:: Saturday, February 07, 2004 ::
Lame, lame, lame
:: Thursday, February 05, 2004 ::
I think highly of most of Michael Kinsley's articles, but his latest one about "electability" is just stupid:
[Democratic voters] ricochet from candidate to candidate, hoping to smell a winner. In effect, they give their proxy to the other party. "If I was a Republican," they ask themselves, "which of these Democratic candidates would I be most likely to vote for?"...
A favored tactic of Dean and his supporters, calling any Democrat who doesn't support them a Republican (or someone who thinks like one). This business about Dean being the only "inspiring" candidate, the one true Democrat who says what everyone really believes, is such patronizing nonsense. People can actually disagree about the Iraq war, some aspects of tax cuts, etc., and yet still be Democrats. Almost all Democrats agree with each other far more on every major issue than they do with any Republicans, and yet some Deaniacs still insist on saying that everyone else besides their guy is fake. Whatever. Dean and his supporters took their share of unfair hits from the other candidates and their supporters, but the insufferable arrogance and condescension that emanated from the Dean camp is surely as big a factor in his collapse as almost anything else.
Some Democrats cheated and looked into their hearts, where they found Howard Dean. But he was so appealing that he scared them. This is no moment to vote for a guy just because he inspires you, they thought. If he inspires me, there must be something wrong with him. So, Democrats looked around and rediscovered John Kerry. He'd been there all along, inspiring almost no one. You're not going to find John Kerry inspiring unless you're married to him or he literally saved your life. Obviously neither of those is a strategy that can be rolled out on a national level. But he's got the résumé.
A different look up close
:: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 ::
I saw a short (20/25 minutes) documentary at the campus Hillel last night, called "Keep on Dancing," made by an Israeli model and actress called Grace Mozes, who's originally from Brazil. It's centered around the build-up to the Independence Day celebrations in 2002 and the effects of all the terrorism going on at the time, focusing on a lot of her friends and associates who are DJs, singers, and entertainers of various types. The title refers to what some of the relatives of the victims of the 2001 Dolphinarium nightclub suicide bomb attack wrote on a memorial for them. The documentary was pretty good, with some focus on a couple of the surviving victims of the attacks as well, and their long struggle to recover in hospitals.
Grace was there to talk about it afterwards. What stunned me was how completely different she looked from the picture they used here to promote the event. It wasn't just that her hair color was different in person (blond), I simply never would have recognized her from the picture. She's very beautiful in person, of course, but just not the same look at all as that picture, except for the eyes. Pretty remarkable how different someone can look in a publicity shot. I also found this shot of her on Google, which is closer to what she looked like in person, although with different hair again. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think even these two different pictures really look that much alike with each other. If I had seen both them separately before or after seeing her in person, I probably would have guessed that it was three different gorgeous ladies, not all the same one!
:: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 ::
I didn't see the whole game, but there was a big win for the Cats last night at Florida. Having been outplayed for most of the second half, they finished strong in the last few minutes, and got a close win thanks to a stunningly choke-filled performance by Florida over that same final stretch. Another loss would have been pretty rough, coming right after a disappointing loss at Vanderbilt last week, so it should be a nice jolt of confidence for them to pull this one out.
:: Monday, February 02, 2004 ::
Regarding the news about Sharon's apparent commitment to a Gaza withdrawal, I think Yossi Verter has an accurate take on things in this article:
So far, it's all talk. Verbally, over the past three years, Sharon has established a Palestinian state, expelled Arafat and made numerous painful concessions. Even if Sharon ultimately does not carry out his plans, one thing cannot be disputed - his statements have caused the settlements immeasurable damage. No Israeli leader has ever undermined the legitimacy of the settlement project as has Sharon, the settlements' father. Anyone after him will be able to do whatever he wants to, with no real interference.
At least over the past year and a half or two years, I've figured that Sharon might eventually be persuaded by circumstances to go farther with steps towards changing the situation than many would have anticipated, although there's no real reason to think that he's going to be the one who leads everything to a permanent agreement. The particular political winds breathing down his neck right now certainly enforce that feeling on my part.
The three year stalemate brought Sharon to a point in which the political move seems to clash with the personal, legal issue. Whatever he does or says now will raise suspicion of ulterior motives, of trying to sway the attorney general. One minister said yesterday that Sharon wants to impress on the attorney general that if he indicts him, Mazuz will not only be removing a prime minister from office but cutting short a historic move supported by most of the public.
While I understand and sympathize with the concerns about retreating under fire, the decision to build any settlements at all in Gaza in the first place was so remarkably bad that there just isn't anything to be gained by staying there. If there were any way to completely "win the war" against the Palestinian terrorists, then it would have been over a long time ago. There just isn't any way to do that with force alone. And when the current situation brings instances where two 19-year-old girls, like this one and this one, are dying while stationed at Netzarim (along with a 21-year-old guy), it's long past time to give heavy weight to the price to be paid for staying there, even if leaving would somehow encourage more terrorism than that which has already been at a fever-pitch level for over three years running.
:: Sunday, February 01, 2004 ::
Everyone's comparing this Super Bowl to the one from two years ago, when New England also won on a last second field goal, but I think this was more like the 2000 Rams/Titans game: a mostly lame first three quarters leading up to a stunningly dramatic fourth quarter. A couple of different thoughts from Geoff's post: I might give the MVP to the Patriots' offensive line, which did a fabulous job protecting Tom Brady and giving the receivers time to get open. Also, as much as John Kasay deserves scorn for sending the last Carolina kickoff out of bounds, John Fox bungled things with a very dubious decision to go for two early in the fourth quarter. Had they just stuck with kicking extra points, and had the rest of the 4th quarter played out the way it did in terms of who scored TDs at what point (a reasonably likely scenario), then the last New England possession would have had them down 31-28 and going for a game-tying field goal, instead of tied at 29 and going for the game-winner. As a last thought, considering Adam Vinatieri's exploits in not only this Super Bowl (despite blowing a 31-yarder in the first quarter) and the one from two years ago, but also from playoff games in freezing Boston temperatures, he has to be considered as good a clutch kicker as anyone in league history.
Zvi Bar'el's latest column in Ha'aretz discusses the chaotic situation in the territories, without any leadership appearing to be even capable of taking control:
Arafat continues to lead the PA and no alternative leadership has sprung up. At the same time, the Israeli occupation of the territories is confined to the security aspect alone and is incapable of providing solutions for the population's civil needs.
The collapse of Arafat's authority, but not of his leadership position, has clearly been part of his plan, if one can call it that, over the past couple of years--get the benefits of international sympathy with none of the corresponding responsibilities for controlling the situation. Tough spot, with no easy way out.
The result is that the terrorist organizations are in control and are competing among themselves over the quality of the attacks against Israel, relying on a sympathetic Palestinian population that has accumulated enough reasons to abhor Israeli rule. This is a public that does not ask itself whether it is against one political plan or another, but which organization it supports.
Israel is rapidly approaching the stage in which it will no longer have even the option of offering the Palestinians a political plan, as it will have to offer them to the heads of organizations and not to a central governing institution. Yet Israel will also be unable to implement Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, because even if he does actually intend to go ahead with it, it is too thin, doesn't address the Palestinians' national aspirations and creates a prison of poverty and violence, without getting the IDF out of the territories.