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A Day in Tony Pierce’s Life: Somehow I missed this photo essay from a few days back.

08/31/2002 05:40 PM  | 

Go Read Jim Treacher’s MTV Awards Coverage: You’ll laugh out loud, or his first name isn’t Jim!

08/31/2002 05:26 PM  |  Comment (2)

New, Month-Long Group Aussie Blog Devoted to the Playoffs of Some Bizarre ‘Sport’: Tim Blair has the details, if you can make sense of them.

08/31/2002 04:59 PM  |  Comment (1)

‘Three Days,’ Party Pads on Wilton, Competitive Dummies at Trader Joe’s, Rodney on the ROQ: Kate Sullivan ties these and other disparate threads together, in a made-in-L.A. post.

Speaking of Jane’s Addiction, my buddy & roommate Pat got hold of a Ritual de lo Habitual bootleg about six months before it was actually released, and this version started with Side B instead of Side A. That meant that this crazy new record, which we were absolutely thrilled and nervous about hearing, started off with “Three Days.” What a mind-blower … it wasn't until years later that I heard the album in the proper order, and it was never as good.

08/31/2002 04:04 PM  | 

Question: Can any of you tell me, once and for all, why the International Atomic Energy Agency continues to be one of the biggest referrers to this website? (The IAEA ranks third in the month of August, for example.) I don’t write about the nukes, I don’t think I know anyone there, and searches on my name yield nothing. Barney, is this your doing?

08/31/2002 12:05 PM  |  Comment (7)

Schoeneweis Booed: Last post about baseball, I promise. You may recall how Angel Player Representative and mediocre pitcher Scott Schoeneweis insulted us fans after we, you know, threw baseballs and stuff at the players Thursday night. Well, according to this J.A. Adande column today:

Schoeneweis … prompted a flurry furious calls and e-mails to the Angels after he questioned the fans' class and likened their behavior to 4-year-olds for the actions Thursday night.

Schoeneweis backtracked and apologized for those comments Friday.

The fans booed him when he entered the game in relief in the eighth inning. They booed even louder when he threw a wild pitch.

Righteous. Of course, that didn’t stop the L.A. Times’ wretched, two-word-paragraph sports columnist Bill Plaschke from calling us “idiot[s],” and commending Schoeneweis for “properly chiding strike-sick Angel fans for throwing junk onto the field.” But then, monopolist baseball franchises and monopolist newspapers have many, many things in common (though I’ll save that rant for another year, hopefully).

08/31/2002 11:34 AM  |  Comment (5)

Too Complex and Courteous for TV: That’s Max Sawicky, according to his tale of being disinvited to a cable-TV debate on tax cuts.

08/30/2002 05:05 PM  |  Comment (2)

Quote of the Day: Last post about baseball, I promise. At last night’s Angel game, as I mentioned, pitcher Kevin Appier was about 10 feet away from getting beaned by a foul ball thrown back onto the field from the upper deck by a pissed-off fan. This drew several condescending lectures from the Angels’ players, coaches and broadcasters (one of whom kept saying, improbably, that “someone could have been killed out there”). I have no doubt that whoever threw that ball had an accurate arm, and wasn’t going to hit anybody (we grow baseball players on trees out here). Anyways, everyone seemed angry at the fans … except for Kevin Appier:

"I feel bad for them," he said. "I was actually kind of geeked. I like the fans being intense like that. We definitely understand where they're coming from. We'd like it to be resolved too."
I was actually kind of geeked? Awesome. Ape’s now my favorite pitcher.

08/30/2002 01:48 PM  |  Comment (2)

Let the Bidding War Begin!: Check out the third photo down on this post. That painting and more, are yours for the viewing or buying, at Greg McIlvaine’s art opening tomorrow night.

08/30/2002 01:33 PM  |  Comment (1)

Do You Live in California, and Hate Junk Faxes as Much as We Do?: Then click this link, read about Assembly Bill 2944, and call your Assemblybuddy. Please.

08/30/2002 12:46 PM  |  Comment (2)

The Nightmarish ‘Field of Dreams’: I mentioned in last night’s delirious post how much I despise the Kevin Costner baseball-nostalgia movie “Field of Dreams,” which is ritually beamed on scoreboards before every damned Major League game. It’s a story for another time, but one night about seven years ago, when I was about six hours into a 14-hour Prague pub session with my great pal Pat Whalen, we started debating the pressing topic of “when, exactly, everything Went Wrong.” My suggestion: When “Field of Dreams” came out, and people bought into its insidious, cynical bullshit.

Anyways, it appears my obsession has good company. Roger Angell, the great New Yorker baseball writer, had this to say to the L.A. Times’ Tim Rutten today:

My least favorite baseball film is “Field of Dreams,” which is such baloney, sweet and gooey. Ballplayers loved it, though. It left them in tears. But they weren't the only ones. I remember coming out of a screening of that awful film and running into my friend and neighbor Mike Wallace. “Wasn't that awful?” I said, and then noticed he was weeping.

08/30/2002 11:49 AM  |  Comment (3)

Hoo-ray!!!:

08/30/2002 11:29 AM  | 

The Last Game of the Season: That’s what I witnessed last night, if baseball can’t get it together and avoid a season-ending strike.

My Angels beat the lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-1, to stay one-half game up on the Seattle Mariners in the AL Wild Card race (the filthy Red Sox are a miserable 4 games back). The game was a welcome one-sided relief from a recent stretch where we blew four-run leads twice within a week. Garret Anderson continued to calmly stroke line drives deep into gaps (he hit 2 doubles, raising his Major League-leading total to 49), and Adam Kennedy maintained his recent tear of upper-cutting curveballs and climbing the batting average charts. My favorite player, Troy Glaus, looked good at the plate for the first time in a long while, getting 3 hits and 3 RBIs. Kevin Appier ducked and weaved to 7 1/3 masterful innings, striking out eight and allowing only one run. This is an enormously fun team to watch, with scrappy weirdos who beat you to death with singles and doubles, sound defense, and five good starters.

Yet the real fun was letting these bastards have it. The crowd, as is normal for Anaheim, was mostly well-behaved and supportive for the first six innings. Then, before the top of the seventh, the rowdies in the right field pavilion staged a beautifully Southern Californian protest -- they dumped 10 beach balls onto the field. Play had to be stopped, and people started chanting “Don’t Strike! Don’t Strike!” It felt good. Tampa Bay’s Steve Cox came up, and fouled off about 39 pitches. On the 36th or so, the teen behind the home-plate screen who caught the ball immediately fired it back onto the field. We went nuts. Every foul ball from then on was greeted with chants of “Throw it back! Throw it back!” About half the time, they did (including one from the upper deck that landed about 10 feet from Appier) In one instance, a sheepish guy handed the ball to his wife, who immediately flung toward the infield, though it didn’t quite make it over the screen. She got a standing O while being escorted out of the stadium.

For the rest of the game, the players looked spooked. The public address announcer kept trying to lecture us about the “appropriate” way to express ourselves, but he was drowned out with boos. Middle-aged men were randomly shouting out things like: “You strike you SUCK!” The bottom of the ninth began with a fusillade of toilet paper, full $4 cokes, plastic bottles and spit. The PA dude warned us about forcing the Angels to forfeit, which would have been a deliciously painful twist, especially if the season ended today (with the team out of the playoffs by a half-game, because of the fans).

As we walked to the car my Dad and I predicted that the radio guys would be tut-tutting about the “unruly fans.” We weren’t wrong. The post-game call-in show included some nine-year-old who called, said hello, and the broadcaster (Terry Smith) launched into a two-minute tirade about how “dangerous” and “scary” it was out there, and how “wrong” the fans were, after which he said something like “well, little Chucky, at least you're safe home now. Goodbye!” The kid never talked.

I should mention here that I’m about 90% behind the players on this one, if not more. The owners are a rat’s nest of venal, lying crooks who treated players like chattel (whatever that is) for 100 years. They enjoy anti-trust protections they patently do not deserve. Bud Selig should be put on the slow boat to Madagascar, and fed a diet of his own lips. The lies about “competitive imbalance” can be countered by four magical words: “Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s.”

But it was nice to let the players know, in a direct and uncomfortable way, that nine consecutive strikes have scarred this game, and pissed off people like me who are too helplessly entwined with this sport to ever walk away. We are tired of being sold the forced sentimentality of “Field of Dreams” before every freaking Major League game -- our connection to the game is far more bawdy, human, and total than all of that (random example: my Dad, while scoffing at the notion that anything untoward happened in the stands tonight, recalled with pleasure watching a game in the right-field bleachers of the Polo Grounds several decades back, when an irate New Yorker decided to express his displeasure at the umpire by hurling two oranges at the man; they made it as far as first base).

Coming back home, I see that I have been insulted by the Angels’ union representative, Scott Schoeneweis (who was kicked out of the rotation in midseason, and blew Wednesday’s game): "I would have hoped that the fans would have had a little more class than what they showed tonight with throwing stuff on the field," he said. "Let us play the game." Just now, on the NPR, I heard him say, sarcastically, “We’re your team, supposedly.”

Well, I’ll be booing you from here on out, lefty. You’re my team -- not supposedly, but genetically. I support the union’s claims, but I cannot take seriously the idea that it is the fans who are preventing games from being played. We generally don’t complain much about the $8 beers, and other prices that have transformed a once working-class sport into an upper-middle class entertainment. You don’t even have to win -- ask fans of the Red Sox. Just play those 162 games, keep the ancient symmetry intact, let Garret Anderson shoot for the doubles record, and give us a World Series. Such is the remaining sanctity of a game that appeals to fewer and fewer young people. Yet it is this precise dignity that these people deliberately screw up, labor contract after labor contract.

We had one chance, all year, to give ‘em a tiny taste of their medicine. It felt great. Wish we could have done more. Hope they resolve this by the time I wake up, so we can get on with the business of having our hearts broken, once again.

08/30/2002 04:16 AM  |  Comment (21)

Power of the Borg-o-sphere: The law student behind In Arguendo, which is my favorite new Regrettably Anonymous Liberal-Leaning Website (which, if used as an acronym, almost spells “RALLY”), describes trying to get ahold of his Congressman -- who turns out to be that Berman guy all you people seem to hate -- to talk about that bill all you people say is horrible:

We decided to do some research, and ended up calling Congressman Berman's office. We got some lackey kind of giving us the brush, basically telling us not to worry our pretty little heads about this complex situation that the Congressman would handle for us. 'But we're constituents', we countered. The lackey was unmoved. Then we mentioned that we run a little website called In Arguendo, and within 3 seconds we were talking to Fred Flores, Communications Director for the Congressman. Mr. Flores pointed out that he was not the point man on the bill, but did provide us with the phone number and e-mail address for Alec French, who is handling this bill in Washington.

08/29/2002 11:20 PM  |  Comment (2)

Jobless Claims and the ‘Dead Cat Bounce’: Worrying but intriguing economic analysis from Henry Copeland, who has also recently created a second interesting blog devoted to all blogging-related issues.

08/29/2002 03:45 PM  | 

Treating Castro Like a Rock Star: That’s what many of El Jefe’s American visitors, and the journalists who write about them, end up doing, shamefully enough. David Hogberg picks apart a recent example (scroll down to the post entitled “And the Hits Just Keep on Coming”).

08/29/2002 11:26 AM  |  Comment (2)

Davis vs. Richard Riordan -- an Interactive Thought Experiment: This is for you Davis-leaning voters out there. The other day I asked non-Democrats who they would vote for in the 1972 election, knowing everything they know now about Richard Nixon, and an overwhelming majority pulled the lever for Tricky Dick. So, my Davis-supporting friends, how would you vote if Freaky Dick Riordan was running against Singapore Gray? Please answer in the comments section below.

08/29/2002 11:10 AM  |  Comment (12)

Davis More Popular With His Base Than Simon: Today’s George Skelton column in the L.A. Times quotes a survey by nonpartisan pollster Mark Baldassare showing Singapore Gray ahead of $78 Million Fraud Bill among likely voters, 41% to 30%.

And it gets even worse for the Republican nominee: Fewer Republican voters (33%) are satisfied with their choices for governor than are Democrats (41%).

This runs counter to the thesis that so many liberal Democrats are disappointed with Davis that they'll markedly help Simon by boycotting the governor on election day. Simon has even more disappointed Republicans to worry about.

"Many people who dislike Davis don't feel Simon would necessarily do a better job," Baldassare says.

One indication of that is this finding: Of the voters who disapprove of Davis' job performance, only 53% support Simon. A mere 43% approve of the way Davis has handled his job, while 52% disapprove--basically the same as six months ago.

Does this show that A) Republicans blew it nominating the most conservative of its two candidates in a non-conservative state, B) that left-leaners would vote for Attila the Hun if he was pro-choice and leaned green, or C) all of the above?

08/29/2002 11:06 AM  |  Comment (13)

And Now, a Request From Merle Haggard:

I would like to host my own radio talk show. Does anyone care? Would anyone like to sponsor my efforts? Does anyone care about what I've learned about my 37 years in travel on this planet? Most of you are unaware of the things I have to tell. The information that I can share is important to the future, health and survival of all things including mother earth, the play and future of our children. Not everything can be set to music. If anyone cares to respond or help me in my endeavors, please email me.

Sincerely, Merle Haggard
Tip from Jesse Walker, who adds: “Someone get this man a microphone.”

08/28/2002 03:45 PM  |  Comment (7)

Bush’s Crony-Capitalism Cabinet: The New Yorker's financial columnist James Surowiecki, who I have a lot of respect for, offers this observation of the Bush Administration’s CEOs, and how their experience reflects policy:

[T]here are reasons to doubt whether the Bush Administration was ever really committed to a pro-market—as opposed to a pro-business—agenda.
Almost none of the C.E.O.s on the Bush team headed competitive, entrepreneurial businesses. The majority of them, in fact, made their bones in protected or regulated industries, where success depends on personal lobbying and political maneuvering. Bush himself, of course, built a small fortune on family connections, finagling a spot on the board of Harken Energy, and securing a publicly financed stadium for the Texas Rangers. Dick Cheney, meanwhile, got the top job at Halliburton almost solely because of his political connections. His successor there, David Lesar, has said, "What Dick brought was obviously a wealth of contacts." Wealth of contacts, indeed: under Cheney, Halliburton expanded internationally, gained $1.5 billion in subsidies from the U.S. government, and added a billion dollars in government contracts.

What about Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill? Yes, he did a fine job of reviving the fortunes of the aluminum giant Alcoa. But he did so, in part, by helping to orchestrate an international price-fixing cartel. In 1994, in Brussels, after a fierce lobbying effort by O'Neill and his corporate peers, five countries and the European Union agreed to slash aluminum production to drive up aluminum prices. By the end of that year, prices had nearly doubled and political favoritism had rescued Alcoa from the whims of the free market.

Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans ran an oil-and-gas company. Mitch Daniels, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, was a vice-president at Eli Lilly. Army Secretary Thomas White was the head of energy trading at Enron. Air Force Secretary James Roche came from Northrup Grumman. And Navy Secretary Gordon England put in time at General Dynamics. All these companies depend for success on regulatory approval, government largesse, or cartel-like machinations. This is especially true of the energy industry—the Bush Administration's finishing school—in which the greatest determinant of a company's annual performance is a price more or less fixed in Vienna by a cabal of sheikhs. […]

Mind you, there's nothing inherently corrupt here. Lobbying, fixing, finagling: it's just business, of a kind. The point is that such ways of doing business have very little to do with free-market capitalism. They have more in common with crony capitalism, in which whom you know is more important than what you do and how you do it. That's the world Bush's key policymakers come out of: they've made their careers by circumventing the free market. Why expect them suddenly to embrace it?

08/28/2002 03:28 PM  |  Comment (1)

Help the Czechs Recover From the Floods: Please consider donating to this fund, run by the American Friends of the Czech Republic, under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy there. They’ve got a lot of water-removal to do before the winter sets in, so time is of the essence. As the little flier I received today put it:

In the days after September 11, the Czechs responded immediately and unequivocally to America’s needs. America and its citizens now have the chance to return that support. Please help us show that America does not forget its friends.
The Czechs rank among our best pals in the world. A little of your spare change will go a long way there.

08/28/2002 02:24 PM  | 

Bush Pressures Bandar, and We Hear About it: No, that’s not a typo. From the AP story:

In an hourlong session with Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Bush expressed exasperation with the kingdom for failing to meet its commitment to provide financial assistance to the new government in Afghanistan.

Bush also cited "crying humanitarian concerns" as he accused the kingdom of dragging its feet in response to children abducted from the United States to Saudi Arabia. […]

Bush specifically raised the case of Amjad Radwam, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen who was not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia with her mother, Monica Stowers, in 1985. Conservatives have been pressuring Bush to do more for Stowers and mothers like her.

That’s encouraging. Kudos to Congress (especially Dan Burton’s committee) and certain media outlets (especially the National Review), for shedding sunlight and applying pressure on these issues.

08/27/2002 04:36 PM  |  Comment (2)

Layne is Starting to Self-Syndicate New ‘Weird Files’ Column: If you work for any size newspaper, go tell your editor.

08/27/2002 03:33 PM  | 

Reid Stott, on Washington-Riyadh Relations: A 3,500-word essay worth a peek, if you’re interested in such things.

If one takes in the vast sea of circumstance and evidence from the past year that points to Saudi government actions, even if only a quarter of it is true, it makes the administration's continued coziness with the Saudi Royals a moral farce. Even if we narrow the focus to the one fact that no thinking person can dispute, the oppression that 50% of the Saudi population suffers in the form of the third class citizenship of women in that country, the Bush administration should be horribly ashamed of their unqualified support of the Saudi regime.

I certainly am.

08/27/2002 03:29 PM  |  Comment (1)

Sweet GR Tribute, by TP:

08/27/2002 03:11 PM  | 

Love & Marriage in Blogdom: So, Glenn Reynolds links to this guy, and one of the thousands of new readers is a babe who notices they have several things in common, and then asks him out. And now they’re getting married. Advantage, birthday boy! (Via Dawn Olsen)

08/27/2002 01:37 PM  | 

Today’s Saudi-Influenced Insults from the Bush Administration: From MSNBC’s coverage:

The visit is private. Neither Bush nor the Saudi envoy is expected to talk to reporters afterward.
Typical of government officials to play by Saudi rules when the two sides meet. Such as when Crown Prince Abdullah insisted on having a male air traffic controller guide his plane into Texas last time he visited Dubya there.
[White House Spokesman Ari] Fleischer called Bandar “a very seasoned diplomat, ambassador to a very important country” and a man Bush enjoys.

“He’s a very affable fellow, very good humor, speaks English better than most Americans,” he said.
Hey Ari? Fuck you.
Meanwhile, the official Saudi Press Agency reported that Bush telephoned Crown Prince Abdullah to reassure him that relations between the two countries remain strong and that talk of their deterioration is “irresponsible.”

Recent tensions between both nations had been sparked by “irresponsible statements reflecting the points of view only of those who made them,” Bush reportedly told the crown prince.

Again with the “irresponsible statements” by our free press and democratically elected Congress. (Via Oliver Willis)

08/27/2002 12:51 PM  |  Comment (8)

Tony Pierce Seeks Publication That Understands His Talents: Ah, the eternal question. … I’ve tried to tell my ESPN.com connections that they should hire him to do sports-related photo essays (thus becaming the first paid Web photo-essayist, as far as I know) … and though he has some fans there, it’s not easy to get such things done.

A few weeks back, I read The Last Editor: How I Saved the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times from Dullness and Complacency, by Jim Bellows, who edited the New York Herald-Tribune, Washington Star, and L.A. Herald-Examiner, among other papers. It’s a pretty corny book; he needed some ghost-writing help, and you don’t get the impression that Bellows was particularly adept at working with words, or even expressing himself. But he had a long, terrific track record of identifying, cultivating and motivating talent, often in adverse circumstances. Seems like such a thing should be fairly common in the editing biz, but it truly is not. The editor who plucked the Tony Pierces of the world (or three dozen other people I could name) from Talented Outsider status to Paid Producer, could reap dynamic benefits and intense loyalty at a shockingly low cost.

08/27/2002 12:28 PM  | 

Democracy in America -- the Key Anti-Hierarchical Ingredient: Geitner Simmons has some typically thoughtful thoughts.

08/27/2002 09:57 AM  |  Comment (1)

Greg Knauss Savages Winer, ‘Weblog Candidate’: And adds to the growing literature of ex-Suckster blogosphere-baiting. (Via Oliver Willis)

08/27/2002 12:58 AM  |  Comment (7)

Rock & Roll Art: Greg McIlvaine, who some of you might know better as Monsignor Rallying Point, describes heading toward the finish line of his big show Saturday:

Though I still have a lot of work to do somehow, the paintings are looking finished and it's very exciting. Like any good project, I find myself looking at them all and saying, "How did I do that?" The answer: with a little help from Jimmie Rodgers, Django Reinhardt, Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Dylan, Don Gibson, ZZ Top, Tom Waits, The Blasters, Led Zepplin, Husker Du, Elvis, Ray Charles, Deep Purple, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, The Charming Snakes, Tennessee Ernie Ford, more Elvis, etc. Overall, Dylan's new record "Love and Theft" gets the most play. I find it's power, mastery, and it's fearless approach to expression to be particularly inspiring. Plus it makes me dance around.
Don’t forget, SoCal types -- Saturday night, 6 o’clock.

08/26/2002 06:16 PM  | 

Good Resource Page for the Saudi-Obsessed: Not that I am, naturally. This is a collection of links to about 50 or so news articles and essays that deal with U.S.-Saudi relations, collated by Swedish freelance journalist Marten Barck. If you know of other such sites, please drop a url in the comments bucket. Thanks!

08/26/2002 04:49 PM  | 

McGovern vs. Tricky Dick, in Hindsight -- an Interactive Thought Experiment: I’ve got a question for you Republicans and non-Democrats out there: If it were November 1972, and you knew everything we know now about Richard Nixon, who would you vote for president? Please respond in the comments box, and feel free to explain yourself (or not).

08/26/2002 04:16 PM  |  Comment (44)

Your Tax Dollars at Work in Saudi Arabia: Pursuant to my recent National Post column, here are some press reports involving our ambassador to that country, Texas lawyer Robert Jordan. I will italicize parts that make me go “hmmmm”:

August 8, Xinhua News Agency
US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan on Thursday dismissed a briefing prepared by a Pentagon advisory panel as imagination of one person, stressing that it does not reflect the official point of view of the US government.

In a statement, quoted by Kuwait's official KUNA news agency, Jordan said all Pentagon officials disagreed with the briefing, which was prepared by the advisory panel on July 10 and published by the Washington Post on Tuesday. […]

He also denied that his country is launching an organized media campaign against Saudi Arabia, despite criticism by some Congress members and media of the US-Saudi relations.

Most of the criticism is based on lack of correct information, said the ambassador.

This is a common theme: Congress and the press aren’t being factual. I don’t suppose there are any Saudi prejudices such statements might reinforce?
August 7, Contra Costa Times, in a story on the “Visa Express” program
The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, cabled the [State Department] July 2 saying he was "deeply troubled about the prevailing perception in the media and within Congress and possibly among the American public at large that our current practices represent a shameful and inadequate effort on our part."

He asked for more resources so consular officials could start interviewing "all adults" seeking U.S. visas.
Me? I’m “deeply troubled” by the program itself, and the fact that Saudis (including three of the 19 hijackers) have been able to receive visas without being interviewed (unlike our infrequently-terrorist Czech friends, for example), rather than any public perception.
July 21, Associated Press, in a story about Bush family Mideast oil connections

Five days after former President Bush was inaugurated in 1989, an official from Bahrain set in motion a chain of events that allowed the Texas oil company where the president's son was a director to beat out Amoco for drilling rights with huge profit potential. George W. Bush was on the board at Harken Energy Corp. when the company won the right to drill for oil off the coast of Bahrain, a tiny Persian Gulf island.

According to people familiar with the matter, Bush opposed the Bahrain venture because of Harken's total lack of experience in Middle East drilling.

In a letter on Bush behalf written during the 2000 presidential campaign, his lawyer, Robert Jordan, wrote that "at no time" did Bush "discuss Harken's interests in Bahrain or any other Harken business with any member of the Bush administration. He did not favor Harken's decision to seek a drilling concession in Bahrain."

Jordan is now US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

FYI, etc.
July 4, AFP
Visa applications at the US embassy and consulates dropped by more than half this year, with the number of applicants until the end of April making up just 46 percent of the figure for the first four months of 2001.

In a bid to encourage Saudis to visit the United States, a group of travel agents and airline representatives formed a "Visit USA Committee" with the support of the American embassy.

US Ambassador Robert Jordan earlier this week inaugurated a website for the committee, which groups the kingdom's major travel agencies and airlines operating from Saudi airports.

Encouraging more Saudi tourism to the United States. Your tax dollars at work.
May 29, BBC Monitoring of the Saudi Press Agency
The ambassador said the American people were fully aware of the importance of inviting Prince Abdallah to the farmhouse of Bush and not to the White House, which had clearly reflected the existing strong relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States. "The American citizen does not invite any person to his house unless he is a close friend of him," he said, noting that the visit of Prince Abdallah to Bush at his farm house was a testimony to the existing close relations between Riyadh and Washington. […]

On the incidents of the 11 September, the ambassador said: "All Americans will remember the innocent people who were killed by terrorists, who were against peace and who were keen on undermining the Saudi/American friendship." He said he was satisfied and happy because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the US as well as other friendly countries had firmly confronted terrorism. "I feel proud of the existing friendly relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the US in all spheres," the ambassador noted.

Buyer beware: State news agencies in undemocratic countries aren’t the most reliable.
April 3, Chicago Daily Herald
Improving Saudi Arabia's education system is key to that country's progress, and the College of DuPage may find a role to play in that task, U.S. Ambassador Robert Jordan told students and teachers at the school Tuesday.

He's gotten a crash course in Saudi Arabia and diplomacy since his appointment six months ago and now jokes that his longtime friend George W. Bush called his bluff by choosing that job for him.

"I told him I didn't want anything honorary. If he had something really hard he wanted me to do, I'd be pleased to do it," Jordan said.

Jordan was appointed Sept. 12, one day after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

In his time there, he said he's come to believe the challenges facing the oil-rich, but otherwise natural-resource-poor, country are threefold: economic, social and political.

Two quick comments: 1) I might put “free elections” or “basic human rights” or “anything resembling democracy” ahead of “education” as a priority, though that’s just me. 2) It’s inexcusable that we would appoint anyone who would require a “crash course” in the history (not to mention language) of a country as important as Saudi Arabia. It’s mind-cripplingly inexcusable that such an appointment would take place on Sept. 12.
February 19, Duke University Chronicle
In a speech at Duke Monday evening, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan stressed the kingdom's unqualified support for the United States' war on terrorism, attempting to dispel a media storm that suggested that the Saudis had not extended adequate support to the Americans. […]

Throughout the talk, Jordan focused on Saudi Arabia's strategic location, emphasizing the geo-political and religious considerations. He stressed that Saudi Arabia remains the "unparalleled authority" in the Islamic world, making it essential for the United States to align with the country most notable for its oil production.

During a question-and-answer session, Jordan acknowledged the significance that 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. "The organizers of the attacks intended to send a message, attempting to drive a wedge between the United States and all Islamic countries," he said. "By recruiting Saudis, this message was apparent." […]

He also highlighted concerns about the media. "It is important to set the record straight. A major issue of Saudi-U.S. relations remains rumors," he said. "For example, Mr. Anonymous' claims that we will withdraw our military forces, fueling a cycle of erroneous claims. To counter unfounded claims and develop a strong relationship, we must be patient, accurate and possess courage in these times."

That damned uppity media again. Wait, there’s more:
Washington Times, February 12
Robert Jordan, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is tired of reading misleading U.S. news reports about a lack of Saudi cooperation in the war on terrorism.

Saudi Arabia last week publicly acknowledged that 15 Saudi citizens were among the 19 hijackers that crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. […]

"We cannot let terrorism divide us from our friends and drive us into ill-considered actions," he added.

That’s pretty big of our “friends,” acknowledging that 15 of the hijackers were Saudis five months after the fact.
AFP, January 22
Organizers of the January 19-21 Jeddah Economic Forum said they were compelled to change the meeting's theme to "Managing in a complex global environment" to take into account the economic, political and even cultural consequences of the September 11 attacks.

American guests who addressed the forum included former US president Bill Clinton, Neil Bush, brother of President George W. Bush, and a large number of CEO's, academics and businessmen.
Questions for Clinton, taken in writing a day in advance, were all about the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, focusing on future US policy, globalization and US relations with Saudi Arabia and Muslims in general.

Clinton urged Saudis to try and bring more Americans to live and work in the kingdom as a way of boosting ties and eliminating misunderstandings created by the attacks.

Neil Bush bluntly told the Saudis that "American public opinion sees Arabs as terrorists and has the desert-man image about them."

"I wish the Americans would see Arabs and Muslims the way I see them ... but Arabs are losing the public relations battle in the United States," he said.

Clinton and Bush, together at last! Insulting Americans to their Jeddah hosts!

I’ll be dumping more of this slop as the week progresses.

08/26/2002 12:51 PM  |  Comment (6)

What the New Age Means, or Doesn’t, for Creative Types: Interesting thoughts from Jeff Jarvis, with reaction from Greg Beato (who recently criticized bloggers who went ballistic on the NEA).

08/26/2002 11:31 AM  | 

Teach Those Ankle-Biters to Play Fast and Loose With the Political Labels!:

08/26/2002 11:23 AM  | 

Quick to Boycott Bush, Republicans?: Bill Quick, a smart and iconoclastic conservative-leaning libertarian (or libertarian-leaning conservative; whatever), announces that

George Bush's disgraceful and dangerous performance, which has so far included dragging his feet on dealing effectively with Saddam Hussein, as well as hypocritically and ludicrously pretending that the loathesome terrorist nation of Saudi Arabia is an ally of ours, has effectively destroyed my confidence in the man, his administration, and his party.

Therefore, absent a drastic turnaround in the focus and actions of the Bush administration, I will register my displeasure this fall by voting a straight Democratic ticket at the national level, and I urge others to register their protest in any similar way that will result in a clear message being sent to our leaders: If you fail in your sworn duty to defend the US constitution and, implicitly, the American people from obvious threats like Saddam Hussein and the Islamofascist Saudi regime, you will be thrown out of power and out of office.
Meanwhile, Layne declares the warmongering toward Iraq a “scam,” and pronounces:
Bush has failed. His moderate-conservative ideas die in the Arabian sun, because he belongs to the Saudis. On Tuesday, Bush is meeting the Saudi ambassador in Crawford. He is in deep over his head. I would never accuse Bush of allowing the Sept. 11 attacks or faking his mourning over the deaths of so many people. But his "with us or against us" rhetoric is horribly hollow. He wants to stop the evil enemy? Then why is the evil enemy spending the night at the Texas White House?

08/25/2002 10:39 PM  |  Comment (11)

When I Worked With Henry Copeland, He Was Always Saying Stuff Like This: By “like this,” I mean stuff about the bond market smarter than what you’d read in the New York Times. I was a terrible hippie at the time, so it was fun (for me at least) to try to make him make layman's sense of such things, preferably when the front page was due in a half hour.

08/25/2002 01:44 AM  | 

The Cursed Angels: I try not to inflict my sports fanaticism on you kind people, in much the same fashion as I try to protect my beautiful wife from my genetic quirks. But this Sports Illustrated article about my baseball team, which is uniquely cursed in the universe (so much so, that even the Boston freakin’ Red Sox are the agents of our demise) … sums up some of the problems nicely. (Via some damned Angels-loving site called In Arguendo, which describes me as a “conservative.”)

08/25/2002 01:14 AM  |  Comment (8)

Hi! What are you doing down here?

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