Friday, February 25, 2005

Today's Miscellany

Sexy Condi: The Washington Post reported today that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's black-on-black outfit, complete with long coat and spike-heeled boots, "spoke of sex and power" when she met American soldiers in Wiesbaden, Germany. All in all, not a bad article. (I wonder why no one ever wrote about Madeleine Albright this way?)

Rice challenges expectations and assumptions. There is undeniable authority in her long black jacket with its severe details and menacing silhouette. The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding. Black is the color of intellectualism, of abstinence, of penitence. If there is any symbolism to be gleaned from Rice's stark garments, it is that she is tough and focused enough for whatever task is at hand. ... She was not hiding behind matronliness, androgyny or the stereotype of the steel magnolia. Rice brought her full self to the world stage -- and that included her sexuality. It was not overt or inappropriate. If it was distracting, it is only because it is so rare.

Gaza and the Fence: Charles Krauthammer wrote on two recent decisions by the Israeli government, to finalize the withdrawal from Gaza and to complete the West Bank fence. This is a very thoughtful summary of the issues.

What changes with the Gaza withdrawal and the fence is that terrorism as a reliable weapon, a constant threat, a strategic asset, ceases to exist. And once that option is removed, the Palestinians will in time be forced to the collective conclusion that the world has been awaiting for 57 years -- that they cannot drive the Jews into the sea and must therefore negotiate a compromise for a permanent peace.

More Praise for Sharon: In an editorial the International Herald Tribune, using language consistent with its New York Times parentage, praised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the Gaza decision. Of course, their praise was back-handed, snide, and anti-Israel, but at least it shows a tiny crack in their normal leftist bias.

"Our Guys Stayed and Fought": David Ignatius looked at Iraqi-U.S. military cooperation and found an example of the kind of progress that can be reasonably expected in the future. Too bad we see so little of this kind of positive reporting in the media.

The Iraqi general looks over at his American adviser and says he's a brave soldier. "In the Mosul battle, he stood shoulder to shoulder with my men." It's obvious he could not pay a higher compliment. That's what success will look like in the training and advisory effort that is now the centerpiece of the U.S. military strategy in Iraq: Soldiers who have confidence in each other and are successful in battle.

Fixing the Democratic Party: "When the going gets tough, Democrats form commissions." So says E.J. Dionne, Jr., himself no raving Republican conservative. They're at it again, but they started before the last election. Maybe they knew more than they let on.

The awkwardness here is that many Democrats dissatisfied with the primary and caucus process were worried that an unknown outsider like, uh, well, Howard Dean might leverage early victories in Iowa and New Hampshire into unstoppable front-runner status. Before the party could catch its breath and properly vet the potential nominee, his victory would be assured.

More Cracks in the European Facade: The International Herald Tribune reported on the latest EU family squabble. Apparently, the Eurocrats decided to place more emphasis on English, French, and German with less on Spanish and Italian. The European experiment is high-minded but quixotic, as this and future problems related to national sovereignty will continue to show.

It shows that while Europeans are willing to merge their currencies in the euro and concede other sovereign powers to Brussels, they are not willing to give up their language. ... The subject of language is delicate in Brussels, where speeches often have to be repeated two or three times, press releases are issued in triplicate and earphones are a necessary accessory in meetings and conferences.

Dogmatic Thinking: Vladimir Shlapentokh, another Michigan State University professor, thinks there's too much dogmatic thinking and slavish observance of political correctness in the U.S. today. No joke, Doc.

[Harvard President Lawrence Summers] apology and clarification did not stop his persecutors. Summers has been attacked by the presidents of three major universities. Objectively, the goal of this campaign, as any other of this sort, is to destroy any reflection or scientific inquiry that could cast doubt on one of the most simplistic dogmas of political correctness, which suggests that men and women are genetically the same in all possible ways. ... Almost simultaneously we have seen another attack against the spirit of the Enlightenment, but this time by conservatives: The defenders of Intelligent Design ... To legitimize an antiscientific trend by writing under the guise of diversity is a terrible sin against the concept of progress.

Slimming Down the Air Force: A miracle! The New York Times has published an editorial regarding the military that's actually thoughtful, correct, and unbiased. Long known by military insiders for its excessive spending, unjustifiably rank-heavy force structure, emphasis on comfortable living, and officers who dye their hair to look younger, the Air Force is long overdue for some cost-cutting.

America's current military forces were designed for a very different kind of warfare than the prolonged counterinsurgency campaigns they are now involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. While it is always hard to predict the shape of future wars, no one seriously expects the reemergence of the high-tech superpower standoff that shaped today's Air Force. ... The Pentagon needs to reallocate its recruitment levels and spending accordingly, even if it means forcing the Air Force to accept a different role than the one it expected to have a decade or two ago.

A Nobel for Dubya?: In the Washington Times, Arnold Beichman makes a startling prediction certain to cause liberals to rush from the room, uncertain whether to swoon or vomit. Assuming, of course, they deign to read publications that challenge their biases.

The war in Iraq is the last gasp of Islamist fundamentalism. And it is to the credit of Mr. Bush that he has had the courage and foresight to see that the only road to peace in the Middle East is to bring the message of democracy to that area. ... I think by 2007 the world will realize that no statesman deserves the Nobel Peace Prize more than George W. Bush.

Texas Grave Robber: The Austin American-Statesman reported on a Texas man who, to avoid going to jail, faked his death by removing the body of a woman from her grave. He put the corpse in his car and set it on fire. It took a couple of years to figure it all out, but now the man, his wife, and an accomplice are in jail. And what's left of the woman's body is back in her grave. Oh yeah, and J.Lo is married--like, who cares?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is rather cute if a bit old-fashioned of you to get your juices flowing over Rice! It is what she does for her master and not how hot she gets you that counts, when you are not busy making snide remarks about the Dems. hint: conservativeshave a marker for beinbg nasty and venomous no matter what. Example Hunter Thopson dies...Wall st Jurnal and Weekly Standard both bad mouth him! let the friggin guy alone fact, he has made some cvhanges in jpuirnalism, but No..those dolts have to toss venom into his cremains jar.

7:26 AM, February 25, 2005  
Blogger Ms. Lori said...

To quote Cake: "I want a girl in a short skirt and a loooooong jacket."

Apparently, so does the Bushster. ;-)

8:12 AM, February 25, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Ms. Lori, I don't agree with all of Condi's views or all of the Bushter's policies, but I got to say, Condi is pretty cool. Oh well; being "cute if a bit old fashioned" isn't the worst thing that's ever been said about me!

8:40 AM, February 25, 2005  
Blogger M said...

As a liberal who does make an effort to read things that clash with my views, the Nobel Prize suggestion bothers me, not because of the suggestion that W. deserves it (ok, so that does bother me), but mostly because it seems a bit early to be making these predictions.

Islamic fundamentalism may very well be on its last leg, but Kissinger's 1973 Peace Prize still gives me Orwellian shivers. Let's not jump the gun. There's still a great deal of work to be done. Capture Osama, and the maybe we can start talking...

10:56 AM, February 25, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Mike, the columnist was serious, but I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek when I included that item. Truth is, I think there's progress in the Middle East, and Bush is responsible for it. But as you say, there's a long way to go.

As far as the Nobel Peace Prize is concerned, it's been seriously devalued along the way. Among others--Yasser Arafat, for God's sake?

3:22 PM, February 25, 2005  

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