Stepping away for a while to work on something a little more involved, though perhaps of interest to even fewer people than stop by here for the snarky commentary. It's not a hiatus, but a refocusing of, well, my focus. I'm not pleased with my recent efforts and how blogging has affected my already limited style, I don't bother to read Richard Cohen any longer, and I have come to dread the mental delousing that is necessary after reading a few pages of popular political commentary of late. I'm not changing anyone's mind and I'm fairly certain no one is changing mine. FWIW, I am largely a single issue voter and that issue is freedom. There is no question in my mind that George W. Bush is more likely to leave me freer four years hence than John Kerry. You may disagree, but then, of course, you are, thankfully, free to do so.
In the meantime, I will keep reading and commenting, but expect posting to be sparse and somewhat erratic for an as yet indeterminate period of time. Not sure how long my labor of love will take, so just in case, remember that November 2 is my birthday. I've already made my wish.
P.S. I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.
The Keebler elves are going to be busy cleaning up this mess:
Headlining an appearance with other Democratic women senators on behalf of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is up for re-election this year, Hillary Clinton told several hundred supporters -- some of whom had ponied up as much as $10,000 to attend -- to expect to lose some of the tax cuts passed by President Bush if Democrats win the White House and control of Congress.
"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
Now, if only we could reach an agreement as to what the common good entailed...
I wish Big Media would remember that as they weigh the importance given to the evil done by destructive forces in Iraq compared to the good that constructive forces are doing there. It really seems as though all Big Media can do any longer is rubber-neck and gawk at the scene of tragedies. Whatever happened to educating the public or at least presenting the "other side" of the story -- which in Iraq would be the good news? Does politically correct J-school groupthink have a boa-like lock on the body of professional journalism, constricting its vision and so immoblizing its practitioners that they can no longer provide breadth or depth of understanding to their readers, but only sensationalism and superficial platitudes learned by rote at the feet of the postmodern pedagogy? When did wit replace wisdom? When did cleverness displace careful consideration? Or is it that beating Bush simply takes precedence over perspective, professionalism and propriety?
Ernie Pyle and Edward R. Murrow would be so proud.
Anyone else expect Saddam to sing this when he's arraigned?
Some people say that I'm a bad guy
They may be right
They may be right
But it's not as if I don't try
I just fuck up
Try as I might
But I can change, I can change
I can learn to keep my promises
I swear it.
I'll open up my heart
And I will share it
Any minute now
I will be born again
Yes, I can change, I can change
I know I've been a dirty little bastard
I like to kill, I like to maim
Yes, I'm insane, but it's OK
Cause I can change
It's not my fault that I'm so evil
It's society, society
You see my parents were sometimes abusive
And it made a prick of me
But I can change, I can change
I can learn to keep my promises
I know it.
I'll open up my heart
And I will show it
Any minute now
I will be born again
Satan The Dark Prince:
But what if you never change?
What if you remain a sandy little butt-hole?
Don't be such a twit
Mother Theresa won't have shit on me.
Just watch me change
Here I go I'm changing
Personally, I like the Violent Femmes version best.
I can only hope that the Federal Reserve is factoring the massive effect this will have on inflation in the near future:
Oil prices fell to their lowest in two months on Tuesday as the handover of power in Iraq raised hopes for less sabotage and steadier exports. U.S. light crude settled 1.6 percent, or 58 cents, lower at $35.66 a barrel.
Let's see, that's more than a 20% drop in the price of a critical component of the CPI in just over five weeks. Maybe inflation isn't the problem it has been built up to be over the last couple of weeks by people who will do anything to make the economy look worse than it is.
Andrew Sullivan rightly rips William Raspberry for demonizing President George W. Bush in Raspberry's positive review of Fahrenheit 9/11, concluding:
Now let's summarize Moore's "conclusion": that the Bush family was, by its close financial ties with the bin Laden family, passively complicit in 9/11; that the administration did too little to apprehend the perpetrators of that massacre; that it invaded Afghanistan primarily to get an oil pipeline built; that it shifted the nation's resources to Iraq solely in order to appease oil interests and to enrich its own members; and that it lied about all of this. If William Raspberry really believes all this, then he should tell us why and how. But if he doesn't, he should have the basic integrity to say that Moore's movie is not just "sly" but a fantastical piece of malevolent propaganda whose only connective thread is a pathological demonization of the President of the United States. Raspberry cannot have it both ways. And the fact that he tries to get away with it says a lot about how corrupted the left has become in our national discourse.
Of course, Andrew has himself been just as guilty of demonizing said president himself lately:
Isn't it telling that the Bush administration wants McCain, Arnold and Giuliani as prime-timers for the convention? They're the three Republicans least in sync with the Bush administration. McCain is as close to a dissident as you can find. And Arnold keeps Bush at arm's length. A more representative selection would be: Santorum, DeLay, Ashcroft. And then you see why the Bushies won't let them hog the limelight. Too much honesty could wreck the campaign.
Gee Andrew, it must be frustrating every time President George W. Bush doesn't kowtow to your proffered caricature of intolerance. Of course, President Bush hopes some of their popularity will rub off on him, but McCain, Schwarzenegger and Giuliani could have said no. Could it be that these fine men actually support President Bush and want to see him reelected, even if President Bush is in favor of the FMA? Isn't it possible that President Bush and the Republican Party actually support a big tent and diversity of opinion? If you want a convention and a party where dissenting voices aren't allowed, may I suggest the Democratic Convention where the crushing and silencing of dissenting voices has become infamous. I also have no doubt that you will be able to find many more single issue gay marriage voters there.
Oh, and John Kerry opposes gay marriage as well, or at least he did last time I checked. Perhaps he has a more nuanced view of which I remain unaware.
Whenever someone asks why no one in the Intelligence Community was able to predict 9/11, keep in mind the razor sharp wits of our most important hair in Baghdad who weren't able to predict an early turnover of sovereignty to Iraq despite all the hints they had.
Teresa Heinz Kerry, through a network of investments in blue-chip corporations, venture capital funds and municipal bonds, controls a family fortune worth an estimated $1 billion, an examination of public records shows.
The $1-billion figure is double the estimates of her wealth that are widely cited in news stories about her husband, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
Honestly, good for them. Now if John-boy will just drop the populist nonsense.
I'm sitting here blogging away and I hear Rossini's The Thieving Magpie coming from the living room. Now what crosses my mind when I hear The Thieving Magpie is Alex de Large saying:
How art thou, thou globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if you have any yarbles, you eunich jelly thou.
I'm quite fond of A Clockwork Orange, but I'm not yet ready for my 14 year-old daughter to see it. So, I immediately jump up and run to other room and discover instead that the music is being used behind some silly Ben Stiller movie named Heavyweights on the Disney Channel. As it happens, she's not even there as the television has been left on from viewing something earlier in the day. I'm curious, any of you other parents with teenagers suffer from similar angst?
I don't really know if Stanley Kubrick intended it or not, but I cannot hear Rossini's The Thieving Magpie or William Tell Overture, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (Fourth Movement), Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, or Singin' in the Rain without thinking of A Clockwork Orange. Memories of I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper and some of Wendy/Walter Carlos' bumper music also make the same associations, but I cannot recall ever hearing them outside of the film or my memory. Given Alex's treatment requiring the same sort of associations of music to pain, I think this is what's called irony.
I know Bill Quick probably won't agree, but as more and more documents and information becomes available, I have to wonder yet again whether or not the Bush administration is allowing it's enemies to make ever more extravagent claims knowing all the while that their initial claims were false. Its a tactic I use in poker occasionally when I know I have the winning hand.
The election is still more than four months away and as with all games of chicken, the guy who can hold out the longest wins.
This says it all to me:
Democrat John Kerry, the party's presumptive presidential nominee, was still deciding on Sunday whether he would deliver a planned speech to U.S. mayors for which he would have to cross a police officers' picket line.
If it were a question of principle it would all be rather straightforward. But obviously, it's not. John Kerry and his staff of advisors are still trying to figure out whether it would be more advantageous, or at least less harmful, to cross the picket line or not. I'm somewhat surprised it takes so long to wet the tip of your index finger and hold it up into the wind. After all, it only took about three days to change their mind once the idiocy of not accepting the nomination at the Democratic Convention became public knowledge. Then again, maybe this is just a test case to allow John-boy to avoid accepting the nomination this summer in Boston after all so he can keep spending without being subject to limitations on Federal matching funds.
Nah, they're not that clever.
A copy of a popular newsmagazine showed up in my mailbox this week with my name printed on the cover. This is surprising because I'm quite certain I haven't ordered any magazines lately, and I certainly wouldn't have ordered this one. I think it is Newsweek, but I can't be sure since the last letter of the title on the front is blocked out by a picture of Bill Clinton's book. Perhaps it is Newseek, or Newsweed, or even Newswee. If you hang around until the end of the post let me know in the comments what you think is most appropriate.
I haven't picked up a copy of Newsweek in perhaps 25 years, so I thought I'd read it. Sometime later... Wow! I'm not sure but it seems as though the editorial boards of YM (yes, I have a teenage daughter) and Newsweek must have been combined to save money. How else to explain the remarkably juvenile nature of many of the stories and the predominance of puerile prose?
The Cover Story is about the release of Spiderman 2, sorry, I mean "Spidey's return" and:
... the tangled inside story of how the hot sequel to the original smash overcome a perilous casting crisis to make it to the big screen.
Bold fonts in the original. Meanwhile, less important matters this week such as the War on Terror, Saudi Arabia in turmoil, and partisan journalism are each relegated to less space in the index than that taken up by the blue material on "Spidey's" left thigh in the picture which dominates the week's index of articles.
Moving on to Periscope, or Newsweek's "Heads-Up Look at Scoops, Trends, Ideas, and People to Watch", my eyes are immediately drawn to the picture of Bill Clinton and John Kerry that unintentionally illustrates John Kerry's biggest fear as Bill Clinton is shown in full profile blocking out everything but John Kerry's important hair. The caption to this picture is:
TELL ME: The ex-prez and the prez hopeful at Reagan's funeral.
My goodness, I could read so much into this if I had more time, but I'll content myself with wondering what demographic they are trying to appeal to with the use of "ex-prez" and "prez." Perhaps the IM crowd are the only people left who take Newsweek seriously. At least I won't lose any more sleep worrying about alternate spellings of Al Qaeda, Beijing, Mao Zedong, etc., as the grand poohbahs of popular journalism try to stay hip with the latest fads in cultural sensitivity.
Moving to the bottom of the page we find Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom" section. My favorite entry this week is Vice President Dick Cheney, or as the caption to the picture notes:
THE VEEP gets a big thumbs down with:
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's still selling Iraq-9/11 link. Put up or shut up.
Uh huh. Aside from the fact that Dick Cheney has never tried to sell an Iraq-9/11 link, there's still the little matter of how one gets "overwhelming evidence" of a lack of evidence? Perhaps if the New York Times hadn't held on to its evidence for two weeks while printing contradictory headlines, it wouldn't have been necessary for so much of Big Media to be so wrong so often. As for "put up or shut up", well, if these magazines keep coming in the mail, maybe I'll start doing a weekly review of what Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom was one month previously, just to evaluate the worth or relative goodness of the Newsweek editor's conventions and wisdom.
In the event you fear your politically correct opinions may be in need of a refresher course, just read the Letters and Perspectives sections. If you missed your DNC talking points fax for the week, you'll probably find a fair bit of overlap here as well.
The first article is a five page layout on the War On Terror, dominated by three and one-half pages of pictures which do little but try to accentuate the snarky meme that Bush wasn't in charge on 9/11. The largest font is reserved for:
"Some doubted Cheney's account of the shoot down order. The White House reacted angrily."
Heaven forbid we learn anything about "some" or context surrounding the sitaution. Better to sow concern and doubt, allowing partisans to fill in the gaps with their own crayons.
The next article is about Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11. There's a lot of inside baseball about the release and a quick, and unchallenged, recounting of Michael Moore's more spurious accusations. Well, let's face it, Bushitler still hasn't been able to adequately answer the rhetorical question, "Have you stopped beating your wife."
Fareed Zakaria follows with an article about the state of Saudi Arabia and the coming storm. The YM readers will be flipping pages rapidly here since there is a greater ratio of text to pictures than anywhere else in the entire magazine.
Flip the page and under National Affairs there's a story titled "Bill's Self-Portrait" about the unveiling of Bill Clinton's White House portrait and his book. The story is dominated by a one and one-half page picture of Bill Clinton admiring, well, Bill Clinton. There is also another smaller picture on the facing page of the cover of Bill Clinton's book featuring, wait for it, Bill Clinton. The unintended levels of irony almost make this whole exercise worthwhile.
Next, Robert J. Samuelson has an op-ed featuring the results of the Pew survey that documents the growing distrust the public has for Big Media. The date on the cover of the magazine is June 28, 2004. I read it on June 26, 2004. The original Pew survey came out on June 8, 2004. Clearly, Newsweek isn't aiming for a demographic that actually stays on top of current events through the blogosphere. This story is so June 9th.
Then there is a story about SUVs and high gas prices which notes sales are declining for the largest SUVs while priming the pump for the Prius, which isn't exactly a replacement for an SUV. Some samples of the seriousness of this article are:
[Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche on SUV sales], "This crisis scenario always pops up in May and June...". Nothing like a predictable crisis, is there?
[GM Chairman Rick Wagoner on the Hummer's declining sales], "They're a fashion statement." [He added that declining sales were], "completely predictable." I never thought Hummers would go out of fashion.
[Commenting on the new Dodge Magnum, SUV eschewer Sheryl Yeakey says], "This car has that gangster lean." I have to admit I have no clue what she's talking about. It didn't help that she then said in explaining why she didn't want an SUV, "With all that's going on in Iraq, I don't want to put all my eggs into something I'll be sorry for later." No doubt.
"With SUV's it's all about size and power," says Psychologist Margaret Krikorian of the L.A. trend-spotting firm Iceology. "It's all about Freud." What would a Newsweek article be without a little meaningless pop psychology thrown in? Later, Krikorian says, "It's a completely emotional purchase... but we all want to appear logical." This explains so much.
I'm getting almost as bored writing this as anyone still reading it probably is and we still haven't got to "Spidey" so we'll skip over the articles on the NBA draft being high school heavy, today's female bikers who are "reinventing motorcycle culture," banning tanning for wan teens, and a hazing scandal at an exclusive prep school.
And now, Along Came Spidey tells us more than we ever wanted to know about Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi and how their inability to talk to each other instead of having my people work with your people almost resulted in someone else playing Peter Parker and having the opportunity to earn $17M. Then there's the love triangle with Kirsten Dunst involving her real life squeeze, Jake Gyllenhaal, who was tentatively picked to replace Tobey, who was rumored to be romantically involved with Kirsten during filming of the original movie. Finally, I'll note the cheesy, weirdly chosen list of film villains inserted into the article which includes Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. Strangely enough, there are nothing but white men in this list, but, to be fair, this is Newsweek. As far as the movie goes, they like it.
Skipping over an article on rap's newest superstar, in which my interest level is undetectable, the next article is ostensibly about issues concerning the use of electronic balloting, although the lead paragraph focuses on Walden O'Dell's, the CEO of Diebold, fund-raising for President George W. Bush. Gotta plant those seeds of conspiracy in fertile young minds every chance they get, I guess. That's so much more important than providing a balanced presentation of the technological and logistical issues involved.
Newsweek's Tip Sheet is a bunch of quick hits on topics that must strike the fancy of the the editorial staff. Contrary to the subtitle, I found nothing in this section that offered:
Smart Strategies for Your Money, Health, Family, Technology, Design, Real Estate, Travel
The penultimate Newsweek section is titled Newsmakers. In this section we learn the Los Angeles Lakers are troubled and that Kelly Ripa is "Super Busy Super Mom Super Rich." There's a gossipy item on Allegra Beck and Donatella Versace with an eerie picture that belies the fact that these beautiful people are the height of fashion. And to top it all off, you can learn the answer to the question we've all been waiting to ask Vince Vaughn about the time he kissed Christine Taylor in Dodgeball:
Does that mean you slipped her the tongue?
Or perhaps you were more interested in knowing the answer to:
Did you wear a cup for the movie?
Did you actually train?
Perhaps my observation at the outset about YM makes more sense now.
The last page is reserved for The Last Word by Anna Quindlen. I have no idea what she wrote since, as a matter of policy, I'm not wasting any more time reading anything by Anna Quindlen.
Anyone have any idea why this thing showed up in my mailbox?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the New York Times:
Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990's were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.
But I heard once again on NPR this morning that there were no links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. After all, the infallible and unimpeachable 9/11 Commission said so!
I'm not sure I agree with the Archbishop Burke:
The archbishop of St. Louis, who has said he would deny Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, now says Roman Catholic voters who support abortion rights should go to confession before taking the sacrament.
Archbishop Raymond Burke said Thursday that Catholics cannot vote for candidates or policies in support of abortion and be worthy to receive Communion.
"We always have to remember that it's objectively wrong to vote for a pro-choice politician," Burke told KMOX Radio. "People could be in ignorance of how serious this is. But once they understand and know this and then willingly do it, vote for a pro-choice candidate, then they need to confess that."
But I admire his commitment to his beliefs.
Israeli-made bullets bought by the U.S. Army to plug a shortfall should be used for training only, not to fight Muslim guerrillas in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. lawmakers told Army generals on Thursday.
Since the Army has other stockpiled ammunition, "by no means, under any circumstances should a round (from Israel) be utilized," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, the top Democrat on a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee with jurisdiction over land forces.
Maybe they can paint a little yellow Star of David on the casings to avoid confusion.
The Army contracted with Israel Military Industries Ltd. in December for $70 million in small-caliber ammunition.
The Israeli firm was one of only two worldwide that could meet U.S. technical specifications and delivery needs, said Brig. Gen. Paul Izzo, the Army's program executive officer for ammunition. The other was East Alton, Illinois-based Winchester Ammunition, which also received a $70 million contract.
What if Winchester Ammunition employs Jews in its manufacturing, or what if Jews were involved in transporting the bullets to theater? Of course, I can only assume that Rep. Abercrombie would also demand that no American Jews be stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan, since any bullet would by definition become a Jew Bullet if fired by a Jew. But it isn't just a Democrat prejudice in play here:
Although the Army should not have to worry about "political correctness," Abercrombie was making a valid point about the propaganda pitfalls of using Israeli rounds in the U.S.-declared war on terror, said Rep. Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces.
You gotta love the "Army should not have to worry about "political correctness, [but]" phrasing; almost as much as the "U.S.-declared war on terror". Thank you al-Reuters.
How long are we going to jeopardize the safety of our citizens and soldiers by continuing to cater to pre-medieval mindsets? Gosh, it's a good thing we weren't quite so sensitive when we were fighting Germany while they were on their genocidal kick.
Bill Clinton's "My Lie" is heading up the charts due to unprecedented and unethical Big Media duplicity and greed. The mass acres of My Lie Big Media coverage are truly a sight to behold.
Personally, my life is too short to waste any of it reading this self-serving tripe, no matter what CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN and NPR say about it. Every hour. On the hour.
Burt Rutan and associates have done what has up to now only been done by villains in James Bond films -- a private enterprise putting a man into space. Way to go!
I'm in Denver tonight and tomorrow and Chicago the rest of the week. Unfortunately bizness precludes social blog gatherings. For my friends in both places, I apologize and I'll try and do better next time.
Is football season here yet?
Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry said Thursday that the Sept. 11 commission's report clearly shows President Bush ``rushed to war for a purpose that it now turns out is not supported by the facts.''
Bush continued to insist Thursday that there was a link between Iraq and al-Qaida, despite the independent commission's finding that there is no evidence to support a collaborative relationship. Bush said no one in his administration has said the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were orchestrated between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.
Kerry seized upon the commission's findings as further evidence that the White House misled the public about its reasons for invading Iraq. He said Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney ``on a number of occasions have asserted very directly to the American people that the war against al-Qaida is the war in Iraq. And on any number of occasions the president has made it clear that the front of the war against al-Qaida is in Iraq.''
``This administration took its eye off of al-Qaida, took its eye off of the real war on terror in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan and transferred it for reasons of its own to Iraq,'' Kerry said. ``And the American people are paying billions of dollars now because of that decision. And most importantly, American families and American soldiers are paying the highest price of all.''
I'm raising my estimate of President George W. Bush's vote this November to 54.5%. Hell, I may even donate some money to the Republican Party tonight.
Listening to the 911 Commission hearings this morning on the way to work gave me radio rage. Again. Listening to a calm recitation of isolated and carefully chosen facts two years, nine months and six days later, all of which were undoubtedly true, to reach a conclusion that it was only incompetence of some members of the executive branch of our government that prevented us from shooting down the hijacked planes was a little too much to take.
I really enjoyed the number of times it was noted that there was confusion and people weren't sure what to do. I mean, why didn't those air traffic controllers at the FAA just reach up and pull their handy-dandy Emergency Procedure manual down from the shelf, turn to the appropriate section that gave the procedures for doing the right thing (whatever that may have been, since we don't seem to have agreement on that yet) immediately after two jumbo jets had just been crashed into buildings in a major metropolitan area? Of course, they would need to read quickly through the subsection on how to safely get every single commercial airliner out of the skies RIGHT F*CKING NOW. I think that subsection came after the subsection that indicated how to determine exactly how many more planes had been hijacked and where they were going to be crashing so fighters could be scrambled to shoot them down. I mean, it's not as if it hadn't all happened before and been fully documented. This is a an SEI CMMI Level 5 organization we're talking about here isn't it? At least that's what they expect of their contractors.
Of course, there is the little matter of how much time there was to read through these procedures and execute them. I mean, the clock couldn't have started until the second tower was hit. I remember the news reports from that morning with all the Talking Heads still speaking as though the first plane was a terrible accident, and we certainly can't expect our civil servants to be more on the ball than our Big Media celebrities, now can we? And as I remember, we got kind of pissed off when the Soviets shot Korean Air Flight 7 out of the skies, so I don't think our procedures would have been to scramble jets to shoot down civilian airliners just because they had been hijacked. Then again, maybe Al Gore's streamlining of federal regulations had inadvertently struck this subsection from the manual. It certainly wouldn't have been the Bush administration taking this kind of initiative, what with filing all the cabinet offices and undersecretary positions taking so damn long back in 2001. But I digress.
Anyway, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the WTC at 9:03 AM EDT. Forty mintes later American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. It took the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey eighteen minutes after the second tower was hit to order all the bridges and tunnels in New York to be closed, and nobody was closer to it than they were. And yet, the FAA's air traffic controllers spread out in various places where supposed to figure out exactly what to do and do it in forty minutes. I seem to remember most everyone still trying to figure out exactly what had happened through the next several days as I sat in my hotel room in Chantilly, VA. Since United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in the fields of Pennsylvania twenty-seven minutes later after a heroic attempt by the passengers to take back the plane, we thankfully will never know what it would have been like for our fighters to have actually shot a civilian airliner out of the sky. That's just another reason to honor those that perished while preventing the bastards from completing their wicked intentions.
I am appalled and disgusted by the partisan spectacle of finger-pointing and myopic hindsight that is the 911 Commission. At least this phase of the (b)lamest show on earth is over. My only wish is that any terrorist acts they may be enabling strike them first.
Since Andrew is all riled up, I suppose he's going to take his balls and go home.
Like I've been saying for a while now, Andrew Sullivan's militant activism on gay marriage, which seems to be driving his decision to hate Bush, is making it difficult to distinguish his thoughts and opinions from those of Bob Shrum, James Carville, Paul Begala, Michael Moore and, in some cases, even the denizens of DU. Make no mistake, Andrew Sullivan doesn't just oppose President George W. Bush now, he has become a Bush hater.
IMHO, Andrew is wrong on many fronts here, but the most egregious for someone of his intellect is the idea that he can just sit this one out because he may not be able to support either candidate. Come on Andrew, not making a choice is in and of itself making a choice, albeit allowing it to be made for you. Please spare me the utopian self-righteousness that allows you to imagine yourself above the fray of the lesser of two evils.
I'm not saying or implying that anyone has to support Bush to be fair and resonable -- far from it. But seeing his descent into rhetoric and a worldview that is only distinguishable from that of the foul-mouthed, know-nothing Bush=Hitler crowd by its literacy, correct spelling, and good grammer has been very distressing. Mr. Sullivan is displaying an odd combination of manic-depressive and obsessive-compulsive behaviour the last six months or so. He has either been very high or very low on Bush, with almost no middle ground, while applying his considerable writing skills to rationalizing his feelings at whichever extreme he finds himself. I honestly wonder if there may not be something more tragic going on in Andrew's life which has so poisoned his perspective on politics. I sincerely hope not and patiently look forward to him returning to the land of the reasonable, whether he returns to supporting, or even tolerating, President George W. Bush or not.
Andrew Sullivan is far too clever and talented to be dismissed quickly and casually because I find myself in profound disagreement with him of late. I'm not presumptious enough to imagine that he would ever read or respond to this, but I would hope that the brighter lights of the blogosphere may be able to get through to him. While Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds are a little late to the party, I wish them luck with their intervention, if that's what it is.
Character's on my submission that made his list were:
13) Merlin (Arthurian legend action hero)
8) The Man With No Name (Clint Eastwood as Sergio Leone's action hero)
5) Jack Ryan (Tom Clancy action hero)
5) Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkein's action hero)
3) Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthus Conan Doyle's action hero)
2) James Bond (Sir Ian Felming's action hero)
1) Indiana Jones (Steven Spielberg's action hero)
Detecting a theme here? Other's from my list that didn't make the cut:
John Galt, Francisco D'Anconia, Ragnar Danesskjold, Dagney Taggart (sorry Hank, but what's up with the dissing of Ayn Rand? Or was John Galt real?)
William of Baskerville (from Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, a post-precursor to Sherlock Holmes)
King Arthur (why Merlin, but not Arthur?)
Hamlet, Macbeth, Edgar, Son of the Earl of Gloucester, Henry V, and Richard III (perhaps all real, but I'm focused on the fictional portrayals by Shakespeare)
Edmund Blackadder (the best sitcom, ever)
Basil Fawlty (probably the second best sitcom, ever)
Hari Seldon (I like Heinlein too, but it's tough to beat Hari)
The Chink (from Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues)
Harry Potter (honorable mention -- J.K. Rowlings' action hero)
My submission was a quick off the cuff list, so I'm sure I would change seven or eight of them if I were to do it over, and that's assuming most of the Shakespearian characters are valid as "fictional" characters. The one I had on my list that I am most surprised didn't make it was John Galt. The one I'm most disappointed about leaving off was Atticus Finch.
It has been previously noted here that some of Andrew Sullivan's posts and positions seem to be remarkably incongruent with his past writings. Frankly, I wonder if his activist mentality concerning gay marriage is starting to color his perspective on matters that are entirely unrelated. How else to explain his apparent shift to favor John Kerry over President George W. Bush the last couple of months. If you want to know more about why this seems so bizarre just read Andrew's archives. But what do I know, maybe Mr. Sullivan now believes John Kerry's repeatedly stated willingness to yield America's sovereignty to the UN is the right thing to do.
Maybe I should have been tipped off Thursday when Andrew spoke approvingly of Richard Cohen's take on Abu Ghraib and the "torture memos." Today, Andrew wrote something on this topic I just cannot let pass. In his haste to try and and make President George W. Bush look as bad as possible, Andrew drops into an absurd combination of moral equivalence and utopianism that is beyond the pale. Here's Andrew's post:
AIDS IN CHINA: We can be retrospectively critical of Reagan, but no one in America ever sent AIDS activists to forcible psychiatric treatment. But that's what just happened in Communist China:
When a fellow activist attempted to deliver some AIDS materials to Hu Jia on the evening of June 1, police refused to allow them to meet, and gave Hu Jia a brutal thrashing that resulted in injuries to his head and left arm. On June 3, four police officers forced their way into Hu Jia's home and said they would be staying there to monitor his activities. When Hu Jia objected, they struck him in the presence of his father and mother, then took him away and detained him in a cold, damp basement for three days and three nights. Since releasing Hu Jia on June 6, police have continued their surveillance on his home, cutting off all of the family's telephone access and refusing to allow Hu Jia to leave the house.
The more recent order for psychiatric evaluation is causing considerable distress to Hu Jia and his parents. Hu Jia's parents see absolutely no sign of mental abnormality in Hu Jia, and are well aware that "psychiatric treatment" has been forced upon a number of dissidents and religious practitioners, sometimes resulting in them actually becoming mentally unstable. A source passed HRIC a message from Hu Jia's family and friends calling on the international community to take note of Hu Jia's desperate situation. The message states, "If the police forcibly commit Hu Jia to a mental hospital against the wishes of himself and his family, this constitutes using psychiatric treatment as a form of torture and political persecution."
Yes, a form of torture. But how can the U.S. now take a stand against this, when the president has memos drawn up explaining why torture is sometimes okay?
This comment is so wrong on so many levels, tarring the entire United States because of the actions of a few, equating what happens in the confusion of a war zone (justified or not) with systematic, premeditated abuse of its citizens by the Chinese state, insinuating that President George W. Bush sought legal justification for an a priori decision to torture prisoners, and just generally falling into the same tiresome trap of claiming that we have no right to ever judge anyone for anything because we are not perfect all the time. Does Andrew really believe that the depraved actions of a few at Abu Ghraib reduces America and its government to the moral equivalent of the People's Republic of China now that they have adopted the old Soviet tactic of declaring dissidents mentally ill?
What utter rubbish. Andrew should be ashamed of spewing the sort of charges we are more accustomed to hearing from Ted Rall, Sid Blumenthal, James Carville, and, of late, Al Gore. Short of a change of heart and rhetoric, I am beginning to regard Andrew Sullivan as part of the same short-sighted, spinning cabal I generally refer to as Big Media. He now seems to be more interested in pushing an agenda than dealing with reality. That's too bad, because he is very intelligent, well-informed, and a much better writer than I'll ever be. Nonetheless, it is deeply distressing to see anyone, much less someone I have respected for so long, lapse so easily into utopian (postmodern?) moral equivalence because his otherwise clear vision has been obscured by his anger.
This state funeral was an amazing spectacle. I'm glad I got to watch part of it. For those that thought it too much or over the top, may I suggest they compare it to Princess Diana's funeral, especially if the accomplishments of the two are set side by side.
Ronald Reagan accomplished the tasks set in front of him with courage, grace, kindness, and aplomb. His twilight years were stolen from him by Alzheimer's, but you can't really say he was cheated out of having a full life. I expect to see more state funerals for former presidents in my lifetime, but I don't think any will match this in pomp or circumstance.
I heard someone compare this state funeral to the state funeral forty-one years ago for President Kennedy, but I don't think it is a good comparison. I had just turned four when President Kennedy's funeral took place and, while I have no direct memories of it, I cannot help but have learned much about it over the years. President Kennedy had perhaps half of his life taken from him suddenly and unexpectedly by an assassin's bullet. His state funeral was a time for the nation to mourn our, and his, loss. President Kennedy’s state funeral was imbued with sorrow and sadness, mingled with fear and grieving for what seemed a lost future. America did not recover from the feelings generated by President Kennedy's assassination until Ronald Reagan helped us pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps by reminding us what it meant to be Americans. For damn sure, no one else pulled us up. President Reagan's state funeral was more of a celebration of a life full of accomplishment and achievement, both personally and as a public figure. It is right that there were tears, but it is just as right that there were more expressions of thanks for his successes than tears of remorse or regret.
I am most interested in what effect this may have on President George W. Bush. Not on his prospects vis-ŕ-vis the horserace, but on him personally.
The Sine Qua Non wife and I are celebrating twenty-one years of marriage today.
Posting will be light.
Drudge says: Lawyer says Saddam subjected to torture...
Drudge says: DAN & TOM: ENOUGH REAGAN...
That's correct Ted. There's nothing knee about you.
Freedom is a foreign concept to the French (no pun intended):
Bulky four-by-fours could be banned from clogging up the chic streets of Paris after a top official in the capital's left-wing government described them as a polluting "caricature of a car" unsuited to city life.
An anti-sports utility vehicle (SUV) resolution passed by the city council could lead to a ban on the popular vehicles in about 18 months if it is included in an overall project to improve traffic flow in the city, Deputy Mayor Denis Baupin said Wednesday.
"You have to wonder why people want to drive around in SUVs," Baupin, a Greens party member, said on Europe 1 radio.
"We have no interest in having SUVs in the city. They're dangerous to others and take up too much space."
The embodiement of ethics and morality in this life is each person's battle of good versus evil, not perfect versus evil.
I am reminded of Secretary of War Stanton's words when Abraham Lincoln died, "Now he belongs to the ages.
The original misunderestimated president.
Dan Rather: simple-minded stooge or willful sycophantic shill?
Clinton, who flopped last year as a commentator for the CBS television news magazine, will discuss his upcoming book, "My Life," with newsman Dan Rather for an interview to be aired Sunday, June 20.
I find it amusing that they have to tell us that Dan Rather is a "newsman."
Reading the Professor this morning, I began to wonder if Amazon.com is the Wal-Mart of the Internet, putting small mom and pop cyber-operations out of business because of their nefarious ability to exploit economies of scale combined with their ruthless efficiency? Is Amazon.com destroying burgeoning, healthy on-line communities by offering so much under one URL that small proprietors cannot compete? How fair is it that the global corporate interests that run Amazon.com have an on-line database that can be mined for my preferences, offering them a competitive advantage over stuggling, middle class Internet entrepeneurs who are only trying to feed their families? And what's with the personal greetings and suggestions Amazon.com offers me every time I enter their site? It's almost as if some blue-smock wearing Medicare recipient was trying to cheer me up as I cross their portal. Incidentally, the faceless machines of Amazon.com will be putting even the blue-smock wearing greeters of Wal-Mart out on the keisters soon if their hegemonic capitalist thrust isn't stopped soon! How are we supposed to think globally and act locally if all our commerce is conducted without respect to geography? The Internet was supposed to break down the walls of time and distance to give us the global village so many have dreamt of for so long, though the multinationals are exploiting its power to crush the enterprising spirit of the great unwashed masses. Maybe Jeff Bezos thinks he has to destroy the global village in order to save it.
(By this time, I am talking very fast and quite loudly, gesturing wildly as my body starts spinning and rotating with changes to pitch, roll and yaw all accelerating until I have disappeared behind a counter, a la John Belushi on an SNL Weekly Update rant so many years ago.)