.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

The Tally Ho

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

20 Years Too Late

In response to Steve's post dealing with BushCo propaganda, does anyone else see hints of 1984? Okay, we have the Ministry of Plenty--telling us blindly that the economy is incredibly better with tons of growth due to brilliant leadership. We have the Thought Police--aka Homeland Security--now, more than ever, capable of invading privacy in the name of "justice." We have the Two Minutes Hate--the short, pointed punch lines used by BushCo to simplify messages for the ignorant mass. For these statements, see also "newspeak" whereby we no longer expect leaders to maintain significant levels of speech, usage, or presentation beyond the "average." We have the Ministry of Truth--which serves to spread "truth" and correct history--see also Al Qaeda linked to Sadaam Hussein linked to WMD. We have the Ministry of Love--whose main purpose is to pass uber conservative amendments to the constitution--because Christianity is about compassion and denying citizens basic rights because they're different (apologies to the Religious right). And, last but certainly not least is the slogan. "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength." Perhaps BushCo didn't realize that they are a mere two decades late from making Orwell look like more of a genius than he is already considered...

Ramble On

Not much posting going on here. Not surprising, I know that Nicky is very busy, as are Dustin and Jason. Jeanette just got email, so give her time. But times are changing. It is that time of the year again. I was making a run to the post off for work and decided to walk by one of the local parks on the way. It was a gray and rainy day, one that was too warm for a jacket but too cool to be without one – a typical New York spring. But today was the first day that I noticed that green is back in the neighborhood. From November until April I would look across the park and see nothing but bare trees, the grey concrete of empty basketball courts, and the empty rooftops of many apartment buildings. Parks are essential for urban living because without them today would have just been another rainy day in the concrete jungle. So this was nice. However, there is a major change taking place. A building is coming down. This building housed a grocery store for 30 years. While it will be back when the new building is completed, the options for the residents have decreased for a short while.

On the political front it looks like BushCo is going to treat John Kerry like they treated John McCain in the 2000 primary and Max Cleland in the 2002 midterm elections. These chicken hawks are claiming that Kerry is weak on defense because he voted for cuts in defense programs, but Dick Cheney himself voted for or advocated these same cuts when he was Secretary of Defense for senior Bush ! This is the same Dick Cheney that sponsored legislation to increase taxes on gasoline and continued to say that Kerry raising gas taxes would be terrible. This is also the same Dick Cheney that supposedly told people that the nonexistent link between Iraq and Al Qaeda was actually existent. Now BushCo is questioning one of Kerry’s purple hearts (Kerry has 3 purple hearts, a bronze star and silver star) and his role in the protests against the Vietnam War. The sad thing is that people will buy it, or worse – that people don’t care.

Speaking of marches, it was nice to hear of how successful the march in Washington was this past weekend. Everything that I read and heard said that it was a cross-generational event and that the male gender was well represented. I would like to hear from Nicky what was reported by the European media.

Other than that, I think there is a good chance that I will be back in school next fall. I am tired, must sleep.

Be Seeing You

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Interesting Info for Those Looking for a Change

I came across an interesting discovery that I thought I might share with the culturally-interested members of the world. For those with more than $10,000 in a bank account, it is possible to obtain a "tourist visa" for anywhere from 3-12 months in Europe. Within that time period, if you so chose, you could search for jobs, practice languages, meet people, travel--whatever you wish. You cannot work. However, if you were applying for jobs and got hired, it is "relatively easy" to switch to a work visa from a tourist visa (whereas it is extremely difficult to switch from a student visa or a temporary work visa). So, for those who would like to try their hand at Europe for a while, I suggest taking a modest loan and coming to see what it is all about. It has changed my life in ways I never thought possible. That is all.

--Nico

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Must Read Article

This memo is a must read. Kos says that sources say the author probably is Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute and Middle East Forum. Here is the article from The Village Voice. Say what you want about the Village Voice, but at least they reported the CPA memo.

Like the Brooks article from Saturday, the author isn't criticizing the war - just what is going post 'mission accomplished.'

Two Compassionate Conservatives

Just a quick note. John Negroponte's appointment as US Ambassador to Iraq brought back memories. Not just of his confirmation hearing when he was nominated for US Ambassador to the United Nations, but also his fellow Reagan operative Elliot Abrams. Little fuss was made when this man who was pardoned by Senior Bush for lying to Congress when he returned to the White House in 2001. Abrams was one of the lame duck pardons of 41's last hours. One of the best lines from the David Corn article in June 2001 was this quote by Republican Senator Dave Durenberger at the hearing, "I wouldn't trust Elliott any further than I could throw Ollie North." Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post writes, "Twelve years later, Abrams is helping to shape White House policies toward many of the world's trouble spots. Appointed in December as President Bush's senior adviser on the Middle East, his responsibilities extend from Algeria to Iran. But nowhere is his influence more evident than on the Arab-Israeli peace process." Dobbs continues with this quote, “Abrams's appointment raised a ‘red flag for me and my community,’ said Khalil Jahshan, director of government affairs for the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. ‘If the president is serious about a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he picked the wrong person to manage the policy for him.’” How well do you think the Bush Administration has handled this peace process?

What can we learn about John Dimitri Negroponte? The first page of a quick google search gives you a pretty good idea. Negroponte was appointed by Reagan to be Ambassador to Honduras. Complaints of human rights violations followed Negroponte's appointment. This was also the time when the US massively increased military funding to help crush the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Two other sites: Mary Knoll.org , Foreign Policy in Focus (which includes other bios). Read the links, I have to run.

Is this the compassionate conservatism that Bush talks about? These are the diplomats in the "war on terror." They are key players in the Middle East peace process and now Iraq. Nick writes about being more tolerant to European dissent and concerns. I wonder what will happen as Bush continues to try to get the UN involved.

The State of My Life

First, hello Dustin. It's been a long time since beer and the blasphemy that was "society and war in the human experience."

Second, some banter on my life. Steve posted a bit about not knowing what to do. Well, as I sit in my flat in Paris, I find myself living two separate lives that don't mix with one another. On one end, I have a very nice life at home in the States with a large group of friends, a supportive family, and a promising career. Along with this comes much safety and security of the known variables of life and what my destiny would be if I were to stay there. In some ways, I feel a bit pressured by both my family and my friends to stay in the States and live the quiet, normal life that they all dream of. Admittedly, it's not a bad life--one of cookouts, cold beer, family, friends, career success. However, the other end of the spectrum appeals to me more. I love being in Paris. And, if not in Paris, I love Europe. London, Paris, Geneva--wherever I can find work. To make matters more complicated, I have fallen in love with a French woman. That, too, muddies the proverbial water a bit. So, now I brace myself by searching endlessly for a job in the EU (which, if you don't know, is a daunting task as the EU has a hiring freeze on non-EU citizens) and trying to find a way to get back across the ocean to my European home. However, to complicate things further, I have no yet completed my studies. Because I am an idiot and decided that three undergraduate majors would be a good idea, I have a full year of school left back home at university after I graduate in Paris in July. So, I have 3.5 months left in Paris, 10 months in the States while maintaining a trans-Atlantic relationship, and then finding a means to return to Europe--whether through work or through school while separating myself from my old friends and trying to explain to my family what MY life is supposed to be about. I don't look forward to my return to the States. I have to re-adjust to the Midwest and try to explain to my friends that I can't live like them anymore and then explain to my friends and family that I am returning to Europe less than a month after graduation. It's going to be a long, long 13 months. That is the state of my life. Any suggestions?

--Nico

Monday, April 19, 2004

Bombs Over Baghdad = Bombs Over Europe

From the international perspective on things, our lives have all changed more dramatically than American lives. Over the past years, Americans have spent their lives living in fear of terrorism, buying bottled water and canned food, complaining about longer lines at airports, and refusing to fly (my mother). Putting 9/11 casualties aside, let's look at the fate of civilians around the world in the Post 9/11/2001 aftermath. There is little need to discuss the way in which BushCo compiled its "Coalition" for the Iraq war, but Europe--as we all know--was less than pleased with it. Now, all of us in Europe are reeling from the decisions of BushCo. This is the point in the discussion where I should remind everyone of Madrid and 200+ civilian losses there or discuss international civilian hostages in Iraq. But, I want to look at the average citizen. Has the average American life really changed (apart from employment and standard of living) since Beta Bush administration and the War on Terror? My experience is no--correct me if I am wrong, but Americans still live in their cozy suburban neighborhoods, drive their cars to work work, fly to Florida or wherever else for vacation, and have few realistic worries of terrorism. In my mind, there two possible reasons for this. One reason is that "Homeland Security" is doing its job. The other is that it is only a matter of time.

However, on the other side of the Atlantic (you know, all of those European allies from the last 50 years that we isolated with the war in Iraq and would have completely lost if they were not dependent on our economy) life is different. Bush's "with us or against us" policy held Europe hostage. Spain proved that. If you support BushCo in an accessible part of the world, you will be a target. Hundreds of pages of international news coverage has been dedicated to reassuring Europeans that even if you didn't support BushCo, you're still a target. French and German press has been adamant about this. So, I ask you, "If we were protecting the world from this terrorist threat, why are we the only 'safe' nation in the world?" Steve found it interesting when I mentioned that the French authorities frequently close the metro. Yes, in the past month, I have been stuck on the metro due to bomb scares, threats, intelligence, and suspicious packages at least 12 times. One such stop was due to American intelligence received about a specific train at a specific time (Lucky for me, it's the RER A that I take almost every day through Paris). In addition, the SNCF (France's basic passenger railway) discovered a buried bomb on one of its lines in the countryside. But, such stories are buried deep in American press--to my knowledge, only the stop that came from American intelligence was reported in the States and was second-class news. What is most amazing about all of this is that the French citizens aren't scared. They ride the metro every day. They continue their lives. They don't panic. Perhaps if we all were a little more rational about life and death, we wouldn't be fighting frivolous wars. And, if the American public really knew the consequences that BushCo's foreign policy has had on the rest of the world's citizens, we might be a little more tolerant of European dissention to American foreign policy and perhaps more Americans would reevaluate their opinions on the war on terrorism and its real "benefits" to safety.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Brooks, Zinni, Woodward:

Is BushCo Losing their Backers as Media Coverage Shifts?

Did anyone else catch David Brooks’ last column in the New York Times, A More Humble Hawk? I found it quiet interesting. David Brooks’ colleague Bill Kristol had less than nice things to say about Bush’s performance after his “press conference” Tuesday. Bob Woodward’s new book is about to hit the shelves, complete with a section of how Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Bush with what Richard L. Armitage calls “the pottery barn rule,” 'you break it, you own it.' Also revealed is BushCo started Iraq planning less than three months after 11 September 2001. Gen. Anthony Zinni recently hit back on Darth Rumsfeld’s claim that he didn’t foresee the bloody last few weeks, and that he didn’t think more troops were necessary. But back to Brooks, he isn’t jumping ship on the neo-con ideology, he merely is saying that the idea is right but that the execution was wrong. He writes, “over the past two years many conservatives have grown increasingly exasperated with the administration’s inability to execute its politics semicompetently”. Paragraph two includes his ‘I told you it wouldn’t be easy’ warnings he made on PBS and in his article for The Atlantic while admitting that he thought the streets of Baghdad would be safer by now. Brooks also writes that “Most of all, I misunderstood how normal Iraqis would react to our occupation.”

Brooks continues on the “right idea, poor execution” theme as he writes that The Weekly Standard was right in their opinion that “occupation could not be accomplished by a light, lean, ‘transformed’ military” and how the administration ignored evidence that said just that. Brooks also writes how the PNAC people “urged” the Administration to go back to the UN for a reconstruction resolution and build a broader NATO led coalition for security, which never happened. Brooks does defend BushCo a bit. He believes that in 20 years Bush will be looked at as doing the right thing. Brooks writes that “the president has been ruthlessly flexible over the past months and absolutely committed to seeing this trough.” And that the administration now understands that they need more troops and needs to work with Brahimi and dissolve the governing council. Over the next 20 years though, at least a few administrations will have their fingerprints on Iraq. Bush will be credited for pushing the US into Iraq, but BushCo will be leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. Someone else may be changed with resolving this quagmire by January. Regardless, if you are one to believe that this situation was right, I will quote Brooks again as to the problem, “the administration’s inability to execute its policies semicompetently.” Right has little to do with Iraq now, and Brooks doesn’t hide his disappointment. Therefore, what makes us have any confidence that these same people are capable of following this through to the end? I was an anti-war marcher. I thought that the inspectors needed more time, and any action had to be a real multi-national operation once it was proven that Iraq was really a threat. But what really worried me more was the idea of what would happen after the government was removed. In the run up to the war everyone that was not pro-war or hawkish was marginalized. The hawks gave us this war, and as Armitage said via Woodward, "you break it, you own it." This cannot be judged just by what was right, but also what comes from it. That is what matters in the end. Being right (if that is what you think) and failing is still failing. But they weren't right in the first place.

Following Brooks’ theme of questioning the administrations post war planning, Zinni comments about Rumsfeld’s claim that this could not be foreseen. “I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?” Another Zinni quote, “We're betting on the U.N., who we blew off and ridiculed during the run-up to the war,” Zinni said. “Now we're back with hat in hand. It would be funny if not for the lives lost.”

Bob Woodward’s new book due out on Monday, Plan of Attack, supposedly has some interesting tidbits. Washington Post staff writer William Hamilton not only writes that less than three months after 9/11 the administration was making plans to attack Iraq, but that Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Powell are barely on speaking terms. During the transition “Cheney sent word to departing Defense Secretary Williams S. Cohen that he wanted the traditional briefing given an incoming president to be a serious ‘discussion about and different options.’ One early proposed plan by Wolfowitz was “sending in the military to seize Iraq’s southern oil fields and establish the area as a foothold from which opposition groups could overthrow Hussein.” Woodward writes that “Powell dismissed the plan as ‘lunacy.’” Woodward writes in his book that Bush was willing to risk his presidency on Iraq because he felt so strongly that it was right.

So what will the reaction of the Woodward book be? Are we seeing a shift in the media from painting the administration as heroic warriors making America safe from terror while liberating Iraqis to that of an administration that is inflexible, idealistic, incompetent, and now criminal?

The New York Times article on Powell's comments in Woodward's new book.

Update/Addition:As for the violence in Iraq recently, This is a blog worth checking in on now and again. Also visit Riverbend and WildfireJo. Others I have found through various sites and posters include: Hammorabi, Healing Iraq, Iraq at a Glance, Iraq the Model, The Mesopotamian, and there are many more linked to each.

Blair says violence to get worse in Iraq

King Abdullah II comments

Iraq won't dominate this site, but the violence these last few weeks makes it difficult not to.

AAR's

Majority Report with Howard Zinn

Since their inception, I have listened to Air America Radio a few days a week (Nico, follow the link and listen sometime). For the most part I have enjoyed “Liberal Talk Radio” because television and radio punditry is dominated by right wingers like Hannity, O’Reilly, and Limbaugh. The US news media has been replaced by a Pundocratic oligarchy, so why should the left be left out? I find Majority Report entertaining because their guests include Atrois, Kos, Tom Tomorrow, people running for Congress, and Garofalo’s conservative father. But last night they had on Howard Zinn, I guess to worship the man. Why is Howard Zinn worshipped, and what does he know about Iraq? I saw him give a talk sometime last Spring, and he was less than impressive. It wasn’t just me, it was most everyone I was with. There seems to be this expectation that Zinn speaks the absolute truth. I don’t mean to knock an 82 year old man but he spoke in broad generalizations about getting people to sit down and working it out, while offering no specifics on Iraq. It is a quagmire for a reason. This of course was followed by Kerry bashing and Republicrat talk (if the US left this self-defeating? Repeat after me, Chief Justice Ginsberg or Breyer). He talked about bringing the troops home and letting Iraqis sort it out by themselves. My first though was of Rwanda and Bosnia. Seemingly everything he said was related to Vietnam. Why is that? Is there ethnic and religious diversity similarities, what? I went to a panel discussion that included Joseph Stiglitz, Gayatri Spivak, and others last fall – and that was interesting. I realize this is unfair b/c Zinn was a guest and was talking about his work as much as anything else, but... Al Franken likes to point out that the conservative pundits come out of broadcasting schools and got political shows. I guess the liberals went from standup and television to politics. In the end Zinn has made a significant contribution to historiography and does say some very interesting things (though I still can hear a college history professor telling us how much he doesn’t like Zinn’s work) that I enjoy, but I have to realize that Majority Report isn’t the Leonard Lopate or Brian Lehrer shows on WNYC. AAR is an alternative to right wing talk radio. Nader would never hang up on one of those. But I will keep listening – good guests and funny commentary.

People & Places

Juan, Nicky, and the Westside Writer

Where is Juan the Deerhunter? Maybe coming out of hiding will upset the utopia of Minneapolis.

I’ll be short b/c I have to work in the morning, but Nicky got me thinking about my own experience away from the homeland. New York is an island after all. There are natives, but many of us are transplants escaping what we knew or seeking something different. Nicky’s reasons for moving to Paris parallel my reasons for moving to New York. Part was an educational opportunity that I could not pass up while another part was for the cultural change. I would rather walk than drive. I prefer the interaction of public transit to the isolation of private transit. I prefer trains to automoblies and planes. I prefer commerce and residential to be mixed. I like crowds, fruit stands, kids with blaring headphones, men playing chess on the sidewalk, street venders selling books, ethnicities not my own, always having something new to do, and neighborhoods – which I have always desired. Sadly though, the world of Starbucks, Barnes & Nobles, and Circuit City has invaded. Oh yeah, and Times Square is lame, but you knew that. New York is no Paris and vise versa, but I think I understand somewhat how Nicky feels.

Nicky wrote about a classmate that publishes pieces on how rude the French are while she refuses to participate in her surrounding. Before I moved to New York I heard a lot of those same complaints, including my grandmother always asking me if people are getting shot here. Because I haven’t slept well for several days I decided not to go and see a friend’s new apartment in Seaford, Long Island. Instead I did some work and went to see Young Adam by myself. As I was walking out a woman with dark fiery tortoise shell glasses, short slightly graying hair, bronze colored scarf, and apparently no watch asked me what time it was. We struck up a conversation about film, which she revealed that she was a writer and described herself as a leftist that lived many years in Europe around the fall of the Berlin Wall. This writer is a hopper; she started in Dogville and thought it was terrible. She then went to see an hour of Good Bye Lenin before completing her night with the last hour of Young Adam. Meeting someone interesting is not all that uncommon if you like people.

Random: Radiohead and the Tindersticks have been in my head all day.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Introductions:

A Rant on American Ignorance

I'm in Paris for seven months as an exchange student. At my school, there are five other Americans. Now, let's take a moment to reflect...there are six Americans at my school in Paris. Of the six Americans, I am the only one who studied a word of French (let alone spoke it) prior to coming. Now, while my French is far from satisfactory, I would have hoped that at least one other person would have thought, "I'm going to be in a country with a language other than American (as Americans don't speak REAL English), maybe I should learn something so that everyone doesn't have to adjust to me all of the time..." But, my criticisms of Americans are once again validated by my exchange student counterparts. Also, of the six Americans, I am the only one to make friends with French students. If you were in France, don't you think you might benefit from knowing French people? But, the other Americans sit together and either only talk to the other Americans or to other exchange students...exciting, isn't it? Oh wait, I forgot to mention that they don't eat French food, buy French clothes, or visit places in Paris beyond tourist attractions and their favorite part of the trip was their two trips to Amsterdam to see hookers and get high...what an impressive cultural experience. Apart from that, one American girl, who can't seem to remove her "valley girl" tone from even her writing, writes a monthly column in the school newspaper which consistently criticizes the French for being smelly, pushy, and ignorant. Needless to say, my French girlfriend has had about all of the American ignorance that she can handle. I'm afraid that my leave from the security of the "Homeland" will be too short. Thus, I am already planning my return to Europe to escape the perils of my humble, but sometimes ignorant midwestern home. Maybe I just haven't met enough of the right Americans.

Ciao,

--Nico
(Vendredi 16/4/04, 21:11pm)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A Few

Things on my mind

I am having my second Saranac Pale Ale as I type. I should have had these drinks last night when our President was giving what I think was a speech followed by a press conference. Now I know he isn’t the great orator of our time, but I didn’t even think he understood what he was saying – at least not with any real depth or understanding/expertise. He sounded like he knew the surface points, but nothing else. Where is the plan for handing over Iraq in 80 days? Stay the course? The course to what exactly? Some people mock him, but I think BushCo actually uses the media rather well; lack of press conferences but seem to always be in the news, the ones that are all basically scripted – and they all omit Helen Thomas from asking questions and even being there – and they let you know what their talking points are. At first I thought it was a total bomb, but as I surfed from blog to blog (and not just political blog), I found many places where they said he showed strength, toughness, and resolve. I was baffled to say the least. I thought of my brother and how he once said that they could strangle babies and still get votes. Point being, my fermented happiness should have been saved for last night – and I already decided that I am voting for John F. Kerry anyway.

Back to my original point of this, I am at a crossroads. What to do? 1) Find a new job. 2) Back to school for a Doctorate or second masters. 3) Try to work in Scotland.

Problem is I am happy living in New York City and being on the East Coast. I don’t really want to live anywhere else. But I also would like to live and work overseas for a bit. If I see my brother and father and god-brother three times a year anyway, what is the difference? At least in New York I get to see my aunt and her cat her cat several times a month. But Scotland sounds interesting. After all, my father and brother are getting married this summer – it’s the season for change.

Hello

Welcome to my little space on the web. “The Tally Ho” and “sixofone” is my way of paying homage to one of the best shows ever to be on the tube – The Prisoner. I don’t know exactly what will come of this little space, but I plan on having other people but me posting. As for me, I and am a 20 something living and working in New York City.