Wednesday, May 05, 1999

In Saugus, CA, a 13-year old was given a bag of marijuana by a friend. He took it to his parents who took it to the police, presumably exactly what he was supposed to do. But since he was given it on school property and there is a zero tolerance rule, he has been suspended and transferred to a different school.

I said some time ago that Gen. Wesley Clark would turn out to be a hawk, given that he had a wimpy name that must have resulted in his getting frequently beaten up as a kid, and I was right, wasn’t I? Well, I saw the Star Wars movie (superb special effects, shame about the script) and young Anniken Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, is called by the abbreviation “Annie”.

So back to Kosovo. Yesterday I was thinking that Milosevic may have done the future state of world politics a favor by responding to NATO’s demand that he jump not with “How high?” but with “No.” Today, though, everyone is praising the efficacy of air power without ground troops, and that doesn’t bode so well. Before bowing down before the almighty bomber, it might be remembered that NATO not only killed an estimated 1,200 civilians through accidents but bombed several different whole other countries accidentally, to say nothing of the Chinese embassy. Also, military analysis suggests that the much greater military efficacy of bombing in recent days was due to the fact that there was in fact a ground force in the field, a little thing called the KLA, which a) told NATO where the appropriate targets were, and b) drove Serb soldiers and tanks and such out from under cover so that they could be bombed. Which suggests that simply arming the KLA earlier would have been a better strategy than indiscriminately bombing every farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in Yugoslavia. If I see one more story saying that Clinton was really a military genius after all, I may puke. Here is the man who ruled out ground forces, making it necessary to bomb every farmhouse etc in order to reverse the impression that he really wasn’t serious, who never seriously tried to negotiate or any other non-military method, who touted the Apache helicopters as the magic bullet to win the war, then marched them to the top of the hill and marched them down again....

What must it feel like to be bombed by a country that doesn’t change its bombing tactics one iota when it’s hitting hospitals, old age homes etc etc on a daily basis, that is waging what feels like total war from the ground but is an unimportant sideshow on the other side, which never so much as figured out how one pronounces Kosovo, and which is willing to sacrifice thousands of Serb and Kosovar civilians to the cause but not a single US soldier? If Milosevic had had any understanding of the US psyche, he wouldn’t have had those 3 US soldiers taken prisoner, he’d have made sure they were found riddled with bullets on the wrong side of the border.

And speaking of things that piss me off, have you noticed the pull-quote in the ads for the movie The Thirteenth Floor in which the movie is supposed to be a cross between “Phillip K. Dick” and Orson Welles? What they mean is not the novelist Philip K. Dick, who they have probably never read, but the movie Total Recall, which similarly misspelled the author’s name in its credits (the movie didn’t really bear any resemblance to anything Dick wrote, but it’s common practice to buy the rights to something in order to immunize yourself from people claiming you plagiarized the script they’ve been circulating for years). (Speaking of which, I once wrote “boom” on a piece of paper in 1970, so I want 10% of the gross of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace based on their theft of my intellectual property.

As long as I’m rambling, there is nothing even vaguely resembling a phantom menace in the movie. I know that Lucas was really pissed off when Reagan’s missile defense program started being called Star Wars and I think this title is just to make sure that whenever a politician calls for Star Wars, an opponent can say something about it offering protection only from a phantom menace.

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