June 24, 2005

In the Immortal Word of Dr. Rene Belloq...


Posted by Charles Austin at 04:30 PM | Comments (5)

Hyperbolic Reflections

Greg Mitchell of Editor and Punlisher asks:

Is Dick Cheney the New 'Baghdad Bob'?

I don't know. Is Greg Mitchell the new Walter Duranty?

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

Alvy Sings

La-de-da, la-de-da:

Nothing pleases my ego more, than to be thought of as a European filmmaker.

No doubt Roman Polanski has similar thoughts, what with his oustanding arrest warrant ford rugging and raping a 14-year old girl and all.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

You Say Potato

Even if we are no longer secure in our property rights, at least our diction is improving:

George Bush has made the first visit to a nuclear plant by a US president in 26 years and declared: "It is time for this country to start building nuclear power plants again."

President George Bush pronounced "nuclear" correctly!

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

Separated at Birth? (Certainly Not at Conception!)

Some have claimed Kelo is the worst decision since Dred Scott. Well, I'm not a lawyer, so I have to depend on what my eyes see:

taney.jpg kennedy.jpg

taney.jpg souter.jpg

taney.jpg breyer.jpg

taney.jpg stevens.jpg

taney.jpg ginsburg.jpg

Do you see any resemblance to the spirit of Justice Taney?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

Property Right End! Women, Minorities Hit Hardest?

The New York Times editorializes today in favor of the Kelo decision with The Limits of Property Rights. Henceforth, I suppose we shall not see any further discussion on the limits of property takings.

But I must comment upon one strawman the editorial page editors used in this editorial:

It also is a setback to the "property rights" movement, which is trying to block government from imposing reasonable zoning and environmental regulations.

Um, because this case was all about reasonable zoning and environmental regulations? Or have we come to expect gratuitious demonization of political opponents at every opportunity as a matter of course? And aren't the quotation marks around the words "property rights" just precious?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)

June 23, 2005

"By Your Leave"

And will this old phrase soon be a new requirement on every mortgage?

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

A Man's Home Is His Castle, Unless a Well Connected Developer Can Convince Four or Five Elected Souls With Pure Hearts that He Can Generate More Public Wealth From It Than You Can

English Common Law, the basis of our legal system, held that a man's home is his castle. Of course, in the intervening years of jurisprudence we have come to learn that one's moat is subject to taking as a wetlands area; the internal protection of one's keep may be severely hampered by the restriction of reliable means of self-defense; hanging out one's shingle or standing upon one's own variant of a Speaker's Corner soapbox may result in a fine from the FEC; and now, if the Duke of Sussex wants to add on to his estate by incorporating yours, all he has to do is make an argument to the local council that he can generate more jobs for the peasants and more tax revenue for the crown with your property than you can.

And thus the pursuit of happiness is supplanted by a theory of economic utilitarianism. But even I am shocked by the number of people in the blogosphere asking, "So what was that about watering the tree of liberty Mr. Jefferson?"

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

A Clever Wag...

Might write a post on the Kelo decision and title it: It Takes a Village Taking.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

Yet Another Reason to Not Give a Damn What the Rest of the World Thinks

Note to world: GROW UP:

The United States' image is so tattered overseas two years after the Iraq invasion that China, which is ruled by a communist dictatorship, is viewed more favorably than the U.S. in many countries, an international poll found.

And, of course, there are some here who long for nothing more than the approval of the kool kids:

Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state when Bill Clinton was president, said big majorities of the public in these countries are discontented with Bush "and say Bush's re-election has made them view the United States less favorably."

But hey, let's substitute their sense of propriety for the U.S. Constitution shall we?

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:45 PM | Comments (1)

Monday, 8:24 PM, CDT

I will be holding a wake for the U.S. Constitution Monday evening at 8:24 PM, CDT.

It took some time for us all to realize it, but it is clear that we no longer have an originalist, nor even a living constitution, as I have come to understand those terms. The U.S. Constitution is now dead and has been replaced by the pronouncements of an oligarchy bound by neither precedent nor specific pronouncements limiting the power of government over its citizens. The only driving philosophical principle evident today seems to be what the oligarchs believe to be just as seen from the viewpoint of a postmodern, transnationalist perspective. Clear, unambiguous language within the U.S. Constitution regarding free speech, the right to bear arms, and limiting the confiscation of private property by the government has come to mean nothing as each of these principles has now been cast aside by the Supreme Court.

Sadly, there appears to be no hope of resurrecting the U.S. Constitution since any new amendment would carry no more force than any of the existing amendments in the Bill of Rights. If language as straightforward as, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances", "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed", and "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation", can be taken to mean that free speech (political speech no less!) may be abridged to protect incumbents, citizens may not possess firearms by local government edict, and private property can be taken by force for the private use of others, well, then words will mean what the oligarchs wish for them to mean on any given day. I'd go into the death of federalism, but what's the point. I, for one, do not welcome our new overlords.

It seems to me sadly ironic that freedom and democracy -- as defined by fealty to the U.S. Constitution -- is dying here just as it has been proclaimed to be universally succeeding throughout the world. How are our friends trying to write the new Iraqi Constitution supposed to interpret these actions by the US Supreme Court?

Please leave your condolences in the comments. Family members of the last, best hope of earth have asked that donations be made to the Constitution Society here.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005


Apparently the AFI (American Film Institute) adopted the FAG (Film Actors Guild) way of deciding on the best 100 film lines ever. Here's a few of the more egregious choices:

31. After all, tomorrow is another day! (How insightful!)
41. We rob banks. (Because, well, because Warren Beatty just hasn't said many memorable lines, I guess.)
46. Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars. (Whoa! I havne't heard that line since, well, never actually.)
48. Well, nobody's perfect. (How original.)
49. It's alive! It's alive! (Hey, I like Young Frankenstein a lot, but this is a great line?)
55. La-dee-da, la-dee-da. (Marshall McLuhan's line must be trapped in an alternate universe somehwere.)
56. A boy's best friend is his mother. (Great concept, weak line.)
62. What a dump. (???)
65. Elementary, my dear Watson. (Because no one knew about Sherlock Homes before 1929.)
69. They're here! (Yes, this one pops up almost one each century in conversation.)
78. Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (Actually, perhaps the least quoted line from 2001: A Space Oddessey.)
81. Hello, gorgeous. (See 41 above, substitute Shelley Winters, I mean, Barbra Streisand.)
82. Toga! Toga! (Seven years of college, wasted.)
86. Attica! Attica! (This is a line?)
88. Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go! (How to minimize Katherine Hepburn without really trying. Remember, this is AFI's list of America's Greatest Quips, Comebacks and Catchphrases. So which is this entry?)
93. Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death! (Raise your hand if you've seen Auntie Mame.)
95. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary. (One can only assume that the selectors were unfamiliar with the Latin phrase Carpe Diem, more famously uttered over 2,000 years ago by Horace.)
98. Nobody puts Baby in a corner. (I still can't understand why this phrase ever shows up on any llist.)
100. I'm king of the world! (Even at 100, one quote from Titanic is still one too many. Now, if only the selectors had seen the 1932 version of Scarface...)

And not a single line by Shakespeare...

Like all such lists, it suffers from an unclear definition of what they are trying to judge, so everybody brings their own criteria to it. There are numerous other bad choices, and some quotes are wildly overated, IMHO. I really don't think Casablanca should have six of the top one-hundred -- even if they left out "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" -- and The Wizard of Oz certainly should not have three -- unless one of them is "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" -- of the top one-hundred. This is tough to judge though, since perhaps Caddyshack, The Princess Bride, Month Python and the Holy Grail, and Animal House all merit their own sections. Fully one-fifth of all the quotes come from movies in 1939. Jeez, I guess most of the good writers must have got killed in WW II.

For the record, here was my Top 21 (with only one per movie and per actor/actress) in response to another silly list last October:

1. "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." - The Godfather (1972)
2. "Plastics." - The Graduate (1967)
3. "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow." - To Have and Have Not (1944)
4. "Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects." - Casablanca (1942)
5. "May the force be with you." - Star Wars (1977)
6. "What we have here is a failure to communicate." - Cool Hand Luke (1967)
7. "You talkin' to me?" - Taxi Driver (1976)
8. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." - Gone with the Wind (1939)
9. "I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids." - Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
10. "I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?" - Dirty Harry (1971)
11. "My precious." - LOTR (2001, 2002, 2003)
12. "Yippie-ky-yay motherf*****r." - Die Hard (1988)
13. "You'll put your eye out." - A Christmas Story (1983)
14. "What is the problem with Michael Jackson?" - Three Kings (1999)
15. "Is it safe?" - The Marathon Man (1976)
16. "As of now, they're on Double SECRET Probation!" - Animal House (1978)
17. "I'll be back." - The Terminator (1984, 1991, 2003)
18. "I'm gonna get medieval on your ass." - Pulp Fiction (1994)
19. "Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book." - Patton (1970)
20. "We're gonna need a bigger boat." - Jaws (1975)
21. "The name's Bond, James Bond." - Dr No (1962), et al.

And for fun, here's a few more off the top of my head (without the one per movie/actor/actress limitation) that I might have included:

"Fa love Pa." -- Day of the Dolphin
"Princeton can use a man like Joel." -- Risky Business
"Who's da U-boat Commander?" -- Risky Business
"Sometimes you gotta say 'what the f*ck'." -- Risky Business
"Bueller. Bueller. Bueller." -- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
"Charlie doesn't surf!" -- Apocalypse Now
"I don't know, I'll think of something." -- Indiana Jones (I, II, and II)
"Nazis. I hate these guys." -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
"You take the blue pill, the story ends here, you wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill...and I'll show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes." -- The Matrix
"Deserves got nothin' to do with it." -- Unforgiven
"No!" - Silent Movie
"Earn this." -- Saving Private Ryan
"Remember when I said I was going to kill you last? I lied." -- Commando
"Run Forrest, run!" -- Forrest Gump
"Why no Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." -- Goldfinger
"Lighten up Francis." -- Stripes
"Guns, guns, when do we get guns?" -- Police Academy
"Don't call me stupid!" -- A Fish Called Wanda
"We're on a mission from God." -- The Blues Brothers
"How much for the little girl? How much for the women?" -- The Blues Brothers
"It's show time, folks." -- All That Jazz

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:32 PM | Comments (3)

June 16, 2005

Ten Things

This meme is a little worse for wear, but here are ten things I've done that you probably haven't:

1. Encountered a bear up close and personal in Glacier National Park. Did I mention we were a two-day hike from the nearest gravel road?

2. Climbed Scafell Pike in the Lake District and finished the evening with a few pints at the Wasdale Head Inn afterwards.

3. Broke my big toe playing ping pong.

4. Hiked through the base of Little River Canyon in July (aka Bruce Martin's Death March).

5. Climbed Diamond Head on Oahu.

6. Attended Bear Bryant's last football game, the 1982 Liberty Bowl.

7. Hit a golf ball 360 yards, legitimately.

8. Won the College Bowl at my University.

9. Shook hands with Jack Nicklaus.

10. Listened to a customer admit that the biggest mistake he ever made was not accepting my proposal for a solution we offered him for $250,000 that I estimate instead cost perhaps $50,000,000 over the next 10 years. And that's all I have to say about that.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:07 PM | Comments (2)

Nicolo Would Be Proud

When I read this:

Deep Throat has a book deal and a movie deal, and he could end up being played by Tom Hanks.

Or this:

... Felt's role as the most famous anonymous source in US history was even more complex and intrigue-loaded than the newly revised public account suggests. According to originally confidential FBI documents--some written by Felt--that were obtained by The Nation from the FBI's archives, Felt played another heretofore unknown part in the Watergate tale: He was, at heated moments during the scandal, in charge of finding the source of Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate scoops. In a twist worthy of le Carré, Deep Throat was assigned the mission of unearthing--and stopping--Deep Throat. This placed Felt, who as the FBI's associate director oversaw the bureau's Watergate probe, in an unusual position. He was essentially in charge of investigating himself.

When you realize that Mark Felt, the No. 2 man in the FBI, threatened the good name and liberty of others to throw the scent off of himself, well, is saying that it was all ok because he was "on the right side of history" anything more than a real life instance of claiming the ends justify the means?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)


Good thing Mohamed Elbaradei got his third time to continue his fine work to prevent nuclear proliferation:

Board members of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency approved a deal Thursday that exempts Saudi Arabia from nuclear inspections, despite serious misgivings about the arrangement in an era of heightened proliferation fears.

Although the Saudis resisted Western pressure to compromise and allow some form of monitoring, the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency had no choice but to allow it to sign on to the agreement.

You see, they had no choice.

The Saudis insist they have no plans to develop nuclear arms - and no facilities or nuclear stocks that warrant inspection.

Where have we heard this before? Oh never mind, the Saudis are much more trustworthy than the Iranians, Libyans, and North Koreans. And besides, now that AQ Khan has been stopped, there is no further likelihood that some rogue element motivated by religion or Arab nationalism within the Saudi government would bypass official channels and spread nuclear material or knowledge to those whom Reuters likes to call freedom fighters.

Keep up the good work. Please let me know when you need another piece of my sovereignty.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

The Durbinator: He's Back

It's one thing to say something stupid. It's entirely another to ask for a jackhammer because the damn shovel handle broke when you encountered some resistance:

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says he won't apologize for comments comparing American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Nazis and Soviet gulags.

I have asked this question before, but I will ask it again: What in the hell is wrong with the Democratic Party?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

One Man's Chrstianity is Another Man's Voodoo

Read this:

Boys from Africa are being murdered as human sacrif ices in London churches. They are brought into the capital to be offered up in rituals by fundamentalist Christian sects, according to a shocking report by Scotland Yard.

Human sacriices in fundamentalist Chrsitian sects? Huh?

The report was put together by an expert social worker and lawyer for the Met after talking to hundreds of people in African communities in a series of workshops. It uncovered allegations of witchcraft spells, child trafficking and HIV-positive people who believe that by having sex with a child they will be "cleansed".

An extract reads: "People who are desperate will seek out experts to cast spells for them.

"Members of the workshop stated that for a spell to be powerful it required a sacrifice involving a male child unblemished by circumcision. They allege that boy children are being trafficked into the UK for this purpose."

What the hell? I was raised as a Southern Baptist, which is pretty far up the scale as fundamentalist Christians go, but I don't recall ever hearing anything remotely resembling any of this. Strangely enough, there's not another mention of the word Christian after the introduction. Nor is there a mention of Christ, redemption, priest, minister, reverend, resurrection, grace, or anything else that might actually strike an associational chord with the word Christian.

I have no idea what is going on in these rather primitive cults that abuse children, and whatever it is does not to be stopped, but a syncretic inclusion of "Christ" into their mythology doesn't make them Christians, if in fact that is what led to these cults being considered to be fundamentalist Christians. Or is it possible that the learned sociologists, lawyers, and theologians who are quoted here naturally lump these monsters into the same group as fundamentalist Christians because, after all, they are all just primitive religious cults. Or was it merely the journalist that took this, ahem, leap of faith?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

But We Can Trust Them Now

Shocking, in a satirical not really shocking way:

United Nations nuclear monitors say Iran has admitted to misleading them over its experiments with plutonium. The UN's nuclear watchdog is expected to confirm later that Iran continued experimenting with plutonium - a key component of atomic bombs - until 1998.

Iran had previously told the body it had ended its experiments in 1993.

Not to worry, suspicions have been raised. No doubt the the ghost of Hans Brix will be issuing more stern warnings of disappointment soon:

Correspondents say these latest inconsistencies in Iran's account will fuel suspicions about the real aims of its nuclear programme.

To paraphrase a Turtle Bay version of Bugs Bunny, "Of course, this means memos..."

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

Adventures In Headline Writing

Believe it or not, this headline is not an intentional joke:

Work now to protect jobless pay for Michigan's workers

Let me make sure I understand this, you want me to work to make sure that "Michigan's workers" that don't have paying jobs can get paid for not working. Uh huh. And here I thought this rotten kind of thinking only festered in our agricultural price support policies. Instead, how about I take a vacation in Michigan on the government dole to provide "Michigan's workers" with a paying job? Hey, every dollar I spend on vacation will multiply five times as it recirculates in the local economy, or so my Keynesian macroeconomics professors tried to tell me. Any politician or editorial writer who refuses to endorse me being paid to take a vacation in Michigan must be doing so solely because he wants to deprive these people of the diginity of earning a living wage. The heartless bastards.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2005

You're Either With Us Or Against Us

Fair enough.

The American Civil Liberties Union does a lot of good. It has also, via its litigious campaign against the Boy Scouts of America, done a lot of harm.

The ACLU sued the BSA 14 times in 24 years. Those lawsuits denied boys across North America places to meet, camp out and develop life skills.

The ACLU's most recent threat of litigation on church-state grounds against public schools and other government agencies that charter Boy Scout groups forced the national BSA office to disassociate itself with those schools and government agencies. Many of them provided the places for troops, packs, units and their leaders to meet.

The effect is staggering.

BSA dropped 147 troops, packs and units in the 22-county North Alabama council alone. Membership declined 30 percent in the past year, including a 60 percent drop in Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties combined.

Membership reductions occur throughout the country.

ACLU -- I'm against you.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:20 PM | Comments (2)

Yes, and No

Thankfully, the adults are still in charge:

Suggesting that the Guantanamo Bay prison for suspected terrorists will operate for years, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that such a detention center will be needed until the war on terror is over.

Comparisons of Guantanamo to the gulags or complaints about the abuse suffered by the men kept incarcerated there are ridiculous and display a complete ignorance of the history of warfare and POWs, not to mention an attitude that assumes we are not really at war. There is, though, one thing that does bother me:

He [Rumsfeld] said U.S. taxpayers have already spent $100 million to build the facility in Cuba, which he said is costing $90 million to $95 million a year to operate.

Now, I don't know if these numbers are right, but if they are, that means we are spending $200,000 each year to keep each one of these prisoners locked up. That bothers me. Maybe Sheriff Joe Arpaio could help with a few ways to cut expenses.

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

So, The War Would Have Been OK If Your Son Hadn't Died?

I can understand grief and anger over having lost a son, but this throwaway line strikes me the wrong way:

Since her son's death, Sheehan has made opposition to the Bush administration a full-time job.

I am sorry for her loss and I mourn her lost son, Army Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan, with her by honoring his sacrifice. Alas, I fear Ms. Sheehan's exploitation of her son's death for political purposes serves only to dishonor his memory. Read the article if you want more details.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:07 PM | Comments (1)

The Big Sleazy

Imagine that the New Orleans Police Department hired David Duke to provide sensitivity training to its force. Well, of course they wouldn't do that, because they would never hire a racist to provide sensitivity training. Right?

The security chief for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has been hired to provide sensitivity training for the NOPD.

Naturally, not everyone thinks this is a good idea:

At the press conference announcing the training, a rabbi and priest expressed concern about Muhammad’s selection. Such concern is more than justified considering the history of Muhammad’s boss, Louis Farrakhan. Here are just a few of the Nation of Islam’s beliefs, as well as some of Farrakhan’s disturbing statements:

Whites are “blue eyed devils.” Jews are “bloodsuckers.” “Hitler was a very great man.” Jews controlled the slave trade and currently control the government. Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad believed that whites were created by an evil Black scientist and that there will be “The Great Decisive Battle in the Sky” when a space ship will kill all white people by bombing the earth. Muhammad believed that white people should relocate to Europe and that racial integration was wrong.

In addition, Farrakhan has met with dictators in Sudan, Libya and Iraq, before the war, and praised their governments while denouncing the United States. Leaders in the Nation of Islam have also made very inflammatory anti-Catholic statements. In a November 1993 speech at Kean College in New Jersey, Farrakhan’s chief spokesman Khallid Muhammad said, “T]he old no-good Pope-you know that cracker, somebody need to raise that dress up and see what´s really under there. Jesus was right; you´re nothing but liars. The book of Revelations is right; you´re from the Synagogue of Satan.”

And when I say everyone, I mean everyone:

Farrakhan’s views have even been condemned by African American leaders such as Rev. Jesse Jackson and former Congressman Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia). Even pop star Michael Jackson fired the members of the Nation of Islam who were part of his security detail.

Which would look worse on a resume, being hired by Michael Jackson or being fired by him?

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

And They Lived Wealthily Ever After


The Clintons' long financial hangover from Whitewater and impeachment has finally ended, thanks to millions of dollars in post-White House payments for speaking appearances and book contracts.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

I'm Gonna Gitcha Gitcha Gitcha Gitcha, One Day, Maybe Next Week, I'll Gitcha, I'll Gitcha

While I agree with the sentiment expressed:

The Bush administration, under fire for what critics call its failed North Korea policy, expressed confidence on Tuesday that "one way or another" Pyongyang ultimately would give up its nuclear weapons. "One way or another they're not going to have these systems," said Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the top U.S. diplomat dealing with Pyongyang.

I am a bit worried about forcing a use it or lose it mentality to take root in the minds of North Korea.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)

The Thriller

I'd crack wise in eight or nine different ways about this story concerning images of the gloved one's magic johnson, but I really don't want to show up on any of the Google queries for enquiring minds later on.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)


In their own words, "UPI Hears" (and then proceeds to spread silly rumors):

Former chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds comments that the official story about the collapse of the WTC is "bogus" and that it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7.

Because, of course, an economist -- especially an economist who used to work for President Bush and know has joined the Loony Left's Conspiracy Brigade -- knows more about heat and blast induced fatigue in structural steel and the catastrophic failure of lattices than the forensic engineers, structural engineers, architects, firemen, and material engineers quoted here by NOVA and here on TLC.

It's knowing that otherwise seemingly intelligent people can in fact be quite loony coupled with the fact that civil servants are no better or worse than the population at large that proves, to me at least, to be one of the most powerful arguments there is for limited government.

And shame on UPI for peddling and propogating this 9/11 conspiratorial nonsense that is better left to self promoting, anti-American lunatics like Thierry Meysann

* Yet Another Small Government Argument (inspired by YACC, for you Unix geeks).

June 12, 2005

The Western Omelette

One of the apologies offered for some of the most egregious sins of communism is Lenin's aphorism that, "you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette." If that is accepted as a casus genocidi for an, ahem, Eastern Omelette, then what is the rationale for criticizing all the bad things America did to Native Americans to achieve its current greatness. Or is it that our sins were made worse by breaking the eggs of free range chickens instead of already caged chickens?

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:47 PM | Comments (2)

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CX

(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.)

Whenever reality starts to intrude upon an illiberal’s world view and the carefully constructed house of cards that is their utopian dream house begins to collapse, one of the primary techniques used to restore peace and tranquility to the tender-souled and good-hearted is to loudly begin repeating as a mantra one of the rhetorical talismans they are given at a young age. The most powerful of these rhetorical talismans is “Richard Nixon.” There are no inconvenient facts or unintended consequences that cannot be brushed aside or ignored when the name of the avatar of all that is motivationally questionable by what the DNC Chair might call the white Christers is invoked. Why, whenever doubts start to creep in to the mindset where man’s inherent nature is good, peaceful, altruistic, globally thinking, locally acting, and vegan, uttering his name and appending any manner of vile intent to his deeds, no matter how ludicrous, can serve as a Masonic handshake or passcode to identify fellow travelers who can help restore the blessed state of willful ignorance that passes for an enlightened, post-modern, raised consciousness amongst the true believers.

Of course, such doubts rarely surface in the priestly class of the fourth estate, but their pedagogy constantly reinforces a nostalgic view of things that never were. Their invocation of “Richard Nixon” has less to do with reassuring themselves than with proselytizing and transcribing an unquestioning belief in the myths of the past on the Rousseau-like blank slates of their noble savages. Which brings us to today’s lesson in the catechism of illiberal dogma, in which Richard Cohen drops names and promotes his very minor part in the reporting of Watergate in a self serving manner…, I mean, in which Richard Cohen celebrates the greatness of disloyalty and the integrity of lacking integrity when it comes to the bringing down the foul beast of the nether regions that is any Republican president in A Brave Friend:

A long time ago…

… in a galaxy far, far away…

… I wrote a magazine piece about how Bob Woodward's famous source, "Deep Throat," could have been a mere Secret Service technician -- any one of several people detailed to keep Richard Nixon's secret White House taping system operating.

Because in Richard’s universe, everyone should violate the trust of their employers – at least when their employers are Republicans.

I figured that anyone with access to the system could quickly learn all that mattered about the Watergate burglary: The president's men had done it and the president was covering it up.

Anybody but Rosemary Woods perhaps.

I showed the piece to Woodward, who would not say whether it was right or wrong, just that it made sense.

Mr. Woodward wouldn’t say whether it was right or wrong, but that it made sense. Fake but accurate has a fine pedigree, does it not?

We both knew, though, that "Deep Throat" was Mark Felt.

Wow, Dick knew Deep Throat’s identity and kept it quiet all these years. Who knew Dick could display such strength, integrity and single-minded purpose.

Woodward's knowledge was firsthand, up close and certain.

Woodward, firsthand, up close, Deep Throat, Dick, trench coats, secret 2 AM rendezvous in parking garages – what is this, a Beavis and Butthead joke?

Mine was different.

And thus we come to celebrate Dick’s diversity!

It came from having worked with Woodward early in his career.

Taught the kid everything he knows, eh?

I was looking into rumors that Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew of Maryland, was under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore. Somehow -- I can't remember exactly -- I worked a bit with Bob on that story.

And yet, bizarrely, Mr. Woodward did not later march into Ben Bradlee’s office and demand that he be allowed to work with his mensch, Richard Cohen, on this threat that could only be stopped through the diligence and self-sacrifice of the self-appointed guarantors of America’s freedom.

His source, a person he used to call "my friend," had terrific information -- stuff that, looking back on it, not even the prosecutors in Baltimore had yet learned.

And we wonder why information that might have prevented 9/11 isn’t just automatically known by all the people in government that need to know.

Woodward would refer to his notes, and I could see the initials "M.F." They stood either for "my friend" or Mark Felt, whose name almost instantly surfaced.

Uh huh. And M.F. certainly wouldn’t be an abbreviation for a rather insulting term used to describe an incestuous relationship, would it?

I thought it didn't matter.


The two were the same.

But accurate.

There was a single source.

I missed the syllogism that produced this conclusion.

Now we know it is Mark Felt.

Now we know? I thought Richard said he knew it was Mark Felt all along?

He has confessed, if that's the right word -- although given his age (91) it's not exactly clear what he was intending.

When it comes to committing felonies, perhaps confessed is the right word.

Suffice it to say, though, that he is the man.

The man that brought down The Man.

He was No. 2 in the FBI back in the Watergate days, and he just could not abide the way the bureau was being abused by Nixon and his White House colleagues.

Like Avis, he tried harder. Hmm…, I wonder how many FBI files of political opponents with unedited agent inputs and interviews could be found in the Nixon White House? Or was this a new tradition started by the Clinton administration, but unworthy of further discussion because their hearts are pure. And besides, Hillary Clinton assured us there was nothing to it.

They wanted to use the FBI to block any real investigation into the Watergate burglary.

Yes, they were wrong

Felt simply would not permit that.

So what my mom taught me about two wrongs not making a right isn’t quite right. Right? I’d feel a lot better about what Mr. Felt did if he had come out immediately and disclosed his role. I remain uncomfortable not with what Mr. Felt did so much as with his own cover up of his role. I can understand wanting to fight corruption from the inside, but you have to remember what Nietzsche said, “and if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” Or why exactly is it that he felt it necessary to stay anonymous when performing such a valuable service to our country?

I applaud.

That sound you hear is self-congratulatory back-slapping.

We all applaud, or we should.

That sound you do not hear is dissent being suppressed.

Here was a man who put his career -- and it was a truly great career -- on the line.

That right wing nonsense about being passed over as J. Edgar Hoover’s successor had nothing to do with it. None. Whatsoever.

Here was a man who took seriously all that stuff about duty and loyalty and -- permit me, please -- the American Way.

He took all that stuff about duty and loyalty seriously right up to the point he stopped doing his duty and became disloyal. Perhaps Mark Felt was one the first people for the American Way. But why the need to be apologetic about the American Way? Are you ashamed of it, or is it just not popular with your friends, Dick?

He was, to say the least, no showboater. He did not rush out to write a book or appear on "Larry King Live" or sell his story to the movies, which he could have done.

And effectively what he and his children are trying to do now.

No, he did what he thought was right.

“He did what he thought was right” is apparently the new “I was just following orders.”

The reason I loved my theory about the nonexistent Secret Service technician is that he was the proverbial little man.

And I thought Richard loved his theory because it was his theory. I never would have guessed that it was because of his love for a little man.

He was the guy you don't notice who is appalled by wrongdoing and wants to do the right thing.

The mythology is getting deep in here now.

He asks no reward and he demands no fame. He wants only to show the big boys that the little guys, in the end, cannot be taken for granted. He is always there. He has to be taken into account.

Note that Richard has already acknowledged that his theory, which he loves, is wrong, and yet, he can’t let go of it. Gosh, does this sound familiar?

He can always go to the media.

Like I wrote above, the self-proclaimed guarantor of our rights. I, for one, do not welcome our new Big Media overlords.

Felt was too important to be "the little guy." That made what he did even braver. He was always an obvious suspect. He clearly knew too much.

No, he clearly talked to much. There is a difference.

For more than 30 years I have had people tell me that Deep Throat did not exist.

For more than 45 years I have had people tell me that the United States of America is responsible for all the things wrong with the world, that we would run out of oil within 10 years, that mass starvation would occur the day after tomorrow, that peace is more important than freedom, and that Social Security is solvent.

He was invented, made up. Or he was a composite -- a piece of this person and a piece of that person with some fiction thrown in.

No fiction. None. Nothing to read, just Move On.

I knew better.

So now you know again?

I had seen the notes and, besides, I knew Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

And you don’t.

They would not lie.

Because… they are in the media?

We live in a cynical era.

Like, duh. This isn't called the Scourge of Richard Cohen because it rhymes or contributes to World Peace.

The press has been knocked off its Watergate-era pedestal and prosecutors are rounding up anonymous sources because it is more important to seal a leak than to get at the truth.

Yeah, that’s it. Big Media's hearts are pure and anybody who doesn’t agree with them is evil. Keep on telling truth to power, Dick.

The public either applauds or does not give a damn.

Or cares and does what it can while it can until the FEC shuts down the blogosphere.

Everything is the same.

Same as it ever was... (sorry, can't resist any opportunity to drop in an 80's Talking Heads reference).

Big government. Big media. What does it matter?

The common denominator here is “big.” Maybe there’s an argument for limited government crying to get out here somewhere, if it can ever get past Richard’s false dichotomies.

But Mark Felt knew that it mattered.

Sha doo bay, mattered, mattered... (or an 80's Rolling Stones reference either). And, of course, his heart was pure.

Remember: He was No. 2 in the FBI.

And we all know how much Richard respected the FBI, especially when Mark Felt was No.2 to J. Edgar Hoover.

Remember: He carried a gun.

So maybe he was the one who was putting Robert Redford’s and Dustin Hoffman’s lives in danger! Sorry, but I'm still laughing at this one because try as I might I cannot figure out the relevance of this fact to anything else Richard has written.

And remember, too: Despite all that, when he was afraid for his bureau and for his country, he went to a reporter and told his story and changed history.

Like all cultures, Big Media has its own mythology for the creation of the universe.

Richard Nixon resigned and countless White House officials went to jail partly because of what Felt told that reporter.

And all this time I thought it was because of the crimes they committed.

That's how it started, anyway.


Now that I know for sure that Mark Felt is Deep Throat, nothing really changes. I always suspected it was him.

So now you didn’t know again?

And I knew, no matter who (sic) it was, that I could always paraphrase Woodward: For what Felt did for us all, he was "our friend."

And, he forgot to add; he made us very wealthy and cemented our oligarchy as the fourth branch of government. I still find it humorous that sunshine is considered a great purifier and antiseptic for ills and foul conspiracies of the government, but not for a press which believes it is the ombudsman for our liberty. My view of our new overlords is best summed up by paraphrasing an old aphorism, “I’m from the press, and I’m here to help.”

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:26 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2005

The Downing Street Memo

What a load of rubbish. Further commentary is unwarranted for an impression of a feeling of a sense of what was transpiring, especially one so pregnant with misunderstanding of non-American English. Having led a deployment to England for a year, one of my biggest problems was explaining to management that we didn't exactly speak the same language.

Bugger all.

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

Blah Blah Blah

I found this link to a post by Jay Rosen at Instapundit. It's a good post and I recommend you read it. For posterity, here's the comment I left after reading Oliver Willis' comments:

Your decision to interpret the problem as one of religion is interesting, especially considering that most of Big Media's problem isn't skepticism, which is understandable in any system of belief, but cynicism. Skepticism is expected within the church and much effort is expended to deal with it, but cynicism is hopelessly nihilistic. When it comes to belief, it's one thing to state, "I don't understand." It's entirely another to state, "What a load of crap you liars are peddling."

If I may, I'd like to trump Mr. Franken's (and many others) statement that they are a citizen of the world by noting that I am a citizen of the universe! I mean, why be limited by mere planetism or galaxyism? But seriously, the problem I have with such a statement is that it assumes one can divorce oneself entirely from one's historical and cultural context. I'll leave aside for the moment whether that is practical, but not the question of what form such a detached state of "enlightenment" might be. What exactly is a citizen of the world? And what is the basis of its morality?

There seems to be a serious epistemological question underlying Mr. Franken's desire to question the veracity of all sides equally. How does he know what he thinks he knows? I am profoundly skeptical of official sources, but I have come to learn that even official American sources can be trusted to a point on almost everything. What level of trust can we assign to anything the terrorists say? Does Mr. Franken truly believe they operate on the same plane?

I must admit that I find the hubris associated with being a self-proclaimed citizen of the world somewhat incongruent with the humility displayed in every news report that mentions the reporter's name at least three times. Such detachment!

On another point, I almost pity Oliver these days, thinking that yelling the loudest somehow equates to being right. Jeez, I guess might really does make right, huh? But, perhaps that is a good stance for a cynic who has abandoned all pretense to objectivity to take.

My apologies for rambling a bit.

I do most of my work in comments these days. Is it a good idea to post them here like this? Or am I unfairly abusing the goodwill of my betters?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:50 PM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2005

Right Unilateral Bastards, Those Scandanavians

Bloody warmongering Norwegians:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a deal on Wednesday to keep siting U.S. weapons and equipment in Norway, formerly NATO's only European member bordering the Soviet Union.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)


Sid speaks:

The Bush presidency is the highest stage of Nixonism.

That's funny, I could have sworn the Nixon presdency has the highest stage of Nixonism. But it never hurts to drop Nixon's corpse at Sid's dos so everyone can kick it again.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

Fashion is Spoiled Cabbage

The men without chests weigh in:

Macho man is an endangered species, with today's male more likely to opt for a pink flowered shirt and swingers' clubs than the traditional role as family super-hero, fashion industry insiders say.

Perhaps tomorrow, James Taranto will ask, "What Would We Do Without Fashion Industry Insiders?" But I'm sure Demi digs the way the this Ashton look-alike carries himself, even if his momma does dress him funny:


And to close this post:

Body...wanna feel my body?
Body...such a thrill my body
Body...wanna touch my body?
Body...it's too much my body
Check it out my body, body.
Don't you doubt my body, body.
talkin' bout my body, body,
check it out my body

Every man wants to be a macho macho man
to have the kind of body, always in demand
Jogging in the mornings, go man go
works out in the health spa, muscles glow
You can best believe that, he's a macho man
ready to get down with, anyone he can

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man (macho man)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! Ow....

Macho, macho man
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man (yeah, yeah)
I've got to be a macho!

Body, its so hot, my body,
Body, love to pop my body,
Body, love to please my body,
Body, don't you tease my body,
Body, you'll adore my body,
Body, come explore my body,
Body, made by God, my body,
Body, it's so good, my body

You can tell a macho, he has a funky walk
his western shirts and leather, always look so boss
Funky with his body, he's a king
call him Mister Eagle, dig his chains
You can best believe that, he's a macho man
likes to be the leader, he never dresses grand

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! (all right)

Macho, macho man (yeah, yeah)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! All Right!

Ugh! Macho..baby!
Body, body, body wanna feel my body,
Body, body, body gonna thrill my body,
Body, body, body don'tcha stop my body,
Body, body, body it's so hot my body,

Every man ought to be a macho macho man,
To live a life of freedom, machos make a stand,
Have their own life style and ideals,
Possess the strength and confidence, life's a steal,
You can best believe that he's a macho man
He's a special person in anybody's land.

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man (macho man)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! (dig the hair on my chest)

Macho, macho man (see my big thick mustache)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! (Dig broad shoulders)

Macho, macho man (dig my muscles!)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho!

Macho, macho man
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! HEY!

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:57 PM | Comments (2)

I Predict!

When Howard Dean steps down as the DNC chair (probably sometime later today), within 24 hours his demise will be attributed to the vast right wing conspiracy in one form or another.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:07 AM | Comments (1)

Normal Will Soon Be the Minority

Well, this would explain the popularity of American Idol, and Scientology for that matter:

One-quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year, and fully a quarter of those had a "serious" disorder that significantly disrupted their ability to function day to day, according to the largest and most detailed survey of the nation's mental health, published yesterday.

Then again, maybe the only real problem we have is one of defining mental illness if our current definitions encompass 1 out of every 4 people.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

99 Days of de Villepin on the Wall

The countdown begins:

ANYTHING but the British might be the motto for Dominique de Villepin, the new French Prime Minister, when he announces today how he will fulfil his pledge to bring down France’s chronic high unemployment without recourse to the dreaded modèle Anglo-Saxon. L’Albion Perfide has loomed large over France this week as M de Villepin has staked his name on his plan to restore confidence in 100 days, after the rejection of the European constitutional treaty in the referendum on May 29.

You go, Gaul.

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

George Fools 'em Again

Like I said, do we really need a UN ambassador?

Senate Democrats back from a weeklong recess said on Tuesday they were holding firm against allowing a vote to confirm John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations until the Bush administration turns over more information on him.

But don't call them obstructionists!

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)



Good thing he grew out of that whole looking like Lurch thing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)


The permanent campaign continues:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized the Bush administration's record on unemployment, women's rights and the environment, saying it is "intent upon consolidating and abusing power."

I guess we can look forward to "Hillary says..." every day from now until November 4, 2008.

"We are living in a time when the other side doesn't want us to see the facts. Facts are inconvenient _ facts about global warming, facts about mercury in the air, facts about people staying unemployed longer," said Clinton, considered a Democratic contender for the presidency in 2008.

Hey, she left out arsenic in the water! And more millinaires than ever! And home ownership at record levels! And, oh forget it.

The former first lady spoke Monday at a New York Women for Hillary breakfast, which raised $250,000 for her 2006 Senate re-election campaign. She leads potential GOP Senate opponents 2-to-1 in recent polls.

That's a lot of money to raise for a two-year term. Hey, what happens if Hillary wins the presidential election in 2008 and the Democrats pick up a couple of Senate seats, but then the Republicans retake the Senate when New York Governor Pataki appoints her replacement to fill out her remaining four year term in the Senate?

"There has never been an administration, I don't believe, in our history more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda," she said of President Bush.

Yes, consolidating and abusing power is what George Bush lives for. This is the kind of unchallenged tripe that is most depressing for me these days. Good thing Newt's no longer part of the problem:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton teamed up at a May 11 press conference with one goal in mind - to get Congress to pass, and the president to sign, a health information technology bill.

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

Howard! Duck!

According to Matt Drudge, Howard Dean continues his fabulously successful outreach to the faith-based community:

'They [the GOP] all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party'...

I'll give Howard Dean another sixteen hours or so to enjoy his stay as DNC chair. I swear, it's as though he's trying to get kicked out.

DOWNDATE: Did I say sixteen hours?

Howard Dean is not the Democratic Party's spokesman, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the latest party leader to distance himself from the outspoken chairman, said Tuesday. "I believe Governor Dean is a good chairman. He's doing a good job," Richardson, the head of the Democratic Governors' Association, told reporters at the start of a two-day visit to New Hampshire. "He's not the spokesman for the party. It's governors, it's senators, it's party leaders."

Under no circumstances should the chairman of the DNC be considered a spokesman for the party. (Incidentally, did Governor Richardson make a mistake by saying spokesman instead of spokesperson?)

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

HGM* Strikes Again

My favorite ex-president (emphasis on ex) weighs in:

Former President Carter on Tuesday called for the United States to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison to demonstrate its commitment to human rights.

Hey, I have a better idea, let's leave the Guantanamo Bay prison open to demonstrate our commitment to human rights by continuing to keep the murderous bastards detained there locked up. On the other hand, perhaps we could close it down if there was no longer a reason to keep any terrorists detained there locked up. Hmm..., perhaps Jimmy ought to be more careful about what he asks for. But HGM isn't done yet:

Despite his criticism of Guantanamo Bay, Carter said Amnesty International should not have called the prison "the gulag of our time" in a report last month. President Bush has termed the report by the human-rights group "absurd." Carter said the alleged abuses at Guantanamo Bay could never compare with the forced labor camps operated by the former Soviet Union.

And of course, we all remember how much more forcefully Jimmy Carter denounced the Soviet Union while it still existed for their human rights violations, especially when compared to how often he denounces the US today for its human rights violations. Right?

* History's Greatest Monster

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

June 05, 2005

Genuflecting at the Lourdes of Journalism

Jay Rosen notes that:

In his excellent book, Watergate and American Memory (1992, Basic) Michael Schudson distinguishes between the scandal, which didn't change the world very much, and the myth of Watergate in journalism. It did change journalism by giving the warrant of history (and the mandate of heaven) to the adversarial press and the Fourth Estate model, where the press is an essential check on government, a modern addition to the balance of powers.

The problem I have with this is that journalists have usurped great authority without assuming any corresponding responsibility for exercising this power. One point I hit upon periodically is that when there is a significant disconnect between responsibility and authority, bad things tend to happen. Clearly, our universe has moved more than a little out of balance when it comes to the power that journalists now wield in our society and in our government. As noted above, this is an largely an artifact of the myths of Watergate. The modus operandi of the press today seems predicated upon Shiva-like power to destroy anyone or anything -- whether for good or ill is not as important as the act of destruction.

Of course, teenage boys, with their proverbial one-track minds, have the power to destroy. The important question is what do journalists have the power to create or sustain that is greater than themselves? Or are their perspectives and timeframes as limited as those of teenage boys?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:21 PM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2005

Looks Like I Picked a Bad Day to Stop Drinking

Angry, hasty, drunken, depressing post deleted.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:08 PM | Comments (1)

Mission Impeachable

Good morning, Mr. Felt. Your mission, Mark, should you choose to accept it is to bring down a president and elevate the Fourth Estate, permanently substituting self promotion and cynicism for integrity and idealism. As always, should you be exposed or subpoenaed, the editors will disavow all knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck Mark.

And all this time I was betting on a dark horse -- G. Gordon Liddy. Not.

Actually, what amazes me is that there hasn't quite been the nostalgic love fest for all the editor's men that so many were no doubt expecting when Deep Throat's identity was finally, ahem, coughed up. Is this because of a new introspection on the part of Biig Media that questions the pedastal these men have been put upon? Or have the alternate voices now heard in the blogosphere made it impossible to achieve a harmonious single party, uh, I mean, story line? Or does it merely constitute "proof" in the eyes of those who, like Eric Alterman, believe that conservatives really have taken over Big Media? Nah. It now appears that, In the immortal words of, well, Deep Throat, that all we should do is, "follow the money."

There is no way to definitively ascertain this now, but I would like to know if Mr. Felt every actually told Mr. Woodward or Mr. Bernstein that their lives were in danger, or if this was, shall we say, a little journalistic license taken by an overactive imagination to make our intrepid self-professed protectors of freedom look a little more noble, if not more manly. At the very least, perhaps all mentions of Deep Throat, dark secrets, trenchcoats, and anonymous meetings in dimly lit parking garages at 2 AM can be dispensed with in polite company for a while.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

Spoiler Alert. Bypass if you don't want to know a few details...

Daughter #1 and I went to see Revenge of the Sith last night. I wanted to enjoy it. Really, I did. Alas, while I don't want to rain on the parade of enjoyment that so many have, or perhaps more properly, want to have for this film, it is my considered opinion that ROTS is bad. Ishtar bad. Gigli bad. Perhaps the worst film I have seen in ten years. I guess I better explain why.

Oh, the CGI is visually stunning and the rather complex choreography of the battle scenes is intellectually stimulating, but in a way that does nothing but distract from the actual plot -- when you can find a plot. I can appreciate the intellectual and technical achievment of the thousands upon thousands of airships in what appears to be conventional rush hour traffic the first dozen or so times I see it. After that it gets kind of tiresome to have to watch another fifteen second silent interlude that serves no apparent purpose other than to allow the boys at Industrial Light and Magic show us once again just how technically proficient they are with their toys.

About twenty minutes into the movie my suspension of disbelief started to fade and I mentally began to point out the silliness and impossible physics of what I was watching. Fortunately, I was able to suppress that phase rather quickly, as it wasn't much of a challenge, and I returned to trying to enjoy the movie.

John Williams ponderous score adds nothing and seemed annoying to me during the frequent dialogueless interludes.

Many others have already noted the laughable dialogue in the scenes between Anakin and Padme, but it seems to me that the problem is universal. Hmm..., when Mr. Lucas draws callowly transparent analogies to President Bush and the Liberation of Iraq using Senator Palpatine and the suppression of the Separatist Revolt as a threat to the Senate (and House?), the Republic, and (gasp!) democracy, and when he justifies the Jedi Council killing Senator Palpatine for expediency since he cannot be brought to justice through the usual means and he is far too dangerous to be allowed to live, well, what exactly is Mr. Lucas saying here? And I've seen Mr. Lucas encourage these Iraq allusions on the Charlie Rose show, so I'm not making this up out of a hypersensitivity to illiberal silliness. Moving on...

For a "chosen one", Anakin Skywalker is remarkably dense. If none of the Jedi Masters could sense this, shouldn't Obi Wan have figured it out after spending years with him? Trusting your fate to the hands of someone with the intellectual, emotional, and political sophistication of a 13-year old, no matter how strong the force is in him, would seem to be counterintuitive for those so saturated with midichlorians. FWIW, I found Anakin's conversion entirely unconvincing and his flippantly casual willingness to believe the ends justify the means when it comes to working for the dark side somewhat incongruent, especially since he claimed to find that concept so repulsive when he imagined it practiced by the Jedi.

Too bad General Grievous didn't have that Jedi mind trick in his younger days to shoo away the sleazy death stick vendors. If he had had it, then perhaps we could have been spared a commanding robot with a hacking cough. GG's demise reminded me of the rather anticlimactic ending to Ralph Bakshi's Wizards. There is very little new under the multiple suns.

And can we please dispense with the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/Matrix/Charlie's Angels fight choreography? That the force can allow one to do superhuman (or super-other species) feats is taken as a given, but why do four forward flips when, say, one would probably suffice?

Finally, what I believe to be the most damaging indictment of ROTS is to imagine this movie with this script made in 1977 when the orginal Star Wars movie was released. Without the CGI, how many thumbs up do you think it might have got? Would you have been anxiously awaiting the sequels?

I've written before that Mr. Lucas' biggest mistake was doing 1, 2 and 3, instead of 7, 8 and 9. The necessity of living within the constraints of a storyline that dictated a certain ending was more than Mr. Lucas could adequately cope with. He is in some ways a victim of the impossible expectations raised by his earlier success. Nevertheless, George Lucas will be fondly remembered and feted for bringing us his tales of a galaxy far, far away for a long, long time. The rather sad second (or first, if you prefer) trilogy tarnishes his star just a little, as the first (or second, if you prefer) trilogy was so very, very good. Mr. Lucas appears to be a spent force creatively, albeit an incredibly wealthy spent force.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:00 PM | Comments (6)