With a tip of the hat to Abraham Lincoln, I propose we change our country's name from the United States of America to The Last, Best Hope of Earth. Just hearing that said at the UN every time our ambassador speaks or at the Olympics every time one of our citizens wins a medal would make the expense worthwhile. And who really wants to be known as being anti-Last, Best Hope of Earth?
While I'd love to see it happen, I won't hold my breath. But the thought that first crossed your mind when you read the paragraph above probably says a lot about what you think of America, her people, and her ideals these days.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has served and paid so dearly for my right to say that this Memorial Day.
(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.)
Note: This was much better, but MT lost the whole damn thing so I've had to recreate it while drunk, tired and frustrated. Enjoy.
All I want to do is get back to you
Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
Everything is going in the wrong direction.
The doctor wants to give me more injections.
Giving me shots for a thousand rare infections
And I don't know if he'll let me go
Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
Connection, I just can't make it, connection
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
My bags they get a very close inspection.
I wonder why it is that they suspect 'em
They're dying to add me to their collection
And I don't know if they'll let me go
Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
Rolling Stones or Richard Cohen in Consistently Disconnected?
On a recent Sunday four men, stripped to their underpants, were paraded through the city on the back of a pickup truck. They were escorted by scores of masked men shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and their backs were bleeding from the 80 lashes each had received for selling alcohol. Later, they were treated at a hospital and released -- another example to the populace that things had radically changed.
Or perhaps that we are being far, far too lenient with this medieval monsters.
Where has this happened, you're probably wondering?
Well, no, actually, because I read the papers and cruise the blogosphere. I know exactly where it happened, but I’m fascinated to see how this is going to be President George W. Bush’s fault.
… it's Fallujah,
… the Iraqi city described by George Bush in the most serene terms in his address at the Army War College the other night.
Something to do with Muqtada al-Sadr leaving, if I remember correctly, after our troops successfully applied careful force where necessary, incorporated new Iraqi security forces into their maneuvers, and avoided leveling large areas as every other conquering imperialist power has always done in the past. Perhaps it is hard to find a way to twist this to benefit John Kerry since there weren’t any free fire zones.
He mentioned the city when he said military commanders had exercised commendable restraint in not leveling the place after American contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated and hung from a bridge.
Yes, and your point is what exactly?
"We're making security a shared responsibility in Fallujah," the president told the nation. "Coalition commanders have worked with local leaders to create an all-Iraqi security force, which is now patrolling the city."
You know, Dick, at some point Iraqis will be performing all these functions without American troops to back them up, and I’ll bet that even then there will be something above a crime rate of 0.0%. Hard to believe isn’t it, especially for someone who lives in Washington D.C.
But an Associated Press dispatch by Hamza Hendawi offers a different picture.
Well, there’s a surprise. As we all know, they wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true.
The president's "all-Iraqi security force" has allowed Fallujah to become "an Islamic mini-state" -- complete with floggings and the usual restrictions on women.
Considering the usual need to respect multicultural diversity and Islam, I’m having some trouble understanding why this is a problem for Richard Cohen. It’s not as though he’s been concerned about floggings and the treatment of women throughout the Arab world before now.
In this manner, it has been liberated from both the secular Saddam Hussein and the democratic Americans.
Is this supposed to be clever? Are secular and democratic now in opposition? What do either of these adjectives have to do with anything? Would it have been better if we were talking about the people of Mecca being rescued from the religious House of Saud or the non-democratic Chinese? The days of wine and roses (assuming that’s what it was when Saddam Hussein was in charge) have been spoiled by whom? American troops? Iraqi security forces? What an asshole.
The contrast between what the president said and what the AP reported is jarring, but it is also somewhat typical.
Yes, we have come to expect this of the press.
There was something detached about the president's address.
Not to mention the media reports from Fallujah.
Once again, for instance, he made Iraq the centerpiece of his war on terrorism when, as we all know by now, there was never a proven link between Hussein and al Qaeda.
“As we all know.” I suppose this is supposed to inhibit argument or crush my dissent, but um, sorry Dick. The links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein keep becoming more and more obvious every day. (Interestingly enough, that hyperlink is from an article in The Weekly Standard named “The Connection”.) And have you noticed how “never a link” has now become “never a proven link” in the same manner that “no WMDs” became “no stockpiles of WMDs”? Or as Roger L. Simon wrote: “Have they been conclusively proven? Maybe not (though I tend to think so). But anyone who can assert they are ‘blatantly false’ is either a liar or a fool. Or both.” Since we are talking about Richard Cohen, I vote for both.
He went on in this vein nonetheless, not mentioning that it was weapons of mass destruction we were once after but, …
Still after Dick. Maybe we should start looking in Syria.
… aside from a single trace of sarin …
Actually, it was substantially more sarin than all the anthrax powder mailed within the United States the last couple of years. Is Richard Cohen therefore saying that being scared of white powder arriving in the mail is just another overblown risky scheme launched by John Ashcroft, who as we all know, is always looking to take away our freedoms?
… uncovered recently and dating to before the Persian Gulf War, …
Whoa! It has been dated to before the Persian Gulf War? And who’s word do we have for this besides the discredited Scott Ritter?
… none have been found.
Aside from the mustard gas. Actually, it was substantially more sarin than all the anthrax powder mailed within the United States the last couple of years. Is Richard Cohen therefore saying that being scared of white powder arriving in the mail is just another overblown risky scheme launched by John Ashcroft to take away our freedoms?
As for terrorism, the president made no mention of the apparent fact that the war in Iraq has proved a boon to terrorists.
Yes, apparently Allah is having trouble making virgins fast enough for them. This particular argument, a variant of “whatever you do, don’t do anything to make them mad,” makes me especially angry. At some point we will have to finally stand up to terrorism. Whenever we do, there is bound to be an redoubling of effort by the bad guys. I can only assume that Richard Cohen has never played poker -- for money.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the war has been a recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Bill Clinton’s “peace” was so much more effective.
Foreign fighters -- maybe as many as 1,000 of them -- have infiltrated Iraq, where they have been able to inflict casualties on American forces.
Um, don’t forget that they are dieing rapidly. And I much prefer that they are facing our armed and trained troops than the soft civilian targets here in the US. Aren’t you?
They have made it even harder to bring Iraq under control …
Of course they have. That’s the plan, Dick.
… and, in effect, have suckered the United States into the sort of guerrilla war we tried to avoid.
Of course, but cut and run isn’t exactly how we should respond.
In this respect, Iraq could wind up being an ambush.
Just like Tet!
On another matter, the president also talked as if he has been spending the past several weeks under the bed covers.
He mentioned Abu Ghraib prison as "a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops," when it now seems that those "few" were either following orders or were operating with the silent approval of superiors who simply looked away from torture and abuse.
Oh, please. Is Dick suggesting that “I was just following orders” is now a valid defense? Please name the superiors you are talking about Dick, aside from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush. Say, Dick’s not jumping on the let’s-make-General-Karpinski-a-scapegoat bandwagon is he?
The International Red Cross complained of this early on -- only to get a shrug from the military brass.
Unfortunately, The ICRC and so many others have turned into such anti-American propaganda machines that it’s tough to know when they have a point anymore.
America is trapped.
Don’t throw us in that briar patch!
Having gone into Iraq, we cannot now pull out. In its own region, the country is more important than Vietnam ever was -- and not because it can become a democracy that will be emulated by others in the Middle East.
Vietnam! There, he said it.
It's rather that without an American military presence, Iraq will almost certainly fall into chaos, a bloody civil war that might well draw in its neighbors.
Bring. It. On.
Bad could turn out to be much worse.
For instance, we could have had Al Gore as President.
But having said that, it's hard to feel confident that the Bush administration is prepared for the challenge ahead.
It has been unforgivably incompetent so far, …
Only by utopian standards.
… going to war for one reason, staying for another and layering contradictory facts with Sunday-school rhetoric.
What exactly would Richard Cohen know about Sunday-school rhetoric? Oh, I get it, it’s about those fundamentalist Christains.
Fallujah, a compromised compromise, becomes a sterling success in the president's mouth.
No, just a success. But “in the presiden’t mouth” is a very strange phrase.
A systemic failure to abide by the Geneva Conventions becomes the kinky work of a few.
Wrong. First of all, so far as any of us know right now, it was just the work of a kinky few. Second, I haven’t yet seen anything that indicates that those abused were allowed the protections of the Geneva Convention. If they were terrorists then they certainly were not. I’m not saying that what was done was right, but only that Richard Cohen is leaping to conclusions which cannot be proven.
The war over WMDs becomes one over terror.
Was it ever otherwise? God, what an idiot.
And Ahmed Chalabi, the erstwhile George Washington of Iraq, becomes Benedict Arnold virtually overnight.
Perhaps, though I certainly would never have called him the George Washington of Iraq. And if he is what he is now being accused of, it didn’t happen overnight. Say, who hired George Tenet anyway?
One moment he's Laura Bush's guest at the State of the Union speech; the next he's ranting anti-American screeds in Baghdad.
So, once he’s discovered to be two-faced and possibly feeding information to Iran, he should still be treated with respect?
The Bush administration's rap on John Kerry is that he is inconsistent.
No, that’s humanity’s rap on John Kerry. It comes from paying attention.
The president's virtue, on the other hand, is supposedly his consistency.
Supposedly. And tax cuts.
But to stick to the same rhetoric when the facts have changed, to insist on what is palpably false, to render black as white and to say it all with a childlike faith in civics class bromides is not commendable consistency.
Kind of reminds me of all those columns Richard Cohen wrote supporting Al Gore and ill Clinton, come to think of it. But didn’t Dick just complain that Chalabi was thrown out on his ear when the facts changed?
It is instead the mark of a narrow mind overwhelmed by large events.
Whereas, Dick’s wide mind seems incapable of grasping even small ones.
Do you ever wonder if Sean Bean is annoyed being referred to as Mr. Bean?
The United States has become preoccupied with the ongoing insurgency in Iraq, the The International Institute for Stategic Studies said.
As a result, the Bush administration is deeply divided over a strategy to contain the weapons of mass destruction arsenals of Iran and North Korea, the leading think tank concluded in an analysis..
Therefore, the report continued, the Bush administration has relayed considerable responsibility for efforts to curb Iranian and North Korean WMD to other countries. The IISS said Washington gave the European Union responsibility to negotiate with Iran while China was asked to deal with Pyongyang, Middle East Newsline reported.
So, everybody would have been happy campers if we had just liberated Iran or North Korea instead, right?
DOWNDATE: Post corrected for an obscure form of Arab-Persian dyslexia, thanks to Mr. Murphy.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said the report shows the success of efforts to take hard-core criminals off the streets. "It is no accident that violent crime is at a 30-year low while prison population is up," Ashcroft said. "Violent and recidivist criminals are getting tough sentences while law-abiding Americans are enjoying unprecedented safety."
Yea, but coming from John Ashcroft, even lower crime rates must be evil. But perhaps I spoke too soon about women not being hit hardest.
The number of women in state and federal prisons grew by 5 percent, compared to a 2.7 percent increase for men. Still, men greatly outnumber women: 1.36 million to 100,102.
At this rate, women will have broken through the cement ceiling and pass men in 2017 when almost 2 million of each are behind bars. My goodness, who's going to pay for my social security?
We won a war against a really bad guy in a few weeks thereby changing the future of the hopeless Middle East, the economy is absolutely booming, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is an uptight, out of touch loser -- and the election this fall may still be close. I don't have anything invested in Bush per se, but I can't believe we are ready to surrender to the idea that the UN, France, Germany, Russia and China will do what is best for the United States.
What am I missing -- aside from troll bait?
Multiple tornado warnings all around us here in St. Louis right now.
Posting may be light to non existent...
DOWNDATE: We're ok here, but there have been a couple of tornados spawned by this storm in the area. Of course, if Al Gore was right about his Chicken Little scare-mongering, there would have been a 12-mile wide path of total destruction through St. Louis as a warning to the rest of you to CONFIRM THE KYOTO ACCORDS NOW BEFORE YOU ALL DIE!!!
We were perhaps one SCOTUS vote away from disaster in 2000:
Don't let it come to that this November 2, which, by the way, is my birthday. Can you guess what I'm wishing for?
Four times today I heard or read Big Media say something along the lines of "President Bush failed to draw any connection between Iraq and 9/11." This is so tiresome. We did not depose Saddam Hussein and liberate Iraq because Saddam or Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. We deposed Saddam Hussein and liberated Iraq because on 9/12 we decided we didn't want any more 9/11s. It's really simple, isn't it? Can we retire this tired old canard now? If not for the sake of the truth, how about because it is so damned offensive in that it implies strongly that we may not do anything except in retaliation or revenge after we have been attacked.
I am thoroughly disgusted with these Big Media people who are supposed to be so much smarter than I am about these things. After all, they get paid to be knowledgeable about this stuff while I try and learn what I can in the spare minutes and hours I have around my job that does not pay me to read, study or pontificate about such matters. Is it so much to ask that they at least grasp the few solid facts there are and draw the simplest of conclusions from them?
And it hailed here today. A lot.
Anyway, I picked up a few things this week:
Peace Kills by P.J. O'Rourke (my favorite right wing humorist)
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (Burrrrrrrr)
The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking (an amazing fellow)
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (hardback this time for long term note taking -- you know, if you read this you will probably know more about the Kaballah than Madonna; then again, you probably know more about the Kaballah than Madonna even if you don't read it)
Frank's Wild Years by Tom Waits (The bats are in the belfry, the dew is on the moor...)
The Return of the King DVD (now and again later, of course)
Master and Commander DVD (for the sound as much as anything)
And I'm probably going to see The Life of Brian in the theater tomorrow. If posting is light, now you'll know why. Oh, and for those that care, the job is going great.
In the last three years of Dick Cheney's tenure as Chairman, Halliburton made a profit of $924M. In the three years since Dick Cheney retired from Halliburton, they have lost $919M. That's some influence Vice President Cheney's been exerting for his buddies. Don't believe me? Look it up.
On the other hand, Benon Sevan, Kofi Annan and their friends and relatives are widely suspected to have skimmed as much as $10B off the $46B generated by Iraq's oil sales that was to be used for the humanitarian good of the people of Iraq -- even while some kept claiming that 500,000 Iraqi children died because of the UN sanctions. And that's not even counting what Saddam was allowed to steal to keep building palaces, prop up his wicked regime, and bribe politicians and journalists.
Break out the puppets!
I've been watching the Discovery Science Channel a lot this weekend because they've been playing Mr. Wizard, James Burke's Connections, and Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man as part of their TV Science Classics Weekend. Great stuff. But the commercials would lead me to believe that they were featuring Jerry Springer or Oprah Winfrey. Do people watching twenty and thirty year-old highbrow serials really buy anything by Matthew Lesko?
Donald Sensing has a post linking to a story about the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders performing a bayonet charge in Iraq titled:
There will always be an England
Before I got past the title, I thought, "that's true, there will always be an England." But, anglophile that I am notwithstanding, what I meant was that there would always be someone like Lynddie England, human nature being what it is. Once you understand and accept that, Big Media's compulsive obsession with Abu Ghraib looks even worse. The conscious and unconscious bias to defeat President Bush is one thing, but the child-like utopianism that all these earnest young people just can't shake -- even in the face of terrorism -- is what really worries me.
Yes, money is the problem with our educational system today:
A group of Democrats trying to court supporters of Ralph Nader are launching television ads Tuesday in Wisconsin and New Mexico. Those are two states where Nader won four percent of the vote in 2000.
The ad features Bob Schick, a high school teacher from Maryland who now believes his vote for Nader four years ago helped elect President Bush.
Al Gore won Maryland in 2000 by 16%.
Is this related to no controlling legal authority?
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is considering delaying accepting his party's nomination to gain time to raise and spend private contributions and lessen President Bush's multimillion-dollar financial advantage, campaign officials said Friday.
The proposal would let Kerry hold off on spending his $75 million general-election budget for an extra month. The Democratic Party would still stage its national convention in Boston at the end of July, five weeks before the Republican National Convention in New York.
I can't wait to see President Bush's commercials after the Democratic Convention, "Well, I thought I would have had an opponent by now, but perhaps he's having second thoughts." Or, "I understand the Democrats still haven't found anybody willing to accept the challenge to run against me." Or maybe, "I've heard of buyer's remorse, but this is the first time I've ever heard of seller's remorse." Or even, "Late, grossly (criminally?) over budget and an unbelievable waste of taxpayer money in Boston -- and no, I'm not talking about the Big Dig."
Isn't John-boy opening the door for someone else to take the nomination if he doesn't?
Unsurprisingly, unnamed "Democratic leader" doesn't know what McCarthyism is:
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco rejected Republican demands Thursday that she apologize for her strong condemnation of President Bush, as raw nerves over Iraq collided with raw politics on Capitol Hill.
Republican leaders accused Pelosi of taunting the troops, inspiring the enemy and putting American lives at risk by telling The Chronicle on Wednesday that Bush is an "incompetent leader'' who lacks the judgment, experience or knowledge to make good decisions.
Pelosi stood her ground, telling reporters that "the emperor has no clothes." With the violence in Iraq threatening to overshadow all other issues in the coming election season, each party claimed to possess the moral high ground in setting the rules for debate.
"She apparently is so caught up in the partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk,'' said House Majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. "This nation cannot afford the luxury of her dangerous rhetoric.''
Countered one Democratic leader: "Frankly, that's McCarthyism.''
Methinks "McCarthyism" has jumped the shark, not that anyone will notice or care. Of course, Alger Hiss was guilty.
Remember how Arnold was going to be such a disaster as Governor according to the LA Times? No apology necessary:
A leading Wall Street ratings agency on Friday raised California's credit rating, citing an improving economy, the first such upgrade in four years and a move that promised to bring down the state's borrowing costs on $44 billion in debt.
Analysts saw the unexpected credit upgrade by Moody's Investors Service as an endorsement of the steps Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken to bring California back from the brink of a fiscal crisis that drove its credit ratings near junk levels and had threatened to effectively shut the state out of the bond market for new borrowing.
Citing an "established trend of recovery," Moody's raised California's rating to A3 from Baa1, reversing a downgrade it made in December out of concern over continued political deadlock and a move by Schwarzenegger to cut car license fees.
James Lileks says The Sopranos jumps the shark. Tony Soprano leaps with the fishes.
What's the point of being here all week if no one reads through to the punchline, or, worse, I have to explain it? And when's the last time anybody referenced Robyn Hitchcock in a post? Twice?
DOWNDATE: Chris of neighboring, decrepit Webster Groves seems jealous. But, why is it that all but one of the MWBB's have been held at the TNG's in Kirkwood after the inaugural bash at TNG's in Webster Groves?
Anyone else notice how quickly Big Media turned and suddenly started defending and propping up Ahmed Chalabi now that he's no longer perceived as Bush's boy, but instead can be counted on to bash Bush's efforts in Iraq?
United States Democrat John Kerry promised that, if elected president of the United States, he would pull virtually all American combat troops out of Iraq - away from the "death zone" - by the end of his first term.
Well, it worked so well for Espana. Perhaps Zappy is one of Johnny Z.'s unnamed foreign leaders that want Bush out. Is "death zone" the new DNC phrase of the week?
In an interview yesterday with AP reporters and editors, he also criticised President George W Bush for damaging relations with allies. There is so much strain in those relationships now, he said, that only a new president can repair them.
Or new Prime Ministers in France, Germany and Spain to start. Open your mind to different ideas Johnny Z, who by the way served in, well, you know:
The problem is most evident in Iraq, said Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He promised to avert a quagmire, saying "it will not take long to do what is necessary" there.
Robyn Hitchock and The Man With the Lightbulb Head keep coming to mind at this point, with Johnny Z. after the election saying, "You're too late. I've come to turn UN. Bwahahahahaha!"
"It will not be like Vietnam," Kerry said. "I will get our troops home from Iraq with honour and with the interests of our country properly protected."
Sometimes I wonder if Johnny Z. realizes that you can only control your half of the problem (at most) by fiat. Bottom line is that Johnny Z. is a quitter and he wants to lead us to another "peace with honor" retreat. Speaking of peace with honor:
Republican Richard M Nixon used similar language during the 1968 presidential race, but the war in Vietnam dragged on for years after his election.
Hell's bells, the primary problem with the Vietnam War dragging on interminably was that we didn't fight it like a war -- sort of like Iraq and the "War" on Terrorism now.
Saying his goal would be achieved in his first term, Kerry explained: "Look, you may have some deployments of people for a long period of time in the Middle East depending on what the overall approach to the Middle East is. I'm not going to tell you we won't shift deployments from one place to another, but we're not going to be engaged in an active kind of death zone the way we are today."
First term? Getting a little ahead of yourself there aren't you Johnny Z.? But telling your enemies that you'll run away if they insist on killing people has to be the most immoral self-fulfilling prophecy I've heard for some time. So, how big are we going to let them make the "death zone"?
Kerry also said he is confident that if he becomes president, he could persuade countries that sat out the Iraq war to contribute peacekeepers.
Until the shooting starts in the ever expanding "death zone" anyway.
But he said he would not place US soldiers in Iraq under UN command, or under the command of another country.
Daddy, it's the man with the lightbulb head...
First we had Bush in the Hall:
Then right on cue, as The Man Without Qualities says, "Pathetic ... and Bound To Lose":
Yesterday morning at 0704 CDT I posted the following comment over at PatioPundit in response to Martin's comments about The Sopranos dream sequence:
I think the dream sequence was more like 30 minutes, if not perhaps the whole episode. Using extended "dream sequences" would generally seem to indicate that the creative well has dried up and that The Sopranos has perhaps jumped the shark. Frankly, I'm not interested in trying to disect all the connections and Freudian allusions. I want to be entertained after dinner on Sunday night. Don't make me work too hard.
I noticed in the credits at the beginning that this episode was co-written by David Chase and immediately started wondering what was coming since he hasn't written for the show for quite a while (or at least he hasn't taken credit for it). Maybe now we know why.
Then today, James Lileks posts this:
I never thought the Sopranos would jump the shark. Whack the shark, yes, but not jump it. Last night I was watching the latest episode, and I realized with horror that this was all a dream sequence. That’s one of the signs a show is dead, the other being an episode that gives everyone an opportunity to sing and dance.
Don't take me wrong, there are no complaints or accusations intended. I mean, let's face it, I'll beat Mr. Lileks to the rhetorical punch about once every thirty-eight moons, give or take a couple of phases. I don't flatter myself that Mr. Lileks reads my paltry little posts, nor spends time searching for my musings on other blogs, though he did once leave a comment here! But I do want to note the event for posterity as Mr. Lileks receives credit in the future for being the first to accurately assess the exact moment when Tony Soprano leaps with the fishes.
Drudge says: MOORE BRINGS DOWN HOUSE
How'd he get through the door?
"There's nothing to see here. Move along." -- Officer KarKerry
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch needs some competition. Otherwise they will keep publishing editorials like the two they squeezed out today:
THE MOST PROMISING RESEARCH into treatments for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries is being jeopardized by politics. In Jefferson City, Springfield, Ill., and Washington, hope is being held hostage by a handful of legislators.
Forward-looking leaders who understand the significance of this exciting scientific development would be encouraging stem cell research. But apparently they are in short supply in Missouri and Illinois, where last week legislators refused to endorse these promising inquiries. In Jefferson City, lawmakers shot down a plan to issue $190 million in bonds for life-sciences buildings in the University of Missouri system, where they feared therapeutic cloning - the process that yields stem cells - would take place. Those actions send an unmistakable message that researchers should go elsewhere to pursue the kind of research both states claim is vital to their future.
There is room for thoughtful people to disagree about the ethics of certain aspects of stem cell research. The research involves the use of cells present in the earliest stage of human embryonic development; the cells can be coaxed into becoming any type of cell in the body. Eventually, we may learn how they could be used to replace damaged heart or nerve cells, curing heart disease or Parkinson's. But producing stem cells involves taking them from blastocysts - tiny balls of cells that have been induced to divide for less than a week. However, these blastocysts were never fertilized by sperm nor implanted into a uterus and could not develop into a human being.
Now, a growing chorus of conservatives who identify themselves as pro-life are publicly speaking out in support of stem cell research. Earlier this month, at a fund-raiser for juvenile diabetes in California, former first lady Nancy Reagan talked about her husband's long struggle with Alzheimer's. "I'm determined to do whatever I can to spare other families this pain," Mrs. Reagan said.
She has called on President George W. Bush to ease restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research. So have other leading conservatives, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and former Republican Sen. John C. Danforth of Missouri.
In August 2001, Mr. Bush said he would allow publicly funded stem cell research only on what he then estimated were 78 existing stem cell lines. But most of those turned out to be either unavailable or not viable for the work. Mr. Bush should listen to the words of wisdom and compassion coming from within his own party.
Most Americans recognize that a tiny clump of cells cannot be equated with a fully formed human being. Stem cell research is pro-life: It has the potential to ease the suffering of millions of people around the world. That potential must not be hijacked by an uninformed minority bent on scoring political points.
Regardless of your position on stem cell research or the sanctity of life, you gotta admit that it takes cujones the size of Micheal Moore's cheeks to advocate therapeutic cloning and call it pro-life. Oh, and it's nice to know the editors have such respect for their "intellectual" opponents.
You might think the St. Louis Post-Dispatch couldn't top that one, but you'd be wrong.
IF YOU LISTEN CLOSELY, you can hear the American economy starting to hum again. Company profits are rising and employers are starting to hire. But now the inflation monster is showing signs of stirring from his long, sweet slumber.
The Federal Reserve should club the inflation beast before it wakes up and tramples our prospects for long-term prosperity. That means it's time for the Fed to raise short-term interest rates.
The old cliche holds that the Fed's job is to take away the punch bowl just as the party starts getting fun. The idea is to keep the good times rolling without producing the sort of wild economic bacchanal that results in a recession hangover.
By that measure, the United States is beginning to improve. The economy produced 288,000 jobs last month after adding 337,000 in March. That's strong evidence that the long job drought is behind us. Rising wages should follow as demand for labor grows.
Corporate profits were up 25 percent in the first quarter, and companies are again investing in new plants and equipment. The gross domestic product is growing at a healthy 4.2 percent rate.
All that's just ducky. What's worrisome is that prices seem to be rising, too. Consumer prices rose a modest 0.2 percent in April, the government reported Friday. But that monthly number tends to get knocked around a lot by volatile food and energy prices. So economists subtract food and energy to see what prices are really doing. That so-called "core" rate has been rising at a 3 percent annual pace over the past three months, up from 1.1 percent last year.
Historically, inflation has been a major economy party pooper. When out of control, it distorts business decisions, halts investment, cuts the standards of living, sends interest rates through the roof and brings on severe recession. No one wants to see mortgage rates above 15 percent again, as they were in 1981.
Once it catches on, inflation creates a psychology that feeds on itself. So history teaches that it's best to deal with it before it gets out of hand.
At its simplest, inflation is a product of supply and demand. As the economy heats up and more people get paychecks, consumers start to buy things faster than the economy can produce them. Prices rise. Other factors, such as the value of the dollar, federal deficit spending and oil decisions by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also play a role.
The trick is to let the economy grow as fast as it can without creating inflation. And that's where the Fed comes in. The Fed's lever is its ability to control short-term interest rates, which affect much business and consumer borrowing. Raising borrowing costs takes some steam out of the economy.
But the Fed's lever is slow-acting. It takes from six months to a year or more for a rate increase to slow the economy. That's why the Fed should act at its June meeting. On its present course, the economy could be getting wild and crazy a year from now.
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has been sending out smoke signals for a month or so, hinting that a slow, gradual rise in rates is in the offing. That's just what's needed. With current rates at a 50-year low, that policy should cause little real pain.
Opponents of higher rates note that American factories are still producing well below capacity, which argues against rising prices. But the actual inflation numbers belie such complacency.
Oil prices are the wild card. At $41 a barrel, they're at 20-year highs. They create drag on the economy, draining money out of the country and raising consumer prices at the same time. Chances are that oil prices won't decline very much any time soon.
The oil mess may allow the Fed to raise rates more slowly, but raise them it must.
OH MY GOD! Consumer prices rose a modest 0.2 percent in April! [The] so-called "core" rate has been rising at a 3 percent annual pace over the past three months! FOR GOD'S SAKE, RAISE THE FEDERAL FUNDS RATE NOW BEFORE WE ALL DIE!
There's no point in asking if the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has ever advocated higher interest rates before for a Democratic president six months before a general election, is there? Hell, I'll bet a dollar to a donut they've never advocated raising interest rates under any circumstances. It is amazing what Kerry's supporters have to do to keep their hopes up, ain't it?
Here's a story from my home town, Aurora, IL:
AURORA — They hope to stop bullies, build youngsters' self esteem and give teenagers in trouble a second chance to avoid the court system.
They hope to form a network of Hispanic parents and teach adolescents how to avoid domestic-violence situations.
They hope to reach children before it's too late.
Officials announced Friday that seven local anti-violence programs will receive funding in the first round of grants under a city-backed initiative announced last year.
"These are dollars that are going to programs that are actually at work," said Vicki Stull, a member of the executive committee of Aurora Cares Corp., the community organization charged with choosing the projects to fund. "There are tangible results."
The city last year committed to annual $125,000 grants for four years for programs aimed specifically at fighting gang violence in Aurora. The $500,000 in grants, allocated from gaming tax revenue, will go toward efforts independent of city services.
Sound like your basic local governemnt program to this point. But here's the weird part:
Several of the agencies receiving funding asked for the money to develop and enhance programs at Bardwell Elementary School, chosen as a testing ground in the first year.
I remember having to play Bardwell in basketball in the 6th grade. They were very physical -- but there weren't any teenagers attending Bardwell then!
The war against the war has been going on for a long time, and it has been fought by some people whose desire to good has blinded them from actually doing good:
Britain: Charities warn 11 million Iraqis face starvation in event of war
By Julie Hyland
15 March 2003
Some 11 million people would be at immediate risk of starvation if the US proceeds with its war on Iraq, leading aid charities in the UK have warned.
In a briefing for MPs in the House of Commons on March 12, Care International, Christian Aid and Save the Children warned that military action could push 60 percent of Iraqis to the brink of starvation.
No apologies necessary. But I will note that I did not list every charity I found in the list appended to the previous post.
DOWNDATE: Here are a few ways to support our troops, many of the links courtesy of Blackfive, the Paratrooper of Love, Jed Babin of NRO, Defend America, and the Network for Good. You can contribute your time, money, services, goods, or goodwill through one or more of these links. There's something here for everyone!
Adopt a Platoon
Air Force Aid Society
American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services
American Red Cross Military Members and Families
Armed Forces Relief Trust
Armed Services Blood Program
Armed Services YMCA
Army Emergency Relief Fund
Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc.
Books for Soldiers
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
Congressional Medal of Honor Society
Defend America (Send a note to the troops!)
Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service
Disabled American Veterans
Fisher House Foundation - Helping Military Families
Free and the Brave Foundation
Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund
Gift of Groceries
Gifts from the Homefront
Help Our Troops Call Home
Homes for Our Troops
Ladies Auxiliary VFW Scholarships
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
Military Pets Foster Project
Military Veterans and Patriotic Service Organizations of America
National Military Family Association
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
No Greater Love
Non Commissioned Officers Association
Operation Air Conditioner
Operation Dear Abby (Send a note to the troops)
Operation Hero Miles
Operation Noble Foster (Cat care)
Operation Stuffed Hugs
Scholarships for Military Children
Special Operations Warrior Foundation
Spirit of America
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Toys for Tots
United Warrior Survivor Foundation
USA Freedom Corps
VA Hospital Volunteer
Voices from Home
I am remiss for not mentioning what the fine folks over at the Command Post are doing for the Tom family sooner. Come on all you snuff-film seekers, pop on over and do something good for penance.
Bloody hell. I had a long introductory screed prepared concerning Richard Cohen’s CV but I cannot find it now. I must have deleted it with the last proto-Scourge I got too bored to finish. (Imagine that.) Oh well. Rather than try and recompose it, I thought I better rush this Scourge to print in time to catch the tale end of the snuff-film-alanche while I can, so let’s just jump into Settlements And Master Plans:
ARIEL, West Bank –
Damnit! Sharon is naming towns after himself now to prevent the Palestinians from moving back. Of course he knows that no self-respecting Palestinian would dare live in a town named after him. Even stevens, that cat’ll do anything to derail the Peace Train Process – dee dah dee dah dah, come on, come on, come on, come on.
Ron Nachman is the mayor of this settlement, if it can be called that.
What’s wrong with the title mayor?
It is actually a city, …
Oh, never mind.
… complete with housing, stores, banks, schools and a college -- the College of Judea and Samaria.
Wait until the student activists at the College of Samaria and Judea find out!
About 18,000 people live here, and the place, like a Starbucks, is totally wired in a wireless fashion.
Like, totally. But is that something like being loved in a loveless fashion?
Plunk down a computer anywhere, and you can get the Internet.
Assuming, of course it is set up for wireless communication, turned on, not damaged in the plunking action, or plunked straight into a sink full of soapy water.
The streets are clean, the air is crisp, and Russian émigrés sit in the parks taking the very un-Russian sun.
Even the sun is like McCarthy. Chilling.
There is nothing wrong with Ariel that a mere shift in location would not fix.
If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain. No wait, bad analogy.
It is in the middle of the West Bank.
Nachman in the Middle. Cue “You’re not the boss of me now…”
Of course, Nachman sees nothing wrong with that.
There’s no accounting for taste in sitcom theme songs.
He is a blunt-spoken hard-liner who thinks his settlement is right where it should be and will remain a part of Israel no matter what some "peaceniks" -- and here he includes much of the Clinton administration -- would like.
The Clinton administration?
The town and other nearby settlements will be surrounded by a security fence and so will the highway leading out to it from Israel proper. "I call it a gated community," he says.
I call it prudent measures for survival, but then maybe something was lost in translation.
"The whole state of Israel is one gated community."
Gated, hated, whatever.
He is not exaggerating.
The so-called security fence -- here a fence, there a wall -- is slowly sealing off Israel and the settlements from parts of the West Bank and much of the Palestinian population.
The wall goes up, and homicide bombing goes down. Causation does generally imply correlation, even if the Richard Cohen and Fox Butterfield don’t get it.
It is a mind-numbing enterprise, a reordering of the landscape -- roads and tunnels and fences and walls and barriers designed to separate Muslim from Jew.
Muslim from Jew? Richard you simplisme racist pig. I must have missed all the headlines and stories about Sharon ordering all Muslims out of Israel, and since when are all Palestinians Muslims? How about separating Israeli’s from people who have stated that they would kill them all if they only could?
The fence appears and disappears, surfaces and dips, and although it does not yet extend as far as Ariel, it someday might.
If they are going to go around Ariel Sharon, that will be one big fence.
Even today, though, the road to it is only accessible from Jewish areas.
Seems to cut down on the car bombs.
It is easy enough to call the effect "apartheid," but to residents of Ariel and indeed much of Israel, it is tantamount to merely locking your door at night.
Sure it’s easy. Wrong, but easy.
What would you do?
Exercise some restraint before casually throwing accusations of apartheid around?
When some talk of Israel simply yanking out its West Bank and Gaza settlements, they are not envisioning Ariel and others like it. They have in mind the scattered hilltop settlements, some of no more than a handful of families and others where the settlers have already had enough and are anxious to build a life somewhere safer.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is trying to pull out of Gaza, …
But I thought Dick kept saying that Ariel was trying to f*** 'em? Well, which is it? F*** ‘em or pull out?
… but he has been temporarily stymied by his own Likud Party. Still, it is impossible to imagine that Israelis will remain in Gaza.
Imagine there's no countries,
It isn’t hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...nah.
Earlier this week six soldiers were killed there and at least five more were yesterday. It's being compared to Lebanon, where an Israeli occupation produced a debacle.
Talk about your quagmires, Vietnam must be just around the corner.
The place -- poor, densely populated and unloved by Israelis -- has already cost too much blood.
And who’s fault is that exactly?
But the West Bank is different. It is bigger, less populated and of greater religious significance to devout Jews.
Oh? Well, this may be true, but when is the last time you heard Big Media refer to the Holy City of You-Name-It when it came to devout Jews, whereas the Reuters book of political correctness demands that any mention of Hebron, Karbala, Kairouan, Mecca, Medina, Najaf, Qum, Touba, and even Jerusalem be preceded by “the Muslim Holy City of” without exception.
A tour of the area proved to me that it is easier to demand an Israeli withdrawal than figure out how it could be done.
I have not toured the area, yet I have managed to reach exactly the same conclusion. Weird.
Not only would both secular and religious settlers fight such a move, but so would their allies in the United States. A frequent visitor here, for example, is the head of Billye Brim Ministries. She lets you know right off where she stands. "I was strongly impressed of the Lord to study Hebrew in the Land," her Web site says, and she takes Christians to Israel at least twice a year. While she is in Ariel, her group and others like it sing Israeli popular songs in Hebrew and make spur-of-the-moment donations. At the senior citizens center, they know Billye Brim well.
Well, if Christians are for it, then it has to go.
So in a way that few people could once imagine, political support for Israel -- and for a muscular settlements policy -- is hardly limited to American Jews or others who merely look kindly on the lone democracy in the Middle East. Fundamentalist Christian groups are at least as zealous about the settlements as right-wing Israelis or their Jewish supporters in the United States.
Oh my, they’re not just Christians, they’re fundamentalist Christians. And we all know how bad they are.
What's more, they have the ear of George W. Bush.
That would explain why President Bush insists on having pictures taken only in profile from his right side.
This is an unlikely marriage -- one bound to hit the rocks come Judgment Day -- but for the moment it has huge political clout.
New rule: If you don’t believe in Judgment Day, you cannot use it to support a facile argument.
Still, bit by bit, even a growing number of Israeli right-wingers are coming to terms with reality. Israel cannot remain a Jewish democracy and still retain huge swaths of land that the Palestinians consider theirs.
For instance, like Israel?
Here in Ariel, Nachman cocks his head in the direction of nearby Jordan and pronounces it "the Palestinian state" and tells me that his "master plan, for Mr. Bush's and Mr. Powell's information, is for 60,000 people."
Hey, that’s enough for a 180,000,000 man march!
Could be. But as years of terrorism, particularly what's been happening in Gaza, have shown, the Palestinians have something of a master plan of their own.
What the Palestinians have is less of a master plan than a final solution, it would seem, particularly with what's been happening in Gaza.
With that, Glenn Reynolds provides a hyperlink to the beheading of Nick Berg.
I mention this not as criticism, but as an observation and a reminder that 9/11 really did change everything. I can't imagine that Glenn would have thought four years ago that he would link to a graphic video of a another man's brutal death so simply.
DOWNDATE: Hmmm, it's not exactly an Instalanche but there needs to be a term for what I am experiencing now. This post is currently generating about 150 hits an hour for people looking for the video of Nick Berg's murder. Sorry folks, but you're at least three clicks away from a real-death snuff film. Alas, I doubt you'll stick around to read anything else.
DOUBLE DOWNDATE: Did I say 150? I meant 400.
Meanwhile, we will continue to show these men of will what will really is.
I'm not outraged by Abu Ghraib. I don't like it, I wish it hadn't happened, and I do hope those guilty of these crimes are punished. But I'm not outraged.
I guess it probably has something to do with how easy outrage is these days, and how quickly it seems to fade away without anything significant changing -- which I wouldn't think true outrage would, or should, do. Every month there's another outrage that will lose the War on Terrorism, or the liberation of Iraq, or even the goodwill of the fine people of Europe. Every week there's a new outrage that is so terrible it drives people to march and be so angry they can't see straight, hence they imagine that there are anywhere from three to three-thousand people marching for every one there really is. Every day, George Bush, Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld does something that merits outrage from someone who, strangely enough, suddenly finds a microphone in their face and a camera in front of them. Of course, John Ashcroft seems to manage some outrage or other approximately every four hours or so. And global warming, the next Ice Age, the loss of the rainforests, the ozone hole, a comet, or something threatens to kill us all at any minute. Don't believe me? Just ask someone marching with three-thousand of their closest imaginary friends.
Meanwhile, true outrages go relatively unnoticed and unresolved as genocide continues in the Sudan, Zimbabwe is being destroyed by Robert Mugabe, and the United Nations still can't begin its twelve-step improvement program because it hasn't apparently hit bottom yet -- which it must do in the Blood Money for Oil scandal if it is to begin to get better; not to mention minor outrages like the scarcely believable conditions within North Korea, the death of tens of thousands in France last year because no one could be bothered to check on the old folks, the imminently preventable deaths of millions due to malaria, and rising anti-semitism while the generation that survived the holocaust is still with us. Never say "never again". Or is it never say never, again.
What makes these true outrages is that they are all as preventable as they are lamentable. Whereas, the ubiquitous faux outrage vomited up so easily by the professionally outraged continues to distract as all from the real outrages all around us.
And that is a true outrage.
Why else would he appear on Hannity and Colmes?
John Zogby writes:
The Election Is Kerry's To Lose
As Ty Webb once said to Judge Smails, "Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're a tremendous slouch." I don't think it's fair to say that Kerry will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, since I don't think he has ever had a decent chance. It's still Bush at 52.5% from my vantage point.
Don't you just know that the Angry Left is highly perturbed that there isn't even the hint of a coverup with the crimes at Abu Ghraib?
I'm curious, if we learn that Iraqi civilians' or American soldiers' lives were saved due to information learned during interrogations conducted in conjunction with the criminal acts conducted at Abu Ghraib, does that change the calculus somewhat?
These are damn hard moral questions.
I eat out often enough that every once in a while something bad happens, such as an entrée being prepared badly or something showing up on my plate that really doesn't belong there. Even if I'm not familiar with the restaurant I don't immediately leap to my feet, draw attention to myself and then demand that everyone involved be fired and storm out vowing never to return again. Generally, I bring the matter to the attention of the server and see how they choose to deal with it. If they accept responsibility, apologize, and set out to make restitution, then I hold no grudges and if the food is good, look forward to dining there again so long as there doesn't seem to be a pattern or unnatural frequency to the problems. If on the other hand the server insists that there is nothing actually wrong with what has been served or merely attempts to remove the still crawling insect from the plate and walk away (this actually happened at a restaurant with a sterling reputation in Washington, D.C.), well, leaping to my feet, drawing attention to myself, demanding everyone involved be fired, and storming out while vowing never to return seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
I listened to about thirty minutes of the testimony before Congress yesterday by Secretary of State Rumsfeld, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Myers, and a few others. What I took away from it was that the leadership at the Defense Department were, and are, doing exactly what they should have been, and are, doing in response to the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib prison. Let's not forget that there are still some due process concerns for those who face courts martial for these crimes, and CBS and the New Yorker have no helpful role to play in that process.
I'm not convinced that Rumsfeld is going to survive this, and there is a good argument for senior heads rolling if for no other reason than to demonstrate accountability at all levels. Nonetheless, I firmly believe it would be a tragedy for Rumsfeld to resign or to be forced out because of the baying from people who were calling for his resignation before any of this ever happened. If Rumsfeld is guilty of anything it is not buying into the idea that "perception is reality" that his political opponents are trying to sell. Personally, I'm quite happy having someone in charge who focuses more on reality than how people will choose to perceive reality through the polarized lenses of partisanship and postmodernism.
The images coming out are extremely bad and depressing and, according to Rumsfeld's statement yesterday, there are worse images yet to come. I feel most for our uniformed soldiers still in Iraq and the further grief that will now come to them over the acts of a very bad, really stupid, few. Remorse and penance are warranted. But as I have been saying for about a week and as Victor Davis Hanson repeated yesterday, the perfect remains the enemy of the good, and utopianism requires perfection, not goodness. What we have done and continue to do to liberate Iraq and fight the War on Terrorism is a good thing. Let's not let the fact that not everything done in our name is perfect distract or destroy our attempts to make the world a better -- though not perfect -- place.
DOWNDATE: Last night, I began thinking about this in a conspiratorial manner and wondered if it hasn't been a setup all along to bring down Rumsfeld and Bush. It reads exactly like the kind of obtuse, twisted chain of events one might find in a Robert Ludlum novel, wrought by a shadowy, devious agent of misfortune pulling the strings several levels removed from the acts themselves. Even now, this whole thing just seems too awful and too weird to be on the level. Frankly, I didn't put this theory down in writing since I have no desire to be lumped in with the ubiquitous crackpots and loonies all around us. And then, this morning, Glenn Reynolds links to Nelson Ascher and Roger Simon who also links to Nelson Ascher who posits the possibility of a just such a conspiracy. Things that make you go hmmm...
Anybody else notice how much better Morning Edition was this week without Bob Edwards?
I attended a funeral today at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
Too much introspection to blog for a while.
The 70's Music Contest is Over. The results are here. Thanks to everyone who played. Of course, you can still tell me the artist and song title for this post, if you are so inclined.
As Glenn wrote:
GORE TV: Daniel Drezner is soliciting programming ideas.
Here are mine for game shows:
The Lock Box - Contestants vie for a pot of money they cannot have until they turn 70!
What My Lyin'? - Contestants have to determine the mystery guest based upon a recitation of their lies.
The $100,000,000,000,000,000 Pyramid - Contestants answer questions on Social Security to win as much as $2,800 a month for life!
Jeopardy! - Contestants match DNC talking points with the Republican policies being targeted.
They know they are corrupt and are in no way interested in reform. We know they are corrupt and are in no way interested in reform. They know we know they are corrupt and are in no way interested in reform. We know they know they are corrupt and are in no way interested in reform. They know we know they know they are corrupt and are in no way interested in reform. We know they know we know they are corrupt and are in no way interested in reform...
The United Nations yesterday threw up a stone wall in the oil-for-food scandal, insisting that contracts between the world body and private companies should not be turned over to investigators.
In a defiant move that has infuriated probers, Secretary-General Kofi Annan threw his support behind a letter from former oil-for-food head Benon Sevan to officials of a Dutch company that inspected Iraqi oil shipments. The letter directed the company not to hand over documents to congressional committees and other "governmental authorities."
US out of the UN now. They're not anti-war, they're on the other side. Or as President George W. Bush once said, "you're either with us or against us." They have chosen. Now, so should we.
The latest 70's music contest only has 13 out of 28 songs identified correctly. The high esteem I have for music junkies in the blogosphere is in grave danger. I've added more lyrics to each of the mystery songs. Please go and take another whack at 'em.
Yea, I know Warren lives humbly in Omaha, but Nebraska, Oklahoma, it's all in flyover country anyway. It's not like anybody else on John Kerry's campaign team would know the difference:
Warren Buffett, the world's second wealthiest person, said on Sunday he had joined Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's economic advisory team.
Let's see now, Warren's policy prescription for everything is to RAISE TAXES! Before this is over, John Kerry is going to make Michael Dukakis look like a political savant.
John F. Kerry never falls down. Well, almost never:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry took a spill from his bicycle while riding Sunday afternoon but was not injured, a campaign official said. Kerry was riding with Secret Service agents through Concord, about 18 miles north of Boston, when his bike hit a patch of sand and he fell, campaign officials said. "He's fine. They took the bike into the bike shop and he went home," said campaign spokesman Michael Meehan. Kerry was in Massachusetts -- he has a home in Boston -- enjoying a break from the campaign trail. It was not immediately clear on what road in Concord he was biking. Kerry, 60, rides his bicycle as often as he can and sometimes brings it with him on the campaign plane.
Man of the people, he is. But damn, now he's dressing like a daisy zipper pull.
DOWNDATE: I "liberated" the picture from the Drudge Report. My bad for not attributing appropriately earlier.
(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.)
I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to reach back a bit into my Scourging sojourn and pick a previous column that is of interest to me. The particular column I've selected gives me the opportunity to vent not only at Richard Cohen, but also at the institution that does more to inspire road rage in me than any of the drivers I encounter each day who run the gamut from self-absorbed incompetence to dangerous, criminally negligent aggression, sort of like the journalism practiced by NPR now that I’ve mentioned it.
The other morning, as is my wont, …
Oh great. Does Mr. Cohen really get paid to tell us about Dick’s wont.
… I woke to the music of the blessed Mozart (on disc) and then switched quickly to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."
I never listen to NPR at home, because life is too short and so many better options are available. Alas, when I’m in my car, the options available to me are somewhat more limited and as it happens NPR is about the only thing worth listening to over broadcast radio in St. Louis. Mind you, it’s not that I particularly enjoy the reporting of everything through the prism of a transnational progressive worldview leavened with DNC talking points. I do have a CD player in my car but I need to hear the weather and traffic reports each day since I have to cross the Missouri river to get to work and every other station in St. Louis chooses to cater to morons. I’m not implying that the fine citizens of the area are morons – far from it – just that Big Media (or what passes for such here) refuses to elevate their conversation and reporting above a 6th grade level. Anyway, it helps keep me sharp by deconstructing the newage (rhymes with sewage) as it seeps from my speakers.
This has been my habit since 1979, when the show was created and Bob Edwards took to the air and said, "This is 'Morning Edition' from NPR News." Now the news from NPR is that Edwards will soon be gone.
Maybe I'll just stick with Mozart.
Perhaps the most sensible thing Richard Cohen has ever written.
It's not, mind you, that I cannot abide change or that I think "Morning Edition" could not be improved.
No, of course not.
Some mornings, in fact, I gag at the very NPRness of its report, yet another in-depth piece proving once again that life is unfair and that many poor people live in poverty.
Like …, well …, duh. But Dick forget to mention that there always you know who to blame for it.
But day in and day out it is the best thing in broadcast journalism and so superior to television news that you might as well be comparing Shakespearean theater with burlesque.
Perhaps this says more about the current state of broadcast journalism than NPR. I agree that in a relative sense, it is probably the best around, but the bar is awfully low.
NPR brings you the news.
Unfair and unbalanced.
Now, though, there are intimations that all that will change.
We can only hope.
The firing of the mellifluous Edwards, my morning companion through all these years, portends bad things.
Why? Is it not possible that there might be someone else just as good, if not better, than Bob Edwards? This sounds like just so much Boomer nostalgia to me.
The telling sign was not just that he was axed as the program's host but that no one can tell you why.
Perhaps because they are looking forward and do not wish to say or do anything to diminish the contribution that Bob Edwards has made in making NPR what it is today. Or maybe Dick’s pissed because he didn’t get a personal phone call explaining it. Who knows? Who cares?
At NPR, clearly the most erudite of the networks, …
And nuanced, let’s not forget nuanced. And full of gravitas, or something.
… various officials descended into the juvenile babble of TV executives, empty words spilling out of their mouths, as if they were determined to fill airtime yet say nothing.
Big Media, like a fish, rots from the head.
NPR Executive Vice President Ken Stern told The Post that the firing of Edwards was part of a "natural evolution" that had "to do with the changing needs of our listeners."
So perhaps, some things have changed since 1979.
What "natural evolution"? What does that mean?
Well, Boomers are now retiring and the rest of us really don’t see everything filtered through the dung-colored glasses of Vietnam.
And what "changing needs"? Listen, Ken, my needs haven't changed.
Oh goody, we not only get Dick’s wont, but also his needs.
I still want news in the morning. I still want smart features. I do not want interviews with air-headed celebrities a la Matt and Katie or, worse, interviews with the latest humorless person Donald Trump has just fired from "The Apprentice."
Concur. But it would be even better without the “Kerry good, Bush bad” slant.
In explaining why Edwards had been given the boot, Stern said it was "about the right sound." What sound is that, Ken? Too loud? Too soft? Too much bass?
Bias, not bass. Maybe the fish rotting from the head isn't as much of a reach as I thought. But far be it from me to defend NPR executives who probably use Steve Keaton as their image of how they should act and think.
I always thought that Edwards had just the right "sound" and that, anyway, NPR and "Morning Edition" were not -- to use a Sternism -- about "sound" but about information -- facts and such things.
I assume that’s Ken, and not Howard, Richard’s referring to. But what about Bob?
"It's not about Bob," Stern continued with the standard line of any boss who has ever fired anyone, it's about "who are the right people to meet these needs."
As long as they aren’t named Bob.
Ah, sound. There was a morning, April 10, 1981, when a space shuttle launch was scheduled and "Morning Edition" had lined up as its commentator Chuck Yeager, the legendary test pilot. It was Yeager's voice -- cool, understated -- that became the model for all pilots everywhere, and which Tom Wolfe memorialized as "the drawl of the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff." Back then, "Morning Edition" was also using Red Barber, the magnolia-brushed voice of the old Brooklyn Dodgers from time immemorial. The Ol' Redhead had finished his segment, but the space shot was delayed and so someone had the sweet idea of having Yeager chat with Barber, two American originals.
I was ready to leave for work, but instead I sat down on the bed and listened, transfixed. I remember nothing of what was discussed, except that Barber asked Yeager if he was "kin" to Steve Yeager, the Los Angeles Dodgers catcher from 1972 to 1985, and Yeager said he was. Nothing momentous there, I admit, but it was a moment -- Norman Rockwell in sound -- that only NPR could bring you and it is, still all these years later, cherished. That, Mr. Stern, was sound.
Is Dick trying to imply that Bob Edwards is most effective when he just keeps quiet?
The audience for "Morning Edition" has steadily grown. It now has 13 million listeners per week and, I'm sure, if I got hold of the demographics, the audience would be a lot like the people who read op-ed pages.
That’s about 2.6 million listeners a day, or less than one percent of the population. If that’s all that read the op-ed pages, why are there so many damn many columnists?
So "Morning Edition" is an important outlet, valued for its seriousness of purpose and its respect for its listeners.
Well, for the “not right” listeners, anyway.
Given those values, neither "Morning Edition" nor its evening companion, "All Things Considered," is ever going to get the mega-numbers of commercial broadcasting and its heroic attempt to plumb the depths of pander.
Or even the depths of Air America!
But the firing-cum-transfer of Edwards (he may become a senior correspondent) is nonetheless disquieting. Maybe my fear is misplaced, and maybe the end of the Edwards era will turn out to not be a bad thing.
But, that would mean that Dick’s instincts were wrong. Again.
Still, it will be jarring to wake up in the morning with a stranger.
Goodbye, Bob. Get some sleep. You've earned it.
Yes, goodbye Bob. You are a consummate professional and very good at what you do. I won’t let you off the hook for the slant of Morning Edition’s editorial decisions, but you have set the bar very high for whoever follows. Good luck with whatever the future holds for you. In the meantime, I’ll hold out hope that a professional presentation of the news that is fair and balanced will no longer be an exclusive attribute of Fox News.
Oh, if you are wondering, I don't give a dime to NPR radio. I can't stomach funding any program that appears on NPR, or PRI. I have contributed in the past, and did again recently, to PBS since I do enjoy some of their programming. My recent contribution was inspired primarily by KETC promising two tickets somewhere in the first twenty rows to see The Great High Mountain Tour with Alison Krauss & Union Station, featuring Jerry Douglas, Ralph Stanley, The Whites, The Cox Family, Norman & Nancy Blake, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Tim Eriksen, Riley Baugus, Dirk Powell, Reeltime Travelers, Ollabelle, and the Sacred Harp Singers at the Fabulous Fox Theater on May 12. I'm sure I'll enjoy this show a lot more than the visit with Bob Edward in person that KWMU was offering for a contribution.
For reasons hashed out better at many other sites, I can only believe that Ted Koppel and so many on the Left don't really believe we are at war. Because the only alternative is that they believe we are at war but they want us to lose.
I don't think this is a false dichotomy, or am I missing something?
BMG sent something in the mail offering a special deal on a collection of previously unreleased music by Johnny Cash. Now, I might be tempted to buy it but for two things. First, there are probably good reasons why they weren't previously released, and second, it's titled Johnny Cash: Cash Unearthed.
Jeez, I wonder if the masters were actually in his coffin.
One more time... 28* new entries. Song and artist please. Nothing up for grabs but blogosphere bragging rights. This time, I'll put the answers in the "More" section as they are discovered, but I'll italicize the ones that have been solved here -- when artist and song have both been correctly identified. Avert your eyes from others' comments to keep it fair. No cheating! As some have noted, these are a bit tougher. If any remain unsolved in a couple of days, I'll start adding more lyrics each day until they are all solved. As of Sunday night, that's 13 down and 15 to go.
* One song has been taken off the original list since it was released in 1982. My bad for misreading a label.
MONDAY NIGHT: Still only 13 out of 28. More lyrics added. Try again and tell me you aren't kicking yourselves a little. Some of these are pretty big hits. Please don't make me add more lyrics...
TUESDAY NIGHT: Contest Over. 26 out of 28, with a little help from my friends. The only ones you didn't get were "Cry Me a River" by Joe Cocker and" Floy Joy" by the Supremes. But the thread is getting dated, so I hereby declare victory and move on. I am, as always, open to your comments. Too hard? Should I do it again in a few weeks? Months? Decades? As much as some people have bitched about this period of music, I'd rather be stuck alone with it than alone with what has been published the last ten years.
Who needs TV when I've got T-Rex? (Mott the Hoople, "All the Young Dudes") Written by David Bowie (rhymes with Howie, according to Neal the hippie).
To live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough! (Rolling Stones, "Shattered") It took nine years, but the Stones finally put out a decent album in the 70's.
Well I got nothing against the press, they wouldn't print it if it wasn't true (Joe Jackson, "Sunday Papers") Ah, but it all depends on what we mean by "truth", eh? Say, now that Al Gore has a media outlet of his very own...
Welcome to the lion's den, temptation's on its way (Madness, "House of Fun" -- 1982) Sorry.
Pulled out of San Pedro late one night, the moon and the stars was shinin' bright.
We was drivin' up Grapevine Hill passing cars like they was standing still (Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, "Hot Rod Lincoln") Cover of Charile Ryan's song, first made popular by Johnny Bond in 1959 -- which I had a 45 of when I was a kid!
This is the kind, this is the kind of stuff to make you feel like you want to do something nasty like waste some chicken gravy on your white shirt. (Rufus Thomas, "Do the Funky Chicken") Memphis legend, whom remarkably few people seem to know about today.
Child like the one I once knew, made my grass green and my blue skies blue.
Lord was time when two was one. Tell me now girl, where've all the good times gone? (Joe Cocker, "Cry Me A River") John Belushi lookalike.
Why can't we brothers protect one another?
No one's serious and it makes me furious.
Don't be misled, just think of ... (Curtis Mayfield, "Freddie's Dead") Fred, damnit! It's Fred!
And the gold rolled through his veins, like a thousand railroad trains.
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose, while the kids ran around wearin' other peoples' clothes... (John Prine, "Sam Stone") I passed on the easier "Illegal Smile" in favor of harder drugs. That's also why the New Riders of the Purple Sage and "Panama Red" and his white horse Mescalino didn't make an appearance this time. Nor could Jesse Winchester lamenting "Stems and Seeds" find a way to sneak into the list.
I mean was he a heavy doper or was he just a loser? He was a friend of yours.
What do you mean he had bullet holes in his mirrors? (Neil Young, "Tired Eyes") OK, so maybe it was one of Neil's least successful albums, but still -- this and "The Needle and the Damage Done" are as good as it gets. You better start bookin' on Neil if I keep this up.
For every eye that passes by, you know the world gets a little bit older.
It's time to realize that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. (Ray Stevens, "Everything is Beautiful") He ain't crude, he ain't lewd, he's just in the mood to run with Kofi Annan and utopians everywhere.
Your real name may be Smith or Jones but not your claim to fame.
Oh, it's a ... boy! Any girl who knew you at all would have to call you ... (The Supremes, "Floy Joy") The Supremes sans Diana Ross in 1972 (when Michael Jackson did not yet look like her). Damn I feel old now.
Red lights are flashing around me, good Lord it looks like they found me (R. Dean Taylor, "Indiana Wants Me") Wander-lust.
Well, I got one foot on the platform, the other foot on the train.
I'm goin' back to New Orleans to wear that ball and chain. (Eric Burdon and the Animals, "The House of the Rising Sun") Shocking.
Well the first time I got it I was just ten years old (Ted Nugent, "Cat Scratch Fever")The Motor City madman himself.
I give a little muscle and I spend a little cash, but all I get is bitter and a nasty little rash (Squeeze, "Cool for Cats") In and out of Wandsworth...
And while the future's there for anyone to change,
Still you know it's seems it would be easier sometimes to change the past.
I'm just one or two years and a couple of changes behind you
In my lessons at love's pain and heartache school. (Jackson Browne, "Fountain of Sorrow") Jeebus, I must not have been much fun to be around as a sophomore in college.
Why do people break up, turn around and make up?
I just can't see. You'd never do that to me (Would you, baby?) (Al Green, "Let's Stay Together") I thought this one would be too easy. Wrong again.
You search in your bag, light up a fag, say it’s a drag, but you’re so glad to be alive (Van Morrison, "Blue Money") The Belfast Cowboy.
Better find another girl, better find uh, another place (Lee Michaels, "Do You Know What I Mean") Wooo! Help me!
Misty morning eyes, I'm trying to disguise the way I feel but I just can't hide it (The Fortunes, "Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again") Raindrops keep fallin' on our heads...
And daddy doesn't understand it, he always said she was as good as gold (Boomtown Rats, "I Don't Like Mondays") Monday, Monday, don't like that day.
God made man but he used the monkey to do it.
Apes in the plan, we’re all here to prove it. (Devo, "Jocko Homo") Are we not men? I ran out and bought Devo's first album after seeing them perform "Satisfaction" on Saturday Night Live (way back when it really was really good). My dormmates thought I was nuts. (See Jackson Browne above.)
Then one by one the stars would all go out and you and I would simply fly away (Bread, "If") Baby, I'm a running out of the room screamin' everytime I hear anything by Bread.
Jesus freaks out in the street handing tickets out for God (Elton John (and Bernie Taupin), "Tiny Dancer") Sing us a song you're the piano man, he takes a stand in that auditorium.
All I had to do was send ten dollars to the church of the sacred bleeding heart of Jesus, located somewhere in Los Angeles, California, and next week they'd say my prayer on the radio. (Rolling Stones, "Faraway Eyes") The Stones did an awful lot of what sounded suspiciously like country music to me back then, but I liked it, I liked it, yes I did.
After all this time of bein' alone we can love one another, live for each other from now on (Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, "Never Ending Song of Love For You") Feels so good I can hardly stand it.
'Cause you know that I mean what I say,
So don't go and take me the wrong way.
You know you can't go on gettin' your own way,
'Cause if you do it's gonna get you someday. (Dave Mason or Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, "Only You Know and I Know") Of course, I was looking for Dave Mason in 1970, but Delaney and Bonnie had a hit with it as well. I wouldn't have put them back to back if I hadn't learned this after looking it up since multiple people kept flagging it as D&B&F.
Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain.
The Rat pulls into town, rolls up his pants,
Together they take a stab at romance
And disappear down Flamingo Lane. (Bruce Springsteen, "Jungleland") Michele may detest him, but I knew a girl in college named Michele who fantasized about Bruce stopping in the middle of a concert, looking out and saying, "Michele, is that you?" and calling her up on stage to dance with. Color me shocked this one wasn't picked out much earlier.
Well, that was fun.