Saturday, March 29, 2003

Orange juice isn't just for stunted growth anymore:

Fruit Juice Overload

(HealthScoutNews) -- Fruit juice is touted as a healthier alternative to soda, especially for kids. But even though the juice is packed with minerals and vitamins, it's also usually loaded with sugar. Drinking too much can cause obesity, stunted growth, digestive problems and tooth decay, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The brouhaha over comments made this week by Rep. Charles Rangel, first on the
Fox News program “Hannity & Colmes,” and then on Sean Hannity’s radio program the next day, led Hannity and fellow talkie Rush Limbaugh to suggest a profound hatred of Rangel toward President Bush.

They could find nothing to dispute that theory by looking at remarks Rangel made in the days before the Coalition forces began military action in Iraq. Rangel took to the floor of the House of Representatives on March 19, and entered into the Congressional Record remarks he made Sunday, March 9 at Riverside Church in New York.

In those remarks, Rangel not only derided the president’s policies, but his religion as well:

The President is also saying something else. He is saying
that after we liberate Iraq--and, there is no indication that
we're going to met with kids and women with little American
flags waving for us--but after we liberate Iraq, that that
will be the beginning of bringing democracy to all of the
countries in the region.

Now, I don't know that much about the Islamic faith, but I
hardly think they're waiting for born-again Bush to be
bringing his type of democracy to that area.
(emphasis added.)

For the record, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman supports military action in Iraq, but nowhere in the Congressional record could be found Rangel referring to his colleague as “Jewish Lieberman.”

However, that doesn’t mean Rangel forgot to display the Israel card to his audience at Riverside Church:

If we hit Saddam Hussein, he will want to be remembered by
the people in the region. Knowing that they are no friends of
Israel in the region, it would seem to me that we're
jeopardizing our friends and brothers and sisters in Israel
from a preemptive strike by Iraq. Since they can't reach us,
they will reach for our best friend, Israel. Israel will be
forced to strike back with force--one, to show that she can
sustain the hostility from the region and, two, because of
the internal politics that exist between the hawks and the
doves there. You tell me how it will not be perceived as the
United States and Israel not having a ``holy war,''
especially with our President saying he's going to bring
democracy to the region of the Muslim states there.

You can read the entirety of Rangel’s remarks at the Congressional Record online.

The Number 1 Hit of the hour is "Funky Cold Medina," performed by The Screaming Eagles.

This can't be good:

UN doctor dies of new respiratory disease he first identified

29 March – Dr. Carlo Urbani, a United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) expert on communicable diseases, today died of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) - an emerging health threat which he first identified.

The 46-year old medical professional worked in public health programmes in Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam while based in Hanoi, where he first noted the outbreak of this new disease in an American businessman who had been admitted to a hospital.

Dear America,

People need to wake up.


Barbra Streisand

Dear Barbra Streisand,

Here's a dime. Go call someone who cares.



Day 10 of the First Internet War begins. Looks like we got a lot of bad guys last night:

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A pair of F-15E Strike Eagles attacked what Central Command officials termed "an emerging target" tonight, destroying a two-story building in Al Basrah where some 200 Iraqi regime paramilitary members were meeting.

The U.S. Air Force jets used laser-guided munitions to destroy the building, while leaving undamaged the Al Basrah Christian Church which was 300 yards away.
Officials said a delayed fuse allowed the bombs to penetrate the structure before detonation, thus minimizing the external blast effect.

The aircraft belong to the "The Chiefs" of the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, based at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Wars tend to give the American public a glimpse of future stars in the making – leaders who show their mettle under tough conditions and, because their superior officers and nation have called them into duty, wind up on the public stage.
It’s too early to tell what’s in store for Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, but his daily briefings at the Persian Gulf headquarters of Central Command, in Doha, Qatar, have given him more air time this week than the Commander in Chief.
Brooks, 43, was promoted last year to his current, one-star general position. According to stories by the Associated Press, culled from Lexis-Nexis, Brooks’ father, Leo Sr., also attained the rank of brigadier general as did his brother, Leo Jr.
While the flak Brooks faces lately is the verbal kind, he did a tour in Kosovo with the 101st Airborne, according to the AP, and he graduated first, militarily, in his class at West Point in 1980.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota isn't all that hot on the retired generals who provide Cable-TV commentary on how the war is going. Here's what he said on the Senate floor this week:

Do we need to have retired
officers, with pointers, pointing to maps and saying, ``Here is where
this division is going; here is where I think it is going to be,'' and
some saying, ``I disagree with the current strategy''?...
... I worry sometimes, when I see this on television: Is this healthy? Is
more information made available, by retired generals and admirals and
others who are analyzing troop movements, than really should be made
available to our adversaries? I just ask the question. I think it is an
important question to ask. I intend to ask it this morning in the
Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, where I will return in just a few

Dorgan isn't sure he wants to see the "big picture" shown on television. But Tom Fenton of CBS News asked, during a Centcom briefing this week, why the Coalition wasn't providing the "big picture" itself:

Q Tom Fenton, CBS News. If I may follow up on that, we've been getting terrific snapshots from our embedded correspondents, but we were told we would then get the big picture here from this podium. And instead we have been getting snapshot videos, vague generalities, broader timeline -- that doesn't surprise me. Can you give us a little more of the big picture without telling us more than the Iraqis already know? For example, how many thrusts are there towards Baghdad? Are there two? Are there multiple?

GEN. BROOKS: Well, it's a fair question. And I will tell you this: First we have to preserve the security of the operation. That's our first priority, and we are going to do that. Operations are ongoing. We have forces that are arrayed throughout all of Iraq at this point. And, so, if you are someone in the regime wondering where it's going to come from, the answer is it is going to come from everywhere. I'm not going to put very specific terms on exactly what thrust, exactly what unit. It's just not prudent for us to do that.

The military and President Bush have said, though, repeatedly, that the big picture really was pretty clear: We're going to win, and they're going to lose.

They didn't have war tracking polls for Vietnam. They didn't really even have them during Gulf War I. But they've got them now. According to the latest Gallup results, support for the war is pretty much holding steady despite news that it could take longer than first perceived and despite news that U.S. forces have suffered casualties:

The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, shows 71% of Americans in favor of the war and 27% opposed, virtually identical to the support measured last weekend (72% to 25%). Twenty-three percent of Americans say the United States "made a mistake" in sending troops to Iraq, while 75% disagree.

General Tommy Franks gave a radio interview yesterday and, while admitting no bio or chemical weapons have been found in Iraq yet, said we haven't really started looking all over the country for them yet:

Q: Weapons of mass destruction – I know you get this question when you’re at the briefing. Have you found anything?

GEN. FRANKS: We have not found any yet – excuse me -- but then again, we have not been to the places where we believe these weapons may be located. Each place that – each place we liberate where we think there’s a possibility, then we exploit the sites, we exploit the documents. There is a great deal of information that’s under study right now, but I can’t sit here and tell you that we have uncovered the smoking gun, so to speak. We’re not in that particular point of this war fight yet. It’ll come.

According to Fox News, though, that "particular point of the war" may arrive sooner rather than later:

Fox News' Rick Levanthal, embedded with the 1st Marine Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, said there are increasing signs of the threat of a chemical attack near Baghdad. "They have seen Iraqi forces wearing chemical suits -- unloading chemical drums ... they have witnessed this," he said.

Maybe those Iraqi troops didn't get the memo from Hans Blix, that there's no evidence the chemical drums they are rolling off trucks actually exist.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

If you're male, and you haven't found the woman for you, your odds may get better as you get older. A lot older. For every man who is 85 or older, there are two women who are 85 or older. But don't worry, women. It takes a while for the male-to-female ratio to really swing over to the men's favor.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

The numbers of men and women ages 20 to 29 in the United States
were about the same in 2002. However, the sex ratio drops gradually
with age, to 92 men per 100 women for the 55-to-64 age group. For the
older population, the sex ratio declines rapidly from 84 men per 100
women for the 65-to-74 group to 46 per 100 for those 85 years old and

Two Newsday journalists, who had been reporting from Baghdad, have been missing since Monday. A story in today's Newsday paints a pretty frightening picture, but one has to hope that, after they were expelled from Baghdad, they simply were slowed down by sand storms, like everyone else, on their ride out of the country and they'll re-emerge soon.

The running argument on why we're using military force against Iraq - while Iraq has never attacked the U.S. - often leads to the the idea that the world changed on Sept. 11, 2001. Well, the world did change on Sept. 11, but President Bush actually articulated, pretty clearly, his theory on going to war almost a year before Sept. 11. During his Oct. 3, 2000 debate with Al Gore, Bush explained how he would call up the troops if "our territory is threatened, our people could be harmed." It may have gone under-noted since, at the time, our territory had never been attacked. Here's the president's full response during that debate:


LEHRER: New question.

How would you go about, as president, deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force? Generally.

BUSH: Well, if it's in our vital national interests. And that means whether or not our territory -- our territory is threatened, our people could be harmed, whether or not our alliances -- our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force.

Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear, whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be.

Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win, whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped.

And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy.

I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don't think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops.

The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation-building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders.

BUSH: I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.

And so I take my responsibility seriously. And it starts with making sure we rebuild our military power.

Morale in today's military is too low. We're having trouble meeting recruiting goals. We met the goals this year, but in the previous years, we have not met recruiting goals. Some of our troops are not well-equipped. I believe we're overextended in too many places.

And, therefore, I want to rebuild the military power. It starts with a billion dollar pay raise for the men and women who wear the uniform, a billion dollars more than the president recently signed into law, to make sure our troops are well-housed and well-equipped; bonus plans to keep some of our high-skilled folks in the services; and a commander in chief who clearly sets the mission, and the mission is to fight and win war, and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.


For the record, Gore had a 1-minute rebuttal and basically spent his time talking about how well-armed the military was - not how and when and why he'd use it.

At the time of the debate, many tended to focus on the "Who Won?" game, or Gore's annoying sighs during the debate. Collectively, looks like we might have all buried the lead.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Speaking of General Brooks, here's what he had to say during today's war briefing at Central Command in Doha, Qatar:

Humanitarian supplies have been loaded and are moving on their way to Umm Qasr as we speak. The port is being prepared for reopening, and port workers have been invited to come back and begin work.

Coalition forces are barely a week into armed conflict with Iraq, and humanitarian aid - food, water, medical supplies - are on their way to Iraqis. And they're not just on their way - they're on their way by Coalition volunteers who could very well be shot at by Republican Guard and militia. Men and women from the U.S., Britain, Australia and elsewhere will be risking their lives to bring humanitarian relief to the hungry and sick.

Addendum to the earlier post:

General Vincent Brooks, Centcom. He's been the one showing video tape of aerial bombardment of the war during briefings in Doha, Qatar. Monotone and methodical, you learn more than you think you do when you listen to him talk about the campaign. B+

Twelve years ago, the war briefing stage helped land Pete Williams a job covering the Department of Justice for NBC. Saying we're gonna "cut it off, and then kill it" landed Colin Powell a gig as Secretary of State. Nobody remembers Margaret Tutweiler, though and, while we remember Marlin Fitzwater's chillingly bland reading of "The Liberation of Kuwait has begun," he sort of faded out after that in terms of bringing war news to the public.

How are the briefers doing in this war (even though it's less than a week old)? Here are some early grades:

General John Abizaid, deputy commander of coalition forces. He put Al Jazeera in its place during a weekend briefing, pulling no punches about how he felt when the network broadcast U.S. military who had either been captured or executed by Iraqis. He even said some words in Arabic, which Al Jazeera refused to broadcast to its Arabic-speaking viewers. Good for Abizaid. A+

Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman. Dull but consistent. In the days before the war, Helen Thomas asked him if the last-minute diplomatic efforts weren't really a "charade." "I would remind you that 'charade' is a word of French origin,'" he responded. A.

Victoria Clarke, Pentagon spokeswoman. All I can do is focus on her stunningly bad fashion decisions. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). Still, her stern reprimand of reporters for referring to the bombardment of Baghdad as "a show" - that war isn't entertainment - wins big points. B+

General Tommy Franks, commander of coalition forces. It's reassuring to see him up there, calmly walking through the events of war. He provides almost no new information, though. B.

Richard Boucher, State Department spokesman. Looks like a nice guy. But either he's genuinely boring, or the State Department press corps is because it's impossible to watch any of his briefings. C.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Jerry Capeci is still the best mob reporter anywhere. The latest column on his web site is as fascinating as it is hilarious. And the mug shot he keeps running of Peter Gotti is an all-time classic.

Drudge must have a glitch on his web site, because it looks kind of jumbled. But a note now sticks out that lists his traffic:


010,485,821 IN PAST 24 HOURS
153,669,078 IN PAST 31 DAYS
1,239,054,433 IN PAST YEAR

Ten million hits a day. Talk about mind share.

On my ride into work yesterday on Long Island, I noticed a large military helicopter flying west to east along Jericho Turnpike in Nassau County. It's not totally surprising to see a military chopper in the air over Long Island, since Air National Guard troops are stationed at both Republic Airport and Macarthur Airport here. However, this helicopter was a little bigger and a little darker than most military helicopters I'm used to seeing.

This morning, I heard a report on WCBS-AM radio in New York that offered an explanation:

Black Hawk helicopters, which are also serving in Iraq, and small jets from the Department of Homeland Security began conducting round-the-clock patrols on Monday without announcement, The New York Times reported in Tuesday's editions.

In 1987, I worked as a reporter at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Stories like this make me really - really - miss working there:

Report: State lawmaker sought reimbursements for travel expenses without owning car, license

Monday, March 24, 2003

Wouldn't a "D-Minus" have sufficed?

Not so sweet Valentine leads to teacher's dismissal

If you want to impress your inflatable date, you can drive her around town in this.
Some thoughts five days into the war:

1) I find it very disturbing to see correspondents in Kuwait talking on videophone, while wearing gas masks that look like something out of "The Fly."
2) We could wind up with several hundred casualties by the end of the week.
3) We've already found one major chemical weapons factory, but it will be months before we have a full inventory of Iraq's WMD. But the one factory we've found so far is pretty significant.
4) We need less Oliver North, more Rita Cosby on Fox News Channel.
5) CNN's Jamie McIntire always sounds like he's about two seconds away from a coughing fit.
6) I think Iraqi public opinion will turn in U.S. favor once we start feeding them.
7) After watching Michael Moore at the Oscars, I'm starting to like Roger Smith.
8) I think Saddam Hussein will be done in by his own people before we have a chance to do him in ourselves.
9) I think the anti-war protesters won't know what to do with themselves 10 days from now, when the war is over.
10) I'm glad I'm not an "embedded" correspondent covering this war.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Want a young wife? Move to Alaska. According to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, Alaska, on average, has the youngest wives in America at a mean age of 43. ("Mean," in this case, meaning "average.") The average age of married women in Florida is 49.6 - the oldest in America.

Another weird, but apparently true, fact: California is home to one out of every eight single women in the country. There has to be a punchline here somewhere, but I'm having trouble thinking of one right this moment.

We must be losing the war. These are the top three news bulletins currently scrolling on the MSNBC news ticker:

"British Aircraft Shot Down. Possible Friendly Fire Incident"

"12 Hurt, 1 Dead in Kuwait Attack"

"U.S. Prisoners Of War? Iraq Claims to Hold Americans"

Last night on CNN, the lead story for four-plus hours was the incident at Camp Pennsylvania, where a U.S. G.I. - who had been acting strangely and who had recently been reprimanded - allegedly threw three hand grenades into American tents. During that time, U.S. troops moved to within a day's drive of Baghdad, Allied troops took the port city of Umm Kasr and secured the area outside the major city of Basra.

Interesting review of the remake of "Willard" posted at the Sunset Blvd blog.
There's only so much Allied forces can do to avoid civilian casualties in war time, but some items should get more priority than others:

Don't Hurt Zoo Animals in Iraq War, Pleads UK MP

What did Iraq ever do to us?

Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril. Nuclear weapons are so destructive and ballistic missiles are so swift, that any substantially increased possibility of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite threat to peace.

-- President John F. Kennedy's address to the nation on the Cuban missile crisis, Oct. 22, 1962.