Tobacco Road Fogey

'puters, politics, and occasional prattle.

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Friday, February 07, 2003


What to say about this:
Mikhail Gorbachev and Bill Clinton are following in the footsteps of Dame Edna Everage, Boris Karloff and David Bowie as they narrate a new recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.

The former leader of the Soviet Union will join the former US president in a special performance of the work by the Russian National Orchestra under the command of Grammy-winning conductor Kent Nagano. The recording will be Mr Gorbachev's English-language debut.

Gorby's got to be the wolf.

Wonder who's going to be playing Bill's flute?


Calling Inspector Clouseau...

The European Union's anti-fraud office is investigating the potential misuse of EU funds donated to the Palestinian Authority, a spokesman said Thursday.

The investigation follows allegations of corruption and claims by Israel that some of the funds have fallen into the hands of terrorists.

The EU provides more than $10 million of the PA's $90 million monthly budget and European money is meant to pay the salaries of public workers.

A spokesman for the anti-fraud office said that the investigation was sparked by information "from a number of sources over a number of months" but declined to get more specific.

Anti-fraud investigators refused to comment further on the allegations, and the spokesman said it was impossible to tell how long the inquiry might last.

Any wagers on what the EU anti-fraud inspectors will find and when they'll admit it.

My bets: nothing and never.


Slipped under the radar dept.

An interesting statement from the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Daniel Coats:
According to Coats, Germany should be worried about the consequences of its Iraq policy.

"Serious doubts have arisen in the American public whether Germany is still a dependable partner," he said. "This harms our relations, and it certainly harms Germany.

"There is always the possibility that behavior in other areas could also influence economic relations," he said.

Sounds to me like the Ambassador is suggesting that there might be an economic backlash in the U.S. against German-made products.

As my old economics professor used to say, money talks and BS walks.

Let's let our money talk, and we'll see where the German BS walks.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Dear Ambassador Villepin

You say that we need to increase the number of weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq.

I agree.

About two hundred thousand of them, wearing desert camouflage and packing M-16s.

Their predecessors did a heck of a job in western Europe in the mid 1940's. Found a whole pile of Hitler's secret weapons.

Found a whole bunch of documents containing the bureaucratic legacy of the Third Reich, too.

Hope your French companies sold Saddam a bunch of paper shredders, along with all the other goodies you sold him.

Because, if Saddam and his minions don't get rid of the evidence, we'll find it.

And then we'll know what kind of allies you guys really are.


You go, girl!

Great rant by Deb over at insomnomaniac. My wrists ache just from looking at it, but I think she says some things a lot of us have been thinking, if not saying quite so directly.

(link via Emperor Misha I)


A question for the peaceniks

Just what is it going to take for the Bush administration to "prove its case" against Iraq?

Can you even put it into words?

And if you can't put it into words, why should I give a damn what you think?


Talking tough

Richard Perle really laid it on the line with these comments:
"France is no longer the ally it once was," Perle said. And he went on to accuse French President Jacques Chirac of believing "deep in his soul that Saddam Hussein is preferable to any likely successor."

... "I have long thought that there were forces in France intent on reducing the American role in the world. That is more troubling than the stance of a German chancellor, who has been largely rejected by his own people," Perle said, referring to the sharp electoral defeat suffered by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party in state elections Sunday.

... "Very considerable damage has already been done to the Atlantic community, including NATO, by Germany and France," Perle said.

I have to differ with Mr. Perle on one point: the damage was done to the Atlantic community a long time ago, when the European states decided that bribing their own voters with social programs was more important than providing for their own defense. The cracks have been in the foundation for a couple of decades -- now they are breaking through to the surface where they are impossible to miss.

And I'm inclined to tell them to mix their own mortar for a change, if they can find anybody willing to get off the dole and do some heavy lifting for themselves.


An interesting observation

From a comment at Little Green Footballs:
The other terrible irony in this is that the leftie freaks who castigated Bush & Co. for "allowing" 9/11 to happen by "not connecting the dots" are the SAME leftie freaks who are trying so desperately to interfere with the connection of these new dots. Idiots!

It baffles me how some people can live with such an internal mass of self-contradiction.

In a word, it takes practice. Practice, practice, practice...

Right now, it suits the antiwar folks' agenda to not have the dots connected, so you can depend on them to raise any argument that prevents the connections from being made. They'll also attempt to add more and more dots to the figure, relevant or not, just to be obstructive. They can't offer anything constructive to the debate at this point, so they only have obstructive tactics left.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Shhh! You'll give away the secret.

Here is a superb article by Ralph Peters in the New York Post. A sample:
Today, claims of territorial sovereignty by dictators and illegitimate regimes amount to the biggest con in history. No matter how unfairly borders are drawn, no matter how monstrously tyrants behave toward their populations, no matter how ruthlessly a strongman seizes power, the world pretends that those who hold the reins in the capital city are entitled to do whatever they want on their own territory.

The current system is the greatest collective violation of human rights in our time. The United States must shatter this antiquated scam designed by kings and princes to protect their personal fiefdoms. In the 21st century, a government must earn its right to claim sovereignty.

For lack of a better word, this concept is revolutionary. Probably too revolutionary to ever gain any traction, but it does cast a whole new light on the notion of "legitimate" government. It's at least worth further debate.


Bass ackwards dept.

I got bruises on the bottom of my chin (from my jaw dropping open and striking my keyboard) when I read this from an op-ed piece in the Washington Post by former Senator Bill Bradley:
3. The president minimized the importance of allies in a war against Iraq, as he has in many other areas. The major foreign policy job of the American president is to maintain healthy relations with the great powers -- Europe, Russia, China and Japan. If the United States conveys a vision in which each power can find the realization of its own interests, that job is easier.
This is a stunning example of the left's obsession with process, rather than goals. The major foreign policy job of the American president is to take any and all actions that ensure that the activities of foreign governments and their citizens do not cause harm to U.S. citizens. Negotiation or consultation with foreign governments, great powers or not, is only one of the tools that a president can use to prevent harm to U.S. citizens.

It's no wonder that the left can't show any type of vision in foreign affairs -- they keep putting the cart before the horse. Adherence to process is a sign of dogmatism, not vision.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

A few quiet thoughts

I wonder if my sons and their peers will ever understand why a space disaster, like the one on Saturday morning, affects me so much. I'm sure they wonder why my voice grows husky when I try to speak about it; why I have to turn my eyes away when the TV shows the video of the waving, smiling astronauts on their way to the launch pad on that bright morning when the mission lay in front of them.

For them, space shuttle flights are routine events, like the World Series or the Super Bowl. The spacecraft goes up, stays a few days, and then returns.

Occasionally, a mission is special because it involves some sort of planned interaction with schoolchildren. They watch the downlinked video, usually a quick lesson about the physics of weightlessness. They see people and objects hanging in mid-air; water globules that shimmer and pulsate as if they were alive; the occasional video shot of the Earth drifting by below, with the blue of the oceans, the browns and greens of the land masses, and the white swirls of the clouds.

Sometimes, they work with their teachers to try to invent an experiment that might be carried aboard a shuttle mission. Should they send seeds for some common local plant to see if they grow the same way in zero gravity as they do in the backyards of our town? Maybe they'll try more of a chemistry experiment, precipitating crystals out of some solution to see how the lack of gravity affects the pattern of the crystal formation.

To my children and their peers, the space shuttle is a wondrous laboratory, where a fumbled item remains near your hand to be recovered with only slight inconvenience. To them, the video pictures of the Earth sent down from the shuttle confirm what they see on the globe and maps in their classroom -- the water and the land, the day and the night, the small Earth and the vastness of space.

My sons have known only a short time when the shuttles didn't fly. The oldest was barely a toddler when the Challenger flight went so horribly awry, and his brother was two months away from being born. They were far too young to notice the 32 months between January of 1986 and September of 1988 or to understand the hearings of the Rogers Commission. By the time they could relate to events in the greater world around them, shuttles were flying again.

Now, they'll know the grief that I've known twice before. The word "Columbia" will be forever associated with trails of smoke across the blue Texas sky, just as the word "Challenger" is associated, for me, with trails of smoke across a bright Florida sky.

They'll remember President Bush telling the nation that our astronauts were tragically lost, just as I remember President Reagan telling us about the loss of the Challenger and President Johnson telling us about the horrible fire that claimed the crew of Apollo 1 on the launchpad at the Cape.

To them, this is the first space tragedy they've had to face. They'll see and hear a national outpouring of grief and sympathy. Soon, they'll hear about a prestigious panel of experts convened to discover why this event happened and, in time, they'll get some answers.

The grief will pass and the wounds will heal, unless and until another space accident happens. Then they will be the ones remembering the brave men and women who lost their lives yesterday. Feelings from yesterday, today, and the days to come, stored deep in their memory, will come rushing back.

And then they'll know that it doesn't get any easier the second time.

And why their fathers, mothers, grandfathers, and grandmothers wept on that long-ago day.

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