‘A process of unilateral disarmament in the weapons of advocacy’:
Ha, a new Why They Hate Us
study! ... Sounds like a desperate and highly politicized report by a team of PR experts lining up to get first dibs on contracts to implement a desperate and highly politicized PR campaign. ... How about implementing a foreign policy that builds upon traditional (and highly successful) post-WWII American idealism and realism -- and openly rejects radical neoconservative talk about Pax America empire building? ... From the same article: “The report added that ‘spin’ and manipulative public relations ‘are not the answer,’ but that neither is avoiding the debate.” ... How much do you want to bet "spin" and "manipulative public relations" and throwing tons of money at the problem become the primary part of the answer? ...
-- Decent (not great) column by John Hughes
on the UN. My main contention is that it's not going away, so deal with it, and effectively, as did every president from Truman through George Herbert Walker Bush.
'The fools who challenged me': Cosmo
is absolutely gloating over his lead in the Herald fantasy football league. ... He's not nearly as obnoxious as I was after I won a huge Super Bowl pool a few years back, stuffing five dollar bills in friends' shirts and telling the losers to buy new ties.
‘His company is treading where diplomacy has failed’:
An interesting -- and refreshingly different -- take on Africa
by the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor. Instead of the usual hand-wringing about Western colonialism and lack of big-government development programs, some young, Western-educated African entrepreneurs and leaders know it’s time for Africa to help itself. Here’s profile of the MIT-trained founder of Africa Online
. And here’s another on a young woman who got her MBA degree
at George Washington and went on to found Africa’s largest private bank. ... FYI: During my trip to Africa, MBA educations were a hot, hot item in West Africa, with signs plastered all over, advertising various business-school programs. A typical sign would often say something like ‘Boston MBA School’ or ‘Boston School of Management.’ Lord knows what type of nightmare entrepreneurial scams they were pulling. But slapping the name ‘Boston’ in the title was obvioulsy a tres cool way to evoke prestige. ... The ultimate problem facing African development: government corruption. ... Says the Africa Online founder on why he refused to pay out handsome bribes: “It was like being part of the mafia."
John Hancock, adieu:
No matter how you look at, it’s a sad day in Boston's corporate history. Here’s the Herald’s story
and the Globe’s
‘I don't agree with his stance’:
One of those rare instances when U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy
actually sounds intelligent. Patrick Kennedy on Iraq and his father’s criticism of President Bush: “‘I don't agree with his (Ted’s) stance. ... (Saddam Hussein had) the worst track record of any international leader in the history of the U.N. ... I believe that the U.N. needs to be a viable international organization and the only way it is viable is if its proclamations and resolutions are enforced. ... I think the country is much safer off without Saddam Hussein. ... I do agree with my dad on his criticism that the president didn't involve the international community and didn't have an endgame strategy.” ...
Hmmm. When Patches adequately articulates your views -- supporting the war and post-war efforts, while remaining miffed at the clumsy and ultimately damaging way the president handled pre-war diplomacy and the post-war diplomatic flip-flops -- then you know it’s time to throw in the rhetorical towel and stop the Hub Blog rants on the issue.
‘A fail-safe against ghastly lapses in judgment’:
Chicago Tribune blogger Eric Zorn
writes on, well, blogging and “l'affaire
Bee” ... Excellent points about mainstream journalism’s logical but awkward attempt to get into blogging. God, I’d love to have a good copy editor breeze through Hub Blog now and then, but... ... Read below Zorn’s l’affaire
Bee item. Good posts on Illinois politics, if you’re interested. (Via Instapundit
-- My God, Mickey Kaus
is having a ball covering the California recall, citing said Bee blogger Daniel Weintraub
and ripping into the LA Times at every opportunity. (He's now encouraging LA Times staffers to email him. Scroll down for Mickey's source ad. He'll undoubtedly get some takers.)
‘Like a pack of starving dogs let loose in a vat full of pork chops’:
That’s how WaPo
described the game and the post-game celebration after last night’s playoff clincher.
Here’s the NYT take
on the little party that merely hints at what will happen if they ever win the big one. ... The Sox have been in the postseason only 10 times since 1918 -- and Tim Wakefield has been in four of them.
Obvious best quote of the night from the same tidbits article: "Can you imagine if we actually won something?" Other good quotes (match ‘em up to the speaker before reading, if you want): “There were times they could have shot us and they didn't.” And: "Instead of telling me, 'You suck,' they were telling me, 'Good job,' which is always nice." ... Some feel bliss at times like these, but Gerry Callahan
, like a good Bostonian, thinks revenge: HBO, you suck.
Answer to the Super Duper Hub Blog Trivia Question:
Reader Dave writes in: "Winfield S. Hancock (D) defeated in 1880 by Garfield." He also sends in this link about past general presidents/candidates
from Slate. ... I shall inform the bartender about the answer.
‘Nor did they seem eager to help,’ Part II
-- Andrew Sullivan
has an interesting post (See ‘Clark/Kerry’s case’) on the UN and the dramatic diplomatic showdown in late 2002 and early 2003 involving London, Paris and Washington, with Andrew persuasively concluding French intransigence would have foiled any attempt to draw the UN into our Iraq-war orbit. But there’s one problem: The UN drama didn’t start last fall. It played out throughout all of 2002, climaxing, in my opinion, in August, when Chancellor Schroder narrowly won re-election in Germany after appealing to many voters’ vulgar anti-Americanism. It’s now part of the historical record that the German election was considered a “wake-up call’’ to the administration, which recognized its prior harsh rhetoric and dismissal of the UN had frightened many Germans and forced them into the arms of the ever opportunistic Herr Schroder. Had the German conservatives won or had Schroder been maneuvered into a less harsh and desperate anti-American stance, France would have been isolated. Never one to be caught on the wrong side of the balance of power, France would not have acted the way it did without German support. The Russian position, by the way, also hinged a bit on the German election outcome. ... The UN game, in retrospect, was over -- game, set, match point -- when Schroder won re-election. This clumsy, ever flip-flopping administration diplomatically blew it with its odious rhetoric, trial balloons about not needing Congressional support for the Iraq war, dismissal of the UN -- and then going back to the UN in fall 2002 when it was too late. ... Getting outmaneuvered by the French: embarrassing.
-- ‘A Vague Pitch Leaves Mostly Puzzlement.’
Well, no shit, Sherlock. The weird speech merely reflects the administration’s schizoid attitude toward the UN. The president is now in the awkward position of trying to come across as being consistent in his past rhetoric and diplomacy. He now needs the cash and help he should have anticipated needing.
‘Nor did they seem eager to help’:
Why did Bush even bother to show up
, after all the trash talking of last year
? He should have toned down his rhetoric last year
, gone through the meaningless motions of respecting the UN last year
, patting them on the head and pretending not to ignore them last year
, anticipating being in the position he’s in today last year
. ... It’s called smart diplomacy
. ... Now he’s out with his nationally humiliating tin cup this year
. ... Getting outmaneuvered by the French: embarrassing.
, this poll
should not be surprising, coupled with an $87 billion Iraq price tag, ballooing federal deficits, a jobless recovery, a domestic policy that veers from Supply Side to Keynesian depending on the moment and necessity, etc. etc. etc.
Hub Blog’s Super Duper Trivia Question:
A bartender (the shock!) asked the following question to a bunch of stunned regulars: When was the last serious presidential candidacy by a former American general who openly described himself as a Democrat -- before Wesley Clark? Think about it -- not to mention its historical implications. ... Hub Blog doesn’t know the answer. I’m sure there are absolutely screwy and embarrassingly obvious answers. But all I could come up with was: McClellan. ... Remember: ‘Serious.’ Or ‘Somewhat serious,’ to be fair. So don’t give me some "Oh, there was a 'Bull-Something Or Other’ at the height of the Civil Rights movement." ... I’m talking serious. ... I’m stumped! ... Seriously!
-- Reader Dave writes in: "I think you're right about McClellan, preceded by Franklin Pierce, a brigadier general (the only successful Democratic general)."
Is he Lincoln or is he Hitler?:
Love watching the extremists argue, argue, argue, trying desperately not to lose an argument. One knows they’re off their rockers when they compare Bush to Lincoln
and, on the other side of the argument, to Herr Hitler and the Goebbels propoganda machine.
... (Thanks to Reader BK for the Lincoln item; Hitler item via Andrew Sullivan
-- A handful of readers, whose opinions I respect, gently (and convincingly) chastised me for referring to Victor Davis Hanson as an ‘extremist’ in the above item. Made me think whether Andrew Greeley is also an ‘extremist.’ Answer to both: No. Got carried away. Guess I’m guilty of the same type of rhetorical extremism I’ve been condemning. But I will say this: Comparing Bush to Lincoln or Hitler is absolutely ludicrous. They were both off their rockers for saying so, temporarily. That, I will not back down from. ... One reader suggested I read Victor’s “Meixfornia.’’ And I shall. But after Slavomir Rawicz’s “The Long Walk” and Rick Atkinson’s “An Army At Dawn.”
Larry Summers and James Bryant Conant?:
The mere fact the two are mentioned together says much about the possibly profound changes under way at Harvard University.
Summers appears to be winning, but not “winning” in the traditional Culture Wars sense. He’s cajoling the faculty back to some type of “core” curriculum but pushing the university toward more scientific studies. ... The Good News: There seems to a consensus that things should be somewhat radically tightened up. ... He’s definitely walking a tightrope, though. Very subtle diplomacy going on in Cambridge. ... Curious to see what happens.
FYI: If anyone thinks this doesn’t mean a lot to our local and national education and economic systems, they have a screw loose. Harvard doesn’t have the clout it once had, but it still has enormous, enormous clout. ...
'Who's radicalizing Indonesia's schools?': Guess who.
‘I just love your accent!’:
The Phoenix’s Chris ‘Tom-ah-to’ Wright
has a funny column about going on holiday to his native England, where they’re not quite as, well, sophisticated as starry-eyed Americans think. Chris on a fellow Brit passenger on a train: “Looking at this individual, I found myself wanting to grab the entire US population by the scruff of the neck, drag them onto this train, and say, ‘See
!’ The guy was perfect, a prototypical example of Britannus vulgaris
. A neck like a torso and a face the color of raw liver. His beer belly strained against the material of an England soccer shirt.” ... His description of an English breakfast is too horrid for this family friendly weblog to post. ... Definitely not another Under the Tuscan Sun fantasy column for the haute bourgeois, thank goodness. ...
FYI: Hub Blog has launched a one-man war against the American artistic types, aspiring to world snobbery and dominance, who pronounce "schedule" by saying "shed-oo-el," not "sked-oo-el." I’ve been hearing the BBC pronunciation too often lately. I even heard it in -- gasp! -- the Herald newsroom, by a young intern, on the feature desk, of course. ... Hub Blog is also coming oh-so-close close to declaring war on stainless-steel refrigirators and aircraft-carrier sized kitchen "islands." But two-front wars are never a good idea, so I'll leave that battle for later.
Of Ellen Goodman, Isabel, and, of course, Fernie Flaman:
Both David and John Farrell
have a lot of good posts. Check 'em out.
Scribe bids bye-bye to Bennifer:
Hub Blog gets a piece of the Bennifer action by letting Matt Labash have the last word
: “Together, they resembled a blight, or even an unnatural disaster, two insatiable termites eating their way through the cultural rot of front-porch America.”
‘Sporting the King's signature black pompadour and mutton-chop sideburns’
: From Bennifer to Elvis
: “A moth-eaten Elvis impersonator slaughtered a man he just met with a machete after a night of boozing and brawling, then impaled his body to the floor before calling 911 to report ‘a sudden death,’ authorities said.”
You can’t make this up. ... There must be a Tabloid God in the sky. ... Hub Blog needs only a beautiful Page 3 girl to make this a trifecta day of posts.
-- Found the Page 3 girl!! Over at Boston's very own Oliver Willis
, of course. FYI: She’s below Oliver’s announcement he’s running for president: “Willis vowed to ‘take on President Bush, illustrating the stupidity of his policies through bar graphs, bad jokes, and frequent imagery utilizing half-naked women. It will be a campaign that screams: tacky American.’ ”
I’m not panicking? Are you? Nahhhhh: Rosevelt Colvin
is out for the year. Lawyer Milloy is gone, because his subtle leadership qualities couldn’t be measured by the bottom-line bean counters. ... Thank goodness for Willie McGinest.
‘So you blow it up yourself’: Dennis Miller
thinks John Kerry is deliberately sabotaging his own presidential campaign. ... (Scroll down to about the middle for Kerry item. … Thanks to Reader No. 1 for the link.)
‘This was made up in Texas’: Ted Kennedy
has gone over the top. The quasi-conspiracy-theory nature of his attacks on the Bush administration’s Iraq policy are just weird and often just historically wrong. Example: “This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. ... This whole thing was a fraud.” ... Um, er, well, what about the administration’s fatuous talk of going after Saddam only hours after the Sept. 11, 2001 WTC attacks? What about the Axis of Evil speech in early 2002? What about the entire, drawn-out debate during 2002 over Iraq, weapons inspections, pissing all over Europe and the UN? What about John Kerry’s vote last fall to authorize force if Saddam didn’t comply with UN demands? Texas? January? Please. ...
Like most criticisms, there are elements of truth to what Kennedy says, including the administration’s rush to war in Iraq (see above Sept. 11 reference), the shifting explanations for the conflict, etc. Hub Blog, a wobbly warrior from the start, would add the following: the administration’s trashing of allies and the UN, promoting an openly imperial/Woodrow Wilson like foreign policy, the boasting “bring ‘em on” comment to cover up for lack of WMD, the crass politicizing of the war (landing on an aircraft carrier in pilots’ garb -- for Christ’s sake!).
FYI: Here’s what Kennedy said after hostilities broke out in Iraq last March
“Our thoughts and our heartfelt prayers are also with our president. ... We join our president in pledging our commitment to victory, to disarm Saddam and to bring freedom and opportunity to all the people of Iraq.”
Seems like we achieved some of those aims, at least. The senator should try to find some of the graceful equilibrium that gave that rhetoric meaning last March. Otherwise, his latest comments, coming so soon before the presidential primaries and election, smack of the same type of politics he’s denouncing. (Scroll down a bit to see the March Kennedy quote.)
-- Not sure I believe everything Gerhard Schroder
says, either. But he does sound like a guy who's reaching out and not all that comfortable with Germany's exclusive footsie playing with the French. ... Watch the Bush administration bungle this one too. ... Getting diplomatically outmaneuvered by the French: embarrassing.
A Tale of Two Europes:
One can get depressed reading this Tom Friedman column
about French spite, malice and insecurity. Or one can feel better about some Europeans by reading this op-ed by Vaclav Havel, Arpad Goncz and Lech Walesa
. ... Unfortunately, Havel, Goncz and Walesa are slowly fading into the past, while the future appears to belong to the bourgeois hip Dominique de Villepin and the rest of his balance-of-power groupies.
'Squash them like an ant':
Just finished Bernard Lewis' 'The Crisis of Islam'
and then see this Christian Science Monitor article
on Wahhabi involvement in attacks on American troops in Iraq (via Instapundit
). ... Lewis just demolishes the notion these people have legitimate modern grievances. They're still in the 7th Century.
‘I've never seen anything like this in 22 years’:
And neither has Hub Blog in 22 years: An honest-to-God interesting city council election. Don’t care where, who or how we get it. Just shake it up. Tom Keane
has the scoop.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this in 22 years,’ Part II:
It’s a trifecta! Yesterday, it was Joan
Today it’s Scot.
Tomorrow? My money's on Adrian
(who's also getting into the city council elections, FYI). If JFK II hasn't won over Morrissey Boulevard yet, then ... I can’t believe Joan got so much doo-doo last year (or was it earlier this year?) for writing her ‘Who’s John Kerry?’ column. People are still asking that damn question. It was valid then. It’s painfully obvious now.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this in 22 years,’ Part III: Shut up!
One week of late-night bars isn’t going to destroy the city’s quality of life. ... You knew something like this would happen. Glad to see the city isn’t backing down, for a change. ... Forget about 22 years. Boston has never held a convention like this. Let’s show off the town and give reporters (oops, I mean delegates) something to do after those late-night deadlines (oops, I mean convention activities).
Update to Part II:
Mickey Kaus thinks he may have found a 'solid bid' for the 'Why-Is-John-Kerry-So-Loathsome? Mystery Challenge.'
(Scroll down a bit after Mickey's California recall info.)
‘The staff purge begins ...’: John Ellis
has some choice words about the Kerry meltdown.
A murder in the neighborhood:
Forget when I last wrote about it, but the crime issue really is becoming a problem -- and it’s no longer about burglaries. This Beacon Hill murder
, just two blocks from my pad, is notable, and therefore ominous, precisely because it fails to shock.
-- Just found the 'I'm moving out of the city'
item about local crime. Crime stats say one thing. Empirical evidence says another. ... FYI: I'm not moving out of the city. That was a reader speaking.
Wow.: John Burns
uncorks. And I mean uncorks. Here’s the NYT’s Pulitzer prize-winning Burns on covering the war in Iraq and handling the Iraqi PR machine -- and handling the truth in a totalitarian society:
“If something happens to me, you will go before an American military tribunal and I wouldn't be surprised if you were shot. So you better do something to stop it."
“I would say there are serious lessons to be learned.”
“It's not impossible to tell the truth.”
“I have a conviction about closed societies, that they're actually much easier to report on than they seem, because the act of closure is itself revealing. Every lie tells you a truth. If you just leave your eyes and ears open, it's extremely revealing.”
“There is such a thing as absolute evil.”
“It's not just journalists who turned a blind eye.”
“For some reason or another, Mr. Bush chose to make his principal case on weapons of mass destruction, which is still an open case. This war could have been justified any time on the basis of human rights, alone.”
“There is corruption in our business. We need to get back to basics.”
Hub Blog’s response:
Yikes! Take your pick. My favorite is: “If something happens to me, you will go before an American military tribunal and I wouldn't be surprised if you were shot." Sounds like another reporter we know, Jules Crittenden
, who deserves a Pulitzer himself.
Thanks to Reader BK for the link.
'Liberal authors triumphant ...':
A somewhat interesting story about how liberal authors
are now, for the moment, dominating the bestseller lists. Many reasons offered. But Hub Blog thinks it has something to do, in part, with liberals getting down from their snobby high-horses and mixing it up in the trenches. The more successful books disect the arguments and exaggerations on the right through wit and a dash of populism. Sort of what Howard Dean
is now doing. Sort of how Oliver Willis
makes his blog so fun. ... The populism part is important. It usually (though not in the case of Michael Moore) leads to less doctrainare/upper-middle-class whining and a lot less PC. ... Hope it lasts, though I don't agree with a lot of what they say. As conservative economists say: Competition is good.
Flypaper or Body-count strategy?:
The entire ‘flypaper’ argument for why and how we should fight the Major-Combat-Is-Over War in Iraq is utterly intriguing, from a purely argumentative standpoint. It has all the hallmarks of an after-the-fact argument to justify a contemporary bad predicament, despite Andrew Sullivan’s ad-hoc ad-hoc disclaimers.
Did we hear anything from the administration about the great ‘flypaper’ strategy before the war in Iraq? Why didn’t we use the ‘flypaper’ strategy in Afghanistan where we already had boots on the ground? Why didn’t George throw down the "bring ‘em on" gauntlet then? ... The obvious answer to the first question: No. The obvious answer to the second and third questions: Because that was never the hare-brained strategy. Obvious conclusion: As Andrew's own source said, the flypaper strategy is part of a worst-case scenario, not some sort of brilliant ploy to take the battle to the terrorists. ...
Here's why it's both bad argument and horrible strategy:
The ‘flypaper’ strategy and the need to stabilize Iraq are in contradiction to one another. If our strategy is truly ‘flypaper,’ then you can kiss stabilization good-bye. One can't call for a great "bring 'em on" battle and say you're for stabilization at the same time. The idea, I thought, was to destroy and rid Iraq of terrorists so we can help build a stable and democratic Iraq -- not entice terrorists from around the region and world to take us on mano-mano. And President Bush is saying "bring 'em on"? Well, it wouldn't be the first time he's said one macho thing and done another. He's now asking for more UN/international troops in Iraq, after all. ...
... Here’s where I might sound like a Quagmire Critic:
Read “A Bright Shining Lie,”
Neil Sheehan's classic account of the Vietnam War. The generals who lost that war were committed to a ‘flypaper’ strategy, only they called it ‘body counts.’ There were many visionary (and utterly frustrated) younger generals who believed the attrition strategy was doomed from the start. They wanted small commando teams hunting down VC and NVR (similar to what we're doing now in Afghanistan), not to put a notch on their body-count lists, but to rid the country of terrorists and to strike fear in anyone tempted to partake in the struggle. They wanted to give South Vietnam breathing room to regroup, grow stronger and defend itself. ...
How silly is the Iraq ‘flypaper’ argument getting? One of its biggest proponents, Sullivan, is highlighting an ‘Email of the Day’
from a Civil War buff comparing the Battle of Gettysburg to the alleged ‘flypaper’ strategy in Iraq. Andrew, who’s British, obviously doesn’t know his Civil War history and can be forgiven. It was Lee who rejected the vehement arguments of Longstreet to avoid a fight at Gettysburg and to simply outflank Little Roundtop. Lee had choices. He chose wrong.
Sending Geoghan to his doom: DOC and one of its guards
clearly thought society hadn't rendered an appropriate punishment. So, repeat, they appointed themselves judge, jury and knowingly left it to someone else to be the executioner. That's what this scandal comes down to. ...
The blogger behind the Dean blog
: Joanna Weiss profiles Mathew Gross
, the blogger who should serve as inspiration for all of us yearning to get paid for this one day. How did he get his blogging job with Howard Dean?
He simply proposed and then applied for the previously non-existent job. ... So that’s how it’s done! ... The land-rush/sign-war item on Dean’s blog ain’t bad, but the rest of the site lacks spark these days. Lots of calculated cuteness etc. ... P.S.: Always suspected Joanna was a blog reader.
‘Suddenly he is off the leash’:
Nationalism. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. ... I’m sorry, but many of you have probably seen this across the blogosphere.
But as a bona fide anti-anti-anti-sort-of-anti-anti-Francophile, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when I read this outburst by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, on the Left, describing the government of Jacques Chirac, on the Right:
“A great many of the difficulties that have faced the relationship (between London and Paris) go back to the profoundly different experiences that we had in the war, with, quotes, Britain standing alone, and quotes, France capitulating and surrendering to the Germans.” ...
Love the “quotes” part. No need for the apologetic/defensive “quotes” around the quotes, Jack. It’s true! You really did hold out alone. ... Repeat: Bush and Chirac deserve each other. Small minds think alike. ... Poor British. Caught in the middle. Again.
‘The character of its major ally':
Bernard-Henri Levi, a card-carrying member of the French anti-anti-American society, writes an op-ed in the Washington Post
on Pakistan and the Islamic bomb. Levi was featured in a New Yorker piece
I’ve cited a few times recently. ... You see a headlines like this
and like this
and, well, you got to wonder what forces -- and weapons -- are now arrayed against us.
Hmmmm. Not a bad idea: Not a bad idea at all.
Maybe the 2004 Dem convention won’t be a bust.
‘Nous Sommes Tous Américains’:
Personally, I subscribe to Christopher Hitchens’
view on today’s made-for-TV communal commemorations of 9/11. Chris:
“Unless I have badly mistaken the mood of everyone I know and almost everyone I meet, practically nobody has any particular use for the second anniversary that will soon be upon us. But it is vaguely felt in many quarters that something ought to be done by way of an observance. The first mentality is in my opinion the right one, even if people feel bad about harboring it, and
the second one is defensible but somewhat sickly and likely to suffer increasingly from diminishing returns.” (Via Reader BK.)
... The New York Times
commemorates the day with a long snooze piece on anti-Americanism. The article is one of those ordered-in-advance pseudo-Big Think pieces journalists feel compelled to present on solemn occasions. The result: dull conventional wisdom. It occasionally refers to pre-Sept. 11 anti-Americanism, but can’t be sidetracked from its unrelenting aim of tying anti-Americanism to today. It says so much, but tells so little.
... A somewhat better look at anti-Americanism comes from Foreign Policy.
A little too gung-ho America in the opposite sense. But it comes closer to answering my pre-Sept. 11 question while traveling through Europe and Francophone Africa in late 2000 and early 2001: Why do so many Europeans care about our ‘World Series’? This had to be the No. 1 annoyance of my trip -- fending off indignant questions about how we self-centered Americans dared to call our baseball championship the ‘World Series.’ Almost every conversation I had with Europeans eventually turned into an anti-American lecture, capped with what they thought was the devastating knock-out punch of: “So why do you call your baseball championship the ‘World Series’ when only America plays baseball? Ha!’ ” This was supposed to show, conclusively, our arrogance. How did they all come up with the exact same line? Could it be -- gulp -- their media? I know Fox
News is biased, blah, blah, blah. But you haven’t felt the brunt of mind-numbing bias until you’ve been subjected to the ‘World Series’ question a couple dozen times. ... FYI: I finally came up with an adequate response to the ‘World Series’ question: “Have you ever heard of P.T. Barnum and the World’s Greatest Circus? That’s how they came up with the World Series. A fat
guy with a cigar probably shouted during a marketing brainstorming session, ‘Yeah! We’ll call it the ‘World Series!’ ... Now move on.” ....
The famous post-Sept. 11 headline in LeMonde was: ‘Nous Sommes Tous Américains’ (“We are all Americans”). My favorite pre-Sept. 11 headline in LeMonde was (translated): “Does Europe have an inferiority complex?” My French-Canadian brother-in-law helped me translate most of the article and later asked me what I thought. My answer: “Well, if they had to ask the question ...” He nodded knowingly.
... Here’s the best look at anti-Americanism and anti-anti-Americanism
from the New Yorker (which Hub Blog highlighted
a few weeks ago). Please note the justified swats at President Bush before it starts swinging away at fashionable anti-Americanism. From author Adam Gopnick: “Even the most resolutely anti-anti-Americans in Paris don’t know what to do about George W. Bush — no one since Joseph McCarthy has been such a gift to anti-Americanism in Europe, and particularly in France.”
Aloha, George Washington?:
Have you been to the George Washington statue in the Boston Public Garden lately? You know, the statue they couldn't pry off the pedestal for a simple renovation but still charged us the money (Hub Blog assumes the charge)? Shocking news: They've surrounded George with what looks like baby palm trees. ... Not making this up. ... Palm trees.
.. I'll stand corrected if they're a species (perhaps indigenous) that this first-class 8th-grade biology flunky can't ID. ... Otherwise: What is this? Los Angeles? ... Now I know how San Franciscoans felt when they recently planted palm trees along the post-earthquake roads in the city. San Franciscoans were mildly revolted by the idea they were copying LA. ... Hub Blog's conclusion (assuming they are indeed palm trees in the garden): If they survive a New England winter, they deserve to live. Otherwise, mulch 'em down to pulp next spring and feature the remains on Victory Garden.
P.S. -- Anywhere USA. Ugh. ... Variation: Starbucks USA.
Cosmo and Fried Twinkies:
Gotta hand it to Cosmo
: He actually ate a Fried Twinkie. He told me the story yesterday, and I almost cried laughing when he described the oil squirting in his face when he took his first chomp into it. ... Moi? I chickened out on my first confrontation with the haute cuisine
of heartburn. I was at the quasi-PC "World's Fair'' in Jamaica Plain on Sunday. Lots of health food/hippie/diversity stands, etc. Sticking out like a sore thumb was a Fried Twinkie stand, with an attendant who had a mischievous look on his face, as if he knew he shouldn't be there.
- 10:15 p.m. -- Oh, my God. Cosmo has found something worse than a deep Fried Twinkie. He told me about this yesterday, but seeing/reading is believing
. (Scroll down to #4: 'The Ultimate Beer Battered.' They dunk the whole thing, folks.)
Mitt and Bush part ways: Mitt’s poll numbers are up in Massachusetts.
Bush’s are down. The amazing thing is how long the president’s numbers stayed as high as they did in this allegedly hyper-liberal state. ... Was he really in a statistical tie with Kerry as of last December? Bush’s numbers only recently began to tumble here, as elsewhere, one has to assume, though I don’t see any job-approval stats. ... Kerry keeps winning elections here. Why, I don’t know. There’s little emotional attachment to the guy. He’s just there. Do you know anyone who’s excited about his presidential run? Do you hear bursting-with-pride/bursting-with-embarrassment debate in local bars and coffee houses about his campaign? Nope. Very strange.
‘I cannot apologize ...’:
Next time someone writes embarrassing drivel about the innate idealism and wisdom of artists etc., think of the now (finally) late Leni Riefenstahl
: ``I don't know what I should apologize for. ... I cannot apologize, for example, for having made the film 'Triumph of the Will' -- it won the top prize. All my films won prizes.''
‘Doing the fox trot in six different directions’:
One of David Brooks’
early debut columns for the NYT. ... I suppose it’s a virtue for the arrogant to be able to admit wrong, at least privately, and take corrective action. It’s more of a virtue, though, to be humble and right from the start. ...
-- Interesting column by David Ignatius
on Wesley Clark, who bemoans the pre-war Bushie crowing that inevitably led to the post-war eating of crow.
'Plugging invading blogging': Cosmo has a column
on a depressing trend: PR firms have discovered bloggers and are now starting to bombard them with pitches. Ugh.
P.S. -- I've been getting a few PR pitches but mostly junk relating to the Internet (search engines, site counters etc.). The other day I got one from an online cemeteries directory. The pitch went like this:
"I checked your website and I believe it is compatible with mine, and I think it would be great to make a link exchange. ... What do you say?"
What do I say? I think it's sick. That's what I say. This is the Hub Blog archive item
he noticed and apparently is trying to make a buck on.
‘Even if control is shared, the US will get its way most of the time’:
Thank you, Suzanne Nossel.
An insightful piece that doesn’t fall victim to either of the ideological mantras of The UN Is Trying to Set Up a New World Order or the UN Can Do Everything arguments. ... Repeat: ‘Even if control is shared, the US will get its way most of the time.’ ... And repeat: Harry Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Ronnie, Bush Sr. all tolerated, ignored, manipulated, rolled their eyes and used the UN to their own ends -- and won the Cold War, a far more dangerous confrontation than we’re facing now. ... Get the UN SOBs to shoulder some of the burden, pat them on the head, and resist bashing them while we’re asking for their help. It’s called: common sense. Some also call it: intelligent diplomacy. Something this administration has shown a woeful lack of recently. ... Notice how the cheerleaders and pom-pom carriers are praising the president’s speech tonight -- while he does an undeniable complete flipflop on the UN issue. ... How bad has our diplomacy been recently? The French, whose foreign minister believes the French won at Waterloo, are looking good. ... Nossel’s emphasis on our post-WWII democratization of the world is right on target.
Three views of Iraq converging from different directions:
Interesting lineup of local writers on Iraq, all agreeing something’s gone wrong but with different ideas on how to fix it: Jules Crittenden
and Jeff Jacoby
and Marty Meehan
. Jules and Jeff are pretty down on the UN. So be it. I support a UN role -- though not with the French and German blackmail strings attached -- as a way of filling in the gaps. So I suppose my sentiments come down on the side of Meehan, who rightly says the key is not more troops, but the right type of troops. His call for more commandos is particularly encouraging, from an armchair general's perspective.
Hub Blog has a Bruce Springsteen scandal alert!:
Alert Reader BK questions the accuracy of Steve Morse’s recent column
about Springsteen’s memorable Boston Garden concert in 1978. The only problem, according to BK: Bruce played at the the old Boston Music Hall in ‘78, not the Garden. From BK: “As far as I've been able to determine from checking various Springsteen Concert/Setlist archives
, Springsteen performed only at the old Boston Music Hall -- now the Wang Center -- in May (29-31) 1978. He played the old Boston Garden for the first time on December 15th and 16th of 1980.” ...
God, Springsteen fans are like baseball fans. Where the hell do they get these statistics? Don’t know who’s right or wrong in this fan spat. Gotta believe Morse has a copy of his review and knows what he’s talking about. But you know what? I DON’T CARE. I’m not a big Bruce fan. ...
Neither is a colleague of mine at the Herald, who, yesterday in the newsroom, to some fanfare, announced he wasn’t going to the Springsteen concert, had no desire to go to the Springsteen concert, and he didn’t want to hear any more about the Springsteen concert.
‘The absurdity of all that sound and fury’:
More than a few points on prior Hub Blog posts (scroll down), from Reader Matt:
“-- The LPZBH Bridge:
I hold the opposite view about the Zakim bridge. In looking at the tiny bit of river that the bridge needs to span, the soaring towers and cables and cantilevers seem like so much overkill. The absurdity of all that sound and fury is obvious when you look over at the parallel bridge that carries traffic between I-93 and Leverett Circle -- it's a simple bit of concrete. Did they really NEED to build such a grand bridge? Don't get me wrong, I like the aesthetics of the new bridge, I just don't think it was needed. What makes the Golden Gate so cool is that it spans the mouth of the huge bay!
“-- Fenway Park:
I think your view that people go to Fenway because it's Fenway might be true among the folks that take in a few games a year. But as a season ticket holder, I can tell you that I'm sick of the place. ... A third of the seats in the place (though not mine) are simply a horrible place to watch a game. It's obvious from the shenanigans during the sale of the team that the current ownership group was undercapitalized but got the team because they were Bud Selig's choice. They can't afford the nut on a new ballpark and are going to squeeze every last dime they can out of Fenway. That's all well and good when the Sox are in contention. But they've committed to slashing the payroll in the coming years. Now that the secrets of Billy Beane and ‘Moneyball’ are out in the open, I hope Theo and Larry have some tricks up their sleeve to keep the team competitive on a smaller budget. ...
“-- Finally, the UN and Iraq:
You want a dissenting voice about Bush's change of heart from a UN basher? How about this? Fuck George W. Bush!!! I can't think of one place on this god-forsaken planet where the introduction of UN troops has made a situation better. ...”
City council blogger:
Hey, Matt O'Malley
, a candidate for an at-large seat on the Boston City Council, is stealing a page from Howard Dean and blogging away. ... The big question: Is he or is he not a Barry Mannilow fan? My anti-Mannilow vote rests on his being forthright on the issue. Via Boston-online
‘We must not squander this historic opportunity’:
We’ve been squandering this historic opportunity for a while now, but if the mayor wants another crack at it
, all the power to him. ... If we get a mediocre park system after the Artery comes down, there can and should be a public outcry over the petty squabbling and turf fighting that has marked its ‘planning.’. ... The mayor hails the Zakim Bridge’s beauty. Fine. I personally think its aesthetic attraction is more an accident of design. It could have been (and still could be) better with a Golden Gate-like coat of paint and other flourishes beyond the bare concrete foundation. ... Don’t forget the concrete banality of the Moakley Bridge over Fort Point Channel. Its aesthetic repulsion is the direct result of design. Don't forget, too, the concrete banalities of the plug-ugly ventilation shafts. Or the concrete abomination linking the Expressway to Southie. ... Concrete aesthetic verdict on the Big Dig: Big Disappointment. ... Mmmmmm. Concrete.
A tale of two teams in a sports crazy town:
Please. No more debate on how the Red Sox need a new ballpark.
It was always a bogus argument. People go to Fenway because it’s Fenway. Take that away, and a large part of the franchise’s mystique vanishes with it. ... Pats home games
, meanwhile, are the NFL’s most expensive for fans to attend. ... The awful cliché about Boston being ‘sports crazy’ has been mathematically verified, alas.
If Tony Blair wants it ...:
Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Colin Powell and the military brass
outflanked the Pentagon's obstinate civilian leaders on seeking international help in Iraq. The most important point for those of us who have lost faith in this administration's diplomatic coherency and consistency: Tony Blair backs the idea. ... This is a first-class (but welcome) reversal for the administration. Strange how all the pre-war U.N. bashers are so silent about this switch. ... When is this administration going to reluctantly accept, as matter of policy and reality, that the UN isn't going away and may actually be necessary now and then? It's a flawed body with asshole members
. No doubt. But repeat: It is useful now and then -- as Blair has always recognized and as President Bush senses when he isn't getting an earful from his Pentagon civilian leaders.
‘They're beginning to lose me’: Andrew Sullivan
is back from his summer break -- and the Bush administration probably wishes Labor Day hadn’t arrived so early this year. Andrew: “I could forgive this administration almost anything if it got the war right. But, after a great start, it's getting hard to believe the White House is in control of events any more.” ...
Again, I’m no military expert, as I noted the other day in the 'Battle of Algiers'
item. But the one quibble I have with Sullivan’s analysis is the call for more troops. The military brass is starting to experiment
with a very un-Vietnam strategy, so let’s give it time. Strange, though, how they gave the impression this was the strategy they’ve been employing all along. If they’re only now implementing it, what were they doing before? ... Forget the aircraft carrier photo op. The "bring ‘em on" phrase is going to be more memorable/infamous if things don’t change soon in Iraq.
P.S. -- An ‘assistant secretary of commerce for manufacturing’
‘As clear as a bell. ...’:
Each time someone criticizes John Kerry, there’s always somebody ready to pounce to his defense, and then Kerry undercuts his supporters by confirming what the critics were saying all along. The latest
: "I don't think I've kicked my campaign off sufficiently. ... I am going to reach out to the country and be as clear as a bell about the leadership I offer." ... Meaning: He hasn’t been clear as a bell.
-- Mickey Kaus
seems shocked that Kerry might mean what he actually said.