Sunday, 21 March 2004


Well, it’s not quite as exciting as the demise of Osama—or even al-Zawahiri—but if you’re a friend of Israel (or just an enemy of terror), the departure of Hamas ringleader Sheik Ahmed Yassin from this earth will be quite delightful news.

If you haven’t had your quota of hysterical laughter today, I recommend perusing the reaction of Ahmed Qureia, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority:

This is a crazy and very dangerous act. It opens the door wide to chaos. Yassin is known for his moderation and he was controlling Hamas and therefore this is a dangerous, cowardly act. [emphasis added]

Of course, this is a perfectly understandable reaction once you realize that Yassin’s death puts Mr. Qureia’s boss at the head of the Israelis’ list.

Fubar brackets

Steven Taylor’s bracket is hosed. So is my entry in The Kitchen Cabinet’s annual tourney, as I picked Kentucky to win it all. Damn that siren Ashley Judd!

In other NCAA news, the Ole Miss Lady Rebels got beat by Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Womens’ Tournament tonight. The good news: the Rebel baseball team swept Vandy in this weekend’s three-game series, improving their record to 17–1 on the season. Oh, and I heard that Starkville A&M Mississippi State got their asses kicked by Xavier too.

Here’s the bracket update.

Bill Bryson

Kelley of suburban blight is suitably excited about her discovery of the assorted writings of Bill Bryson. I think my favorite Bryson book is Notes from a Small Island (perhaps, in part, because I shared the experience of being an American who lived in Britain), but they’re all excellent.

Trolley boondoggle

Mike Hollihan pretty much sums up my feelings about the Madison Avenue trolley light rail line, a taxpayers’ boondoggle to end all boondoggles and a classic example of GNDN. Of course, the worst—a $400 million extension to the airport, with $100 million to come from both state and local government (and $200 million from Uncle Sam via your federal 18.4¢/gal gasoline tax)—is yet to come.

There is one bit, though, that I disagree with Mike on: he says the project is “a windfall for road builders.” Considering that the $100 million the state could kick in would match $400 million of federal money for a highway project (rather than $200 million for light rail), any sensible roadbuilder would favor building a highway. At $10 million per mile, the going rate for a rural Interstate highway, $500 million would build most of I-69 between Memphis and Dyersburg—and leave Memphis and Shelby County with $100 million in capital improvement funds for something else, like pretty much every road project on the Memphis/Shelby County long-range transportation plan. And, of course, the road-builders are getting their cash either way.

Blame Howard!

Remember John Kerry’s flip-flop on the Iraq-Afghanistan reconstruction bill? As Steven Taylor notes today, it apparently came about due to Kerry trying to counter Howard Dean’s strident anti-war rhetoric. Not that this absolves Kerry, of course, as Steven aptly points out:

Of course, in reality, it is really Kerry’s own fault for seeking political advantage when he should have been voting his own conscience. And, indeed, this is one of Kerry’s main political liabilities: it is difficult to ascertain exactly what his political conscience is.

As I pointed out in a comment at Half the Sins of Mankind, Kerry was in a bit of a bad position—which, of course, was the point of the roll-call; he could vote aye and catch hell from Dean then, or vote no and possibly catch hell from Bush later on (assuming he survived long enough to gain the nomination—which, at the time, seemed quite unlikely). He chose the latter option—better to live to fight another day, I suppose.