Friday, November 20, 2009

Should "Global Warming" Be "Warmer"?

According to an article in Der Spiegel (a name that always cracks me up, as does most of the German language in the post-war, Mel Brooks era), many climate scientists are "baffled" that the catastrophic global warming they've been hysterically predicting doesn't seem to be showing up in the actual...uh, how do we say?...temperatures.

Among the nuggets as stunned climatologists try to reconcile the data with their nonsense predictions:
The Earth's average temperatures have stopping climbing since the beginning of the millennium, and it even looks as though global warming could come to a standstill this year.
Now, this is Der Spiegel's statement rather than that of one of the scientists, but read that statement over a couple of times. Surely there's a government entity involved here somewhere. Let me rephrase what that sentence appears to be saying: "Global warming stopped a long time ago. And this year, it looks like global warming might stop in its tracks!" I'll assume it's a problem in translating from the German.

Some more (entirely predictable) fun:
Just a few weeks ago, Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research added more fuel to the fire with its latest calculations of global average temperatures. According to the Hadley figures, the world grew warmer by 0.07 degrees Celsius from 1999 to 2008, and not by the 0.2 degrees Celsius assumed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And, say the British experts, when their figure is adjusted for two naturally occurring climate phenomena, El Niño and La Niña, the resulting temperature trend is reduced to 0.0 degrees Celsius -- in other words, a standstill.
Despite their current findings, scientists agree that temperatures will continue to rise in the long term. The big question is: When will it start getting warmer again?
Yes, that is the big question. Because it's empirical science, you see? It has to start getting catastrophically warmer. Didn't you see An Inconvenient Truth?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Around The Horn

Hey, 'dya forget about me? Sure you did. However, all is forgiven because it's November and that means it's time for another post! Some quick hits:
  • I see that Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano (still single as of this writing) is on the lookout for any potential anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of the Ft. Hood massacre:
    Janet Napolitano says her agency is working with groups across the United States to try to deflect any backlash against American Muslims following Thursday's rampage by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan
    Here's kind of a crazy thought, but how about we start worrying about the frontlash? You know, where people are actually getting killed.

    Recent deaths from Muslim extremists in U.S.:

    --9/11: 3000 killed in hijacking attacks
    --John Alan Muhammed: 16 shooting deaths
    --Nidal Malik Hasan: 13 shooting deaths
    --One daughter run over in Arizona
    --Two daughters "honor-killed" in Texas
    --Three shot, one killed in Arkansas recruiting office

    Recent deaths from "anti-Muslim backlash":

    --Still zero

    Glad you're on the case, Janet.
  • Great to see Brett Hull inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last night. I covered the "Golden Brett" in St. Louis for a few years in the early '90's, and though he had a reputation for sometimes being a bit cantankerous, I never found him to be anything other than great fun. I once handed him my then-infant (now 17-year-old) son John for a photograph. John began instantly crying, and Brett held him like he was a pillow full of smallpox. (We still have the picture in one of our photo albums.) "Get used to it," I told him. "Your time is coming." Within four years, Hull had three of them. (Children, not smallpox pillows.) Always honest, always a great quote, the best hockey scorer I've ever seen, and a smile that kept you from being offended when he called you a "puke" (which he called everybody). The Blues should have never let him go.
  • When I last posted, it seemed like the St. Louis Cardinals could be on their way to the World Series. I got a little'd that turn out, anyway?
  • As insane as he usually drives me (which is documented here, here, and here, among other places), it is good, proper, and right for the Cardinals to bring Tony La Russa back for another year. Is he an excruciating over-manager? Without doubt. Is he loyal to a fault? If it were up to him, Chris Duncan would still be playing left field and Juan Encarnacion demonstrating taking one-eyed at-bats. But I know this: the Cardinals have been a contender almost every year since La Russa got there. Don't mess with success. It will also be interesting to have Mark McGwire around next year. This needs to happen. The steroids thing is over; good heavens, Andy Pettite and A-Rod were having statues carved of them during this post-season. Big Mac needs to come back, talk about it, put it behind him, and go to the Hall of Fame where he belongs. Even in the juiced era, the guy left everyone else in awe. Time to move forward.
  • Speaking of the aforementioned John Allen Muhammed, he is scheduled to be executed tonight in Virginia. No word yet as to whether Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, or Danny Glover have chained themselves to the jailhouse yet. The events in Ft. Hood brought back to mind the coverage of the night that Muhammed was caught after his weeks-long terror spree in the D.C. area. The entire evening, the networks tried to avoid using his adopted (and legal) name "Muhammed" and instead kept calling him "John Allen Williams." And they scrambled to cite his Gulf War I experience, abuse as a child, and hatred for a spouse as possible motives for the shootings. CBS's Vince Gonzalez reported the next day, "About the same time he joined the army Muhammad converted to Islam, but authorities say religion was not a motive." Subsequent evidence proved definitively that the shootings were carried out as an act of jihad. Surprise! Keep that in mind as you watch the media's Ft. Hood coverage.
And that, ladies and gents, is how we play "Around the Horn." After my last post, I jokingly added, "Have a nice autumn." And here I am in November. So considering the way these postings are actually going, I'll refrain from saying, "Have a happy new year."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September Already?

Hey, it's been a while. What're ya gonna do? Life gets busy sometimes. In the meantime, here are some interesting things I've been looking at today:
  • has a fascinating, three-part profile of the early radio career of Glenn Beck. It's clear that the author is no fan (whereas I generally like Beck, though I preferred the Glenn-Beck-on-the-radio version of about three years ago to the Howard-Beale-Prophet-of-Doom that I see on Fox News). About the early, pre-Mormon Beck, virtually all seem agreed: he was not a good guy. For a radio geek like me, a story like this is like catnip.
  • Even the liberals over at Slate are starting to get a whiff of the unpleasant stench of nannystatism that is descending upon the land. They take a look at a draconian paper in the New England Journal of Medicine advocating taxes even on diet soda--because it may cause you more in your heart to want real sweets. After all, since we're going to put health care under state control, the state now has a direct interest in your eating habits. Slate notes:
    If you're trying to sink health care reform, this is a good way to do it: Show everyone how subsidized health insurance will entitle other people to regulate your eating habits.
  • Like the previous article, TIME's Joel Stein points out that liberals have just as tenuous relationship with science as they're always claiming conservatives do. Talking about the resistance to getting vaccinated for swine flu among his circle of friends, he says:
    while the far right gets a lot of crap about not believing in science, the left isn't crazy about it either. Only instead of rejecting facts that conflict with the Bible, it ignores anything that conflicts with hippie myths about the perfection of nature. That's why my neighborhood is full of places you can go to detoxify with colonics, get healed with crystals and magnets and buy non--genetically engineered food.
    Unfortunately, however, Stein's answer to the problem leaves him in no better a spot:
    When presented with doubts, I don't search for detailed information from my side. I go with the consensus of mainstream media, academia and the government. Not because they're always right but because they're right far more often than not, and I have a TiVo to watch.
    And just when he was so close to making sense.
  • On Bruce Springsteen's 60th birthday (a fact that just makes me want to crawl into a hole somewhere), here's a cool piece about the birth of Born to Run.
  • And here's a note about an, ahem, awesome television program that will be making its way to the airwaves next year.
Hey, great seeing you. Have a nice autumn.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Lyin' Of The Senate

There is a natural and proper tendency, following someone's death, to speak words of grace and admiration. Even if the deceased was an opponent, death tends to evoke a natural bonhomie that calls for at least muted words of praise.

For the past day, we've been inundated with tributes to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Perhaps more than anything, it has been noted how grief-stricken his senatorial colleagues across the aisle are at his passing, since Kennedy was of the old school where "you could fight like dogs by day and then at 5 o'clock go have a drink together." In the clubby atmosphere of the Senate, conviviality is prized above all other attributes, and by all accounts, Ted Kennedy had that in spades.

I've tried to join in the eulogizing. After all, a man has just died. But after a day and a half of trying, I must finally admit: I just cannot do it.

Ted Kennedy was deeply harmful to the country. He espoused policies that have been damaging in so many ways that a full-length book could only begin to scratch the surface.

"But that's the 'before 5pm' stuff! You're supposed to let that go, Rabe."

Okay, let's do that for a moment. The problem is, Ted Kennedy was a terrible person after 5pm too. I do not doubt that he was fun to be around and friendly to his colleagues. But as old-fashioned as it may be, I have a sticking point: I just can't seem to get beyond that dead girl in the car.

"Oh, good grief. Chappaquiddick? Are you still on that? That was 40 years ago. Can't you just let it go?"

Well, no. From the time that Sen. Kennedy careened off the bridge on that fateful night in 1969 to the moment he arrived back at his cottage, 40 minutes elapsed. Kennedy reported the accident the next morning--after the car had already been fished out and the license plate identified. Authorities believe that Mary Jo may have lived for two hours in the car after it plunged into the water. In other words, to put a finer point on it, while Senator Kennedy was back in his cabin making calls to his advisers and plotting his next move, Mary Jo Kopechne was still possibly fighting for her life inside that sunken car, watching it gradually fill with the murky water that would finally drown her.

Through the rape trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, we discovered that Ted Kennedy had not become any better a person in the 22 years following Chappaquiddick, either. The indelible image presented at the trial of the then-59-year-old senator heading out to Au Bar with his son and nephew, followed by his infamous pants-less appearance before the ladies in his living room later that evening, conclusively demonstrated that Kennedy's lifelong dissipation continued.

Expelled from Harvard for cheating; culpable in the death of a 28-year old girl; parading around in front of women without pants on; notoriously drunken womanizer...sorry to be so out of touch with the zeitgeist, but this was not a good man. The fact is, he got 40 extra years of life that he didn't allow Mary Jo Kopechne, so I have no mournful feeling that somehow his time was cut too short.

It's not simply political or ideological. I could find complimentary things to say about lots of people whose policies I abhor: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and hundreds of others. In Ted Kennedy's case, I've tried to join the national mourning. But when I dig down for something complimentary to say about this guy, I'm afraid I find there's just nothing there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wilsonian Wisdom

Doug Wilson ably dissects the liberal jokers who justify abortion by claiming the body's freedom from government interference on the one hand while supporting state-run health care on the other:
This is just like that other popular saying on the Left -- keep the government out of bedrooms. Okay, I'm for that. Currently the government tells us how far apart the sheetrock screws have to be, how big the windows have to be for egress in case of fire, how far apart the electric outlets have to be, what kind of chemicals can be in the paint, and whether or not we can cut that tag off the mattress without getting the FBI involved. Sure, let's get government out of our bedrooms. Oh, you didn't mean that? You just meant you wanted them to be mute where God actually revealed something to us (as in, no, you can't marry your sister), and having begun the disobedience there, to legislate endlessly and like crazy about everything else, dictating the most minute details about your bedroom?
For nanny-staters, "freedom" is merely a slogan used to gain control. (Remember the "Employee Free Choice Act" that would've stripped workers of the secret ballot regarding unionization, and instead expose them to threats and intimidation? That's "freedom" to a liberal.) When liberals start talking about "freedom," always rest assured that they are getting ready to rob you of a heaping dollop of it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You'd Have To Be A Rock Not To See It

I came across an interesting story earlier today. A 9-year-old Florida boy at summer camp discovered an unusual rock on July 31st. He took it to a camp leader, who then took it to an amateur archaeologist friend, who then took it to some experts. According to the story, archaeologists at St. Leo University:
confirmed that the small piece of worked rock was a [6000 year old] Newnan spear point. It dates to the middle Archaic period when humans, who had been previously nomadic, started to settle in larger groups in various regional areas of Florida.
All of this raises an interesting question. The artifact was found on a wilderness trail among many other rocks. What made this boy think this particular rock was different from the others? And what makes archeologists believe, as one of them said, that “[p]eople took a lot of time to make these”? The answer is obvious: it shows all the marks of having been designed. Indeed, recognition of design and purpose is at the center of sciences like archaeology and forensics.

It’s also intuitive. This young boy isn't a scientist; he simply recognized that this rock bore the evidence of having been acted upon by an intelligent force where the other rocks did not. When we come home to an empty house, we know that note on the kitchen counter is not the product of blind chance and the continuous laws of nature. We know--and are held legally accountable for knowing--that a stop sign is not a random product of nature, but something designed to convey a message.

However, when it comes to biology, we're expected to ignore clear evidence of design. In fact, militant atheistic evolutionists have argued against Intelligent Design theory (ID) on the grounds that it is "unscientific" because it infers a designer from the appearance of design and fails to rely purely on naturalistic, undirected processes for explaining biological complexity. This was exactly the argument they made in the infamous Dover case, which a federal judge endorsed. Yet Richard Dawkins, strident atheist and author of The God Delusion, defines biology as “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” That's a very telling definition. Dawkins insists, however, that such things must not have been designed, trying his hardest to make the evidence fit his preconceived conclusion.By defining "science" as "explaining things in purely naturalistic terms with no recourse to design or purpose," they try to rule ID out by defintion rather than on the evidence.

Though clear evidence of design is an obvious scientific principle in archaeology and forensics, when it comes to biology the design inference is suddenly and inexplicably considered to be “unscientific.” Despite the existence of a universe that is almost inconceivably fine-tuned to support human life, the properties of language and information found in the tiniest cells, and the irreducible complexity of numerous biological structures, all life, the militant atheistic scientists say, must be the accidental product of blind, purposeless forces.

For them, every rock is just a rock--including those meticulously cut into the shape of arrowheads.

Friday, August 07, 2009

John Hughes, R.I.P.

[I never do this, but with the passing of John Hughes yesterday, it seemed appropriate to re-post some thoughts I had on him back in 2006. I had always hoped he'd make a comeback, but in the words of Del Griffith, one of Hughes' more endearing creations, "I guess that's not gonna happen. Not now, anyway." If you were, as I was, a teenager in the mid '80's there's a pretty good chance that this guy was your Shakespeare.]

I've lately been pondering the career of John Hughes. (And yes, I'm aware of how sad that is.)

My recollections were occasioned by a Weekly review of a new DVD version of "Ferris Bueller" that's coming out.

I don't know that there's ever been a bigger seven or eight year streak in the history of movies. From 1983 to 1990, he either wrote or directed (and in some cases both) the following films:
Mr. Mom (1983)
Vacation (1983)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Weird Science (1985)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
She's Having a Baby (1988)
Uncle Buck (1989)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Home Alone (1990)
I haven't even included some others during that period that stunk, like "European Vacation" and "The Great Outdoors."

Isolate only at the ones he directed. In one six year period as a writer/director, he cranked out:
Sixteen Candles
The Breakfast Club
Weird Science
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
She's Having a Baby
Uncle Buck
I think that's virtually unprecedented. These films might not be to everyone's taste (and with the exception of “Ferris” and “Uncle Buck,” none of them pushed the $80 million box office mark), but for people of my generation, these are seminal pictures. There's not a clunker in the bunch (though I know some might quibble with one here or there). There's not one on there I don't stop to watch when I pass by it flipping through channels.

Who has ever put a list together like that in that amount of time? Granted, he wasn't doing gritty, edgy stuff like Scorsese or something, but this guy was the Frank Capra of his time. "Home Alone" is the highest-grossing live-action comedy of all time, for goodness sakes.

And yet the guy hasn't directed a movie since "Curly Sue" in 1991--15 years ago. It's Jim Brown. It's Barry Sanders. It's Jordan, if he had stayed retired the first time. How do you put together that career in six years and then disappear? Where is he? At IMDB (which is where I got all this info), he appears to only be cranking out lousy, straight-to-video sequels of "Home Alone" and "Beethoven" as a writer anymore. Under a pseudonym, no less.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

A Real Clunker

Well, it turns out the the "Cash for Clunkers" program is a huge hit, and why shouldn't it be? People know a sucker when they see one, and you'll never have trouble drawing a crowd to line up for free money.

The problem, of course, is that, as the old saying goes, there is no such thing as a "free lunch." Somebody is always paying for it. That's also true of inflated payouts for junkmobiles: someone is paying for it. When Joe takes in his '89 Reliant station wagon (book value: $135) into the dealer and gets a check for $4500, that money is coming from somewhere; in this case, that "somewhere" is all the people who are not gulping out of the public trough.

They rifled through the first $1 billion allotted for the "Cash for Clunkers" in only a couple of days, but lo and behold, it turns out there are a lot more people in the country with cars worth less than $4500 who would like to get wildly-above-market prices for them. History has proved that the best way to get a wildly-above-market price on something is to have the government buy it, and this proves to be no exception.

But tough times call for tough measures, right? We need to stimulate the economy, so now is no time to be worrying about where the money is coming from. Can't we worry about all that later?

Well, not exactly. The major rationale for the "Cash for Clunkers" program is that it will supposedly stimulate the economy. Will it? Well, it will certainly stimulate one part of it: the moribund auto industry. But what benefit will that be to the economy overall?

Normally-sane, sensible people frequently seem to forget one fact: every dollar the government spends is a dollar it has taken from someone else, by force. (This is true even when the government turns on the magic printing press, thus devaluing the dollars everyone else is holding.) When the government gives a billion dollars to people who were still clinging to their Dodge Darts, it's a billion dollars that has been taken from other people, by force. And in addition to the simple moral wrong of stealing from one to satisfy the covetousness of another, we often overlook the fact that that's a billion dollars that won't be spent somewhere else.

All the government has done in such a scenario is take a bucket of water from one end of the pool and pour it into the other end of the pool, triumphantly declaring the water level to have been raised. What is unseen are all the things that money will not now be spent on. We see the benefit to the car owner and the car dealer, but what about people and companies to whom that money really belonged? They will now not be spending any of that billion dollars on opening a new branch, raising worker salaries, paying for medical insurance, building a house, or taking a vacation. They will not be investing it in mutual funds (which sends the money to companies which use the money to do things) or putting it in the bank (where it will be lent to people starting businesses or needing new capital). One sector of the economy benefits from the car deal, but it's at the cost of an untold number of other sectors that are hurt by it.

I see Congress is now scrambling to pump more money into the "Cash for Clunkers" program, since--surprise!--it's proving to be wildly popular. As I've heard the inimitable Walter Williams say, "Politicians love a visible beneficiary and an invisible victim."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Christians On The Dole

Doug Wilson has a little something here to make just about everyone uncomfortable. Tough but necessary words:
...Christians who live in subsidized housing are part of the problem. Christians who use federal money to get their free education are part of the problem. Christians who get on Medicare so they can ding the taxpayers if anything goes wrong with their hobby of homebirthing are part of the problem. Christians on food stamps are part of the problem. Christians who use tax money to fund their mercy ministries are part of the problem. Christians who think that their health care would be more affordable for them if I paid for it are part of the problem.
Read the whole thing here. And read the follow ups here and here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

An Upside Down Society

I just want to make sure I have this straight.

NFL player Michael Vick, who was convicted of organizing dog fights, was released today after serving 23 months in prison.

NFL player Donte Stallworth, who was convicted of a drunk driving accident in which he killed a man, was released earlier this month after serving a 24-day jail term.

Applying my admittedly rudimentary math skills, my calculations indicate that Stallworth served about one day in prison for each month that Vick served. Vick was involved in dog fighting; Stallworth killed a guy.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Stop The Insanity!

I'm not generally one to complain about media attention for dead celebrities. In fact, I've frequently been know to even defend it on occasion.

So for me, the problem has not really been the amount of Michael Jackson coverage (though I have to admit being surprised--I would have expected this magnitude if he'd died perhaps 15 years ago, but not now, so far removed from his hit-making days and with so many years of freakishness and lurid allegations under his frilly cloth belt). As I said the day after his death, I was a fan of Jackson as an entertainer. It's the tone of some of the coverage that is getting really, really carried away.

Today puts the capper on it. This comes from Professor Cornel West (via John Kass in the Chicago Tribune), who desperately needs to have a drink and lie down for awhile:
It's almost like a crucifixion, in terms of the cross you have to bear...We reap the fruits of the resurrection, in terms of the power that emanates from [Jackson's] sacrifice. He sacrificed his childhood because he loved us so. He didn't just entertain us, he sustained us.
Yes, Joe Jackson so loved the world, that he sent his five begotten sons....

The rhetoric of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Michael Eric Dyson, and the usual collection of hucksters has been little less hyperbolic than West's. And all of this raises a few questions. For instance, when did Michael Jackson, who spent the last 20 years of his life trying to erase any vestige of his blackness, including (according to some reports) having "his" children conceived from the donated issue of another man so they wouldn't be black, suddenly become an African-American messiah?

Let's make something clear. Michael Jackson was not sacrificed by anybody, nor did he sacrifice anything for anybody. America did not "fail to appreciate him" as his brother Jermaine has laughably claimed over the past couple of weeks. Jackson made in the ballpark of $500-$700 million in his lifetime because people liked his records, videos, and concerts. He was on the cover of every major magazine dozens of times. Even now, he's receiving day-and-night coverage, 13 days after his death. America gave him all the attention he deserved and hundreds of times more. He was an extremely talented but very, very weird guy who made some horrible (and possibly criminal) lifestyle choices, and also made more than the GNP of some small countries off of a fawning American public. He made no "sacrifices," nor was he in any sense a savior of anything or anybody.

Okay, he had a tough childhood. So do about a billion Third World kids--and they don't get to spend the rest of their lives spending millions on choo-choo trains to recapture what they thought they should've had. The fact is, all things considered, America gave Michael Jackson a shot at an exceptionally good life, and he got to create for himself an idyllic childhood that lasted about 30 years longer than a real one would've.

So Cornel West, Al Sharpton, Jermaine Jackson, and a bunch of their media enablers need to relax for a few days before they say something embarrassing.

As if these guys were capable of being embarrassed.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Did He Leave Home Without It?

Despite the recent spate of celebrity deaths, the remaining members of my old "I Can't Believe They're Still Alive" list have been hanging on tenaciously since my last update after the death of Joey Bishop in October '07.

Until today, that is. Farewell, Karl Malden. Hey, you can't say the guy got cheated--he was 97!

Here's the updated list:
  • Doris Day
  • Harry Morgan
  • James Arness
  • Conrad Bain
  • Jack LaLanne
  • John Forsythe
  • Rose Marie
  • Al Molinaro
  • Barbara Billingsley
  • Karl Malden
  • Larry Storch

[**Since I haven't explained it in ages, it may be helpful to point out what this list actually is. It's not a traditional dead pool. It's entirely composed of people who have, for the most part, dropped out of the public eye. It's literally people who, when they die, you say, "I had no idea he/she was still alive!" That's why people who would otherwise be good candidates like, say, Larry King or Artie Lange, don't make the list. Even though I really can't believe either of those guys is still alive.]

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Chicken Or The Egg?'s current headline is, "Pop Star's Family Wants Answers, Says Jesse Jackson." For a minute, I thought, "Huh? What in the world does Jesse Jackson have to do with this? What possible connection does he even have to the Jackson family?" And then I suddenly remembered: ahh, the TV cameras.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Thriller

Obviously, there's not much left to be said nearly 24 hours into the media maelstrom surrounding the sad-but-not-entirely-unpredictable death of Michael Jackson. When I heard the news yesterday, my first several thoughts were about Jackson as the circus attraction he'd become over the past 20 years. The surgical mask. The plastic surgery. The shrunken (and partially false) nose. The abuse allegations. The chimp. The hyperbaric chamber. The Elephant Man's bones. The kid hanging off the balconay. To be honest, Jackson's death didn't draw much more than a shrug from me. "The freak show is over," was pretty much all that registered in my mind.

Sometime last night, however, listening to the endless coverage, a snippet of a song broke through, and it brought something back to me that I'd almost forgotten. There was a time, before Jackson dissolved into utter insanity, when he represented something good. Last night I tried to explain it to my kids, who have grown up in a world where Jackson was still ubiquitous, but only as the world's biggest sideshow oddity. There was a short period, I explained, around 1982-1985, when this guy was the most exciting performer that anybody had ever seen.

I told them about watching the Motown 25th anniversary special in 1983. On that program, Jackson did "Billie Jean" (lip-syncing, no less) and gave one of the most electrifying performances in television history. It was one of those ultra-rare occasions when you immediately realize you've just seen something that's going to change everything. On that show, Jackson did his famous "moonwalk" for the first time. The next day at school, we were all trying to do it. (Frankly, I've still never seen anyone perfectly replicate it.)

I showed them that performance on YouTube. I showed them the video for "Thriller." I told them about how one single after another rolled off that Thriller album, providing most of the soundtrack for 1983 and into '84. In addition to "Billie Jean," (paradoxically one of the most popular--and yet somehow still underestimated pop songs of all time), "Beat It," "Human Nature," "The Girl Is Mine," "PYT," "Wanna Be Starting Something," "Thriller." The album sold something like 27 million copies, but more importantly, those were amazing songs. I still defy anyone to show me more than a handful of albums that you would even plausibly argue belong in the discussion with Thriller in terms of top-to-bottom quality. Combine all that with Jackson's unparalleled abilities as a live performer, and you wind up with a unique, indelible cultural moment. Of course, as many have pointed out, that period was also his curse. You don't catch lightning in a bottle twice, though Jackson spent years vainly trying.

Sure, it's only entertainment. Yes, the media is in wild overkill over the story. Absolutely, the overwrought reactions to Michael's death say something unflattering about our society. Strip all that away for a moment. The fact that we abuse entertainment doesn't mean that there is no value in being wonderfully, expertly well-entertained on occasion. And nobody was more purely entertaining than Michael Jackson at his peak. In all the Jackson news we'll be inundated with over the coming days and weeks, the only tiny thing I have to offer is a plaintive reminder to just forget about all the insanity for a few minutes and consider what Michael Jackson did when he was doing it at his best. Do yourself a favor and watch that Motown performance and try to imagine the world seeing this for the first time. Watch (and listen to) "Beat It," and see what made him the defining face of MTV.

Sadly, that Michael Jackson died decades ago. But the loss of that Michael Jackson is worth lamenting.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Odds And Ends

  • Like in that movie "Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind," I'm starting to wish all collective memory of Gov. Mark Sanford could just be erased. Seriously--as a conservative and as a Christian, I'm beginning to understand why everybody hates us. Kudos to his wife for tossing his worthless arse out of the house, rather than participating in one of these humiliating Hillary/Mrs. Spitzer press conferences.
  • The government will make health care cheaper. You know, like hammers, when the military is buying them.
  • As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm trying out this Twitter thing we've been hearing so much about. (Though, to clear up some misunderstanding, I do not intend for "tweeting" to replace my thrice-yearly blogging. If you do the Twitter, feel free to find me @johnrabe.) Right now, there's usually at least one odd Twitter story per day. Today's? Apparently, Shaquille O'Neal found out last night that he was being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers via Twitter.
  • The Daily Kos guy on the Mark Sanford news (via Twitter, again): "If Sanford and Ensign can fall, is there anyone safe from the gays' war on traditional marriage?" Ouch. I'm a staunch opponent of gay "marriage." But this barb draws some blood. The reason marriage as an institution in this country has ceased to mean much is not mainly because homosexuals want to marry each other; it's because so many of the people who profess to respect it prove by their actions that they don't really respect it. It's called "hypocrisy," and it's an all-too-valid rejoinder these days. It's not either/or; it's both/and. If we're serious about the importance of marriage, we'll oppose same-sex "marriage" (which is not marriage at all) AND uphold our own marriages.
  • It makes me sad that there will never be another chance to be the first person to smack Perez Hilton. "He" is suing the guy who hit "him," and is charging him with, among other things, "intentional infliction of emotional distress." Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't the infliction of emotional distress pretty much Perez Hilton's life calling?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Time Flies; The White Bronco, Not So Much

Sometime around the age of 30, it seemed as if someone had pressed the "double-speed" button on the remote control of my life. I remember my parents telling me how quickly time seemed to move once they got older, but I found that such assurances don't prepare you to handle the true surrealism of it. Now, when I'm asked how long ago some event occurred, I've learned to literally double my gut-estimate, and that usually pegs it just about right.

Anyway, all of this to say I was a bit surprised when an old coworker of mine reminded me on Facebook the other day that it was the 15th anniversary of the murders of O.J. Simpson's wife and her friend. And today, a few days later, is the 15th anniversary of the infamous low-speed chase on the freeways of Los Angeles after Simpson was named as the suspect in the murders.

What a strange week that was. My children, at the time, were 23 months old and five months old, respectively. What they know of O.J. Simpson is that he's a murderer and a pariah (and until recently walked free because of an incompetent prosecution). I've realized that it is impossible for them to understand what O.J. Simpson was before he killed these two people. If there is any former athlete today who is as personally adored as O.J. was, I can't think of him. Through talk shows, movies, sports commentary, and commercials, O.J. Simpson had woven himself into the fabric of American society in a way that even Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan could envy. I have no idea if they ever actually did favorability ratings on the guy, but if they did, I would be O.J. would've scored in the top 10% of all public figures in America.

That's what made that week so surreal. For those too young to have been there when O.J. was on top, it would be as if...oh, I don't know...Tom Hanks were suddenly being chased down the highway by the LAPD as a murderer.

That Friday is still very vivid in my mind. I was covering the Cardinals for KFNS, the all-sports station in St. Louis. After each game, we would do a live recap show from some local establishment featuring interviews with players. Right before the game, the television in the press lounge was blaring the press conference being held by the LAPD. Gil Garcetti, the district attorney, announced that not only was Simpson being charged with the murders, but that at that moment he was also a fugitive from justice. The jaded denizens of the press box literally gasped, as did the media members covering Garcetti on television. Simpson's friend Robert Kardashian haltingly read what appeared to be a suicide note from O.J. It was unreal.

It got weirder. A few innings into the game, someone came out of the lounge into the open air pressbox at the old Busch Stadium and told us that Simpson had been found and was being chased on the freeway. A bunch of us ran in to begin watching the drama unfold, while simultaneously trying to keep one eye on the game we were actually covering. All I remember is that the game finally ended, and I ran down to the clubhouse with the tape recorder to try to do interviews. It was useless. The players on both teams were repeating the scene from the press lounge, lined up in rows in front of the clubhouse televisions watching it all happen. I got some perfunctory comments about the game (the Cardinals had lost to the Pirates) from manager Joe Torre and a few others and scrambled off to some bar on Highway 40 we were doing that night's show from.

By the time I got back to the broadcast location, it became clear that nobody was interested in that night's game (nor in the NBA Finals game that had also been played). O.J. was now sitting in his Bronco on his driveway in Brentwood surrounded by SWAT teams. The worst-case scenario was looking more and more possible, and most of us were thinking "shootout." Right after I arrived with my post-game interview tapes that nobody cared about, we did a phone interview about O.J.'s legal situation with Jon Sloane, the station's morning host who was also an attorney. Then the station's general manager (who, as per usual on such occasions, was drunk out of his mind, and whose name is cleverly hidden in this series: xzxkszBobBurchxxxzx), who happened to be at the bar that night for some inexplicable reason, boozily ordered us to go back to the studio and start doing what turned out to be several hours of O.J. coverage. Man, did we scramble that night. We got one of O.J.'s NBC Sports colleagues (Todd Christiansen) on the phone late in the evening to give us his reactions. We strung a microphone into a little room at the station that had a TV in it and put the microphone up to the speaker on the TV set so that we could "carry" the LAPD press conference after Simpson's surrender.

The next day was the mug shot, and O.J. Simpson became the O.J. Simpson we now know. Decades later, it seems like it was never any other way. Jonnie Cochran and Robert Kardashian are long dead (with Kardashian's name now far more associated with his bimbo TV daughters than with him). Todd Christiansen has gotten rid of his mullet. Joe Torre went on to some moderate success after being let go by the Cardinals. My kids are now nearly 17 and 15 1/2. Fittingly, O.J. is spending this anniversary in prison, as he deserves. Though justice was not done in the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Smith, his criminal nature ultimately got the best of him and landed him where he belongs, albeit 14 years too late.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What A Twit

For any of you who are into that kind of thing (and I'm still trying to figure it out myself), I'm now on Twitter @johnrabe.

The good news is, my posts are much shorter, and I do it more than once a month.

Friday, May 01, 2009

What Color Is The Sky In Your World?

From NPR News, with my emphasis added:
[Justice David Souter] generally votes with [John Paul] Stevens and the two justices who were appointed by President Bill Clinton — making up the bloc of four more liberal members of the court, a group that has usually been in the minority throughout Souter's tenure.

Oh, right, now I remember. How could I have forgotten that massive conservative overhaul of the Supreme Court that has remade the nation's jurisprudence over the last 19 years?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Don't Say

So I see Arlen Specter came out as a Democrat today. I haven't been this shocked since Clay Aiken announced he was gay.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Beauty And The Beast

Okay, so help me understand this. There's a massive controversy over a beauty contestant, Carrie Prejean, who responded to a judge's a question about gay marriage her opinion on gay marriage. She thinks marriage should probably be between a man and a woman. And as a result, the World Has Come To An End.

Perez Hilton, the swishy gossip queen who asked the question, has gone into a full hissy, saying that the contestant is a "dumb b___" and worse.

Illiterate E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic Twittered (and let's just preface this whole thing with one giant sic), "...i know i'm a journalist, and i should be objective...but she is an ignorant discrace and she makes me sick to my stomach..."

(I'll tell u whuts a discrace, & thats a socalled journlist writing like that.)

The Boston Phoenix declares her "Ms. Bigot USA."

So what bile must she have spouted to earn such vituperation from the overheated left? Here's what Miss Prejean said, in its entirety:

"I think it's great Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what in my country, in my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman."
Light the torches. It doesn't get any more frothingly hate-filled than that.

Some other notable hate-mongers:

Barack Obama: "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it's also a sacred union...I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage."

Joe Biden: "No, Barack Obama nor I support redefining, from a civil side, what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically a decision to be able to be left to the faiths and people who practice their faiths to determine what you call it."

Hillary Clinton: "Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage always has been, between a man and a woman."

In other words, the beauty contestant stated the identical view of homosexual marriage held by Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton. Can we safely assume that all the adjectives applied to Miss California over the last couple of days apply to them as well? (Except for the ones used about the swimsuit portion of the competition, obviously. We've seen Hillary in a swim suit On the other hand, some of the same words were likely used in the media's rapturous reporting of President Obama's swimsuit outing a few months ago.)

At first I wondered why such a question about homo-sex marriage--with apparently only one acceptable answer--would be asked at a beauty pageant. Who in the world cares what "Miss USA" believes about gay marriage? But then I realized that it adds up, since only gay men watch beauty pageants anymore.

But it's gotten even more amazing as the high profile media poofter Hilton took a break from chasing the pool boy long enough to say on the Today Show this morning that, "I would have appreciated it had she left her politics and her religion out, because Miss USA represents all Americans." Get that? Bugger-boy asks Miss California a specifically religious/political question and then insists that she keep religion and politics out of her answer. Heads, I win, tails, you lose. I'm waiting for "him" to address the fact that President Obama also represents all Americans and states the exact same view.

I'll be over here holding my breath.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pull The Plug

Doug Wilson has a timely reminder for self-proclaimed conservatives on tax day:
A good half of the American populace pays virtually no tax at all -- and many of them receive quite a few benefits. Those who do pay need to understand that they are not proposing simply to withhold funds from pointy-headed liberals in Washington. Those folks in Washington were shrewd enough to hook up a bunch of other people to the benefits, to butter their side of the bread, and so forth. If you go to one of these tea parties, realize that you are going to visit many of your fellow Americans in the hospital, and you are standing on their oxygen hose. Don't be surprised if you get a reaction.

Related to this, if you are receiving government payments in any of its redistributive forms, then you have no business going to one of these events. Food stamps, student loans, subsidized housing, public schooling, and so on -- your time would be better spent just staying home and trying to figure out how to disconnect the oxygen hose yourself.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Sadness In The MLB

What a lousy day. In the last five minutes checking the news sites, I've discovered that former Major League phenom Mark "The Bird" Fidrych and legendary Phillies announcer Harry Kalas have both unexpectedly died today.

Major League Baseball has had a bad run of it lately, beginning with the tragic death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart last week. Kalas was 73 and preparing to broadcast today's Phillies game. He had the kind of voice that anyone who ever got near a microphone envied, and though he made the baseball Hall of Fame, he's probably best known as being the huge voice of NFL Films in the post-John Facenda era.

Fidrych was only 54 and apparently had an accident fixing his truck on his farm in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Tribute To A Giant

Last night, in a touching and tearful ceremony, the Miami Heat retired Alonzo Mourning's #33 jersey--the first retired number in franchise history. It reminded me of another touching and tearful Alonzo Mourning story that I recounted here a few years ago that I'd like to offer up again in tribute to 'Zo as the accolades and benedictions roll in:

When I worked at KFNS sports radio in St. Louis in the early 90's, we producers were looking to get some guests on the air. One of the ways we frequently did this was by "ambushing" (as we called it). "Ambushing" was simply calling a sports team's hotel, asking for the room of a player, and when he answered (the majority of them, suprisingly enough, register under their own names) asking him if he'd come on the air with us for a few minutes. It wasn't a fun job because many players understandably didn't care to be bothered in their rooms and could be a bit terse. Occasionally, however, there were some really nice ones, even among the stars. I recall Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, Chipper Jones, and Andy Benes as being particularly friendly and accomodating. And NHL players were uniformly wonderful.

Anyway, ambushing wasn't the most fun in the world, so we'd get interns to do it when we could. One day, probably in '94 or '95, I asked one of our interns to try Alonzo Mourning in his room during a Heat road trip. The intern dutifully looked up the hotel number in the NBA media guide, got Mourning on the phone, and asked him if he'd be willing to come on the air with us for a couple of minutes.

"What's your name again?" Alonzo asked.

"Tim Brinks," repeated the intern.

"And where are you guys at?" inquired Mourning.

"St. Louis," said Tim.

"Well I'm going to come up there and find you, and I'm going to #&$@^!& kill you!" quipped 'Zo before slamming down the phone.

Good times.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Aslan Isn't Safe--But He's Good

From Heaven is not My Home by Paul Marshall:

If we are ever going to change this trend and become a vital part of our world, we must begin to demonstrate that there is something vital and life-changing about Christianity. So much of Christian faith today is "nice." Cautious. Pleasant. Cheerful. Often if we are interesting to non-Christians at all, it is not because of our faith, but in spite of it. Christianity puts most people (often including ourselves) to sleep.

We have only to look at the example of our Lord to know that this is not the way our faith is to be lived. Whatever else Jesus was, and he was many things, he was never, ever "nice." (The term nice originally meant silly or stupid.) And he certainly wasn't boring. As Dorothy Sayers said:
The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore; on the contrary, they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atomosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him "meek and mild," and recommended Him as a fitting household pate for pale curates and pious old ladies.

To those who knew Him, however, He in no way suggested a milk-and-water person; they objected to Him as a dangerous firebrand. True, He was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers, and humble before Heaven; but He insulted respectable clergyment by calling them hypocrites; He referred to King Herod as "that fox"; He went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a "gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners"; He assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the Temple; He drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations; He cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the manner of other people's pigs and property; He showed no proper deference for wealth or social position.
[Dorothy Sayers quote from Creed or Chaos?]

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Weekend With Nadab And Abihu

Because of some unusual plans, I had the misfortune of surveying the current state of Christian television this past weekend. Actually, worse than that, I surveyed the condition of American churches through television. I'm not merely talking about the spiritual bankruptcy of much of the name-it-and-claim it dreck that normally appears on TBN, for instance. Even most evangelicals are able to recognize that for what it is these days. Rather, what I witnessed were a number of sermons that had recently been preached (and recorded) in evangelical mega-churches that then happened to be televised. These weren't just spectacles taking place in Christian TV studios with gold chairs and velvet chandeliers and leopard-skin footrests; these were worship services taking place in churches on Sunday mornings. David Wells once wrote, "God now comes to rest lightly and inconsequentially upon the Church." After this weekend, I've never been more convinced of that.

Among my discoveries:

The first thing that jumps out is the amazing cultural conformity. The scenario was invariable. Instead of a pulpit (even a Plexiglas one), there was a tall table like one would find at a coffee shop or a bar. There'd be a tall stool next to the table that the pastor would occasionally sit in. More often than not, there was a studiously placed Starbucks coffee cup placed just so on the table to show that, hey, the pastor is a normal guy just like you and me who needed to stop to get some coffee before he got here. (Occasionally, the coffee can be replaced by a conspicuous can of Diet Coke. Just look at this official picture of one megachurch pastor and think for a moment about how much thought had to go into placing that soda in that photo. And then think further about how utterly cynical that is.)

Jackets and ties are now verboten. Instead, the pastor must wear an untucked shirt over jeans or casual slacks. Puka shell necklace (or some other medallion) is optional but frequent. Hair must be mussed in the currently fashionable way, even if the pastor is embarrassingly past the age when such styles are recommended.

The messages are tied into whatever fad is hot this week. One guy had keyed a series of messages to the TV show "24." (A few years ago it was all "Matrix" stuff.) Just on a hunch I Googled "American Idol sermon series." To my absolute non-surprise, it returned 22,100 results. I guess at least some of those series are presumably addressing the issue of idolotry, meaning there could even be a little bit of biblical content there. Not so with "24.") It almost becomes fun. Google anything that's popular-- including something you think nobody would be foolish enough to turn into a sermon series--plus the phrase "sermon series." You'll never be disappointed. (Or, rather, you'll always be disappointed if you love God and the Bible.) "Sex in the City" plus "sermon series"? This guy did it. "Desperate Housewives"? You bet.

Props are ubiquitous. One pastor had a couple of doors up on stage. Another had a car battery recharger stand. Beds are increasingly common as these hip pastors all give that (same) racy message on sex--you know, the one the local TV news station did a story on and that they bought billboards for all over town. Watching some of these "services," I was waiting for someone to finally put the sheets of visqueen on the first few rows of pews and do Gallagher's old act. (That sounds outlandish, but upon asking around, I've discovered that the "24" guy actually did that too a couple of years ago. As part of a sermon illustration they put down plastic and smashed watermelons with mallets. No kidding.)

The messages I watched were all mildly comedic, "relevant" (in the evangelical conception of that word, which generally means "only two or three years behind the curve") and remarkably Jesus-free. One of the messages--being presented in a Sunday morning Christian worship service--was called (and I wish I were kidding about this), "Priceless Poop." The website address was flashed frequently so you could be sure to get a copy of this message for home. A visit to the website reveals that an earlier message in this same series was entitled...ahem..."Booty Calls." Another church had recently done the series, "My Naked Pastor." Then other messages I saw were more tame. One was a very sensible sermon on debt-reduction. Another was on health and fitness. All contained moderately helpful life tips, and all were wholly beside the point for a Sunday morning worship service.

The old, hidebound, non-relevant Apostle Paul once wrote to one of his churches, "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." Well, I guess Paul didn't get the memo that that stuff doesn't fly anymore. You've got to give them stuff they can use these days. You need to give them life hints. Tips for better living, interwoven with humorous asides. Not all this bloody-cross, dead-and-risen savior stuff.

On none of the programs did I hear the good news. Rarely did I even hear the name of Jesus. Instead, it was all "life principles" from "God's instruction manual" about what to do. And even then, the treatment was superficial. Debt, for example, was treated as an error in judgment rather than what it really is--an idolatry problem. As the prophet Jeremiah said, "They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace." Light healing is the order of the day. The messages I saw all had one clear idea in common: God is the way to get what you really want. Your goal in life is less stress, a stronger marriage, better relationships, and satisfaction at work. And God is the means toward helping you attain your

I'm far from the first to recognize that modern American Christianity has largely capitulated to the spirit of the age. Nor is this the first time even I've noticed it. But it took a solid day of sermon-watching to remind me how bad it's really gotten. Rather than sinners in need of a savior, modern mega-church Christianity presents us as merely unsatisfied people in need of satisfaction--or even more to the point, audiences in need of entertainment. In the meanwhile, our lampstand is in the process of being removed, and whatever light is left will only be here for a short time longer unless there is real repentance of this feathery, consumeristic nonsense in the American church.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Short Takes

Hey, we've all got lives, right? (Except, of course, the hardy souls who've been keeping things going in the combox of the last post.) It's been a while, but here are a few quick hits while I've got a minute:

  • It turns out the Mr. Genius, the epitome of articulateness (such a supposedly welcome relief after the sub-simian blunderings of our last president) can't actually put two sentences together without a teleprompter:
    Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual – not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events large and small.

    ...Obama has relied on a teleprompter through even the shortest announcements and when repeating the same lines on his economic stimulus plan that he's been saying for months – whereas past presidents have mostly worked off of notes on the podium except during major speeches, such as the State of the Union.
  • Here's an amazing article on global change from the Discovery Channel:
    …according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, global warming may have hit a speed bump and could go into hiding for decades.

    Earth's climate continues to confound scientists. Following a 30-year trend of warming, global temperatures have flatlined since 2001 despite rising greenhouse gas concentrations, and a heat surplus that should have cranked up the planetary thermostat.
    I love the “should have” there. They’re mystified. But of course that won’t deter the alarmists:
    "It is possible that a fraction of the most recent rapid warming since the 1970s was due to a free variation in climate," Isaac Held of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Princeton, New Jersey wrote in an email to Discovery News. "Suggesting that the warming might possibly slow down or even stagnate for a few years before rapid warming commences again."
    In other words, it will stop happening. And then it will start happening again. Or maybe not. Where I come from, we call this "weather." (HT: Centuri0n)
  • Bob Greene has an absolutely wonderful commentary at on the death of Paul Harvey. As I mentioned back in the very early days of this blog, I loved the fact that Paul Harvey was always still there doing what he was doing.
  • Speaking of the early days of this blog, Saturday will be the 6th blogoversary of Rabe Ramblings. It started out on March 7, 2003. And I pretty much ran out of stuff to write on March 10, 2003. To give you an idea of how long we've been around, in just the third post here, I mention "the possible war in Iraq." And Janeane Garofolo! She was merely irrelevant then. Now you couldn't pick her out of a lineup.
  • I read two books about the Supreme Court last month. The first, Battle for Justice by Ethan Bronner, chronicles the fight over the Robert Bork nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987. Though the author's liberal bent peeks through in a couple of places, he really makes a commendable effort to be fair to all sides, and I found myself unable to put it down. Far less commendable was Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine. It's a great read packed with fascinating anecdotes about the current (and recently former) justices, but huge chunks of the book are just laughably tendentious, while others are demonstrably wrong. Toobin is writing a novel using real people as characters, and he won't allow any facts contrary to his storyline get through the grid. Well-written and entertaining, yet not worth your time except as a case study on how ridiculously biased people keep winding up as "analysts" on major networks.
So there you have it. Let's plan to meet back here again on the next anniversary,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Little Economic Portent

Because of the iron-clad economic truth that every dollar the government spends is a dollar it will eventually have to raise through taxation, I decided to try to figure out what, say, two trillion dollars (a conservative estimate when it's all said and done) of government spending (which, as our president glibly reminds us, "Hey, that's what a stimulus package is! Yuk yuk yuk!") would cost each individual American taxpayer. But I couldn't do it because when I tried to enter two trillion into the calculator, it wouldn't go that high.

Don't worry, though. Everything will be fine.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mac Is Back!

After having given up his evil ways (i.e. trying to pretend to be semi-conservative) during the presidential election, the press is finding itself falling in love with John McCain all over again. Of course, if he had any sense, he'd spit at them for their attacks on him during the campaign, but instead--like the wife of the guy in the tank top on "Cops"--he loves them too much to leave them.

If you were to plot the media's view of McCain on a line, it would go something like this:, RAGE-FILLED

The weird historical coincidence of it all is that the all-consuming, rage-filled hate period just happened to precisely coincide with the period where McCain was running against Barack Obama for president! What are the chances? Amazing how the objective media suddenly recognized his turn toward black-hearted evil just as he was running against Obama. And now that Obama has been inaugurated, they recognize McCain's turn back away from it.

He's clearly a changed man now. The sky has opened, and McCain's dark soul has been redeemed. At least I'm assuming that's what happened because the media suddenly loves him again. From today's Washington Post:

Senate Gets Reacquainted With McCain the Maverick

...Two and a half months removed from his defeat in the race for the presidency, colleagues say, McCain bears more resemblance to the unpredictable and frequently bipartisan lawmaker they have served with for decades than the man who ran an often scathing campaign against Barack Obama. In some instances, he's even carrying water for his former rival.

"Mac is back!" one of his devoted friends in the Senate declared as McCain walked into the chamber Wednesday to deliver his first speech of the 111th Congress: a blunt admonishment of Republicans delaying Hillary Rodham Clinton's confirmation as secretary of state.
Yes, you remember that scathing campaign McCain ran, where he chastised his own crowds for questioning Obama's national origin and fired a campaign aide for putting together an ad shedding light on the Jeremiah Wright comments? And who could forget the smear attack in which he brutalized Senator (now Secretary of State) Hillary Rodham Clinton, spitting "She has inspired generations of American women to believe that they can reach the highest office in this nation, and I respect her campaign, and I respect her."

Yes, McCain has turned from the Dark Side and is a new man. And lucky us, the objective, mainstream media is there to document the miraculous transformation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Day That Lives In Infamy

I'm reprinting this from, where John Ensor of Heartbeat International has guest posted today. Normally I would just print an excerpt, but I don't want to risk any of this being lost by your not clicking through the link. I hope Tim won't mind. The post marks this 36th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision:

Why Are We Striving to Make Abortion Unthinkable?

Today I join hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., in the annual March for Life

In doing so, I acknowledge the resistance, even offense, taken by many by asserting that abortion is the moral issue of our day. I am familiar with the claim that asserts equal concern for poverty, global warming, aids prevention, war, and more. All of these appear to me worth researching and debating, as iron sharpens iron, as to the various causes and possible solutions.

But abortion is not on par. I remember how and when I came to this conclusion. It was the week of February 12, 1990, as marked on the Newsweek magazine I was reading. Kim Flodin, in an article on why she did not counter-march for abortion rights, wrote, "I was pregnant, I carried two unborn children and I chose, for completely selfish reasons, to deny them life so that I could better my own" (My Turn).

There it was: a momentary lapse into honest concrete language about abortion from an advocate. No ancient Baal worshiper could have described the reasons for their child sacrifice better. I was stunned that it had to be stated so plainly for me to grasp the preeminent evil of it. It is not one issue among equal concerns. Abortion is our postmodern version of child sacrifice for the Me Generation. As such, it is an incomprehensible and unthinkable evil.

Unthinkable is the best word to describe it because that is the way God describes it. "The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah saying, . . . "They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination" (Jeremiah 32:35; cf. 7:31, 19:5).

Among the many ways we offend God, the greatest offense are the shedding of innocent blood and idolatry. These two come together in child sacrifice. At the outset, God taught Israel to be shocked and repulsed by its practice among other cultures. "You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods" (Deuteronomy 12:31). The word even here rings remarkably close in meaning to unthinkable or something that "did not enter into my mind."

Some years ago, a woman named Suzanne came to me while I was setting up a pregnancy-help clinic in Boston. She said, "If I have the abortion, I will have more money to spend on my other two children." I asked, "What do you think your children would say if they knew you were doing this so that they could have cable TV and other stuff?" She said, "Well, I'll ask them." Then and there I knew the baby would live. Abortion is unthinkable to children--incomprehensible, horrific, something that would never enter their minds to do. Sure enough, the children were aghast at the thought. "We want the baby," they reassured her. Some months later, after the baby arrived, I heard her share her story. She said she was embarrassed to think back on her earlier state of mind. She had joined the circle of those who think abortion unthinkable.

Sanctity of Human Life Week is like Good Friday--a sobering time to stare unflinchingly past the ho-hum of abortion as a common practice; to grieve, lament, and morn; then to take up our cross and humbly obey God's call to "prosper" the cause of the fatherless and "defend the rights of the needy" (Jeremiah 5:28). In this context, that means becoming cross-bearers for child-bearers.


John Ensor is the Vice President of Heartbeat International

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Thrill Up The National Leg

Observations on this historic inauguration day, as Barack Obama is now the President of the United States:

With tousled hair, NPR just pulled the sheets up and is now smoking a cigarette.

Now that Obama is officially president, the honeymoon is over and the media has begun asking the tough questions. Which will he do first: heal the sick or raise the dead?

Hey, how about that oath of office with Obama and John Roberts? I don't think I've seen an exchange that awkward since the Sammy Sosa/Mark McGwire 62nd homer half-handshake half-hug. Or, to quote Dennis Miller from another context, "I haven't seen choreography that stiff since the Lee Harvey Oswald prison transfer.

Sadly, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) apparently collapsed at Obama's inaugural lunch with Congress today. On the other hand, let's be honest--it's merely one of thousands of times Ted Kennedy has collapsed at lunch. He is now said to be alert--a vast improvement over the middle 60 years of his life.

Strangely enough, Senator Robert Byrd (KKK-Virginia) also collapsed at the luncheon. Apparently the former Klansman fainted upon the realization that a black man is now president.

I'm glad we finally got rid of the elitist Bush Administration so that we can finally have an administration that looks like the real America. I loved that pro-choice feminist transgendered hermaphroditic brass band wearing hemp uniforms and Birkenstock shoes and riding in the electric car in the parade. Just like home.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Tap, tap, tap....(blow, blow)...(feedback)...does this thing still work? Hello? Testing, testing, one, two, three...

So now the report comes that President Obama has offered Dr. Sanjay Gupta the job of surgeon general. That's terrific. Maybe Anderson Cooper still has a shot at Secretary of the Interior (Design).

I guess it's only fair though. Obama owes CNN a lot. I'd figure he'd be naming journalists to just about every post.

I enjoyed this bit from the Washington Post's story on it:
The Michigan-born son of Indian and Pakistani parents, Gupta has always been drawn to health policy. He was a White House fellow in the late 1990s, writing speeches and crafting policy for Hillary Clinton.
But despite all that, the open-minded CNN was able to find a place for him anyway.