Two paragraphs of snark, and that's all this blog has become, are no substitute for thoughtful, informed, reasoned discourse. I've forgotten why I started blogging but I'm sure it wasn't to end up where I am now. Call it a mid-blog crisis if you will, but it is time to step back, assess where I am and where I want to be, and retool.
Now, if you'll excuse me...
Huge post on Madeleine Albright deleted as it began to delve into thorny theological questions and my snarky frame of mind led to several ill-considered remarks which I believe it is better to delete.
So be it. But even with my poor knowledge of Christian theology, I believe Ms. Albright remains deeply confused when it comes to matters of faith.
DOWNDATE: I do wonder though, why aren't Democrats content with standing aside and letting Bush self destruct instead of re-energizing his base by saying incredibly stupid things like this:
"President Bush's certitude about what he believes in, and the division between good and evil, is, I think, different," said Albright, who has just published a book on religion and world affairs. "The absolute truth is what makes Bush so worrying to some of us."
"Some of his language is really quite over the top," Albright told Reuters on Sunday during a trip to London to promote her book. "When he says 'God is on our side', it's very different from (former U.S. President Abraham) Lincoln saying 'We have to be on God's side.'"
Aside from President Lincoln's many, many references to God in his speeches and writings, from his appeal to the better angels of our nature in the first inaugural address to the second inuagural address', "... the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether", one wonders if Ms. Albright is decidedly unsure as to who God might support in the GWOT.
After all, I thought this was the prerogative of the voters:
DNC: WE DID NOT PICK LANDRIEU OVER NAGIN
Hmm..., would fake, but accurate apply in this case?
I'm reminded of Neil's line in The Young Ones about crucifying yourself, "Rick, that's a really horrible way to kill yourself, man...I've tried, there's no way you can hammer in the last nail."
Perhaps she's just fresh out of unicorn blood:
Madonna launched her first world tour in two years on Sunday, delighting an enthusiastic Los Angeles crowd by hanging herself from a cross, insulting President George W. Bush, and dusting off some of the sexy moves that have sustained her career for more than 20 years.
I'm guessing no one outside the choir is going to be impressed by sexy moves with 20 years of dust on them.
Apparently, he's no Lionel Ritchie:
Grown Iraqi men get misty-eyed by the mere mention of his name. "I love Lionel Richie," they say. Iraqis who do not understand a word of English can sing an entire Lionel Richie song.
Now that men's razors have five blades, meteorologist's jealousy has driven them to propose a new category of 6 on the Saffir-Simpson scale to stay ahead of the Joneses, Wilkinsons, and Gillettes:
There is no official Category 6 for hurricanes, but scientists say they're pondering whether there should be as evidence mounts that hurricanes around the world have sharply worsened over the past 30 years — and all but a handful of hurricane experts now agree this worsening bears the fingerprints of man-made global warming.
And, of course, no opportunity to hype global warming and the evil that men do can be passed up. Right Al?
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined the iPod generation.
Motown tunes, classical music and the Rolling Stones are all on Clinton's iPod playlist, she told the New York Post for Monday editions.
But please, tell me she won't be dancing with her earbuds in while silhouetted against a colorful background.
When Black Monday comes, I'm going to sell everything I own:
CONDITIONS in the financial markets are eerily similar to those that precipitated the “Black Monday” stock market crash of October 1987, according to leading City analysts.
A report by Barclays Capital says the run-up to the 1987 crash was characterised by a widening US current-account deficit, weak dollar, fears of rising inflation, a fading boom in American house prices, and the appointment of a new chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
Whoa, such stunning parallels amongst five indicators cherry picked from the thousands available. Dude, that's amazing.
Whenever a politician reminds us that he or she is a servant of the people:
Saturday night’s FBI raid on the office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) surprised and angered House officials, who were not told that the Rayburn House Office Building search was to take place until one hour beforehand, offering the latest sign that federal prosecutors are using increasingly aggressive tactics in their pursuit of allegedly corrupt lawmakers.
Because all of us have the right to receive more than a few hours notice before the FBI executes a search warrant. Right?
There are many years of therapy behind the denial, self-loathing, and martyr complexes evident here:
Jim McGreevey shockingly admits that before he became governor of New Jersey, he'd have anonymous gay sex at Garden State highway rest stops.
"All I knew was that my behavior was getting crazier and crazier," McGreevey says of his torrid truck-stop trysts in an upcoming book that details his tortured life of lies and sexual repression.
"With each new encounter, I was getting nearer and nearer to being caught - which surely would have generated headlines, especially after I became executive director of the state parole board" in the mid-1980s.
Wonder if he ever ran into Fat Vito?
The ACLU has done the lamentably predictable thing and lauded a predictably lamentable report from the U.N. Committee against Torture:
“The message from the torture committee leaves no doubt that the U.S. policies and practices at home and abroad violated bedrock principles against torture and abuse,” said Jamil Dakwar, an attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program who was in Geneva monitoring the session. “"If America is to regain its status as a beacon of freedom around the world, the U.S. government must take immediate steps to end its policies of abuse and to hold officials and perpetrators accountable."
No doubt our loss of status as a (Ed. note: a, not the) beacon of freedom around the world will surely take care of the pesky illegal imigration problem soon enough.
As a reminder, here are the members of this august body who stands in self-righteous condemnation of the beacon of freedom around the world:
Mr. Guibril Camara -- Senegal
Mr. Sayed Kassem El Masry -- Egypt
Ms. Felice Gaer -- United States of America
Mr. Claudio Grossman -- Chile
Mr. Fernando Marino Menendez -- Spain
Mr. Andreas Mavrommatis -- Cyprus
Mr. Julio Prado-Vallejo -- Ecuador
Mr. Ole Vedel Rasmussen -- Denmark
Mr. Alexander M. Yakovlev -- Russian Federation
Mr. Yu Mengjia -- China
Did I mention that the sooner we leave the U.N. the better?
Two good entries, but the best for this:
Was Jon's: "Yeah, we can't seem to do that Vulcan greeting thingy with our hands either."
The New Orleans Mayoral election is rapidly approaching. If you should suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself between Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or Michael Eric Dyson and a camera or microphone in the next few days, duck and cover.
Former President Bill Clinton is following up his best-selling 2004 memoir, "My Life," with a book on citizen activism and service, to be published by Alfred A. Knopf sometime late next year or early in 2008.
Mr. Clinton was paid more than $10 million for "My Life," an amount then believed to be the largest ever for a nonfiction book. That book has sold more than two million copies in the United States and has been published in more than 30 countries.
Neither Knopf executives nor Robert Barnett, the lawyer who negotiated both of Mr. Clinton's deals, would comment yesterday on the financial terms of the new book. But one industry veteran with knowledge of the deal estimated that Knopf is paying an advance of around $5 million.
Madrid seeks to stem tide of African immigrants
My least favorite part of the story featuring this headline:
Plot to down El Al jet in Geneva foiled
Is this sentence:
Swiss officials reported that no arrests were made following the discovery since the plan had yet to reach its final operational stages.
Nice to know the Swiss haven't subscribed to that evil preemption thing.
As Yoda once said, "Do or do not, there is no try":
Four Guantanamo detainees attempt suicide
Maybe the attacks on the guards after faked suicide attempts have deprived them of the sympathy they seek.
And I don't mean for Castro, but for all the poor bastards who are forced to live under a regime where lies like this can apparently be told with a straight face. On the other hand, imagine how angry some activists and States' Attorneys General might be if it turns out that rolling the tobacco leaves on the thighs of young Cuban girls has miraculous powers that negate the deleterious effects of smoking.
One advantage to Holocaust denial is that you can pretend this has never been done before:
Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.
It may be that this story is a hoax, but isn't it telling that it is so believable? Hey, maybe we should give them a nuke just to show how sorry we are.
I think he's wrong, but I do salute the courage he has in his convictions.
Meanwhile Senator Reid weighs in:
Reid calls language proposal racist
He keeps using that word, but I do not think it means what he thinks it means.
My favorite part of the story featuring this headline:
6 Gitmo Inmates Hurt in Fight With Guards
Is this sentence:
No guards were injured, he said.
I salute their bravery and comeptence. And I vastly prefer this headline to one that might read:
6 Gitmo Guards Hurt in Fight With Inmates
Does that make me a bad person?
As mentioned previously, CNN is hyping their poll asking folks to compare the performance of a down in the dumps President Bush with a romanticized version of the utopia that never was during the Clinton administration:
In a new poll comparing President Bush's job performance with that of his predecessor, a strong majority of respondents said President Clinton outperformed Bush on a host of issues.
I'm curious though, what where the results of the poll in 1998 that asked how Bill Clinton's performance rated against Former president Bush's? Oh, never mind.
Everybody hates Bush and Big Media couldn't be happier. Disregarding the public's and Big Media's apparent total ignorance of the economy booming around them, pleae allow me to select merely one sentence from the poll that CBS is trumpeting:
There is also concern that Mr. Bush is spending too much time on foreign policy issues: 55% think so.
Uh..., could it be..., because..., um..., well..., because there's a freakin' war going on? What in the hell is wrong with people? Naturally, Repubicans will yield control of each branch of government at some point in the future, but good Lord, Hillary in the White House with Harry Reid in charge of the Senate and Nancy Pelosi two heartbeats from the Presidency?
DOWNDATE: Haven't these Democrats seen the poll numbers?
Tough-on-terrorism Democrats urged their party on Tuesday to put foreign policy ahead of political retribution in the fall elections, underscoring a divide between the party's hawks and doves that could frame the 2008 presidential campaign.
"Simply lashing out in anger at the current administration doesn't accomplish what we want," said Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a likely candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Bayh and another potential White House hopeful, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, spoke at an event sponsored by the moderate Progressive Policy Institute to promote its book, "With All Our Might," a Democratic blueprint for fighting the war on terror.
Several party chiefs, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, have all but promised investigations — and perhaps impeachment proceedings — against President Bush should Democrats gain control of Congress this fall.
Personally, I think the Democrats and their Big Media allies are making a tactical mistake by trumpeting these polls too loudly. All it is doing is putting the Republicans on notice while there is still time for them to work on making things better. It would have been better for the Democrats to keep this data under wraps until the day after election day. They can't even maintain enough discipline within their party to allow the Republicans to destroy themselves without interfering and gloating before the task is complete.
Gosh, I do so look forward to these dimwits running the world.
DOUBLE DOWNDATE: I actually heard the words "booming economy" this morning on NPR, but only as a lead in to to frighten people with incipient runaway inflation.
Either that or they spontaneously burst into a version of Day-O by Harry Belafonte as though possessed by Beetlejuice:
This picture was snapped mere moments before the Three Amigos finish their song with a flourish and a pelvic thrust. Surely you can think of a caption before I close the contest and declare a winner sometime next week.
It's good to be the dictator:
Cuban President Fidel Castro was furious when Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at $550 million last year. This year, the magazine upped its estimate of the communist leader's wealth to a cool $900 million.
Just out of curiosity, I wonder what Fulgencio Batista was worth when he was deposed.
Marx was wrong, again. The repeat wasn't a farce:
Police labor union officials asked acting Chief Christopher McGaffin this afternoon to allow a Capitol Police officer to complete his investigation into an early-morning car crash involving Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), son of Sen. Ted Kennedy.
ROLL CALL reports: According to a letter sent by Officer Greg Baird, acting chairman of the USCP FOP, the wreck took place at approximately 2:45 a.m. Thursday when Kennedy's car, operating with its running lights turned off, narrowly missed colliding with a Capitol Police cruiser and smashed into a security barricade at First and C streets Southeast.
“The driver exited the vehicle and he was observed to be staggering,” Baird’s letter states. Officers approached the driver, who “declared to them he was a Congressman and was late to a vote. The House had adjourned nearly three hours before this incident. It was Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy from Rhode Island.”
Baird wrote that Capitol Police Patrol Division units, who are trained in driving under the influence cases, were not allowed to perform basic field sobriety tests on the Congressman. Instead, two sergeants, who also responded to the accident, proceeded to confer with the Capitol Police watch commander on duty and then “ordered all of the Patrol Division Units to leave the scene and that they were taking over.”
A source tells the DRUDGE REPORT: "It was apparent that the driver was intoxicated (stumbling) and claimed he was in a hurry to make a vote.
"When it became apparent who it was, instead of processing a normal DWI, the watch commander had the Patrol units clear the scene. The commander allowed other building officials drive Kennedy home."
Do you think Jeff would get mad if I renamed my blog Protean Wisdom?
Let me help you make your dream come true Mr. Gates:
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said Wednesday he wished he were not the world's richest man.
Just make out a check for $50,000,000,000.87 to Mr. Charles W. Austin and send it to my home address. I'm in the book. Also, I suggest using registered mail.
It is passing strange that you have to go to Australian media to find out just how good the U.S. economy is doing, even if it is a Reuters feed:
Activity in both the vast US services sector and at factories accelerated more than expected, according to data that pointed to fresh economic vigour and the risk of more interest rate hikes.
Most economists are expecting economic growth to slow from a torrid first-quarter pace of 4.8 per cent, yet the latest figures showed no hints of slowing and appeared likely to keep the Federal Reserve leaning toward further rate rises. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week a pause in the rate-hike cycle was possible.
The Institute for Supply Management's services index rose to 63.0 in April from 60.5 in March, with new orders hitting a two-year high, confounding Wall Street estimates for a slowdown to 59.2.
In addition, the government reported new factory orders rose a stronger-than-expected 4.2 per cent in March, beating estimates for a 3.5 per cent gain, as demand for transportation equipment, computers and electronics proved robust.
Treasury debt prices fell and the dollar firmed against the euro after the data.
"It does suggest that the overall economy is improving and for the market it is part of the recent theme - all the numbers are coming in on the stronger side of expectations," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates in St Petersburg, Florida.
Financial markets have fully priced in another rate rise at the Fed's policy meeting next week, and on Wednesday raised the chances of a follow-up move in June.
"They want to keep their options open for late June but most likely they may end up leaning towards another rate hike as the data continues to come in strong," said Brown.
The services sector accounts for about 80 per cent of US economic activity, including businesses like restaurants, hotels, hair salons, banks and airlines.
"This suggests GDP growth momentum of 4.5 per cent to 5.0 per cent, rather than the slowdown to 3.25 per cent trend growth the Fed is banking on," said Ian Morris, chief US economist at HSBC.
"As a result we think this piece of news is significantly hawkish."
Businesses cited rising energy costs, with the prices-paid index hitting a six-month high, but overall activity was not dampened as new orders surged to 64.6 from 59.5.
"Most of the comments our members made this month were very positive, very bullish," said Ralph Kauffman, chair of the non-manufacturing ISM business survey committee.
"Retailers indicated that the prices they are paying are going up. I don't think that their sales are having a problem. Their profit margins are probably being squeezed somewhat."
Kaufmann also noted inventories rose in April and businesses were deliberating stockpiling goods in expectations of increased business ahead.
Separate government data showed March's gain in factory orders was caused in part to a 14.7 per cent jump in new orders for transportation equipment, while civilian aircraft and parts orders soared 71.3 per cent.
Orders for non defence capital goods climbed 12.9 per cent, the strongest increase since November. Stripped of aircraft, orders for non defence capital goods - a proxy for business spending - advanced a still-strong 3.9 per cent.
Orders for durable goods, expensive items meant to last three years or longer, advanced an even stronger 6.5 per cent in March, revised up from a 6.1 per cent gain reported last week.
The report also contained information on factory inventories that implied a small upward revision to first quarter GDP of around 0.2 percentage point, economists said, which combined with other revisions point to a pace above five per cent.
A new indicator released for the first time suggested a solid gain in April jobs, ahead of the official payrolls report due on Friday.
ADP Employer Services, a private firm, estimated the 178,000 private jobs were added in April, based on a survey sample of 14 million workers. It also estimated 22,000 government jobs were added, which would bring the month's total payrolls increase to 200,000, in line with current Wall Street consensus.
Financial markets are hoping the April jobs report will help clarify the outlook for official interest rates. Fed Chairman Bernanke last week said a pause in tightening was possible, but rates rises could resume even after a break in tightening.
Back from vacation where I got cheated out of a massage, but I did manage to get in seven rounds of golf, including shooting an 89 on Pinehurst #2. I literally missed an 85 by that much. I'm pleased as punch about that.
In other news:
I tried to go see Flight 93 tonight, but it was sold out. Some friends think it is too soon. Not me, I want to keep it seared, seared in my memory.
I did see Ice Age 2 with daughter #2 yesterday. Ugh. Clearly there is a great unsatisfied need for family-oriented movies with folks lining up to see dreck like this.
I got to go see the Nationals play the Cardinals in the new Busch stadium last Friday. It's nice, but I still do not understand why the owners reduced the seating from the old Busch stadium. They eliminated the top balcony from along the left field line for no apparent reason I can discern. I hope Albert Pujols can stay healthy. He has a chance to become one of the all time greats.
I guess I missed the memo where beggars became choosers, or, should I say, demanders. I don't mean to imply that immigrants who are here illegally are necessarily beggars, but it does seem that asking for something from the country you have no right to be in would be more polite and potentially more palatable to those legally here than demanding something when you have no legal standing, the marginally insane left-wing reconquista notwithstanding.
I don't give a damn if someone sings the National Anthem in Spanish. Or Hungarian, for that matter. But let's keep it real for a minute, this tip top hip hop faux pop has nothing to do with any inclusive mindset and everything to do with an in your face attempt to divide and conquer. I swear, some of these folks better be careful what they wish for. If George Wallace was alive and well, I think he'd be a viable third party candidate right about now. That giant sucking sound you hear is the vacuum created by the abandonment of principle by Democrats and Republicans.
Don't these freakin' people know there's a war on?
I'm reading Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden. The comparisons to what's going on in Iraq right now are eerie, though the book itself was written before any of this came to pass. I knew a little bit about what was happening in Columbia back in the 80's and 90's, but damn! More another time...
Sean Wilentz and his carefully self-selected group of friends think George W. Bush is the worst president ever. For historians, these guys are pretty stupid, or is it petty and stupid. Ever heard of Buchanan? Or Carter?
Woo Hoo! I won again.
I didn't log on to the Internet for six days and didn't miss it a bit. Sure I'm a binge blogger, but I can stop any time I want. And I've never lost time or passed out at the machine. I'm a social blogger, though, admittedly, I do frequently blog alone. And I've only missed work for blogging a few times. Oh, who am I kidding? My name is Charles and I'm a blogoholic.
Too much use of the word I. Hmm..., you might think I was running for office or something.