June 18, 2002

IRAQ ATTAQ: News over the

IRAQ ATTAQ: News over the weekend that President Bush has authorized the CIA to engage in covert operations aimed at toppling (or, even possibly, killing) Saddam Hussein. I say, way to go: the need for a "regime change" in Iraq is one issue where the neoconservatives are absolutely, unequivically right. Saddam's gotta go, and the sooner the better. If Hussein, or another country with a Saddam-like leader, ever gets ahold of nuclear weapons and delivery capabilities, that's the ballgame: the "mutually assured destruction" stuff doesn't apply, because the Islamo-fascists don't care if they die. Besides, anyone who followed the Gulf War (or saw the "South Park" movie) knows the guy's bad news.

"THE BODY" PACKS IT IN: The most unlikely career in American politics in the last decade appears to be over, as Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura has announced that he will not seek re-election. Despite (or perhaps because of) unpredictable behavior and a tendency towards extremely dumb public comments ("you haven't hunted 'til you've hunted man" comes to mind), Ventura was a truly unique character who governed well and always kept his constituents entertained. I was long a Ventura fan ever since his wrestling days, and to this day I can't hear his voice without being reminded of his anti-Vince McMahon insults (the same way I still can't watch "The West Wing" without thinking of Sheen in "Apocalypse Now.") Besides my family, friends, the lakes, and the Twins, the opportunity to watch the Ventura circus may be what I've missed most about Minnesota since I left.

FLIGHT 93 REVISITED, OR "H TO THE IZZO": Americans (especially New Yorkers) have been affected by 9/11 in many ways in the last nine months, but the last week has seen a welcome development: citizens are emulating Todd Beamer and co. and taking matters into their own hands when faced with the threat of crime and terror. First, on Sunday, a deranged man ran into an East Village bar and took several patrons hostage, saying he wanted to "kill some white people" until he was subdued by two nearby women, and then taken into custody. Then yesterday, a mugger beat a woman to death in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge, and then three teenagers chased him, leading to the man's arrest. The best part: one of the three teenagers in the latter case was named James Hova. Yes, HOVA. Jay-Z would be proud.

DIRTY BOMBS AND FRAPUCCINOS: Normally crazy right-wing pundit (and popular Howard Stern guest) Debbie Schlussel has an interesting column about two of the nation's leading coffee shop chains and their relationships to terrorism. The founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz (also owner of the Seattle Supersonic-ahs) recently delived a speech in which he made pro-Israel comments, leading to threats of a boycott from a major Muslim organization. Schlussel also points out that the Minneapolis-based Caribou Coffee is owned by a Saudi Arabia-based bank with tangential ties to a known terrorist. Full disclosure: my sister has worked for Caribou the last couple of summers- I wonder if she knows.

NO MAHER DRAMA: Cathy Young in the Boston Globe has a very good postmortem for "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher," which is going off the air later this month. Young considers the show a missed opportunity in that it didn't challenge all political orthodoxies, just those with which the host disagreed. I thought "Politically Incorrect" was one of the best things on TV for its first few years, when it really did cover daring subjects and actually managed to book big-name guests like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno on a fairly regular basis. Around the time of the show's move from Comedy Central to ABC in 1997 (where it was replaced by the much more entertaining and relevant "Daily Show") it suddenly lost its nerve, lost the ability to book intelligent or well-known guests, and Maher switched from his original posture as an anti-PC libertarian into a more-or-less generic Hollywood liberal, defending Bill Clinton to the nth degree, and later mercilessly attacking George W. Bush to the point of absurdity (he gave Bush the alternating nicknames "Drinky McDumbass" and "Dim Son.")
Maher's post-9/11 comments that the terrorists weren't any more cowardly than Kosovo-era US military were of course blown way out of proportion; by that point Maher had made himself into such an unlikable character (due to his constant declarations of his own womanizing, as Young points out) that nothing else he said could have made him look much worse than he did already. At the end of his run Bill Maher deserves to be commended for his honesty, but not for much else.

THIS BUD'S NOT FOR YOU: Boston Red Sox pitcher John Burkett has declared that if he's named to the AL's team for next month's All-Star Game in Milwaukee, he'll refuse to go, because of his contempt for Commissioner (and former Brewers owner) Bud Selig. While it's unlikely that Burkett will actually make the team, I do admire his resolve. What I'm looking forward to most of all about the game is that Selig will almost certainly be booed in his own home park. Like he can be expected to handle himself in a highly public labor dispute after that...

Posted by Stephen Silver at June 18, 2002 10:40 PM

I'm glad the Iraqis think things will work out for them.

However, Bush is running for President of the United States, not Iraq. All this stuff about helping Iraqis is besides the point. Since when do Republicans go in for foreign aid?

The problem with the Kerry campaign is that they're too politically correct to really make this an issue. They've taken an occasional swipe at Bush over this, but fundamentally, they're too "decent" to push the sort of xenophobic buttons that a Jesse Helms or Pat Buchanan would.

Posted by: Hann at May 23, 2005 10:12 AM
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