Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Flip Side of Rich... not poor, but rather two pretty good columns elsewhere in the Times, showing once again the salutary effects of MoDo's absence on everyone except the loathsome Frank Rich. First up is MoDo's replacement Matt Miller, and he once again manages to put out an engaging column that provokes thought rather than laughter. Miller posits two worldviews: one, that one's lot in life is largely a result of luck, another that it is largely the result of hard work and dedication. He correctly assigns the first view to liberals and the second to conservatives. Read the rest, it's pretty good.

Second, we have the way-too-cutely titled 'Darth Vader's Family Values' by John Tierney, who finds Revenge of the Sith to be a battle between the People's Romance and Adam Smith's invisible hand. For another political view of Revenge of the Sith, see this piece by Lockjaw (hat tip to Lorie Byrd at PoliPundit).

I Hate To Say I Told You So...

...actually, that's a lie; no one hates to say I told you so; and anyway, it wasn't much of a stretch. On Tuesday of this week, I tried my hand at a crude parody of Frank Rich that basically predicted you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between his pre- and post-Newsweek columns. I wasn't disappointed; Rich's latest effort is the same old soft-shoe (he even mentions Jeff Gannon!), and almost a carbon copy of the same column he's been running for the better part of 2005.

When one of the nation's most prominent columnists is this stale, this predictable, so utterly deviod of imagination that a measly part-time blogger like myself can telescope his columns days in advance, then the newspaper that employs him is, to understate things considerably, not getting a good return on its money. Frank Rich has one idea - it's not a particularly good or original one, either. It is simply this: George W. Bush and his administration are fundamentally liars. That's it - everything else is window dressing. Rubbish...

Quick Shots: Our Politically Incorrect Ex-President

George H.W. Bush won't win any points from the feminists for this one, but it's still pretty funny...

I don't how good this movie is going to be, but I love the website...

Garfield: political satire since, well, since today, I guess...

Don't forget Howard Dean on Meet the Press tomorrow! Dean won't keep his mouth shut, it seems, once again judging Tom Delay guilty without a trial, a step he refused to take with Osama bin Laden. Captain Ed has much, much more...

New Poll - Your Take on the Midterms

The summer movie poll is wrapped up, and no surprises - your most anticipated, in order, were Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds, and Batman Begins. This time, I'd like to know how you think the balance of power will shift in the 2006 midterms. Hope you're having an enjoyable Saturday!

Weekly Jackass Number Twenty-Four: Indra Nooyi

There is a curious statement on the front page of PepsiCo's website at the moment. No doubt it is the cause of much headscratching among those who don't keep up with Power Line or Hugh Hewitt. The statement reads:

PepsiCo President and CFO Indra Nooyi delivered a commencement address May 15 at Columbia University�s Business School.

In speaking about the powerful role America holds in the world today, Ms. Nooyi encouraged these new business leaders to make a positive and personal difference as representatives of this great country. She used the analogy of a human hand to emphasize America�s leadership position and to ensure it continues as the world�s �helping hand.�

Regrettably, the analogy was interpreted in some circles as unpatriotic or disrespectful. As a result of this feedback, Indra issued a formal apology.

What's this all about? A formal apology for the analogy of a helping hand? Who could possibly be offended by that?

For the answer, let's go to the source, the commencement speech itself.
...First, let�s consider our little finger. Think of this finger as Africa. Africa is the little finger not because of Africa�s size, but because of its place on the world�s stage. From an economic standpoint, Africa has yet to catch up with her sister continents. And yet, when our little finger hurts, it affects the whole hand.

Our thumb is Asia: strong, powerful, and ready to assert herself as a major player on the world�s economic stage.

Our index, or pointer finger, is Europe. Europe is the cradle of democracy and pointed the way for western civilization and the laws we use in conducting global business.

The ring finger is South America, including Latin America. Is this appropriate, or what? The ring finger symbolizes love and commitment to another person. Both Latin and South America are hot, passionate, and filled with the sensuous beats of the mambo, samba, and tango: three dances that � if done right � can almost guarantee you and your partner will be buying furniture together.

This analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and, in particular, The United States. As the longest of the fingers, it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg-up in global business since the end of World War I.

However, if used inappropriately �just like the U.S. itself -- the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I�m talking about. In fact, I suspect you�re hoping that I�ll demonstrate what I mean. And trust me, I�m not looking for volunteers to model...

...Each of us in the U.S. � the long middle finger � must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand � not the finger. Sometimes this is very difficult. Because the U.S. � the middle finger � sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally.

Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as part of the hand � giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers � but, instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.
This is a far cry from the analogy of America as the 'helping hand' that Pepsi is apologizing for - nope, what Nooyi said is America is the middle finger of the world. The undeniable assocation she would like us to draw is of the 'ugly American', coarse, degenerate, rich, and heartless, lumbering around, destroying everything in sight, and giving everyone else a big 'screw you'.

On a certain level, this analogy of Nooyi's is kind of cute, and I'm not going to insult your intelligence by equating her remarks with those of, say, a Noam Chomsky or a Michael Moore. More offensive than the comments themselves is the mentality that backs them, a far too common affliction: the belief that America has so wronged the world that we must beg forgiveness, that we are the oppressor, that we are indifferent to the rest of humanity.

That's bull. If the rest of the world chooses not to see America for what it truly is, the fault is not with us. Here's a short summary of the relations of America to the rest of the world over the last 100 years:
  • 1918: American troops die in Europe by the hundreds of thousands in a war that doesn't touch our shores.
  • 1941: America institutes Lend-Lease and becomes 'the arsenal of Democracy'.
  • 1941-1945: Hundreds of thousands of Americans again die to liberate Europe and Asia.
  • 1945-1989: America provides the backbone of the effort against Communism and the Iron Curtain.
  • 1950-1953: Tens of thousands of Americans give the ultimate sacrifice to save South Korea from the horrors that have befallen the North.
  • 1954 - 1975: America takes over the struggle to keep South Vietnam from Communist rule after the French effort collapses at Dien Bien Phu.
  • 1989: The Berlin Wall falls, and the Soviet bloc begins its final collapse, largely under financial and diplomatic pressure brought on by the Reagan Administration.
  • 1991: Kuwait liberated by American-led coalition in Operation Desert Storm.
  • 1999: U.S. airstrikes in Kosovo break the stalemate in the Balkans crisis.
  • 2002: Brutal Taliban regime overthrown in Afghanistan.
  • 2003: Saddam Hussein's despotic reign ended by U.S.-led coalition.
Apologize? I think not. Middle finger? Hardly. Nooyi might find a receptive audience for remarks like these at Cannes, but they have no place in an American commencement address. Yes, we need to inspire our graduates to be involved - but in continuing a great tradition, not breaking one. That's the commencement speech our students deserve to hear.

UPDATE 5:36 p.m. central: I am indebted to the great PoliPundit for the link; as always, greatly appreciated...

UPDATE 2 6:58 p.m. central: kate, a commenter at PoliPundit questioned the hundreds of thousands for WWI. She's right (and it should have been 1917-1918). There were about 53,000 theater deaths, and 64,000 non-theater deaths in that conflict for American servicemen, so tens of thousands would have been more appropriate.

UPDATE 3 7:58 p.m. central: commenter gs seems to smell a little blogger triumphalism here and may have a point; I'm certainly not calling Nooyi anti-American; I just find her remarks symptomatic of a worldview that places too much emphasis on America's wrongs. In the interest of fairness, I'll print Nooyi's apology here:
Following my remarks to the graduating class of Columbia University�s Business School in New York City, I have come to realize that my words and examples about America unintentionally depicted our country negatively and hurt people.

I appreciate the honest comments that have been shared with me since then, and am deeply sorry for offending anyone. I love America unshakably � without hesitation � and am extremely grateful for the opportunities and support our great nation has always provided me.

Over the years I�ve witnessed and advised others how a thoughtless gesture or comment can hurt good, caring people. Regrettably, I�ve proven my own point. Please accept my sincere apologies.

� Indra Nooyi

Eleanor Clift: Making Flippy Floppy

Perhaps in a bid to impress the New York Times Editorial Board, Eleanor Clift has written a column in the most recent Newsweek so dismissive of the rights of the religious conservatives that one is forced to wonder if Clift is just another pen name of Frank Rich's. Clift paints a scenario of (you guessed it) a theocracy on the march, holding up the specter of (gasp!) Israel as a warning for the path we may be heading down. The lynchpin of Clift's argument is a ridiculous piece of legislation proposed by Alabama Republican Richard Shelby.
The Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 [would] acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law and threaten judges with impeachment should they uphold separation of church and state.
Anyone see any problems with that? Like, perhaps, that it is so blatantly unconstitutional that it couldn't survive the judicial review of a three-year-old? Shame on Shelby for proposing such a, well, you know what, and shame on Clift for pretending it's a real threat.

Clift assures us that the judicial showdown is the first step of a nefarious agenda that culminates in an attack on gay marriage...uh, wait, no, that couldn't be right..oh, yeah, so it is...hmm. Doesn't the opposite scenario in fact ring truer? Wouldn't it fit reality better to say that liberal activist judges are implementing a radical social agenda against the wishes of the majority of the populace, knowing full well that such actions of judicial fiat are not democratic and could not be achieved through legislation? Is gay marriage, regardless of one's view on it, an enshrined institution that one attacks with a secret plan, or is it in fact traditional marriage that is under siege?

I still fail to see, despite all the mighty efforts of Rich, Dowd, and Clift, how it is that lobbying by religious conservatives is any different than lobbying by abortion supporters, gun owners, business groups, or any other collective entity. Those who think that merely allowing Christians into the political debate will threaten the very anchors of our society have a lot less faith in the durability of the American Constitution than I do.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Decision '08 At the Movies - Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

First, the basics. There were God knows how many screens in Austin showing the movie, but we had the only digital projection system in town, and thus, when I arrived forty-five minutes early, there were already about 150 people ahead of me. The general manager of the theater came out and said a few words about how pleased he was with the reception and how great the digital projection was compared to a 35mm print. Then Darth Vader himself came out (a very convincing costume, too), walked down the aisle, with his famous respirator breath, and stood before the curtain. Vader lit up his light saber, waved his hand, and the curtain parted.

The digital projection is indeed phenomenal, and has a very convincing depth to it that borders on the three-dimensional. The opening sequence was absolutely breathtaking, and easily the best Star Wars action sequence since the run on the Death Star in Episode IV (yes, that's right, I said that. I don't know how it plays on regular film, but on digital, it's a thrill). Lucas has clearly reached a comfort level with digital technology that is unsurpassed, and that makes me believe that Roger Ebert may be on to something when he says there may yet be that final trilogy. Curiously, some of the scenes from the final battle on the volcanic planet seem 'fakey'; I'm surprised Lucas let them go; perhaps he simply ran out of time.

I've said little about the movie. The movie is a colossal failure if one judges it on a literary or a philosophical plane. The dialogue, as usual, is horrible (though not as bad as some would lead you to believe), the plot has holes big enough to send an Imperial Battle Cruiser through, and worst of all, Anakin's descent into the Dark Side is unconvincing. Whether Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman are good actors trapped by bad material or simply bad actors, I do not know; I do know that to carry all the mythological freight now invested in Darth Vader, it would have taken a great actor indeed.

Having said all that, the movie is a spectacular triumph by the standards of old B-movies, westerns, space operas (of which Star Wars is the progenitor), and all the other pure popcorn entertainment genres; indeed, on that level, the movie may be the best of its kind ever made. One has always had the feeling that the whole six-movie double trilogy has been a bit of a con game; Lucas plays coy with what he did or didn't know, plotwise, but I submit he knew next to nothing. The movies were always about adventure; everything else was secondary. And if he had to pretend to have some epic story arc to get his movies made and try out all his wonderful technological toys (not to mention all of the green stuff he's made), then so be it, here's your epic story.

So, in the end, the story has failed us; we invested too much in it for it to ever meet our expectations. Lucas is not Dostoevsky; he's not Tolkien; he's not even C.S. Lewis. The Star Wars plot has no life, and had precious little to begin with. It's been a grand adventure, though, and to all the critics I ask: aren't you glad you at least took the ride?

The Countdown(s) Begin

It's T-150 for my rendezvous with the Dark Side, as I become the 12th or 13 millionth American to view the new Star Wars (based on a rough calculation of what it's probably grossed by now, after a record $50 million opening day). A countdown of an entirely more serious sort is also in motion, as Tuesday appears to be High Noon in the Senate, unless a compromise is reached Monday. Looking ahead to the weekend, I hope to get a candidate profile up on Democrat Bill Richardson, and of course, we'll have our Weekly Jackass. Enjoy your Friday evening...

With Friends Like These...

Rick Santorum likened Democratic tactics to those of Adolf Hitler Thursday. Although he quickly apologized, this idiotic statement has given the Left good cause to accuse our side of hypocrisy. Shame on him...politicians of both stripes need to put the Hitler analogies to rest. The only comparable situation to Hitler's Germany currently is Kim Jong-Il's North Korea (actually more Stalinist in nature), and nothing Republicans or Democrats are doing in Congress is remotely close. Disgusting (via Betsy Newmark by way of Lorie Byrd)...

The Other Side of the Coin

I've been very vociferous in my condemnation of Newsweek, to say the least, as has most of the right half of the blogosphere. I'm not an apologist or a cheerleader, though, and I must say that this article in today's New York Times, regarding the brutal beating to death of two Afghan prisoners, is very disturbing indeed. These abuses are real and documented, and quite unacceptable. If we are to retain our credibility on the right, we must condemn this sort of behavior as vehemently as we condemn the 'blame-America-first'-ers.

It's an open question, I suppose, whether the brutality of war and prison turns a normal person into a sadist, or whether these folks were sadists before they ever joined the military. I'm well aware of the famous college experiment that seemed to show that guards will inevitably become oppressive and cruel. It seems to me, though, that we need to try some sort of psychological screening before allowing people to have access to prisoners.

Regardless, those responsible must be punished, and severely, no matter how high up the chain. If you believe in American exceptionalism, as I do, then you can accept no less.

Quick Shots: Hanging Out at the Nuthouse Edition

One good thing that came out of Terry Moran's interview with Hugh Hewitt was that it threw a spotlight on his brother's blog, the excellent Rightwing Nuthouse. I particularly like this entry, because it demonstrates that there are still believers in American exceptionalism...

Chrenkoff the Great
has more, much more, on the the troops and the Koran and the emerging 'fake but plausible' cover. Highly recommended...

Thomas Friedman Reads My Mind

It's astonishing how much the editorial page of the New York Times has improved since MoDo went on seems intelligence is once again taking root. Today, Thomas Friendman makes some excellent points about the Newsweek fiasco - including the fact that it's about time the Muslim world did some navel gazing of its own. I quote:
We are spending way too much time debating with ourselves, or playing defense, and way too little time actually looking Arab Muslims in the eye and telling them the truth as we see it...The greatest respect we can show to Arabs and Muslims - and the best way to help Muslim progressives win the war of ideas - is to take them seriously and stop gazing at our own navels. That means demanding that they answer for their lies, hypocrisy and profane behavior, just as much as we must answer for ours.

The Shocking Spoiler To End All Spoilers

As we await the returns for the first full day of Revenge of the Sith (the film took in $16.5 million from the midnight screenings), and I prepare to join the fun this evening, I have become aware of some shocking revelations, to wit:
  • Anakin Skywalker turns to the Dark Side, and (get this)...becomes Darth Vader!; and
  • (this is even more spectacular) Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father!
I know, I completely understand your need to catch your breath - who would have believed it? By the way, I don't mind if you guys want to share the secret, but remember - you heard it here first!

Friday Must-Read: Hyprocrisy Among the Muslims

Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Saudi Institue in Washington, writes in today's Wall Street Journal (free registration may be required) that even if isolated instances of Koran desecration have taken place, it's not the policy of our government.

How is that relevant? As al-Ahmed points out, many Muslim governments make it official policy to ban Bibles, Stars of David, and other symbols of Christianity and Judaism, yet the U.S. furnished copies of the Koran to its detainees and takes pain to stress our fight is not against the Muslim faith, but rather extremists within it.

His conclusion states it well:
The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Christie Hefner: Bush Administration Has Obligation to Clean Up Newsweek's Mess

Come again? Now I know why Playboy has become so virulently leftist that it's unreadable; it's the daughter's influence. Hefner, blogging a storm up at ol' Huff'n'Puff', belches forth the following:

Let�s ask why the Koran story was credible in the first place. Might it have something to do with the accurately reported (in words and pictures) horrible actions that took place at Abu Ghraib, and allegedly at Guantanamo Bay? Might those events be the source of �lasting damage� to our reputation abroad, especially among Muslim people?

And what�s with the notion that an independent media has an obligation to �help repair the damage?� That obligation is our government�s.

I don't know what's worse, the unbelievably condescending attitude on display or the incomprehensibility of Hefner's position. Under what possible mode of logic is the Bush administration obligated to clean up after Newsweek?

I'm not stupid, and neither are you; we know damn well what Hefner's doing...she's trying to get the reader to accept the canard that because a few idiots did some stupid things at Abu Ghraib, somehow it's acceptable for Newsweek to run a poorly sourced inflammatory allegation, because it's plausible. (Furthermore, she wants you to completely absolve Newsweek of wrongdoing...who printed that false allegation? Why, it was the Abu Ghraib crew...). This is deplorable, and if this is really the new standard, the 60 Minutes II, Newsweek rule of false but possible, then the MSM is in worse trouble than anyone imagines.

No excuses, please - Newsweek ran a story that should have never been run, and people died needlessly. That's the long and the short of it.

Winning the PR War

Frequently, all we hear is doom and gloom (including from these quarters, I'll admit) about how bad the Republicans have botched things since the last election. There are reasons for cheer, though; for one thing, we don't have Howard Dean chairing our National Committee. For another, we're thoroughly winning the PR war on judicial nominees.

For reaction to these poll numbers, let's turn to the Daily, the Daily, Markos? Hello? How about Josh Marshall? Hey, where'd everybody go all of a sudden?...

The Instapundit on Revenge of the Sith: It Stunk

You can read the verdict here. Nevertheless, I am going to take heed of my inner geek. I have a ticket for the 7:30 show tomorrow night, at the only theater in Austin that is showing the movie with digital projection. I may regret it, but sometimes in life, chances we must take, eh, Yoda?. My verdict late Friday or early Saturday...

Is a Judicial Deal Imminent?

The smart money has been saying there will be no nuclear option, as the Democrats would cave if they didn't have the votes. That appears to be the case, if this deal holds...very interesting. To be continued...

Trump Reveals Twin Towers Rebuild Plan...

...and I'm underwhelmed. First, I don't pretend to be an expert on architecture, but books and documentaries about the old WTC buildings are all in agreement that the building's design led to many unnecessary fatalities on that terrible September day. However, it was that very design (the elimination of a fire stairwell, centralized stairs elsewhere, the sky lobby elevator concept - all of which allowed for an open floor plan) that made the building economical.

The problem is, the bigger the building, the more space is taken up by elevators. Admittedly, the articles I read on Trump's plan are all short, general pieces like this one. Unless Trump had some new brilliant architectural insight, though, I don't see how he can propose two similar buildings with any degree of seriousness.

Of course, the other HUGE problem is that Trump is not a stakeholder anymore than you and I are (although, on some level, we are all stakeholders -see my previous proposal here). Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority, along with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, will make the final decision, and Silverstein's not buying in to Trump's vision. Not everyone agrees with my assessment, of course - for a more enthusiastic reception to Trump's plan, see here and here.

A Tragedy Barely Averted

You may have already seen this; I just did: that grenade that landed near Bush was live. Holy cow!

Blowing the 'General Defense' Out of the Water

The indefatigable Tom Maquire has once again risen to the occasion and delivered a knockout blow to a Democratic talking point; this time it is the defense of Newsweek by way of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers. Confused?

Well, the short version is that Myers had questioned whether the rioting in Afghanistan was related to the Koran desecration story, and liberal blogs and other outlets had pounced. Only problem is, the reality-based community is living in fantasyland here; and before I make a further hash of things, read on for the links that prove it (hat tip to the Instapundit, who has plenty of other linky goodness)...

Breaking News?

Let's hope so...there are unconfirmed reports that Australian hostage Douglas Wood is going to be released soon. Prime Minister John Howard has cautiously expressed hope, but has no independent verification. Let's all hope and pray this is for real, and let's not forget the other hostages suffering from this horrific fate.

Novak: Dean's Selection Was Case of 'Inmates Taking Over the Asylum'

A delicious Robert Novak piece today tears into Howard Dean's unhinged rhetoric and serves as a nice preview of Dean's upcoming appearance on Meet the Press. Novak again mentions how fund-raising for the DNC has been only half that of the RNC, and asserts that Dean has never learned to keep a muzzle on, providing a summary of some of his astonishing statements since he was appointed DNC chair. Highly recommended...

Today's Must-Read: Mainstream Media Suffering From Disconnect

It's not a new sentiment, but it's stated well by Janet Albrechtsen in the Australian; bonus points for working in a mention of the great Tim Blair...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Quick Shots: Grandpa Simpson Blogging

This is the kind of obscure humor that all blogs should traffic in...

Captain Ed has the scoop on yet another lie told by that oh-so-principled hero to the Kossacks Harry Reid...

Anne Applebaum is either extremely foolish or the holder of the biggest scoop of the year (via the Minuteman, the blogger so mighty it takes two blogs to contain him)...

The Conglomerate has more on that Norman Mailer blockbuster (hat tip to Prof Bainbridge)...

Hugh Hewitt Interviews Terry Moran

Okay, biases out in the open...I used to watch Terry Moran on Court TV. Now he's all grown up and in the White House Press Corp, and I don't much care for his attitude. Contempt seems to flow from his mouth every time he questions Bush. However, he did give a very lively interview today to Hugh Hewitt (hat tip to the Instapundit). Some highlights (but really, read the whole thing, it's quite entertaining):

TM: I don't think the media should be immune from criticism. I think the elected leader of the United States has his or her hands full, and plenty of things for the elected leader of the United States to do. I think media criticism is a great thing. I think what you do is a great thing. I do not think it's a great thing for the president's spokesperson to begin instructing the media how to go about its business.

HH: He did not. Terry, he did not. That's trying to play a victim card here. You're not the victim. The victim's the American military. The victims are the dead people in Afghanistan.

TM: Agreed.

HH: The victims are the American people generally.

TM: Agreed. I'm trying...what I'm trying to do is establish a principle here, and let me read you the transcript. We would encourage Newsweek to do all they can to help repair the damage. Pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are. And today, the president's spokesman said Newsweek should go on Al Jazeera, and other Arab television networks.

HH: Yes, they should. And there's nothing wrong...

TM: As a matter of fact, I agree with you.

HH: I've been a broadcaster for fifteen years. I know demagoguery when I hear it. That's not.

TM: But you practice it.

HH: I do not practice it. I practice good journalism, which is to represent I'm no better than any other American citizen. As a journalist, I don't have...

TM: You're no better than any other American citizen?

HH: Absolutely not. And if the president wants to criticize me, if a Democrat...for example, when Bill Clinton went after Rush Limbaugh, I didn't mind that at all. That's just fine. Rush got a great deal of attention out of it, and the criticism falls where it may. I don't understand...

TM: Well, I defend Rush Limbaugh as well from that.

TM: I completely, as I said at the top of this conversation, I agree completely with the substance of what Scott said. I think Newsweek has an obligation to go beyond it's retraction, which it tried to retract. And Newsweek has an obligation to really do some work here, and to get out into the region and the Arab networks and the Arab media, and explain what happened.

HH: You were in the White House press room when the Texas Air National Guard pledge was made, and there were arguments that Bush had not honored it. It was a frenzy. Why a frenzy then, but not any concern, even a little bit about the SF-180 now?

TM: Well, that is a very good question. I think that the biggest difference, and one for which I'm sure you're grateful, is that George W. Bush is the president of the United States, and John Kerry is the guy who lost the last election.

HH: But who is running again.

TM: There is, in general, a lot less interest in what the loser has done, or is about, or you know, John Kerry is deluding himself, it seems, that he has a continued political life, and perhaps you share that. But I think that when it's the president of the United States, and I agree with you. It was something of a frenzy.

HH: And so, should Kerry follow through on his commitment?

TM: Yes, absolutely.

HH: Are there members of the White House Press Corps, Terry, who actually hate Bush?

TM: I would say the answer to that is yes.

HH: And what percentage of them, do you think that amounts to?

TM: Uh, small, I would say, but some big fish.

HH: Do you read the blogs by the way?

TM: Absolutely. Every day, all the time.

HH: Which ones?

TM: I always start out at Instapundit, I take a look at LGF, I look at Kos, on the other side, and Joshua Micah Marshall. I'm not a frequenter of your blog, but every once in a while, I'll get linked to it. My brother has a blog, Right Wing Nut House.

HH: Oh, I like Right Wing Nut House.

TM: That's my brother's blog.

Alright, I've got a little more respect for the man now...I know that was a long excerpt, but I hope you caught the Kerry references above, particularly regarding the Form SF-180...

UPDATE 05/19/05 12:15 p.m.: Thanks to PoliPundit and The Minuteman for the links! Much appreciated...

A 2008 Update (Of Sorts)

Commenter Dan is none too pleased with the direction of this blog, saying he hasn't seen any 2008 news on here in a while (and thanks for the defense, a4g - and you folks should stop by his place, Point Five, for some excellent satire). I'm always open to suggestions, but I won't be renaming the blog, Dan, I like the one I have.

As for 2008, by the time the elections have rolled around, this site will be more focused, better organized, hosted, and on either Movable Type, Word Press, or a similar platform. That means categories, candidate profiles filed under respective parties, links to the latest polls...we're gonna have us some fun.

I'm not there yet, but there is no shortage of time. I covered some of these issues in an earlier post, and frankly, I'm bored of navel-gazing and I'm sure my regulars are as well. The blog is what it is; like all blogs, it will evolve over time. I plan to continue to cover current events, related to the election or not, throw in the odd satirical piece here and there, link to other excellent stories in roundups, and yes, cover the candidates and issues of 2008. Alright, enough of that already...

I will take this chance, while we're on the subject, to update my odds on Arnold. The ticking clock has made his candidacy a near impossibility, given the Constitutional Amendment requirement. I'm knocking him down substantially.


Norman Mailer: Paranoia Will Destroy Ya...

Did Karl Rove set up Newsweek? Does he control the tides? Was that Rove whispering in Pilate's ear? What about relativity; was Einstein perhaps an agent of Rove's? For the answer to these and other burning questions, we turn to washed-up novelist Norman Mailer at (where else?) the Huffington Post (hat tip to the great Mickey Kaus)...

Finally The Twain Shall Meet

Leave it to the great Claudia Rosett to tie together the two dominant threads of the Newsweek-Koran fiasco; one, how such a poorly sourced story made it into print, and two, why such a story should lead to murderous rampages. As Claudia puts it:
What's really going on here is two stories. One involves Newsweek and the ups and downs of U.S. journalism. The other involves a swath of the Islamic world in which anger, fueled by years of gross political misrule, is a chronic feature of life--seeking to acquire a target. What produced these particular riots was the intersection of Islamic-world furies and that brand of U.S. self-absorption in which no subject is more fascinating to the American media than any possible misdeeds of the U.S. itself.
Can't improve on that (other than to point out, again, that the fascination with possible misdeeds of the U.S. is personified by Chomskyite 'progressives'); well said...

Quick Shots: What Academic Diversity?

Power Line has the scoop on a survey of the campaign contributions of university faculty during Election 2004; you won't be surprised to know that Kerry was favored, but the margins are quite alarming...

And, in case you've been living under a rock, the long-awaited "High Noon"-ish judical showdown is nigh...expect endless debate and no action for the time being. Michelle Malkin has links aplenty...

Kathleen Parker: More Perspective, Please

While I don't endorse her editorial 100% (she's way too easy on Newsweek - dangerous stories should require a higher threshold of proof), Kathleen Parker has an excellent contribution to the debate. Like Friedman, she puts most of the blame on the fanatics who rioted in the first place. Some highlights:
...You could flush a Bible down the toilet in front of Goober in Kabul, and it's unlikely that Mayberry suddenly would be awash in blood.

Without disrespecting true believers of Islam, one also could debate the relative miseries of seeing our favorite scripture disappear into the plumbing versus, say, watching airplanes fly into buildings, killing thousands of innocents. Remember, these are terrorist suspects captured after 9/11, not kidnapped members of an Afghan boys choir...

The same people foaming over a reported act of blasphemy didn't flinch while executing women for stepping outside sans burqa. I'm afraid my moral outrage in favor of the morally outrageous is tapped out.

While the world was reacting in righteous indignation to the Newsweek report, another story was circulating about Turkish women in Germany being executed by family members in "honor killings" sanctioned by certain interpretations of the Koran. Their offense? Acting like Western women. Or, in the pithy words of a 14-year-old Turkish boy who was justifying an execution: "The whore lived like a German." (Now where have I heard that last phrase? Oh, yeah, in the 35 million spam German e-mails I've received in the last week...-Mark)
Would that the Kossacks and Deaniacs would take Parker's words to heart...but I'm not holding my breath.

Today's Must-Read: Thomas Friedman on Outrage and Silence

Truly excellent editorial in the NY Times today (I know, I was shocked, too) by Thomas Friedman contrasting the reaction of the Muslim world to the alleged Koran desecration to the all-too-real murder of thousands of Muslims by other Muslims in Iraq. Good stuff...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Miscellanea: Gentlemen of the Press Edition

Our good friend Suzanne has the transcript of the press getting snotty with Scott McClellan because he suggested it might be a good idea for Newsweek to repair the damage their false story did...disgusting...

The Instapundit, blogging a storm like nobody's business, is taking offense (and rightfully so) at Andrew Sullivan deigning to tell him what to blog about. The kicker:
...I find the question of what Andrew thinks less pressing than I used to.
That's gotta hurt!...

For the definitive take on the Newsweek fiasco, I refer you to the unsurpassed Jay Rosen...

Punditish has a reading comprehension quiz up; I find the results quite interesting...

Fareed Zakaria says the U.S. lacks focus in its North Korean policy...

Is support of gay marriage the only principled position? That's what Massachusetts Democrats are telling John Kerry as they recommend he 'educate' himself...

jp at Americans for Freedom has the scoop on Donald Trump's plan to rebuild the Twin Towers...color me skeptical...

A Touching Song to Warm Your Hearts...

Having just watched Team America for the first time tonight, I want to share with those of you who haven't had the privilege the moving lyrics to the love theme, "The End of An Act"...

I miss you more than Michael Bay missed the mark,
When he made Pearl Harbor.
I miss you more then that movie missed the point,
And that�s an awful lot girl.
And now, now you've gone away,
And all I'm trying to say,
Is Pearl Harbor sucked and I miss you...

I need you like Ben Affleck needs acting school,
He was terrible in that film.
I need you like Cuba Gooding needed a bigger part,
He's way better then Ben Affleck.
And now all I can think about is your smile,
And that sh**y movie too,
Pearl Harbor sucked and I miss you...


Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies.
I guess Pearl Harbor sucked,
Just a little bit more then I miss you.

Oh, the humanity...does any have a hankie?...

The Many Faces of Frank Rich

Prove me wrong, Frank, prove me wrong...

UPDATE 8:15 p.m.: Apparently, the photo-sharing part of Blogger (Hello) is down, so you'll have to make do without my brilliant attempt at photo manipulation until later. Meanwhile, I recommend you go to the Instapundit, and just start scrolling. He's on a roll today; can't remember the last time I've seen him post this much...

UPDATE 8:32 p.m.: Okay, we're back!...Posted by Hello

Newsweek Kerfuffle Reveals Fundamental Mistrust of the Military

The Wall Street Journal (free registration may be required) weighs in on the Newsweek fiasco today, and finds it to be yet another example of an adversarial press that is prepared to believe the worst about America. Particularly on target is the Journal's analysis of Abu Ghraib, often held up by the Left as a chamber of horrors on par with Stalin's gulag :

The best example of this mentality has been the coverage of Abu Ghraib, which quickly morphed from one disgusting episode into media suspicion of the motives and morals of the entire military chain of command. Certainly the photos of sick behavior on the nightshift by a unit from the Maryland Army Reserve were news. But they were first exposed by the Army itself, through the Taguba investigation that was commissioned months before the photos were leaked.

The press corps nonetheless spent weeks developing a "torture narrative" that has since been thoroughly discredited, both by the independent panel headed by former Defense Secretary Jim Schlesinger and by every court martial to look at the matter. But rather than acknowledge that perhaps the coverage had been wrong, the media reaction has been to declare the many probes to be part of a wildly improbable cover-up.

What the Journal doesn't state explicitly is that this is yet another example of the Chomsky effect at work. The 'progressive' mentality is anti-authoritarian, prone to believe in conspiracies, and distrustful to the point of paranoia of American motives, and no one personality has held the standard higher than the America-hating linguist from MIT. The net effect of relentless unsourced or poorly sourced allegations of the like peddled by Chomsky is to gradually erode the world's opinion of America; our enemies can simply say, 'Look, he's an American professor! He says it, too."

By all means, misbehavior or worse by the armed forces should be reported and punished, but explosive allegations of this nature demand a higher standard of proof before they are broadcast worldwide.

Galloway In The Gallery

The notorious British M.P., Saddam apologizer, and subject of Oil-For-Food accusations George Galloway appeared before Norm Coleman's committee today. (How about some video, Trey)? Get the lowdown at the Daily Ablution and C-Log (hat tip to Power Line)...

Answering the Call

I have accepted a challenge from the hauntingly mysterious bebere, and now present you with:

Ten Things I�ve Never Done Before

10. Read War and Peace.

9. Been to Niagara Falls.

8. Danced with the devil in the pale moonlight.

7. Been to an opera.

6. Purchased an album by George Michael or any other former member of Wham!.

5. Wrecked my girlfriend�s car.

4. Been in the same room with any President, current or former.

3. Attended a mass or any other Catholic ceremony.

2. Given up my love of Peanuts cartoon strips.

1. Thought to myself, �Why don�t I stop at the bookstore on the way home and get that new one by Maureen Dowd?�

Miriam, Suzanne? Care to enlighten us? How about anyone else?�

Keith Olbermann, Unglued

I'm beginning to suspect that former Weekly Jackass Keith Olbermann is clinically insane - he's lost it, publicly, accusing the White House of treason regarding the Newsweek affair. If that doesn't make sense to you, read on (hat tip to Michelle Malkin)...

Tuesday Must-Read: Epstein Scores Again

Edward Jay Epstein continues his one-man expose of the financial underside of Hollywood with yet another excellent piece in Slate, this time covering the declining relevance of the box-office. Short version: it's all about DVDs nowadays...

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hitch on the 'Insurgency'

The great Hitchens takes the New York Times to task for the recent feature on the 'Mystery of the Insurgency'. As the Hitch rightly points out, there's no mystery at all; we are opposed in Iraq by jihadists, plain and simple. I must admit, I find myself frequently using the word insurgency, but I agree with Hitchens that the word is too morally neutral. We are not fighting insurgents, we are fighting terrorists, and we will win, and Iraq will be the better for it. (Best line in the piece: When the New York Times scratches its head, get ready for total baldness as you tear out your hair).

Why The Light Blogging Tonight?

You know, Karl Rove and I (umm...scratch that. Nothing to see here folks, move along). Make that just 'I'. I have always had big plans for this guys have helped me realize one goal, which was to get an audience, and a great group of regulars...the next phase was always to customize a little. You know, Movable Type or WordPress, probably hosted somewhere. I've been working on it some the last few days.

Problem is, I know nothing about Perl or PHP, so both environments are a little unfamiliar to me (for that matter, I'm not a whiz at Apache, either) and I want to try out some designs and different looks before I make the transition. Why am I boring you with these details? Because I want you to know I don't plan on going anywhere, and I want to keep things fresh and exciting, and that includes more organization and cleaner visuals and design. Just so you know, it may take a while (who knows, I might not make the move for months), but it's coming. Thanks again for participating in this wacky little experiment called Decision '08. (Karl, how was that? Do you think anyone suspects?)...

Quick Shots: Homeland Insecurity

What Attitude Problem? links to a Washington Times story that will give you pause (hat tip to the SHEEP's Crib)...

Here's an interesting community I found through my comments - the Conservative Fangirls Coalition - I think I'm in love!...

I haven't had a chance to post yet on the Newsweek retraction, but Ryan James has got us covered...

And just because I haven't linked to her in a while, and she's been such a great supporter of this site, why not pay Nettie a visit? She's always up to something...

Bill Moyers: A Study in Arrogance

Is there a more sanctimonious jerk around than Bill Moyers? Take a look at the arrogance on display during his most recent speech:
...let me assure you that I take in stride attacks by the radical right wingers who have not given up demonizing me although I retired over six months ago. They�ve been after me for years now, and I suspect they will be stomping on my grave to make sure I don�t come back from the dead. I should point out to them that one of our boys pulled it off some two thousand years ago after the Pharisees, the Sadducees and Caesar surrogates thought they had shut him up for good. I won�t be expecting that kind of miracle, but I should put my detractors on notice, they might just compel me out of the rocking chair and back into the anchor chair.

Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control using the government to threaten and intimidate; I mean the people who are hollowing out middle class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class to make sure Ahmad Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq�s oil; I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into Karl Rove�s slush fund; who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets; I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy. That�s who I mean. And if that�s editorializing, so be it. A free press is one where it�s okay to state the conclusion you�re led to by the evidence.

There are so many flat-out lies in the above that it would be an insult to your intelligence to list them; and what are we to make of a left-wing journalist who draws a parallel between himself and Jesus, whom he regards as 'one of our boys'? Frank Rich, are you listening?...

So It's Come to This...

No doubt reeling from my verbal wizardry attacking their columnists, the NY Times is announcing that, beginning in September, they will charge $49.95 a year to access their Op-Ed pages. $49.95???!!! To read the garbage spewed by MoDo, Rich, and Krugman? Why not just pay $100 a year to have giant needles poked in my eyes? Good luck with THAT!...

Quick Shots: Why Not Send Frank Rich to Newsweek?

Or at the very least, send 'em all to a bar together to drown their sorrows. Turning to Rich first, the wonderfully named I Disagree with Maureen Dowd takes advantage of MoDo's sabbatical and absolutely demolishes Rich's latest train wreck of a column. A sample:
...I've known, over the course of my life, a number of individuals for whom nearly every occurrence is "just like" this or that film, television program or cartoon. These sorts become unbearable when one realizes that the only referential lens available to them is popular culture, particularly American popular culture of the last 40 years. They then become an utter bore; most things, I've found, are really not "just like" a film, television program or cartoon. But Frank Rich is just this kind of bore.

By way of elucidating the nature of his "wider war," Chef Rich prepares a preposterous stew. He liberally mixes fact and fiction: Details from the obscure 1962 melodrama "Advise and Consent," Tony Kushner's early '90s drama "Angels in America," David K. Johnson's 2004 cold war history "The Lavender Scare," and a few incendiary, carefully picked Page Six items are hastily thrown together. Voila! It's an instant "war on gay people." In his 1500-word jiffy of an essay these ingredients are agglomerated, then cooked, resulting in an emetic, name-calling melange.
As they say in the trades, read the whole thing...

Meanwhile, the fallout from the Newsweek-Koran disaster is spreading. The Instapundit has a rundown under his alter ego, and Michelle Malkin has tons of stuff; just keep scrolling...

Lucas Turns To The Dark Side

George Lucas, political analyst:

"Star Wars" director George Lucas says that although he wrote the original film during the Vietnam War, his six-part saga could apply to the war in Iraq.

''In terms of evil, one of the original concepts was how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship,'' Lucas told a news conference at Cannes, where his final episode had its world premiere.

''The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.

''On the personal level it was how does a good person turn into a bad person, and part of the observation of that is that most bad people think they are good people, they are doing it for the right reasons,'' he added.

Let's see, the democracy (the United States) fought the dictatorship (Ho Chi Minh's North Vietnam and Saddam's Iraq), and a good person (Jane Fonda, George Lucas) turns into a bad person, but thinks (s)he's doing the right God, the parallels really are uncanny!...

UPDATE 12:09 p.m.: Thanks to the great Michelle Malkin for the link - browse around awhile and make yourself at home if you haven't been to these parts before...oh, and make the most out of your Monday...

John Leo on Tolerance vs. Affirmation

My recent posts on Frank Rich's outrageous assertion that all Republicans are closeted, self-hating homosexuals have prompted at least one commenter to question whether my stance indicates at least a tactit approval of gay-baiting hypocrites like the ones Rich singles out. My problem is not that Rich lied about these people - they and others like them surely exist. My quarrel was with his incredibly broad generalization that he drew from a handful of examples.

In a thoughtful piece in U.S. News and World Report, John Leo comes close to formulating a view that reflects my own. In discussing an overly 'politically correct' school textbook, Leo says the following:
In dealing with homosexuality, the job of the school is to teach tolerance, not to disparage traditional views. Gays are our neighbors and should be treated with respect. Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, one of two local groups opposing the curriculum, makes this point clearly. "Teaching respect for persons with same-sex attraction is appropriate and right," the group says. "But demanding affirmation of a homosexual orientation and behavior goes beyond the ethic of tolerance." The curriculum does in fact teach approval of homosexuality. Understandably, gays want that approval, but it can't be imposed by state schools.
That's about right, I think, for quite a few conservatives.

Is China Hoping For a Munich Agreement With North Korea?

If so, it's doomed to learn the mistake of appeasement all over again, to the cost of us all. This excellent article details some of the steps being discussed by the U.S. and Japan to contain the threat of Kim Jong-Il, and it seems to me that their approach is fundamentally right. China, however, is another story.

A senior Chinese official, Yang Xiyu, told The Times in an interview published last week that it was true that "we do not yet have tangible achievements" in ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program. "But a basic reason for the unsuccessful effort lies in the lack of cooperation from the U.S. side." He cited Mr. Bush's references to Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, as a "tyrant" who keeps dissidents in concentration camps.

China is concerned about, among other things, a flood of refugees across its border if sanctions are imposed. It is of paramount importance, then, that we assure China that we will assist them financially and logistically, preferably with the help of other U.N. Security Council members, in the event of a mass sanctions-caused migration. Playing the ostrich will do the Chinese no good in the long run. We tried reasoning with Kim and he brazenly ignored our agreements. We've moved past that. Too bad China hasn't.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The World Fiddles While North Korea Burns

The San Diego Tribune today has a series of pieces detailing the horrifying story of North Korea's hidden gulags and the other terrifying conditions facing its people. Kim Jong-Il is starving his people and committing atrocities of a sort not seen since the worst excesses of Stalinism and the Nazi Holocaust. He rattles his nuclear saber and feeds his cult of personality while unimaginable suffering surrounds him.
Grandsons are condemned to life-long terms as slave laborers alongside their grandfathers, both equally helpless in the brutal surroundings. Prisoners are arbitrarily murdered by security guards. Women suffer from forced abortions at the hands of unlicensed doctors. Newborn babies are beaten to death. And sons and daughters are publicly executed in front of their mothers.
If Stalin and Hitler were the twin princes of evil of the 20th century, Kim Jong-Il is surely their successor. Yet relatively little is being done.

The U.N. is largely silent, more concerned with reviving the image of its hopelessly inept leader than tackling an issue this messy. China is not applying the pressure it could bring to bear; the Left is more concerned with vilifying the Bush administration, the same administration that has done more to bring hope to the Middle East than any other in our lifetime. Regardless, America's military commitments in Iraq preclude the use of force to bring about North Korean regime change, never mind those nuclear weapons Kim has.

Kim is a psychopath. He is evil, or evil has no meaning. He must be stopped. We must use all of our influence with China, whatever goodwill remains in the U.N., and more than anything, we must have more pieces like these to make sure the world is aware of how truly desperate the situation has become. I applaud the Tribune for this series. This blog has a small voice, but it's a voice that will be watching the situation and reporting on it from time to time.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Frank Riches of the world, those who have the benefit of a large platform such as the New York Times, could use that enormous influence to talk about a real issue other than their hatred of George W. Bush? Will Maureen Dowd say at the end of her years (long may they be), well, millions of North Koreans died, but I really stuck it to that Wolfowitz? The petty squabbles that surround us daily pale in significance when one considers the living nightmare that millions of North Koreans wake up to daily.

Silence is an option the world cannot afford.

Miscellanea - German Spam Edition

Is anyone else out there getting clobbered with this German spam e-mail? Here's the scoop, if you're curious...

Eugene Khasilev is none too happy about the Newsweek 'Koran desecration' kerfuffle. Here's more from the Jawa Report; still more from the Instapundit...

Our good friend Miriam has the real estate blues - good luck and hang in there...

Carpe Bonum thinks GOP moderates have been defined out of existence...

Over at the Bernoulli Effect, Jeff is reflecting on Operation Matador...

More on Frank Rich's curious fascination with gay Republicans from Lifelike Pundits...

Historian David Greenberg is exhausted after a tough week of blogging; the Minuteman reflects on the harrowing task. Glenn Reynolds is shocked, SHOCKED I say, at Greenberg's conclusions, but who's gonna listen to a guy who blends puppies? (Note: I have just telegraphed my beagle's next exclusive investigation)...

Newsweek Lied, People Died

Unfortunately, that's no joke; lives have been lost through unrest and violence caused by a Newsweek story that may, in fact, be false, according to Newsweek itself. Little Green Footballs has the scoop (just keep scrolling, there are several good posts on the story)...

A Quick Huff'n'Puff Update

The esteemed Instapundit and Arianna herself appeared on Reliable Sources to discuss the Celebrity, The Huffington Post. Trey Jackson has the video, and of course you can read more about our Weekly Jackass here...

Howard Dean: He Has Seen the Promised Land...

...and he's heading in the opposite direction. Dean is a disaster for the Democratic Party; he doesn't know when to shut up, and he never has. Today, he stepped so far over the line that Barney Frank called him on it. Michelle Malkin has the details...

A Rebuttal to Frank Rich

As further proof of how far off Frank Rich's column in today's Times is from reality, you need look no further than Jayson's current post at PoliPundit, which shows in unmistakable fashion how state after state, liberal, conservative, or swing, has opposed gay marriage, when allowed to vote on the matter. Am I to conclude that a huge majority of Americans are motivated by anti-homosexual animosity, or that they prefer that this matter be decided somewhere besides the judiciary? I know what Frank thinks, and I know what I think. How about you?...

Frank Rich: The Return of the Pit Bull

Today's offering from the loathsome Frank Rich pays a visit to the shadowy world of Republicans, only to find we are all closet homosexuals who hate gay people (thus, ourselves). Rich is the master of the wild generalization. His technique is to find one or two people on the right who engaged in some vile act, then smear all conservatives with the same brush. Using the same technique, I could accuse Rich of giving aid and comfort to the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. Well, Jane Fonda did it, right? And she was surely liberal; therefore Rich did it, too.

There is a HUGE difference between supporting gay marriage through judicial fiat and being opposed to active discrimination against gay people, but Rich doesn't see it. He labels it a 'sham', and assures us that Republicans opposed to judicial activism are motivated entirely by anti-gay animosity. How can he be so sure? Why, using his patented technique described above. Some Republicans wanted judges to get involved in keeping Terry Schiavo alive; therefore, we're all hypocrites who don't have a clue as to the complexities of the legal system

Rich, like his colleague MoDo, doesn't write thoughtful pieces, or genuine editorials aiming to influence anyone. He simply throws out red meat to the packs of Republican-haters that largely comprise the Times' readership, and watches them rip it apart. He's a propagandist, not a thinker.