September 13, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 9/13/06
Sorry I've been a little short on baseball content the past week. That was certainly one crushing loss for the Marlins last night. Anyway, on to some links:
*My initial reaction to the news that Pakistan was effectively conceding its lack of sovereignty over the mountainous, tribal, Taliban/Al Qaeda-infested Waziristan region on the Afghan border (more here and here) was that the last grounds for pretending that Pakistan, and not the U.S., was responsible for cleaning out this hornet's nest was gone, and that we would need to brace for a bloody invasion that would inevitably (given the terrain and hostile locals) require heavy U.S. casualties and massive civilian deaths, given that the only really feasible approaches to the warren of hills and valleys are (1) go in single file like sitting ducks or (2) bomb the place back to the Stone Age, Curtis LeMay style. Ed Morrissey and McQ were more guardedly optimistic - after all, Musharraf was also simultaneously working out an agreement with Hamid Karzai to take a joint approach to rooting out the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the border regions, and if there's one thing we know about Pakistan it's that an awful lot has gone on there the past five years that has never been made public. I remain skeptical, but as Bill Roggio reports that the Taliban has already violated the agreements with Pakistan (surprise!) while the accord with Karzai was followed very rapidly by the capture of troublesome Afghan warlord and sometime Taliban ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, it is possible that progress is actually being made in the region that is still the most likely haven of bin Laden and Zawahiri. Stay tuned.
*Here in NY, the dominant story in the media lately has been the illnesses (mainly respiratory problems, although class action lawyers have been trying to squeeze the square peg of unrelated ailments into the same hole) suffered by Ground Zero rescue/cleanup workers. The Daily News on Saturday had an interesting article on how dogs at the rescue site have not suffered comparable illnesses despite working long hours at the site without any protective gear. The obvious physiological differences between people and dogs are noted, but it seems to me there are two further issues that probably exacerbate the difference. One is behavioral: some of the people who labored long and hard at Ground Zero may be smokers, and smokers are always at greater risk for other respiratory problems (a fact examined at exhaustive length in studies of asbestos). The other is psychological: if people expect to get sick, they may be more vulnerable. Dogs didn't expect to get sick. (I'm not trying to blame people who got sick, mind you; just saying that the interaction between the mind and illnesses of the body remains poorly understood).
*Excellent point by Orin Kerr (via Instapundit): despite the great hue and cry over the NSA surveillance program, the actual footprint of War on Terror legislation and executive actions on civil liberties has been much narrower than a lot of people expected five years ago.
*John Hawkins runs down the GOP's best chances to gain Democrat-held House seats. Many of them are not great pickup odds right now, but are still within striking distance. As in the Senate, I think Republicans will have to make a few gains to hold the chamber given the likelihood of losing Republican-held seats.
*Of course, Democrats oppose voter ID that would make fraud more difficult. I wonder, given the specific issue discussed here, whether there is some sovereignty-based grounds for exempting the Navajo.
*Make Afghanistan the new Iowa? Can you really grow good corn crops there?
*A good start.
*I won an award!
*Our friends, the Saudis.
*I've been stunned to see recent reports that Dunkin Donuts wants to expand nationally - I always thought they were every bit as national and synonymous with donuts as McDonalds with burgers and Kentucky Fried Chicken with fast food chicken.
*Some people have no respect for the dead.
*Good Josh Bolten smackdown of Harry Reid.
*TNR on Sistani's withdrawal from politics as Shiites disregard his cautions about sectarian violence.
*Peggy Noonan in 1998 (via Instapundit):
Something's up. And deep down, where the body meets the soul, we are fearful. We fear, down so deep it hasn't even risen to the point of articulation, that with all our comforts and amusements, with all our toys and bells and whistles . . . we wonder if what we really have is . . . a first-class stateroom on the Titanic. Everything's wonderful, but a world is ending and we sense it.
I don't mean: "Uh-oh, there's a depression coming," I mean: We live in a world of three billion men and hundreds of thousands of nuclear bombs, missiles, warheads. It's a world of extraordinary germs that can be harnessed and used to kill whole populations, a world of extraordinary chemicals that can be harnessed and used to do the same.
Three billion men, and it takes only half a dozen bright and evil ones to harness and deploy.
What are the odds it will happen? Put it another way: What are the odds it will not? Low. Nonexistent, I think.
When you consider who is gifted and crazed with rage . . . when you think of the terrorist places and the terrorist countries . . . who do they hate most? The Great Satan, the United States. What is its most important place? Some would say Washington. I would say the great city of the United States is the great city of the world, the dense 10-mile-long island called Manhattan, where the economic and media power of the nation resides, the city that is the psychological center of our modernity, our hedonism, our creativity, our hard-shouldered hipness, our unthinking arrogance.
If someone does the big, terrible thing to New York or Washington, there will be a lot of chaos and a lot of lines going down, a lot of damage, and a lot of things won't be working so well anymore. And thus a lot more . . . time. Something tells me we won't be teleconferencing and faxing about the Ford account for a while.
The psychic blow--and that is what it will be as people absorb it, a blow, an insult that reorders and changes--will shift our perspective and priorities, dramatically, and for longer than a while. Something tells me more of us will be praying, and hard, one side benefit of which is that there is sometimes a quality of stopped time when you pray. You get outside time.
Maybe, of course, I'm wrong. But I think of the friend who lives on Park Avenue who turned to me once and said, out of nowhere, "If ever something bad is going to happen to the city, I pray each day that God will give me a sign. That He will let me see a rat stand up on the sidewalk. So I'll know to gather the kids and go." I absorbed this and, two years later, just a month ago, poured out my fears to a former high official of the United States government. His face turned grim. I apologized for being morbid. He said no, he thinks the same thing. He thinks it will happen in the next year and a half. I was surprised, and more surprised when he said that an acquaintance, a former arms expert for another country, thinks it will happen in a matter of months.
We must take the time to do some things. We must press government officials to face the big, terrible thing. They know it could happen tomorrow; they just haven't focused on it because there's no Armageddon constituency. We should press for more from our foreign intelligence and our defense systems, and press local, state, and federal leaders to become more serious about civil defense and emergency management.
Prescient, but like so many others in our politics and punditry who looked at the terrorism issue in that age, Noonan didn't act as if she thought it was coming, didn't make this her sole issue and pound the table until something was done. Hey, I didn't either. Some were more at fault than others, yes, but we all failed.
Portland, Oregon = Zero Dunkin' Donuts. Used to be one but it is now a payday loans place. It's just not a west coast kind of thing.
Starbucks with a biscotti, or a Dunkin Donuts? No contest.
No contest, indeed.
Dunkin' beats Starbucks, hands down.
Personally I don't get why people like S'bucks coffee so much as I think it tastes overroasted but there are tons of great independent/semi-independent coffee houses, bakeries, cafes and restaurants in this area and I do think that makes it hard for DD to get a foot hold. Even Krispy Kreme, which opened to fanfare here, is a bit player at best in the coffee and pastry industry of the northwest.
Turns out the report of Hektmeyer's capture was incorrect.
Crank, congrats on the award, you've done Mr. Schust proud. That's that good ol' Cathloic school education for ya.
Shame on this one.
Afghanistan is as screwed up as it is because we did not commit enough troops at the start of this invasion. Had the Powell Doctrine won out, we would have probably caught bin Laden, dealinga crushing morale blow to Islamic Terrorism; we would have established a more stable regime in what is quite frankly an otherwise unimportant backwater, and we might not have had the resources to go into Iraq.
As for the respiratory issues, double shame. I took asbestos courses many years ago, and found that cigarette smoking was a trigger with asbestos related illnesses, by a factor of 57-1. Now that is huge. However, like ground zero, it doesn't mean that the smoking caused those particular illnesses (many others--I don't smoke, and of course, you breath in poisonous radioactive gas, you are likely to catch some bad stuff), but the attack at the Center caused the air issues; and the coverup (why a cover up, it's not as though we did it?) merely meant that the workers figured they would be reasonably safe. On the other hand, smokers have problems with respirators, but they were put in harms way by liars and information withholders. Don't blame the workers for this, whether they smoked or not.
"Afghanistan is as screwed up as it is because we did not commit enough troops at the start of this invasion. Had the Powell Doctrine won out, we would have probably caught bin Laden, dealinga crushing morale blow to Islamic Terrorism;"
What part of 'it's a landlocked country with practically no infrastrucutere and many mountainscapes' do you not understand? Are you looking to rehash what the Soviets did? Have you put any actual thought into this?
I consider Boston to be the epicenter of Dunkin Donuts - there is one on every corner and its usually packed. Their big supporters of the local sports teams, and when Adam Sandler used to make fun of Beantown on SNL he'd always mention 'taking a left at the Dunkin Donuts' or something like that.
I've also always assumed the further you get away from Boston, the less influence D&D holds. I know they have a presence in NYC but they certainly don't run the show. And when I spent some down South, I only remember seeing one lonely D&D stuck in a vast food court in Charlotte. The locals had no understanding of this proud Northern institution.