February 28, 2005

Help Me Information, Get Me Sunny Miami

I never went to Florida for Spring Break while I was in college, but I am going to be staying at the Sheraton Bal Harbor the rest of the week while attending a conference. Alas, I won't have the chance this trip to pay a visit to my non-blogging friends in Melbourne and Tampa or the gracious Andrea in Orlando.

See y'all next week.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:14 PM | Comments (1)

February 26, 2005

Just Because


Posted by Charles Austin at 11:47 PM | Comments (1)

The Blog of Lists

Anybody else ever read The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace, or The People's Almanac by David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace some twenty-five years ago? Well, the meme survives:

1. What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
Very soft, warm chocolate chip cookies. All other cookies are poor imitations of this little slice of heaven.

2. Who is America’s most overrated actor?
Bill Clinton. No freakin' contest.

3. Name a guilty pleasure.
Driving very assertively. If you see a blue RX-8 passing you doing 75 in the outside lane of a two-lane off ramp, it's probably me. Especially, if you just passed me on the main road while I stayed within 9 mph of the posted speed limit.

4. “Scrubs” or “Everybody Loves Raymond”?
I haven't watched any conventional big three network programming other than sports for at least 15 years. I decline to accept the fundamental premise of this false dichotomy.

5. Name two things you can’t live without.
The obvious, and only appropriate, answer to this question must be Thing 1 and Thing 2. But instead I'll say food and water. Though I think this was meant somewhat more metaphorically, in which case I'll say books and music, hope and dreams, Country and Western, rythym and blues, rock and roll, retro and neo, theory and practice, integrals and derivatives, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, punch and pie, freedom and liberty, cowboys and Indians, arts and sciences, adverbs and adjectives, yin and yang, Harry Nilsson and you, us and them, irresistible forces and immovable objects, sugar and saccharine, those twins (Hmm..., is that one thing or two things? And in a similar vein, would Eric the bee be one thing or two things since he traditionally comes in halves? And would sweet and sour pork be one thing or two things? The mind boggles at the implications.), or friends and family.

6. Your first pet’s name + your mother’s maiden name = your porn star name.
Buddy Burress. Gee, is that how Paul Thomas Anderson came up with Dirk Diggler?

7. What song are you listening to right now?
Hell -- Squirrel Nut Zippers.

8. Name your celebrity crush.
Valerie Bertinelli. This one could get me into so much trouble, if you only knew...

9. Favorite punchline from a joke.
Oh, its a scythe. The best line by the best character from the best episode of the best sitcom ever.

10. Who do you want to pass this meme off to?
Kevin Bacon. Six degrees and all that.

Via Rodya via Andrea via Emily.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:56 PM | Comments (1)

Shut Up Chuck

"The rabble criticize me without so much as a 'by your leave'. The bloody cheek!"

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has complained that his future subjects have "tortured" him over his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, a newspaper reported.

The Mail on Sunday said the prince's comments to BBC journalist Gavin Hewitt, included in a new book, will fuel concern at the public's growing disenchantment with the monarchy and the prince's suitability to become king.

While at first refusing to discuss his relationship with Parker Bowles, Charles is pressed further and then snaps: "I thought the British people were supposed to be compassionate. I don't see much of it," the Mail said.

Whether His Highness feels that way or not, perhaps his future subjects are entitled to have an opinion on his performance and lifestyle, given that Charles collected £3M from the taxpayers last year for breathing, in addition to the £9.9M his inherited lands produced.

I think I could stand a bit of this, ahem, torture.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

Bill Gates Is a Smart Man

So why does he say such stupid things?

The nation's governors offered an alarming account of the American high school Saturday, saying only drastic change will keep millions of students from falling short.

"We can't keep explaining to our nation's parents or business leaders or college faculties why these kids can't do the work," said Virginia Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, as the state leaders convened for the first National Education Summit aimed at rallying governors around high school reform...

The most blunt assessment came from Microsoft chief Bill Gates, who has put more than $700 million into reducing the size of high school classes through the foundation formed by him and his wife, Melinda. He said high schools must be redesigned to prepare every student for college, with classes that are rigorous and relevant to kids and with supportive relationships for children.

"America's high schools are obsolete," Gates said. "By obsolete, I don't just mean that they're broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools _ even when they're working as designed _ cannot teach all our students what they need to know today."

Let's see, so according to Bill Gates every student should be prepared for college. The fact that he dropped out of college would probably be better left unaddressed here given his subsequent success. Is it possible Mr. Gates left school a little too early to become familiar with this:

bell curve.gif

Though to be fair, perhaps he's merely fallen under the spell of President Bush and his No Child Left Behind initiatives. Either way, this is a phenomenonally silly thing to say. While I'm not interested in getting into an argument about Charles Murray's book here, I have read elsewhere that almost everything we can measure in nature corresponds to this model. I've also read that to master nature we must first learn to obey it. Pretending that the population of American children are somehow an exception to this virtually universal rule seem to me the height of folly. In fact, I find it difficult to distinguish between the philosophy motivating these ideas and those motivating Year 0 Utopians, of whom I am a self-professed nemesis. Each seems to believe that we can make people something other than what they merely by wishing it so, or what's worse by intellectual or administrative fiat.

This seems to me to be nothing more than another variation on the meme that we must measure equality only at the finish line. I find this to be perhaps the most pernicous idea floating around in our political discourse today. The fact that these ideas are always couched in high-minded idealism in no way redeems the wickedness they have spawned. I could get off an a rant here about the decline of our schools merely mirroring the demise of the family in our society and the concurrent replacement of the state as the head of so many households, figuratively and literally, but instead I'll finish with a question.

Can you name any measurable human trait that does not correspond to a bell shaped curve?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:13 PM | Comments (4)

U.S. Death Toll In Iraq Approaches 10,111,011,100

Or in base 10, 1500, according to the editorializing ghouls at Reuters:

The U.S. military death toll is nearing 1,500 in the 23-month Iraq war, with casualties easing in the weeks since the historic Jan. 30 elections but with little evidence the insurgency has been crippled.

Little evidence the insurgency has been crippled, except for this:

Iraq's January 30 election marked an important step on the road to a secure, prosperous, and democratic Iraq... Successful elections in Iraq are a blow to the forces of terror. In time, the defeat of terror in Iraq will set that nation on a course to lasting freedom, and will give hope to millions.

... this:

BAQUBA, Feb 19: Iraqi security forces on Saturday arrested the alleged commander of an insurgent cell close to Al Qaeda frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, police said.

... this:

Iraqi state television aired a video Wednesday showing what the U.S.-funded channel said was the confession of a captured Syrian officer who said he trained Iraqi insurgents to behead people and build car bombs to attack American and Iraqi troops.

... this:

Early July 2004, a week or so after the CPA left Baghdad and Iyad Allawi’s interim Iraqi government took over: I was sitting in the Corps’ Joint Operations Center(JOC) in Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, drinking a big cup of tea. The JOC had a huge screen covering an entire wall, like a movie theater screen divided into ceiling-high panels capable of displaying multiple computer images and projections. A viewer could visually hopscotch from news to weather to war. In the upper right-hand corner of one panel Fox News flickered silently–and for the record, occasionally CNN or Al Jazeera would flicker there as well. Beneath Fox ran my favorite channel, live imagery from a Predator UAV circling somewhere over Iraq. That July day the Predator appeared to be flying above an irrigation canal. The biggest display, that morning and every morning, was a spooling date-time list describing scores of military and police actions undertaken over the last dozen hours, Examples: “0331: 1/5 Cav, 1st Cavalry Division, arrests two suspects after Iraqi police stop car"; “0335 USMC patrol vicinity Fallujah engaged by RPG, returned fire. No casualties.” The spool went on and on and on, and I remember thinking : “I know we’re winning. We’re winning because –in the big picture– all the opposition has to offer is the past. But the drop-by-drop police blotter perspective obscures that.”

... this:

Insurgents used a mentally handicapped child as one of the suicide bombers who launched attacks on Iraq's Election Day, the country's interior minister said yesterday. "A handicapped child was used to carry out a suicide attack on a polling site," Falah al-Naqib said. "This is an indication of what horrific actions they are carrying out."

... this:

Letter seized in raid on known Al Qaeda safe house in Baghdad contains detailed proposal for waging 'sectarian war' in Iraq in next few months; Americans say letter was written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Jordanian identified by Bush administration in days before war as main link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government; letter notes that extremists are failing to enlist support inside country, and have been unable to scare Americans into leaving...

... this:

It was difficult not to cringe during Reagan's speech in 1987. He didn't leave a single Berlin cliché out of his script. At the end of it, most experts agreed that his demand for the removal of the Wall was inopportune, utopian and crazy. Yet three years later, East Germany had disappeared from the map. Gorbachev had a lot to do with it, but it was the East Germans who played the larger role. When analysts are confronted by real people, amazing things can happen. And maybe history can repeat itself. Maybe the people of Syria, Iran or Jordan will get the idea in their heads to free themselves from their oppressive regimes just as the East Germans did. When the voter turnout in Iraq recently exceeded that of many Western nations, the chorus of critique from Iraq alarmists was, at least for a couple of days, quieted. Just as quiet as the chorus of Germany experts on the night of Nov. 9, 1989 when the Wall fell. Just a thought for Old Europe to chew on: Bush might be right, just like Reagan was then.

..and this:

As 55 people died in Iraq on Saturday, the holiest day on the Shiite Muslim religious calendar, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said that much of Iraq was "functioning quite well" and that the rash of suicide attacks was a sign that the insurgency was failing. Clinton, a New York Democrat, said insurgents intent on destabilizing the country had failed to disrupt Iraq's landmark Jan. 30 elections. "The concerted effort to disrupt the elections was an abject failure. Not one polling place was shut down or overrun," Clinton told reporters inside the U.S.-protected Green Zone, a sprawling complex of sandbagged buildings surrounded by blast walls and tanks. The zone is home to the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy. The five-member U.S. congressional delegation arrived in Baghdad as a series of suicide bombings and explosions killed 55 people, including an American solder. Much of the violence was aimed at Shiite Muslims, commemorating Ashoura, the festival marking the 7th century death of a leader of their sect. "The fact that you have these suicide bombers now, wreaking such hatred and violence while people pray, is to me, an indication of their failure," Clinton said.

Don't you wish there was some sort of Big Media Sergeant Friday saying authoritatively, "Just the facts, sir, just the facts"?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:31 AM | Comments (2)

February 23, 2005

Slow News Day

I worked in an office once where we had two conferences rooms, labeled 2A and 2B respectively, or as I liked to refer to them, conference rooms 2B and not 2B.

How's that for a segue for the announcement of two new Sine Qua Non subheadings (alert the media!):

Green Eggs and Hamlet

Nemesis of Year 0 Utopians

The former will be a book translating Shakespeare's Hamlet into mono- and disyllabic rhymes suitable for youngsters. I am looking for an illustrator. The latter is nothing more than an acknolwedgment of my keeping up the good fight against the perfect -- "What is good, Phaedrus?" and all that.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:16 PM | Comments (2)

February 22, 2005

Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!

Who'd have guessed the Left would be standing athwart history yelling, "Stop!"?

You don't have to look hard for suggested solutions to Social Security. President Bush proposes private accounts. Liberals want a number of minor tweaks. One common proposal is to raise the maximum level of wages subject to payroll tax from its current $90,000 to, say, $150,000.

Here's another solution to the alleged crisis: Do nothing.

Wow, I must have been dreaming when President Bill Clinton said, "Save Social Security first," as soon as he had a surplus (by counting Social Security taxes, incidentally). Or perhaps I was hallucinating about Vice President Al Gore's campaign mantra, "Lock Box." Gosh, maintaining a consistent position when political power shifts in Washington, D.C., is awfully hard.

But semi-seriously, how about taking the cap off FICA "contributions" with no upper limit, but eliminating the employer match for all FICA "contributions" above the cap and not counting these contributions towards increasing benefits for the "contributor"? This puts money into the program from those who can afford it (Ed. -- Yes, I know, this is heresy) without adding anything to a business' cost for employing people. It also adds nothing to the red ink on the ledger since no new benefits are being paid out. This is just a suggestion as part of a solution, not the whole solution, but I've never understood why a liberal program should be so regressive in its approach to taxation by only taxing people to a point and then letting all income above that to go untaxed. Of course, for intellectual consistency, this also requires seeing Social Security for what it really is, i.e., welfare for the aged, and not as a retirement program. But I digress.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:37 PM | Comments (1)

I'm Sick, I'm Sick, You Know It

Really now, you need a judge to tell you that Michael Jackson is really sick?

Michael Jackson returned to court Tuesday after a week's delay and the judge assured prospective jurors that the singer really had been ill and there was no plot to put off his child molestation trial.

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

Shame Canada!

In todays variation on the theme of "Bloody wogs, what do you expect from them anyway," do you suppose three-quarters of Canadians live in a dreamworld where they want the glory of achieving this goal for themselves?

More than three-quarters of Canadians said they didn't think the United States should try to promote the creation of democratic governments in other countries, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

Before you get too worked up about this just remember what someone else once said, "They're not even a real country anyway." And besides, all the cool kids think the same way:

President Bush is calling on European leaders to support his campaign to spread democracy abroad at a time people in many of those countries have doubts whether that should be the U.S. role in the world, Associated Press polling found.

A majority of people in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain said they thought it should not be the U.S. role to spread democracy, according to AP-Ipsos polls. A majority of those living in Canada, Mexico and South Korea also disagreed with that role.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:25 PM | Comments (1)

Why Should We Listen To You Brent Stormscowcroft?

Don't you just hate it when the world changes and some people refuse to notice?

As President Bush prepared for talks Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, former U.S. national security adviser Brent Scowcroft faulted Bush for not paying enough attention to relations with Moscow.

"U.S. policy in the last few years has not reflected the importance of the relationship," said Scowcroft, who also was critical of the president's Iraq and Mideast policies.

Good thing Condoleezza Rice doesn't insist on seeing everything through Cold War glasses just because she is an expert on the former Soviet Union and speaks fluent Russian. Gee, if I wasn't married I could fantasize about Ms. Rice as Archie Leach speaking Russian to me as she undressed a la John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda. Power is a very strong aphrodisiac. But I digress.

Slip sliding down this slippery slope of free word association, I can't wait for Ted Rall or someone similar to have Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice say something like, "I don't know nothin' about birthin' no countries," in one of his poorly drawn political cartoons as he tries to make a feeble point about the Bush administration's policy of spreading democracty and freedom to the oppressed peoples of the world.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Mind The Gap ....

... between Red Ken's rhetoric and reality:

"A week ago I said it was not my intention to apologise to the journalist from Daily Mail group or his employers. Upon a further week of reflection in which I have read everything written in the press about this controversy and after considerable debate with many Londoners I have decided to stand by that position.

"There will therefore be no apology or expression of regret to the Daily Mail group.

"To the Daily Mail group journalist I say this. You are responsible for your own actions. That you are paid by Daily Mail group to do the job you do is not a defence for your behaviour.

"Pursuing me along the pavement thrusting your tape recorder at me whilst repeatedly barking the same question, when I had clearly indicated I did not wish to be interviewed by you, is not acceptable behaviour by you or any other journalist. Indeed a member of the public behaving in this way could find themselves arrested for a breach of peace.

"Many other journalists will confirm I have made similar comments to them over the last twenty-four years. You are the first to complain. If you feel that my comments are too harsh or robust then you are most probably in the wrong job and certainly working for the wrong newspaper group.

"Whilst this journalistic technique of door stepping may be appropriate when dealing with people who do not make themselves available to the media, this is not a complaint that can be levelled against myself. Every week my press conference is open to any journalist from Britain or abroad, and I have never yet left a press conference before I have answered every question journalists wish to put to me.

"For issues that arise urgently I am invariably able to accommodate requests for information with a quote and more often than not a radio or a television interview as required.

"To the Daily Mail group, I say that no-one in Britain is less qualified than they to complain about anti-Semitism. Their papers were not, as some have reported, guilty of 'a brief flirtation' with Adolf Hitler in the l930s. In truth these papers were the leading advocates of anti-Semitism in Britain for half a century.

"Beginning a hundred years ago with their campaign to stop Jewish refugees fleeing to Britain from Russia, they carried on right the way through the rise of Hitler, and even after the start of World War II still felt free to peddle the lie that Germany’s Jews had brought the Holocaust upon themselves. I have set out in detail the record of the Daily Mail group in my formal response to the London Assembly.

"Whilst it is true the Mail group no longer smears Jews as bringing crime and disease to the UK, it is only because they have moved on. After a decade of pandering to racism against our citizens of black and Irish origin, they have moved on, and now describe asylum seekers and Muslims in similar terms. For the Mail group, the victims may change but the intolerance, hatred and fear pervade every issue of the papers.

"What was the motive of the Mail group in whipping up this media fire storm? If insulted, why did the Daily Mail group journalist or the editor of the Evening Standard not get in touch and say they thought I had gone too far? If the Daily Mail group journalist had expressed regret for his behaviour on the street, I would have been happy to withdraw my comments and assure him I bore him no hard feelings.

"If the editor of the Evening Standard could have explained why, in five years of mayoral receptions, this was the first one at which they had chosen to photograph every guest as they left, I might have been persuaded by her answer.

"Instead, the editor held the story back from the Wednesday and Thursday editions. This is rather surprising in the light of the Evening Standard’s claim to be 'first with the news'. When the story finally appeared on Friday it was with a screaming headline claiming my words were 'a race slur'.

"In all the tens of thousands of words devoted to this story in the last two weeks no paper has been able to show that my words contravened any clause in any of the Acts of Parliament that deal with racism, or anti-Semitism or that they were anti-semitic or racist.

"Is it the case that whilst not racist or anti-semitic, my words were so offensive they should never have been uttered?

"Clearly the the leading Jewish newspaper the Jewish Chronicle does not think so. On February 7th 2003 they published a letter accusing Professors Hilary and Stephen Rose of being kapos (concentration camp inmates serving as guards). The Roses complained to the Jewish Chronicle and the Press Complaints Commission. The Press Complaints Commission rejected the Roses complaint on the grounds that the Jewish Chronicle had printed a letter of rebuttal on the Roses.

"Clearly, the Jewish Chronicle and the Press Complaints Commission did not feel that this term diminished the Holocaust.

"If we want to see an example of an inappropriate use of the term 'Holocaust' we need look no further than the Daily Mail writer Quentin Letts, who described Labour MP Andrew Dismore as "a Holocaust bore".

"I refer to the Holocaust because it is the most extreme example of evil in my own array of moral reference points. Over the last two weeks my main concern has been that many Jewish Londoners have been disturbed by this whipped-up row.

"I do not equate the actions of one reporter with the total abdication of responsibility shown by those who were complicit to whatever degree in the horrors of the Holocaust. But I do believe that abdicating responsibility for one’s actions by the excuse that "I am only doing my job" is the thin end of the immoral wedge that, at its other extreme, leads to the crimes and horrors of Auschwitz, Rwanda and Bosnia.

"I have been deeply affected by the concern of Jewish people, in particular that my comments downplayed the horror and magnitude of the Holocaust. I wish to say to those Londoners that my words were not intended to cause such offence, and that my view remains that the Holocaust against the Jews is the greatest racial crime of the 20th century.

"Something that has been disgraceful over these past two weeks has been the way in which the Daily Mail group have worked hand in glove with the chair of the London Assembly and his Conservative colleagues. Betraying his wider political agenda, Brian Coleman has in his many appearances tried to widen this issue to include my views about the policies of the Israeli government.

"Given Assembly member Coleman’s own record of disparaging Irish travellers, Somalis, foreign students and participants at the Notting Hill Carnival, his new found interest in the sensitivities of London’s minorities is impossible to believe.

"Now this issue has been referred to the Standards Board for England. Most Londoners will be surprised to discover that the person they chose to elect by a substantial majority last summer can be removed from office and banned from public life for five years for breaching the sub-section of The Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (England) Order 2001 which says that councillors 'must treat others with respect'.

"It has always been my view that respect has to be earned.

"To quote Andrew Alexander writing in the Daily Mail last week 'Freedom of speech, if it means what it says, involves the right to irritate, annoy, dismay and shock anyone who listens. The only sensible limitations should be on speech which leads to violence, affray or disorder.'

"This code is a threat to freedom of speech.

"Clearly Londoners share my view. I have lost count of the number of times I have been approached by Londoners over the last two weeks, and have been urged very forcefully not to apologise. Since this row erupted we have received over 1,500 letters and emails from the public. 74 per cent have expressed their support for me, with 26 per cent against—a margin of support of three to one.

"Not for the first time in my years in public life the views of ordinary people on the street are overwhelmingly at odds with much of the media."

See, anti-semitism is ok because everybody's doing it!

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

Tes Rall's Never Met Richard Cohen

Then again, this ought to be right up Ted's alley:

Upon hearing that I'd started writing a blog, a Luddite pal asked me to describe this latest new-media phenom. Political bloggers, I explained, link to articles in traditional media. Then they rant and/or rave about them. "Great piece in the Journal." "The usual crap at CNN.com." Anyone can write one; you don't even have to use your real name. "Oh," he replied. "A blog is like a column without the responsibility."

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

Does This Mean Iran Is a Boggart?

Bush Says Talk of Attacking Iran 'Ridiculous'

Of course, if we were liberating Iran tomorrow, I expect he'd say the same thing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

They Call It Paradise

After the fires the last two years, the floods this year, and the inevitable earthquakes, it looks like the Eagles were right, though for the wrong reasons.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

This Is Major Tom to Ground Control...

I'm stepping through the door, and I'm floating in a most peculiar way...

In the upcoming Steven Spielberg remake of War of the Worlds, one family fights for survival when Earth is invaded by Martian war machines. But on the set of the movie, there’s been an invasion of another sort: Scientologists! Tom Cruise, the film’s star and the religion’s most well-known adherent, has set up a Scientology tent with a volunteer minister. “It’s a gift from Tom to the crew,” says Lee Anne De Vette, Cruise’s sister and spokeswoman. “You can receive what’s called an assist there,” a Scientologist practice that, as she describes it, seems to be a glorified mini-massage. “If someone has an injury in a certain part of their body, if their back is killing them, they can come in and get an assist. It’s something that helps the body get in better communication with itself.” Actual Scientology literature is available, too, in case “someone walks in looking for a solution.”

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:41 PM | Comments (2)

It's Not That People Are Stupid

They are just poorly informed and lack any decent historical perspective:

A new Gallup Poll, released today, finds that Ronald Reagan is now the people's choice for America's greatest president ever. Bill Clinton comes in second.

While this finding may suggest that many Americans favor only recent presidents, it does represent a strong rise for Reagan since his recent passing. The previous Gallup survey on this subject placed Reagan behind co-leaders Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

In another interesting finding, Gallup found that mothers don't want their babies to grow up to be cowboys -- or presidents. Men by a 52%-46% margin said they would like their son or daughter to “grow up to be president," but women say no by 67% to 29%.

In this new poll on greatest president, Reagan drew 20% support, followed by Clinton with 15%, Lincoln with 14%, and Franklin D. Roosevelt and JFK with 12% each.

Republicans rate Reagan over Lincoln 42% to 14%, while Democrats put Clinton far in the lead over FDR. Independents favor Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy.

By age group, Clinton is favored by the youngest (18-29), Reagan by the 30-49 group, Kennedy by the 50-64 baby boomers, and FDR by the elderly.

If you want to beat up Big Media over something, this is a much better target than most of what they've been taking heat over the last six months. I recall being frustrated and incredulous with the daily "What Does Bill Clinton Think About Today's News" mode of operation Big Media was in while he was president, as though he was some sort of oracle who knew so much better than all of us little people. I will note that there is still some of this going on today, although the frequency and intensity is much lower since Big Media really doesn't put much stock in what President George W. Bush thinks anyway.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

Apolitical Correctness

I'm opposed to gay marriage, but my opposition isn't nearly as strong as the Pope's:

Homosexual marriages are part of "a new ideology of evil" that is insidiously threatening society, Pope John Paul says in a new book published Tuesday.

My understanding of what I believe his first principles are allow me to understand why he says this without condemning him. The Pope is entitled to his beliefs too, even if I don't agree with him. Keep that in mind as you read the inevitable denunciations of the Pope over this.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

Cave of Wonders, Aaarrrhhhkkk!

Shiites Pick Al-Jaafari As Iraq PM Nominee



Posted by Charles Austin at 04:28 PM | Comments (3)

February 20, 2005

Of Course, This Ship Would Never Have Been Built If He Had Any Say In the Matter

Jimmy Carter's namesake has left the dock as the most heavily armed submarine ever built, making it in a sense the sixth most powerful military in the world. Fortunately, his misguided attempts to drag the entire US down to that level were foiled.

I wonder if the first meal served in the mess will be hasenpfeffer.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:53 AM | Comments (2)

February 19, 2005

They Are Still Giants Walking the Earth

There's an interesting post over at Daily Pundit by Lastango noting an article in which David Frum takes Charles Murray to task for an intellectual variation on the theme that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket:

In October 2003, David Frum cited Charles Murray’s new book Human Accomplishment in which Murray contends Western man has lost his sense of artistic excellence.

Mr. Frum related that “Murray underscores this assertion by challenging his readers and listeners to name even one artistic or scientific achievement (he thinks science – pure science, that is, as opposed to technological or engineering progress - is declining for different reasons) of the past 50 years that will still matter to people in the year 2200.”

Continued Frum: “So here’s my list, in no particular order, of 10 things from 1950 to 2000 that will still matter two hundred years hence:”

1. A. Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
2. Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao.
3. The paintings of Jackson Pollock.
4. The Godfather I & II
5. C. Milosz, The Captive Mind.
6. West Side Story.
7. M. Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
8. The collected “I Love Lucy.”
9. VS Naipaul, A Bend in the River.
10. Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA.

“Also (and in honor of Virginia Postrel) almost the entire corpus of mid-century decorative arts: the Concorde jet, the UN building, and the 1959 Cadillac Coup de Ville.”

Needless to say, Mr. Murray's lamenting that the days of giants has passed is silly and representative of the short term perspective that affects so many of the elite (right and left) these days. It should also be noted that most people are generally unaware of the scientific acheivements that have the greatest impacts on their lives, whether it is because they are too complicated for most to comprehend or that they have become so ubiquitous as to be taken for granted. But being unaware of them is not the same thing as them not existing.

As an aside, I find Mr. Frums' list a rather strange list of highbrow and lowbrow acheivements. Most people haven't read any of the 4 books he has listed today, much less 200 years from now. But the collected works of I Love Lucy? Eeeek. And, IMHO, Jackson Pollack is a talentless hack whose popularity is a sign of just how successful the Dadaists were in destroying the aesthetics for the intelligentsia that Mr. Murray is on about. Fortunately, not everyone has lost sight of them.

For what it's worth, here are my suggestions for 10 artistic or scientific achievements from 1950 to 2000 that will still matter two hundred years hence (with hyperlinks!):

1. Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings -- Price Company Tower (1952), the Beth Sholom Synagogue (1954), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1956). The buildings may be gone by 2200, but the ideas will still resonate.

2. Man's first trip to the moon on Apollo 11 in 1969. A tour de force of science and engineering.

3. Stanley Kubrick's and Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I'm guessing that in 200 years our descendant's still will not have figured it out.

4. QED. A significant step to a theory of everything.

5. The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Actually, I'm not exactly disappointed that I won't have to listen to whatever over-produced techno-grunge-rap melange happens to sweep the Grammy's in 2200.

6. Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Since the novel took place 7 centuries before, it's not like studying this great work is going to lose it's relevance in another 200 years.

7. Ken Burns' The Civil War. As George Will once said, "If better use has ever been made of television, I have not seen it..."

8. The first heart transplant performed by Dr. Christian Barnard. While not terribly successful in and of itself, like Roger Bannister's sub-four minute mile it broke the mold and freed doctors to think in entirely new ways.

9. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." -- Ronald Reagan. Politics is the art of the possible, is it not?

10. The validation of Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift. Although proposed in 1915, it was not validated and understood until the 1960's with the development of a theory of plate tectonics backed by solid evidence. This has so many implications on how we see the earth.

So what's your top 10? Or do yo agree with Charles Murray on this one?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:57 AM | Comments (6)

February 18, 2005

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CIX

(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.)

The following is a dark, dark scourge. Some of it is probably in poor taste, but Dick brings that out in me. For the record (again), as a libertarian-minded conservative, I don’t care a whit about anyone’s sexuality or what they like to do for fun so long as everyone’s of age, they behavior is consensual and nobody’s getting hurt. I’m still opposed to gay marriage though I favor civil unions. But, I digress.

I mention this because some of the commentary below can, and probably will, be used against me to label me a homophobe or worse. Read properly, if anyone’s a homophobe here it is Richard Cohen. When you get to the end of this Scourge, look at who is condemning gay men for being gay men. I thought about not writing this out of sensitivity to the issues involved and not a little concern that my intent will be misconstrued, but ultimately decided that Dick had to be spanked. Not that there’s not anything wrong with that.

And so Richard Cohen comes out of the closet with A Warning, From Gays to Gays:

Or, My Eyes Gays Over:

Much of life's wisdom is contained in a single piece of dialogue in George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan":

And thus the prime motivating factor behind the paucity of wisdom in Dick’s remarks is revealed.

… the exchange between the Inquisitor and the Chaplain during the trial of Joan of Arc. The Inquisitor orders the Chaplain to sit down. When the Chaplain indignantly refuses, the Inquisitor says, "If you will not sit, you must stand." To that, the Chaplain says, "I will not stand," and flings himself into his seat.

Brilliant! Now where’s my Guinness?

Often, as Shaw knew, the best reason to do something is that someone else doesn't want you to do it.

Isn’t this an absolutely perfect summation of the Left, whether today’s moonbats or the Shavian Fabians?

Tragically, this juvenile reasoning partially accounts for the apparent upsurge in HIV infections among gay males –

Not to mention the decline and fall of the Democrat Party.

… and the emergence of a virulent new strain that has health officials plenty worried.

Not just health officials, Dick.

Simply put, it is the determination of some gays -- a minority, but a substantial one -- to disregard all the rules for safe sex because being gay, they think, means you don't have to follow any rules at all.

Somehow, I can only imagine the flack I’d catch if I phrased something so carelessly. As only Dick Nixon go to China, apparently only Dick Cohen can speak truth to the powerless. Tricky Dick. So tricky.

That's just plain dumb.

Stupid is as stupid does.

My guru in such matters is Charles Kaiser, the author of "The Gay Metropolis."

You need a guru for this?

For a long time now, this writer of both renown and common sense has been pleading with his fellow gays to -- my words here -- grow up.

How terribly insensitive – must be a Republican.

Unprotected sex is reckless, and unprotected sex between gays who are already HIV-positive will sooner or later produce a super strain of the disease. That may already have happened.


Kaiser is not alone in his apprehension. Larry Kramer, maybe the most famous of the gay writer-activists, and HIV-positive himself, has also been calling for restraint -- to no avail, it seems. The emergence of drugs that have vastly expanded the life span of men who are HIV-positive has given some gays a sense of invulnerability. That, coupled with a Shavian determination …

Ha, I used Shavian first.

… not to be told what to do, …

And we all know how much the Left loves to tell people what to do. No wonder Dick’s all bent out of shape.

… leads too many gays into unsafe sex practices.

Oh, please. So it’s not really their fault that they so casually disregard common sense rules of, uh, engagement.

A common philosophy, according to Kaiser, goes like this: "I am not subject to the rules."

But just let some Rethuglican dare to say that careless promiscuity in the gay community is a problem…

For too long now heterosexuals have kept out of this debate.

Hmmm…, now why would that be?

Many of us have been protective of gays, seeing them primarily as victims of discrimination.

Uh huh. I rest my case.

We have been encouraged in our protectiveness by the calculated homophobia or pathetic ignorance of several Republican administrations, which continues to this day.

Damn, I’m scourging this as I read it but it’s eerie how well I’m anticipating what comes next – except, of course, that I’ve been doing this on and off for nigh on three years now, and there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to Dick.

Just recently, for instance, the new secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, warned PBS against airing an episode of the children's show "Postcards From Buster" because it showed a family headed by a lesbian couple.

You know, Dick, there’s a huge difference between preaching to the choir on POV and preaching to the pre-pubescent on “Postcards From Buster.” Gee, and I thought you were all against trying to sell things to kids – or was your self-righteous indignation limited to Joe Camel?

She undoubtedly will get a medal from the president for this.

Or not. But yeah, how dare those Neanderthals try and maintain what’s left of what they consider to be the last shreds of traditional family structures while resisting the proselytization of their children. Tell you what Dick, if she gets a medal from the President for this, I'll apologize and give up blogging; and if she doesn't get a medal for it you apologize and quit writing your columns. How about it?

Other medals will be awarded for the continuing effort to keep young people as ignorant as possible about sex and, especially, contraception.

Not to mention the total lack of idle time they’ll have constructing strawmen to torch – Devil’s work and all that. With all due respect, and believe me it ain’t much, Mr. Cohen is sadly confused. Wasn’t he just lamenting casual promiscuous sex amongst gay males? Is it really so wrong to think that the promotion of some types of sex education and the ready availability of contraception to 15-year-olds might be justly construed as promoting casual promiscuity amongst those least prepared to deal with the consequences?

While it is not remotely possible that any gay man over a certain age is not conversant with AIDS and its consequences, that may not be the case with, say, a 15-year-old about to become sexually active. He or she needs to know about risky sex and how to avoid disease.

Or, everything you always wanted to know about risky sex but were afraid to ask because your parents might kick the #&*% out of you. As the father of a 14-year-old daughter, allow me to say that Richard Cohen can go &%@$* himself.

Think of it as driver's ed for the body.

Yes. No doubt. That’s exactly the image I was thinking of as most appropriate for 9th graders.

But while gays clearly have their enemies, that should not mean they are immune from criticism.

What insight! I find it utterly amazing that anyone gets paid to write crap like this.

The fact remains that a portion of the gay population -- maybe 20 percent, Kaiser estimates -- conducts itself in ways that are not only reckless but just plain disgusting.

Who’s being judgmental now?

Unprotected, promiscuous sex in bathhouses and at parties and using drugs such as crystal meth to prolong both desire and performance are practices that should be no more acceptable for gays than for heterosexuals.

Who said they were?

Gays don't get some sort of pass just because they're gay.

Brilliant! More Guinness! But why not? It works for Democrats.

About 40,000 Americans a year continue to be infected with the AIDS virus. While their lives can be prolonged, it can be only at considerable cost -- and not forever, either.

This is a tragedy for so many, but last time I checked, none of us are living forever.

An increasing number of AIDS victims are heterosexual black women …

NY Times: AIDS Epidemic! Women, Minorities Hit Hardest!

… but most are gay men.

Somehow, this seems to border dangerously close to wishing some other unfavored group was afflicted instead.

Whatever they are, they are first and foremost human beings.

At last, something we can agree on.

They are entitled to their own sexuality, but not to behavior that endangers others, costs us all plenty and, too often, entails a determined self-destruction that too many heterosexuals overlook.

Doh! Darn overlooking heterosexuals.

Back in the 1970s William Ryan of Boston College popularized the term "blaming the victim."

And Richard Cohen is still struggling to figure out what it means.

It gave voice to a needed concept, but it also silenced critics who saw that sometimes the victim needed to be blamed.

Real victims never need to be blamed. Politicized, institutionalized victimhood is another matter. Dick sure has some weird ideas about “need.”

This is the case now with gays when their behavior is both stupid and reckless.

I don’t normally equate stupid and reckless with victims.

When they're victims of discrimination, they need to be defended.

As long as they are victims.

When they're victims of their own behavior, they need to be condemned.

Condemned? My goodness, this sounds as though it could have come right out of the mouth of Pat Robertson or Alan Keyes. Perhaps Mr. Cohen has heard, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Or perhaps he hasn’t.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:07 AM | Comments (5)

February 17, 2005

Richard Cohen

Jay Nordlinger's a couple years behind me:

Last Sunday, a friend asked whether I had seen that day's Friedman column, about which he was sputtering. I could only smile serenely and say no. "Why do you do it to yourself?"

And yet, one always looks for an honest liberal columnist, something to enhance one's media diet. Michael Kinsley once served this purpose for me. But that was . . . well, it's been a while. And Peter Beinart? The guy who declares that conservatives simply don't care about people? What can be gained from reading that? I can stroll down the streets of Ann Arbor, my hometown — or walk outside here in New York — and hear that any time I want.

I have always read Richard Cohen — but I don't know. In the past, he merely visited Friedman/Dowd Land. Now it seems that he has taken up permanent residence there.

Disdain, sarcasm, silliness, nastiness, unreason — he's afflicted with all those traits. Take his column of Feb. 10 (please). It begins,

The line — the semiofficial one, that is — has changed on George Bush. Where once he was supposedly the sort of guy who eschewed books and even thinking and favored instead a decision-making process that was almost entirely the product of instinct, we are now told that the president reads books — really and truly. Among those cited, and famously so, is Natan Sharansky's "The Case for Democracy," which supposedly enthralled Bush because up to then, we may deduce, the case for democracy was not obvious to the man who heads the world's most powerful . . . er, democracy. Better late than never, I suppose.
This must be disingenuous — because Cohen can't be so stupid as not to know that the debate is over the role of democracy in checking terror and changing the Middle East. And he can't be so stupid as not to know that the Sharansky position remains, throughout the West — certainly in Washington, D.C. — a minority position. Has Cohen ever talked to Brent Scowcroft? How about virtually the entire Democratic party?

Later, Cohen writes, " . . . two presidential elections and a war have shown Bush what he must have long suspected — that he has vast leadership abilities and that he has been called (and you know by who) to his historic role."

Leave the grammar aside. Snide Bush critics are always saying that the president considers himself on a mission from God. Funny, but the president doesn't say that, and his administration doesn't say it, and his supporters don't say it. Only the snide critics say it.

We shouldn't ignore language altogether. Cohen writes, "Because Bush is certain he can bend history his way, he just might become one of those American presidents who is thought to have made a difference." That should be, "one of those American presidents who are thought to have made a difference." Cohen is misled by the "one," like most everyone else.

Last, we get, "This quality, this firm and unmistakably American belief that history is our pal, our angel — ours, and not anyone else's — and that we can alter it, bend it and embrace it for our own needs . . . "

I know a lot of Americans, and I know a lot of conservatives. I bet I know more conservatives than Richard Cohen does. And I don't know a human being who believes that history is America's pal, or angel, and no one else's. Not one. Not a friggin' one.

Richard Cohen — perhaps thinking that he needs to write Inherit the Wind over and over — imagines conservatives who do not exist. He seems unwilling to debate, or consider, conservatives as we truly are. He is a caricaturist, and I'm looking for a columnist, and it is very, very hard.

I feel the urge... the urge to Scourge...

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:48 PM | Comments (3)

There Will Always Be an England

But you may soon have trouble recognizing it as such:

Thousands of defiant fox-hunters have ridden out to enjoy their ancient pastime for one last time before the ancient pursuit was outlawed.

A ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales came into force at midnight ending over 300 years of countryside tradition.

Or perhaps not:

For those unused to hunting, what happens after the ban is introduced will look, feel and smell like it does now," said a spokesman from the Countryside Alliance, the main pro-hunting lobby group, on Thursday.

"We see this as a temporary ban which is unenforceable."

The alliance estimates some 400,000 people will defy the ban by attending hunts on Saturday, dwarfing the traditional December 26 meets, normally the busiest in the calendar which attracted 275,000 people last year.

Release the hounds! It's in the trees, they're coming! I always like saying that, Kate Bush and all that, don't you know.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

A Request

Will the, ahem, gentlemen who keeps visiting this site from search results that invariably include the word "nipple" please stop it. Here's what you are looking for.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:55 PM | Comments (3)

Estorica, Inc.

A small sampling of the more obvious allusions and indirect pop culture references all but maybe 35 people have missed here just in the last 2 days:

Elmer Fudd
Marshall McLuhan
A Flock of Seagulls
Monty Python
Tucker Max

So far...

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

Incongruous Headline and Picture

Hey look everybody, Matt Drudge didn't use all caps!

Prosecutor: Cosby Won't Face 'Fondling' Charges...


How weird is that?

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

I Rule!

In case you, like, didn't know.

DOWNDATE: Since I judge my success by the number of comments I get, I've decided to take my happiness in my own hands (heh!) and start commenting on my own posts. Who am I to deny myself the feelings of superiority that come with popularity?

DOUBLE DOWNDATE: Say Andrea, how come the comments require me to enter my ATM pin?

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:44 PM | Comments (6)

Turnabout Is Fair Play

Anybody want to join me in raiding a Greenpeace office and setting up a trading floor?

This story has been all over the blogosphere, but does James Taranto have the faintest idea what "sod off" means? And if he does, would he be using it so freely? And while I'm on the subject of James Taranto, does anyone else think the WSJ's policy of only naming the authors of editorials if they are nominated for an award is more than a little unseemly?

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

Speaking of the US Navy

Here's all the pictures from the US Navy's homepage as of 1815 CST today. What's wrong with all these pictures?

navy1.jpg navy4.jpg navy2.gif navy3.jpg navy5.jpg navy6.jpg navy7.jpg navy8.jpg navy9.jpg

Where are the freakin' ships? And yes, I know that's an aircraft carrier.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:25 PM | Comments (1)

Well, They Do Say "Be Very Quiet" On Submarines

Say, I wonder if they are issuing spears and magic helmets when SSN 23 is commissioned.



Whoa! The similarity is eerie.

(First picture and previous hyperlink courtesy of Lucianne.com. Pictures of swift, silent killers leaving a wake courtesy of the Jimmy Carter Library and the US Navy. You'll have to figure out which picture is which on your own.)

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

Be the News, Danny

Or as Marshall McLuhan once said, the medium is the message:

CBS Plans Prime-Time Tribute to Rather

Gosh, wouldn't true objectivity demand that you not be part of the story?

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

Just an Observation, Not a Value Judgment

Others achieve glory while I toil in relative obscurity. Being first is overrated.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2005

The Ditch at the Bottom of the Slippery Slope

I'm not a Christian, but I cannot understand how things ever came to this:

Clergy who deny the existence of God and other key doctrines could soon face heresy trials in the Church of England.

Where does one start?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha:

Sen. John F. Kerry's brash offer to meet privately with former foe President Bush to discuss foreign policy before Bush's meetings abroad next week with key European leaders has apparently fallen on deaf ears at the White House.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:19 PM | Comments (2)

The Government Is Hiding the Truth In Area 9/11

This isn't new, but I'll post it again here for handy reference.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Get Well Soon Mr. Snow

I am sorry to hear about Tony Snow's colon cancer. He's always seemed like a standup guy. But let me take this opprtunity to remind everyone to get your colonoscopy if you at risk due to a family history or if you are over 40. I've written about this before, since I have a family history. Colon cancer is the most treatable form of cancer if detected early.

No excuses.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

Iran, Iran So Far Away

Doesn''t a threat like this indicate a clear inability to actually do it?

Iran's intelligence chief on Wednesday accused the United States of flying spy drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the unmanned surveillance crafts.

Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi comments backed a report in The Washington Post on Sunday that quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying the drones have been flying over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs.

Of course, it's tough to get anything over on Iran's Intelligence Minister, although his copy of the Washington Post must have taken two days to arrive.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

You Go Girls

I'll give them this, they've got more balls than most of Europe when it comes to dealing with your opponents:

Iran and Syria, who both are facing pressure from the United States, said Wednesday they will form a "united front" to confront possible threats against them, state-run television reported.

"In view of the special conditions faced by Syria, Iran will transfer its experience, especially concerning sanctions, to Syria," Mohammad Reza Aref, Iran's first vice president, was quoted as saying after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otari.

Too easy.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha:

Howard Dean, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, requested a media blackout of a debate with top Pentagon adviser Richard Perle, then quickly changed his mind Wednesday after news agencies complained.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

Good Thing They Are Professionals

Just deserts:

LAUSD wages war on cake and brownies in the name of health

I'm just giving you your just desserts, Mr. Professional Journalist.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:28 PM | Comments (3)

Rule Number 1

Maybe they awere all named Bruce:

UN inspectors 'spent their days drinking'

Too obscure?

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:24 PM | Comments (2)

A Slow News Day

James Taranto likes to keep bringing up Mark Helprin's observation that the armies of the homeless will spring back to life for a President Bush. No doubt:

If you’re a homeless attorney in the city of Austin, Texas, ...

Just stop right there. I refuse to even bother with the rest of Howard Fineman's article given this rather silly beginning.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)

Crisis? What Crisis?

Supertramp? No, Superman:

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, delivering his semiannual assessment of the economy to the Senate Banking Committee, gave a cautious endorsement today to President Bush's plan to shift some Social Security funding to individual investment accounts.

Any solution to the problem created by the baby boom's impending retirement has to be solved by increased national wealth, he said, which in turn depends on increased savings or investment.

The individual investment accounts would contribute to national savings only if they could be financed by methods other than borrowing, and in order to slow the rate of borrowing by Social Security, benefits would have to be trimmed, Greenspan said.

"If we move to private accounts, which I approve of," the shift must be done cautiously, he said.

So either the Democrat's or full of it or Alan Greenspan is. Hmm ..., tough choice, huh?

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:14 PM | Comments (2)

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha:

Howard Dean, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called on the head of New York's Republican Party to apologize or resign Wednesday over remarks linking the Democrats to a civil rights lawyer convicted of aiding terrorists.

Dean called Stephen Minarik's comments offensive, and said, "The American people deserve better than this type of political character assassination."

On Monday, Minarik said that Dean's election shows that "the Democrats simply have refused to learn the lessons of the past two election cycles, and now they can be accurately called the party of Barbara Boxer, Lynne Stewart and Howard Dean."

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

Come On

I saw this this morning at Instapundit:

"TEHRAN, Iran - An unknown aircraft fired a missile on Wednesday in a deserted area near the southern city of Dailam in the province of Bushehr where Iran has a nuclear power plant, Iranian state television said."

... and immediately thought the speculation about an attack on Bushehr was nonsense or perhaps just a ruse by the Iranian's. After all, if we or the Israeli's had decided to take out Bushehr, I don't think it would have been just one missile fired haphazardly into the desert. Maybe someone at MSNBC got confused with the US Navy's commissioning of SSN 23 and thought Jimmy Carter was still president.

Yep, it was just silly speculation.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

George Micheal Must Be Kicking Off Yet Another Fare Thee Well Tour

George who?

Singer George Michael said farewell to the world of pop music on Wednesday, using a candid documentary about his life to put the record straight before he "disappeared."

I'll believe it when I don't see it.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

Pity Poor Tucker

Matt Drudge also says:


And here I though it was always Max who did the pumping.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:50 PM | Comments (1)

Now That's a Headline

Matt Drudge says in his own inimitable fully capitalized way:


Kinky bastards.

DOWNDATE: Matt Drudge has now changed his headline to:


I'm not sure that's much of an improvement.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

Big News?

If this is even close to being correct, why isn't it the biggest news story of my lifetime?

A pair of NASA scientists told a group of space officials at a private meeting here Sunday that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars, hidden away in caves and sustained by pockets of water.

Note, not that there was life on Mars, but that there is life on Mars today. As Harry Carey would say, Holy Cow! If this is true, then we probably can expect to find life all over the universe, that is, when we get around to slipping the surly bonds of earth while we are still alive.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2005


I can't stand the Emmy's, the Grammy's or the Oscars (or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards if you prefer). While there is virtue in recognizing and rewarding excellence, especially through the development and definition of standards for excellence, I cannot stomach what each of these attempts to reward excellence in the entertainment industry have become with the incessant preening, rapidly multiplying bogus categories, the special brand of entertainment industry politics, and, worst of all, making the cult of celebrity ever more accessible to a large number of morally challenged intellectual lightweights.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to get to is that I have no interest whatsoever in any blogging awards. I do not participate in the polls and I have no interest whatsoever in trying to win any of them. Of course, I never will win any blogging awards anyway, but that's besides the point. Reading the commentary surounding some of the blogging awards out there leads me to believe that there is little difference between where the entertainment industry is today and where the blogosphere is heading, at least with respect to any awards.

That is all.

DOWNDATE: (Ed. -- I guess that wasn't all after all.) Did I mention how much I despise the Grammys?

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton won the second Grammy Award of his career on Sunday, when he was honored in the spoken word category for his best-selling memoir "My Life."

Clinton, who was not present to accept his award at the Los Angeles Convention Center, also won a Grammy last year in the spoken word for children category. His wife, U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, won a spoken word Grammy in 1997 for her memoir "It Takes A Village."

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:56 AM | Comments (4)

February 12, 2005

Send Me Your Tired, Your Hungry, Your Poor... and the Other Ones Too

Not every denizen of Hollywood is threatening to leave the country (even if the threats are generally as vacuous as their thoughts):

Actress Jane Seymour waived a small US flag and cheered after she and about 9,000 other immigrants became US citizens during a naturalisation ceremony in Los Angeles today.

The British-born actress who once lived in a mansion near Bath and is best known for her TV series Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, said she has been in the United States since 1976.

“I’ve realised that I’ve been living here longer than in my home country. America has given me unbelievable opportunities,” she said. “I realised that with the US elections I wanted to vote and I couldn’t. I felt the time had come to participate more fully.”

I'm happy to have Ms. Seymour here. Welcome Jane.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:58 AM | Comments (2)

Red Ken's Seeing Red

Never again:

London's outspoken Mayor Ken Livingstone has refused to apologise for calling a Jewish newspaper reporter a war criminal and concentration camp guard, despite complaints from Britain's main Jewish group.

"Are you a German war criminal?" Livingstone was heard saying on a tape recording of the exchange with the Evening Standard journalist at a event to mark the 20th anniversary of former cabinet member Chris Smith announcing he is gay.

When the journalist said he was Jewish and was offended by the mayor's remarks, Livingstone replied: "Actually you are just like a concentration camp guard."

Yet again.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:52 AM | Comments (4)

Pity Zimbabwe

Imagine, for a moment, what might happen if we took a man like this at his word:

President Robert Mugabe on Friday sharply criticised US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying she was a "slave" to white masters in Washington who had branded Zimbabwe an outpost of tyranny.

Launching the election campaign of his ruling party, Mugabe referred to Rice as "that girl born out of the slave ancestry, who should know from the history of slavery in America, from the president (sic) situation of blacks in America that the white man is not a friend".

"The white man is the slave master to her," said Mugabe in a two-hour speech launching the campaign of his Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party for the March 31 parliamentary elections.

I'm quite comfortable with my decision to pick this bastard for the Dead Pool.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:46 AM | Comments (4)

Good Thing She Wasn't Dutch

There's something to be said for respecting life:

A US woman who has spent the past 20 years in a coma-like state has inexplicably awoken and can now speak, news reports said.

Sarah Scantlin was 18 years old when, as a pedestrian, she was injured in a hit-and-run accident that left her in a semi-vegetative condition, aware of her surroundings but unable to speak or move.

Since that time, she has been in a care centre in the Midwest US state of Kansas.

Scantlin's parents unexpectedly received a phone call last week from the nursing home where their now 38-year-old daughter resides.

However, instead of the call being about Sarah, it was actually from Sarah.

"Hi mum," she said to her mother.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:34 AM | Comments (2)

Not Another Kennedy in the Senate

Oh, never mind:

In the picturesque town square of his hometown, with his family and a gaggle of fifth-graders and American legionnaires standing by, U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy announced Friday that he will seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mark Dayton.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

Just Born at the Right Time, I Guess

'80s marriages tend to outlast those in '70s

1983, in case you were wondering.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:27 AM | Comments (2)

The Running Man

Damn, I may have to rethink my opposition to changing the US Constitution so that Arnold can run for president:

In a fiery speech to Republican faithful Friday evening, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ridiculed Democrats as wasteful spending "addicts" who have been taking "sleeping pills," and he characterized California's problems as stemming from "evil."

I can only imagine how Harry Reid would cringe and whinge if Arnold starting laying into him.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:20 AM | Comments (1)

And So It Begins

The new DNC chair starts out on the left foot:

"How can Republicans get to talk about moral values when they don't have any?"

Not much room for negotiation or bipartisanship there, is there?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)

Heaven (On Earth) Can Wait

Here comes Mr. Jordan. I mean, there goes Mr. Jordan.

Eason Jordan, a senior executive at CNN who was responsible for coordinating the cable network's Iraq coverage, resigned abruptly last night, citing a journalistic tempest he touched off during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, late last month in which he appeared to suggest that United States troops had deliberately aimed at journalists, killing some.

Like Joe Pendleton, Eason Jordan has to be thinking that this can't possibly be happening to him. His superior journalistic reflexes should've been able to allow him to dodge those pajamahadeen right up to the last second. Surely some Buck Henry type screwup has to be responsible for this.

One friend of mine said that now we would have to deal with a whole new round of blogger triumphalism. Perhaps, but it is true that without bloggers this never would have made the light of day. Now let's see if the bright sunlight of exposure sends the other cockroaches that hemmed and hawed, or outright defended Mr. Eason's obviously indefensible remarks. I'll also note that Mr. Jordan's mea culpa leaves much to be desired. Note his feeble attempt to be the victim:

After 23 years at CNN, I have decided to resign in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq," Jordan said in a letter to colleagues.

"I have devoted my professional life to helping make CNN the most trusted and respected news outlet in the world, and I would never do anything to compromise my work or that of the thousands of talented people it is my honor to work alongside.

"While my CNN colleagues and my friends in the U.S. military know me well enough to know I have never stated, believed, or suspected that U.S. military forces intended to kill people they knew to be journalists, my comments on this subject in a World Economic Forum panel discussion were not as clear as they should have been."

I can only imagine that a job on Public Television awaits him now. Hmm..., I wonder if he plays the clarinet?

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:32 AM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2005

Is Mark Krikorian a Mole at NRO?

Here's something I never thought I'd read at NRO:

John, while I generally share your sentiments on Iraq, I'm afraid Ramesh is right that even if we don't use a drop of oil, it matters a lot to us if Europe and Japan (and China) do. But this is something that can't simply be left to the market to solve -- the solution (making oil economically irrelevant) needs to be accelerated by the government, through much higher gas taxes (preferably offset by eliminating other taxes), nuclear plants powering electric cars, and a Manhattan Project level of commitment to alternative fuel research.

Too important to be left to the market to solve? Raising taxes to effect a social policy engineering goal? A Manhattan Project level of commitment to alternative fuel research? Fascinating. The Government will save us! (But at what cost?) I guess we might as well get on the Hillary! 2008 bandwagon now to avoid the rush, or should that be the Rush?

Whatever her other faults, I'd like to publicly thank Ayn Rand for making this kind of thinking anathema to me. Now, I know that the folks at NRO aren't exactly fans of Ayn Rand or doctrinaire libertarianism, heck, neither am I, but gee whiz. When did they adopt this left wing, big government is the answer nonsense to achieve a strategic goal of energy independence? And yes, I mean they since there hasn't been any criticism that I've seen of this comment in the Corner.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:30 AM | Comments (3)

February 10, 2005

Semper Fi

Rest in peace, Mr. Perkins:

George Perkins, believed to be the United States' oldest Marine, has died at the age of 106.

Perkins, who would have been 107 next month, died Wednesday at Overton Brooks Veterans Administration Medical Center in Shreveport. He had been admitted to the hospital on Tuesday.

Perkins had been active until about a week ago. He had been present for the Veterans Day 2004 rededication of Municipal Auditorium.

Veterans Affairs officials said Perkins was the nation's oldest surviving former Marine and the only surviving Marine from World War I.

And so passes another link to our past.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:41 PM | Comments (1)


There was an earthquake in Middle America today:

A small earthquake centered in northeastern Arkansas rattled parts of several states Thursday but caused no major damage.

Shaking was felt as far away as Memphis, Tenn., and in Mississippi casinos. Window blinds and doors shook and swayed, pictures fell from the walls and telephone service was briefly interrupted in one small town in Arkansas.

The quake hit at 8:05 a.m. about four miles east of Caraway. Over the course of the day, the U.S. Geological Survey gave varying magnitudes for the quake — from 3.9 to 4.2.

Even assuming it was a 4.2, that means it was approximately 100,000 times smaller than the earhtquake that created the tsunami in Southeast Asia last month.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:51 PM | Comments (2)

Cutting Edge Super Journalism

You've got to get up early to catch a scoop on the NY Times, like maybe 11:30 AM. Last Friday.:

In the past week, I've received several e-mail notes from Democrats about the Iraq elections, or heard comments from various Democratic lawmakers - always along the following lines: "Remember, Vietnam also had an election, and you recall how that ended."

I only note this since it took the Vietnam election meme has been circulating around the blogosphere for a week now. Good work Mr. Friedman. And no, I don't give Mr. Friedman credit for being a Democrat with a least a grasp on reality if you read his op-ed. By the end he still wants it both ways, i.e., wanting out now, but not until we're successful. Nice pedestrian hedge there Mr. Friedman.


Posted by Charles Austin at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)

Child Molesting Coward

No, not Michael Jackson:

FILM director Roman Polanski has won a bid to sue for libel in an English court via videolink in order to avoid the risk of extradition to the US for child sex offences.

In a ruling announced today, England's highest court overturned an earlier Court of Appeal decision that Polanski should be made to live by the "normal processes of the law".

Polanski, 71, who fled America more than 25 years ago after admitting having sex with a child, wants to sue US magazine Vanity Fair over an article he says defamed him.

How do you defame a child molester?

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)


Such a deep bench you have:

Comedian and liberal talk show host Al Franken said he won't run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mark Dayton next year, saying he was committed to his radio show.

Sure Al.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

Non Sequitur or OxyMoron?

Rice warns North Korea

As if there were any rice in North Korea.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)


Mommy (read Big Media), the Republicans are being mean to me!

U.S. Senate Democrats admitted on Thursday they did not do enough to protect their ousted leader, Tom Daschle, from Republican attacks and vowed to defend his successor, Harry Reid, who is now under fire.

Reid's 43 fellow Senate Democrats, along with a Democratic-leaning independent, wrote President Bush (news - web sites) to protest a partisan offensive.

No doubt another stern letter will follow the White House's non-response. Or perhaps the Democrat Party leadership believes that the floggings should continue until moral improves:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) was asked at a CATO conference in Washington yesterday whether he had persuaded any Democrats to back his plan to rescue Social Security from its financial troubles. Under his legislation (HR 4851), no new taxes would be needed to pay for "transition costs," participation in the new system would be voluntary and individuals would be allowed to divert a portion of their payroll tax into a mutual fund.

A questioner from the audience, stressing his own Democratic credentials, said he believed Ryan's plan should attract members of his own party and wondered whether the Wisconsin lawmaker had secured any Democratic sponsors. Ryan said he had been working with friends on the "other side of the aisle" who were favorable toward his solution, but he faced an enormous problem: intense pressure on his colleagues from the minority leadership.

"We were in planning stages [with friendly Democrats]," said Ryan. But each essentially told him: "I like what you're doing. I like this bill. I think it's the right way to go. But my party leadership will break my back. The retribution that they are promising us is as great as I have ever seen. We can't do it."

If you can't win, I guess you'll just beat up on those with less power, eh Dirty Harry and Mistress Nancy?

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:14 PM | Comments (1)

This Is a Good Thing

Anybody think tort reform would have stood a chance with Vice President Edwards in da (White) House?

The Senate voted overwhelmingly today to shift many class-action lawsuits from state courts to federal courts, handing President Bush and his supporters in the business world a major legislative triumph.

The 72-to-26 vote sends the bill to the House of Representatives, where it will probably be quickly passed and sped on its way to the desk of the president, who is eager to sign it.

Passage in the House seems assured, since that chamber overwhelmingly endorsed similar legislation last year, before it stalled in the Senate. This time, though, the idea was backed by enough senators, Democrats as well as Republicans, that passage was not in doubt.

Please keep misunderestimating President Bush.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

Haven't We Heard This Before?

Cross this line -- you die!

Iran, facing mounting U.S. pressure over its nuclear program, promised Thursday a "burning hell" for any aggressor as tens of thousands marched to mark the 26th anniversary of its Islamic revolution.

After all, it worked so well for Qaddafi. And Hussein.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2005

Congratulations to the New England Patriots

At the very least, they saved the city of Philadelphia from the seemingly inevitable riots, car burnings, and deaths that accompany a professional championship for cities that haven't had one for a few years.

One note however, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II was 10 years ago, but I don't remember any salute to out soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen before Super Bowl XXIX. Please don't misunderstand, I am in favor of honoring those in uniform every year. I'm just pointing out that even the NFL realizes that our holiday from history is over. This is a good thing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

This Will Be Fun

It ox-goring time on Capitol Hill:

President Bush sent Congress a $2.57 trillion budget plan Monday that seeks deep spending cuts across a wide swath of government from reducing subsidies paid to the nation's farmers, cutting health care payments for poor people and veterans and trimming spending on the environment and education.

The budget - the most austere of Bush's presidency - would eliminate or vastly scale back 150 government programs. It will spark months of contentious debate in Congress, where lawmakers will fight to protect their favored programs.

Is anyone else amused that a 12% increase from last year's budget is labelled austere? Funny how we can't cut a cent from the annual increases in government spending without the sky falling, isn't it? For those that care, here's what federal income and spending has been for the last fifteen years:


For the record, it has taken 14 years for federal spending to double. That is a compounded annual growth rate of 5.08%. Surprisingly, this is only a little higher than the 4.90% compounded annual growth rate of GDP over the same time period (as computed from data available here). I wouldn't have expected that.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

How Noble of Them

Networks Pledge Restraint in Jackson Case

Anybody want to keep score?

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

There Are Three Answers To Any Yes Or No Question



Hell no.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2005


What an unalloyed joy it is to have a President speak so often about freedom, elevating it above the laundry list of policy pronouncements we always get in a SOTU address. Hallelujah! Peace will flow from greater freedom, not the other way around.

The Democrat response is so poor as to beggar belief. Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:26 PM | Comments (1)

SOTU, As If...

Things I'd like to hear tonight...

"Choose your next filibuster very carefully Mr. Reid, it may be your last."

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

"I know what you're thinking Kim Jong Il. You're thinking, did he commit six carrier groups or only five? And to tell you the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement. But being these are the US Armed Forces, the most powerful military in the world that will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question. Do I feel lucky? Well do you, punk?"

"We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Howard Dean? I have more responsibility here than you could possibly fathom. You weep for terrorists, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That many Iraqi deaths, while tragic, probably saved lives. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. I know deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to."

"Freedom. There is no substitute."

"How 'bout those Illini?"

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:51 PM | Comments (1)

The Company You Keep

People For the Ethical Treatment of Stephen Pagones are not amused:

The Rev. Al Sharpton will not eat at KFC and he doesn't think you should either. Starting today, Mr. Sharpton is joining forces with the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to urge a boycott of KFC, which is owned by Yum Brands of Louisville, Ky. Mr. Sharpton and PETA want the fast food chain to require its chicken suppliers to put in place new standards for the treatment of the 750 million chickens they process for KFC every year in the United States. The rap mogul Russell Simmons is also joining the Sharpton campaign.

Great. Now every two-bit, Chicken Little campaign is going to want its own rap mogul.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:13 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2005

Shameless Linkwhoring

Happy Birthday Poopyhead! Like, Martha Stewart would share her private prison diary with you, you racist/facist/homophobe/sexist/misogynist stinky poopyhead! Not! As if Judd Nelson would hang with someone whose vocabulary is exceeded only by the neoconservative cretin sycophants who lap it up in your comments. Maybe you should keep scrounging for red pills from the sofa cushions instead of attempting to humiliate your neighbor with middlebrow humor, stream of consciousness ramblings and pop culture word association football. And Richard Brautigan sucks trout roe. Poopyhead!

-- spazmataz

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:48 PM | Comments (5)