Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The bad news is: according to a Harvard researcher, orangutans may be extinct within 20 years.

The good news is: we'll never have to endure another of those horrid Clint Eastwood "Any Which Way But Loose" movies ever again.
Last night I took my family to see "Luther", the new flick on the life of the great reformer Martin Luther. The good news is, the picture was very good. The bad news is, if you want to see it, you'd better do it soon (like tonight), because there were only two people in the auditorium besides us.

Considering the inherent drama of the Luther story, along with Hollywood's propensity for Rocky-type "little guy against the establishment" genre, it's actually shocking that it's taken them this long to produce a full-blown motion picture treatment of his life.

Though the film is engrossing, it (somewhat mystifyingly) is not as compelling as it could be, considering the magnitude of the story. Nonetheless, it is well-acted, fairly historically accurate, and faithful to period detail. The performances are strong (particularly Sir Peter Ustinov as Frederick the Wise and Alfred Molina as the conniving, indulgence-peddling Johann Tetzel). Joseph Fiennes does a fine job as Luther, though as scripted many of Luther's more...ahem...eccentric qualities are left out. Give the filmmakers credit, however, for resisting the temptation to portray Luther as a pure iconoclast (which he wasn't) rather than a true reformer (which he was). It was the Roman Catholic Church that separated from Luther, not vice-versa.

Luther's story is inherently problematic in that its natural climax, the stirring "here I stand" speech at the Diet of Worms, occurs fairly early in the timeline of his life and work. After that point (the film's most stirring moment), the movie never quite regains the steam it had going, making the final 45 minutes or so seem like a very long epilogue. But this weakness is somewhat compensated for by the meat the film places on the historical skeleton of these watershed events. Anyone who's taken a history class (or at least a church history class) has read about Tetzel's indulgences, for instance. But while on paper his approach may look a little corny and medieval ("When into the coffers a coin rings, another soul from purgatory springs..."), in the hands of good actors, you can see how terrifying and compelling his pitch may have actually been. This guy's work raised a lot of money and built a lot of huge cathedrals, so there was something about what he was doing.

Anyone with an interest in history will enjoy "Luther." Anyone with an interest in the Church will enjoy "Luther." Even if it's not perfect. I mean, how often does Hollywood release a quality, sympathetic movie about a Christian giant? Rarely enough that when it does, you ought to go out of your way to see it.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Okay, California Republicans, you have a decision to make. According to a new USA Today poll of probable voters, if Republican-in-name-only Arnold Schwarzenegger were to drop out of the gubernatorial recall election, Republican Tom McClintock would beat Democrat favorite Cruz Bustamante by 19 points.

For weeks we've been hearing California Republicans (plus Sean Hannity, et. al.) telling us that only Arnold could win, and that McClintock (an actual conservative) owed it to his party to drop out. However, the other day McClintock won the televised debate by a wide margin (according to everybody on all sides of the race), and the polls are now showing he could win the recall election handily if Schwarzenegger were not there to split his vote.

So what will be your excuse for supporting Arnold now?
A couple of brief sports observations from the weekend:

--Some of my long-suffering friends in Chicago clued me in on a popular acronym years ago: C-U-B-S. Cubs Useless By September. This pattern is so set in stone that it long ago became expected of the Cubs. That's why it's almost impossible to overestimate the job that Dusty Baker has done in his first season as their skipper. He isn't only the manager of the year, he's the manager of the decade.

--We moved to South Florida in the spring of 1998, when Wayne Huizenga had sold off almost all the stars from the champinship Marlins team that had won the World Series only five months before. Since then, with an awful product and management that clearly didn't care, one would routinely find crowds of 5000 or less at Marlins games. It's been exciting to see that change this year. The momentum has built slowly, but there are now 30,000-plus crowds at Pro Player Stadium, and you hear people excitedly talking about the Marlins. During Dolphins season. That's only happened one other time in this town's history.

--It's always beautiful to see the St. Louis Rams beat the stuffing out of the Arizona Cardinals. Bill Bidwell is the lousiest owner in sports bar none--and that's saying something considering that particular group of cretins. Bidwll went to Phoenix with his never-won-a-playoff-game team and utterly destroyed a market that had been starved for pro football. Meanwhile, the patient fans of St. Louis have two Super Bowl appearances and a championship under their belts. Revenge is sweet.

--I'm extremely disappointed in the putrid Detroit Tigers. They had a chance to achieve ignominious immortality, but instead only lost 119 games, one short of the all-time record set by the expansion '62 Mets. Great job, guys. Hold your heads high. You averaged 7.166 wins per month this season. Good times.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Am I the only one who finds this a bit presumptuous?

According to the story on CNN.com:
HIV-infected Africans shouted down an American official Friday when she tried to defend the U.S. contribution to the fight against AIDS at a conference in Kenya.

In their second protest at the week-long gathering, the activists from across Africa stood up and walked toward the podium, waving placards and whistling and jeering at Leslie Rowe, a diplomat from the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.

With the slogans "Aids treatment now!" and "Generic drugs now!" emblazoned on placards, they got up from their seats in an auditorium, panicking organizers at the closing ceremony.
I find it interesting that not only would they like our help combating their AIDS problem, not only do they request that we help combat their AIDS problem, they demand that we solve their AIDS problem for them.

Leaving aside, for a moment, the simple biological facts of how this epidemic came to ravage Africa in the first place (though I'll give you a hint: it wasn't through blood transfusions), any compassionate person would grieve for the families and the children who have been chewed up by this epidemic. But my question is, how is it that they expect the United States to solve the problem for them? Even if we, as a nation, decide that we should be extending a hand (which we have), doesn't it take some chutzpah to start complaining about the nature of the handout? It's as though Jerry's Kids showed up at his estate every Labor Day, kicked in the door, and said "Get off the couch, fatso! You owe us a cure!"

Here's my idea, Kenya. No. How does that sound? Solve it yourself. In fact, we demand that you get to work right now on solving our heart disease epidemic. We haven't seen one cent from you in all these years we've been struggling with it. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are dying every single year of heart disease, but the Kenyan government and people won't lift a finger to help.

It sounds a little odd when the attitudinal shoe is placed on the other foot, doesn't it?

Friday, September 26, 2003

The U.S. team won it's second straight game in the Women's World Cup soccer tournament!

Hang on, I need to go check on something here........

......Okay, I'm back. Nope. Still couldn't care less.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Conservatives are the real campus radicals. While many leftist college students think that they are somehow countercultural, in reality, they are as conformist as a high school cheerleader. It's the easiest thing in the world to be some campus blowhard protesting the World Trade Organization. It's the young conservative who is swimming hard against the tide.

I can't tell you how much I love this story. Or at least the actions of the conservative students in the story.

As it happens, the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at Southern Methodist University decided to hold an affirmative action bake sale. According to the story:
A sign said white males had to pay $1 for a cookie. The price was 75 cents for white women, 50 cents for Hispanics and 25 cents for blacks.
Since, of course, universities are bastions of free speech, where flags can be burned and eggs can be thrown under the First Amendment, SMU stepped in and shut down the sale after 45 minutes:
A black student filed a complaint with SMU, saying the sale was offensive. SMU officials said they halted the event after 45 minutes because it created a potentially unsafe situation.
As it turns out, a number of students, including black ones, were incensed by the sale. Ironically, they seem to have taken offense at the obvious patronization of being charged only 25 cents for a cookie that cost others more. Yet few are offended by a lowered standard for college admission or employment.

I read Dinesh D'Souza's entertaining little book Letters to a Young Conservative a few months ago. I don't have it in front of me, but if I recall correctly, the plan for exactly this kind of bake sale was laid out there, along with some other eyebrow-raising events campus conservatives could do for fun and awareness. According to the news story, sales like this have happened on at least four or five other campuses this year.

Man, do I wish I had been mature and gutsy enough to have been a conservative in college. These guys are countercultural.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The Haloscan commenting system seems to be dead as a doornail for the moment. Sorry about the inconvenience.
Three words I had hoped to never see together: "Schwarzenegger," "Mapplethorpe," and "erotic."

Yesterday, I neglected to observe the passing of Gordon Jump, who played Mr. Carlson on the classic sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati."

I'm actually a bit suprised at the amount of attention his death has drawn. It's truly a sign of the 80's nostalgia craze.

As someone who spent a number of years in radio as a career (and still dabbles in it on a semi-frequent basis), it's difficult to estimate how much a role in my career choice that "WKRP" played--but it wasn't small. In sixth grade, an English teacher had me read something out loud and told me she thought I had a voice that was pleasing to listen to. "You should consider doing something where you can use your voice--like radio broadcasting." My heart jumped, as I immediately imagined myself hanging around the "bullpen" with Johnny, Venus, Andy, and the gang. The hook was set, and I've been on the line (to one degree or another) ever since.

My first internship at a "real" radio station (the now-defunct KWK in St. Louis) proved to me how dead-on "WKRP" actually was, and the rest of my career only confirmed it. Sure, "WKRP" was a caricature--but not by much. The basic template is as true as it can be. The general managers really do hide in their offices and are afraid of the on-air people, the salespeople really are as slimy as Herb Tarlek, and the disc jockeys really are spaced out on heaven-knows-what drugs. I knew one who lived in his car and frequently did his program high on mushrooms--at the number one rated music station in a major market. And it was an adult contemporary, soft rock station! In the '90's! I'm frightened to think what must have been going on at classic rock stations in the '70's.

The only thing that disappointingly did not hold true from "WKRP" was the virtuous Andy Travis character. Most program directors are actually just as weaselly as the sales people.

Nonetheless, so long, "Big Guy." Thanks for being part of pushing me into an...ahem...interesting life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Have you even begun to fathom how incomprehensibly awful the Detroit Tigers are this season?

They're two losses away from equaling the all-time record set by Marvelous Marv Throneberry's '62 Mets. And the '62 Mets were losing to girl's softball teams. There ought to be a rule, and I'm not kidding about this, that if your franchise loses more than 110 games in a single season, it's over. They pull the plug, shut you down, and distribute your god-awful players among any other teams that might inexplicably desire to have them.
Dennis Prager has a fascinating column today that's bound to bring a lot of grief his way. There's a lot to chew on here, but the facts are decidedly on his side.

According to Prager, there is a substantial gap between the voting habits of single and married women. The single women are much more likely to vote Democrat, and the married ones tend to vote Republican. The primary reason?

"...[W]omen's nature yearns for male protection," Prager says. I can hear the feminsts gasping as they read this. But, Prager says, even those feminists prove his point:
Extremely wealthy women almost always seek to marry men who are even wealthier than they are. Actress Jane Fonda had more money than almost anyone in America, yet she married Ted Turner, a man who had even more money than she. Though fabulously wealthy and a feminist, Ms. Fonda nevertheless could not shed her female nature.
Prager says that this urge is so primal that it almost completely accounts for the destruction of the family among the poorest communities:
Given women's primal desire to be protected, if a woman has no man to provide it, she will seek security elsewhere -- and elsewhere today can only mean the government. In effect, the state becomes her husband. . . .The welfare state simply rendered many black men unnecessary and therefore undesirable as spouses: Why marry when you can get more benefits from the state while remaining single (and get even more money if you have children while remaining single)?
Thus, the single woman, seeking a husband, votes Democrat so that the government can be her provider and protecter. When she marries, however, all this changes:
...[H]er need for the state not only diminishes, she now begins to view the state as inimical to her interests. For the married woman, especially if she has children, two primal urges work against her having a pro-big government attitude. Her urge to be protected, which is now fulfilled by her husband, and her primal urge to protect her nest are now endangered by the government, which as it grows, takes away more and more of her family's money.
Thus, she begins to vote conservative. For good measure, Prager provides a second major reason as well:
The other reason married women are less likely to be liberal and vote Democratic relates to maturity and wisdom.

Just about everyone -- a man as much as a woman -- is rendered more mature and wiser after marrying. . . . Am I implying that increasing one's maturity and wisdom works in favor of the Republicans and against liberalism and the Democrats? Absolutely.
You have to give him credit for having guts. Among men, the phrase "church bells" would probably come up. I love the truth of what he says, and even more, I love the sound of shrewish feminist battle-axes screaming.

Monday, September 22, 2003

The St. Louis Rams are toast.

With Marshall Faulk breaking his hand yesterday, any possibility of respectability was broken with it. Only two years ago, this offense (with much the same personnel) was called "The Greatest Show on Turf." In two short years, it has gone to being a below-average NFL offense. "Offensive genius" Mike Martz has engineered one of the greatest falls in NFL history. When I remember the thrill of watching that group work, and know that it is now all gone, it makes me want to cry.

There is a silly habit among sports fans to blame a team's best player for the team's struggles. Living in South Florida, I heard the constant refrain that the Dolphins' struggles were traceable to Dan Marino. Right. The best passing quarterback in NFL history--it's his fault you're not winning. Phillies fans booed Mike Schmidt through much of the time he was putting together a career as the greatest third-baseman of all time. Yeah, Mike Schmidt's your problem. I've seen much the same thing develop in St. Louis over the past year. "It's Kurt Warner's fault," the fans and know-nothing radio hosts bloviate. Right. He won the league MVP award in two of his first three seasons in the league, and then was hurt for much of last year. It's his fault you're not winning.

What these ignoramuses fail to see is that, much like with Dan Marino in Miami, Kurt Warner is the only chance you do have to win. You take him out of the lineup, and you are a strictly ordinary offense and aren't going to win anything. That was amply proved last year.

Incidentally, I'm trying really hard to believe that Mike Martz didn't intentionally leave an injured Warner, who suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the season's first game, in that game in order to have an excuse to bench him. I'm trying really hard to believe it doesn't have anything to do with Martz's blowup with Warner's wife in the press last season. I'm trying, but I'm not succeeding.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

"Neocon" Alan Keyes appeared on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes" last night and spent his entire appearance heatedly arguing with one of the hosts--Sean Hannity.

Hannity was critical of Keyes' adamance that he would never vote for a pro-abortion Republican candidate, whether it would risk handing the election to the Democrats or not. Keyes strenuously argued that political expediency is never a good excuse for voting for the "lesser of two evils," saying "The lesser of two evils is still evil."

"If evil is going to triumph, it will do so without my help. But if good is defeated, it will be despite 110% of my effort," Keyes said.

This from a "neocon" who opposes military intervention in other countries, denies the authority of the federal judiciary over state governments, and believes the income tax should be abolished.

As I recently told one self-described "paleocon" who sees Keyes as just another "neo," the difference between me and them is that I can respect and work with someone who only agrees with me 97% of the time. But much of the "paleo" movement demands absolute 100% adherence to its idiosyncratic orthodoxy, which virtually guarantees that it will never be an effective movement at all, but rather a million different "movements" comprised of one person each. If Alan Keyes is not "paleo" enough for that so-called movement, then it ain't worth having.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Here's one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. You just can't make stuff up that's this good. It's an article that has been approvingly circulated in some paleoconservative circles called "Why Don't We Have Answers to These 9-11 Questions? and apparently originated in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Try to keep in mind as you peruse some of these that there are real paleoconservatives who think this is big stuff. Art Bell is now their leader. Here's a sampling of some of these "unanswered questions," which appear in bold type, followed by actual text from the article:

* Why did Attorney General John Ashcroft and some Pentagon officials cancel commercial-airline trips before Sept. 11?
CBS said, "Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term." Newsweek later reported that on Sept. 10, 2001, "a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns."
Rabe's explanation: Why? Isn't it obvious? Because Ashcroft planned the 9-11 attacks! Now of course, as the mastermind of the plot, one would have expected Ashcroft to know exactly which planes were going to be hijacked and just avoid them to keep himself above suspicion, but hey, sometimes terrorists like Ashcroft are irrational.

* Why did the NORAD air defense network fail to intercept the four hijacked jets?
Why didn't the fighters that were finally scrambled at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts and Langley Air Force Base in Virginia fly at top, supersonic speeds? Why didn't fighters immediately take off from Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, D.C.? Why was nothing done to intercept American Airlines Flight 77, which struck the Pentagon, when officials knew it had been had been hijacked some 47 minutes earlier?
Rabe's explanation: Because NORAD wanted the attacks to happen! "Hey guys, the Pentagon is about to be attacked, so we want you to head out there. But fly slow!"

* Why did President Bush continue reading a story to Florida grade-schoolers for nearly a half-hour during the worst attack on America in its history?
Why did Bush read a children's story about a pet goat and stay in the classroom for more than a half-hour after the first plane struck the World Trade Center and roughly 15 minutes after Chief of Staff Andrew Card told him that it had been a deliberate attack?
Rabe's explanation: Could it be that when the first plane hit the first building, it wasn't yet the "worst attack on America in it's history"? Could it be that it did not become the "worst attack" until over an hour later when the towers began collapsing? Could it be that nobody in the world knew that it was a deliberate act of terrorism until the second plane hit? Nope. The reason Bush stayed seated in the class is because he had so deliberately and precisely planned the attacks that he was expecting them and forgot to pretend to be suprised! Though even the Menendez brothers knew enough to pretend to be shocked at the shotgun deaths of their parents, President George W. Bush is so stupid that he forgot to act suprised when the attacks he masterminded against his own country actually transpired!

* Why did 7 World Trade Center collapse?
7 World Trade Center, a 47-story building, was not struck by an aircraft on Sept. 11, yet the building mysteriously collapsed at 5:20 p.m. that afternoon.
Rabe's explanation: Isn't it obvious? That's where Bush and his cronies met to hatch and execute the plan! They had to destroy the evidence of their conspiracy, so as long as everything else in the area was on fire and there was lots of chaos, they had the building rigged with silent explosives and detonated them in front of an international viewing audience.

Here's my personal favorite:

* Where is Dick Cheney's undisclosed location?

Ummm, I believe that information has not been disclosed.

There's more, but you get the idea. You'll want to read the article yourself, print it up, and possibly take it to parties with you. It's that good!

I once again defy anyone to make a cogent distinction anymore between the ultra-ultra-conservative movement and Noam Chomsky.
Financial news provided by Pravda:

It would be difficult to find more inflammatory, class-warfare propaganda on economics in the "mainstream" media then in this story appearing on CNN.com today.

The story is Forbes magazine's annual release of the "Forbes 400." The headline of the story?:
America's rich get richer--After two years of declines, the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans see their nest eggs grow.
The rich get richer. That's always the line you hear from free market advocates who believe a rising tide lifts all boats, right? The first line of the body of the story gives you an idea of where they're going:
America's rich must be breathing a sigh of relief.
You can just see them sitting there with their smoking jackets and pipes, grinning about the one they just pulled over on us. It goes downhill from there:
Topping this year's list are the usual suspects: Bill Gates, worth $46 billion, Warren Buffett at $36 billion, and Paul Allen at $22 billion.
Ah yes, the usual suspects. The admiration just oozes through the prose.
The wealth also runs in tight circles. Among the top 25 richest, 12 are related, with members of the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame taking spots 4 through 8.
See? Not only are they rich, but they hate you! Their purpose in life is to inbreed, burn bundles of money in the fireplace, and keep you out of their country clubs.
Some recent newsmakers also appeared on the list. Kenneth Langone, a director of the New York Stock Exchange who adamantly defended now-resigned Richard Grasso, appeared on the list at 314 with $820 million.
One of them, if not exactly a criminal himself, defends people who are borderline criminals!

Man, I hate the rich. Things were so much better when everyone was losing money. Power to the proletariat! Kill the pigs! Close down all the Wal-Marts, Microsoft, Amazon.com, and the New York Stock exchange! That way, we can all work on the farm like in, say, Cambodia.
This David Blaine thing just gets more surreal by the day.

Last night, a scuffle apparently occured beneath the dangling, slumbering narcissist between a photographer and former Beatle Paul McCartney. Yes, that's correct: the composer of "Yesterday" and "Hey Jude," the most powerful living influence on Western pop culture, went out at 1am last night, entourage in tow, to watch a guy sleep in a box.

According to the news report, trouble began when a photographer at the site tried to photograph McCartney:
Photographer Kevin Wheal is quoted by the Standard as saying that McCartney and his friends tried to stop him taking pictures.

He added: "One of them said: 'There's no way you're going to take a picture mate.'"
This is outrageous. It's like the most famous musician in the world can't even go to one of the most public areas of one of the world's largest cities to watch a guy hanging over a major river in his underwear urinating through a plastic tube in a plexiglass box in peace anymore.

Thursday, September 18, 2003


If there's one thing I hate more than street mimes, it's pretentious "performance artists." As you undoubtedly know by now, "street magician" David Blaine is hanging over the Thames River in London for 44 days in an effort to...well, nobody knows exactly. What they do know, however (at least the Londoners), is that they absolutely hate this guy's stinking guts. Not even two weeks into it, the good people of London have made it their mission to torture this putz in any way possible until he climbs down and leaves them alone.

Most recently:
On Tuesday a man was arrested for allegedly attempting to cut the New Yorker's water supply. Eggs have been thrown at the 30-year-old's box and he has been the target of a golfer aiming at him from Tower Bridge.
This is outrageous. It's like you can't even hang over a major metropolitan area near a river in your underwear in a plexiglass box in peace anymore.

I'm thinking of cashing in my life's savings just so that I can go over there and throw something at him before it's too late.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Today is Constitution Day, the 216th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution.

In 2003, the Constitution is under attack from all sides, from the judicial activists of the Left who have installed themselves as the philosopher kings of the country, to the ultra-right anti-federalists who resent having lost the national debate long before the Constitution was ever ratified and who hate the system of government it formed. Those in the latter group are in no sense "conservatives," since they never had anything to conserve. Though they hypocritically profess reverence for the Constitution, they actually hate it and the nation it formed with a white-hot passion.

For the rest of us, the freedoms and security guaranteed by the Constitution are to be cherished and defended. I'm pleased to see that something of a consensus is forming among conservatives that the time is ripe for a congressional remedy to the runaway judiciary. Alan Keyes has been promoting action in this area, and James Dobson advocated the same thing on MSNBC last night.

To celebrate the birthday of the Constitution, call your representative and tell him you want the Congress to do its constitutional duty in placing limits on the runaway authority of the federal judiciary. Congress has the authority to reign in the judicial monarchy, and if the drumbeat gets loud enough, they will do it.
I see that in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine, they have a survey of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

I have not seen their list yet, though I know Jimi Hendrix is on the cover, so I can guess that he placed rather high. But here is my own list of the top five (in no particular order), taking into account both virtuosity and impact on guitarists who came after them:

1). Jimi Hendrix
2). Eric Clapton
3). Eddie Van Halen
4). Chuck Berry
5). Jimmy Page

Obviously, this is just a rock 'n' roll list. I'm sure Charo is a wonderful flamenco guitarist, but in the final analysis, who really cares?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The oldest woman in the world has turned 116. I don't want to be negative, but whaddya wanna bet she dies soon?

That "world's oldest" title bounces around like a super ball in a cement closet.
Okay, I've tried really hard, but I just can't seem to get myself excited about the California governor recall. Yes, Gray Davis is an idiot, and yes, the people of California (if they have any remaining self-respect) should throw him right out on his deficit.

But while the blogosphere has been obsessed with the recall, and while I support the California citizenry in their exercise of their rights under their state constitution, when all the chips are down, I just don't care. Never have respectable guys like Hugh Hewitt worked harder and more obsessively for a pro-abortion, pro-sodomy, pro-welfare candidate.

One thing in this race has interested me, though: Maria Shriver. Time is an enemy to all of us. But is it my imagination, or has Maria just recently taken that first tiny, tentative step on the road from "hot babe" to "brittle, scary-looking Kennedy battle-ax"?

Hey, I'm just askin'.

(AP photo)
How many leagues will have to fold and how much money will have to be wasted before everyone finally realizes that Americans don't give a flying rat's behind about soccer?

This year, it's the folding of the WUSA, which is a women's professional soccer league that I didn't even realize existed until today. This league now joins the ranks of the literally dozens of flopped American professional soccer leagues over the years. Apparently, this particular league wanted to cash in on the brief flash-in-the-pan of the 1999 Women's World Cup championship won by Team USA. People got excited for about two weeks, and somebody thought they could build a business out of it.

According to the article in today's SportsLine.com:
But the attention the Women's World Cup received faded over the years, leaving the WUSA foundering. TV ratings were almost nonexistent and the league had trouble finding fans who weren't under 18 and play on a soccer team. Average attendance slipped from more than 8,000 the first season to about 6,700 a game last season.
I could have told you that four years ago.

Let me say it again for anyone who has a few million bucks they're planning to waste on starting the next failed U.S. soccer league: Americans are about as interested in soccer as they were in Yahoo Serious. Like Mr. Serious, soccer is a third-world entity that just doesn't play in civilized countries. In America, where we can afford baseball gloves and football helmets, a bunch of people running around aimlessly in circles for two hours not using their hands, resulting in a 1-1 tie, is not entertainment.

There is another tangent bearing investigation here, which is the systematic foisting of women's sports on an unwanting and thoroughly uninterested American public. But that's another post for another day.

Monday, September 15, 2003

As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, it greatly pains me to say: Stick a fork in 'em. They're done. After being swept by the division-rival Astros, the only question remaining is whether or not Albert Pujols can win the Triple Crown. What a shame to waste one of the great individual seasons in baseball history.
I've come to understand over the past few months that so-called "paleoconservatives" are people with whom I have a good deal (though not everything) in common. Frankly, I probably have more "paleo" visitors to this blog (as a scan through the blog roll will show) than those from just about any other identifiable group. I once had major concerns about the "paleo" movement, but many of them have been alleviated by my regular "paleo" visitors here. The militancy of a couple of "paleo" adherents had once led me to hold a rather dim view of the group, but I'm learning that this handful is probably not representative, which I think is fortunate for me and for paleoconservatism.

Interestingly, one of the more rabid, self-identified "paleoconservatives" who visits here on a regular basis (and who greatly contributed to my original antipathy for the movement as a whole) says that Alan Keyes, while articulate, is a "neocon" to whom we should not listen. Thus proving that "neocon" is a stupid term which has ceased to have any useful meaning in public discourse.

As a "neocon," Keyes wants to abolish the federal income tax, government welfare, the Federal Reserve system, and opposes increased involvement in the U.N., and favors educational choice and keeping the the federal judiciary out of state business (like in the Alabama case).

And here's what Keyes has to say on issues relating to the recent Iraq war:
I would want to renounce the idea that we have the right to interfere, in an aggressive way, with the affairs of other [nations]. I think we can play a constructive role in trying to bring about diplomatic solutions in different parts of the world, but I do not believe that when our ideas are rejected, we should resort to war in order to force people to accept a deal that's dictated on our terms.
Yeah, that's some "neocon."

As we now know, "neocon" only means "someone who doesn't agree with me on every single jot and tittle of minutia." We are now free to completely ignore the term and regard it as merely a subjective fit of petulance on the part of the user.

Friday, September 12, 2003

More Alan Keyes:

The notion that government can be "neutral" on the issue of God by driving His name out of every vestige of public life is absurd. It is, in fact, the very sort of imposition of a state religion that the Constitution explicitly forbids.

Playing the devil's advocate (literally), I asked Dr. Keyes if groups like the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State were motivated by a desire to keep religious expression free for everyone. He responded:
They mean to establish a uniform regime of atheism, at every level of public life and government in the United States. That’s clearly contrary to the Constitution, which forbids national establishment. In other words, the Constitution of the United States leaves it up to the states so that there will not be a nationally imposed regime with respect to religion in America. That’s supposed to be left up to the people of the states. But using this abuse of the federal courts, the ACLU and others are seeking to impose a uniform national regime of atheism on the people of the United States, driving God and every reference to God or anything that smacks of religion from every area of our public and political life.
That's a powerful (and manifestly true) phrase: a uniform national regime of atheism. The term a-theism literally means "no god." And that is precisely the religious system being imposed on the American people by the runaway judiciary.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Two years ago today, Mohammed Atta and 18 of his friends woke up in hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. They expected to be greeted by scores of virgins, and instead were greeted by unthinkable torment. Two years down and infinity to go.

Eternity is an awful long time.
I had the opportunity to interview former presidential candidate Alan Keyes at his home in Maryland for an hour or two yesterday. What a brilliant, passionate man this is.

Keyes has been deeply, tirelessly involved in the Alabama Ten Commandments situation (I watched him do probably five telephone interviews during the time we were setting up the TV equipment in his sitting room), and has written the best popular-level treatise on the matter that I've seen yet. The important point that only he (as far as I know) is bringing out is that there is a constitutional remedy for a runaway judiciary, and we've come to the time when it needs to be put into action.

Ambassador Keyes told me that he believes the war will never be won on the battlefield of judicial nominations; we're long past that point. He also rejects as an unnecessary redundancy a constitutional amendment (as some have called for), saying, "The Constitution already speaks clearly on the matter." Instead, it is time for Congress to act. As he points out in the WorldNetDaily piece:
...the U.S. Constitution, after enumerating certain cases over which the federal judiciary would have original jurisdiction, gave it appellate jurisdiction "with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make." Therefore, the federal courts are not the ultimate judges of the boundaries of their own power. Final responsibility in this respect rests with the Congress.
Congress has the explicit, constitutional right to circumscribe the jurisdiction of the federal courts. We're not without a remedy for a runaway judiciary. Says Keyes:
The Congress must pass legislation that, in order to assure proper respect for the first clause of the First Amendment, excepts from the appellate jurisdiction of the federal courts those matters which, by the conjoint effect of the First and 10th Amendments, the Constitution reserves to the states respectively and to the people...This legislation would restore observance of the Constitution by preventing the federal courts from addressing any issues related to religious establishment (as the First Amendment requires), while leaving them free to deal with cases involving the free exercise of religion by individuals, since these do not fall under constitutional ban on federal legislation. In this regard, the only state actions that come under federal jurisdiction are those involving coercive interference with individual choice in matters of religion. State action that involves no such individual coercion (such as the placement of a Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of a state Supreme Court building) is outside the purview of the federal courts. (Emphasis original)
I told Dr. Keyes that it seemed unlikely that Congress would act unless they saw major public sentiment (read: votes) involved. They are, after all, political animals. "I think that poll last week showing 77% of Americans agreeing with Justice Moore will have piqued the interest of a number of them," he pointed out, smiling. There are votes--lots of them--to be had here.

There are only a handful of Americans who have the intellectual firepower, public notoriety, and rhetorical skill to articulate important issues from a passionate, Christian, constitutional perspective. Ambassador Keyes is one of them. Americans should listen to this man.
Since I created this blog last winter, I have struggled with the issue of how much of my own life to put in here. I'm generally confident that most visitors here are not all that interested in the ups and downs of a day with the Rabe family. I also don't care to have a ton of my personal information floating around on the 'net. Therefore, I've mainly focused on observations about the outside world.

Now, the dilemma. I happen to have, by the grace of God, a job in which I get to occasionally spend time with well-known people who are directly pertinent to the issues I talk about here. As a television researcher/producer, I get chances to interview and be around people in whom you might be interested. I've (mostly) avoided mentioning these encounters for fear of appearing to be name-dropping. The last thing I want to be is the kind of person who says, with studied casuality, "Oliver North (or whoever) said something amusing to me about that the other day..." But another part of me thinks that some of that stuff would be at least as interesting to you as my dopey opinions on Whoopi Goldberg.

The conclusion I've come to is this: people who come here regularly must be at least mildly interested in my opinions, whether to agree with them or to see what ignorant, uninformed thing I'll say next. Therefore, my occasional professional encounters with fascinating people would probably be the one thing of value I actually have to offer. Or at least that's a little more unique than my own dime-a-dozen opinions about national affairs.

So I think I'm going to mention some of that stuff from time to time in the future, starting in my next post. I hope that it will not be seen as immodesty, because as one wit once said, "I have plenty to be modest about." I'm not powerful or influential. I'm not meeting with these people because they have a strong desire to spend personal time with me. My only entrée with most of them is fact that I have a television cameraman to bring with me. I'm quite certain that most of them forget me before the door has even closed on my way out.

God, in His providence, simply plopped me into a job two years ago where I have the opportunity to have some interesting conversations with people. I wasn't all that qualified for it, and they certainly didn't chase me down to come have me do it. I hope you won't mind if I let you in on a bit of what comes into my path from time to time.
My man Discoshaman has called to my attention another proposed design for the new World Trade Center. In my book, this one has moved to the front of the pack.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I generally like Cal Thomas, and I believe that he is a fine, if sometimes misguided, Christian gentleman. That having been said, occasionally he is so monumentally wrong that it's mind-boggling. Case in point: this stinking, steaming little pile of column from a couple of days ago, wherein he waxes idiotic on the Judge Roy Moore situation. I can't even begin to count the errors (factual, historical, logical, and theological) in this column, and can instead only say that Christians can thank the Cal Thomas mindset for the horrid situation in which we find ourselves in 2003's America.

Thomas begins by taking aim at former Senator Mark Hatfield, who at the height of Watergate in 1974 proposed a Senate resolution for a "national day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer" in order to "repent of our national sins." This Thomas ridicules, saying:
It's worrisome when Congress thinks it needs to defend or proclaim faith, especially when it has difficulty solving the temporal problems members have been elected to address. And I worry more when people who say they serve a King and Kingdom that is "not of this world" call upon government to proclaim their particular faith.
Incredible. A Christian arguing against a call for repentance before God. Thomas then links this to the Roy Moore case, saying that the Chief Justice's case was merely a fundraising grandstand, and that there are bigger fish to fry:
My worry is not for the reasons stated by those bringing lawsuits to cleanse the public square of any reference to God. It is for the believers who are distracted from the main and more difficult task their heavenly Commander-in-Chief has called upon them to do. They are focused on trivialities and diverted from more important work.
Hey, Cal, tell it to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, respectively. Each, as president, proclaimed national days of fasting and prayer. Or tell it to President George Washington, who in his Thanksgiving Proclamation said:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness":

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation...
But evidently Cal Thomas knows better than the Founders of the country what propriety demands under our form of government. Knock it off, General Washington, you're being distracted by "trivialities" from your "more important task."

Thomas believes that a Christian's job is strictly evangelism, and that everything else is merely a "distraction." Meanwhile, he works towards a state (whether actively or through neglect) in which it will eventually be illegal to do even that. When the time comes that it is illegal to mention God anywhere outside of one's own home, Thomas will be wondering how we got there.

Thomas even helpfully offers the secular media some hints on how they could sandbag his fellow Christians protesting on behalf of Judge Moore at the judicial building in Mongomery:
Some reporter should have asked today's Alabama protesters how many of the Commandments they could recite. Probably not many. The protesters say American law is based on the Commandments. A reporter should have asked, "All of them?" There are only two commandments that relate to secular law (not counting the one about adultery, for which you cannot legally be deprived of life or liberty, property being a matter for divorce courts). One prohibits murder, the other outlaws stealing. The rest are about relationships between God and man and between humans. Do the protesters want laws that force people to honor their mothers and fathers, or not "covet" their neighbor's property, or "honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy," or worship only their God? Isn't state religion what we're fighting against in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Ugh. Tell me he can't be this thick.

A few years ago, Thomas co-wrote a book in which he excoriated many Christians (such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and D. James Kennedy) for being too "political." He says we need to be doing God's "real work" (as though God's command to have dominion over the culture is not His "real work"). Odd for a man who makes his living solely via political punditry. To this day, I've never been able to discern his rationale. It seems to be something like "Christians ought to keep their noses out of politics. Except for me. I'm going to blather on incessantly about them."

American Christianity has been long infected with a strain of theology called "dispensationalism," which among other errors teaches a sacred/secular distinction that encourages Christians to abandon all efforts at applying the truth of God to every area of life and culture. I'm increasingly convinced it's a cancer, and dupes like Cal Thomas are only helping to spread it.
It's no secret that the Republican Party has been utterly unable to win the black vote in America. There is a deep, widespread perception in the black community that the Democratic Party is their friend and the Republican Party is their enemy.

However, the evidence is stacking up in a decidedly different way, and Thomas Sowell says it's time that the Republicans began pointing it out--boldly and clearly. Sowell says:
Education is the most obvious example. Poll after poll shows that most blacks want school vouchers. But Democrats -- black and white alike -- bitterly oppose anything that would offend the teachers' unions, who are among their biggest political backers, in terms of money, votes, and the ability to mobilize precincts on Election Day with manpower and phone banks.

The teachers' unions are the 800-pound gorilla of the Democratic Party. So there is no way the Democrats can match what the Republicans can offer black parents on vouchers.
Dennis Miller, a former Democrat, says it was the Democrats' stance on this issue (with the "pro-choice" party being decidedly anti-choice) which finally caused him to jump ship. The GOP needs to make an issue of Democrat hypocricy in this matter

Sowell also points to the Democrat stance on environmental issues, which has had a very real (and very negative) impact on blacks:
When they make it an ordeal, and sometimes virtually impossible, to build homes or offices, for fear that some toad or worm will be inconvenienced, that means sky-high housing prices that working people cannot afford and fewer businesses to provide jobs that they need.

Census data make it painfully clear that blacks are being forced out of many communities where affluent liberal Democrats have had unchallenged control for years and have let the green agenda run amok. In such communities on the northern California coast, the numbers of blacks have fallen absolutely, even while the population as a whole has grown.
Conservatives have done a generally poor job of explaining how real conservatism benefits everybody. As Sowell points out, if they stopped trying to be faux Democrats and instead sold the true strenghts of conservatism, they could win elections in landslides for years to come.
If "Jaws" were real and it happened today: a Fox News panel

Monday, September 08, 2003

It seems that many of the enlightened, more-progressive-than-thou denizens of Seattle actually hate young, predominantly disadvantaged children. At least to use liberal logic, they do. Though many of these same folks would be champing at the bit to jack my taxes up for their sanctimonious pet causes, it appears that they are outraged over a proposed 10 cent-per-drink espresso tax that would transfer wealth from presumably well-to-do Starbucks customers to preschool and daycare programs.

C'mon, you progressive Washingtonians! What have you got against school kids? Why the sudden tax reticence? Oh, because you'd have to pay it?
Something that has bothered me for months was dredged up again last night. I hate the new World Trade Center design.

I watched a documentary on it on Discovery last night, and the thing is just wretched if you ask me (which nobody did). It was designed by some artsy-fartsy Karl Lagerfeld wannabe who looks like a Will Farrell SNL parody.

Now I'm just imperialistic/jingoistic/arrogant enough to want the tallest tower in the world built on exactly that spot. What was destroyed ought to be built defiantly bigger and better. When completed, the tower will be nearly 300 feet taller than the next largest structure in the world, and for that I'm grateful. But the design for the entire site is completely incoherent. It's a bunch of jagged, random edges which to me bears a suspicious resemblance to that place in the North Pole where Superman used to live:

In my own humble but most accurate opinion, the runner-up design was so far superior as to be inarguable. It properly memorialized the original design in a striking way, echoing (but transcending) what was lost.

In 20 years, the design they did go with is going to look as dated as a lava lamp.
Apparently there were post-race fisticuffs at the NASCAR event this past weekend, with the teams of two drivers mixing it up near pit row after the race. Fortunately, however, none of the dozen or so participants in the melee lost his tooth.

Their sisters have threatened to divorce them if it happens again.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Henri? Fabian? Okay, I have to ask: what's the deal with the totally gay storm names?
I watched the Rob Reiner-directed movie "The American President" a couple of weeks ago on television. I can never resist watching, at least to see the hilarious part where Michael Douglas, as the president, valiantly defends himself against charges (lodged by his evil Republican foe, Senator Bob Rumson) of being "a card-carrying member of the ACLU."

"Yes, I am!" Douglas bravely intones. "But the more important question is, why aren't you, Bob? Now this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question, why would a senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution?"

Sometimes I laugh so hard that I spit soda through my nose. One suspects that this is actually the view of the ACLU held by Reiner, Aaron Sorkin, and much of the rest of Hollywood. The ACLU isn't a radical leftist organization pushing a particularly insidious agenda--it is merely the defender of the great rights given to us by James Madison, et. al.

In reality, of course, only the most delusional, burned-out hippies (or Californians) could still hold such a view of the ACLU. I was reminded of this while perusing a press release from the Northern California chapter of this courageous constitutional bullwark. The release was entitled "Landmark survey finds majority of state’s schools in violation of confusing sex education laws."

Apparently, the ACLU's beef is that sex education in California schools is not uniform and monolithic enough. The press release is in conjunction with a California Assembly bill that would impose more uniform standards on what sort of sex education can be taught there.
SB 71, authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl, updates the current laws and eliminates contradictions by establishing a new definition of comprehensive sexual health education, setting age-appropriate grade floors for required topics, creating a new uniform parental consent policy, and ensuring that instruction is age-appropriate, scientifically current, and bias-free.
Ah yes, bias free. That will certainly be nice. As it turns out, some bias has crept into California sex education regarding female contraceptives, for which the ACLU chides them. According to the full ACLU report, some of the nefarious schools:
...emphasize failure rates in their classes. One respondent stated that the primary message taught about contraception is that it has "low effectiveness." In fact, research shows that the failure rate for women using contraception correctly and consistently is less than 10% for nearly all methods--in comparison to an 85% failure rate when no method is used and a 25% failure rate for women using periodic abstenence.
The ACLU is similarly irked about the teaching on condom use for preventing STD's and pregnancies:
Nearly 10% of schools that cover condom effectiveness stated that they emphasize the failure rates and ineffectiveness of condoms in their classes. Some of the comments were: “Not a safe method of prevention of HIV and pregnancy,” “ineffectiveness and risks are emphasized,” and “failure rate may be as high as 25%.” In fact, research shows that male condoms are 97% effective in preventing pregnancy in perfect use and 86% effective in typical use.
Are you catching the drift of this yet? The ACLU is annoyed with many California public schools because they are failing to give school children enough faith in Trojans. It's not that they are refusing to mention contraceptives, mind you. The flaw is that they are not presenting them optimistically enough. They are not working hard enough to give kids confidence in condoms. While some schools are saying to kids "Condoms may still not protect you from pregnancy and disease," the outraged ACLU is saying "That's a lie! Condoms will protect you from all those things! You have nothing to worry about!"

So just remember, the ACLU "is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights." And of course, right there in the Bill of Rights you'll find it in plain black and white: "No teacher shall ever give children a conservative estimate of the effectiveness of contraception. They must never err on the side of safety, but rather must instill boundless confidence in America's youth that as long as they use a condom, everything will be fine."

So why aren't you a member, Bob?

Thursday, September 04, 2003

I know I'm hardly the first person to lament the death of good manners. But it's not a superficial issue. Manners are the grease in the cogs of a society. When you lose them, you ultimately lose your society. Of course, there are many other factors involved, many of them much more important than manners. Manners are probably more symptomatic than causitive. But they're a good indicator of where a society is at.

It is not infrequent that I can now go through an entire drive-through food transaction without ever once being spoken to by the person in the window. Somebody has to speak with you when you actually place your order through the little speaker, but after that, you're on your own.

This is now a fairly typical drive-through transaction in South Florida:

A little screen near the window shows the amount owed. The slack-jawed cashier silently sticks his hand out the window and stares at me, awaiting the cash. I hand the cash to him and the window closes. A minute later, the window opens again, and the cashier hands out my change and then a bag of food, without ever actually looking at me. He then stands there, staring blankly off into space. "Uh, are we done? Is that it?" I ask him, not sure if my order has been completed or not. The cashier responds by grunting in the affirmative and closing the window.

It's not much better at the counter. In fact, at the counter, they don't even have to speak to you to take your order. When your turn comes up in line, the cashier will often just look at you silently in a way that says "Well?"

Now I know that teenagers are generally punks, and most of the people working in these positions are teenagers. Hey, when I was a teenager, I was a punk. But when I had jobs in high school, my bosses still at least made me do the things that were conducive to good business. Though teenagers are generally a sullen, uncommunicative lot, management at least recognized this and worked on making them presentable. I'm not talking about having tea with the Queen. I'm talking about "hello" and "thank you."

A few months ago, I took my kids to McDonald's as a treat. The gal behind the window smiled at me, asked me how I was doing today, and thanked me after she handed me our food. I would have jumped out of the car and kissed her had I not been afraid of being maced. I wanted to write a letter to somebody. I wanted to nominate her for employee of the month.

I have to give the Blockbuster folks some credit in this department. They say "hello" to every single soul that walks into that store. No matter what. In fact, they're almost militant about it. It can be intimidating. If you attempt to sneak past them, they will send someone over the counter to chase you down, corner you in the foreign films section, plant himself in front of you, and say "hello." They will badger you until they receive some reciprocal acknowledgment. Maybe if we could send all the slack-jawed drive-through cashiers down to Blockbuster a couple of times a week, they might become so edgy about not saying "hello" that they'll start to do it out of fear. Which would be better than grunting.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Jay Nordlinger did an interesting "Impromptus" yesterday regarding the racial silliness currently taking place in the NFL.

The column deals mostly with the $200,000 fine the league levied against Detroit Lions president Matt Millen, who hired Steve Mariucci to fill his head coaching opening without first interviewing any "minority" candidates. According to a relatively new rule in the NFL, for each coaching opening, a team must now interview at least one "minority" candidate (I keep putting it in quotation marks because, as Nordlinger points out, "'minority' is merely a euphemism for black. We're not talking about Vietnamese or Inuit coaches here").

It was widely known around the NFL that Millen coveted Mariucci, and there was little question as to whom he would hire once Mariucci became available. Because everyone knew Mariucci was his guy, each of the black "candidates" who received Millen's obligatory call refused to be interviewed for the job. According to Nordlinger, players union chief Gene Upshaw (who is black) foresaw this eventuality back when the silly rule was being considered, saying "it will lead to sham interviews and sham lists [of coaches]."

I've talked about this sort of nonsense frequently, most recently in connection with the Supreme Court's awful ruling in the University of Michigan case. But Nordlinger provided another strong example of the "soft bigotry of low expectations" (to use President Bush's excellent phrase) which begs to be passed along. As Nordlinger relates the story:
An infamous and signal event occurred in 1989. In that year, a couple of Detroit reps in the Michigan state legislature threatened to withhold funding for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra unless it hired an additional black player, pronto. (The orchestra had only one.) The DSO — like all other self-respecting orchestras — had always had blind auditions. You play behind a curtain: They can't see you. They're not supposed to tell whether you're young or old, a man or a woman, or whatever.

But that was the problem, as far as the racialists were concerned. So, the symphony extended an offer to a black bassist, who, to his shame, accepted. He said, "I would rather have auditioned like everybody else" — but he didn't. Black musicians all over the world were outraged; they felt kicked in the stomach, as, in a way, they had been. A black trombonist in the Atlanta Symphony observed, "It doesn't do any good for players' self-esteem if they feel the rules were bent for them."
Nordlinger continues:
In time, the DSO approached conductor James DePriest to be its music director. (DePriest is black, and, in fact, the nephew of the great American contralto Marian Anderson.) DePriest told them, in so many words, to shove it: "It is impossible for me to go to Detroit because of the atmosphere. People mean well, but you fight for years to make race irrelevant, and now they are making race an issue."
Now, the present issue is complicated a bit by the fact that the NFL does have a dubious history with regard to racial issues. For years, NFL teams' avoidance of black quarterbacks in the annual draft was almost comical. Players like Warren Moon and Charlie Ward were either undrafted or drafted in the final rounds, while stiffs like Heath Shuler regularly rolled off the assembly line straight into the league.

You can say "Well, Kurt Warner didn't get drafted either, and look at him!" But Warner is an anomaly who went to a nothing college and of whom nobody inside or outside the league had ever heard before the Rams gave him a desperation shot. Warren Moon, on the other hand, was a star quarterback at a Pac 10 school (and was the MVP of the Rose Bowl), yet had to prove himself for years in the Canadian Football League before even getting a chance in the NFL. Despite losing years to the CFL, Moon still put together a Hall of Fame career in the NFL once he got the shot.

The barrier was finally broken a couple of years ago, with Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper, and a number of other black quarterbacks being given a legitimate shot right out of college. But the overall NFL record has been poor, and hard to find an innocent explanation for.

Still, the fact remains that even where racial bias does exist, race-based preferences never provide a solution. Instead, they lead to a sham dog-and-pony show which encourages dishonesty and casts suspicion on those who have attained their positions through talent and hard work. If the NFL still has a problem in this area (which is arguable), they will have to find a different way to solve it. The "one-interview rule" might satisfy shakedown artists like Jesse Jackson and Johnnie Cochran, but it ultimately serves to hurt, rather than help, the situation.
I had almost forgotten something that I heard on the local all-news station on my way to the airport last week. They were breathlessly beginning each half hour with an ominous banner headline: "Guess who's going to end up footing the bill to upgrade the nation's outdated power grid? You are!"

Well, if I could use some vernacular from my junior high days, duh. The all-news station was stating it as though it were some sort of outrage. But really, who else is supposed to pay for it? Are the power companies supposed to have some other source of income from which to draw funds for the upgrades aside from customers?

Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but I have a sneaky suspicion that there was an implication underlying that headline: you are going to end up footing the bill instead of the government, which really ought to be paying for it.

I never fail to be astounded at how many people do not understand one simple fact: the government doesn't have any of its own money. When it spends money, it spends your money. And usually much less effectively than a private company spends the money you give them.

Yes, when the power company needs to upgrade its equipment, it draws from the money you pay them with your monthly bill. And when the phone company needs to install some fiber optic lines, the money they use is the money you've been paying them. And when Baskin-Robbins puts a new neon "31 Flavors" sign up outside the door, they do it with the money you've spent there on ice cream. Where else would they get the money, if not from their customers?

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The tyrannical rule of our judicial monarchy continues. The 9th Circuit Court, perhaps the most activist court in the land (which is really saying something), has by judicial fiat swept aside more than 100 separate court decisions in three different states, completely emptying out the death rows of two of them.

Though they attempt to draw retroactive legal rationale from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 2002 (in which even Antonin Scalia ruled that only juries can sentence a defendent to the death penalty), what has essentially happened is this: the 9th Circuit Court has decided that it doesn't like the death penalty, despite the citizens of the majority of American states being overwhelmingly in favor of it. Therefore, the court has decided to excercise raw judicial power in overturning the will of the people, their legislatures, and the lower courts, instead imposing their own notions of justice on all.

It's actually possible that the 9th Circuit is on the correct side of this issue. Scalia's concurrence in the Ring v. Arizona case (which the 9th Circuit used as justification) saw that ruling as a remedy to judicial activism, not wanting to allow judges to be empowered to sentence beyond what the jury would sentence. But if they did come to the correct conclusion, you can be sure that it was merely by accident. There are no judicial conservatives in the 9th Circuit. They showed that rather baldly by retroactively applying the ruling to hundreds of cases, applying the famous "substantive due process" standard which has cloaked most of the judicial mischief of the past 75 years.

You are simpy kidding yourself if you think you live in a representative republic anymore. You do not. You live in a monarchy, where judges are the royalty.
Al Mohler today boldly points out the culpability of his (and my own) Southern Baptist Convention in leading to the skewed view of church/state separation being promulgated by today's courts.
It's almost too easy to make fun of Hollywood liberals these days, but I heard something yesterday that genuinely stunned me.

I was listening to the Sean Hannity show, which I didn't even realize was on in South Florida until I stumbled upon it yesterday. It may have been a repeat or "best of," since it was Labor Day, but in any event, his guest was Ed Asner. Now I know that Ed Asner is the nuttiest of the nutty Hollywood leftists. Though I think Lou Grant on the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show" is one of the great sitcom characterizations of all time, it's no state secret that Asner went 'round the bend on political issues long ago.

Still, I was not prepared for what I heard. Hannity said to him something like "You really, honestly still think we haven't given Communism a fair chance in this country, don't you?" To which Asner responded (paraphrasing): this country has been whipped into an irrational frenzy about Communism since 1917. They've never really heard what it's about because of all the negative propaganda.

I suppose I believed intellectually that such a species as Asner belongs to still existed, but to actually find a specimen in captivity is nearly staggering. This is a system that has conservatively resulted in over 100 million murders in the past 85 years, and we haven't given it a fair shake. I've concluded that Asner is actually a right-wing ploy to motivate conservatives. He's collecting a check from Richard Mellon Scaife. There's simply no way in the year 2003 that this guy can be for real.
A wonderful quote found at Dr. G's Blog last week that's worth printing up and hanging on the refrigerator:
According to Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right."
We here at Rabe Ramblings have our finger on the pulse of American pop culture.

Someone just reached us by the following Google search: "Whoopi Goldberg" + "no eyebrows".
I checked out Kevin Costner's new flick "Open Range" yesterday, and was impressed with it. Though story-wise it has nothing new to offer (being a fairly typical showdown-style Western), the appeal of films like this is usually in the characterizations, and Robert Duvall and Costner bring a lot to the table in that department.

Duvall makes me happy whenever he pops up on a movie screen, and though it's becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the illusion of a hairline on the aging Costner, I'm glad to see him back in top form again. The characters are affecting without the movie ever lapsing into sentimentality, and the film is beautifully, breathtakingly photographed. The fact that they shot footage like this on something like a $20 million budget makes me wonder what all the $40-$50 million movies are wasting their money on. That must be some mighty fine on-set catering.

It's not perfect by any stretch (with an ending that is probably too pat for the tone of the rest of the movie, and one stunning blasphemy early in the film that virtually negated the entire thing for me), but I found "Open Range" overall to be a satisfying, black hats vs. white hats, old-fashioned Western, featuring two of the more likeable actors of this generation. Costner (who directed) mercifully eschews the recent moral ambiguity so vogue in recent anti-hero westerns, and instead returns to the clear good guys/bad guys formula that established the genre as a classic in the first place.

Oh yeah, and I wouldn't be at all shocked to see Duvall get a best actor Oscar nomination for it.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Charles Bronson may not have had great range as an actor, but he appeared in many of the greatest "guy movies" in the history of cinema. Though people tend to mostly think of him as having starred in the mediocre "Death Wish" series, they forget that he was also a supporting player in "The Magnificent Seven," "The Great Escape," and "The Dirty Dozen," arguably the three best ensemble "guy movies" of all time. He also made the classic "Once Upon a Time in the West" with Henry Fonda, and the highly underrated bare-knuckles boxing flick "Hard Times," one of my dad's favorites.

With McQueen, Coburn, Marvin, and now Bronson gone, a certain breed of actor has almost left us. At least we still have Clint Eastwood.