Friday, February 15, 2002

Mayoral Musings
I am sure my hits would go up if I discussed Britney Spears and all the naked chicks I saw at Mardi Gras, but this is not that type of blog. (If you googled in on the italicized, check out the Uniblogger, he’s got what you seek). Actually, speaking (er blogging) of search strings, I have noticed a more than a few of you actually came here looking for info on the Mayor’s race here in NOLA. So here is the latest, if you care. Less than 24 hours after pledging to run positive campaigns, there were ads and phone calls accusing Ray Nagin of being a stooge for the man and saying that he should be called Ray Reagan. Chief Pennington denied knowledge of the ads, pointing out that they were paid for by a local Democratic PAC over which he had no power of knowledge. The local talk radio station called the PAC’s leader and the phone rang in the office of Congressman William Jefferson, Pennington’s campaign manager and heir to much of the dem machinery now that Morial is a lame duck. This is disheartening to me because it reveals Pennington to be much less of a man than my original estimation. Either he is a liar who won’t keep his word or he so clueless that he can’t even keep his campaign manager in line. Monday Pennington got on the steps of city hall and read a rambling statement that he clearly did not rehearse, much less write, in which he claimed to have found out something about Nagin that “sickened him to the core.” He then refused to say what it was. Later that day Jefferson got on talk radio to doubletalk about the negative ads and generally try to bully the host, Dave Tyree, to little avail. Finally, the horrible thing Nagin did was revealed to be something to do with a rental car counter at the airport, a deal that never went through and was not illegal anyway. Way weak and too confusing and arcane to have any legs. This is New Orleans, where Edwin Edwards ran for governor vs. David Duke with a bumper sticker that read “Vote for the crook, it’s important.” He said he would win so long as they didn’t catch him “with a dead girl or a live boy.” The other thing the Pennington camp is trying to do is paint Nagin as a Morial crony. Thing is, Nagin ran Cox Communications in New Orleans and brought in the minor league hockey team, he would have to play ball with the mayor if he wanted to get anything done. Besides, that accusation cuts both ways in this case since Morial hired Pennington as Chief of Police. Pennington’s people have also dropped the race card, saying Nagin is the whitest mayoral candidate or some such racist twaddle. Orleans Parish is 70% black. The problems it faces are not so much white or black as what needs to be done to make the city attractive to someone besides tourists. Race is the handle the likes of Morial and Jefferson used to keep power in this city. Unfortunately, that is all it was about, the power. Till now, Nagin’s ads and appearances are upbeat and speak of effecting real change at city hall. Now the gloves are off. I think there really is some chance of him winning and then cleaning house. That explains the desperate moves by the opposition. Jefferson sees the writing on the wall. If Nagin wins, there is no way he is not going to use his mandate to get one of his allies (a made over Paulette Irons, State Rep Pat Swilling?) into Jefferson’s seat and shut down his noxious organization once and for all. Besides, if you can't make your website work, I doubt you can get this city turned around.
You reap what you sow...

David Keene brings up an interesting point re W's predecessor and his signing of "a treaty which, had it been ratified by the Senate, would have accepted the idea of a permanent international criminal court with jurisdiction over acts committed by U.S. citizens and soldiers."

The Senate hasn't ratified what Mr. Clinton sought, but the international community insists that once sixty nations sign on, this court will be able to assert jurisdiction regardless of what the Senate does or doesn't do. The Senate's response late last year was to pass something called the "American Service Member's Protection Act" to shield members of our armed services from the reach of the new court when it opens for business.
The problem is that the act doesn't go far enough. It may give U.S. citizens some protection from the reach of the new court, but doesn't shield them from being hauled before the court that is about to try Milosevic. So it's possible and perhaps even likely that a U.S. citizen or even a former president like, say, Bill Clinton, might be hauled in to answer for what happened in the Balkans nearly a decade ago.

Keene later recounts one US orchestrated operation, in which Croat forces routed Serbs, thus obviating a requirement for US ground troops:
The Observer of London claims that Mr. Clinton gave the Croats the green light for the attack, and Mr. Holbrooke reveals in his memoirs that we controlled the entire operation. We apparently told the Croats when to launch their attack, which towns to take and where to stop. Mr. Holbrooke makes clear that they did just what we wanted. He even quotes then-U.S. Ambassador Robert Frasure as to our motive, "We hired these guys [the Croats] to be our junkyard dogs because we were desperate."

The Yugoslavian war crimes Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte describes the battle as "ethnic cleansing" and has already indicted Croat General Gotovina. So:

Some argue that if Gotovina is to be tried because he had "command responsibility" for what happened, Mr. Clinton should be forced to face the same charges. The politically correct in Europe seem to agree, and therefore expect Mr. Del Ponte to launch an investigation that could ultimately lead to the former president's indictment. If one accepts the logic behind the Gotovina indictment and finds Mr. Holbrooke credible, one would be forced to the conclusion that she may have no choice but to go after Mr. Clinton.
The real question is whether such tribunals ought to be able to roam around punishing world leaders who authorize the use of armed force when anyone who carries out their orders misbehaves.
It's tempting for a salivating, die-hard Clinton hater to skip over that question, but even if such a trial would make for good theater, it ought to be avoided. If it isn't, no future president will be able to go to sleep at night without worrying about what some corporal somewhere might be contemplating.

And they wonder why the US acts unilaterally? Imagine if world bitchiness with the US could result in something more serious than merely getting kicked off the UN human rights committee. Many international laws and conventions (Kyoto, Geneva) only provide a means for weak nations and nongovernment organizations (NGO's) to manipulate the strong (read US), often at the expense of the greater good. Take the Geneva Convention. The US is the only combatant that ever really follows it. Yet the International Red Cross (IRC) and Amnesty deign to check up on Camp X-ray. Hey IRC, where were you when Hitler was killing people in his camps by the millions. More timely question: What about Fidel just across the island from X-ray? Ever check out any of the prison conditions in the workers paradise? Hell, I'll bet the denizens of X-ray eat better than most of Castro's subjects. Thank God the current President is not so enamored with the concept of forfeiting US sovereignty to a bunch of Euroweenie mandarins and NGO radicals. The majority of the Senate also deserves credit for not signing off on such suicidal drivel.


Update:

John Cole points out that the Geneva Conventions were not adopted until 1949, after WWII. For some reason I always associated them with the well meaning but ultimately useless post WWI movements like the Washington Naval Accords and the League of Nations. Anyway, my larger point stands wrt to the IRFC and other sanctimonious humanitarian NGOs: Piss off and go harass someone worthy of real scorn.


Thursday, February 14, 2002

Ughnnn. That was fun. Posting light as I get back to work (and detox). Good content here for now.

Sunday, February 10, 2002

We just got back from Thoth and are gearing up for tonite's revelry. The parade runs on Magazine Street for a while, a few blocks from house. This krewe, comprised doctors, engineers and scientists, has a nonstandard route so that it passes as many hospitals and nursing homes as possible. In order to save money, Thoth reuses floats from other parades, slighly modifying them to fit some general theme. This year the theme was TV and the Silver Screen, sufficiently general to allow many pre-used floats to be repainted and retitled and fit into the parade. It did lead to some interesting juxtapositions. One float featured a barebreasted nymph flanked by a couple of dolphins. The title card on the tractor that pulled it said "Flipper." "Wow," I said to my wife, "I never saw that episode!"

With out a pause she replied, "Maybe that's the cable version."

One notable thing about Thoth is that those guys can throw and take pleasure in pointing to their targets and hitting them at extreme ranges. I saw beads going half a block and nerfballs going 80+ yards for the top level of some floats.