:Archives (July 2003)

Monday July 28

Sports Over Politics

Lance Armstrong's amazing win of a 5th-straight Tour de France puts him in the ranks of the immortals. Yet it also reveals that sports transcends politics even in these dark days of war and terrorism.

The specter of Armstrong battling adversity to win a fifth Tour seemed to endear him a bit more to French cycling fans, who have always respected, but never loved, him. And despite the differences over policies on Iraq that drove the governments of Washington and Paris apart in the spring, there was little anti-Americanism evident among the tens of thousands who packed the Champs-Elysees.

In Paris, It's Vive le Lance [washingtonpost.com]

 Posted by glenn at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)

Johny English

He's dumb in the way that Peter Sellers was in the Pink Panther series, but the film Johnny English is a real side splitter. Watch out for the scene with the muscle relaxants.

 Posted by glenn at 10:38 AM | Comments (8)

Friday July 25

I Have A Dream

The National Park Service has added a small memorial plaque on the Lincoln Memorial steps at the precise location where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. Carving Out a Place in History [washingtonpost.com]. Very appropriate. Very cool. Shows how far this country has really come in the past 40 years on race relations. A little late, but clearly not too little.

 Posted by glenn at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday July 23

Republicans Nix Homeland Security Funding

Hard to believe that the Republicans oppose increasing funding for domestic homeland security, when everyone knows that states, first responders (i.e., police, fire, medical and public health authorities) and federal agencies are all struggling mightily with massive new security responsibilities. Senate Rejects Bid to Boost Homeland Security Funding [washingtonpost.com] A recent Council of Foreign Relations task force report warned in graphic language that local responders remain "dangerously unprepared" for a catastrophic attack.

The United States has not reached a sufficient level of emergency preparedness and remains dangerously unprepared to handle a catastrophic attack on American soil, particularly one involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents or coordinated high-impact conventional means.

The CFR report concludes that funding for emergency responders may need to be tripled over the next five years.

The Republicans, claiming budget woes when the Bush tax cuts have put the US in a new era of deficits, have just handed the otherwise lame-ass Demcrats a major campaign issue for 2004. Let's hope disaster does not strike in the interim.

 Posted by glenn at 09:50 AM | Comments (1)

Monday July 21

What a Tour


I am an unabashed Tour de France junkie. It's not that I know so much about -- or participate in -- bicycle racing, but the competition and sportsmanship in this event are really unequaled. Take today's stage in the mountains, when the second place rider (Jan Ullrich) stops in the middle of the race because the leader (Lance Armstong) falls. Armstrong Falls, But Still Leads Tour [ITV.com]. That harkens back to 2001, when Ullrich went down and Armstrong -- then, as now, the man wearing the "mailloux jeune" -- waited for his rival to remount, recover and catch up before accelerating again, saying "You don't attack a man when he's down." Classy, very classy.

 Posted by glenn at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday July 16

Yes, We Have Guerrillas!

The new general leading the US occupation of Iraq finally admitted yesterday -- despite the Bush Administration's denials -- that America faces a "guerrilla war." General Abizaid explained that the resistance is fighting a "classical guerrilla-style campaign" and that describing the opposition as using "guerrilla tactics" was "proper in strictly military terms."

Thank goodness for straight-talking miltary men!!

 Posted by glenn at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

Friday July 11

A Foreign Policy Liberal?

Terry M. Neal points out in the Washington Post that without the rationale of WMDs, the White House and the President's defenders have reverted to their fall-back humanitarian position -- that the removal of Saddam Hussein was justification enough for the Iraq war. That's a tradionally liberal perspective, souding a lot like the discredited Jimmy Carter "human rights" campaign of the late 1970s. Odd that when pressed to justify the war, Bush reverts to the very liberal ideas he, his father and their mentor Ronald Regan so vehemently oppose on principle.

The Administration now finds the human rights card a compelling rationale for the war -- one with which the left finds it difficult to disagree.

As Neal concludes, whatever the case, the argument that it is a good thing that Hussein is gone and the argument that the Bush Administration may have lied to or misled the public on the issue of weapons of mass destruction "are not mutually exclusive. Both could be true. And if they are, the former fact won't exonerate the President if the latter is true as well."

 Posted by glenn at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday July 10

This Is Serious

Seems that evolution has been a problem for us men in more ways that one. The "Y" chromosome -- the essence of maleness -- doesn't recombine during mitosis, so it is passed on whole from father to son over the generations. The Incredible Shrinking Y [IHT.com]. What this means is that the Y has been "sheeding genes furiously over the course of evolutionary time, and it is now a fraction of the size of its partner, the X chromosome." Holy penis envy!!


 Posted by glenn at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

Reasons To Believe

America and the Bush Administration are taking a worldwide and much-deserved beating after Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said yesterday that the US "did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass murder." For instance, the Candian Globe and Mail reports that "US Changes Reason for Invading Iraq." Rumsfeld's comments come on the heels of a White House announcement that a previous assertion that Iraq attempted to buy uranium from Africa was false. President Bush had included the accusation in his January 28 State of the Union address, even though Sec. of State Powell refused one week later to make the same claim to the United Nations.


Since Iraqi WMDs are proving elusive at best, this is certainly not going to help the standing of the United States in the global community. Unilateralism is one thing -- something I most definitely can approve of -- but ginning up fake rationales is quite another. Indeed, conservatives like Dan Pipes have taken things even further than the Administration, arguing that:

WMD was never the basic reason for the war. Nor was it the horrid repression in Iraq. Or the danger Saddam posed to his neighbors.

Talk about political damage control!! Using a public justification that is different from the hidden internal reason for the Iraq war, and one that is increasingly being shown to be based on false or overstated intelligence, makes the Iraq invasion seem much more like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution -- a deliberate lie that launched the Vietman War -- than the liberation mission it was advertised as to the American people and the world at large.

 Posted by glenn at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday July 9

Eliminating Options or Raising The Sea Level?

The headlines read "Microsoft Drops Stock Options," but the real news is that Redmond is concerned that options are no longer the employment lure they once were now that so many high-tech options are "underwater" after the stock market collapse of 2000-02. The small print in the story is that Microsoft is also devising a way that employees can sell underater options -- where the exercise price is greater than the stock's market price -- for cash to an investment bank. So while the press clamors on about the debate on expensing stock options, they're missed the point.

 Posted by glenn at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

Monday July 7

Guerrillas On Page One

Today's above-the-fold story on the front page of the Washington Post says that recent developments in Iraq "raise the specter of the U.S. occupation force becoming enmeshed in a full-blown guerrilla war." The Administration is clearly in trouble when Donald Rumsfeld's denial that the U.S. is now engaged in guerrilla warfare lasts less than one week.

 Posted by glenn at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

Fear of Acronyms

A new study by AMD, the chip maker, finds that consumers are intimated by the techno-babble associated with PCs and other high-tech devices. Perhaps the most signficant conclusion is that the PC industry is not getting the full value of their advertising dollars because "only slightly more than half of PC users understand the term 'megahertz' -- which is used in a vast majority of personal computer advertisements." Technology Jargon Frightens Joe Public [PC Pro]. This is undoubtedly the biggest surprise of all, because the one thing everyone -- expecially the Windows PC crowd -- assumed is that buyers know that faster is better. Turns out they don't know what fast is and can't even understand the speedometer!!


The larger issue is techno-phobia on a mass scale, epitomized by all those flashing clocks on VCRs. We are raising a society of spoon-fed morons, whose knowledge of everyday devices is steadily declining. What's the difference between knowing that bleach removes stains from clothing and that MP3 players depend on a certain bitrate to reproduce music with clarity? Maybe TV advertising of the former plays a part, but I think that consumers increasingly are afraid to learn about technology. For those neanderthals who are proud of the absence of technology in their personal lives, well, that's like putting your head in the sand. Their grandparents probably felt the same wey when refrigerators replaced ice boxes and when electric lighting replaced gaslights.

 Posted by glenn at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday July 3

Bring 'Em On?

President Bush has all but dared the Iraqi resistance to continue its hit-and-run attacks on US troops. "There are some who feel like conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. "My answer is: bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation." [Reuters]

This guy is certifiable. What an absolutely stupid thing to say. First of all, no commander in history has ever just dared the enemy to attack, especially when the enemy uses tactics that make our own troops sitting ducks. Second, as the Vietnam War (and Cuba, Afghanistan, etc.) shows, the guerrillas always win. Their mission is to inflict damage on the occupiers that takes a political toll, not to "win" militarily.

rumsfeld.jpgAt that, the Iraqi resistance is already succeeding. Current polls show a sharp drop in American support for continued occupation of Iraq in the face of 60 military deaths since Bush declared "major hostilites are over" on May 1. And at the same time, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has tried to deny that Iraq right now is a "guerrilla war."

The Administration is clearly defensive, and rightfully so. They're wrong and they know it. As Tom Lassiter observed for Knight-Ridder, "The Americans learned it the hard way in Vietnam, the Russians in Afghanistan, the British in Northern Ireland and now, it seems, the same scenario may be unfolding in Iraq."

Military officials in Iraq have for weeks described an opponent (or opponents) that doesn't appear part of a central command structure, isn't well organized and tends to attack in ambush-style operations. The opponent promotes Iraqis' discontent by spreading rumors and disrupting basic services through sabotaging power lines and, possibly, assassinating a Baghdad electricity official. Asked what all those pieces add up to, Maj. Sean Gibson, a top Army spokesman in Baghdad, said, "I know where you're going here. I studied guerrilla warfare too."

Update: The New York Times on Monday July 7 wrote of the "growing signs of guerrilla resistance to American forces" after three more soldiers were killed in a 12-hour period in Baghdad. (When the Times adopts terminology, you know it's gone mainstream, depsite Rumsfeld's denials.)

 Posted by glenn at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday July 2

Victims of Love

Commenting on Monday's dismissal of a class action lawsuit against Merrill Lynch for pushing Internet stocks recommended by analyst Henry Blodgett, Paul La Monica writes for CNN.com that "[t]he next time an Internet stock you bought for more than 100 times earnings plunges, it's your fault, not Wall Street's." That's great news, since it is manifestly true that ordinary investors got caught up in the hooplah of the Net bubble and -- like the professionals, too -- wanted to make a quick buck. Responsibility for investment decisions should be personal unless fraud or deception is involved.


The irony is that, at the same time the federal courts are reinforcing the concept of personal responsibility (see also the recent dismissal of a suit against McDonalds, for allegedly "causing" obesity), private industry is running scared. Kraft announced yesterday it is reformulating its mass-produced food products to make them leaner and more healthy, in part to avoid potential liability in tort. Kraft fears that the food processing industry may follow the tobacco industry in getting hammered by the legal process. And Congress has jumped into the controversy with the "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act," pending in the House of Representatives.

Stick to your guns, Kraft. Change your manufacturing and marketing strategies because it's the right thing to do, and good for business, not because of some wacko class action threats. A failed lawsuit has already been launched against Kraft by a man in California, seeking a ban on Oreo Cookies, one of America's favourite snacks. The law won't countenance ordinary decisions being turned into torts by "victims" trying to shift personal responsibility to third parties.

 Posted by glenn at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday July 1

Taking Lessons From the Supreme Court

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law requiring libraries to filter out pornographic and other adult Web sites from all computer users. Taking a page from the Court's playbook, the ruling mullahs in Iran now use the same filtering technology to suppress free speech and political dissent on the Internet.

Over 140 Web sites promoting opposition to the ruling Islamic establishment, dancing and sex have been blocked since the crackdown was launched last month. [USA Today Online] Most blocked sites belong to Iranian resistance groups, including one run by Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was toppled during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran's first-elected president after 1979, who now opposes the clerical establishment. The Iranian official responsible says the government is using the same U.S. technology employed to filter offensive content from library patrons, but that he's just "following orders from the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council," an unelected body controlled by Iranian hard-liners. Yeah, and so was the Supreme Court!!

 Posted by glenn at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)