

Arabs talk of solidarity. Arabists warn us of it. The reality is that the one people who distrust the Palestinians the most are the Arabs. Kuwait kicked them out after Arafat lined up with Saddam in 1990. And, in a beaten-to-death point, Jordan ethnically cleansed them after Black September. Israel gives the PLO a place at the table, shaky as the chair is. Jordan didn't. Saudi won't. Syria can't. And the Egyptians probably shouldn't. The support lent to Arafat in the Arab League is superficial. Arafat's best friend, generally speaking, is Shimon Peres, and his Daddy Warbucks is the European Union, not the assorted kings and perpetually self-electing presidents. What is it that Nasser complained about once, that the Syrians were willing to fight to the last Egyptian? Has not the limp-wristed chattering classes in the West realized that Assad Jr. and the others are willing to now fight to the last Palestinian? It is upon this that Arafat invests his international standing?

Israel isn't beyond tyrant management -- we know that based on the pleasantries the Jewish state had with Mobutu and the apartheid regime in S. Africa. Arafat doesn't seem to understand that tenet of Israeli negotiating parameters. If he were willing to accept that, Sharon could deal with him. Unfortunately for Arafat, he chooses war and asks for more than what is physically available. The matters of East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the territorial concessions, are little more than details to be haggled over. The PLO's maps, artistically deficient as they may be, are still revealing signposts for what the Palestinians want. So then, I leave him to his fate, temporary as it seems.

Aaron Ammerman (F'00) sends this quote from a security guard at the free Cake concert that Coke hosted:
"The show is sold out! No one can get in!"

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

ZoNotes: Como te deseo, na na na na na na na. Como te adoro...

Profoundly unintentional humorous moment: Last night on MSNBC, Ashleigh Banfield conducted an interview with members of the Army's 82d Airborne Division. To understand the surreality of the moment, you had to have watched it. Here you have armed paratroopers, armed to the teeth, in cammies, in front of bright light and television cameras. Makes me wonder why Ms. Banfield didn't ask:"All of this secret cave-clearing training that you're conducting that no one knows about, can you fit a camera crew and a correspondent as well? We'd love to catch footage of you guys slicing up Al Qaeda..."

The Sum of All Warnings
In a scene from Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson's character states that if you don't want scary answers then you should stop asking scary questions. Judging from the latest homicide bus attack in Jerusalem which killed 19, the sages and mandarins -- our allegedly educated betters -- will ask "how will this affect the peace process?"

Humans are a preoccupied sort, the more "intelligent" ones concerned with order and process. Then there are those who nakedly display their hatred for those concepts. They usually do so by holding a gun. The response of the mandarins is to kindly ask a murderer to put his gun away. The former thinks he is establishing a dialogue; the latter decides that he can shoot and promptly get away with it, because the mandarin's replacement will be even more eager not to get shot. Note, the mandarin doesn't want peace, he merely wants to prolong the time before he gets shot.

Considering the plight of the Israeli state -- indeed, the stakes of the Jewish nation -- I came to the conclusion early on that a "peace agreement" does more for the third party ("the honest broker") than the one having to pay its price ("Israel.") Carter feasted briefly on the fruit of the Camp David Accords, Clinton came so awfully close in 2000 that he could smell the sweet aroma of a settlement, and our current President realizes that he can bundle the coming Iraqi expedition with a docile Palestinian state. To the pundits, the knaves, and the jesters who populate our editorial pages consider Israel a mere pawn to be moved around a giant chessboard.

And it is not simply that we as Americans suffer from short-term historical memory, even though surely we are afflicted with the bug of forgetfulness and the parasitic whimsies of wishful thinking. We know exactly the cost paid by the Jewsish people and others in the bowels of Nazi-occupied Europe. We know from our history books the sacrifices of 1967 and the 1970s. We know that democracy endures in this tragic part of the world in spite being surrounded by dictatorships of the most unsavory variety.

No, our greatest sin is that, even in light of that knowledge, the mandarins and the learned still encourage our allies to preemptively surrender. What is a square mile here, a settlement there? our esteemed State Department asks. Our foreign office's arrogance and condescendingly derogatory missives speaks to the imperfections of the British Empire -- recklessly drawing lines on maps of which their familiarity is limited but their imagination untempered.

And still, we the living will rage at our leaders, who will note their regrets, pause for retaliation, and then return to the bloodstained tables of Palestine. We live in a fanciful fairy tale, as if our crusade -- and struggle it is -- is somehow more noble and mercifully separate from the campaign waged by the grim men in olive uniforms. Indeed, our wars -- like our hopes and dreams -- are the same. I saw a photo after 9.11 showing Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres with their heads down in prayer. Between the wrinkles of these old men, their eyes betrayed an ominous recognition. The carnage, they have seen it before. The fires, they have burned as if it were burning at their feet. Even Peres, hopelessly dovish as he is, had a somber look of realization, short-lived as it proved to be.

Our obligation to aid our true friends only falters when we doubt ourselves. We wobbled when Britain wrested the Falklands back from the generals in Argentina. We wobble when the blood of innocents cascades the highways of Jerusalem. At the same time, we are all things to everyone, and nothing to those who matter.

The consequences of our appeasement-addled soliloquies aren't clear at the moment, but rest assured the chickens will come home to roost. It seems all so distant -- until a homicide bomber straps TNT to his belt and blows up a shopping mall or Starbucks in America. Do we need another attack for us to "get it?"

A lesson of my childhood is that there are people who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wondered what happened. I pray that we will not be in that third class when the next attack takes place. We should all know why by then.

ZoReview: Paulina Rubio, Border Girl
Mexican superstar Paulina crosses the bridge that Ricky Martin built, executing a beautifully conceived crossover album that's sure to raise eyebrows here in the USA. Rubio is something of a juggernauting phenomena, a chart-topping superdiva with a golden voice and a stunning allure. After hearing the CD on the way to work today, I think it is as competitive on every level with Shakira's Laundry Service English album, and perhaps better during certain cuts on the album. Her dance-clubby "Yo Sigo AquĆ­" makes a return appearance along with its new English-themed mirror twin. Britney, move out of the way!

Hey, let's get a shout-out to our UT readers today! It'll be fun!
"In country music, when choosing between Los Angeles and Nashville, choose Austin."

Monday, June 17, 2002

ZoNotes: You Can Check Out Anytime You Like, But You Can Never Leave...

...Gave Proof Thro' The Night, That Our Flag Was Still There...
Have mine eyes seen the glory? Well, actually not, as I slept through the U.S.-Mexico World Cup match, one could call it the "NAFTA Match." The Americans stepped on virgin ground, pulling off a stunning 2-0 upset over their archrivals to head to the Quarterfinals! From what I've been hearing this morning, Mexico dominated the flow of the game, but goals in the 8th and 65th minutes sealed Mexico's fate. It seems that many Mexican-Americans were conflicted as to who to root for. I indeed felt the same way, as I was really psyched when Mexico won Group G and had Italy on the ropes, but I had to stick with the USA on this one. Now America faces the Germans -- a reprise of the 1998 opener, when a weak U.S. team was thrown around by a tougher German squad.

...Spain advanced to the Quarterfinals in a hard-fought victory against Ireland, overcoming the plucky Irishmen in the penalty-kick period 1(3)-1(2). After hitting fast in the 8th minute, the Spaniards promptly resorted to the soccer version of the prevent defense, leading ZoMother Victoria Vergara to mutter "no wonder they lost their empire." Spanish goalie Iker Casillas made a name for himself, stopping one penalty kick in regulation time and then stopping 3 straight in the penalty-kick phase of the match. Hero he is for the Spaniards today, who face the winner of the Italy-Korea match.

The Lethality of Mistakes
During the Cold War the Soviets cultivated and maintained the world's most advanced and fearsome biological and chemical arsenals, weaponizing anthrax, smallpox, and producing a lethal array of nerve and blister agents. As thorough and organized as the Soviet arsenal was, there were incidents that could have produced a larger calamity if not treated immediately. There was the 1979 incident at Severdlosk, where anthrax aerosol was dispersed. Then, more ominously, there was the 1971 outbreak of smallpox -- the result of another accidental dispersal of aerosol. Security at Russian facilities is dismally poor, an infrastructure rotting after the fall of the Soviet monolith. And this is only the material we know about. Who knows how many "accidents" took place during the period that BIOPREPARAT administered the biologicals program?

Deep Throat Is...
NBC Dateline had a fascinating segment on Friday night (ok, Friday night and I'm at home watching Dateline? How lame is that?) on a class at the University of Illinois that spent a semester trying to answer the infamous question as to who provided Woodward and Bernstein with the vital information about the Watergate coverup. I originally thought it was Henry Kissinger -- he of the tremendous ego and chafing aspirations of grandeur. But that's been disproven. A comical aside, I thought that perhaps it was "Voodoo" economics lecturer and entertainer Ben Stein, who served in the Nixon White House. But did he have that kind of intimate access? Surprisingly, the Illinois students deduced that erstwhile presidential candidate and statist isolationist Pat Buchanan is Deep Throat, given his then-proximity to Woodward's apartment in the early 1970s. If so, this would be a bombshell from the simultaneously most likely and unlikely of sources -- Buchanan was a staunch loyalist, who then devolved into kook anger-candidate for President.

"No wonder they lost their empire!" -- Victoria Vergara, Ireland-Spain World Cup 02 match

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Iberian Notes becomes a permanently-linked part of the blog. Read and enjoy!