January 25, 2004

Back In a Few...

I have some pressing matters that require much more attention than usual. Therefore, blogging shall be light to non-existent for a few weeks. If you are local, don't forget the MWBB coming up on February 7 at 6:00 PM at TNG's in Kirkwood.

Perhaps, if we are all lucky, when I return the phrase "back in the day" will have fallen out of favor.

DOWNDATE: Post corrected. The MWBB is on February 7, not on Heaven forbid, Groundhog Day.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:35 PM | Comments (3)

January 21, 2004

Andrew Sullivan

I've been a fan and reader of Andrew Sullivan long before The Daily Dish made it's appearance. Nonetheless, Andrew seems to have done about an 140 degree turn recently with respect to President Bush. Is it just me or is Andrew's total commitment to gay marraige overly influencing his perspective on a lot of other topics?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:44 AM | Comments (11)

The Big Loser

The biggest loser on Monday wasn't Howard Dean, it was Al Gore. Howard Dean was always unlikely to get the Democratic Party's nomination because he has no chance to win. Period. If Howard Dean didn't lose the primaries outright, they powers that be would have found a way to force a brokered convention where he woudn't even receive serious consideration, since too many other Democrats are at risk in a blowout.

Al hitched his wagon on Howard's angry star and watched it fizzle out. Al's vision thing has been impaired for a long time and this is just further evidence of it. I don't know if Al could have resurrected his career or not int he future, but there were certainly those who always kept Al Gore in the back of their minds. But now that Al's burned his bridges with the Clintons and the rest of the DNC, I'm guessing there's nowhere for Al to go now outside of MoveOn rallies. Last time I checked, MoveOn hadn't been able to elect a dogcatcher this side of San Francisco.

Even Jimmy Carter had the good sense to not endorse Howard Dean. How good must it look on your CV to have political judgment inferior to Jimmy Carter's?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:33 AM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2004

Maybe Nobody Told Wes Yet

Anybody else notice that Wesley Clark has started having his picture taken a lot lately with his sleeves rolled up? Mr. Political Tin Ear still has the touch.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Wait until they turn the power on:

Palestinian infiltrators have succeeded in breaching Israel's new security fence and barrier system.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

State of the Union

Nothing out of the ordinary. Bush seemed a little more animated at times than usual. His timing on the nations making up our "unilateral coalition" was pretty good. His barbs directed across the aisle were reasonably subtle.

As expected, the Democrat's response is awfully weak, a bitter, direct, partisan, laundry list. Apparently George Bush can do nothing right. Say, did Nancy Pelosi actually just try to build a "real" international coalition by saying that she wants other nations soldiers to die instead of ours? Oh yea, everybody is going to sign up to that. And then Tom Daschle implied that its really bad if the economy isn't improved "the right way." Now, if only he'll finish with a Howard Dean yell.

DOWNDATE: And Tom Daschle then finishes by saying that the state of the union really isn't strong. Yawn.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:27 PM | Comments (2)


Can't some of the Democrats have the good manners to sit on their hands if they aren't happy? Booing and groaning is disrespctful of the presidency -- not just the President.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:47 PM | Comments (1)

Deja Vu

Let's see, in 1988 Michael Dukakis, then the governor of Massachusetts, ran for president as the nominee of the Democratic Party. He got soundly thrashed by George H. W. Bush. Now, John Kerry, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts under Michael Dukakis until he was elected to the Senate in 1985, wants to run for president as the nominee of the Democratic Party against George W. Bush.

Well, Karl Marx was right about at least one thing: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

A Bad Meme

According to Paul Krugman today:

Mr. Bush's relentless partisanship has depleted much of the immense good will he enjoyed after 9/11.

Of course, Mr. Krugman is far from the first to take this meme and run with it. Frankly, I want to bury this meme completely because it implies that America and American's are only deserving of most of the world's immense goodwill when we are killed. And when we refused to stand idly by to be killed again, we forfeited this immense goodwill.

Anybody who thinks that way can kiss my ass. Starting with Paul Krugman.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

A Thought Experiment

Listen to Howard Dean after losing a substantial lead and finishing third in Iowa last night.

Now, imagine a President Howard Dean reading to school children when his chief of staff comes up and informs him that two planes have slammed into the World Trade Center towers in an apparent terrorist attack, or perhaps as the beginning of open war against America.

Two questions. First, is Howard Dean angry about the right things and are his priorities clear? Second, in the aftermath of 9/11 and with the emotional confusion it would have generated, which would be at least 100 times stronger than what Howard Dean experienced last night, is this the man whose finger should be on any button?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:49 AM | Comments (2)

January 19, 2004

Why Bother?

I'm rapidly running out of reasons.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:01 PM | Comments (1)

January 18, 2004


Alright, it's not the fifteenth MidWest BlogBash, but I've lost count what number this is. And no, I haven't sent any e-mail invitations out yet, so don't feel left out if you haven't got one.

Whenever: February 7, 2004. 6:00 PM CST.

Wherever: TNG's (Kirkwood) unless someone comes up with a better place -- hint, hint. I've also considered casinos and bowling alleys for a venue.

Whatever: Food, drink, a lieing contest, blogging, gambling (?), bowling (?). Best lie gets a free drink. Come and party with my ilk and take your best shot at trying to convince me that there is value and virtue in more than just a few pieces of art created after about 1930. Please explain why "Guernica" is something more than a bad joke, or how Picasso exclaiming that, "after he learned to draw like the great masters he spent the rest of his life learning to draw like a child," is admirable, or why David Blaine is something other than a deranged con artist. Best effort gets a free drink. Or present your pet theory for why the eventual Democratic nominee won't lose by at least 8 points in the general election. Best effort gets a free drink. Come one, come all. Be there or be square, or be both. Tallest blogger gets a free drink. One drink per contestant. Offer null and void wherever prohibited by law.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:41 PM | Comments (2)

Art and "Art"

As a younger man, I used to care a lot about the distinction between art and craft. Based upon what I was taught I imagined that craftsmen had superb, finely honed skills, but lacked the imagination or intellectual underpinnings to turn their craft into art. This, of course, implies that all artists must be excellent craftsmen as well.

Somewhere along the line, I had a falling out with the art, and the artists, of the 20th century that continues to this day. I think it has to do with the fact that most artists no longer seem to have mastered any craft that I can discern. The emphasis has shifted entirely to what the artists, and the art critics, consider conceptual and intellectual, whereas the aesthetic appreciation of the craft of making fine art has been lost. Art become "art." I am speaking primarily of visual arts such as painting and sculpting, though I think the disease has spread into music and literature as well.

I suppose I could insert vast hordes of examples here to illustrate, but what's the point. You either understand and sympathize with this thesis by now, or you think that I just don't know what I'm talking about. When you enter a major museum, do you linger in the pre-20th century galleries or head straight for the "art" devoid of any intrinsic meaning other than what you bring to it. Art, for me, got sick in the late 19th century, suffered through a long illness, and finally died somewhere in the mid-20th century. I anxiously await its resurrection to restore my faith in art and rescue it from the seventh circle of Hell where it lies today, since art's death was essentially a suicide by those who lived as part of it.

I've been thinking about this for a long time, but what finally got me to post about it was this story about the vandalism of, using ironic quotes where they are entirely appropriate, "art."

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:23 AM | Comments (11)

A Silver Lining?

If General Wesley Clark should get the Democratic nomination, since he virtually ignored Iowa does that mean that the rest of us can from now on as well?

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:39 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2004

Deficits Do Matter

Contrary to the opinions we've heard expressed more than a few times lately from the White House, deficits do matter. No, they don't matter to the exclusion of all else as those whining about the loss of revenue due to tax cuts, or complaining about the expense of instituting democracy in Iraq, or bemoaning the cost of an ambitious space program frequently complain. It is true that we can grow the economy out of a deficit, but we should rightly be concerned about the drunken sailor spending by the president and Congress right now, since no one knows how much deficit spending is too much deficit spending.

But Heaven help us if some cynical Republicans can convince some equally cynical Democrats that deficits truly don't matter. Because when the Democrats do come back to power, and they will eventually, what will restrain these newly minted free-spenders from trying to fulfill every one of their utopian fantasies?

I'll give the Democrats some credit for showing, or at least saying the right words that imply a level of fiscal responsibility that doesn't seem evident from the Republicans these days. The Democrats by and large do raise taxes to pay for the level of government they want. Of course, I temper my, ahem, enthusiasm since I do believe that the level of spending, and therefore taxation, that the Democrats desire is far too high. Which is why I am worried about anybody formally adopting a policy that deficits don't matter. When the Democrats have been in power, the only constraint on some of the more extravagant ideas hatched in the wilder Democrat's illiberal utopian statist dreams has been a realization that at some point, there is real natural resistance to raising taxes, both by the people and by the economy at large. If we take that constraint away because deficits don't matter, then I'm selling everything and buying gold a few weeks before the next election, because hyperinflation ain't far behind.

As someone once said, don't take any power that you aren't willing to see wielded by your opponents.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

Strange Typos

While reading up on Graham Chapman, I found this which I don't think this is quite right:

From the outset, Chapman was honest about his sexual orientation. This would sometimes result in hostel responses from the public.

Maybe it's just me, but in this context I think a "hostel response" might have an entirely opposite meaning to what I believe the author intended.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:05 PM | Comments (1)

At the Movie Reviews

After commenting on his comments, I stole the link from Rodya who stole the link from Michele for IMDB's top 250 films. Herewith is my commentary. Bold means I've seen it, italicized means I own it.

And yes, it's true that while I have seen 206 of these 250 movies, I have never seen E.T. Remember as you go through this list that the cinema has been around for just over 100 years. That means that on average, 2.5 films a years should make it on to this list. Keep that in mind as you slog through the tripe that is less than 5 years old in this list. Not a single film from the Germans after Fritz Lang either. Bummer.

1 Godfather, The (1972) -- First rate.
2 Shawshank Redemption, The (1994) -- The inclusion of this film in the list, much less at #2, tends to invalidate the entire list, but I'll go on anyway.
3 Godfather: Part II, The (1974) -- First rate. So how is it that Godfather III was so bad?
4 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) -- Oh yes, it will be mine (next November).
5 Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) -- Part of the best trilogy of films ever. yes, better than Star Wars Vol. 4-6.
6 Casablanca (1942) -- Marvelous.
7 Schindler's List (1993) -- A movie with a message, and the message is never again. Thank goodness Steven Spielberg isn't as looney as Oliver Stone, though.
8 Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) -- See 5.
9 Shichinin no samurai (1954) -- Kurosawa makes lots of appearances in this list.
10 Star Wars (1977) -- Came out when I was a senior in high school. That was a significant factor in my appreciation of it, until LOTRs dusted it.
11 Citizen Kane (1941) -- A rosebud by any other name would smell as sweet.
12 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) -- Great movie, great cast.
13 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) -- Stanley Kubrick made a number of incredible movies.
14 Rear Window (1954) -- So did Alfred Hitchcock.
15 Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) -- Luke, I am the voice of CNN.
16 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) -- Remember when movies where fun?
17 Memento (2000)
18 Usual Suspects, The (1995) -- I like this movie a lot, though I thought it was a farce for Kevin Spacey to get the Best Actor Oscar for acting as though he was acting.
19 Pulp Fiction (1994) -- Quinten Tarentino's peak. It's all downhill now.
20 North by Northwest (1959) -- More Hitchock. Cary Grant's turn in the barrel (second time).
21 12 Angry Men (1957) -- Twenty years later we get Al Pacino screaming, "You're out of order, you're out of order...".
22 Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le (2001) -- Cute.
23 Psycho (1960) -- Still more Hitchcock. Tony Perkins vastly improves on his idea of crazy from Fear Strikes Out.
24 Lawrence of Arabia (1962) -- Come watch Zorba the Greek as a Bedouin sheik, and Alec Guinness as a young man, just in case Ewan McGregor had thrown you off in The Phantom Menace.
25 Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966) -- So many quotable lines, "When it is time to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."
26 Silence of the Lambs, The (1991) -- Personally, I don't like fava beans, or liver for that matter.
27 It's a Wonderful Life (1946) -- Jimmy Stewart was one of the all-time great guys in Hollywood. I knew people that knew him, and he's was as genuine as they come.
28 Goodfellas (1990) -- Like Hobbes said, life is nasty, brutish and short.
29 American Beauty (1999) -- Good movie that spawned some of the most preening, pretentious movie reviews ever.
30 Vertigo (1958) -- Still more Hitchcock. And Jimmy Stewart.
31 Sunset Blvd. (1950)
32 Matrix, The (1999) -- The answer to whatisthematrix.com turned out to be nothing more than a really good movie that was followed by increasingly insipid sequels.
33 Pianist, The (2002) -- Good movie by Roman Polanski, who in case you have forgotten, drugged a 14-year old girl to have sex with her. This film will never rate this high again in any subsequent surveys.
34 Apocalypse Now (1979) -- Strange film that has acquired cult status. Frankly, I can take it or leave it. Comments heard from Coppola's accountants during filming, "The horror, the horror."
35 To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) -- Anyone who asks, "America, why are you so hated," should be forced to watch this before they say anything further. Then they can write a report on how their views can be squared with Americans holding up Atticus Finch as an ideal man.
36 Some Like It Hot (1959) -- Much better than the Power Station song of the same name.
37 Taxi Driver (1976) -- Take a walk on the wild side. This film can kick off some amazing commentary, but not here.
38 C'era una volta il West (1968) -- Sergio strikes again.
39 Third Man, The (1949) -- The ability to use the zither for the score and still be taken seriously is no small achievement.
40 Paths of Glory (1957) -- An early Stanley Kubrick effort. He got much better later.
41 Fight Club (1999) -- Brad Pitt is a much better fighter in Snatch (210). Snatch was a much better movie too.
42 Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)
43 Boot, Das (1981) -- War is all hell.
44 L.A. Confidential (1997) -- This movie is top ten material.
45 Double Indemnity (1944) -- Still more Hitchcock. Good to see that Fred MacMurray settled down later and raised three nice boys.
46 Chinatown (1974) -- You gotta admit, Hollywood has made some really good flicks about Hollywood before it became Hollywood.
47 Singin' in the Rain (1952) -- If you took a film class in college, you h=would have had to rate this a lot higher.
48 Maltese Falcon, The (1941) -- One of several seemingly interchangeable movies with Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Don't get me wrong, I like all of them.
49 Requiem for a Dream (2000)
50 M (1931) -- I wonder if its a coincidence that Peter Lorre's two most famous movies are so close in this list?
51 Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957) -- Smart Alec is a little slow on the uptake.
52 All About Eve (1950) -- No, really, she does have Bette Davis' eyes.
53 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) -- Sui generis.
54 Se7en (1995) -- Wouldn't it be nice if bad police work didn't generate the most of the plot twists?
55 Saving Private Ryan (1998) -- It's gotta be tough on the anti-war crowd to have to admit that there are good reasons to fight wars. Even when people die. How'd they ever find enough actors in Hollywood to film it?
56 Raging Bull (1980) -- Man, there were a lot of good films created when I was in college.
57 Cidade de Deus (2002)
58 Wizard of Oz, The (1939) -- Because, because, because, because, because.
59 Rashomon (1950) -- To borrow a phrase from Anheuser Busch, "True."
60 Sting, The (1973) -- One of my adolsecent favorites. And to think that Marvin Hamlisch started a ragtime revival with it.
61 Alien (1979) -- Like I said, my college years were a great time for movies.
62 American History X (1998)
63 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) -- Just in case anyone thought that today's politicians are any sleazier than they used to be.
64 Léon (1994) -- I like Jean Reno, but come on.
65 Vita è bella, La (1997)
66 Touch of Evil (1958)
67 Manchurian Candidate, The (1962) -- A real touch of evil.
68 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -- As Jack Skelington said, "Interesting, but what does it mean?" Someone told me once that no one knows, since Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick each put their own pet freakiness into it without a lot of of coordination. To borrow a phrase from The Matrix, perhaps there is no spoon.
69 Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948) -- How does this make the list but not Key Largo?
70 Wo hu cang long (2000)
71 Great Escape, The (1963) -- Can you hear me whistling?
72 Reservoir Dogs (1992) -- Nice little indie, but wildly overrated.
73 Clockwork Orange, A (1971) -- For better, or probably worse, one of the most influential films I have ever seen. My wife despises it, which is why I don't own it.
74 Amadeus (1984) -- What ever happened to Tom Hulce?
75 Modern Times (1936) -- Did you know that the first actor to get $1,000,000 dollars for a film was Charlie Chaplin?
76 Annie Hall (1977) -- Let's be honest, when it comes to Woody Allen's aberrant behavior, the signs were all there long before it became public.
77 Jaws (1975) -- Starring the underappreciated Roy Scheider. And where in the hell is Marathon Man in this list?
78 Ran (1985) -- Time just flies by every time I watch this movie.
79 On the Waterfront (1954) -- You should see this movie, if for no other reason than to fully realize what a bunch of self-righteous pricks there were at the Academy Awards that snubbed Elia Kazan were a few years ago.
80 Braveheart (1995) -- Entertaining movie, but I just can't get over the author (Randall Wallace -- no axe to grind here) stating that he saw nothing wrong with embellishing history to get an emotial point across but then selling it as authentic.
81 High Noon (1952) -- Another mandatory movie for the America haters.
82 Apartment, The (1960)
83 Fargo (1996) -- You cannot go wrong with the Coen brothers or Steve Buscemi.
84 Sixth Sense, The (1999) -- Say good Night M.
85 Aliens (1986) -- It was good, but not this good.
86 Shining, The (1980) -- I never liked this one that much. Stanley Kubrick at his most obtuse, but let's not forget that he made Barry Lyndon as well.
87 Strangers on a Train (1951)
88 Blade Runner (1982) -- Multi-culty favorite.
89 Metropolis (1927) -- Thank God it's not the updated version with Queen music.
90 Duck Soup (1933) -- Wouldn't you like to attend a dinner party with Groucho Marx, Dennis Miller and Orson welles?
91 Finding Nemo (2003) -- Good family fair, but not as good a story as a lot of other Disney flicks. The animation is superb, but that won't be nearly as impressive 10 years from now, whereas Toy Story still will be.
92 Donnie Darko (2001)
93 General, The (1927)
94 Toy Story 2 (1999) -- No, this was not as good as Toy Story, sorry.
95 Princess Bride, The (1987)
96 City Lights (1931) -- Chaplin has held up well, hasn't he.
97 Great Dictator, The (1940) -- Like I said...
98 Lola rennt (1998)
99 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
100 Notorious (1946) -- Still more Hitchcock. Cary Grant's first time in the barrell.
101 Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957) -- The ultimate foreign film laden with deep meaning.
102 Full Metal Jacket (1987) -- Lot's of style from Stanley Kubrick, almost no substance. Oooo, war is bad.
103 Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1989)
104 Rebecca (1940) -- Jumpin Jeebus, maybe we should just call this the Hitchcock list. Laurence Olivier's turn in the barrell.
105 Mononoke-hime (1997)
106 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) -- Sundance? Sundance? Where have I heard that before?
107 Big Sleep, The (1946) -- Noirest of the noir.
108 Graduate, The (1967) -- One word.
109 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) -- Entertaining flick, but not as good as the original.
110 It Happened One Night (1934)
111 Manhattan (1979) -- Yawn.
112 Patton (1970) -- Anachronisms, the movie and the man. Just remember that General Omar Bradley was a consultant for this film as you watch it.
113 Deer Hunter, The (1978) -- Gosh, it seemed so deep and meaningful at the time, but it hasn't held up real well. What the hell ever happened to Michael Cimino?
114 Best Years of Our Lives, The (1946)
115 Searchers, The (1956)
116 Glory (1989) -- Sorry, no can do. people seem afraid to criticize this movie because of what it's about. Some good performances, but some real silly ones as well -- starting with the casting of Ferris Bueller.
117 Yojimbo (1961) -- Kurosawa everywhere, but no Truffaut. Clearly most of the people compiling this list never took cinema classes in college.
118 African Queen, The (1951) -- The made some pretty good movies back in the day.
119 Ladri di biciclette (1948)
120 Philadelphia Story, The (1940)
121 Forrest Gump (1994) -- Don't know much about history...
122 Bringing Up Baby (1938)
123 Cool Hand Luke (1967) -- Prisons have certainly changed a lot between Cool Hand Luke and Oz.
124 Ben-Hur (1959) -- Jeez, if Charlton Heston isn't making movies about the end of the world, he's making movies about a man whose return will herald the end of the world. Great flick.
125 Green Mile, The (1999) -- Really folks, Steven King novels just don't make for good movies.
126 Shrek (2001) -- See, there's a huge unmet market for family fare, otherwsie very average movies like this wouldn't rate so high.
127 Once Upon a Time in America (1984) -- Oh yeah, Robert DeNiro is a Jewish gangster, not an Italian gangster.
128 Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) -- The worst of the second best trilogy ever, which means it's still pretty good.
129 Hable con ella (2002)
130 Unforgiven (1992) -- I like Clint Eastwood a lot, but not this much.
131 Stalag 17 (1953) -- If war is all hell, imagine how much worse it must be for the prisoners of war.
132 Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
133 Grapes of Wrath, The (1940) -- Screw the sort of happy ending, read the book.
134 Gone with the Wind (1939) -- Should be much, much higher.
135 Night of the Hunter, The (1955)
136 Wild Bunch, The (1969) -- Finally, Sam Peckinpah makes a bloody appearance.
137 Straight Story, The (1999)
138 Elephant Man, The (1980) -- Anthony Hopkins plays a good doctor.
139 Christmas Story, A (1983) -- But you won't be able to see it if you put your eye out.
140 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) -- I love Indy, but it's not this good.
141 All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
142 Platoon (1986) -- Spare me.
143 Hustler, The (1961) -- Do the hustle.
144 Back to the Future (1985) -- I think this should be higher.
145 Young Frankenstein (1974) -- Easily Mel Brooks best film. Yes, better than Blazing Saddles.
146 Monsters, Inc. (2001) -- Oh yeah, about overrated family fare...
147 His Girl Friday (1940)
148 Die Hard (1988) -- Good lord, I heard there planning on another sequel.
149 Lost in Translation (2003)
150 Amores perros (2000)
151 Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1938) -- Put some swash in your buckle.
152 Grande illusion, La (1937) -- Has anyone outside of cinema buffs even seen this film?
153 Almost Famous (2000) -- Come on.
154 Spartacus (1960) -- Stanley Kubrick strikes again. Gosh, do you think Dalton Trumbo wore his beliefs on his sleeves?
155 Gold Rush, The (1925) -- Well, I dreamed I saw the knights in armor coming, saying something about a queen. Sorry, wrong media.
156 Charade (1963)
157 Life of Brian (1979) -- In retrospect its amazing that these guys generated so much quality work.
158 Conversation, The (1974) -- Coppola's made a number of good movies.
159 Gladiator (2000) -- What hype. Ben Hur is vastly better.
160 Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962) -- Didn't like the song much.
161 Festen (1998)
162 Magnolia (1999)
163 Being John Malkovich (1999) -- Very clever. Definitely the most imaginative of the movie-making Spikes.
164 Sling Blade (1996)
165 Toy Story (1995) -- Should be much, much higher.
166 Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
167 Insider, The (1999)
168 Smultronstället (1957)
169 Roman Holiday (1953) -- From a long time ago.
170 Bronenosets Potyomkin (1925) -- Hey, there are a few film school voters in the mix after all.
171 Brazil (1985) -- Strange movie, gets better each time I watch it.
172 Night at the Opera, A (1935) -- If only Hollywood had paid more attention to the correct Marx.
173 Day the Earth Stood Still, The (1951) -- Mayeb the can get Al Gore to play Klaatu in the remake.
174 All the President's Men (1976) -- Good movie that has so much damage Cops are frequently accused of watching TV and then trying to act like TV Cops. The same goes for Big media, in spades.
175 Streetcar Named Desire, A (1951) -- There just don't make manly leading men like they used to.
176 Mulholland Dr. (2001) -- Lesbianism always raises the ratings. Strange, isn't it.
177 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) -- Like, totally awesome.
178 Mystic River (2003)
179 Exorcist, The (1973) -- Should be much, much higher. William Friedkin's Sorcerer should also be on any list like this.
180 Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
181 Killing, The (1956) -- Everybody just loves Stanley Kubrick. I like him too, but I'm beginning to wonder about ballot stuffing.
182 To Be or Not to Be (1942)
183 Quatre cents coups, Les (1959) -- Finally, Francois Truffaut makes the list.
184 Ed Wood (1994) -- I enjoyed it, and I'm a big fan of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, but this movie doesn't belong here. I'd much rather see the Nightmare Before Christmas on this list.
185 Terminator, The (1984) -- Arnold finally makes an apperance.
186 Stand by Me (1986) -- Yawn.
187 Twelve Monkeys (1995) -- I like this movie a lot.
188 Trois couleurs: Rouge (1994) -- A member of perhaps the most boring trilogy in the history of film.
189 Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) -- Bloody marvelous.
190 Dog Day Afternoon (1975) -- Cool.
191 Adaptation (2002)
192 This Is Spinal Tap (1984) -- Seminal.
193 Harvey (1950) -- Hey, a Dowd I can appreciate.
194 Gandhi (1982) -- Probably should be higher.
195 Right Stuff, The (1983) -- Should be a little higher.
196 Trainspotting (1996) -- A little overrated. Nothing guarantees success in a list like this than a well done freak show.
197 Network (1976) -- Should be much, much higher. No one under 30 appreciates this.
198 Ying xiong (2002)
199 Miller's Crossing (1990) -- Those damn Coen brother are just too good.
200 Midnight Cowboy (1969) -- Come on people, get your head's out of your butts. This is easily top 20 material.
201 Lion in Winter, The (1968) -- The history's a little warped, and it probably works better as a play, but still pretty good.
202 Bonnie and Clyde (1967) -- Good flick. Perhaps started Hollywood's real love affair with and glamorization of violent criminals.
203 Groundhog Day (1993) -- I like it, but it's not this good. Maybe I'm wrong though. Check back tomorrow.
204 Rain Man (1988) -- Should be much higher.
205 Minority Report (2002) -- "I'm going to enjoy watching you die, Mr. Anderton." Sorry wrong movie.
206 Others, The (2001)
207 King Kong (1933) -- Well, only as a historical footnote.
208 8½ (1963) -- Holy crap. I was beginning to wonder if we'd ever get a Fellini entry. Now I'll hold my breath waiting for an entry by Vittorio De Sica.
209 Laura (1944)
210 Snatch. (2000) -- I like this film a lot more than it probably deserves.
211 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) -- This one too. Hmm, both movies by Guy Ritchie come in right next to each other. These two are enough to make me forgive him for Swept Away.
212 Stagecoach (1939) -- Hollywood westerns at their very best.
213 39 Steps, The (1935) -- Gosh, it's been a while since Hitchcock made an appearance.
214 Traffic (2000) -- Steven Soderburgh makes good movies, but not great ones. His choice of topics is so politically correct as to make his films more popular than they deserve.
215 Hotaru no haka (1988)
216 Untouchables, The (1987) -- Brian De Palma at his best.
217 Whale Rider (2002) 7.7/10 (4203 votes)
218 Strada, La (1954) -- Should be much, much higher.
219 Beauty and the Beast (1991) -- The first time a Disney animated film shows up on the list. Silly list.
220 Big Lebowski, The (1998) -- Those damnable Coen's again.
221 Henry V (1989) -- I like it!
222 Rio Bravo (1959) -- Another classic Hollywood Western.
223 In the Heat of the Night (1967) -- What in the hell ever happened to Sidney Poitier?
224 Thin Man, The (1934) -- A light snack.
225 Todo sobre mi madre (1999)
226 Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, La (1928) -- Oh yeah. You need to see this one.
227 Planet of the Apes (1968) -- What is it with Charlton Heston and end of the world scenarios?
228 Fantasia (1940) -- College. Enough said.
229 Good Will Hunting (1997)
230 Die xue shuang xiong (1989) 7.7/10 (6692 votes)
231 Being There (1979) -- Like an REM song, only better.
232 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) -- Ten years from now, I guarantee this won't be making any lists.
233 Beautiful Mind, A (2001) -- More math, less crazy would have interested me more. But then again, the people that make movies understand crazy a lot more than they will ever understand math.
234 Clerks. (1994)
235 Red River (1948) -- With the proliferation of cable, there are a lot of movies we saw as kids that our kids may never see, like this one.
236 Bride of Frankenstein (1935) -- Anybody else growing up in Chicago remember Svenghouly (sp) and Creature Features, live from Berwyn?
237 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
238 X2 (2003) -- Entertaining flick by the usual suspects.
239 MASH (1970) -- Should be much higher. There is also no better example of why TV sucks.
240 Road to Perdition (2002) -- Please.
241 Man Who Would Be King, The (1975) -- Should be higher. After all, how many times do you get to see anything by Rudyard Kipling?
242 Sleuth (1972) -- Better play than movie.
243 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) -- People have such short memories. Should be much higher.
244 Quiet Man, The (1952)
245 Heat (1995) -- Sometimes I wonder if the movies that show up like this just made it because they've been on Showtime or HBO in the past month.
246 JFK (1991) -- The fine art of winning friends and influencing people. Not.
247 Birds, The (1963) -- Predating The Byrds by a few years. Much better too. And so Alfred Hitchcock completely dominates this list.
248 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) -- I like this movie far much more than it probably deserves.
249 Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) -- It was a Spielberg/Lucas summer. Remember?
250 Sweet Hereafter, The (1997)

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2004

Bloody Anglophile

Have you ever wondered why someone saying, "Oh, it's a scythe," can get someone like me laughing until it hurts? Right. (Quite right.) If you don't feel like your getting everything here, but you can feel there is something in these posts that is too clever by half, something deep and funny struggling to get out but you can't quit put your finger on it, the answer is to go out and buy, rent, borrow, check out, or steal the complete collections of the following DVDs, or VHS tapes where DVDs may not be available -- though they may be PAL instead of NTSC. Tough noogies, get a multiscan VCR and TV like I have. Twice. But I digress.

Blackadder (Best. Comedy. Series. Ever.)
Fawlty Towers (If only there were more...)
Good Neighbors (Must see to appreciate the Felicity Kendall underwear line in The Young Ones.)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (The Ur-British comedy.)
A History of Britain with Simon Schama (God I wish I could write or talk like that.)
The Young Ones (Proof that there were drugs available in the UK in the early '80s -- much, much cleverer than generally thought though.)
Civilisation with Lord Clarke (Remember the thrill of learning new things?)
Sister Wendy's Story of Painting (Sui generis, and yes, I know she's South African.)
Sister Wendy's Grand Tour (Still sui generis.)
To the Manor Born (Just like Roger Daltrey, I can't explain.)
Have I Got News For You (Difficult to find, and now poor Angus is out on his backside. Definitely a step up for him from the Jumping Jews of Jerusalem, however.)
The Francis Urquhart trilogy (Good old F.U.)
The Inspector Tennyson series (Helen Mirren is da bomb.)
Rab C. Nesbitt (THE drunken Glaswegian.)

Please note that Mr. Bean, Are You Being Served, and Keeping Up Appearances are definitely not included. And I'm not going into Shakespeare or Roman epics where everyone speaks with a British accent, though they have their place as well in the catacombs of my quite possibly BSE infected brain.

Anyway, watch them all at least twice, get the books to memorize key parts and then reread the entire blog since its inception (including the old Blogspot site). Why? Well, if you have to explain the jokes, then they're just not funny. And it's clear from my lack of readership that not many people are getting the point. Either that, or I'm not nearly as smart and clever as I think. (Cue self pity.) Nah.

If anyone's interested, I can also go into the primary American sources for my irregular pseudo-Freudian free word association quasi-political observations leavened with crypto-pop culture references.

Or not.

Now, if you'll excuse me I've got a full case of beer and half a mind to drink it while I re-immerse myself in one of my pleaseures in life for a while.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:18 PM | Comments (1)

January 15, 2004


I just composed a long post about GoneOff.org, but it has mysteriously disappeared. I think I'll call John Ashcroft about this suppression of my assent.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:54 PM | Comments (3)

Butt Experts

Shadoobay, shattered, shattered:

The death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq is nearing 500 but experts said this had not shattered public support for the war even as critics question whether the lives were lost for a worthwhile cause.

Go ahead (Reuters), bite the big ...

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:23 PM | Comments (1)

Red Rover, Red Rover, Let Martians Come Over

Sorry, I couldn't resist:

Rover Spirit Rolls Onto Martian Surface

I wonder if NASA inquired as to product tie-ins with Land Rover to help offset the cost?

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

Apparently Iraqi's Aren't People

According to the Philadelphia Daily News:

FOR ALL the attention we spend on the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, this is the statistic that should really capture people's attention in Philadelphia: Last year, more people were killed in Philadelphia than in war-torn Iraq: 347 in the city vs. 327 in Iraq.

If they were to substitute "Americans" for "people" perhaps this might be true. Let's not minimize the loss of life of Iraqis, no matter how much better off they are now than they were one year ago today. One could also hope that the Philadelphia Daily news won't use the deaths of American's in Iraq to slam President Bush's policies, but I'd probably be happy if they don't slip into calling the thugs of Philadelphia "insurgents."

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)

About Those Free Speech Zones

A lot of folks got riled up about the Secret Service shielding President George W. Bush from protestors when he travels. I don't really have a problem with it conceptually. Nobody's preventing anything from being said, and frankly, any president's time doesn't need to be wasted on mind-numbing, rhyming slogans. Whether said president uses his time wisely is a separate matter.

Further to the "First Amendment" complaints some raised, some also pooh-poohed the risk to the president. Here's why I think the Secret Service has a valid concern:

Hundreds of people pushed past Secret Service barricades Thursday to protest President Bush's visit to the tomb of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on what would have been the civil rights leader's 75th birthday. There were no immediate reports of any arrests. The incident happened before the president arrived for the afternoon wreath-laying ceremony. Beating drums and chanting, "In 2004, Bush no more," about 300 people marched in circles near the tomb, saying the president's stop there was merely a "photo op." Some protesters held signs that displayed King's image and read, "War is not the answer."

While I doubt any of these protestors could have gotten very close to the president, part of protecting the president (or anybody, for that matter) is avoiding or defusing situations before they get out of control. Is it too hard to imagine a situation that would lead to a Rodney King-like videotape of the Secret Service beating black people at the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King, ostensibly to protect President George W. Bush? I'm just cynical enough to believe that someone could actively try to force such a confrontation. Let's face it, there are plenty enough folks that think Bush=Hitler, so I'm sure there are plenty willing to believe that Bush=Bull Conner as well.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

Gore Has a Betterer Idea

For most people, a light bulb is semiotically sufficient to indicate a sudden inspirational thought, but when Al gets started on global warming...

gore idea.jpg

Woe unto those downwind from the fallout of his brainstorms! Is that some kind of Angry Left gang sign Al is flashing with his left hand? Hmm... , I wasn't at the presentation today, but was Al proposing a nuclear winter to offset global warming? And, oh yeah, is it just me or does this picture remind anyone else of Dr. Strangelove?

gore strangelove.jpg

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:26 PM | Comments (1)

Quick Hits

Strange, but I haven't seen any hyperlinks in the blogosphere to Larry Sabato and his crystal ball in quite some time.

Even Carol Moseley Braun has a limit to how much of her life she will squander on a meaningless campaign.

Eventually, even the Deaniacs will learn that the Internet is only one weapon in your arsenal if you want to win the nomination. If you make the mistake of substituting it for your entire arsenal, you are going to have a very difficult time with the majority of people who, incidentally, are still not Internet users. Oh my bad, I forgot Howard's got Carol Moseley Braun and Jimmy Carter on his team now.

The Democrats seem to be headed towards a brokered convention, where I predict Bill Clinton will pick the nominee.

Never, ever, underestimate the desire of most people to just be in the choir where they can hear the preacher loud and clear.

As a head coach, Mike Martz is a pretty good offensive coordinator. In other news, the Bears get Lovie Smith as their head coach. Not their first choice, and maybe not their second. We'll have to wait and see.

Whatever happened to Mark Fidrych? Or Fran Drescher?

Mother, may I have one-tenth the wit of Jim Treacher? (Ed: Oh, but you do grasshopper, you do.)

Some of the criticism of President Bush's proposal to go to Mars really misses the point by a wide margin. Mars is not the destination, but merely another waystop on our journey to the stars. We have to learn to walk before we warp. And while NASA has earned much of the criticism it is taking, that's not an excuse for backing away from what is truly the final frontier. If NASA is broken, then to borrow a phrase used by others: mend it, don't end it. When space exploration reaches 3% annually of GDP, let me know. Until then, I don't think we are spending enough. Hmm... , would it make some critics who are complaining about going to Mars being another excuse for contractors to line up at the public trough happy if we could get to Mars without creating any jobs, despite their concurrent complaints about the current recovery not creating enough of them? I'm just asking?

Now If John Edwards would drop out I could title a post Hick Quits instead of Quick Hits.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)

January 13, 2004

Poster Boy

Robert Redford has produced a biopic celebrating Ché that is premiering at Bobby's little Sundance soiree for 5,000 of his closest friends. At least not everyone is completely taken in:

Movies often reshape public perceptions of history, much as time yellows the pages of history books. Likely to be overlooked in this instance is the fact that Guevara, when he was a little older than he appears in the movie, preached a gospel of violence and advocated a nuclear showdown with the United States during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.


Posted by Charles Austin at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

National (Not Re)Public(an) Radio)

I caught a few minutes of Morning Edition with Bob Edwards on the way to work today, and it never disappoints. Before I deal with their astounding puff piece on MoveOn.org, I want to note that it was preceeded by a piece on the Democratic contenders and how they are much more vicious towards each other in their e-mail and direct mail campaigns than they would ever be live with each other, in a debate for instance. To me, such behavior would seem to be just a variant of the "some people say" syndrome popular in Big Media these days, where the vilest unsupported accusations can be made against someone by "some people" without anyone having to step forward and take responsibility for putting the filth in the streets.

This point was made again big time this morning as NPR discussed the MoveOn.org contest that we've all read about lately. Morning Edition with Bob Edwards treated MoveOn.org almost as an independent middle-of-the-road, free-thinking institution, which was surprised that when they asked for entries for a campaign commercial to tell the truth about Bush, that every entry submitted was hostile to him. Imagine that! Morning Edition with Bob Edwards then proceeded to play snippets of three or four of the entries. While they all stopped a little short of Bush=Hitler, there was plenty of Bush the liar, Bush the despoiler of the environment, Bush the election thief, Bush the unilateral squanderer of internatioanl goodwill, et cetera ad nauseum. Now, of course, NPR would never actually say any of these things themselves about President Bush, but, well, you know, some people say...

Eventually, Morning Edition with Bob Edwards did get to the controversy over the Bush=Hitler ads, but amazingly enough, ... wait for it ..., MoveOn.org was the victim! No, really! The Bush=Hitler ads were submitted by people that MoveOn.org wasn't responsible for, and according to NPR and the MoveOn.org spokesman, the ads were removed as soon as they were noticed, but then the GOP and that nasty Drudge fellow somehow got them and exploited the ads to make MoveOn.org look really bad. Well, at least that's what some people say...

The attempts to mainline the fringe are in full tilt bozo operation over at NPR. Oh yeah, I don't recall any mention in their report of George Soros funding MoveOn.org to defeat President Bush either. Maybe it was there and I missed it since I was driving, but I think I would have noticed. Not that it mattered, since Diane Rehm had Mr. Soros on as her guest today. I don't know what others see or hear in Diane Rehm, but to me she's like a crazy aunt who lives in a cocooned little illiberal fantasy world, further publicizing what "some people say," surrounding herself with people whose views she finds comfortable, and pooh-poohing everyone who thinks differently than she. And if there was ever anyone who does not have a voice for radio, well, my goodness. She's got every right to have whomever she wants on as guests, to say whatever she wants, and to sound bad saying it, but please spare me the pretext that NPR and all their affiliates are anything but an extension of the the DNC and the Left, and increasingly the Angry Left which is chock full of people who will say just about anything.

I'm beginning to find this all to depressing to follow much longer.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2004

My Much Better Half

Late last year, the Sine Qua Non wife started working part time with the National Association for Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum. Just thought you might want to know.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

Speaking of Yoda...

Keep this in mind next time Howard or Wes want to turn over US sovereignty to the UN:

More than half of U.N. members have yet to report on their efforts to crack down on the al Qaeda network, as required by the Security Council in September 2001, a council diplomat said on Monday.

To date, just 93 of the United Nations' 191 member-states have filed reports with the Security Council committee charged with monitoring U.N. sanctions on al Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers, said Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, the committee's chairman.

Hell's bells, most of the world has trouble deciding if they are even with the UN, much less with the US in the War on Terrorism.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

Yoda Says...

"Do or do not. There is no try."

During more than a decade as Vermont governor, Howard Dean did not appoint any blacks or Hispanics to his Cabinet, but minority leaders say it was not for lack of trying in the nearly all-white state.

I concur with the many assessments I have read today that said Howard should have stood up to Al Sharpton instead of pandering to him. Nonetheless, this kind of post hoc attempt to explain away or mitigate his past behavior is just silly. On the other hand, if minority leaders say Dean tried (as hard as anything he ever tried to do in his life?) and failed, does that mean that Al Sharpton is no longer a minority leader?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

Third Way or Third Rail?

Don't get your knickers in a twist fellas:

New Labour allies of Tony Blair are becoming alarmed at the prospect of a Howard Dean US presidential candidacy, fearing it will create formidable tensions in the traditional transatlantic Democrat-Labour alliance.

How can irony be dead if Labour would rather see Bush reelected than Dean elected?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

What Arnold's Up Against

(No, not a pie chart.) Try to wrap your head around this piece of illiberal utopian statism:

Senate President Pro Tem John Burton promised Monday to fight the governor's new budget plan, arguing it provides a big tax break to car owners paid for by service cuts to the poor and disabled.

You see, it's not your money that the state taxes to fund programs, no matter how worthy or unworthy -- it is the state's money that you are withholding from the poor and disabled every time you don't acquiesce to another rise in your taxes, you cheeky bastards.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Arnold Rises to the Occasion

Michele has the best unintentionally humorous photo I've seen in quite some time. Stop on by and enter your own caption. Michele thinks I may need an intevention due to the number of captions I've left. Apparently, she hasn't been by Dodd's (weekly) Caption of the Day Contest for quite some time.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

Viva Mexico!

The arguments for and against President Bush's immigration proposals are all over the map, so to speak. Frankly, they bore me, as both sides seem to lean towards their own completely unrealistic solutions. The "Right" fringe wants to close the borders and throw all the non-citizens out. The "Left" fringe wants some sort of utopia that effectively would do away with borders or any concept of citizenship requirements. Neither is practical or possible.

Personally, while I would lean towards a principled law and order solution, the simple fact of the matter is that there is not now, nor is there ever likely to be, the political will to round up 7-9 million people, deport them, and then monitor the borders closely enough to keep them out. And that's not even considering the potential destabilizing impact to Mexico if we actually tried to do it, which strongly argues against doing anything rash. I have no sympathy for the businesses, agribusinesses and other pampered folks who depend on cheap, undocumented workers to do tasks they may now have to pay a fair wage to get done.

But I do have a modest proposal that would make almost all of the current arguments moot. Let's incorporate Mexico into the United States. Since Mexico has a little more than 1/3 the population of the US, but a little less than 1/4 the area, lets compromise and turn it into 15 states, number 51 though 65. Before you close your mind completely to this, look at the advantages.

1. The whole argument about illegal aliens disappears for about 95% of all immigrants in this country today.

2. The biggest part of the INS can be redirected towards real immigration and terrorism problems.

3. The length of the land border we would have to protect shrinks from about 2,000 miles down to less than 500 (Mexico's border with Guatemala and Belize).

4. It would be a great positive for many, many Mexicans, raising their standard of living very quickly, with labor and environmental laws in the US applied broadly across "the border."

5. Complaints about losing jobs to foreigners because of unfair labor laws and bad environmental practices as a result of NAFTA can be done away with.

6. As part of the USA, the mass migration of the unemployed to El Norte would probably diminish considerably.

7. We can drop the huge amounts of hypocricy that currently dominate any rational discussion of the problems and their solutions.

8. We'll get to see a sort of transnational progressivism implemented according to the rule of law, maintaining the values we cherish, instead of having it imposed on us by illiberal utopian statists.

9. We'll get a few more days off each year, starting with Cinco de Mayo.

10. We can deal with Canada in about 15 years if we can make it work with Mexico.

I'm sure there are some negative aspects of such a bold move, but remember, we have absorbed a predominantly Spanish-speaking independent country before, and I don't think Texas worked out all that badly.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:16 PM | Comments (3)

January 11, 2004

Bullies Always Pick on the Smaller Kids

If there is anything that gives me confidence in thinking that political correctness is an abomination, it is the way the Boy Scouts have been treated for not allowing gay and atheist Scout Leaders:

If the Boy Scouts leaves its Balboa Park site after nearly 60 years, it's a safe bet the city will be bombarded by requests from groups eager to lease the cultivated campground.

But for now, no one is publicly declaring intentions for the wooded property.

On Thursday, the city of San Diego announced it has agreed to cancel its lease with the Boy Scouts for Camp Balboa. The move likely will extend the legal battle over the site for years, so any new suitors are bound to have a long wait.

At the heart of the matter is a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union saying the city cannot lease the land to a group that discriminates against homosexuals and those who do not believe in God.

When your politics dictate making the Boy Scouts a pariah, may I suggest you need to reexamine your assumptions. I don't think being a card-carrying libertarian should force me to have to choose between acknowledging gay rights and having to destroy the Boy Scouts.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:15 PM | Comments (1)

Civics 102

Who knew the Secretary of the Treasury was such a key man on non-financial matters in the White House? If Paul O'Neill as Secretary of the Treasury was so central to all the intelligence and planning for the War on Terrorism and the liberation of Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, would that mean that it was really the fault of former Secretary of the Treasury Bob Rubin instead of former President Bill Clinton for the repeated failures to nab Osama bin Laden and prevent the terrorist attacks on 9/11 or to follow through on the Clinton administration's policy of regime change in Iraq?

If I remember correctly, Paul O'Neill lost his job as Secretary of the Treasury because he wasn't doing a good job and he opposed the President George W. Bush's tax cuts. If Paul O'Neill is to be believed and taken at face value, would this imply that Bill Hobbs can now also blame the liberation of Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, the decision by Libya to give up WMDs, and the thawing of relations between Pakistan and India -- as well as the booming economy -- on the Bush tax cuts? Personally, I think Paul O'Neill is just mad because Bono will no longer return his phone calls.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2004


I don't particularly pay much attention to whatever the polls say today. As Howard Dean is learning in Iowa, it only matters how you do at the end of the race. But with defections like Ed Koch today, the handwriting is on the wall. I'm not saying its going to be a landslide because Ed Koch jumped ship, but because of the reasons Ed Koch enumerates for jumping ship. The juvenile displays of anger are not convincing and they will not compensate for the vast majority or middle America that wants to fight the War on Terrorism, instead of asking the rest of the world to talk about it some more -- if that's ok with France, Germany, and all the tyrants at the UN, of course.

I'm still trying to decide whether a Senate with 60 Republicans is a good thing or not. I think 58 would be very good, but 60 does give me a little pause.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:57 PM | Comments (1)

Meanwhile In Ohio...

I suppose I could take editorials like this from the Akron Beacon Journal:

By the middle of April, the person sitting next to you at McDonald's or walking past you on the sidewalk could be carrying a hidden, loaded gun -- and it would be perfectly legal.

...somewhat more easily if the editors of illiberal utopian statist newspapers could work up as much passion for the fact that today, the person sitting next to you at McDonald's or walking past you on the sidewalk could be carrying a hidden, loaded gun -- and there's not a damn thing you can legally do but be their next victim if that's what they decide.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:50 PM | Comments (1)

As Lyle Lovett Once Sang...

Oh Lord, I go for penguins.

And for you fans of red hair from the masculine side, there's a picture here that looks far too much like me for comfort.

But what this is really all about:

One Bash to rule them all
One Bash to find them
One Bash to bring them all
And in the blog'sphere bind them
In the land of Kirkwood where the bloggers lie
In the land of Kirkwood where the bloggers lie

Yes, that's right, it's time for another Greater Kirkwood gathering, otherwise known as the MidWest BlogBash. I've lost track of how many that is now. Tentatively, I select February 7 at a site to be determined.

Make your reservations now. I'll alert the usual suspects by e-mail soon.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:27 PM | Comments (2)

Deaf, Dumb, and Blind

And yet, somehow, President George W. Bush still manages to keep outsmarting them and getting just about everything he wants:

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill likened President Bush at Cabinet meetings to "a blind man in a room full of deaf people," according to excerpts on Friday from a CBS interview.

Every time the Angry Left gets their rock to the top of the hill, it just rolls back down again. Who knew Sisyphus was a Democrat?

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Magic Wand Award Goes To...

General Wesley Clark!

"If I'm president of the United States, I'm going to take care of the American people," Clark said in a meeting with the Monitor editorial board. "We are not going to have one of these incidents."

Clark, a retired Army general, envisioned a future in which Americans "have more confidence in ourselves as a people." He continued: "Nothing is going to hurt this country - not bioweapons, not a nuclear weapon, not a terrorist strike - there is nothing that can hurt us if we stay united and move together and have a vision for moving to the future the right way."

magic wand.jpg magic wand.jpg magic wand.jpg magic wand.jpg

This earns a rousing four magic wands to inaugurate what will be a recurring theme on this blog, wherein we will recognize, ridicule and reward statements that can only be accomplished with PFM!

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:38 PM | Comments (3)

To Infinity, and Beyond!

To those without a visceral reaction to his very existence, President George W. Bush continues to surprise:

President Bush is said to be on the verge of announcing plans to build a permanent science base for men on the moon that could serve as a stepping stone for sending astronauts ultimately on to Mars.

Of course, since it is President Bush, we must have an opposing viewpoint:

"The cost of a manned enclave on the moon, I think, is going to make the space station look cheap. That's the only good thing about it," said Stanford University's Douglas Osheroff.

Yes, of course. That will be the only thing good about it. The incredibly vast number of spinoffs and improvement to our lives that were generated with the last major space effort can never happen again. At least, not if it makes President George W. Bush look good. Admittedly, I do wonder where the money is going to come from, but the recurring false dichotomy that we must either have only manned or unmanned missions seems a bit silly. The naysayers also seem to fall prey to a utopianism that requires we be able to run before we can walk.

I'm kind of looking forward to the next State of the Union Address. How about you?

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:28 PM | Comments (1)

January 08, 2004

Pete Rose

For a moment, I'll pretend that I still care about Major League Baseball, so bear with me.

In my opinion, Pete Rose should never be allowed back into baseball and certainly not into the Hall of Fame. He is a disgrace, and he broke the single most important rule there is to protect the integrity of the game. And then he lied about it interminably, well for fifteen years anyway, impugning the reputation of Bart Giamatti and Fay Vincent. For all we know, he may still be lying about the extent of his gambling on baseball.

I hereby propose that since Pete Rose now admits that he lied openly and repeatedly about gambling on baseball for fifteen years, that we table all further discussion of this bum for another fifteen years. Then the proponents of letting Pete the Baseball Gambler and Unusually Bad Liar Rose back into baseball can make their arguments once again. Until then, they should just piss off and accept that this rather late partial admission doesn't begin to undo the damage this bum has done.

Bill James wrote once about his feelings about letting Joe Jackson in to the Hall of Fame which you've already read if you were a real fan. I feel the same way about Pete Rose.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)

Howard's a Deep Linker

There has been some discussion before about bloggers being deep thinkers or deep linkers. We know Howard Dean has a blog. Therefore, Howard Dean is either a deep thinker or a deep linker. I offer the following as evidence that Howard Dean is a deep linker:

"The overwhelming evidence is that there is very significant, substantial genetic component to it," Dean said in an interview Wednesday. "From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."

And thus, Howard Dean simply resolves the dispute between the competing theological conundrums of determinism and free will. But didn't God create all the angels as well, including Lucifer? Hmm..., since Satan's gay -- according to Matt and Trey -- I guess that's ok. Wow, this philosophy and theology stuff is pretty easy when you think about it for just a few seconds.

Perhaps next week, Howard will let us know why pedophilia practicing priests shouldn't be considered sinful since God created them as well.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:21 PM | Comments (2)

Banging on the Plots and Plans

Sometimes, Matt Drudge is accused of sensationalism. Take today's headline for instance:


Mr. Drudge could have used plans, weighs, or contemplates for a verb instead of plots, which carries so many other connotations. Then again, I suppose he could have used schemes, conspires, or connives as well.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2004

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

No, no, no, not of the latest scare mongering by watermelons posing as scientists:

Climate Change May Threaten More Than One Million Species With Extinction

What's really scary is that they may be right about the loss of biodiversity, but entirely wrong about what will have caused it. Destroying the engine of technology in the West and condemning the third world to endless poverty is much more likely to cause the loss of habitat for all these threatened species than the overblown, completely unproven threat of global warming caused by greenhouse gases emitted by first and second world countries.


Posted by Charles Austin at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

I Want My CourtTV!

Look at them yo-yos:

Cable TV made a West Bend man addicted to TV, caused his wife to be overweight and his kids to be lazy, he says. And he’s threatening to sue the cable company. Timothy Dumouchel of West Bend wants $5,000 or three computers, and a lifetime supply of free Internet service from Charter Communications to settle what he says will be a small claims suit. Dumouchel blames Charter for his TV addiction, his wife’s 50-pound weight gain and his children’s being “lazy channel surfers,” according to a Fond du Lac police report.

If everybody had a remote
Across the USA
Everbody'd be surfin
Doin' it the Tivo way

According to the report, Dumouchel told Charter employees he plans to sue because his cable connection remained intact four years after he tried to get it canceled. The result was that he and his family got free cable from August of 1999 to Dec. 23, 2003.

Cable for nothin' and your chicks for free. Oh, that ain't workin.

“I believe that the reason I smoke and drink every day and my wife is overweight is because we watched TV every day for the last four years,” Dumouchel stated in a written complaint against the company, included in a Fond du Lac police report.

I'm sure we can come up with another plausible cause for each of these afflictions if we just try hard enough. For instance, maybe the Patriot Act had them afraid to leave the house.

“But the reason I am suing Charter is they did not let me make a decision as to what was best for myself and my family and (they have been) keeping cable (coming) into my home for four years after I asked them to turn it off.”

I guess taking five seconds to manually disconnect the physical cable never occured to him. Perhaps Dennis Kucinich is right about the mind control satellites.


Posted by Charles Austin at 06:58 PM | Comments (3)

With Friends Like These...

Arianna Huffington argues Howard Dean is electable

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:37 PM | Comments (1)

"Judy, Judy, Judy"

Are you partial to Cary Grant or George Lindsey? Either way, she'll be a scarce commodity on the campaign trail:

Dean said his wife, Judy, will do television interviews and possibly appear in a campaign commercial. But if he wins the nomination, her life will remain focused on her medical career and caring for their teenage son still living at home, he said.

Judy Dean, 50, is a doctor with a full-time practice in their hometown of Burlington, Vt., where she is known professionally as Judy Steinberg. Dean said she would practice medicine in Washington if he won the presidency.

"We support each other's goals in life. Her goal is to be a good doctor and a good mom. I think that's a pretty good goal and I support that," Dean told reporters from several media outlets on his campaign bus Tuesday night.

"I do not intend to drag her around because I think I need her as a prop on the campaign trail," he added.

Well, I should hope not. That's what Al Gore is best used for. Say, do you think Al is angling for the VP slot again? Hmm..., but there is one thing Howard seems more than his usual naive self about:

Dean said his two children -- Paul, 17, and Anne, 19 -- will be "out of bounds" as he pursues the presidency.

Good luck. I mean that sincerely. I hope that Ms. Steinberg and their children don't have their lives disrupted and overanalyed by Big Media. After all, it's not like Ms. Steinberg has offered herself up as a co-president or suggested that we'll be getting two for one if Howard Dean should win. But whatever else may happen, we should all do whatever we can to help make sure that all of their lives are not completely disrupted for at least four years by Big Media and the Secret Service.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

Guilty Pleasures

It warms the cockles of my heart to know how much time others have wasted reading my blog when all they really wanted to know was what "sine qua non" means in English.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

Meanwhile, Back at Kerry Campaign Headquarters...

"How can we distinguish our guy from all the other candidates?" asks one staffer.

"I know," said another, "have JFK wear brown shoes with a dark suit."

Brown Shoes.jpg

Works everytime. But where's Snow White? After all, Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, Sneezy, Happy, Bashful and Doc are all here.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:19 PM | Comments (1)

But What About Their Self Esteem?

This opinion piece by Neal Starkman has the worst use of the letter "S" since, "Look at that 'S' car go!" in Trading Places. I have a few thoughts about Mr. Starkman's rather vacuous ideas I haven't seen expressed elsewhere in the blogosphere, but in an attempt to set a good example for Howard Dean, I'll demonstrate the virtue of an unexpressed thought. No further need for me to pile on at this point. I will merely content myself with the schadenfreude of knowing how miserable poor Neal must be knowing that he is ruled by his inferiors.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2004

Tony, Tony, Tony

Tony Blair has my undying respect and thanks for seeing what needed to be done clearly and having the courage to follow through on it. That doesn't mean I won't criticize him when he does something stupid:

Tony Blair has set a target of 2007 to take Britain into the euro, and wants the Government to agree to a public pledge to secure membership by that date.

Selling England by the Pound just won't make sense any more.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

Diplomacy Kills!

I heard a few minutes of a repeat of Talk of the Nation driving home from work this evening as they were engaged in the pros and cons of diplomacy vice force in bringing Libya around to the realm of the moderately sane. I wish I could have called them, because this is a false dichotomy. Diplomacy and force are all part of the same spectrum of tools the government has to get what it wants, whether it be something as ephemeral as the difficult to measure safety of its citizens or as concrete as trade consessions. Read your Clausewitz for cripe's sake, Mr. Conan.

Their arguments were also quite tendentious about diplomacy having brought Libya around. After all, the deposing of Saddam Hussein certainly played a role and as I understand it, although discussions had been going on for a while, it was only when a shipment of centrifuges was intercepected on its way to Libya that the tipping point was reached and Qaddafi decided the gig was up. That was not a success driven primarily by diplomacy, but by force. At best, it was a combination of force and diplomacy that reminds one of Wild Bill Hickock's aphorism that a kind word and a gun go further than a kind word alone.

And another thing while I'm on a roll here, aren't sanctions part of the arsenal of diplomacy vice the, um ... arsenal of force? How many times did we have to read about sanctions killing 500,000 Iraqi children? I personally never bought this number, though I am willing to concede that some number of Iraqi children greater than 0 probably did die because of sanctions. We won't ever know how many it really was since there is no reliable way to ever measure it, but I am certain that whatever the actual number of Iraqi chidren killed by sanctions was, far fewer Iraqi children were killed by the US liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's clutches. And that's not even counting the dissolution of the children's prisons. So, couldn't it be argued that the use of force in this cause was actually far more humane than the use of diplomacy, at least when it comes to which caused the death of more Iraqi children?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

Woo Hoo!

I came in third in Wizbang's caption contest. So far, that's got me one hit according to the referrer logs!

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Fool Me Once, Shame On You

Fool me twice, ...

North Korea offered Tuesday to refrain from producing nuclear weapons as a "bold concession" to rekindle talks over its arms programs.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "Do not trust, and verify."

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2004

Just Freakin' Great

Two Bush is Hitler ads and we're still 10 months from the election. Where do we go from here?

Funny, in a non-funny pathetic sort of way, but the Democrats running for President haven't exactly knocked each other over racing to the microphones to denounce this garbage. It's not as though they are willing to do anything to win, is it?

What comes to mind is Elvis Costello singing a slightly modified version of Two Little Hitlers:

Why are we racing to be so cold?
They're up late pacing the floor
They won't be told
Soros has Deaniacs
All bought and sold
Can't face the music
Can't face the facts
Even when they walk in rolled-up sleeves and chequer slacks

Bowing and squawking
Running after titbits
Bobbing and squinting
Just like a nitwit

Two Bush is Hitler ads fight it out until
One Bush is Hitler ad's selected most shrill
They will return
They will not learn

Down in the basement

They need their head examined
They need their eyes excited
They'd like to join the party
But they were not invited
Dean makes a member of them
They'll be delighted

I wouldn't cry for lost souls
You might drown
Dirty words for dirty minds
Written in a toilet town

Trippi's their Valentine
He's a smooth operator
It's all so calculated
He's got a calculator
MoveOn's their touch typewriter
Bush is the great dictator

Two Bush is Hitler ads fight it out until
One Bush is Hitler ad's selected most shrill
They will return
They will not learn

A simple lack of self-respect
They flick a switch and the world goes off
Nobody jumps as they expect
I would have thought they would have had enough by now

They call selective dating
For some effective mating
They thought they'd let you down, dear
But you were just deflating

They knew right from the start
They'd end up hating
Pictures of the merchandise
Plastered on the wall
They can look so long as we don't have to think at all

They say you'll never know him
He's an unnatural man
He doesn't want your pleasure
He wants as no one can
He wants to know the names of
All those he's better than

Two Bush is Hitler ads fight it out until
One Bush is Hitler ad's selected most shrill
They will return
They will not learn

They will return
They will not learn
(repeats ads ad nauseum)

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

If Howard Dean Doesn't Get the Democratic Nomination...

Would he accept the VP slot?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:06 PM | Comments (2)

Tomorrow's Fish and Chip Paper

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch lead editorial today is titled IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION Gas gouging:

THE PENTAGON announced last week that it had fired the Halliburton Co. as the gasoline supplier for Iraq's civilian population. Furthermore, Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood said the action had nothing - nothing at all - to do with allegations the firm had been price gouging.

Perhaps, perhaps not. But somehow, it seems the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has already made up its mind.

Mr. Flood insisted that decision had been under consideration for months. Halliburton, under contract to the Army Corps of Engineers, has been importing daily 2 million gallons of gasoline, fuel oil and benzene for Iraq's internal needs. Meanwhile, the Defense Energy Support Center was managing fuel supplies for U.S. troops in Iraq. For efficiency's sake, the Pentagon decided to combine both operations, Mr. Flood said.

Sounds plausible, but it's fair to ask the question and investigate.

Some people are skeptical.

"Some people" should be avoided by any self-respecting news organization since some people can be found that believe just about anything. Or is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch implying that they are the ones who are skeptical?

They've got some pretty good reasons, because:

A detailed investigation was performed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that found evidence of accounting irregularities?

Auditors discovered in early December that Halliburton was charging $2.27 a gallon to deliver gasoline from Kuwait, while gasoline from Turkey was selling for $1.18;

A fact, though perhaps some additional qualifying information seems to be missing. Perhaps there are significant differences between importing gas from Kuwait and importing gas from Turkey. Who knows? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch won't tell us.

Halliburton was seeking $61 million in excess charges under its no-bid contract;

Is this another isolated fact or is it related to the last one? Who knows? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch won't tell us.

Vice President Dick Cheney used to be Halliburton's chairman; and,

Aha! That obviously means that here must be corruption here because, well ..., um ..., who knows? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch won't tell us.

The issue had become a major political embarrassment for President George W. Bush.

Or, at least, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch would like us to believe it is a major political embarrassment for President George W. Bush. Otherwise, the amount of time and column inches devoted to it might prove to be an embarrassment for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The weird thing about all of this is that Halliburton, for all the lousy publicity it has gotten out of its dealings in Iraq, may actually have clean hands on this deal.

Huh? Halliburton may be innocent, despite the implication that the Pentagon and its spokesman Mr. Flood are lying or at least spinning? Halliburton may be innocent, despite a headline of "IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION Gas gouging?" Halliburton may be innocent, despite the skepticism of "some people?" Halliburton may be innocent, despite Halliburton's request for excess charges which may have been justified on it's "no-bid contract?" Halliburton may be innocent, despite the fact that Vice-President Cheney formerly actually led Halliburton? Halliburton may be innocent, despite a strong insinuation that this is a major embarrassment for the President? How can this be?

The company insists that it was ordered to buy the expensive Kuwaiti gasoline by the Corps. The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait pressured the Corps and Halliburton to do business with the Kuwaiti firm Altanmia Commercial Marketing Co. Altanmia had no oil industry experience, but does have extensive ties to Kuwaiti government officials.

But ..., but ..., it was Halliburton, formerly led by Vice President Cheney. That's all that matters, isn't it?

So it may come down to this: The government of Kuwait, rescued by the United States after Saddam Hussein seized its oil fields in 1991, may now be repaying the favor by charging the United States as much as $2.65 a gallon for oil from those fields. And Mr. Bush's State Department may be complicit in gouging Mr. Bush's Defense Department.

Bastards. So, why doesn't the St. Louis Post-Dispatch take a strong position against Kuwait or the United States State Department instead of dropping snide allegations and insinuations against Halliburton, Vice President Cheney, and President Bush? Hmmm? I guess that might embarrass Secretary Powell, and we can't have that now, can we?

Meanwhile Mr. Bush's vice president is saying he knows nothing about all of this, Mr. Bush's Democratic critics are chortling and Mr. Bush himself says he'll make Halliburton pay back any excess profits, if there are any, but he's not sure.

Maybe Vice President Cheney said that because he has the habit of telling the truth. Why is it so hard for the learned scribes at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to grasp that Vice President Cheney no longer runs the business of Halliburton? But, of course, chortling about the President's misfortune would seem to be what's important here. As to whether the President is sure or not about whether there were any excess profits, it may come as a surprise to the editorial board of the only newspaper in the 24th largest city in the US, but President Bush rightly would not track the accounting of charges on a contract let by the Pentagon. There are rules, laws, policies, and procedures for doing this, and none of them involve having the President audit the books. Perhaps Ellen Soeteber tracks the number of paper clips each employee uses at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. At least that would explain the relatively paucity of thought that went into this lead editorial.

Kind of makes you wonder who's in charge.

If there are problems, I'm certain that DCAA will investigate and find them. What DCAA won't do is throw groundless accusations around so casually.

Halliburton's subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, has been paid about $800 million to import gasoline, part of a larger, open-ended, no-bid contract it received to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure. The nice thing about all of this, from the U.S. taxpayer's point of view, is that Iraq is paying for its own gasoline out of seized assets and the sale of crude oil.

Oooo, a couple of facts! How did they get in here?

The bad thing about it is that trucking gasoline across Iraq is dangerous.

Shocking! But what does that have to do with any of the bulletized "arguments" for skepticism about Halliburton offered above?

U.S. troops are spending a great deal of time guarding gasoline shipments and mollifying hostile Iraqis who must wait in lines as long as 10 hours to buy gasoline.

Wow, it must be dangerous and risky to import the gasoline from Kuwait. When the risk rises, so does the cost. Having your employees killed is a pretty good indicator of a higher risk.

All of this in a country that floats atop the world's second largest reserve of crude oil.

The key words here are "reserve" and "crude." Getting the oil out of the ground and refining it are extremely difficult right now when the infrastructure in Iraq has been neglected and sabotaged. Unless the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is ready to provide everyone in Iraq with a spigot to this sea of oil and vehicles and engines that will burn crude oil, this is nothing but a mindless utopian complaint.

No wonder they're hostile.

So that's why the Iraqi's are hostile! But if only the St. Louis Post-Dispatch would spend one-tenth the effort trying to help educate the Iraqi's as to why there are gasoline shortages and the great lengths the US is going to to try and alleviate them, instead of casually assuming that the US is always the bad guy and Bush and Cheney and Halliburton are corrupt -- for no apparent reason other than they are Bush and Cheney and Halliburton -- then maybe the level of violence could decrease to the point where the oil wells and refineries could begin functioning again.

After reading this lead editorial, some people could be forgiven for thinking that the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is nothing but a bunch of partisan hacks who are more interested in slander and innuendo than trying to give its readers some perspective on complicated, nuanced news stories.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:01 PM | Comments (1)

January 02, 2004

At The Movies

Over the last week, I saw The Return of the King twice and The Last Samurai once. Before I get into the reviews proper, I have one question for all our pomo friends out there. Why is it that some reviewers detest what they see as simplistic characterizations of good and evil in, say, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and yet seem to be completely oblivious to the ridiculously simple characterizations that pit the noble savage against the decadent and corrupt West in movies such as The Last Samurai and Dances With Wolves? In each of these movies the noble savage, whether it be Japanese Samurai in the former movie or Native Americans in the latter movie, embody Rousseau's ideal of the untainted, pristine primitive who is at one with nature and at peace with his brothers, while everyone -- and I mean, everyone -- associated with the West is crude and completely corrupt by comparison. But it doesn't stop there, as there are two more aspects of this proselytization of Jean Jacque Rousseau that are even more pernicious. First of all, any of the noble savages that dare try and engage with the West (Omura in The Last Samurai and the scouts in Dances With Wolves) are themselves corrupted and so plainly wicked as to be obscene in the sense of having no socially redeeming value. And what's worse, the heroes of each film (Captain Algren in The Last Samurai and Lieutenant Dunbar in Dances With Wolves) achieve redemption only by their abandonment of Western values and technology and acceptance of non-Western ways. Could it be that simplistic views and characterizations of good and evil are only alright when the West is depicted as evil? That's a rhetorical question, incidentally.

Anyway, I'll save the best for last and treat with The Last Samurai first. As some of you may remember, I have recently been to Japan, but that's not my only connection or interest with this film. My father-in-law was stationed in Japan while he was in the Army. He learned a bit of the language and traveled about Japan in the mid-1950s in areas where he was virtually the only white man some of the villagers had ever seen. He became so enamored of the culture that he married a Japanese woman and brought her back to the US. My mother-in-law is working on her memoirs which includes her experiences just outside Tokyo during the war and its aftermath (she was 20 when it ended). My mother-in-law has something of a simplistic view of the nature of WW II and Japan's actions before and during the war that led to what have to be considered harsh, though IMHO justified, measures against Japan by the United States. I can understand her myopia and her distaste of war based upon her experiences, but such historical revisionism from others who really ought to know better is still highly offensive. While I'm on this point, I'll also note that my maternal grandfather was a Petty Officer on the USS Ocklawaha in the South Pacific in WW II. But I digress.

My father-in-law (and my brother-in-law) and I went to see The Last Samurai. As other reviewers have noted, it is a slightly shorter version of Dances With Wolves shifted about 12 hours to the east across the international dateline. Despondent, disillusioned Civil War veteran gets thrust into an exotic situtation with exotic people and exotic customs in exotic surroundings where he experiences an epiphany of -- dare I say it -- enlightenment by seeking the way of the warrior, or bushido in this case. In addition to my anti-Rousseau comments above, I also found it fascinating that Captain Algren could learn a fair bit of Japanese and become proficient in samurai swordplay in a few winter months while recovering from his acute alcoholism and a number of rather serious injuries. I suppose it could happen if he had a strong, innate linguistic capability and if he could build upon his experience with a saber as a cavalry officer. There must be something good to say about Western Civilization if it can produce so many men capable of fitting in so rapidly in a foreign culture, compared to, say, dropping your above average samurai off in Dayton, Ohio, in 1875 and seeing how well he would fare. But why the Japanese samurai would ever come to accept Captain Algren so readily, or how he managed to defeat five armed, "bad" samurai after they had surrounded him unarmed on the streets of Tokyo, or why the Japanese court would allow him to approach the Emperor Meiji with a katana defies even my suspended disbelief. Taking another whack at it, I read a story in the Asahi Shimbun while I was in Tokyo that wondered why the Japanese should think favorably of a movie that advocated and promoted bushido when it had been such a pernicious influence in the past. All in all, a visually pleasant movie with a simplistic, wholly ludicrous plot that made it difficult for me or my father-in-law to enjoy. Wait for the DVD.

The Return of the King. Stunning. Really. Sure there are little nits to pick here and there, but overall, I'd have to say that Peter Jackson's trilogy was as faithful an interpretation as we can ever hope to see of J.R.R. Tolkein's book, though I cannot imagine seeing this instant classic remade in my lifetime. I can't wait for the DVD to come out. And then the Extended Version of the DVD. And then some repackaging of all three movies into some huge boxed set. I have no idea if it will win the Academy Award for Best Picture, but right now, I'd say it's the best film series ever, clearly ahead of Star Wars, the Bond Pictures, the Godfather trilogy, etc. If it doesn't win Best Picture, I expect Peter Jackson will get some special award a couple years hence. He may get that anyway. All in all, see it on the big screen. Twice.

One minor note about the movies -- and the book for that matter. J.R.R. Tolkein was a conservative in many ways, including the idea of kings and rulers being born into power, while all the little people were there to follow and accept their place in the natural order of things. Naturally, my libertarian leanings find this a little distasteful and it has always stuck with me, even as I appreciate the skill, wisdom, intelligence, imagination, and consummate storytelling skills of J.R.R. Tolkein. It in no way lessens my enjoyment of everything about the Lord of the Rings, but it does keep me from drawing too many conclusions or parallels from it to the world situation today.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:38 PM | Comments (3)

How-weird Can It Get?

Now, Howard Dean says that maybe deposing Saddam wasn't a good thing after all:

Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean on Friday cited the higher terror alert and the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq in arguing that he was right to say Saddam Hussein's capture didn't make America safer.

Political rhetoric is one thing, but this is downright delusional.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:20 PM | Comments (1)

Cold Comfort

Am I supposed to be comforted by this thought?

ElBaradei indicated that his "gut feeling" was Libya was about three to seven years away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.

Only three to seven years before a true lunatic acquired a nuclear device! And according to Mr. ElBaradei, Libya wasn't really trying all that hard:

"From the look of it, they were not close to a weapon, but we need to go and see it and discuss the details with them. We need to understand a lot of what was going on. We expect they will show us everything relevant to the [nuclear] programme. Whether they succeeded to a weapons programme, we will have to see, but as far as I was told they have only a rudimentary programme."

You just have to admire the tenacity of a nuclear arms inspector who forms his judgments on what he is told by those who only admit to cheating when they have been caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar:

Nearly three months after the successful operation, the Bush administration confirmed on Wednesday interception of an illegal shipment of thousands of parts of uranium-enrichment equipment bound for Libya. The seizure in early October sealed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's decision to dismantle his nuclear weapons program, a U.S. official said on the condition of anonymity.

Then again, it's not as though the UN had anything to do with Libya's decision to act moderately rational:

Britain's Defense Minister says Libya's pledge to give up its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs resulted at least partly from U.S. and British military action in Iraq. In an interview Sunday with Sky News, Geoffrey Hoon said Libya's decision shows that the "policy of engagement" and dialogue favored by British Prime Minister Tony Blair can work. But he said that policy has to be backed by the threat or use of force to be successful. Mr. Hoon said he does not think Libya's decision can be separated from the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last March. He said the use of force in Iraq showed that the United States and Britain "mean business" when it comes to weapons issues. He said he hopes Libya and other countries have learned that lesson.

For those of you on the Angry Left that refuse to take the word of the Bushitler warmongers, perhaps you'll accept it from Muammar himself:

"I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid."

But you have to admire the Captain Renault-like faux innocence of the lead inspector:

ElBaradei said he already has gathered good information about where Libya bought supplies for its nuclear program. He said most countries from which materials came did not know about the black market sales, which he called "a big loophole" in export controls. "It's an eye opener to see how much material has been going from one country to the other, the extent of the black market network," he said.

Fortunately, there are still adults in charge here in the US, and in the UK and Australia (and in other places as well), that see the world for what it is without the pink-hued hinderance of illiberal utopian statist glasses. As Ronald Reagan said about the prouncements of good intentions by the enemy in his day, "Trust, but verify," and we shall have to do so now to keep the mongrels of the world on a very short leash as Ion Mihai Pacepa notes:

We need to keep a close eye on Khaddafi. I knew him as a liar and a master of deceit-as were all the dictators I dealt with. Soon after my defection, Khaddafi announced that he had destroyed Libya's facilities for producing chemical weapons that I had helped him build, and had just compromised to the U.S. In reality, Khaddafi staged a fire at the Rabta chemical complex, creating a cloud of black smoke by burning truckloads of tires and painting scorch marks on the buildings. He then built a second chemical-weapons facility hidden 100-feet underground in the hollowed-out Tarhunah Mountain, south of Tripoli. In 1992, the Central Intelligence Agency estimated that Libya had produced 100 tons of chemical-warfare agents, and that some of those materials were being used to fill aerial bombs....

After that, a "new" Khaddafi proclaimed that he was done with all terrorist operations against the United States. But two years later, Libya again masterminded the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 passengers on board and 11 people on the ground — the deadliest act of terrorism against the U.S. up to that time.

After Lockerbie yet a "new, new" Khaddafi proclaimed himself to the world. Calling the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. "horrible," he said the United States had every right to go after the perpetrators. "In the old days, they called us a rogue state," Khaddafi said in a speech on national television. "They were right in accusing us of that. In the old days, we had revolutionary behavior." He had put all this behind him, he said, and now opposed Islamic insurgents like al Qaeda.

Behind the scenes, however, Khaddafi seems still to be the same staunch anti-American sponsor of terror. According to the recent revelations, he has continued to the present day to quietly build one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the Middle East, has recently acquired centrifuges to enrich weapons-grade uranium, and has cooperated with North Korea to improve his missile arsenal. Preliminary U.S.-British visits to just ten of his production facilities show Libya's nuclear weapons program to have been far more advanced than Western intelligence suspected.

And so, we shall use the UN to offer the appearance of transnational progressive propriety and the patina of international multilateralism to the effort to disarm one dangerous lunatic. But the inability of the UN to even comprehend the extent of Libya's collection of WMD assets -- much less do anything about them -- stands as a stark warning for all those who would so readily yield our nation's security to the UN just so all the Kool-aid kids will like us.
But if anything is likely to drive the tranzi's wild about this positive development, it has to be that they weren't involved:

France congratulated Britain and America yesterday for persuading Libya to surrender its weapons of mass destruction and admitted it had been kept in the dark throughout the talks. Dominique de Villepin, the foreign minister, took his hat off to London and Washington's "exemplary" diplomatic efforts over the past few months that led to the Libyan leader Col Gaddafi's surprise announcement on Friday, calling it a victory for "the entire international community". But he was forced to admit in Le Figaro that France knew nothing of the nine months of secret negotiations. "We were not kept informed," M de Villepin said.

Perhaps when we are more certain of whether France is with us or against us in the War on Terrorism.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:04 PM | Comments (1)

January 01, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Sigh. We’re off on to the next hundred Scourges as Richard Cohen supposes that someone would be interested in the Confessions of a Retrosexual:

Am I a metrosexual?

If you have to ask…

I've been asking everyone that question ever since I apparently became the last person in the world to discover the term.

Apparently everyone was laughing too hard to answer Dick.

This happened last week when I came across the word seemingly a dozen times in various newspapers and wondered, if you'll pardon my English, what the hell it meant. As an old Washington hand, I was doubly perplexed since Metro is what the subway is called in the nation's capital.

And we all know that every word can only have one meaning.

Is a metrosexual someone who has sex on the subway?

Could be.

Somehow I knew this could not be the case -- you can't even eat on the Washington Metro -- but knowing what it could not be still left me wondering what it is.

Lordy, lordy, the double entendres that cross my mind.

Having spent the weekend with some young people, …

I’m not sure I want to hear any more.

… I asked them all and they all said they were not sure.

There are young people who are clueless, and they hang out with Dick. What a surprise.

It seemed that a metrosexual was a heterosexual man with certain homosexual characteristics -- such as cleanliness, I was told, or neatness, I was told, or a compulsion toward good grooming.

Heterosexuals cannot be clean or neat? Was Felix Unger (the original metrosexual) necessarily gay?

I then plunged into a computer database and discovered that the word "metrosexual" has appeared in print more than 1,000 times in the past year …

Then it must be true!

-- where was I when all this was happening? --

Listening to the ghost of his communist grandfather, who, incidentally, I don’t think would have been all that sympathetic to metrosxuality?

… and that, true enough, it has something to do with going to the gym and having facials and caring about things that real men are not supposed to care about, like their appearance.

As Joe Jackson once sang, “But now and then we wonder who the real men are.”

By now I was confused.

By now?

It is true enough that I care about my appearance …

Dick's pix in the Washington Post notwithstanding.

… and that I pay a king's ransom for a haircut

Limousine illiberal.

… and that I have my shoes shined almost compulsively and that I go to the gym, not every day, but often enough so that with any luck I will live forever.

Clearly, I am cursed.

In all those ways, plus the narcissistic self-regard that is essential and common to all columnists, I am definitely and maybe even highly metrosexual.

Dick is oversexed.

On the other hand, I have never had a facial.

Please God, do not tempt me so. It is a very good thing that I do not have Photoshop.

It is simply out of the question and most definitely not why my grandfather came to this country.

As I noted earlier.

I also have never had a manicure, and while I feel less strongly about that than I do the facial, I don't see it happening in the near future.

Thanks for sharing.

Howard Dean pronounced himself a metrosexual and then characteristically said he wasn't sure what that was -- but whatever it was, he wasn't.

Metrosexuals do not roll up their sleeves and scream at people. Even if there may be a few votes to be had.

Among politicians, Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the most metrosexual of them all, since no man ever paid more attention to his body -- except maybe Richard Simmons, another category altogether.


Ronald Reagan is a metrosexual …


… and so was Kemal Ataturk, a regular clotheshorse and ladies' man who single-handedly modernized Turkey.

Metro, Dick. Think metro. Constantinople, I mean, Istanbul, doesn’t really count. Anyway, whether or not Kemal Ataturk was a metrosexual or not is nobody’s business but the Turks.

Saddam Hussein, a dapper dictator in his salad days, was a metrosexual but emerged from his hole a pure heterosexual.

Any idea where this is going?

Tim Russert is not a metrosexual, George Stephanopoulos is, Bill Clinton is an omnisexual, Ann Coulter is a psychosexual and Strom Thurmond was just a pig.

So clever, so witty.

As for myself, I am still perplexed.

This is news?

I am a fervid fan of the late Cary Grant, who was the best-dressed actor ever to appear on the screen. (Just watch how his trouser pleats don't open when he crouches on a rooftop in "To Catch a Thief.")

Perhaps, though I’d go with Fred Astaire.

All Italians are metrosexuals and some French are, but not the British, because, among other things, they can't keep their socks up.

Celebrating the diversity of stereotypes, there is unity in his bigotry.

For vacations, I prefer the Metrosexual Belt.

As Clint Eastwood once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Still, what this makes me I cannot say.

If only I were as clever and witty as Dick when it comes to insults.

In going around and asking people, I got various answers until one young woman flat out told me that I am too old to be a metrosexual.

As if she’d know!

That makes me a seniorsexual, I suppose -- a metrosexual on Lipitor -- and explains why I never got a facial.


I forgot.

I’m trying to forget.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:14 PM | Comments (1)

Jewelry Shopping Online

Click click. Bling bling.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

Get Thee To a Bloggery!

The Twisted Spinster has returned.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

The Triumph of Hope Over Experience

Predictions for 2004:

Saddam Hussein gets an agent and a book deal. Alas, he never gets very far on the first draft of his manuscript as he is killed by an Iraqi.

The quality and the quantity of the blogosphere improve, even as its Borg-like nature becomes apparent.

The US economy continues to do very well with a cheap dollar.

Zimbabwe raises the ante on North Korea for the worst place on earth -- and the UN does nothing.

The Democratic National Convention makes for great TV as no one has been selected after eight ballots. Buoyed by internal polling results, Hillary Clinton assents to receiving the nomination.

The Republican National convention does not make for great TV.

We will begin to get reports from Big Media on the brutal Syrian summer and the brutal North Korean winters.

Suicide bombers strike the US in the month before the election.

President George W. Bush is relected with almost 400 electoral votes and 54% of the popular vote, but his coattails are surprisingly short.

There is a coup in North Korea and Kim Jong Il is deposed and disposed of.

The usual suspects will continue to do all those things which have earned them the moniker, "The Usual Suspects."

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

Last Post of 2003

Happy New Year everybody!

This speech by Michael Crichton is probably the best, and perhaps the most important, item I have read all year. Please read it.

Coutesy of Donald Sensing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:40 AM | Comments (1)