Monday, March 31, 2003

Arnett’s Killing Words

Below, The Elder links to Peter Arnett’s explanation for being allowed to report from Iraq, saying the Iraqis merely respected him as a “ fellow warrior.” It’s interesting to compare that reasoning to what Peter Arnett said to The New Republic magazine, back in October of 2002 . Regarding the rules for reporting in Iraq:

"There's a quid pro quo for being there," says Peter Arnett, who worked the Iraq beat for CNN for a decade. "You go in and they control what you do. ... So you have no option other than to report the opinion of the government of Iraq."

So I guess the Iraqi regime not only considers him a “fellow warrior” but perhaps a fellow traveler as well?

I do wonder about Arnett’s motives. Was he just being overly accommodating in an attempt to gain further access to the Iraqi leadership, as some have claimed? Or was he instead relaying his true opinions (and they were opinions), and they just happened to coincide with the interests of the Iraqi government?

My guess is that it was probably the latter. His statements from today and his half-assed apologies (which are at the level of “I’m sorry you feel that way”) indicate he may indeed believe what he was saying. Perhaps that's not surprising, since Arnett’s ill-informed comments about the US War plan being a failure and the growing influence of the anti-war movement and it’s ability to affect Bush administration policy, are the type of comments one hears quite commonly from reporters at press conferences and in their articles and TV reports.

Ultimately, the true danger of Arnett’s comments (and those of his anti-war cohorts in the media) is their very real potential to prolong the war and increase the casualty rate of both Allied forces and the Iraqi people. If the Iraqi armed forces (both Republican Guard and otherwise) believe that Saddam’s reign is at an end and thus they need not fear any retribution from him, they’ll be much more likely to surrender. Even supporters of the regime would be less likely to fight if they believe that their cause is hopeless (which it is).

Same goes for the citizenry of Iraq. They’ll be much less likely to participate in popular uprisings or even to cooperate with Allied forces if they believe there’s a chance Saddam Hussein and his regime will survive this conflict. Comments from Arnett such as ...

Our reports about civilian casualties here, about the resistance of the Iraqi forces, are going back to the United States," he said. "It helps those who oppose the war when you challenge the policy to develop their arguments."

... can only serve to create the seeds of doubt in the minds of those wishing to assist us, but fearful that weakening American resolve may lead to a premature end of the war. I don’t believe Saddam’s survival is even a remote possibility, given President Bush’s commitment to a full and complete victory. But encouraging the false hopes of Saddam’s supporters and discouraging the resistance of his enemies will inevitably lead to more casualties on both sides.

I wonder, does Peter Arnett even take this into consideration when choosing to appear on Iraqi TV? A medium he has admitted he knows to be dedicated to Iraqi propoganda. If yes, then why does he do it? Does he feel that expressing his doubts and opinions is a higher priority than the lives of a few soldiers and Iraqi citizens? Or does he think that these deaths are an acceptable price to pay in order for him to get exclusive access to Iraqi government officials? Or does he not think at all in his quest to enhance his own industry reputation and professional profile amongst his peers?

I’m not sure what the answer is, though I suspect he’s motivated to some degree by all of these factors. We may never know the truth, since he's been fired by NBC and I suspect his next reporting gig may be limited to covering the big Schuller's Shoe sale for the Har Mar Mall Weekly Shopper's News.

When It Comes To College Hockey, Respect Your Elder

Those of you who took took my NCAA college hockey tournament picks and ran down to your local bookie are happy today. (By the way, if anyone actually knows a bookie who takes college hockey action drop me a note.) I went 11-1 in the twelve games played over the weekend and was only a disallowed third period BC goal away from running the table. Will the Thrill turned in a decent performance himself going 9-3 but with only the three Final Four games remaining he's going to be hard pressed to rally.

Here's where we stand after the WCHA Final Five and the NCAA Regional games:

Elder 14-2 minus 52 goals differential
Will the Thrill 12-4 minus 48 goals differential

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Now That The Objective Media Have Spoken...

Pack it up boys. Time to go home. It was a good effort but we failed. Those Iraqis are just too tough for us. At least that's the word from noted journalist Peter Arnett, who said the the first U.S. war plan had failed due to Iraqi resistance during an interview he had with Iraqi TV.

Now one might wonder why the Iraqis have allowed Arnett to stay on in Baghdad while most Western journalists have been given the boot. According to Arnett:

He said the Iraqis allowed him to stay in Baghdad because they respect him.

"The Iraqis have let me stay because they see me as a fellow warrior," Arnett said. "They know I might not agree with them, but I've got their respect."

Yeah, that's it Peter. They respect you. Much the same way in which a carpenter respects his hammer.

The Faces of America

Today's Minneapolis Star Tribune featured a full page of photos of all the U.S. troops who have been killed or captured so far in operations in Iraq. It is a moving reminder of the human cost of war but it also serves as a effective counterpoint to those, like Congressman Charles B. Rangel, who claimed that the burdens of war would be borne heaviest by the young, the poor, and minorities. When you look at the faces of those who have made these supreme sacrifices you see a cross section of races, ages, hometowns, and ranks. In other words you see America.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Fooling None of the People, None of the Time

One of the organizer’s of last Saturday’s anti-war rally at Macalester college recently commented on the attempt to get U.S. Senator Mark Dayton to participate in the event:

We had invited Senator Dayton -- in addition to about 75 other elected officials -- to the event several weeks ago, but he had told us that he would not be in Minnesota this weekend. When we heard that he was scheduled to speak at the "Support Our Troops" rally at the Capitol [that same day], two of our members called his office to remind him of our event -- and to ask him to explain his March 21st statement in the Star Tribune:

"The president has made that momentous decision, and I will support him, his military command and the brave American troops who are carrying out his orders," said Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., normally one of Bush's fiercest critics."

After a day of phone conversations among Dayton's staff, some members of Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace, and some members of IPAC, we decided that we did not think he would be an appropriate last-minute addition to our already crowded speaking schedule because he seems to have chosen to support the war. He said he would be happy to address our crowd and seemed willing to take some criticism and questions, but we were afraid that his presence -- given his current stated stance on the war -- would dishearten the crowd. As one person in our group put it, "A peace rally should not be a public forum for waffling politicians." Late in the day, something suddenly came up in Washington and Senator Dayton did not make it to Minnesota to attend or speak at either event.

In summation, Dayton declined to speak at the anti-war event because he said he wouldn’t be in town that day. Then he agreed to speak at a support the troops rally that same day. Then he later agreed to also speak at the anti-war rally (and was turned down). Then he didn’t show up at either of them.

Now that’s what I call getting out in front of an issue! (And then falling under it and getting flattened.)

Say what you will about Mark Dayton’s leadership style, but you have to admit he has a talent for creating a consensus. Both the Left and the Right seem to be rapidly coming to an agreement. That we need a new Senator in 2006.

Mercy, Mercy, Me!

A reader and St. Cloud State hockey fan takes me to task for my remarks on the Huskies participation in the NCAA hockey tournament:

I've loved your blog for some time, but calling us undeserving of the hockey tournament is a little below the belt there, fella! We've played a very difficult schedule this year and have battled injuries all season. We've beaten the best in the WCHA, four others of who are also in the tournament. And the rules for putting extra weight on strength of schedule came last summer, so we were just playing by the rules.

After attending yesterday's West Regional semifinal games I have to admit I was wrong about one thing. St. Cloud State didn't deserve to get into the tournament (especially in light of the fact that UMD was not selected) but they were not the most undeserving team participating as I had claimed earlier. That distinction clearly belongs to Mercyhurst.

It wasn't just that Mercyhurst was pounded by the Minnesota Gophers 9-2 (it was 7-0 five minutes into the second period) it was the way that they rolled over and accepted their beating that was so appalling. As the Gopher forwards and defensemen walked around their defense time after time, as Gopher skaters sat unmolested in front of the Mercyhurst net with enough time to pound a heater or two, and as the Gophers peppered shot after shot on the poor Mercyhurst goalie the Lakers did little or nothing to even attempt to stop it. Trip somebody, slash them, knock them down, just make an effort, even if it's in vain, to keep from getting throttled. Lumbering Gopher defenseman Matt DeMarchi (not exactly known for his offensive prowess-career Gopher penalty minute leader) skated unmolested down the slot on more than one occasion while the Mercyhurst skaters seemed perfectly content to watch him unload on their net from fifteen feet out. Thank you sir may I have another?

After a while it was actually getting embarrassing to see a team being so completely humiliated. The pathetic thing is that the 9-2 final score and the 56-18 shot advantage for the Gophers don't even accurately tell the story of how thoroughly the Gophers dominated every phase of the game. It was worse than those stats indicate and if the Gophers had continued their second period play into the third the score easily could have been twelve or thirteen to nothing.

We have this tournament in Minnesota every March that Mercyhurst might want to think about next year. It's called the Minnesota State High School hockey tourney and I think the Lakers just might have a shot although I'd have to take this year's high school champions from Anoka over Mercyhurst if the two teams were to play today.

Finally, there were a lot of comparisons early in the year between Gopher forward Thomas Vanek and North Dakota's Zach Parise, both freshmen. When Parise got off to a great start Gopher fans were wondering if they missed out on the best new player in the WCHA. While Parise is a great player and has a great future ahead of him I think that in Vanek the Gophers have struck gold. Difference maker, the x-factor, game breaker, whatever cliché you want to call it Vanek is the man. He's got speed, hands, size, toughness, a shot, and incredible play making ability. It's not just the plays that he makes that amaze you, it's also the ones that he almost makes and last night he had us shaking our heads in wonder a number of times. He is definitely a future NHLer and Gopher fans should enjoy his gifts now since I don't see him sticking around after his sophomore year.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Two Thumbs Up (and Gouging Out Your Eyes)

There’s a new movie out called Spider. A Ralph Fiennes vehicle (which sounds more like a battery operated scooter than a movie). The review in today’s Star Tribune includes this summation:

A disturbing portrait of a troubled mind, it draws you into the bleak inner world of a madman and holds you in a spellbinding net of pity, terror and -- most frightening -- sympathy.

By the way, the reviewer Colin Covert, is RECOMMENDING you go see this. Calling it “maybe a masterpiece”. (I sure hope he writes another review, once he makes his mind up on this one. It’s like writing a restaurant review and saying “I think the chicken kiev might be tasty. And it was reasonably priced - maybe.")

Perhaps it’s just me, but generally speaking I think most people are adverse to being disturbed, encountering people with troubled minds, getting drawn into bleak worlds of madmen who hold you in their net evoking pity and terror. Oh yes, you feel sympathy too. However, sympathy that is FRIGHTENING!

Sure in our daily lives, we have no choice but to encounter the individuals described above. The IT department in the average American office is full of these types. But during my precious spare time, freely choosing this as an entertainment option, and better yet getting the benefit of paying for the experience? Are you effin’ nuts!?

I had the same reaction a few months back when a friend wanted to go see the Robin Williams movie “1 Hour Photo”. The advertisements included reviewer comments such as “profoundly disturbing” and “I was haunted for days afterwards”. Paying money for the privilege of being disturbed and haunted for days by Robin Williams? I had to decline. To this day I’m still haunted by the time I saw Robin Williams in Patch Adams on USA Network, and that didn’t cost me dime.

Come Join The Party!

WHO: Islamofascists everywhere who share a hatred of the Great Satan

WHAT: Your chance to finally prove your manhood and strike a blow against the Great Satan. Instead of blowing up woman and children in cowardly terrorist attacks or marching in the streets chanting "Death to America" knowing full well that no one will make you account for your words you can now actually go head to head with the Crusaders in a real jihad. Opportunities for martyrdom abound. Don't miss out!


WHEN: Now-in fact the sooner the better this offer won't last forever!

RSVP: Please let General Tommy Franks know when you will be arriving in Iraq and where you will be staying. He'll have a welcoming committee knocking down your door (or perhaps the walls) in no time.

It's All About Hugh

I was listening to the always entertaining and informative Hugh Hewitt Radio Show last night and was pleasantly surprised to hear Hugh mention James Lileks and a World War II propaganda song that Lileks had submitted to him. I was even more surprised when Hugh included the humble gang here at Fraters Libertas along with such giants of the blogsphere as Lileks and Power Line as comprising the 'Northern Alliance of blogs' (licensed merchandise coming soon). We are grateful to be included in such esteemed company but would also like to suggest that our fellow Minnesota based blogger Mitch Berg at Shot in the Dark be added to the formidable alliance.

While we're at it we'd also like to extend a personal thank you to Hugh Hewitt for his continuing efforts to promote blogs to a wider audience. He's one of the first members of the "mainstream media" to recognize the emergence of blogs and deserves a lot of credit for his foresight. This one's for you Hugh.

Taking the Best (or worst) That Each Has To Offer

Good lengthy piece at which explores how Saddam's regime has borrowed tactics from both Nazism and Stalinism. It also offers some perspective on the progress of the war so far.

Shuffle Off To Buffalo

Who will be making the NCAA College Hockey Final Four in Buffalo this year? If my picks are any indication many of the same teams who went to St. Paul last year. I'll have to make this quick since I'll be attending today's semis at Mariucci starting later this afternoon so the comments will be limited:



Cornell 3
MSU Mankato 2
-The Mavs will hang with the Big Red for a while despite probably giving up fifty shots on goal.

BC 4


BC 4
Cornell 3
-I thought I was picking a nice upset here until I read that Will is taking BC to knock off top ranked Cornell as well.



New Hampshire 5
St. Cloud State 2
By far the most undeserving team in the tourney the Huskies should be ashamed to even show up for their game against NH. They caught a break in the Pairwise rankings and made the field despite a bad finish and a playoff series loss to UMD. The Bulldogs were royally hosed by the selection process and the fact that they're home while SCSU is playing this weekend demands some tweeking in the system next year.

BU 3
Harvard 1


BU 2
NH 3
-Another Final Four trip for New Hampshire


CC 6
Wayne State 3
-I wasn't aware that Batman had endowed a college.

Maine 3
Michigan 4
-Another heart breaking loss for Maine (hopefully the players will behave with a bit more class than after last year's national championship game) in front of Michigan's home crowd.


CC 4
Michigan 5
-I hate the helmets. I hate the team. But home cooking gives the Wolverines the edge and another trip to the Final Four.



North Dakota 2
Ferris State 4
-Insert your own Ferris State joke here but they won the CCHA and UND has been slumping badly. Even though they've got captain David Hale back it won't be enough.

Mercyhurst 3
Minnesota 5
-When I heard the Gophers had an easy opening round game I thought "who are they playing the little sisters of the poor?". Close. It's hated Mercyhurst. The Gophers have struggled on Friday night games and this one will be closer than it should be.


Ferris State 2
Minnesota 4
-Playing on their home ice will prove the key as the Gophers advance to the Final Four to try to defend their national championship.

Three of last year's Final Four teams returning again this year? We'll wait and see. Should be a great weekend for college hockey.

And a welcome distraction from watching CNN's Aaron Brown and his hair piece (nice try Aaron).

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Hockey: One Time-out Per Game, Hoops: I Can't Count That High

This week the Elder and myself will be trying our hand at picking the outcome of the NCAA Division I Regional hockey games. This year the tournament finally expanded to sixteen games from twelve, so the pickings are a little tougher with those byes out of the way. (An aside to everyone whining about #1 ranked Cornell getting a tough seeding: It's about time the NCAA did this to an Eastern team after years of doing it to Western teams. You were way overdue to get the proverbial hockey stick shaft!) I have two Boston teams advancing to the Frozen Four, not because I know Eastern hockey (I don't) but I think because Radio K has been playing a live cover of "Dirty Water" by the Dropkick Murphys ... aw but they're cool people.

West Regional:

Semifinal) Ferris State vs. North Dakota - Ferris State wins 3-2.

Semifinal) Minnesota vs. Mercyhurst - Minnesota wins 5-1.

Final) Minnesota vs. Ferris State - The Gophers looks very very tough these days. They will eat up the home cooking in the regional and win this game 4-2.

Midwest Regional:

Semifinal) Maine vs. Michigan - Michigan wins 3-2.

Semifinal) Colorado College vs. Wayne State - Colorado College wins 6-2.

Final) Colorado College vs. Michigan - This will be a tough game for the Tigers as they will have to (if my above prediction comes true) play the Wolverines in their own building. But CC will pull through and win 3-2.

East Regional:

Semifinal) Cornell vs. Minnesota State-Mankato - Cornell wins 3-2.

Semifinal) Boston College vs. Ohio State - BC wins 3-1.

Final) Cornell vs. Boston College - BC plays in the solid Hockey East conference, while Cornell plays in the mediocre ECAC conference. It won't be that much of an upset when BC wins 4-2.

Northeast Regional:

Semifinal) Boston University vs. Harvard - BU wins 4-3

Semifinal) New Hampshire vs. St. Cloud State - UNH wins 5-3.

Final) Boston University vs. New Hampshire - BU triumphs so I will get to say "Jack Pahker pahked his cah in Hahvard Yahd" in a Boston accent (all my accents end up sounding North Dakotan anyway.) BU wins 2-1.

Window of Opportunity

How much is a witty, insightful PJ O’Rourke commentary worth to you? Before you start adding up the expenditure you’ve no doubt used to procure any of his many fine books, understand I’m not talking about money. Instead I’m talking about the worth of your patience, your sanity, and just maybe your immortal soul!

Slight exaggeration perhaps, but you should be aware that PJ is appearing almost daily on the KQRS morning show (92.5 FM). For at least the past week he’s been doing live reports from Kuwait City. And he promises to continue to do so, from there and all points north until this war is concluded.

Many of you may already know this, since the show continues to get an astounding 30% of all radio listeners in the Twin Cities during morning drive, as it has for years. But as loyal and numerous as KQ’s adherents are, there is a vast segment Minnesotans who would rather listen to repeated playings of a Morse Code rendition of The Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night” than to Tommy B. and the gang.

I’m somewhere in the middle (the moderate that I am). I think Tom Bernard is a legitimately funny person, a master of ridicule, and a talented broadcaster. It’s everything else about that show that stinks. The alternately insufferable and buffoonish sidekick menagerie, the topic selection (literally every other story they cover seems to be about some guy getting his genitals crushed, sawed off or stuck in a swimming pool drainage vent), and of course the music.

My God the music. They’ve relentlessly bludgeoned their audience with the same 50 or so Classic Rock songs for the past 20 years and ruined them for all time. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a song like “Honky Tonk Woman.” But due to KQ’s sickening overexposure of it, the mere mention of the words “I met a gin soaked bar room queen in Memphis” involuntarily triggers my right arm to lash out in an attempt to punch another preset button on my radio before another syllable can be heard. Sadly, the words “I met a gin soaked bar room queen in Memphis” start about half the conversations among my social circle. As a result I’ve lost many friends who’ve felt the spasmodic wrath of my right hand.

But I love PJ. And if you can tune in to KQ at just the right time, you get nothing but Barnard and him discussing the war and it’s been good. So far it’s been occuring between about 7:30 - 8:00 AM. I wish you luck.

How Many Kids Would You Kill Today?

John Derbyshire at NRO has a great piece today called Ten Points on the War. His first point is that the name Operation Iraqi Freedom is incredibly lame to which I concur wholeheartedly. He also raises an interesting moral question with his fifth point:

5. Are we being too nice? It is a point of pride for us, military and civilian alike, that we take the utmost care to avoid "collateral damage" — i.e. killing and maiming Iraqi civilians. Well, I am proud of that, too. Not so proud, though, as to forget that there is a calculus of casualties, in which being too punctilious about losses among enemy civilians costs lives among our own military. This is an ugly fact, but a fact just the same.

Where is the point of balance? How many Iraqi civilians are we willing to trade for one dead Marine? A thousand? A hundred? Ten? One? "No answer" is not possible here, though of course everyone pretends it is. You — and more to the point, our military commanders and their civilian bosses — have to have some opinion on this, and they have to act on that opinion. I confess I am an extremist on this particular scale of horrors. My answer: "hundreds, though not thousands." If that shocks you — well, what's your answer?

I must be even more of extremist since my answer would be at least a thousand, possibly more. It's not a real pleasant thing to think about but, as Derbyshire points out, it is a calculation that our military must deal with on a now daily basis.

Before you think me a cold hearted bastage take a moment and, as Derbyshire asks, answer the question yourself. A good friend of mine (ex-military currently working for Uncle Sam in a different capacity) recently sent me an e-mail and, without getting into specifics, let's just say that his answer makes Derbyshire and myself look positively Quakeresque.

Lies and Consequences

I've gotten some reader feedback regarding the Matt Entenza post from yesterday. Mostly people wanting to know where they can go to purchase the chic Matt Entenza "look," that is Foster Gant sunglasses and a Members Only windbreaker. Sorry folks, but as a man who picks his sunglasses out from Walgreens' revolving cylinder of cheap shades and his clothes out of the discount barrel at Mills Fleet Farm, I can't help you in matters of high fashion. I suggest you call his office directly for sartorial advice.

Other readers have attempted to defend Mr. Entenza on free speech grounds, saying, in essence, that he has every right to express his opinion that the war is wrong. Furthermore, they contend that it is not incongruous or hypocritical for him to state that he supports the troops, yet still participates in rallies that erode public support for the war effort, since protesting might ultimately lead to a quicker end to the conflict (via a US retreat and pull out).

Leaving aside the dire long term consequences of such a move by the United States, this position--that ridiculing, shrill, politically motivated protestation actually helps the troops, is absurd. The country has committed itself to this war effort. Both Congress (in bi-partisan fashion) and the President have approved it, and now we've ordered our fighting men and women to accomplish the task at hand. Standing on the sidelines, mocking the decision makers as incompetent or diabolically motivated, and gleefully parading out the nightmarish worst-case scenarios of this war can only serve to demoralize our troops and to embolden the enemy.

Yesterday's Pioneer Press contained a thoughtful essay by DJ Tice, who explored the knee jerk inclinations of both the "anti-war" and "support the troops" movements. His criticisms of the former were more persuasive, including the following:

Troops enduring the horrors of war, and their loved ones, who must share those horrors through fears and imaginings, are sustained in their ordeals by one idea. They are sustained by the belief that the cause for which they suffer is a worthy cause.

Even if one is convinced that America's leaders have unjust motives in this war -- "blood for oil," say -- no sane person can suppose that even a single soldier lays down his life for lower gasoline prices. Soldiers risk everything they have, or ever will have, because they believe they are serving their country in a mission that is necessary and right.

So inevitably the troops -- and, more especially, just now, their families -- are wounded by the peace movement's public insistence that the war they are fighting is foolhardy or wicked or both. It is cold comfort to say the troops are merely hapless pawns serving the venal purposes of others. Open dissent at home also doubtless encourages America's enemies and aids their propaganda efforts.

It's bad enough when the average citizen participates in these troop demoralizing, enemy encouraging efforts. It's worse when our political leaders do so. Of course Matt Entenza has the right to speak, protest, and support any causes he wishes. But this right does not mean he is above criticism, or immune to being confronted with the real life consequences of his actions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

All That Is Humanly Possible

MN House Minority Leader Matt Entenza "Doing All That Is Humanly Possible To Assist And Support The Troops"

According to the official DFL Caucus Web site, last Wednesday, House Minority Leader Matt Entenza somberly stood by the families of young Minnesotans currently serving in the military and said the following:

"During the next few weeks and months, it's also important that we remember the sacrifice being made by the families and loved ones of our troops," Entenza said. "The parents, wives and children of our troops are all carrying a heavy burden. We also have an obligation to do all that is humanly possible to assist and support them during these difficult times."

And by that, I presume he means this?

I suppose these images aren't 100% damning, in that Entenza's not pictured lighting up Old Glory with the business end of a spliff or something. However, it is entirely damning by association. As shown below, the anti-war rally at Macalester on Saturday was nothing but an attack on the Bush Administration, the armed forces and the good old US of A.

And who was there in attendance? Smiling, laughing it up, glad-handing like it was the happiest day of his life? None other than Matt Entenza. That is, he was smiling until the paparazzi arrived, at which point he was hustled away by his handlers, as if he had something to be ashamed of.

People holding signs proclaiming Bush is the butcher of Baghdad, Bush is the real terrorist, Bush is a Nazi lunatic. And Matt Entenza is fraternizing and celebrating with them?!

Slandering the Commander-in-Chief? Eroding popular support for the perilous mission assigned to our brave soldiers? Is this what you mean, Matt Entenza by doing "everything possible to support the troops"? Well, Matt, is it!?

Motley Crue Live at Macalaster College

Pictures from last Saturday's anti-war rally in St. Paul:

Big big smiles-There's nothing funnier than using a symbol of genocide to make a partisan politcal point.

As reported in the media a broad cross section of society was on hand. What they didn't report, was that the society in question was the Little Havana section of the North Pole.

Right,right the President of the United States is a lunatic. And a bitter, frigid divorcee from Frogtown is the epitome of mental health.

If you actually think Bush is a terrorist, you may also believe this shower cap has seen a shower in the last month.

We have reason to believe this person is actually a Palestinian midget.

This woman is either grieving the expected loss of Iraqi children or she's coming to grips with the fact that she's actually married to the man on her left.

Minnesota Public Radio's Katherine Lanpher making a rare public appearance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Perspective On Losses And Liberation

The United States suffered 24,000 casualties in the ninety day battle of the Hurtgen Forest in World War II.

In three weeks of fighting in the Belleau Wood in the First World War we took 9777 casualties including 1811 killed.

In the two week retreat from the Chosin Reservoir ( 'The Frozen Chosin') in Korea US forces had over 6000 killed, wounded, or captured.

In the five day battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam (wonderfully retold by the movie 'We Were Soldiers') US losses were 230 killed and 242 wounded.

And finally in ONE DAY of fighting at Antietam in the Civil War combined Union and Confederate casualties were 3650 killed and 17,300 wounded.

No one wants our forces to suffer any casualties in the Iraqi campaign. But this is war and they are unavoidable. If you consider the progress that we have made so far our casualties are very light. Unlike the Gulf War this time around the Iraqis are fighting to defend their own soil and they know that the survival of the regime is at stake. Many of their soldiers don't support Saddam's regime and have or will surrender. But there are also many, especially outside the regular army, who have tied their future to Saddam's wagon and know that a post-Saddam Iraq will not be to their liking. They will have to be rooted out and destroyed, a dangerous process sure to involve further coalition losses especially as we drive closer to Baghdad.

One of the problems that I have with the talk of "Liberating Iraq" are the expectations it raises. We are bound to be disappointed if we expect our troops to be greeted with flowers and kisses as they were in occupied Europe in World War II. In reality the present situation is more like Germany where we were met by a somber and subdued people, who had been subjected to endless propaganda from the regime, and who feared for their future. In time they would come to understand that we had indeed liberated them but it wasn't their initial reaction. We had to first defeat Germany (and Japan for that matter) in order to liberate their people. Today our main concern should be defeating Iraqi forces who resist us. The liberation of the Iraqi people will follow.

That's your solution for everything

I've been getting a lot of email from readers who are fed up with the endless chit-chat of those covering the war. Andy, from Cleveland, Ohio shares one of his coping mechanisms:

I'm sick to death of all the bullshit prattle and conjecture they feel
obligated to spew when they have time to kill between actual news and
commercials. It just gets nauseating. So I go online and read the clips, and
when that gets to be too much, I find a nice soothing porn site.

Can't say as I've tried this solution, but it probably beats yelling "ROT IN HELL WOLF BLITZER!" at the TV and scaring the neighbors.

March Madness

The Pioneer Press quotes Rick Majerus, the brutally honest, and apparently brutally lonely, coach of the University of Utah basketball Team, on an encounter with the beautiful Ashley Judd:

[Ashley Judd's] strongest allegiance, though, will always be to the [Kentucky] basketball team. She has even been known to console losing coaches. After Kentucky defeated Utah for the national title in 1998, she gave Utes coach Rick Majerus a hug, something he will never forget.

"She hugged me as a consolation because we lost," he said the other day. "I went to bed for two years with that as my sex life."

Monday, March 24, 2003

Not Getting Caught Up In the News Cycle

Steven Den Beste at USS Clueless calmly analyzes progress in the war up to this point and offers up some advice:

If you, as a civilian who is quite naturally worried about the war, find yourself obsessing on individual events and begin to wonder if we're facing imminent disaster, then what you need to do is to take a deep breath, turn off the damned TV, and look at the overall progress of the war. If some reporter talks about how there's serious resistance in some particular village and combat taking place, ignore the fact that the reporter tries to cast it as being a disaster and instead consider the fact that it means the troops had to advance a long way to even be in that particular place to even meet that resistance.

And then look at what other units, elsewhere, are doing. Look at the big picture. It isn't going perfectly for us, but it's going extremely badly for Saddam.

Video We'd Like To See

Fox News and MSNBC are reporting that the downed Apache (which appeared largely intact) has now been destroyed by the U.S. Let's hope the Iraqis shown celebrating on and around the chopper were still in the vicinity when that occurred.

Weekend Warrior

A few observations from a weekend spent listening to and watching war coverage:

* While listening to a non descript talk radio show come back from break using a Boston song as bumper music the host commented: "I love this kind of music. This is the stuff that the troops over in Iraq are listening to right now." Umm... NO, they're not jamming to 'More Than A Feeling' buddy.

* Why does CNN use quotes around the title Operation Iraqi Freedom? They might not agree with the title but that's what it is. They also used quotes when describing the 101st Airborne as an "air assault" unit. I believe that air assault is a widely accepted military term that describes the 101st to a tee. Yet when they scrawl the phrase "steel wave" coined by one of their correspondents to describe the coalition advance they use single apostrophes usually associated with titles.

* The Iraqi information minister likes to refer to Bush as a gangster, calling him a criminal, and comparing him to Al Capone. Every time I hear this it reminds of how Nazi propaganda used to characterize Churchill in the same manner.

Final Five Results

In this weekend's WCHA Final Five tournamant picks Will the Thrill went 3-1 with a minus 12 goals differential while I was 3-1 with a minus 14 goals differential. Later this week we'll have our NCAA Regional picks available.

Je Regret

In response to a post last Friday on the story of Montreal fans booing the U.S. national anthem a reader e-mails to offer an apology and a prediction:

As a Canadian and Quebecer and Montrealer, but not "pur laine Quebecois", I am ashamed and embarassed.

Please accept my apologies.

More optimistically:

The Quebec independance movement is dieing as apolitical force (the younger generation MUCH less interested), and Quebec is in the last stages of socialist idiocy (politically intertwined with independance). Pretty soon the Quebecois are going to wake up to the fact that 40+ years of soft socialism has made them poor and bound in idiotic regulations, and I fully expect that a counter-movement analogous to leftist-independentiste "revolution tranquille" of the 1950&60's will take place within this decade +/-.

One can hope.

Indeed we can.

If It Bleeds, We Hide It

We’ve been hearing quite a bit from the networks about how they are making history by showing us the first war in 'real time'. Sporting a fairly bad toupee, CNN anchor Aaron Brown waxed breathlessly this weekend about the networks and their role bringing the real war to the viewing public.

But, now that they actually have some footage showing the true ravishes of war, they refuse to show it. Now I can understand why the networks wanted to obey the Pentagon’s edict of not showing dead soldiers until the families had been identified, but all of the networks are refusing to show ANY of the footage, including the footage of the interrogations of the POWs.

David Westin, the ABC News president, said he decided ABC News should not show the pictures. "I don't think there's any news value in it," he said.

No news value.




Nothing Americans might find interesting. Nothing that might suggest the actual nature of the Iraqi regime we are fighting. Nothing that shows the true reality of war.

I had to sit there yesterday and listen to every reporter and reporterette tell me how grisly the video was, how shocking, how alarming. I guess I’m just supposed to have that be MY take on it too, since lay people surely couldn’t handle a dose of such reality.

If CNN or FOX is worried about offending the suburban moms and their kids, then announce that in five minutes we’re going to show some strong video, if you don’t want to see this, we suggest you turn your TV off now. They could tune back in a few minutes and no one would be hurt. This would go for the families of the service people as well.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

More Shock, More Awe

Where are the massive B-52 strikes? If our troops are encountering resistance we should not hesitate to use any and all force available to us. To do otherwise and expose our forces to unnecessary danger is not acceptable.

We should also distribute the video of our POWs and dead soldiers to all coalition forces as a sobering reminder of the consequences of losing and the intentions of the enemy.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Glean for Gene

In today's Pioneer Press, Nick Coleman trots out the old warrior for peace, former US Senator from Minnesota Gene McCarthy, to get his opinion on the War with Iraq. And guess what? He's against it!

At least I think he is. Although the point of Coleman's article is another attempt to cast doubt on the prospects for long term US success in Iraq, this time by interviewing a wise old sage of the Left, he doesn't quote any specific comments from McCarthy regarding the war. Rather, he quotes some name calling directed toward the President and some vague historical allusions that are supposed to indicate the US is a declining power in the model of imperial Rome.

In Coleman's defense, McCarthy is not the easiest interview subject. I saw him a couple of years ago at Kieran's Bar in Minneapolis, promoting a documentary based on his life. Any question asked of him by the moderator was met with poetry excerpts (recited from memory), inside jokes, and clever word play and puns. It was strange but also amusing and rather charming coming from an 85-year-old man. But I can imagine Coleman's frustration, after repeatedly trying to get McCarthy to say "yes, Iraq is another Viet Nam," instead getting something like:

"When Rome was declining, a general could organize an army and get some financing and go over and invade Africa," McCarthy was saying. "If he won, he would get a new title and march through Rome and cut off a few heads and hang a few people."

The crowd at the Kieran's event received McCarthy with what I can best describe as adoration. Not only appreciation for what he accomplished in his life, but with the romantic sense that this was a man who was on the right side of history and who was tragically ignored by the mass of the American electorate. A woman from the audience spoke up at one point and speculated on what a wonderful world we would have if Gene McCarthy and Jimmy Carter would have each had 8 years in the presidency. At which point the crowd burst into applause and cheers. (And at which point I inhaled my double Jameson and promptly ordered another, in an attempt to chase these nightmarish visions from my mind).

The peace at any price crowd, and their historical obliviousness to the results of appeasing totalitarian regimes, dumbfounded me then and still does today. Maybe I can glean some insight on them at the Macalester protest march that's scheduled to wind its way perilously close to my house this afternoon. In yesterday's National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg does a good job of exposing the moral bankruptcy of this position, so I'll let him do the talking for me in this regard.

But as I mentioned, Gene McCarthy is an engaging personality. Despite his abysmally wrong-headed policy recommendations and philosophy, he is good humored, intelligent, and well-educated. And he has a talent for eloquently zinging those he disagrees with. The Coleman article includes a couple of shots worth quoting.

On US Senator Robert Byrd (who, by the way is only two years younger then McCarthy):

We used to have a saying in the Senate that if a guy quotes the Constitution, he's in trouble and if he quoted the Bible, he was in a lot of trouble. But if he was in real trouble, he quoted Senate rules. Bobby was always a man to quote the rules."

And on the Democratic party, toward whom McCarthy seems to have soured on since being denied the Presidential nomination in 1968:

When his 1968 presidential bid faltered in the aftermath of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the riots of the Chicago Democratic convention and the Machiavellian maneuvers of LBJ, he proposed a new emblem for the Democratic Party. Instead of a donkey, he suggested the party use five prehistoric pigs that had been found in a glacier, frozen in a circle, each pig's snout burrowed for warmth into the behind of the one ahead. "That's a better image for the Democrats," he says. "I've been using it ever since."

Friday, March 21, 2003

Lighten Up

Calling Bush a terrorist or comparing him to Hitler is okay but this cartoon is unacceptable?

A sit-in continued for a second day yesterday over a college newspaper cartoon describing the actions of the Olympia peace activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer as the definition of stupidity.

The cartoon depicts a woman sitting in front of a bulldozer with the dictionary definition of the word "stupidity" listed below, along with an additional definition: "3. Sitting in front of a bulldozer to protect a gang of terrorists."

You got a better word to describe it?

Somethin' aint right here

Tom Brokaw is crying.

After interviewing Nancy Chamberlin, the mother of a marine pilot killed yesterday, he broke down on air and had to take a moment to collect himself.

I have to wonder if this happened during the Big One, or 'Nam, where the loss of life was much, much greater. Brokaw is the personification of our country's losing the connection to the realities of war: men die, often in great numbers. We don't like it, but we accept it as the price of freedom.

Crying over the death of each professional soldier and trying to wring every ounce of emotional blood from interviewing their mothers is not consistent with how we handle the greatest sacrifice our men make.

The lights are on but nobody's home

I happened to have CNN on right at noon (9:00 Baghdad time) when the main bombing began. I will readily admit to loud cheering, whooping and clapping. Yeah, it was cool, but when you call something shock and awe, you had better deliver. I'll say that I had more shock and awe when I saw the graphics for some of the new PS2 games like Pro Beach Volleyball and that one where the English criminals kick people's asses. And I don't even have a PS2.

Peter Arnett was reporting breathlessly about "Shock and awe indeed" and I suppose if I were there I would be more shocked and awed, but I am somewhat letdown.

Nancy Pelosi was just on NBC telling us that "Everyone who sees this just wants it to end soon". Well, no. I would like to see plenty more.

Hollywood Extras Deployed In Iraq?

This bit from a Washington Post story is priceless:

At least 60 and as many at 250 Iraqis surrendered. Col. Steve Cox of the British Marines told the Reuters news agency that U.S. Marines under British command captured 250 Iraqis near Umm Qasr. Television images from other parts of Iraq also showed Iraqi prisoners, marching in single file with their hands behind their heads. Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf, the Iraqi information minister, said the images were fabricated.

"Those were not Iraqi soldiers at all," he said. "Where did they get them from?"

After his gig as Iraqi information minister is up (say seventy two hours max) be sure to catch Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf at a comedy club near you.
Recommended By Nine Out Of Ten Dictators

When I heard that the Iraqi bunker that was the first target of the air campaign was built by a German firm specifically for Saddam I wasn't surprised. Who else would you want building you a bunker if not the Krauts? I even considered doing a satirical piece on the German company pitching their business by bragging about their long history of bunker design and construction (You've heard of the Fuhrer bunker of course? That was my grandfather's baby.) But as is often the case truth is stranger than fiction:

According to Germany's Focus magazine, the $150 million bunker, designed to withstand missile attacks and bomb blasts, was built by German firm Boswau and Knauer, who built air-raid shelters for Hitler's Third Reich in World War II.

Saddam wasn't going to put all his eggs in one basket though and just to be sure he also had a bunker built by Yugoslavians:

When Saddam visited Yugoslavia in 1976 — he was Iraq's vice president at the time — Tito bragged to him about his luxuriously appointed bunker, which was built to house 500 people and survive a nuclear attack.

Saddam became president in 1979, and during the 1980s Tito sent the same engineers who built his bunker to build a smaller version for the Iraqi leader near the Republican Palace and the 14 July Bridge in central Baghdad.

He was also considering a French bunker design fully ventilated to allow smoking, with a large wine cellar, and a screening room with a complete collection of Jerry Lewis movies. But he found the lack of shower facilities off putting and turned it down.

Boys Don't Cry

Good news, my internet access has been partially restored. At least this is good news for the Elder. His solo stewardship of this fine blog has been inspired, at times brilliant. But I fear he may be creatively wrung out, as evidenced by his plans to post his grocery list later today, followed excerpts of the dark, abstract poetry he was writing during his stint in a Cure tribute band a few years back. (Here's a picture of him with his stage makeup on).

However, I say my Internet access has been partially restored, since sometimes it works and sometimes it don't. Therefore my contributions may be sporadic, skethchy and uneven for the time being. I'm in the midst of mediating a debate between customer service representatives of Earthlink and Apple as to who gets to claim responsibility for this problem. I'll be sure to update everyone upon identification of the guilty party. To those readers who've encountered pain and suffering due to this unjust absence of me from their lives, feel free to file the class action lawsuit at that time.

Just Secede Already

Last night, a crowd in Montreal booed as the U.S. national anthem was played before a game between Les Canadians and the New York Islanders:

A significant portion of the crowd booed throughout ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' in an apparent display of their displeasure with the U.S.-led war against Iraq. More than 200,000 people turned out for an anti-war demonstration in Montreal last Saturday.

Some of the players were not amused:

Teammate Mark Parrish, a native of Bloomington, Minn., was upset hearing the boos.

''I came to the game pretty pumped up, but once I heard that it really got me going,'' Parrish said. ''So I guess I can thank them a little bit for getting me more pumped up.''

Is any surprised that this happened in a French Canadian city? Next time the Quebecois start whining about leaving Canada the rest of the country should call their bluff and show 'em the door.

By the way the Islanders won 6-3.

Right Here, Right Now

When I was young I always thought that I had missed out on all the big moments in history. I loved reading about the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the World Wars and found the time I was living awfully dull by comparison. In 1978, when I was ten years old, I can recall watching a news retrospective on 1968, the year of my birth. Man, I thought, I missed all the excitement. War in Vietnam, riots in the cities, assassinations. How come nothing exciting like that happens anymore? (Remember I was ten.)

Growing older (and I would hope wiser) I began to realize that I was living through historically important events even though I didn't always appreciate it at the time. The Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Falklands War, Grenada, Glasnost. Perhaps not everything noteworthy was relegated to the past, as I had earlier believed.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Gulf War (all in a space of a few years while I was in college) I was able to understand the history making events that I was witnessing and know that I was living in a time that would be remembered years into the future.

But then what? The end of history if Francis Fukuyama was to be believed. The 90's blissfully rolled on with little indication that we were on the verge a new era that would shake the course of history. Sure there was Somalia. And Bosnia and Kosovo. And in the distant background, acts of terrorism against American interests. But they seemed like isolated affairs unlikely to be much talked about or remembered in the long run.

Then came 9/11. Followed by the campaign in Afghanistan. The painfully slow marathon waltz over Iraq at the U.N. And now it's almost surreal as we watch hostilities unfold in Iraq, long standing alliances crumble, and new ones emerge that will surely alter the geopolitical landscape for years to come. We're at a crossroads for our country and our world that may well prove to be a decisive turning point, hopefully in the right direction. History is being shaped. And we’re living it. Right here. Right now.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

A Security Matter

A number of readers have inquired as to whether it would be possible for Saint Paul and JB Doubtless to travel to Fraters HQ West in order to post material. Unfortunately, this would be a strict violation of our security policy to never gather in one location so as not to present too inviting a "target of opportunity". For the same reasons we are not allowed to fly on the same aircraft or light three cigarettes off one match (Snipers!). On rare occasions public gatherings have been permitted provided that the location has been thoroughly scouted beforehand and they don't charge too much for a pint of Summit.

Time To Put This Dog Down

My news channel of choice for war coverage is Fox News. I've been flipping back and forth on some others as well including CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC during the Kudlow and Kramer show. But Fox News, despite the presense of Geraldo, offers what I consider the best combination of reporters, pundits, and guests (the ex-military guys are coming out of the wood work again). When Brit Hume is on with Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, and Mara Liasson (who knew someone from NPR could be so even handed?) it's tough to beat.

But how in the name of God's green earth did Sheppard (a.k.a. Shep) Smith land such a prime role? The man is clueless, inarticulate, and struggles to pronounce words that most five year olds have mastered. It's bad enough to watch his blank face as he reads the latest news off a teleprompter but now they're putting him on with guests and having him do Q&A sessions. I assume that he's got an ear piece with a producer off camera feeding him questions but now and again you'll notice Shep try to strike out on his own and it's a friggin' disaster. Memo to Fox News; don't ask an anchor who has no apparent military knowledge or concept of strategy engage in conversation with ex-generals. It's not pretty.

Shep's probably a nice guy. Loyal, obedient, and probably even house broken. But he ain't a top dog. Why does Fox News continue to treat him like one?
Demanding Music Fans

Good piece by Kimberly Strassel at OpinionJournal on the how the Dixie Chicks badly misunderstood the expectations of their fans:

What to make of all this? The press is suggesting that the general public is finally "fed up" with the nattering nabobs of negativism known as artists. In fact, this is a story that could only have happened in the country music world. That's because country music is the embodiment of patriotism. Its most enduring themes are love of country, a strong America, duty and sacrifice (and yes, broken hearts, dusty bars and going fishing). Country stars, whatever their politics, tend to pull together in times of national crisis. And fans don't just expect all this--they demand it.

Communications Breakdown

Links to the internet over at Fraters HQ East a.k.a. the Eagles Nest have been severed and at this point have not been restored. A complete investigation is underway but for now the prime suspects are some scraggily looking Macalester students who were spotted in the neighborhood earlier in the week working under the guise of gathering signatures for a petition to promote clean water.

Thankfully security has not been compromised at Fraters HQ West a.k.a. the Wolves Lair no doubt due in some measure to the recent installation of the moat (filled with alligators AND lions) and a doubling of the hounds available for release.

An Ill Timed Distraction

Let's hope this disturbing story on the reasons behind the resignation of the White House anti-terror boss turns out to be a case of a disgruntled minority airing their grievances in public and does not represent the views of the majority of those fighting terrorism.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

No Half Measures

The best part of the President's speech:

"Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. We will accept no outcome but victory."

He also remarked that the members of the thirty five nation coalition will "share our honor" which means that those nations that have acted less than honorably up to this point will not be included. C'est la vie.

Longing For My Big Wheel

Nerf football? Tracer guns? Lincoln logs? How about Mattel Electronic Football? This site has four pages of some of the coolest toys ever complete with pictures and witty banter. Example:

Smurfs were a great collectible for the little girls and gay boys in my neighborhood growing up.

and who can't relate to this description of the venerable Tonka Truck:

The staple of any sandbox (next to catshit), these rough metal trucks were one of the most durable and long lasting toys ever created.

Mediscary Stats

From a report of The Boards of Trustees for Medicare to the Congress on the future of Medicare:

2002 - 7.8 percent of total federal INCOME taxes used for Medicare
Part B (clinic visits, outpatient care)
2077 - 32.7 percent of total federal INCOME taxes used for Medicare Part B

2003 - 6.8% withheld from Social Security payment for Medicare Part B
2020 - 12.4% withheld from Social Security payment for Medicare Part B

2003 - about 4 workers for every Medicare Part A (hospitalization) recipient
2077 - about 2 workers for every Medicare Part A (hospitalization) recipient

2003 - Medicare costs are 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)
2035 - Medicare costs are 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)
2077 - Medicare costs are 9.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)

What does this mean for the average Joe Six Pack or Sally House Coat out there? According to the Citizen's Council on Health Care (CCHC):

"Everyone under the age of 50 should be prepared for a future without Medicare".

Well, at least we'll have our Social Security to fall back on right?

Now That's What I Call March Madness

Before we commence with the feudin' with Iraq an important matter needs to be addressed:

The WCHA Final Five tournament in St. Paul which kicks off Thursday. For us college hockey fans ( .00067% of the US population according to 2000 census figures, just ahead of transsexual Eskimos) the WCHA Final Five is the start of three weeks of nirvana on the ice ending with the Final Four (I refuse to say "Frozen Four") which will held in Buffalo this year on April 10th-12th.

In the interests of a little friendly inter-staff competition Will the Thrill and I will face off in a series of predications beginning with the WCHA Final Five and ending with the Final Four. Here goes:

#4 North Dakota vs. #5 Minnesota-Duluth

UND hasn't been faced with the prospect of having to win the "play in game" in the WCHA tourney lately as they're usually among the top teams in the league. Meanwhile Duluth hasn't even made the Final Five for five years. Duluth has been hot lately while the Sioux limped through the second half of the season. This will be a wide open affair with goaltending proving to be the difference. North Dakota has plenty of offensive firepower but their net minders have been suspect all year. The Dogs win 5-4 possibly in OT.

#2 Minnesota vs. #3 Minnesota State-Mankato

One message for all those Maverick fans looking for hotel rooms in Buffalo. Don't believe the hype. MSU had a great regular season but I still don't believe that they're for real. Last weekend's playoff performance against a feeble Wisconsin team did nothing to dispel my doubts. The Gophers are rolling and, even though Mankato always plays 'em tough, will be too much for the Mavericks to handle. Minnesota 5 MSU 3.

#1 Colorado College vs. #5 UMD

The Dogs dreams end here (although their play-in game victory might be enough to gain an NCAA spot) as CC just has too much talent for them. CC 6 UMD 3

#1 Colorado College vs. #2 Minnesota

This could be a great game with the Gophers playing in front of a friendly crowd and CC probably the best team in college hockey. I still don't trust Travis Weber as a big game goalie and CC should be able to beat him often enough to win. Of course I thought the same thing about Doogie Hauser last year and he proved me and a lot of other critics very wrong. I'd love to be wrong on this one too but I gotta go with the Tigers say 4-3.

College Hockey Playoff Time

The WCHA Final Five tournament runs in St. Paul at the Xcel Center from Thursday to Saturday. The WCHA is once again a tough conference this season, and some great college hockey will be in store. And thank goodness Time-Warner Cable and Fox Sports North settled their dispute so that a lazy, crowd-shunning loner like myself can once again watch college hockey from the comfort of my futon. I was worried that I might actually have to drive over to St. Paul and drink plastic bottles of beer while listening to all the Minnesota fans repeatedly spell the name of the state they live in, making their second-grade teachers proud. Here are my predictions as to how the tournament will play out.

Play-in Game:

North Dakota vs. Minnesota Duluth ... Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin graduated a year ahead of me from UND. It was over fifteen years ago, so by now I can make up stuff like telling you that he and I split pitchers of beer at Whitey's in East Grand Forks after finals. This will be an interesting matchup as protege (Sandelin) faces the mentor (UND coach Dean Blais.) UND wins 4-3.


Colorado College vs. UND ... CC is arguably the best team in the country, while UND will likely be winded after playing its fifth game in a week - and two of those went to overtime. But both teams have pretty uniforms, so it'll have a nice visual feel. CC wins 5-2.

Minnesota vs. Minnesota State-Mankato ... I want MSU-M to win because then I can sing "who is the tall dark stranger there? Maverick is the name" to unsuspecting Gopher fans. But Minnesota will win so I'll hum The Rockford Files theme instead. Minnesota wins 5-3.


Colorado College vs. Minnesota ... After seeing Grant Potulny score that clutch goal last weekend with a second left in a period, it gave me the gut feeling that this defending national champion Gopher team will keep winning until somebody delivers them the knockout punch. That may not happen until the NCAA Frozen Four. Minnesota wins 5-4 in overtime.

For more WCHA Final Five picks, stay tuned as the Elder has promised to post his predictions here sometime before the first face-off Thursday night.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

We Could All Use Some Good News

"If you are going to eat, something has to die."
- Ted Nugent

The Mud Pie vegetarian restaurant on 26th and Lyndale in South Minneapolis has closed. The new owners of the space have acquired a liquor license and will be specializing in selling all sorts of hot dogs and sausages. Pass that mustard ... yeah, I'll have another beer.
Biased or Just Plain Lazy?

A story in yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune illustrates the difficulties in distinguishing between genuine liberal bias in the paper's reporting and just blame sloppy journalism (unfortunately both are all too often evident). Here is reporter Randy Furst's description of the anti-war vigils held on Sunday:

On street corners and in church parking lots, in city parks and on lakefronts, opponents of war with Iraq gathered at dusk for the demonstrations. Most of the vigils had been set up in the past few days, with information spreading almost entirely by Internet and word of mouth.

A Web site called announced the vigils last week and urged people to sign on.

Now I'm not a reporter and haven't studied journalism in college but might this not be a situation that calls for some background on the group that organizied the vigils? Would it have been too much to at least visit the web site and learn:

1. MoveOn was started in 1998 to oppose the attempts to impeach President Clinton

2. In the past they have fought attempts to repeal the estate tax, have favored imposing price controls on energy, and supported further gun control restrictions

3. They are currently campaigning against the Estrada nomination in the Senate

4. After 9/11 they opposed any military response to the WTC attacks

5. They are now aligned with the umbrella group anti-war group 'Win Without War' as well as 'Musicians United to Win Without War'

If you spend two minutes on their site it's obvious that MoveOn is a partisan advocacy group. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Or with the positions they advocate for. But shouldn't the Strib reporter have at least made mention of the background and politics of MoveOn? I have a hard time imaging any similar group from the right not being labeled as "conservative" or "right wing" in the paper.

Biased or lazy? They report. We try to decide.

Let Us Not Forget

Today I've read and heard numerous times that "we're on the verge of war" or "we're going to war within 48 hours". Let's get something straight. We've been at war since September 11, 2001. This is another stage in the conflict but it's part of the same wider war.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Thought For This Evening

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid."
-General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Brett For Commish?

The always outspoken Brett Hull offers up his top ten ideas for improving the NHL game at The Hockey


There are further details for each proposal at The Hockey News link. My favorite was Hull's comments on the instigator rule:

It's a revenge free-for-all instead of going after the guy who started it. Maybe if the guy knew he was going to be held accountable, he wouldn't take a run at the other team's star.

Also, the league really has to crack down on guys who wear visors, but who always instigate altercations and are basically a pain in the ass. Get rid of the instigator rule and after those guys get throttled once or twice, maybe they'll change the way they play.

Irish Ears Are Cryin'

In honor of St. Patty's Day our PA system here at work is featuring Irish folk music. All day. After another coupla hours of this I'll be begging for some Celine Dion.

More Media Bias?

Proving that no opinion is too absurd to make the editorial page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Patrick Scully described as "an artist and activist" writes today (not available online) that the lastest Minnesota Public Radio billboard campaign, which features the slogan "91.1 News. Crisis coverage", is an example of "fear based marketing that puts MPR in league with the White House". Try to not laugh just yet. He then goes on to conclude, "I suspect that MPR, like most of the media, is biased in support of the administration's pro war view".

Yes, MPR is just a tool of the Bush administration propaganda machine. Katherine Lanpher, Gary Eichten, and Garrison Keillor take their marching orders from Karl Rove. Thanks for the larf Patrick. You made my morning.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

The Legacy of a Tyrant

Dave Thompson is a Twin Cities-based lawyer and radio show host on KSTP AM1500*. Those of you who have listened to his show know he's a smart and articulate observer of politics and culture. I'm happy to report that he's been gracious enough to agree to occasionally post his commentary on Fraters Libertas. So please join me in welcoming Dave aboard.

His article today "The Legacy of a Tyrant" is a cogent historical comparison of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to ambitious totalitarian regimes of the past and the results of US action and inaction:

The Legacy of a Tyrant by Dave Thompson

I have to this point resisted the temptation to compare the Iraq showdown with other moments in history that served as a test of the free world's will and ability to stand up to a monstrous regime. It just does not seem as though Saddam Hussein has had, or ever will have, the effect on this world of Pol Pot or Fidel Castro, let alone Hitler, Lenin or Stalin. After all, Pol Pot killed up to 2 million innocent People. Castro has maintained his iron-fisted rule over Cuba for more than forty years and is the sole Communist influence in the West. Hitler and Stalin killed millions and seriously challenged democracy on the entire European continent. Surely Saddam Hussein does not measure up.

However, it is arguable that the legacy of a tyrant should not be judged by the size of the land mass he rules, his success in spreading his form of government, or perhaps even the number of dead and tortured left in his brutal wake. Rather, the tyrant's legacy should be measured by the way in which the rest of the world stands up and reacts to the challenge. So, from this we can draw two conclusions: first, we cannot draw any conclusions about a tyrant's legacy until he is out of power; and second, the tyrant does not determine his own legacy.

I am reading the recent work by Mona Charen entitled Useful Idiots, How Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First. In the first few chapters of the book, Ms. Charen chronicles the atrocities brought about by various Communist tyrants. She then provides ample evidence, including quotes, to demonstrate the degree to which the American left (and the European left for that matter) cannot find it within themselves to condemn any tyrant who does his dirty work in the name of socialism or Communism. Fortunately there seems to have been, at each critical point in history, men that have overcome opinion polls, political demonstrations and ridicule from the left. They have done the right thing, and we have them to thank for the fact that freedom is valued around the globe, rather than taking its place as an Orwellian memory erased from the history books. However, there are a few horrible chapters in history that are the result of the world’s failure to stop the torture and death brought to a nation or a group of people by a tyrant. Let's take a look at the contrast.

Joseph Stalin rose to power in the U.S.S.R. in 1929. For 24 years, he enforced the "Stalinist system" which resulted the in the torture and death of millions. It became clear to all rational observers that Communism does not coexist with freedom and human dignity. Nevertheless, many held out hope for a different U.S.S.R. when Nikita Khrushchev took the reigns. Although Khrushchev did not repeat the unimaginable atrocities committed by Stalin, he persecuted the religious and made it clear that the mission of Communism was to spread its influence throughout the world. Numerous Communist leaders, each just a bit more or less dictatorial than the other, followed Khrushchev. By the 1980’s, America had become accustomed to Communist leadership in Soviet Russia. Many on the political left were convinced that any evils brought to the world by Communism were at least equaled by the evils of capitalism and Western imperialism. Fortunately, at least one man in a position to do something about Soviet Russia disagreed.

President Ronald Reagan didn't accept the alleged "reforms" brought about under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. Thanks to his understanding of the nature of the regime and the will to take it on, the "wall" came down and the seven-decade dominance of the Communist Party in Soviet Russia and East Germany came to an end. We have since learned of the horrors that took place in the U.S.S.R. Now everyone wants to carry the mantra of cold warrior. The world passed the test put to it by Soviet Russia, albeit a bit late. The Soviet tyrants have no legacy. Everything they worked for has been taken apart literally, and symbolically with every brick that came out of the Berlin Wall.

The story of Pol Pot doesn't have such a happy ending. I can still remember as a young boy watching the last helicopters coming out of Viet Nam. America had been demoralized, if not defeated, by North Viet Nam. Casualties, war protests in America, and European criticism had combined to steal America’s resolve. The job of quashing the Communist influence in Southeast Asia had not been finished. In 1975, Pol Pot came to power in Cambodia, a Southeast Asian nation with a population of approximately 10 million. By 1978, Pol Pot and his Communist Khmer Rouge had killed somewhere between 1.5 million and 2 million people. The world, including America, allowed this to go on for nearly four years. The United States could have squashed Pol Pot and his thugs like a grape, but we gave in to the political left and looked the other way in the face of unspeakable acts against the people of that region.

With Soviet Russia we had the will, but no way until the 1980s. With Cambodia we had no will. Peace eventually came to Cambodia and much of the region due to the inability of the combatants to absorb any more punishment. What is Pol Pot's legacy? He pretty much accomplished what he set out to do. There is arguably a modicum of democracy in the region, but it is highly unstable and the ruling government is not exactly a proponent of Western style democracy or freedom. Pol Pot continued his influence in the region until his death in 1998.

The U.S., as leader of the free world, is now faced with Saddam Hussein. He is not a Communist, but operates just like one. He rules by fear, doesn't allow dissent, kills his own people, and wants to spread influence throughout the region. All of the arguments for taking him out and for appeasing him are identical to the arguments that were made for and against every major tyrant of the 20th Century. If allowed to remain in power, Saddam will continue the repression of his people and threaten other nations within and beyond the Middle East. He will prove that tyrants can survive, and that the free world will not put an end to a hostile regime. On the other hand, if the United States eliminates his ability to threaten the world and repress his people, the momentum toward democratization of the world will continue. To this point, Saddam has been allowed to control his own destiny. But someday his reign will come to an end, either by force or by force of nature. He will either be remembered as the barbarian that was the last great tyrant of Iraq, or as the man who stood up to the world and won. Which will be his legacy? Only we can determine that.

* The Dave Thomspon Show can be heard on KSTP-AM (1500) every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3PM.
Do the French Have a Word for Insouciance?

Have you ever had the experience of reading a Laura Billings column, coming across a sentence fragment which wasn’t even relevant to the column’s main thrust, yet was so maddening, misleading, and purposely vague that you dedicated the rest of your life to to disproving it and thus exposing her journalistic failures? Slowly picking away at the threads of her complex web of deceit until it all unravels! Exposing a stinking clump of lies, so foul, so heinous, that not even the editors of the Pioneer Press could stand to breathe the fetid air belching out from her cubicle any longer!!! (Preceding sentences to be read using a Newman-esque tone of indignant outrage).

You haven’t? Well then I haven’t either. But ... I have been investigating the accuracy of a sentence fragment she included in a column last week. To quote:

in the year since we "liberated" that country (Afghanistan), child malnutrition has nearly doubled.

Last week I posted a rebuttal to her implication that the US did more harm than good in the overthrow of the Taliban regime. But I also wanted to run down the statistic itself. First, to see if it was accurately cited by Billings and second, to verify the organization originating the statistic was credible and that their methodology was valid.

I’m going to do you a favor by making a long and dreadfully dull story slightly less so by not going into the details. Or do you like painstaking descriptions of unproductive Google search string variations on “malnutrition” and “Afghanistan”? If you do, let me know as I’ve got the long winded account residing on my hard drive, awaiting future media historians, my personal biographers, or perhaps future members of my psychiatric team.

In summation, the research study producing this statistic does not exist anywhere on the Internet, at least in English. (If your Google skills are superior to mine and you can find it, let me know). The study was referenced in a picture caption in a New York Times Week in Review (link no longer available) which Ms. Billings cited to me in an e-mail as a source for the information. And it was referenced on a blog called Bloggy (which I found on my own, and which includes a remarkably similar commentary on the data as Billings provided, right down to the use of scare quotes around the word “liberate”). But that’s it.

I’m not sure why the alleged sponsoring organization, Action Contre de la Faim, wouldn’t have a press release available (in English) on their Web site. Or why they don’t distribute the study anywhere on the Internet. Perhaps their French sensibilities dictate they use carrier pigeon or singing telegram or a Pony Express-like intercontinental cancan line to communicate the results to the media. Since I’m not on their distribution route, I only have a few flimsy shreds of information to judge the accuracy of the statistic. But judge I must and thus far I conclude the following:

1) According to the New York Times citation, the statistic references malnutrition in Kabul only, not all of Afghanistan as Billings stated.

2) The reported increase was from 6% to 11%. While this is indeed “almost doubling”, the overall scope is still relatively small. Stating “almost double” without context misleads the reader into making catastrophically high projections. Even if the data is correct, it’s an icrease of 5 percentage points.

3) According to the Bloggy reference (which sounds way too chipper for this subject matter), the main cause of this alleged increase in malnutrition was an influx of refugees. Approximately 1 million Afghanis, returning to their country from abroad. Meaning that the removal of the Taliban regime and the creation of an American sponsored government has convinced these individuals the conditions in their country may be tolerable again (which I think is incontrovertible evidence of “liberation”).

4) The sponsoring organization for the stat was French. A nation whose primary ethnic characteristic is lying to further their own interests.

But if their Frenchness alone isn’t enough to ruin their credibility in your judgment, check out this article from World Corporal Punishment Research (whose swim suit issue comes out next week, by the way). This is from April of 1997, which was prime time for the pre-”liberation” Taliban way of doing things:

Afghan charity workers receive lashing, set free

KABUL (Reuters) -- Five local employees of a Paris-based aid organization have been released by the purist Taleban after receiving lashings yesterday for being in the same compound as unveiled Afghan women.

"The five men were released today after receiving a symbolic lashing on their backs and legs", Jean-Fabrice Pietri, the director of Action Contre la Faim's (Action Against Hunger) Afghan program, said yesterday.

The five Afghans, with two Frenchmen, were arrested on Feb. 21 after a lunch given by the charity's female expatriates for their Afghan female employees. The seven men were tried and found guilty on March 21 of crimes associated with being in the same compound as unveiled Afghan women.

The two Frenchmen, Jose Daniel Llorente and Frederic Michel, were sentenced to a month in prison -- which they were deemed to have already served -- and to deportation. The five local staff were sentenced to one and a half months in prison and between 9 and 29 lashes.

Since the Taleban took Kabul last September, they have decreed that women should wear an all-enveloping, shroud-like veil when in the public and in the presence of men who are not family members. Pietri said that although he believed the men were innocent, he thought the way that the judge had administered the punishment showed leniency.

"On principle, we are not satisfied because we believe that these men are innocent, but the way they applied the punishment was not so bad," he said. "The cook's 29 lashes were over in 29 seconds, and the men were allowed to keep their clothes on. They were all wearing three pullovers. The whipping happened outside in the court compound, with probably 30 people looking on. The whip was a flexible piece of thick leather about 60 centimetres long and 6 centimetres wide," he said.

Classic French appeasement-speak. Their employees are imprisoned for a month and lashed repeatedly with a leather strap, all for the crime of being in the presence of unveiled women at a “thank you” luncheon, and the director of Action Contre la Faim calls the punishment merely symbolic , lenient, and “not so bad”. Then years later they allow the US to be portrayed as the villain in this drama.

And how about Laura Billings? The brutal, fascist, anti-woman Taliban government is removed, the Afghanis flood back into their country, causing what could be a temporary increase in malnutrition, and she uses this as an opportunity to condemn the US, the true liberators of Afghanistan, instead of those who created the refugee crisis in the first place.

Until now I didn’t realize Billings was a French word. I think it means sophistry. (Or does sophistry mean sophistry in French? I wouldn’t know, given the option to take French in high school, I took woodshop instead.)

Friday, March 14, 2003

It Aint Over Until It Starts

Two contributors from National Review Online, commenting on the perils of engaging in the UN approved route for disarming Iraq.

Victor Davis Hanson:

Nothing is worse for a great power than to ask others far less moral for permission to use its power; and nothing weakens a great power more than intervening and intruding frequently but rarely decisively. Had we simply ignored the U.N. — as Mr. Clinton did in Kosovo — and moved unilaterally last fall (like Russia and France do all the time), Saddam Hussein would be gone, and we now would have more impressed friends than we do disdainful enemies. Instead, we await China's moral condemnation of our unilateral action — this from a regime that in the last 50 years butchered more of its own citizens than any government in the history of civilization, annexed Tibet, invaded Korea and Vietnam, and threatened to annihilate Taiwan. France hysterically alleges that we will harm the city of Baghdad in its liberation, but is silent about the Russian destruction of Grozny in its subjugation.

David Frum:

1. Saddam has been given almost four extra months to prepare his defenses, booby traps, and plans for revenge.

2. U.S. and British troops have spent four extra months in tents in the desert. I don’t know about you, but five months of breathing sand would not do wonders for my morale.

3. The U.S. now goes into the war without even a figleaf of UN support. In November, we could have said that we were going to war on the authority of Security Council Resolution 1441 – or because Iraq had violated the terms of its 1991 armistice. Now, we’re going to war despite being told “no” by the UN.

4. The antiwar demonstraters of Europe have used the time to organize and mobilize – creating political problems for many American friends and offering radical Islamist forces inside Europe (for the first time) access to something close to mainstream politics.

These costs may not ultimately be prohibitive, but they are onerous. Oh and one last one – for four months, we’ve deprived ourselves of the best reply to the antiwar opponents: victory.


(Sung to the music of Imagine by John Lennon)

Imagine there's no U.N.
It's easy if you try
No meaningless resolutions
No need to wonder why?
Imagine all the countries
Thinking for themselves...

Imagine there's no French veto
It isn't hard to do
No Dominique De Villipen
And no Kofi Annan too
Imagine all the countries
Taking care of themselves...

You may say I'm a cowboy
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday we'll pull out
And the U.N. will be done

Imagine no committees
I wonder if you can
No blue helmeted peacekeepers
Worthless to the man
Imagine all the countries
Defending their sovereignty...

You may say I'm a cowboy
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday we'll pull out
And the U.N. will be done

Who Would Really Be "In A Box"?

An editorial in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune proposes that instead of war with Iraq we should attempt containment:

It's time to try something else, and Bush has, by his forceful display of military power, created another viable option: long-term containment of Saddam. Iraq is disarming, slowly, and the weapons inspectors make it almost impossible for Saddam to restart his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. An enhanced weapons regime, with even more people on the ground and surveillance craft in the air, arguably would make it fully impossible.

The editorial does not get into specifics about how many troops would be required for this containment. Calling it "containment" is not entirely accurate as we would not just need forces to prevent Iraq from expanding (which was the goal of containment in the Cold War), rather we would have to have a large enough force to be able to threaten to enforce disarmament, which is what we are trying to do today. Right now we have 250,000 troops in the Gulf for that purpose so I would assume that most of them would be required for adequate containment as well.

There are so many things wrong with this plan that it's hard to know where to begin.

The Safety of US forces

Can we really ask our young men and women to sit in the desert for untold years within easy range of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons? What about terrorist attacks? And what about the morale of the troops? Waiting and inaction kill the spirit of armed forces. Kuwait is not like Germany. Many of our forces are literally camping out in the dessert. For how many years can we expect them to do this? And if they are then called into action can we expect them to perform to anywhere near their peak levels?


Lately we've heard a lot of talk about the cost of the war and how many kindergartens we could build instead (what about the children?) but what is it going to cost us to keep 250,000 troops in the Gulf indefinitely? Of course if there is a war there will be a huge price to pay and the postwar occupation and rebuilding of Iraq will not be cheap. But as soon as the war ends and the rebuilding begins our costs should continue to decrease year after year. And the Iraqi oil revenue could be used to foot a large portion of the rebuilding bill instead of building WOMD and palaces for Saddam as it does now. If we opt for containment the check is going to be ours alone with a tab that might be open for years.

Forces Tied Down

Tying down such a large contingent of our forces will also limit our ability to project power elsewhere in the world. if we go to war we'll be in the same boat for a while but after Iraq is somewhat stabilized we should be able to withdraw a good chunk of our troops for use elsewhere. The containment policy would leave them committed to the Gulf for an undetermined length of time. And in the event that we had to pull some of these forces out for action elsewhere it would be an invitation for Saddam to cause trouble.


Perhaps most distressing of all this plan would leave Saddam in power and once again sell the Iraqi people out. While his ability to build WOMD might be limited under containment it would not alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people nor bring them any closer to freedom.

Iran & The Rest of the Middle East

What would the Iranians take from this policy? The mullahs in power would see no consequences for pursuing WOMD and supporting terrorism and would have little reason to cease doing so. The Iranian opposition would see that despite verbal support from the U.S. when the rubber meets the road they can expect no help from us in freeing their country. The same could be said for Syria (although at this point there isn't much of a Syrian opposition to speak of). Containment would do little to encourage Egypt or Saudi Arabia to pursue more democratic government and would do nothing at all to promote democracy in the region which a liberated Iraq could.


Does anyone really believe that we would actually vigorously enforce this containment policy for years given our past history with Iraq? I can envision it slowly weakening over time as has happened previously. The French and Russians would be continually pushing us to ease up the inspections or lift sanctions. With no imminent threat we would gradually draw down our forces in the region and focus our attention elsewhere. Saddam would play his usual games and we would do nothing. Five years, maybe more, down the road the inspections would have ceased, we would have no meaningful force to threaten Iraq, and Saddam once again would be free to do as he pleases. If I had to choose between a containment policy and the Buchananite isolationist position of packing up and going home I would choose the latter, for in in the long run it is the less harmful alternative.

Finally what would we gain from containment? According to the Strib's editorial:

It is also a war the world clearly won't countenance. Rather than pushing for a vote they will lose on a new Security Council resolution, the United States and Britain should be searching for a containment strategy that will be acceptable to the council. For a host of reasons -- not least the serious damage it would do to the core postwar notion of multilateralism -- the United States simply can't do this on its own.

What exactly has that precious "notion of multilateralism" achieved for us anyway? Multlateralism and a buck fifty will get you a cup of coffee in today's world.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Signs of Life in the Democratic Party

I watched Dick Gephardt on the John Stewart show the other day and was going to write about. But I found this guy (via Instapundit) who beat me to it. He does a pretty good job on the details, so I'll concede the floor to him in this regard.

In summation, my impression is that Gephardt came off almost human in his ability to communicate with the people. The ability to portray oneself in this lifelike fashion is the first and largest hurdle any modern politician must overcome. Most, especially on the Democratic side, simply do not have this power. Gephardt's ability to appear to be fully conscious, breathing, and engaged by the stimulus around him stands in stark contrast to the cadaverous John Kerry and the impenetrable, oilslick delivery of John Edwards. So I'm putting him as the odds on favorite for the Democratic nomination.

The crowd at the Stewart show (and Stewart himself) proved themselves to be highly partisan, wildly supportive of any condemnations of the Bush administration. When Gephardt stated that the President had made nothing but mistakes in terms of his foreign policy, the crowd cheered. Later, when bashing Bush on the economy, Gephardt stated something to the affect that "we need to get every person in the country covered by medical insurance." The crowd exploded with applause and cheers. However the moment was saved when Stewart replied, in reference to the crowd, "Yes, Mr. Gephardt, but you must understand, most of these people are suffering from severe impetigo."