Monday, November 29, 2004

El Jefe's Return, Ukraine

But yes ! El Jefe has returned to his capital (Houston, known by the enlightened as Ciudad de El Jefe Maximo). Greeted by the High Patronesses MILO and FLINKY, the diplomatic corps, an honor guard from his elite security force of goombas (the Wiseguys) and literally millions of fanatically loyal subjects, El Jefe has returned from visiting the Mother-In-Law and stands ready to give his wisdom to the world once more. MILO and FLINKY thank T for taking care of them in the absence of El Jefe, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and the Heir.
On to less significant subjects. El Jefe is disturbed by the disputed election in the Ukraine, and thinks this has potential to develop into an even sticker mess than it is already. The current Prime Minister, Mr. Victor Yanukovych, backed by the current Ukrainian President, Mr. Leonid Kuchma, and by the Russian government, is claiming victory over a more liberal, pro western candidate, Mr. Viktor Yushchenko, in elections held on 21 November. Exit polls had predicted Mr. Yushchenko would win, and U.S. and European observers say that widespread fraud appears to have taken place.
A Yushchenko government would be more oriented towards Europe, a Yanukovych government towards Ukraine's powerful neighbor, Russia, to which Ukraine used to belong. There is a real regional split in support for the two candidates, the western parts of the country supporting Yushchenko, the more Russified regions east of the Dnipro River (which oldsters like me still call the Dnieper) supporting Yankovych.
El Jefe is, of course, abstractly more sympathetic to Mr. Yushchenko. The US Government has already rebuked the Ukraine authorities, saying the recent election "does not meet international standards." However, El Jefe wishes both the Government and the American public opinion makers (i.e. the media), which seem to be solidly behind Mr. Yushchenko, would slow down, be quiet, and let the Ukrainians work out their own problems.
Is El Jefe the only one who thinks that the US has quite enough on its plate at present ? Yes, in a perfect world, the Ukrainians would conduct completely free and fair elections, without interference from powerful neighbors, which would produce results all could live with. However, this has not happened, and the US can indicate its displeasure as loudly as it wishes, but the utterances of the State Department will not change anything unless the real players (the Russians, the various Ukrainian factions and the Europeans) want it to. Even if matters are arranged to Washington's taste, the price may be more, long run, than the US can afford.
More than rebuilding ties with France, Germany or NATO, the US desperately needs good relations with Russia. Russia and the US have too many common interests: tamping down Islamic fundamentalism and irredentism and keeping an eye on China and the EU for starters. Present US difficulties with the Europeans have less to do with distaste for President Bush and his Iraq policies then with fundamentally changed strategic conditions, and antagonizing the Russians over matters America has only a limited ability to affect is most unwise. It also follows that expanding the EU sphere of influence is not necessarily beneficial to American interests.
The Ukrainians wish to stay out of the Russian orbit, which is natural. Similarly, it is only natural for the Russians to fish in troubled waters and try to reel Ukraine back into their sphere of influence, where Ukraine has dwelled for hundreds of years. The wisdom, much less the practicality, of Russia's wish to resurrect its empire certainly seems dubious, but it is nevertheless a fact. We should wish the Ukrainians well, but in no way harm our own interests by becoming involved in a mess which primarily concerns the Ukrainians, the Russians and the Europeans, but not us. America should be, as John Quincy Adams put it, the friend of liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Dream Palace, Holidays, Summit Snafu

Another beautiful day at El Jefe’s humble palace by the sea. El Jefe snoozed on the verandah, scenic overlook or whatever, newspaper forgotten by his side. The headlines read, in very large type: El Jefe Proclaimed World Poobah ! Bush, The Pope, Britney Spears Pledge Support. Behind him, at a respectful distance, a detachment of goombas from El Jefe’s elite personal security unit, the Wiseguys, hovered protectively; Marco, Rocco and Fredo menacingly eyeing all who came too near. The scantily-clad Traci Lords look-alike (object of admiring looks from the aforementioned goombas) was shaking El Jefe, saying “wake up, Jeffe baby, wake up !”
Alas, El Jefe is jolted awake, abruptly pulled back into the real world of working for a living and dealing with various relatives for Thanksgiving by the screech of the alarm. Yes the holidays are closing in, it seems. Can’t we just skip them ?
Turning to the real news, your host El Jefe is most disturbed by a pair of incidents in Chile which have roiled President Bush’s visit to Latin America. On Saturday, Chilean security personnel blocked the entry of President Bush’s security detachment during a photo opportunity at a cultural center. President Bush had to intervene and literally pull his bodyguard into the event.
The second incident was more serious. Chilean President Lagos cancelled a 200 person state dinner on Sunday at the official state residence, La Moneda, because the Chileans were unwilling to accept US security demands. The invited guests included the elite of Chilean society, including judges, members of the cabinet and Congress, and cultural figures. Among other things, the Chilean guests were all supposed to pass through American operated metal detectors, in the Chilean presidential palace.
This is not how to win friends and influence states. The incident with the bodyguard sounds like a garden variety snafu, but the fiasco of the state dinner is absolutely inexcusable. I wonder how American guests and officials would feel, having the White House and its security arrangements taken over by foreigners for a state dinner, however well intentioned they might be ?
State visits, and their accompanying dinners, are generally planned for months in advance. The details of all such events are supposed to be worked out, in detail, beforehand. Between them, the Executive Office of the President, the Secret Service, and the State Department should have been able to come to mutually acceptable security arrangements with the Chileans.
The larger problem is perhaps philosophical. The Secret Service, understandably, wants to ensure the welfare of the President and his family at any price. Consequently, it probably kept its precise plans to ensure that safety secret from the event planners until the last possible moment. However, the Secret Service is also supposed to, albeit somewhat indirectly, protect the national interests of the United States. When there is a conflict between absolute physical security for public officials, and US state interests, one would hope and expect that national interests would be paramount. If we want to ensure that the President is absolutely secure, and we want to leave foreigners and other less than trustworthy persons out of ensuring that security, then the President should not travel.
Now this whole incident sounds like insider baseball, and to an extent it is, but it has done real damage to the interests of the United States. Chile is about the best friend the US has in Latin America. Their government was glad to see our President, and wanted to work closely with him. And now we have just insulted their President, their ruling elite and their security establishment by treating them like doormats in their own house. Those kind of slights are not soon forgotten.

Charles André Marie Joseph deGaulle (1890-1970)

All my life I have cherished a certain idea of France, that is
inspired by feeling as well as by reason. . . My instinct tells me that
providence created her for triumphs and disasters. If, in spite of
this, France behaves in a mediocre fashion, I feel that there has been
an error, due to the mistakes of the French [people] rather than the
character of the nation. The positive side of my mind is convinced that France
is true to herself only when she stands in the first rank; that only great
enterprises can neutralize the ferment of disunity which her people carry in
their veins... France cannot be France for me without grandeur. France is
not France unless she is great...

Charles de Gaulle, War Memoirs (Vol. I, "The Call").

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Charles deGaulle, surely the greatest Frenchman since Napoléon I, one of the true giants of the Second World War, and a poltical figure greatly admired by El Jefe.
Vindicator of the national honour in the darkest hour of modern French history, DeGaulle cannot be easily categorized as liberal or conservative, in the sense that the terms are understood. His basic political outlook is best summed up by the quotation above; the one constant in his military and political life, through two world wars, a depression, and the national trauma of de-colonization -- was that his whole life was at the service of the grandeur, as he understood it, of France.
DeGaulle was always marked out for great things, although when his hour struck, it was in a way he could never have imagined. As a young army officer in the First World War, DeGaulle was providentially spared the fate of so many of his contemporaries, avoiding death in the trenches by being wounded and captured in March 1916. Despite the failure of his five attempts to escape, and a spell in solitary confinement, he turned his captivity to advantage, learning much about his German enemies, and, probably, himself, that would stand him in good stead later.
After the First World War, deGaulle returned to the army, gaining renown as an proponent of armoured warfare. He was an early advocate of a mechanized army similar to that built by the Germans, and had his advice been heeded sooner, perhaps the dreadful collapse of the French armies in May-June 1940, before another German invasion, would not have occurred.
The 1940 collapse, of course, was the hour of both deGaulle (by now a junior member of the French cabinet) and his mentor, Henri Phillippe Pétain. DeGaulle, the tank general/junior government minister, and Marshal Pétain the old World War I hero of Verdun, reacted to the disaster differently. Pétain, nearing senility, was called out of rustication as Ambassador to Spain to lead a defeatist regime that accepted an armistice with Germany and hoped for collaboration with the Third Reich.
However, Pétain's long-time protege, deGaulle, all his life a loyal, conservative, obedient army officer, saw the matter differently, and took it on himself to flout the law, ignore the lawful orders of his superiors and revolt against the legitimate, more or less democratically constituted Pétain government. DeGaulle fled to London and announced his intention to carry on the war for France, despite France, with or without France. On 18 June 1940, deGaulle made "L'Appel" -- the call -- to fight on, from a radio studio in London: "Is our defeat final ? No ! . . . the cause of France is not lost."
In June 1940, the great majority of the French population were tired of the war and wanted peace, at any price. The people supported the Pétain regime and most viewed deGaulle as a dangerous rebel. There is no question whatever that deGaulle's call to fight on was unpopular, and in defiance of public opinion, not to mention illegal.
The audacity of deGaulle's stand is obscured today by the truly towering figure that deGaulle became later. DeGaulle, that day in June, was a political nobody. An undersecretary of state for war in a government that had been legally replaced, a just-promoted Brigadier-General, penniless, in flight from his homeland just ahead of warrants of arrest, deGaulle had no official standing whatever to call for continued resistance. Court-martialed and condemned to death in absentia by the French Army, and ignored by French officialdom, the only assets of deGaulle's France Libre, early on, were his own determination, a few fanatically loyal adherents, and the sometimes uncertain patronage of that other great maverick, Winston Churchill.
By 1944 of course, it was Pétain's pro-German regime that was the farce, and deGaulle's exile provisional government that had the support of the bulk of French public opinion. DeGaulle's public standing increased despite his erstwhile allies Roosevelt and Churchill, who thought to use the France Libre movement for their own purposes and planned to undercut deGaulle by establishing an allied-run occupation regime in liberated France. DeGaulle also had to contend with communist elements in the resistance, who had their own plans for liberated France. All these schemes were scuttled when Paris fell that August, and that city's inhabitants gave deGaulle a tumultuous welcome: his walk down the Champs-Elysées truly one of the finest triumphs any man could ever receive.
The magnitude of this man's achievements cannot be understated. DeGaulle took a ragtag band of penniless rebels and adventurers, and somehow built an army, and made a real government. He accepted the help of America and Britain, but managed to avoid being their stooge. He dodged a take-over, under circumstances made to order for it, by the strongest Communist Party in western Europe. Finally, deGaulle re-established the French Republic and obtained for this beaten, bankrupt, disarmed and humilitated country a seat in the councils of the great powers, and at the peace table. Because of deGaulle, France got a UN veto as good as that of the US or the Soviet Union. All of this was based on little more than force of personality.
Predictably, deGaulle soon fell out with the polticians, and retreated to private life after the war. Recalled to power in 1958, to deal with a political impasse over the revolt in Algeria, deGaulle assumed quasi-dictatorial powers, and ultimately established the Fifth Republic. His constitution governs France today. DeGaulle put down an attempted military coup in 1962, dodged an assassination attempt, and successfully managed France's withdrawal from Algeria. Finally, in that year of chaos, 1968, President deGaulle survived left-wing student and union demonstrations in Paris that threatened to topple the Fifth Republic by calling successfully for a bigger demonstration by France's "silent majority" in his favor. DeGaulle died peacefully at home in 1970. His memoirs are considered a literary masterpiece in both English and French.
DeGaulle's legions of detractors criticise his alleged authoritarian personality, and compare him with his contemporary, the Spanish dictator Franco. This is unfair. Franco's chief concern was always Franco, deGaulle's was always France. But deGaulle was concerned always with France as a nation, as a historical construct, and did not necessarily view the interests of France the nation as identical with those of the current French people. As it turned out, deGaulle's view of the situation was usually right, and 20th Century French and European history largely vindicated him.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Elevator Music

This morning, for about the one-billionth time this month, it occurred to your host, El Jefe Maximo, that people are verrry complicated.

The occasion for this thought was the elevator in El Jefe’s office building. Ever watched your fellow passengers in an elevator ? Of course you have, although it’s Bad Form to be caught doing it, (and like Captain Hook, El Jefe believes that Bad Form must be avoided above all things). However, in the building known by all Right-Thinking-People as the El Jefe Tower, (where, when he is not busy determining the destinies of men and nations, or otherwise making trouble, El Jefe goes for his day job), luck and good interior design are with the covert people-watcher, because the elevators walls are composed of some reflective substance that basically serves as a mirror. So one can observe without seeming to observe…

The Behavioral Scientists and other people who study what makes humans tick say that much if not most human communication is non-verbal. To El Jefe, this is why elevator rides are sometimes interesting. The passengers on an elevator are usually strangers or near-strangers forced into close proximity, and they are constantly communicating even when nothing is verbalized. Like all human activities, there are unwritten protocols for Big Building Elevator Riding. El Jefe guarantees that in some university someplace, there’s a doctorial thesis being written, or which has been written, involving Human Behavior and Interaction in Elevators.

Usually, persons who do not know each other do not converse, verbally at least, much in the mornings, although the rules are more relaxed in the afternoons. Probably the most important rules involve allocation of personal space. Very bad form to stand too close to the other riders. When a new person enters, without anything being said, all passengers carefully reposition. Similarly, when a person exits, the remaining riders adjust positions again. Of course, all of this is blindingly obvious, duh level stuff (these behaviors have been learned since childhood), but never consciously thought of. If human-looking Martians arrived, however, this would all probably drive them wacko.

The most diverting feature of Big Building Elevator Riding is figuring out Who’s Leaving Next. Play this game sometime. Without anything being said, when the elevator is closing in on its next stop, one can always tell who is next to leave. The departing rider almost invariably gives a non-verbal clue: eye movements, a minute shifting of the passenger’s briefcase, coffee cup or newspaper, a hand or head movement, shuffling of a foot, whatever. Of course, there are exceptions, and El Jefe finds such persons, who have superhuman control over their body language, most interesting of all. El Jefe should never like to play poker with them !

El Jefe’s point (and he does have one), is that body language and non-verbal cues very much operate even in something so casual as riding an elevator between floors in a building. How much smarter, more insightful and probably happier we would all be if we knew how to read these clues in other situations.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Rebuilding Fallujah

Caesar’s clemency, as he knew, was familiar to all, and he did not fear that
severer action on his part might seem due to natural cruelty; at the same time
he could not see any successful issue to his plans if more of the enemy in
different districts engaged in designs of this sort
[rebellion]. He
therefore considered that the rest must be deterred by an exemplary punishment;
and so, while granting them their lives, he cut off the hands of all who had
borne arms, to testify the more openly the penalty of

Gaius Julius Caesar, De Bellum Gallico, Book VIII.44.

The United States and Iraqi Governments have announced plans to spend 100 million in US taxpayer dollars to repair damage from the late battle in Fallujah. Presumably, the funds are coming from the $18.4 billion Congress approved for Iraqi war reconstruction.

El Jefe understands the sound military and political reasoning behind spending large sums on needful public works and relief in the context of pacification and quelling insurrection, for the purpose of establishing and supporting a friendly government. Moreover, El Jefe fully supports hefty appropriations, larger even then those currently planned, for same. Nevertheless, El Jefe is of the opinion that spending such sums on Falljuah is worse than a crime, and is in fact a mistake. By all means, spend aid money in Iraq, but, with certain exceptions, not one penny ought to be spent in Falljuah, or anyplace else in the Sunni Triangle. Send the money to places (Shia or Kurdish) where the population is apt to be more grateful.

The avowed intention of the US military authorities and the Iraqi government to spend millions on Fallujah shows that these decision-makers are hopelessly naïve, and that they do not understand the nature of the current rebellion, because they do not take the Sunni Arab rebels seriously.

$100 million dollars on reconstruction of Fallujah is a stupid investment. No sum of money will ever reconcile Sunni Arabs to the overthrow of the Baathist state and the new dispensation in Iraq. The 25-30 percent of the Iraqi population that is Sunni Arab lorded-it over the remaining Shiite, Kurdish and Turkoman Iraqis from independence on. The fall of Saddam is a true disaster to Sunni Arabs, because it means the end of the Sunni monopoly on power, and a new Iraq dominated largely by the 60 percent of the population that is Shiite. From the Sunni Arab point of view, the only way to avoid retribution for 70 years of exploitation of the remainder of the population is by driving out the Americans and strangling the new Iraq in its crib. The Sunnis know full well that if Saddam’s victims consolidate their power, that there will be a reckoning.

Perhaps El Jefe is hard on the Sunnis, and in particular on the good citizens of Fallujah. True, he finds it hard to be kind to people who hacked American contractors to death and burned their bodies for television. Remember also the slaughterhouses for hostages, the bodies of the pro-American Iraqis, and the dead aid workers. Still, El Jefe is not as ruthless as some would be. El Jefe has been reading lots about the Romans lately – a people who knew more about dealing with rebels than Americans could even dream of learning. If the Romans were faced with Fallujah, they’d have killed everybody in the place, burnt it to the ground, leveled the ruins, and sowed the earth with salt. A little harsh for El Jefe, who is more amiable, but I bet that would end the nonsense in the Sunni Triangle.

Take the rebels seriously. They deserve that much. Yes, they are our enemies, and terrorist-bandit-thug murderers, but by their own lights they are patriots too. This war is everything to them, it is about power and existence; literally whether life as they have always known it is to be or not to be. The rebels are not children to be bought off with American aid money. They will gladly accept our cash today and gleefully return to shooting our soldiers and marines tomorrow. The rebels must be broken: that is convinced that their only choices are death or submission.

For now, spend the aid money elsewhere. A few more Fallujahs, and perhaps the Sunni population will get a clue, forget their stupid and murderous rebellion, and began to bargain with the Americans to protect them from the Shiites. Only then can we safely put aside the sword, and show clemency by sharing our food and ploughshares.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Fish Empathy Project

One of the amazing things about living in a wired world is that you can always be surprised. Just when you think you’re getting too jaded, that you’ve seen it all, lo and behold, some wacko comes crawling out of the woodwork (or, in this case, the fish tank), with a new and better fish story that can’t be topped. Until, that is, the next wacko.

Okay, your host, El Jefe Maximo¸ undisputed ruler of the Kingdom of Chaos, would not make this up. It’s too crazy even for El Jefe on tequila. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have come up with (brace yourselves, be sitting down) – the (roll of drums)…

“Fish Empathy Project.”

Yes, you are reading correctly. The craziness does not lie with your screen. Well, maybe it does, but you know what I mean.

According to the AP, in a story dated today, the PETA ‘s “Fish Empathy Project” seeks to teach us philistines that fish “are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat.” PETA’s “Director of Vegan Outreach” tells us that “[o]nce people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they’ll stop eating them.”

Yes, we’re all alike you see. Start up the tambourines, sing “Kumbaya.” Smoke a joint, and maybe break into Billy Bragg’s “The Many Not the Few” (see last post).

To their credit, the PETA recognize that they face an uphill battle, says the AP story. “Fish are so misunderstood because they’re so far removed from our daily lives” says the Empathy Project manager. “They’re such interesting, fascinating individuals, yet they’re so incredibly abused.”

Hmmmm, maybe they have a point. Maybe Fish Empathy, instead of Blackened Redfish with cayenne, lemon and garlic, and a decent chardonnay, is really the way to go.

Okay, lets do a law school exercise, a hypothetical. Assume a fish pond. Assume this fish pond is on one of El Jefe’s numerous estates, lovingly and carefully maintained by his legions of diligent servants. El Jefe you see, is a beneficent master, and the fish on his estates are fed the finest natural organic fish food (no meat or dairy products for El Jefe’s fish !), bought only from independent distributors, and not from multi-national corporations. In any case, El Jefe, having enjoyed a Cosmo or four and a cigar and being convinced by one of his comely companions to “grow spiritually” and show empathy for the fish, repairs to the shores of the fish pond, and the following transpires:

El Jefe: “Hey fishes…”


El Jefe: “Yes, you, little bitty fishes. PETA tells me that you’re complex, fascinating, and misunderstood.”


El Jefe: “Ya know, I was just thinking. I’ve been wrong. Like that article said, I’ve been dismissing you as ‘dimwitted pea-brains.’ I know I’m wrong now. I know that, in the vastness of the universe, ya’ll are really quite interesting and misunderstood, and far removed from my daily life.”


El Jefe: “Just to show you I’ve turned over a new leaf, I’m gonna, like try to empathise with you more before I go fishing. In fact, I’m gonna sing the Barney song, or something equally nicey-nice, before I go fishing, from now on. How do you like that ?”


El Jefe: “Good. Glad we got that straight. I feel better now. I’m sure you do too.”

(El Jefe leaves, stage left, in a cloud of cigar smoke, singing “Kumbaya,” as the mist, or something, starts to get pretty thick).

New Leftie Barney Song

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above, Entire and whole and
perfect, the service of my love:the love that asks no questions, the love that
stands the test,That lays upon the altar, the dearest and the best;the love that
never falters, the love that pays the price,the love that makes undaunted the
final sacrifice. . .

Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, “I Vow to Thee My Country” (1918) (melody from the “Jupiter” theme in Gustav Holst’s The Planets).

The Spirit of McWorld gets around to everything, it seems, imposing dumbing-down, sameness, boredom and de-culturalization wherever it goes. I suppose it was inevitable that McWorld would get around to Sir Cecil Spring-Rice’s “I Vow to Thee My Country,” a poem written to honor the dead of the First World War, and, sung to a melody by Gustav Holtz, a staple of British Remembrance Day ceremonies, (see my “11/11/1918” post).

According to today’s Daily Telegraph (UK), the left wing songwriter Billy Bragg has written some new lyrics for Holst’s melody, dropping the retro-patriotism and the un-PC religious imagery. Mr. Bragg’s creation is called “The Many Not the Few.” (Hey, John Edwards – here’s your 2008 campaign song !).

The Telegraph piece quotes the first line: “We vow to build a country/Where all can live in health/Where no child need live in poverty/ Where we will all share our wealth.” Right, and a chicken in every pot, and two cars (hybrids of course) in every garage. Say, did Huey Long write this ?

Really original, but it gets better: “As democrats and socialists/ We hold this to be true / From each by their ability/ To everyone their due.” Paging Mr. Marx…Mr. Karl Marx. Please answer the Red Paging Telephone in the Red Concourse….

Finally the Telegraph tells us “[i]t ends with the optimism [???] of John Lennon’s 'Imagine.'” Actually, sounds more like banality: “For there is a simple principle/That no one shall displace/ We are all alike in humankind/ We are the human race.” This is optimism ? Sounds like valium in the water supply to me. Either that or the Aliens landed and turned us into Pod People. Yawneroos, wake me when it’s over, please.

All leftist music and thought sounds the same. Same old drivel, all the way back to the Internationale. Everyone is equal, everyone is alike, everybody's PC, nobody’s different, united in total boringness. Wait, I get it ! "Imagine all the people...." Nah.
Mind you, in the McWorld the Left is busily building, PC drone-dom is obligatory, if you aren’t one of the Pod People, you’re obviously guilty of one of the somethings ending in “ism.” Welcome to Chickenhearted Leftie Planet: wait your turn with the bored social worker, and fill out the forms in triplicate please. McWorld is such a snoozer, and so is "The Many Not the Few." El Jefe would rather sing the Barney song. Says the same thing, on about the same intellectual level, but is so much simpler to learn.

Rumblings in North Korea ?

The BBC is reporting today that portraits of North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il, have been removed from some public buildings in North Korea's capitol of Pyongyang. Apparently, one BBC source is the Russian news agency Itar-TASS, which is citing an "unnamed diplomat." Unnamed Diplomat says that there is a "secret edict" to remove pictures of Mr. Kim.
The BBC says that Agence France-Presse appears to confirm the story, noting that the "Grand People's Cultural Palace" pictures of the "Dear Leader" are missing.
North Korea is one of the most secretive places on earth, not to mention wacko, so this definitely bears some watching.

Tuesday, or Monday ?

Hmmmm, one of those Tuesdays that feels like a Monday. El Jefe wishes that he was at his humble palace by the sea, with nothing more serious to do than supervise his armies of servants and vassals, drink Cosmos, hob-nob with models and give interviews to gossip columnists.
Alas...the real world intrudes. It's a gloomy Tuesday around here that's yucky enough to be a Monday. El Jefe has acquired a new neighbor. It's a very bad sign when your new neighbor responds to El Jefe's cheery, early morning, "how it going ?" with nary even a grunt. Not even a doleful "I haven't had my coffee, yet" look. Perhaps he was put off by the High Patroness FLINKY, staring out the upstairs bedroom window at him, giving him one of her patented evil-eye looks.
Lots to talk about in the world today, in particular the departure of Secretary of State Powell, and his impending replacement by Condoleezza Rice. Let us say for the moment that El Jefe finds himself underwhelmed by both of these worthies, but a fuller commentary will have to wait.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Scott Peterson

You just gotta love the New York Post. As all the world now knows, yesterday the "philandering fertilizer salesman" Scott Peterson, who dallied with a massage therapist named Amber Frey, was found guilty by a jury of murdering his eight-months pregnant wife, Laci.
The Post's headline ? "Frey Him !"
No doubt Mr. Peterson's legal team is hard at work on the appeal, trying to free Scott so that he can, like OJ, spend the rest of his life "searching for the real killers."

Debaclé: Where is the Left Going ?

El Jefe has been wondering what would happen to the Left as a faction, following Kerry’s defeat. I started thinking about this late on Election Night (or early the next morning), as it became clear that Senator Kerry would not need to give the Post Office any change-of-address cards. I do not think that President Bush’s reelection necessarily represents a “mandate” but it is certainly going to have consequences, not least to the Left in this country. The Democrats are busily engaged in their usual circular-firing-squad-style post-defeat feud, but some trends are already becoming apparent.

1). Fragmentation and Conspiracies. Short term: the defeat means the fragmentation of the left, as the various components of the Democratic coalition indulge in recriminations over the defeat, blaming rival factions within their own coalition for the debacle; and alternatively lamenting the stupidity of the American people; and the skill at criminality of the Bush administration, whose legitimacy they shall continue to deny. This trend is already apparent in left-wing newspaper commentaries; a summary is presented in my 9 November post “Liberal Meltdown.”

Many will see their defeat as the result of a conspiracy, of Bush/Karl Rove/Ashcroft efforts to suppress the vote, and hide the “true” results. Kerry’s quick concession, good for the country, was probably bad for the Left, contributing in the short run to the Democrats’ fragmentation, because party unity is built in part around the “victim” status of being ripped off, as they see it, by Bush in 2000. In the long run, Kerry’s quick concession will contribute to the demise of Kerry’s Washington insider faction as power brokers in the Democratic Party, and the rise of more radical/populist factions.

2). Rise of the anti-war Left. In the near term, the hard left will focus on its opposition to the war, particularly that part of it in Iraq. Most Democrats can agree to oppose the Iraqi war, and if the steady dribble of casualties continues, they can expect to attract some popular support. The administration has a limited amount of time to settle the Iraq business, probably no longer than six to eight months.

3). Rise of Economic Populism. Pay attention to John Edwards’ concession speech, and recall the last weeks of the Gore campaign of 2000. (the Bob Shrumish, Ted Kennedyesque “I’ll fight for working people” rhetoric). The Kerry campaign, rooted in the upper middle class, the Washington establishment and the universities, generally avoided direct appeals to any sort of populism, even of the economic variety.
But the defeat of Kerry will effectively be the end of the establishment Democratic Party, and will likely lead to the rise of a more populist, more leftist party, built on the twin pillars of opposition to globalization (which will satisfy the university Left); and a revitalization of working-class support. This party faction is going to be more militant, and less quietist then the increasingly discredited DLC/East Coast Brahmin /Washington establishment faction typified, respectively by Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Tom Daschle. Watch Edwards, watch Howard Dean.

4). Violence ? Some have warned about the violent tendencies of some parts of the left, in particular John O’Sullivan in National Review, and Todd Gitlin in the Washington Monthly. The possibility cannot be ignored. Consider that the Left made a truly unified, total effort to throw out Bush. The late campaign just concluded was the united project of the university Left, the big television media, the permanent government bureaucracy, the plaintiff's Bar, the non-governmental organization lobbies, the anti-globalization crowd, Hollywood and the cultural elite, and other chattering classes, plus the unions, and the civil-rights establishment.

All these diverse groups and individuals made an awesome, truly Herculean effort to cooperate, submerge their differences, and work together to beat Bush. The degree of agreement on the Left to ignore Nader and eschew the traditional Democratic sport of fragmentation and support John Kerry, an unsatisfactory candidate for many “progressives,” was amazing The result was the most formidable electoral coalition the Left has ever assembled, with an awesome GOTV effort – and it failed utterly, at every level.

The rage this defeat will produce is going to be both immense and terrible. Portions of the hard-Left will have less and less use for the constitutional republic as we understand it, and will move more towards open support of outright socialism and class warfare. Some small number of still more radical members of the Left will, quite probably, see no purpose whatever in continuing to pursue peaceful politics. Something like the old Weather Underground may appear, particularly if the war continues.

Iraq News Roundup: An Insurgent Tet Offensive ?

Matters continue to proceed favorably in Fallujah, according to press reports this morning, and over the last couple of days. For El Jefe’s fellow order-of-battle junkies, one of the Marine units west of the Euphrates, probably the one that seized the crossings as the operation began, has been identified in today’s New York Times as the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
The rebels are stuck in an encirclement, apparently in the Shuhada District in the south of Fallujah, again according to this morning’s Times. They are trying to break out to the south, into the desert, but without much success. reports that a military spokesman claims the enemy is boxed into an area 1,000 by 500 meters. At least 1,000 enemy are dead, and about 200 prisoners are taken, according to multiple sources. The prisoners will no doubt provide lots of interesting intelligence on their rebel friends when turned over to the Iraqi government’s police and intelligence authorities.

Tons of documents and arms have been taken. Slaughterhouses, where hostages were held, have been found in northern Fallujah, along with personal effects and documents belonging to some of the deceased hostages. US troops, again according to today’s New York Times, have evidently rescued a Syrian taxi driver who had been kidnapped in August.
Males aged 15-55 are being prevented from leaving Fallujah by the US and allied forces, according to the AP yesterday, and the New York Times today. Only women and children can leave. Human Rights Watch thinks this is a war crime, says the New York Times. The lawyers at Human Rights Watch, of course, do not care that the Fallujah rebels are themselves not conforming to the laws of war, and really have no interest whatever in whether one of these precious individuals might get away from Fallujah and shoot a US Marine or soldier in the back as soon as possible.

Virtually the whole population of Fallujah has already fled anyway – anybody who is left almost certainly supports the rebels and ought to be behind barbed wire in some very uncomfortable place anyway. According to the Times piece today. Because “…the United States has refused to take part in the International Criminal Court”, it is unclear whether American troops could be held accountable” for the so-called war crimes. Thank God for small miracles.

Meanwhile, the rebels have launched an offensive in Mosul, in the north, and have overwhelmed the local police. Reinforcements have been brought up. 1/5th US Infantry (25th Inf. Div.) has pulled out of the Fallujah fight and been sent to Mosul. The Mosul governor says some of the police have defected. On the plus side, says that the Kurds (pro US) are setting up street patrols in Mosul. Clashes all over the Sunni triangle, in particular near Ramadi and Samarra.

A so-called insurgent “official,” one Saif al-Deen al-Baghdadi is quoted in the AP as saying that “ridding Iraq of the occupation will not be done by ballots...Allawi’s government …represents the fundamentalist right-wing of the White House and not the Iraqi people.” “Fundamentalist right-wing” eh ? Is this guy reading Democratic Party press releases ? Hopefully a fundamentalist right-wing US Marine or GI shuts Mr. Saif up with a 5.56 mm “ballot” as soon as possible.

People disposed to panic will see the surge of violence in Mosul and the fighting in Fallujah and elsewhere as a sign that we cannot hope to win. I draw the opposite conclusion. Recall the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, so many years ago. We now know that the decision of the Vietcong leadership to bring such a high proportion of its political cadre and underground military organization out of hiding and into the cities of South Vietnam finished the VC as a military threat to the US and its Vietnamese allies. After the initial surprise, US and South Vietnamese troops annihilated the exposed VC. When South Vietnam ultimately fell, after the Congress made us abandon (er, excuse me, withdraw from) South Vietnam, it was to the North Vietnamese Army, and not the VC.

However, the military disaster to the communists was not made apparent to most Americans, who soon began to agree (wrongly), with the major television media, that Tet had been a defeat for America and its allies, and that the war could not be won.

Now, over 30 years later, the Iraq terrorist rebels (who are nowhere nearly as well organized, or trained as the VC, and have nothing like their scale of popular support) – have taken a similar risk, and it should be the end of them. The Saddamite/pro al Qaeda rebels have chosen, foolishly, to stand and fight the US forces and their Iraqi and other allies in the cities. The rebels have stupidly presented themselves for destruction, and the military is obliging, helping them to martyrdom as rapidly and as efficiently as possible.

Our military is doing its part. Our Iraqi allies, still trying to put together their own military, are trying to do theirs. Within days, US forces in Fallujah will be available for use in Mosul, Ramadi and elsewhere in the rebellious Sunni triangle. If the Sunni population wants to find itself ruled completely by Kurds and Shiites, and wishes to see the complete devastation of its portion of the country, let it keep supporting the rebels.

The political leadership must now step up to the plate, and not allow the anti-war elements in the media, the foreign policy establishment and elsewhere to portray what is happening as a US defeat. President Bush and his administration need to get in front of the television cameras, and conduct some public education.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans Day

When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

Inscription, British War Memorial, Kohima, India.
(attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds, Times Literary Supplement
[London], 4 July 1918)

Today is Veterans Day in the USA. As our soldiers, sailors and aviators serve and struggle for us throughout the world, particularly today in Iraq and Afghanistan, pause in your business for a moment, and think of them, and of our veterans. Remember those who are not with us today, because they made the ultimate sacrifice. If you know a veteran, and have the opportunity, say “Thank you.”


Have you forgotten yet ?
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz – The nights you watched and wired and dug...?

Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again ?’ . . .

Have you forgotten yet ?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget

Siegfried Sassoon “Aftermath, March 1919.”

Today is Veterans Day in America. Because the calendar is crowded with holidays, Veterans Day replaced an older holiday, called Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of the First World War, surely the most needless, tragic, but consequential war of modern times. Canada, and the British Commonwealth, very appropriately, call today “Remembrance Day.” World War I is ancient history to most of us, yet it is with us, always. Pause for a moment, and remember.
When historians look back upon our times, they will probably agree that the 21st Century really began on 11 September 2001. Similarly, Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year old Serbian revolutionary bandit, member of a terrorist organization called the Black Hand, effectively began the 20th Century about 11:15 a.m. on 28 June 1914 when he murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Archduchess Sophie, by a bridge in Sarajevo, in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Ninety years later, Sarajevo was the scene of more violence, this time between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, quarreling over the make-up of the post-Cold War Balkans. The 20th Century thus ended where and as it begin, in Sarajevo, in blood, with another war that nobody would win.
The 1990’s violence in the former Yugoslavia, like almost everything else in modern times, stemmed from the war that Princip helped begin. Over 10 million dead bodies later, the war he and a baker’s dozen of incompetents started ended today, in 1918.
Officially ended, anyway. How can an atrocity like the First World War ever truly end ? Fought over nothing, ending in no victory for anyone, except political cranks, demagogic ideologues and other fanatics. The First World War, besides murdering millions, destroyed ancient Christian kingdoms, and killed the faith of the peoples in their civilization, in their leaders, in progress, parliamentary institutions, science and religion, and left us instead the poison fruits of Communism, Nazism, and Socialism and all the other “isms” you can possibly ever think of. The road to Auschwitz, Hitler and Stalin runs straight from the murder scene in Sarajevo. The Second World War killed more, in raw numbers, than the First – but the later war was only a continuation made possible by the poisons unleashed in the first war.
Satan had a good day in Sarajevo in June 1914. If not for the murderer Princip, and the clumsy diplomats and generals who blundered Europe into a war everyone lost, whoever would have heard of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini ? Lenin would have rotted away in exile with his books and scribblings; Hitler no doubt would have died in obscurity in some Vienna doss-house. Stalin would have met the inevitable fate of a bank robber; and Mussolini perhaps never left journalism. No collapse of the British Empire forcing America onto the world stage to redress the balance. No Great Depression, no Nazis, no World War II, no Cold War. Maybe no collapse of the Ottoman Empire giving us, ultimately al Qaeda.
But Gavrilo Princip fired his fatal bullets, and the whole edifice of civilization crumpled before them. The shots of Sarajevo echo still. Gentle reader, think today of his crime, and of all whom, unknowing, ultimately paid. Because of the shots in Sarajevo, men fought and murdered each other all over the world in job lots -- in the fields of Champagne and in the snows of Russia, in Iraq and in China. Children died in the cold Atlantic and starved by the million in Russia and Poland. Americans died in the Argonne and, thirty years later, in the Pacific and in the deserts of Africa; later in the jungles of Vietnam; and today US Marines are dying in Fallujah, all in some way because of, or related to the acres of warehouses of cans of worms opened by Princip.
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh month, of the eleventh day – today – in 1918, the first war ended, and the killing took a little break. Think of the all the war dead today, dear reader. But, almost 100 years on, spare a thought for a moment or two for all the dead of that big, big war, so pointless, so long ago, but so horribly, tragically important.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Happy Birthday Marine Corps !

On 10 November 1775, before the United States was yet a country, the Continental Congress created what became the United States Marine Corps. It is both tragic and altogether typical that on their Corps’ 229th birthday, America’s Marines are carrying the fight to the enemy in Fallujah, just as their fathers and brothers did before them in Grenada, at Hue City, the Chosun Reservoir, Iwo Jima, Peleliu, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Corregidor, Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Peking, Nicaragua, Mexico City, Tripoli and a million other places. Semper Fi guys, and may God be with you every day, especially today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Madonna Speaks

Madonna has told the BBC that US troops should leave Iraq.
Agence France-Presse says in a story dated 10 November that in an interview, Madonna told BBC Radio. "[m]y feelings are 'can we just all get out?'"
Doubtless President Bush is calling the National Security Council into emergency crisis session even as El Jefe scribbles to discuss the grave moral implications of Madonna's plea. After all, as Madonna the strategist tells us: "Global terror is everywhere. Global terror is down the street, around the block."
Madonna's appeal will surely sway the conscience of the President and his counselors. Hopefully, President Bush will heed Madonna's call to exercise true statesmanship, and withdraw the troops, before he begins his own 20 city musical tour next month.

The Liberal Meltdown

After last week’s stinging rejection of Senator Kerry, the Left is in the process of having itself an understandable good cry. Mind you, El Jefe does not mean to gloat: he has too many liberal friends, and he remembers all too well that 70,000 votes the other way in Ohio and it would be El Jefe and his compadres wailing and gnashing their teeth, and howling at the Moon at the injustice of it all. El Jefe understands that, as the editors of the New Republic put it in "51-48" (4 November) "[t]his hurts."

Still, some of this introspection is hard to take. Jane Smiley, in “Why Americans Hate Democrats – A Dialogue” (Slate, 4 November 2004) blames Kerry’s loss on the “[i]gnorance and bloodlust [that] have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states.” Smiley’s relatives from Missouri, who voted Republican, are “…not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.”
Keep it up Ms. Smiley, and El Jefe hopes your friends listen and repeat your insults, because the louder and longer you rave, the more certain it is that the Democratic Party won’t be able to elect a dog-catcher between the Chesapeake and the Rio Grande for the next 50 years.
Bob Herbert, in Monday’s New York Times, seems to agree with Ms. Smiley, telling us that “ignorance played at least as big a role in the elections’ outcome as values.” Mr. Herbert laments: “[h]ow do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put. . . part of their brain on hold ? No wonder Bush won.” Democrats need to “shrink the ranks of the clueless” and presumably add to their vote totals by adding “teach-ins to their outreach efforts.”
Hmmmm, perhaps Mr. Herbert thinks that we need to lock up Red State voters in Commie style Thought Reform camps and make them read nothing but, say, Bob Herbert and New York Times columnists ? That would certainly bore your average Red State voter to death, so El Jefe supposes that there may be some method in Mr. Herbert’s madness.
New York Times columnists seem to have had a general meltdown. On 4 November, in her column “The Red Zone,” Maureen Dowd was just beside herself, telling us that President Bush “doesn’t want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel.” Ms Dowd further tells us that the Vice-President is a “cuckoo clock” and, as US soldiers and Marines prepared to go into Fallujah, Ms. Dowd denounced the President for “sticking our troops in an immoral position with no exit strategy.”
An “immoral position ?” Is Ms. Dowd meaning to say that the rebels killing our soldiers and Marines in Fallujah are occupying a MORAL position ? How can the defenders of a regime which fed dissidents into wood chipping machines; and who film themselves hacking aid workers and civilian contractors to death be anything resembling moral ? What planet is Ms. Dowd on ?
Oh, but Ms. Dowd wasn’t done. On Sunday, in her column “Rove’s Revenge” she told us (presumably, in part because President Bush was going around putting us in “immoral positions") we were entering another “dark age” that “America has always had strains of isolationism, nativism, chauvinism, puritanism and religious fanaticism” (El Jefe thinks Ms. Dowd’s got the waterfront of “isms” pretty well covered). Anyway, Bush and “his crew” don’t want to keep these impulses under control, they “don’t call to our better angels; they summon our nasty devils.”
“Nasty Devils.” That sounds like it’s out of some speech the mullahs in Fallujah would give. Begging your pardon, Ms. Dowd, but a few nasty devils came calling on 9/11, so maybe you’ll forgive us if we aren’t so keen on keeping some of those impulses under control as we might be.
Not to be outdone, that sunny New York Times optimist Paul Krugman exhorted his troops on 5 November to keep the faith, entitling his column “No Surrender.” He then announced that he’d be starting a “long-planned break” next week to “work on an economics textbook” but that he’d be back in January. Yeppers, no surrender guys, and good luck, but see ya later.
No tale of woe would be complete without an inspirational word or fifteen from Barbra Streisand. In a piece on her website entiled “We Must Have Patience,” dated 8 November, quoting Thomas Jefferson, Ms. Streisand tells us that we shall see “…the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve” with just a "little patience.”
Hmmmm, throw in a couple of cat hairs and a clove of garlic. No, wait a minute, El Jefe was confusing this with the end of Sleeping Beauty.
Actually, El Jefe would rather have a margarita anyway.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Storm of Fallujah, Day 2

The assault on Fallujah (Operation Al-Fajr [“Dawn”]/Phantom Fury) continues today. Today’s New York Times has a very useful map (another good one can be found at From the New York Times article, the main effort is east of the Euphrates, on the north side of the city. On the NYT's map, six US battalions are advancing on a front of just under four miles. The line-up (from east "left" to west "right") is: 2/2nd US Inf., 1/3rd Marines, 1/8th Marines, 2/7th Cavalry, 3/5th Marines, 3/1st Marines. That’s a tremendous amount of force on a narrow front.
The two marine battalions on the right (3/5, and 3/1), are assaulting the Jolan District, which is supposed to be the rebels' main stronghold, and which seems to be the roughest sector. says that the left wing of the advance (opposite the Askiri District of the city, in the north east), is “halfway or more to the center of the district."
According to, to the west of the city, 36th Commando Battalion, Iraq National Guard, corseted with US Marines, seized the main hospital and two of the Euphrates bridges yesterday. An unidentified Marine unit may have crossed the Euphrates. Unidentified Iraqi government units (no doubt backed by US formations) have attacked in the southeastern part of the city.
Orbat says that British units are helping blockade the city west of the Euphrates, but this is questionable, the New York Times puts the Black Watch Battle Group (the main concentration of British troops in the area), nearer Baghdad. Other US and Iraqi forces seem to be operating to the east and south, blockading the city from those directions as well.
Predictable criticism is beginning to be heard from the usual suspects, mostly the UN and its associated organizations, and the Russians. Hopefully, the government ignores this and finishes with the Fallujah rebels.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Slouching towards McWorld

An article in this morning's Daily Telegraph online (El Jefe's favorite UK newspaper) reminds El Jefe, as if he needed reminding, of what a melancholy world he sometimes thinks that we live in.
The article concerns the disintegration and desecration of colonial-era British graveyards in India. These 1,000 or so cemetaries contain remains of British men, women and children who died in India during the days of the Raj.
Rajpura Cemetary in Delhi, where the British interred casualties from the Indian Mutiny in 1857, is now covered by a subdivision. The fence surrounding the grave of the heroic British soldier Brigadier John Nicholson, killed leading a column during the storm of Delhi on 14 September 1857, is now used by squatters to dry their laundry. Alas, this is not the first abandonment for poor Brigadier Nicholson in death: at the time of Delhi's fall, his hospital litter bearers abandoned their dying general to loot. Now he has been abandoned again.
But I suppose none of this is really of any moment. After all, if you read on in the Telegraph, you can find out that some rocker named "Gabrielle" tells us that "Bling is so demeaning." The views of this exalted person are much more important than anything ever accomplished by such un-PC persons as heroes of the British Indian Army. Meanwhile, the British are talking about putting a statue of Nelson Mandela on Trafalgar Square. Wonder what old Admiral Nelson would make of that ?
I am profoundly thankful I was not born a Briton, or a modern European. Considering what they were, and what they have become, I do not think I could bear it.

Friday, November 5, 2004

Fallujah Assault Imminent

The AP says that 10,000 Marines and US Army soldiers have surrounded Fallujah, that air attacks are underway, and that a ground assault is apparently imminent.
The operation appears to be under command of I Marine Expeditionary Force, a corps-level organization that has command of Marine units, (including part of the 1st Marine Rgt.), as well as part of 1st Cavalry Division, parts of 1st, 2nd and 25th Infantry Divisions, as well as assorted other units.
Meanwhile, the BBC has talked to a reporter in Fallujah who states that conditions are very bad. Most of the population has fled, the US troops have blocked the roads, and supplies are running out. The reporter had an election comment: "Many people were hoping John Kerry would win because they felt he would not have allowed our city to be attacked like this."
It is hard to muster much pity for Fallujah, the epicenter of rebellion in Iraq, the good citizens of which hacked American civilian contractors to death, mutilated them and burned their bodies like so much rubbish.
If the people of Fallujah had cooperated with the occupation, remained quiet, gone about their lawful business, joined the political process and participated in the forthcoming elections; their city would be unbombed, there would be food in the shops and they would be living in peace. But they traded the practical benefits of peace and submission for the empty, squalid and bloody path of pointless resistance.
If Fallujah wants mercy, its inhabitants had damn well better surrender, hadn't they?
"Just send in your Chief and surrender -- it's worse if you fights or you runs: You may hide in your caves, they'll be only your graves, but you can't get away from the guns !" -- Rudyard Kipling, "Screw Guns."

Friday: Election Wrap-Up, Arafat, Duchess of Gloucester, Our Dear Allies.

Still over the moon about the election results. Iowa officially moved into the President’s win column today, making the final result 286 electoral votes for the President, 252 for Senator Kerry. El Jefe Maximo, tooting his own horn of course, points out that he was only three electoral votes off, predicting a final Bush victory of 289 electoral votes, primarily because he gave Iowa to Kerry, and thought Bush would win Wisconsin.
Yasser Arafat, notable bandit leader and thug, who styles himself Chairman of the so-called Palestinian Authority, lies near death in Paris. Well, either that, or he’s dead already, and his heirs are finishing their squabble over his dubious legacy before the event is made public. One is tempted to say “good riddance to bad rubbish” but so many of his probable replacements are even less savory. But a proper El Jefe obituary on Mr. Arafat will have to, for the moment, wait.
Meanwhile, El Jefe notes that H.R.H. Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, died in her sleep last Friday at the age of 102. The funeral, attended of course by H.M. the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, was yesterday in St. George’s Chapel of Windsor Castle (itself the burial place of ten monarchs). El Jefe, it must be confessed, is a royalist, which explains his comments on such sad events.
Across the Channel, the Daily Telegraph reports today that the French Foreign Minister, M. Barnier, says that four more years of a unilateralist administration in Washington requires Europe to develop its own diplomatic and defence machinery. "Our world needs several powers. We are in the process of gathering the pieces and the will to become another power." Mon Dieu et Sacre bleu, the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys want to rattle sabres.
What this means of course, is that the French and the Germans will supply M. Barnier's "will," and all the other suckers in the EU will be privileged to, like it or not, pony-up for the "pieces." The one pathetic aircraft carrier possessed by the French Navy, Charles de Gaulle, plus its support vessels, about breaks the French military budget. Good luck with that one, M. Barnier, and do call us next time the Germans get tired of making le nicey-nice and decide to come visit Paris.

Thursday, November 4, 2004


US aircraft are apparently in the skies over Fallujah today, pounding rebel positions. Offensive operations by I Marine Expeditonary Force are evidently imminent.
With the elections behind us and our own defeatists temporarily silenced, it is time to clean out the nest of unclean birds that is the Sunni Triangle for good and all. Hopefully the military pulls out all the stops and really lets the rebels and their sympathizers have it. If the rebels don't want their towns and cities razed, let them give up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Senator Kerry concedes

The Associated Press has just now reported that Senator Kerry has called President Bush, and conceded. Senator Kerry deserves the thanks of the whole nation for his graciousness.
President Bush and his advisors ran an excellent campaign, the details of which will no doubt be endlessly dissected and rehashed by commentators in the coming days. El Jefe Maximo will no doubt have a few comments himself.
For the moment, however, we must hope that President Bush and his supporters recognize their debt to Senator Kerry for his early concession, (thus avoiding a re-run of the 2000 election aftermath), and conduct themselves with civility.

"Nun danket alle Gott"

Oh thank you, God, because our country has really dodged disaster. Although things looked truly bleak at times, from the beginning of October forward, the American people really came through yesterday, and avoided handing the national enemies a great psychological and moral victory.
Hopefully President Bush finds the wisdom to use his truly great victory wisely, and for the general benefit, and not just for that of his supporters.
On a personal note, El Jefe vowed to lose twenty pounds if the President was re-elected, and your host, El Jefe Maximo, is now faced with delivering on that vow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

9:45 p.m. Oooo Hi Oh ?

Florida continues to look good, but what about Ohio ? Also waiting on Colorado.

8:10 p.m. Florida, Ohio, Florida, Ohio.

No surprises, yet. Looks like the whole shooting match will come down to Florida and Ohio. The President seems to be doing better than exit polls suggested in Florida.

7:15 p.m. No Surprises Yet, But Some Worrisome Trends

So far, all the States are breaking as predicted by the major blogs and other prognosticators, including your host, El Jefe Maximo. The present electoral vote total is 74 for the President, 77 for Thurston.
However, William Kristol, on Fox, has noted that the President is not bettering his 2000 percentages, anyplace. The problem, of course, is that Nader is not as much of a factor.

Lunchtime Election Watch

First reports from National Review Online’s Kerry Spot operative: “Middle Cheese” (somebody at the middle level inside the Republican apparat) are optimistic. Hope this continues, but watch Florida. The Bush position there seems, to El Jefe anyway, to be deteriorating this morning. Hopefully, NRO Kerry Spot’s high level agent, Obi-Wan Kenobi, checks in soon.
If you haven't already discovered the Kerry Spot, by all means give it a look. Here's the address:

Monday, November 1, 2004

Prediction (2)

The official El Jefe Maximo prediction stays more or less where it was yesterday, Bush reelected, with 289 electoral votes to 249. However, I'm giving the President Wisconsin, in addition to Ohio, Florida, and New Mexico among those States in doubt.
Bear in mind that the numbers everywhere are very, very, very close, and even a small movement towards Thurston could produce a great disaster; and a little bit more of a movement towards the President could produce what looks like a landslide.
I really think this election is the most important that has taken place in my lifetime. I don't think that's at all hyperbole. Tomorrow's Americans make their most important political choice bearing on the direction of the nation since 1940. George Wallace used to say that there was not a "dime's worth of difference" between the Republicans and the Democrats. If that was ever true, the stark differences between the party of Michael Moore, and the party of George Bush; the party of September 10, and the party of September 12 make that a laughable bromide today.
The election of Kerry tomorrow would be the equivalent of the British throwing out Churchill for Neville Chamberlain in 1940. Do Americans have stomach for the war or not ? We will soon know. God be with the President tomorrow.