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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Thursday, 20 November 2003

Topic: Iraq
Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar, and sometimes not...

Well, sometimes you find news in the oddest places - here from the magazine Cigar Aficionado by way of the NewsMax, the somewhat shrill far-to-the-right-of-most-ultraconservative-Republicans news service. General Tommy Franks gave Cigar Aficionado an interview, and heck, he led the successful war to take over and occupy Iraq. So he must know a thing or two.

Interesting observations from the General? Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government. Well, that is possible.

Being pessimistic, or realistic depending on your mood, he says "the worst thing that could happen" is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.

"It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world - it may be in the United States of America - that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important."

And Franks ends with this: "It's not in the history of civilization for peace ever to reign. Never has in the history of man. ... I doubt that we'll ever have a time when the world will actually be at peace."

You'll have to buy a hard copy of Cigar Aficionado to read the whole interview.

A detailed summary with many more quotes in here:
Gen. Franks Doubts Constitution Will Survive WMD Attack
John O. Edwards, Friday, Nov. 21, 2003

Posted by Alan at 20:15 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 9 December 2003 14:50 PST home

Topic: The Media
When good Canadians go bad....

What is it with conservative right-wing media barons?

I was living and working in Canada in the late nineties when Conrad Black, who owned a good share of the smaller newspapers in Canada, and some radio, television and magazine interests, renounced his Canadian citizenship so he could accept a peerage from Queen Elizabeth. Well, he was also running the successful and conservative (Tory) Telegraph newspaper in London. So he "went for it." He became a UK citizen and the new Lord Black of Crossharbour. Then the century ended and I resigned my position in London, Ontario and returned to Hollywood. And Conrad Black took his seat in the House of Lords.

Well, four days ago, Lord Black of Crossharbour abruptly resigned from position as head of his media empire, Hollinger International. One of the disgruntled shareholders proved Black had sort of siphoned off thirty-two million dollars of the organization's money for himself, and his friends and family. Oops.

Daniel Gross in the article you can link to below points out who those folks are. And it identifies those who were on the board of directors.

Henry Kissinger: "There's former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (a director since 1996), who would seem to have little insight into the business challenges facing a newspaper company--think newsprint prices, union contracts, the impact of the digital era on newspapers. (Strategic bombing of media competitors, after all, is typically not an option.) He evidently agreed: While the Board met four times in 2002, the proxy notes that `Mr. Kissinger did not attend 75% or more of the aggregate of the total number of meetings of the Board of Directors and the total number of meetings of the committees on which such director served.' In other words, in exchange for his $35,000 director's fee, Kissinger attended at most one meeting--and possibly none."


And there was the Honorable Richard Burt, the former arms negotiator and Reagan-era ambassador to Germany; the Honorable James Thompson, the former Republican governor of Illinois; and the Honorable Richard Perle. The Honorable Robert Strauss, the Republican former ambassador to the Soviet Union, served on the board for six years but left in 2002.

What a crew! Richard Perle of course has been under fire for being a key member of our Defense Policy Board and one of the administration's chief spokesmen on why we're at war - the hawk of hawks - while making a lot of money for his friends because of the war. And even more of that is documented here.

Well, the business got driven into the ground. But Perle is still the key man who directs our foreign policy, or one of the key men.

Daniel Gross comments that "putting a bunch of right-wingers with occasionally dubious foreign policy credentials in the position of directing a profit-making business seems almost as illogical as putting a bunch of right-wingers with occasionally dubious business credentials in charge of foreign policy."

Hollinger International Inc.
Chicago Newspaper Network Chicago, Illinois
Chicago Sun-Times Chicago, Illinois
Daily Southtown Chicago and Southern Suburbs
Pioneer Press Suburban Chicago (Gateway to 48 sites)
Star Newspapers South and Southwestern Suburban Chicago (Gateway to 20 sites)
Suburban Chicago Newspapers Suburban Chicago (Gateway to six sites)
Post-Tribune Northwest Indiana
The Daily Telegraph London, UK
The Jerusalem Post Jerusalem, Israel
La Rep?blica San Jos?, Costa Rica

The article is here:

Man Overboard: Conrad Black's retinue of insiders, cronies, and clunkers
Daniel Gross - Posted Thursday, Nov. 20, 2003, at 1:37 PM PT SLATE.COM

And you'll find a related article here from a magazine named "Forward" where one Nathaniel Popper points out that not just Conrad Black resigned, but F. David Radler who oversaw the Jerusalem Post. Who is going to now assert Ariel Sharon is "a man of peace" - besides George Bush?
Hollinger Woes Casting a Pall Over Future of Neocon Papers

Posted by Alan at 17:53 PST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 9 December 2003 14:51 PST home

Topic: Election Notes
Don't you just love polls? This one is from the Los Angeles Times. We do "life-style" out here.

Those who drink wine with dinner prefer a Democrat over Bush for 2004 by seven percentage points, and those who drink beer back Bush over a Democrat by twenty-three points.

Ah HA !

Men prefer Bush over a Democrat by eight percentage points, while women prefer a Democrat by sixteen points. Whites give Bush an eleven-point lead; minorities prefer a Democrat by forty-one percentage points. Among white men, Bush's lead swells to fifty-one percent to twenty-eight percent, while white women split evenly.

Single voters give the Democrat a twenty-point edge, while married voters narrowly prefer Bush. I have no idea why.

Church attendance, a critical predictor of support in 2000, remains telling: Bush leads by thirteen points among voters who attend church at least once a week, while trailing narrowly among those who attend monthly, and running fifteen points behind among those who rarely or never attend. Of course.

Urban voters prefer the Democrat by two to one, while rural voters back Bush by more than two to one. Ah, cities ruin you, right? Go there and you get all corrupted by them there panty-waist liberal gay folks.

And the usual - voters who think abortion should be illegal, gay marriage banned and gun control laws loosened all strongly prefer Bush; those on the opposite side of those issues bend even more sharply toward the Democrats. Yeah, yeah.

But get this - Democrats lead Bush both among Americans earning less than $40,000 annually and families earning $60,000 to $100,000 -- Bush leads strongly among families clustered right around the median income -- those earning between $40,000 to just under $60,000 -- and those who earn more than $100,000 a year. Fascinating.

The full results are here:
Doubts Create a Voter Split Over Bush ... Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, November 20, 2003

Posted by Alan at 16:49 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 9 December 2003 14:51 PST home

Topic: Iraq
Iraq - Our war was legal (Bush)
I knew that (Blair)
It wasn't legal at all (Richard Perle of the Defense Policy Board, which advises the US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld)

What's this all about? Our point man, our hawk of hawks, Richard Perle, Wednesday night at an event organized by the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, discussing the invasion and take-over of Iraq said this: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing." French intransigence, he added, meant there had been "no practical mechanism consistent with the rules of the UN for dealing with Saddam Hussein".

Perle of course had argued loudly for the toppling of the Saddam Hussein since the end of the 1991 Gulf war.

The problem? George Bush and his guys had consistently argued that the war was legal either because of existing UN Security Council resolutions on Iraq - and that was also the British government's publicly stated view - or as an act of self-defense permitted by international law. The main argument of the United States has been that the invasion was justified under the UN charter, which guarantees the right of each state to self-defense, including pre-emptive self-defense. On the night bombing began, in March, Bush flat out quoted America's "sovereign authority to use force" to defeat the threat from Baghdad.

Now our point man says, well, not exactly. This is a big "oops."

"They're just not interested in international law, are they?" said Linda Hugl, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which launched a high court challenge to the war's legality last year. "It's only when the law suits them that they want to use it."

Well, the British folks never advanced the suggestion that they were entitled to act, or right to act, contrary to international law in relation to Iraq. Now what?

Talk about insulting your hosts!

You might recall Richard Perle resigned his chairmanship of the Defense Policy Board earlier this year but remained a member of the advisory board. I guess he's a bit of a loose cannon.

But most folks agree the most American voters don't give a rap. Michael Dorf, a law professor at Columbia University on the matter: "I suspect a majority of the American public would have supported the invasion almost exactly to the same degree that they in fact did, had the administration said that all along."

We've pulled out of a lot of treaties, like Kyoto and the International Tribunal thing, and we think everyone should agree to fair trade laws - except we reserve the right to put tariffs on steel even if the WTO says that's a treaty violation, and even if yesterday we put big tariffs on finished goods from China. International rules? International laws? Others should follow them.

Read all about this here: War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal ... Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger - The Guardian (UK) - Thursday November 20, 2003

Posted by Alan at 16:28 PST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 9 December 2003 14:52 PST home

On geography as a weapon....
Topic: Election Notes
This is funny. Michael Kinsley runs down what folks think about where you live.

You folks in Georgia? "...the South--out of the American mainstream. It's full of poor people. Everyone's married to his cousin. They eat horrible, fatty lower-class foods. My dear, it's Hicksville, plain and simple. Read your Faulkner--these people are sicko."

You folks in Vermont? "But now Vermont is in last place. Why? It's in New England--out of the American mainstream. There aren't enough poor people there. Everyone's married to her girlfriend--or will be soon. They eat horrible, fatty upper-class cheese. And, of course, that hoity-toity ice cream. Man, it's Snotsville. Read your Cheever or your John O'Hara--the guy really comes from Park Avenue after all. These people are wacko."

You folks in the Boston area? "In 1988, Republicans painted Massachusetts as a foreign country and Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis as an elitist, compared with that po' boy from Texas, the elder George Bush. Massachusetts, to its credit, is a bit south of Vermont. On the other hand, it is full of universities. Need we say more?"

New York (the city)? "...not the real America. Urban. Ethnic. Noisy, crowded, dirty."

Ah yes, geographical chauvinism. And I live in Hollywood. [ insert clich?s here. ]

And indeed, whoever thought "bucolic" would be a fighting word?

There is a good deal too here on more serious matters, like what experience you really do need to do the job if you manage to get elected President.

Good stuff.

Attack Geography - Hey, buddy, who do you think you're calling "bucolic"?
Michael Kinsley Posted Thursday, Nov. 20, 2003, at 10:58 AM PT SLATE.COM

Posted by Alan at 11:59 PST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 9 December 2003 14:53 PST home

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