"Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense."
- Mark Twain

"Anyone who combines politics and baseball is an idiot, because everyone knows that ping-pong is the greatest sport. Oh, and I'm really a Communist who hates NASCAR and listens to Joan Baez in the dark.
-- Glenn Reynolds

About the author
Andre Vladimir Sebastian is a figment of your imagination. Honestly, you really could have done better than him, now couldn't you? Next time, put a little effort into it.

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Between Iraq And A Hard Place
Well, now that terrorism is at its lowest point in years, more Americans are afraid of the next Madonna movie than they are of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, President Bush appears invincible. Indeed, tonight, after landing on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in an S-3B Viking, Bush swaggered about the flight deck looking like a combination of Tom Cruise and Tom Skerritt from Top Gun. His popularity is back near its post-Sept. 11 high, and the latest poll shows that he has a 70 percent job approval rating in the important primary state of New Hampshire. Smart Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle saw this coming a year ago and decided to sit the 2004 presidential campaign out and take their chances in 2008. Dumb Democrats didn't.

Which explains the non-stop barrage of blunders, buffoonery, and bildge coming from the mouths of most of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination this year. The Democrats running this year remind me of Christopher Reeve's marvelous line in the brilliant Merchant-Ivory film "Remains of the Day." Playing an American senator at a European conference just prior to the outbreak of World War II, Reeve at one point stands up and tells off all the Europeans, saying (and I paraphrase), "You're all amateurs, every last one of you."

Actually, while I think he's somewhat amateurish, I don't think N.C. Sen. John Edwards is dumb at all. I think he's running to be somebody's vice president. And Joe Lieberman isn't dumb either, he's just suffering from the same delusions of grandeur that make even third-rate politicians like Dan Quayle think they are presidential material just because a real presidential nominee picked them as a running mate to give the ticket geographic balance. If they are so politically naive that they don't see that, how serious a candidate can they be? The rest of this year's lot are self-destructing quicker than the Republican Guard. This delightfully disrespectful editorial proclaims it amateur hour in the Democratic Party and sums up the Democratic hopefuls rather well, I think. If I were a Democrat, I'd be looking for another party to vote for. And this is the one I'd choose.

  posted by AVS @ 1.5.03


What To Do With Saddam?
OK, assuming the alleged Saddam Hussein letter to the editor of London's Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi is authentic, of which I am entirely unconvinced, here's a question for you, loyal readers. What do we do with Saddam once we catch him, assuming U.S. forces find him alive, either in Iraq or elsewhere? Trial by the Iraqi people? Grandstanding Euroweenie trial in the International Criminal Court? Fry him alive trail in the American courts? Death by prolonged exposure to Mo Vaughn's locker? Email your answers (curveballcomment at and I'll post the best (most well-reasoned or most humorous) for further discussion and debate. And yes, if you have a blog, a good answer will get you a link.

  posted by AVS @ 30.4.03


Ban Violent/Stupid Fans For Life
In light of the past few bizarre incidents in which baseball fans attacked coaches and players during games, Major League Baseball would do everyone a favor by copying the Union of European Football Associations' new rules on fan violence. After incidents involving English fan violence, the UEFA announced today that fans who invade the field of play at England games will be banned for life from all Football Association facilities. Not that I have any idea how Major League Baseball would police such a ban. But I'd be for it because, while it won't necessarily stop drunks from leaping on base coaches, it may be effective in keeping fans from throwing objects at players and jumping onto the field for streaking and other stupid behavior.

  posted by AVS @ 30.4.03

Three Cheers For Capitalism!
In honor of International Day of Labor, The Times of London has published a brilliant essay by Anatole Kaletsky in praise of capitalism. Kaletsky recently chaired an OECD panel on world economic growth and prosperity, where he heard all sorts of anti-capitalist, anti-globalization nonsense. Here are a few choice graphs from his excellent piece, which is ironically posted on The Times Web site for free:

"As I listened to the politicians, international officials and “civil society” pressure groups represented in Paris, it struck me that, while opposition to the global capitalist system is widespread, nobody has anything remotely resembling a constructive alternative to propose.

"Everything about the present state of the world appeared to be unsustainable or unbalanced or unjust — and most of the anomalies appeared to centre on the US. Let me give just a few examples.

"Americans have been the richest people in the world since the late 19th century, but in the postwar decades Western Europe and Japan dramatically narrowed the gap in living standards, productivity and social conditions. In the past decade, however, this process of convergence has come to an end. According to the OECD’s studies, the US has been widening its lead over all other advanced economies since the mid-1990s — and, according to most key economic and social indicators, this divergence is likely to accelerate in the years ahead.

"When we combine America’s widening economic supremacy with the military hegemony that has been demonstrated so spectacularly during the past two years, the rest of the world’s jealousy and resentment is easy enough to understand.

"Everyone knows that America’s military dominance rests ultimately on the power of its economy — according to one estimate presented at the forum, America will spend more next year on defence equipment than all other nations combined. From this self-evident proposition it is an easy (though entirely erroneous) leap of logic to assert the converse: that America’s unparalleled wealth and superior economic performance depend on abuse of its military power.

"The idea that free trade is a form of exploitation — that the gains to the rich countries and the multinational corporations must be at the expense of the poor — may have been logically refuted 200 years ago by David Ricardo and empirically disproved in the most spectacular fashion by the experiences of Japan, China and Korea. Yet the irrational appeal of protectionism seems to be spreading, along with the illusion that America is somehow translating its military hegemony into an imperialist abuse of the global system of free trade."

For a contrasting point of view (it can't really be called an argument), see the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions' May Day Manifesto. Key sentence: "Coordinated global action must be taken to stimulate the global economy, restore confidence in an effective United Nations and build democratic global governance in the interests of all," which proves Kaletsky's point that "nobody has anything remotely resembling a constructive alternative to propose."

  posted by AVS @ 30.4.03

Saddam And Osama Linked
Another striking revelation by The Daily Telegraph has gone unreported in America. The paper's reporters in Baghdad have found documents detailing a meeting between Iraqi intelligence and an operative of al Qaida. An excerpt:

"The Telegraph found the file on bin Laden inside a folder lying in the rubble of one of the rooms of the destroyed intelligence HQ. There are three pages, stapled together; two are on paper headed with the insignia and lettering of the Mukhabarat.

"They show correspondence between Mukhabarat agencies over preparations for the visit of al-Qa'eda's envoy, who travelled to Iraq from Sudan, where bin Laden had been based until 1996. They disclose what Baghdad hopes to achieve from the meeting, which took place less than five months before bin Laden was placed at the top of America's most wanted list following the bombing of two US embassies in east Africa.

"Perhaps aware of the sensitivities of the subject matter, Iraqi agents at some point clumsily attempted to mask out all references to bin Laden, using white correcting fluid. The dried fluid was removed to reveal the clearly legible name three times in the documents."

So, what I'm wondering is, are there any American reporters left in Baghdad? Or are they filing their dispatches from some Kuwait City hotel, sipping exotic Middle Eastern drinks and swapping war stories? "Yeah, well the group I was riding with actually got shot at -- twice!" "No way!" "Way!" "Dude, you're so lucky. I wish I'd been shot at. All I got was clogged ears during those big sandstorms."

  posted by AVS @ 29.4.03


Checkout Redheaded Sheila
After reading my last post, it's perfectly obvious that I have nothing interesting to say today. Fortunately, Sheila does. Sheila is an actress and blogger who lives in New York City and has a nasty habit of making long, interesting blog posts that put mine to shame. Her blog, Redheaded Ramblings, stays fresh because she writes commentary worth reading, and because she writes on such a wide variety of topics. She'll tackle poetry or films one day, foreign policy the next, and ancient history after that -- and she's knowledgeable about the subjects. One thing I really like about her site is that she writes these very long book reviews full of lengthy quotes and her well-considered analysis. Not your typical blogger, I'd say. Her latest post is a hilarious summary of quotes from reviews of the worst film of the past decade: Battlefield Earth. She's worth a bookmark.

  posted by AVS @ 28.4.03


Go Gerhard, Go!
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder has threatened to resign if his own party doesn't back his proposed government reforms, which are designed to trim government and get the economy moving. Everyone is on board with his program -- even the Green Party -- except the far left in his own Social Democratic Party, who says trimming government would harm "social justice". That's great. Millions are out of work because the government is out of control, and they're worried about "social justice". Who to pull for? Germany needs to be rid of Schroder, but it needs government reform even more. Maybe the best scenario would be Schroder resigning, followed by more tax increases and more social welfare programs, followed by a further economic shrinkage, followed by a massive electoral defeat by the Social Democrats. As Tommy Flanagan would say, it could happen.

  posted by AVS @ 28.4.03

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