Friday, April 30, 2004

And yes, I do think one's masculinity is directly and inversely proportionate to the amount of French he sprinkles into his conversation...
A frequent and favorite reader of mine has recently criticized me for being too hard on Jay Nordlinger merely because he doesn't adhere to the "John Rabe Ideal of How All Men Should Act Regardless of Whether There are Real Issues at stake."

To which I can only say that if smug superiority is taken from me as a viable option, I won't have any blog left. It's like saying to Don Rickles, "I enjoy your act, but I think it would be better if you didn't do the insults." Snarkiness is what I do. It is the sine qua non of my oeuvre (to put it in Nordlingerian terms).

I will now admit my dark secret, the one that drives not only the Nordlinger post, but really everything I put here: I am (and have always been) of the firm belief that everyone ought to be just like me. The extent to which they are not is the extent to which I believe they are flawed.

If I thought there were a better way to be, I'd be that way. And if that ain't what blogging's all about, then I don't know blogging. Which, come to think of it, I'm not sure I really do.

P.S. Thomas Sowell did a column on Bing Crosby yesterday. And here I thought that he was straight!

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Okay, I have to ask. It's been on my mind for a while. I know that a number of you hate the National Review, and that's fine. But this question is directed to those of you who like it.

Does Jay Nordlinger (who is NR's managing editor and writes the popular "Impromptus" column) ever seem kinda....I don't know....girly to you?

I mean, I agree with him on lots of things, he's often amusing, and I appreciate the stuff that he picks up on for his column. But.....

Maybe I'm just not cultured enough, but lately he seems to use an awful lot of phrases like "It is just to die for, n'est pas?" Too many for someone with a fully-working Y chromosome.

Here are some actual phrases from today's column:
Ah, Bernard Lewis. To do without him is . . . not thinkable.

What a wonderful, unusual, brave woman, Alina Fernandez.

Enthusiasms is one of the most gladdening and enriching volumes you'll ever read. To be its dedicatee! Nice going, Arianna -- I'll give you that.

I saw a headline: "Mouse Created Without Male!" I thought, "Well, wouldn't something created without a male be a mouse?"
I don't even know what the hell that last one means.

This foppery never jumped out at me before. Is there more of it lately, or was I just missing it all along?
Your Tax Dollars at Work:

From someone named Rene Gonzalez at the UMass Daily Collegian, on the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan:
You know he was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the "real" thick of things. I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures. Well, he got his wish...

....However, in my neighborhood in Puerto Rico, Tillman would have been called a "pendejo," an idiot. Tillman, in the absurd belief that he was defending or serving his all-powerful country from a seventh-rate, Third World nation devastated by the previous conflicts it had endured, decided to give up a comfortable life to place himself in a combat situation that cost him his life. This was not "Ramon or Tyrone," who joined the military out of financial necessity, or to have a chance at education. This was a "G.I. Joe" guy who got what was coming to him. That was not heroism, it was prophetic idiocy.
Funny thing is, on the campus of most universities this pedantic, adolescent posturing is the norm rather than the exception. Fortunately, our nation has the likes of Pat Tillman defending it, rather than the likes of effete, limp-wristed grad students named "Rene."

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The latest John Kerry blunder (and they are legion these days) brings to mind another pet peeve of mine.

Kerry's latest scandal is being called "Medalgate." Every scandal of the last 30 years has been similarly named: "Iran-gate," "Monica-gate," "Pardon-gate," etc. Of course, this is because of the Mother Of All Scandals, Richard Nixon's Watergate affair, which brought down his presidency nearly 30 years ago.

That scandal was named after the break-in that occured at Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. Though the Nixon administration was actually brought down by a myriad of events, the name "Watergate" was adopted as a shorthand to denote the whole complex of scandalous activity that took place.

Now to the peeve: that scandal was not about water! It was not an aquatic scandal in any sense. It was entirely devoid of H2O. It was utterly sans moisture. "Watergate" was the name of the hotel. It makes absolutely zero sense to adopt the suffix "-gate" for every scandal that comes along; it would be as ridiculous as tacking the prefix "-water" onto every scandal.

Try these on for size:


Stupid, right? Well, no more stupid then using "-gate" to symbolize any sort of scandal.

Really, the whole thing is probably nothing more than a subset of the "shopaholic" error.

See, "-aholic" does not mean "addicted to." Only the "-ic" part means "addicted to." The "-ahol-" part is merely part of the word "alcohol," and has nothing in and of itself to do with addiction. Thus, if one addicted to alcohol is an "alcoholic," then one addicted to shopping should merely be a "shopic," not a "shopaholic."

Same with "chocoholic," "sexaholic," and "workaholic." They are stealing from the word "alcohol," yet are not alcohol-related addictions. Something must be done about it, and I shan't rest until it is.

Which reminds me. Shouldn't "shan't" also have an apostrophe before the "n"? Two "L"s have been removed there with nothing to show for it. I have to go take my medicine now...
The evil Arlen Specter won his Republican primary in Pennsylvania (against an actual conservative) by a margin of something like 17,000 votes out of more than 1 million. It was the toughest challenged he's faced.

One can't help thinking that Specter would not have retained his 2 percent lead if President Bush (whom Specter has opposed on almost everything important) had not actively campaigned for him in Pennsylvania.

Timothy P. Carney in today's NRO makes it clear:
Canvassing voters on Tuesday leaving polling places in Lower Paxton Township and Newberry Township, almost all of the Specter voters cited Santorum's and Bush's endorsements as the reason for their votes.

One dentist in Lower Paxton calls himself a conservative and a pro-lifer, but Bush's relentless campaigning made the dentist think Bush needed Specter if he was going to win the November election. This reasoning is faulty, but local media parroted it, and it pervaded the state enough to push Specter over the top.

Conservatives such as Schantz believe Bush and Santorum backed Specter reluctantly. But this ignores the facts. Bush visited Pennsylvania with Specter many times, endorsing Specter not only for reelection, but also for Judiciary chairman. Bush came to Pittsburgh again eight days ago for a fundraiser and said, "I'm here to say it as plainly as I can: Arlen Specter is the right man for the Senate."

There can be no doubt about it: Bush and Santorum won this election for Arlen Specter, and that is exactly what they meant to do.
If I were a Republican living in Pennsylvania, I would honestly vote for Specter's Democrat opponent in the general election in November. It would be infinitely better to have the Republicans lose their Senate majority (with which they've done precisely nothing anyway) than to have Specter chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee. We're talking about the man who led the "borking" of Robert Bork leading the committee that is already obstructing all of the excellent judicial nominees it faces.

A president who won by the narrowest margin in history is evidently intent on alienating the base that elected him in favor of "moderate Democrats" who will never, under any circumstances, cast a vote for him. That third party is beginning to look more and more attractive all the time. Never has a party squandered more capital on nothing than the Republican Party has done with its control of the presidency, House, and Senate.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department":

NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez, who attended Skankapalooza 2004 over the weekend, reports the following at NRO's The Corner:
There were a good number of "Say What" moments at the March this weekend. Some of the most telling were at the pre-rally the night before, filled with music and ranting aimed at modern-day bra-burner wannabe college students and their nostalgic feminist mothers. One of the most bizarre though, came from Maxine Waters. After sending a civil message to the president ("George W Bush, go to hell! And while you're at it, we want you to take Ashcroft with you. And don't forget Rumsfeld. And please carry along Condi Rice."), Waters told the rallied, "I have to march because my mother could not have an abortion."
I have no idea what she thought she was saying, but as Jane D. points out, Waters is certainly able to march because her mother could not have an abortion.

(By way of the estimable Brian at TSW)
In the same week that American hero Pat Tillman was getting killed defending his country in Iraq, another NFL player, Leonard Little, was being arrested on drunken driving charges.

Little, who is the best defensive player for the St. Louis Rams (and one of the best in the league), potentially faces four years in prison and a one-year suspension from the NFL. You see, Leonard also got caught drunk-driving in 1998--when he slammed into another car in downtown St. Louis, killing the driver.

As disgusting as Little's behavior is, when set side-by-side with Tillman's valor it becomes unbearable. If, like the Japanese, our culture had any sense of "face," perhaps Little would see this disparity and do the right thing: load up the shotgun, head out to the garage, and blow out that pea he thinks is a brain.

Instead, I suspect he'll be back to raking in his millions after a few months sabbatical.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Incidentally, if you live in the state of Pennsylvania, the most important thing you can do this entire year is go out tommorrow and vote for Pat Toomey in the Republican primary.

Arlen Specter has been a four term disaster, but a fifth term is simply too frightening to contemplate. If Specter were to serve a fifth term, he would be in line to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, among other things. One shudders at the prospect.

Vote early and vote often, as they say in Chicago. This is the most important non-presidential election in the country this year.
They held Skankapalooza 2004 on the National Mall in Washington D.C. over the weekend. Officials say that as many as one million people may have decided to attend the weekend rally (though other sources are disputing that estimate, saying the actual turnout was more like 250,000).

It's estimated that another one million people will gather in the bottoms of dumpsters outside medical clinics around the nation this year, also in the name of "choice." Ironically, however, they won't actually have any choice in the matter, and are predicted to be much less militant.
I resisted posting anything on Pat Tillman's death on Friday simply because I didn't have anything unique to say on the subject. I still don't, but the man's life demands a few words.

His story is simply an astounding one from beginning to end. It so cuts against the grain that my jaw still drops each time his biography is recounted--even after all the weekend's coverage. The word "hero" is thrown around so loosely that it has lost much of its meaning, especially in Tillman's former field of sports. But Pat Tillman is a true hero in the original, non-watered-down sense of the word.

And yes, the fact that he passed up millions of dollars and the life of a professional athlete (in a nation that treats its athletes like gods) makes him unique, even among those who have given their lives in this war. He made a choice that almost no one else would have made.

I have no idea what Tillman's philosophical beliefs were (outside of his obvious patriotism), but he made perhaps the clearest declaration of the transcendental of anyone of his generation. I'm thankful for (and undeserving of) the privilege of being defended by the likes of Pat Tillman.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Seeing the discussion on the 50 Worst Songs Ever here and elsewhere on the 'net, I'm reminded of yet another classic SNL parody from a few years ago. As you can tell, much of my life is marked in terms of SNL parodies.

The sketch purported to be an ad for a new album called "Songs That Ruined Everything." Dennis DeYoung (Will Ferrell) is the spokesman:
Dennis DeYoung: [ singing at piano ] "I know you think these are the worst of times. I do believe it's true."

Hi. I'm Dennis DeYoung, lead singer of the rock group Styx. And that was our smash hit, "The Best of Times", a song that turned a respected art-rock quintent into an easy-listening laughingstock. You can hear that and other career-destroying hits on an amazing collection called "Songs That Ruined Everything". You'll get dozens of songs which signalled the beginning of the end for many formerly cool artists. Including:

"Abracadabra", by the Steve Miller Band...
They then play a few other tunes--"Dancing in the Dark," by Springsteen, etc. Then DeYoung/Ferrell says:
DeYoung: I'm sure we all remember the moment we lost respect for one of our favorite artists. Now you can relive that moment again and again. Imagine it's 1986, and you're eagerly awaiting the new album by the world's greatest rock-and-roll band.. and they give you this: [ sound clip plays ] "Harlem Shuffle", by the Rolling Stones.
Of course, there is the opportunity to procure a bonus CD:
DeYoung: And if you act now, we'll include a bonus album: "Songs That Made It Impossible For Even The Most Ardent Fan Not To Realize Something Was Seriously Wrong." We're talking about songs that pounded the final nail into the coffin of artistic legitimacy. Such as:

"We Built This City", by Jefferson Starship...

..."Invisible Touch", by Genesis...

..."We Didn't Start The Fire", by Billy Joel...

...and Styx's own "Mr. Roboto".

Each of these songs reminds us that even our best and brightest can enter a heart-breaking creative freefall, from which there's no escape! So, "domo arigato"!
The transcript of the parody comes from a wonderful website entirely devoted to transcribing old episodes of Saturday Night Live. And I thought I had no life.

Whoever the soul is who pours his hard work into this, I love him.
It's time to play a game that comes from my man Discoshaman:
Follow the herd:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
The book is Ann Coulter's Slander, and the sentence is:
That's how ABC's Jim Wooten casually reported on the "reality" of the Republican National Convention.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

This is too good. Drudge has discovered that pompous windbag Michael Moore, who's constantly bloviating about corporate mistreatment of American labor, outsources his website design and servers to Canada!

That's Michael Moore--owner of a million dollar Manhattan apartment, outsourcer of labor, and champion of the working man.

Incidentally, I discovered a fun website on Moore today that asks the probing question "Shoud a 320 lb. man advise us on the evils of overconsumption?"

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Thanks almost entirely to a sidebar link to our "Kill Bill" post from John Hawkins over at the estimable Right Wing News, we've set an all-time one-day attendance record here at Rabe Ramblings. Of course, an influx from one good-sized Catholic family could have done that, but still....
As you may have seen, something called Blender Magazine is releasing its list of the 50 Worst Songs Ever. Of course, any such list is necessarily subjective, and yet--I think they're onto something. While the full list is evidently only available in the print magazine, portions of it were released to the media the other day.

Could I find songs that are objectively much, much worse than those on the list? I'm confident I could, but one of the criterion was that the song had to have been a hit. Did they include a few songs that I actually think are pretty good on the list? Of course, as expected. Nonetheless, they've come up with a very solid list of songs that I would call "50 Worst Songs That Many, Many Misguided People Actually Liked a Lot."

According to an AP story on it:
Starship's 1985 anthem, the runaway No. 1 stinker ["We Built This City"], "seems to inspire the most virulent feelings of outrage," editor Craig Marks says. "It purports to be anti-commercial but reeks of '80s corporate-rock commercialism. It's a real reflection of what practically killed rock music in the '80s."

Also sealing the song's fate were Starship's steep fall from grace as the admired Jefferson Airplane and "the sheer dumbness of the lyrics," Marks says.

"Achy Breaky Heart" comes in second, followed by Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight," "Rollin' " by Limp Bizkit and by "Ice Ice Baby." Rounding out the top 10 worst songs ever are "The Heart of Rock-and-Roll," "Don't Worry, Be Happy," Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time," [Madonna's] "American Life" and "Ebony and Ivory."
"We Built This City" is an inspired choice for worst of all time, and I still retch every time I hear it (usually now in local car dealership commercials).

When Eddie Murphy came on stage to sing in the mid '80's, you kept waiting for the punchline. Well, this is it.

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is still capable of sending me into a near-homicidal rage when I hear it, and the video for that song is when the realization first began to dawn that Robin Williams isn't really all that funny.

In the interests of full disclosure, though, I have to admit that I kind of liked Huey Lewis' "Heart of Rock 'n' Roll. And whenever I hear "Ebony and Ivory," it puts me in the happy mind of Murphy and Joe Piscopo's wonderful SNL parody in which Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra do a duet on the tune:

WONDER: I am dark, and you are light...

SINATRA: You are blind as a bat, and I have sight. Side by side, you are my amigo, Negro, let's not fight....

The AP story continues:
Blender had no qualms about riding herd on sacred cows, inducting the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People" and John Mayer's "Your Body Is a Wonderland." The entry most likely to peeve fans is Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence."

"It's the freshman-poetry meaningfulness that got our goat," Marks says. "With self-important lyrics like, 'Hear my words that I might teach you,' it's almost a parody of pretentious '60s folk-rock.

"If Frasier Crane wrote a song, this would be it."
Would this be a good time to point out that I find Paul Simon to be the most overrated pop star in history? The critics wind themselves into unspeakable ecstasy over him, but c'mon. "I will call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al"? Good grief.

Though the full list has yet to be published, I fully expect to see "We Are the World," Phil Collins' "Sussudio," "Color My World" by Chicago, "The Reflex" by Duran Duran, and "Mr. Roboto" by Styx on it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

TIME Magazine has named it's "100 Most Influential People in the World." Perhaps I'm a bit of a cynic, but I believe that any list that names Sean Penn and that foppish English guy from "American Idol" as being among the 100 most influential people on the planet can be safely ignored.
As any blogger will tell you, posting is a strange phenomenon. You throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and never really know what's going to stick.

Over the last few days, I received some nice nods from a few notable bloggers (and thus a near tripling of my normal daily traffic) for my post on the comparison between the reviews of "The Passion of the Christ" and "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," including Susanna at Cut on the Bias, King of Fools, Alan Cornett, Eric Trimmer, and of course my man LittleA, who had an excellent post of his own on the topic.

Thanks to one and all for the kind words and the temporarily increased traffic. If I knew people were actually going to read this stuff, I'd probably have been a lot more careful, insightful, witty, grammatically correct, etc...
Our long national nightmare has ended. Valerie has returned to her blog!

Friday, April 16, 2004

The movie critics of America, who came out of the closet as anti-violence zealots a few months ago with the release of "The Passion of the Christ," are now issuing reviews on the latest Quentin Tarantino offering, "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," which opens today. Their verdict? They love it, of course.

According to CNN's Paul Clinton:
...Tarantino takes the audience back to the chapel where the first film began. But this time he takes us back just a bit earlier, to the point right before the Bride and her wedding party were gunned down by Bill's assassination squad in "Vol. 1."
Presumably, the gunning down of a wedding party was rather violent in the first film, which according to reports at the time employed more fake blood (over 1000 gallons) during shooting than any other film in history. Nonetheless, Clinton says that "Vol. 2" is "a rip-roaring, highly entertaining, extremely enjoyable continuation to 'Vol. 1'..."

Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News really had her panties wadded up in a bunch over the violence in "The Passion." In February, Bernard (author of the book Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies) said of Mel Gibson's film, "The violence is grotesque, savage and often fetishized in slo-mo." And she ominously warned that "No child should see this movie. Even adults are at risk."

On the other hand, while she doesn't think that "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" is all that great a movie ("it has no heart"), she oddly doesn't seem to have a big problem with its violence. She doesn't even warn people that they are "at risk."

Speaking of the film's heroine, Bernard says:
In "Kill Bill: Vol. 2," she is shot, trussed, buried alive and spat upon.

She is beaten from here to next week by the remaining members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

All this frenzy, all these "quotes" from other movies, and yet "Vol. 2" is strangely static - a dulling experience that can safely be admired from afar without it ever engaging the senses.
In addition to admiring the film from afar, Bernard also laments that it's no "Pulp Fiction," a film in which one character is accidentally shot in the head in a car, causing two other characters to have to spend a good deal of the movie removing the bloody pieces of his brain from the car's interior.

Houson Chronicle reviewer Eric Harrison in February gave "The Passion" a grade of F, criticizing the film's "obsessive need to zoom in and linger on bloodletting" and it's "caricatures of sadistic villains."

In his review of "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," (which he gives a B) Harrison chastizes Tarantino for not employing enough violence. "Too much talk," he says.
Vol. 1 was a kick, an hour-and-a-half adrenaline rush, but we missed Quentin Tarantino's way with words, his clever extravagance and raw effrontery, the irrelevant soliloquies on pop culture.

Vol. 2, which opens today, is filled with talk -- slooooow talk. There's so much blabbing, we want to cry out to the screen for swordplay, kung fu, arm wrestling -- anything but more talk.
The "anything" Harrison is pining for includes that 1000 gallons of movie blood spilled in the beloved "Vol. 1."

Peter Howell of the Toronto Star panned "The Passion," huffing:
The Passion is a two-hour snuff film, the spectacle of a man being brutally murdered in a public arena, created for the satisfaction of popcorn-chewing voyeurs.
Now, the queasy-about-violence Howell finds himself in the throes of ecstasy over "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," saying:
The violence of Kill Bill is not mindless, but motivated by a parent's love and a lover's rage. Or as Bill so succinctly puts it: "There are consequences to breaking the heart of a murderous bastard."

This justification may not entirely excuse the butchery - be warned, this is still a bloody affair - but it shows that Tarantino has come a distance from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, where it seemed that the killing was more for kicks.

Tarantino seems to view love as a form of sadism, but it is love nonetheless. And as he so thrillingly demonstrates in Kill Bill: Vol. 2, there is no emotion stronger than it.
And of course the list of examples goes on and on. As so often happens when one tries to go cold-turkey, the movie critics were only able to hold their staunch anti-violence stance through one weekend for one movie.

(UPDATE: LittleA also has another great example from Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter.)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

My guess proved correct: Air America's check bounced. According to the Chicago Tribune (registration required):
Arthur Liu, owner of Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, which owns Air America affiliates WNTD-950 AM in Chicago and KBLA-1580 AM in Los Angeles, said Air America bounced a check and owes him more than $1 million.
You'll recall the massive, breathless media coverage Air America's debut received two weeks ago. So far, I've checked the websites for CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and even FOX News, and can't find a single thing on any of their front pages about the network losing two of its three largest markets, or about it evidently not having enough operating capital for its first month of operations. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I have to 'fess up. I spoke too soon.

According to the tradepaper Inside Radio, Air America (the new liberal talk radio network) is zooming in its second week after a sluggish start. I made a lot of hay over the fact that the network was only carried on five or six stations when it debuted, but it's now time to eat crow. The station roster is now up to 16 (having just bought air time in such lucrative markets as Colorado Springs and Portland, Maine), leaving Air America just 584 stations behind Rush Limbaugh (though Limbaugh is still actually paid to do his program).

But that's not all. According to Inside Radio, "streaming may be the unexpected hit medium for the new liberal talknet -- with 58,000 simultaneous users at one point yesterday." 58,000! Nationwide! This sudden surge in listenership moves Air America to within 19,942,000 listeners of Limbaugh.

My apologies for having doubted the commercial potential of liberal talk radio.

UPDATE: I just saw this at Radio and Records, another trade paper: "Breaking News: Air America off in L.A., Chicago. Details soon." That certainly makes the glass seem half-empty, but they neglect to mention that Air America added Colorado Springs and Portland, ME. Let's have a little perspective here!

UPDATE 2: Radio and Records has confirmed that the network has been dropped in L.A. and Chicago. Neither station (which are both owned by the same company) will comment other than to confirm the network's removal. My own guess: Air America's check bounced.

So they added ten stations like Maine, Colorado Springs, and West Palm Beach, and lost Los Angeles and Chicago. Any speculation as to how the mainstream media will play this story? Here's my entry: "Air America shows net gain of eight stations."
From the "Wow, That Takes a Major Set" department:

The New York Times, in an editorial on Monday, criticized President Bush for not taking immediate action on the August 6 PDB. Said the Times (hold onto your hat):
He could, for instance, have left his vacation in Texas after receiving that briefing memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." and rushed back to the White House, assembled all his top advisers and demanded to know what, in particular, was being done to screen airline passengers to make sure people who fit the airlines' threat profiles were being prevented from boarding American planes.
I'm sure you can already see how self-evidently ridiculous this is coming from the New York Times, but just in case you can't, Michelle Malkin today fills in the blanks:
That's right. The same editorial board that has barbecued the Bush Justice Department after the Sept. 11 attacks for fingerprinting young male temporary visa holders traveling from terror-sponsoring and terror-friendly nations (editorial, June 6, 2002); temporarily detaining asylum seekers from high-risk countries for background screening (editorial, Dec. 28, 2002); and sending undercover agents to investigate mosques suspected of supporting terrorism (editorial, May 31, 2002) now expects us to believe it would have applauded Bush for his vigilance if he had swiftly ordered airport security officials to stop thousands of young Middle Eastern men at airports during the summer of 2001 on the basis of an ill-defined threat.
Such hypocricy would be breathtaking in any other context, but is simply the same old same old from the Times. Perhaps the Times' editors, instead of sniping, could take some time to examine their own substantial role (along with the ACLU, which believe it or not even opposes airport metal detectors in its official policy book) in creating and fostering the hospitable atmosphere the 19 hijackers found on U.S. soil.

I wouldn't hold my breath, though.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I don't know who did this, but in case you haven't seen it yet, this is the most ingenious, creative, and darkly funny critique of the controversy over the president's "inaction" in the face of the ballyhooed "President's Daily Briefing" that I've seen.

The premise is that it is a review of two books--one from the Sidney Blumenthal on the left, the other from Ann Coulter the right--released after President Bush has been impeached following "Saudigate." The Bush Administration, looking to fabricate a war to prop up it's dubious electoral legitimacy, arrested 19 Arab men, mostly citizens of Saudi Arabia, as they boarded commercial airplanes on September 11, 2001:
The Saudi government naturally protested, and Attorney General John Ashcroft responded by publicly making an astonishing accusation: that the 19 had intended to hijack the airplanes and crash them into the White House, the Pentagon and the two main towers of the World Trade Center. This plot, more like a Tom Clancy novel than a real world occurrence, had supposedly been set in motion by Osama bin-Laden, a Saudi businessman living in exile in Afghanistan who called himself the leader of a shadowy, and probably shadow-thin, network of religious fanatics. Ashcroft dubbed the group "al-Qa'eda" ("the Foundation"), a name that some of those involved may have used but that is more firmly linked, as Blumenthal notes in one of many enlightening asides, to the science fiction novels of Isaac Asimov. The SF resonance evidently appealed to the White House aides who were primarily responsible for manufacturing a "crisis" to shore up a tottering administration. Blumenthal credits the idea to a second-level speech writer named David Frum, a Canadian import whose wife is a best selling novelist.
Of course, as the alternative history shows, the supposed evidence against the 19 was nearly non-existent, and the run-amok Bush Administration was exposed as trying to strengthen itself at the expense of Osama Bin Laden, who had been effectively neutered by the Clinton Administration (he was known to be living in a cave in Afghanistan) years before:
It did not take long for the "plot" to unravel. Called on for evidence, the Justice Department could produce almost nothing admissible in court. Some wiretapped conversations and documents found on the "conspirators"? laptop computers could be interpreted as showing that they were not the most upstanding of citizens, but Ashcroft's image of Islamic extremists was quickly shown to be beyond far-fetched. These alleged adherents of the rigorously puritan Wahhabi sect had been gambling and consorting with unveiled women in Las Vegas! The cases went nowhere in court, and the Attorney General was the first of the Bush team to resign in disgrace.
It's brilliant satire, and the Democratic reaction to Bush's preemptive nabbing of the Saudis rings true in every last detail.

Gregg Easterbrook also presents his own version of an alternative history, in which President Bush, acting on the PDB, launches a preemptive strike against Afghanistan, which eventually leads to his impeachment when the threat fails to materialize:
"We are supposed to believe that attacking people in caves in some place called Tora Bora is worth the life of even one single U.S. soldier?" former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey asked . . . Announcing his candidacy for the 2004 Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain said today that "George W. Bush was very foolish and naïve; he didn't realize he was being pushed into this needless conflict by oil interests that wanted to seize Afghanistan to run a pipeline across it." McCain spoke at a campaign rally at the World Trade Center in New York City.
Also, check out Swamphopper at the Rough Woodsman for his amusing take on the president's inaction in the face of all the car accident deaths that he's been warned might take place in the future.

Monday, April 12, 2004

All who have watched any of the proceedings of the 9/11 Commission or followed the media reports needs to read for themselves the president's daily briefing (PDB) from August 6, 2001 .

The so-called "smoking gun" was A). delivered to the president when he requested information on Bin Laden's activities, and B). is almost entirely composed of information gathered in 1997 and 1998, while the Clinton Administration still had at least two more years in office.

Let me repeat the latter point again for you, because you certainly won't hear it emphasized in the mainstream media. Read the memo yourself. Every point in the memo details information gathered during the Clinton Administration. The PDB was declassified only Saturday, but if I had been the administration, I would have declassified it long ago. All it really shows is the monumental laxity of Bill Clinton's dealings with terrorism.

As you read the memo, ask yourself what you would have done, based on this information, to deter 9/11. Write each point of action down on a piece of paper. Then, read each point back to yourself, imagining the liberal response to it. For example, "Step One: arrest all suspected Bin Laden associates in America and search their possessions and computer records, whether they've broken any laws or not, and then implement stricter airport security measures, particularly on those who are connected in any way to Saudi Arabia...."

Right. The same ones now whinnying for political hay are the ones who would've thwarted any efforts at preemption, and we all know it. And imagine the apoplectic howls from the antiwar left and right if Bush had launched a preemptive attack before 9/11.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Some Random Observations Heading Into a Holiday Weekend:

  • Barry Bonds is one home run short of Willie Mays' 660, which will tie him for third on the all-time list. As I've said before, Bonds is the best player by far of my generation. But what's even more amazing is the Hank Aaron hit nearly 100 more than that. All the guy did was produce runs. If it's possible for baseball's all-time home run leader to be underrated, Aaron is.

  • If we really want to play the blame game, we should at least keep in mind that the Bush Administration was in charge for seven months before 9/11. The Clinton Administration was in charge for eight years.

  • The new liberal talk radio network is racist. It actually forced African-American programming off of New York's WLIB, and cost several black employees their jobs. Said one of the displaced radio personalities: "How is this going to impact the Black community? As far as I've heard, they've got a couple of Whites who just really want to go after Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and all the others. You can't convince me that that's going to be something good for Black and Hispanic people."

  • Nobody has ever seen Richard Ben-Veniste and Eddie Munster in the same room. I'm just sayin'.

  • Keith Olbermann of MSNBC used to do radio commentaries for the sports radio network I worked for. Everyone who had any personal contact with him agreed: he's a pompous, self-important windbag. And this was when he was still a sports guy.

  • Something I forgot regarding Ted Kennedy's "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam" comment: isn't Vietnam considered a good thing in the Kennedy family? Hmmm, lets see, who was it that got us into Vietnam? Don't tell me, it'll come to me....

  • The Democrats on the 9/11 Commission did us all a favor this morning by finally obliterating any shred of a notion anyone might have had that this commission is anything other than a partisan political witch-hunt. If one is frustrated with Condoleezza Rice before he's even asked her a question, then the problem isn't with her. All pretense of merely "gathering facts" is gone once and for all. I say good riddance. The American people now know what this whole thing is about.
  • Tuesday, April 06, 2004

    Ted Kennedy has me in the mood for analogies.

    Yesterday, he told the Brookings Institution that "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam."

    He's inspired me to come up with a few analogies of my own. See how you like them:
    "Mary Jo Kopechne is Ted Kennedy's My Lai."

    "The William Kennedy Smith rape trial is the pantsless Ted Kennedy's Hindenburg."

    "Alcoholism is Ted Kennedy's Waterloo."

    "Gin blossoms are Ted Kennedy's stigmata."
    And, my personal favorite:
    "Chappaquiddick is Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick."

    Monday, April 05, 2004

    Hey, it's opening day in Major League Baseball!

    What's that, you say? It's not?

    They had opening day last week in Japan in the middle of the night while every baseball fan in America was sound asleep? Marketing geniuses, those Wizards of Baseball....
    This is like making fun of the handicapped or something, but you'll have to indulge me--I'm a radio guy.

    I couldn't resist this nugget from the Boston Globe review of Al Franken's show on the new liberal talk network:
    Some of his meandering musings, which might work well in a standup routine, served to choke off the flow of conversation yesterday. At one point, Franken abruptly interrupted his own remarks to declare, "Oh, we got a call." ( [Co-host Katherine] Lanpher will surely teach him not to act surprised when someone actually phones in.)
    I have to find a way to listen to this show. You can't buy this sort of dark entertainment.
    Been enjoying the new liberal talk radio network so far? Me neither. Of course, in my case, the lack of enjoyment stems primarily from the lack of it being carried in my area. As we reported last week, the project is carried already in about six U.S. markets, which only leaves out 200-something of the rest of the media markets in the nation.

    However, a number of media critics have now heard the fledgeling network, and they appear to be enjoying it even less than those of us who haven't. Here's a good summary of the opening week reviews from Ben Williams in the liberal online magazine Slate:
    "Rush Limbaugh can sleep soundly. For now," said the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after this liberal talk radio network's debut. Critics agreed that Al Franken, who leads the programming, needs to sharpen up: Howard Kurtz called him "meandering and discursive," the Boston Globe said "he is not a good interviewer," and the New York Times thought his mix of "mockery and mild indignation" proved the difficulty of matching "the fervor and ferocity of right-wing radio." Right-wing radio hosts were happy to agree: Jay Severin claimed "audience demographics" would be "the death knell" for liberal talk, and in the Los Angeles Times, Richard A. Viguerie and David Franke questioned Franken's commitment (he has a one-year contract), reminding that the conservative talk empire "was the result of decades of hard work." Franken did win praise for high-powered guests—but the New Republic noted that it "doesn't bode well" when a show's "most entertaining segment is one featuring Al Gore."
    Incidentally, in case you hadn't heard, Franken's show on the network is called "The O'Franken Factor." Get it?

    As it turns out, I am familiar with the network's afternoon drive host. The talent-free Randi Rhodes has been a talk show host up in the 39th-ranked West Palm Beach market for a number of years now. About two years ago, her company (Clear Channel) tried to expand the program a few miles further south to the 15th-ranked Ft. Lauderdale/Miami market. It was a dismal flop. It was hysterically bad.

    But in all fairness, I'm sure it wasn't Randi's fault. It can be daunting for liberal ideas to gain a hearing here in the conservative bastion that is South Florida, home of Peter Deutsch, Alcee Hastings, Bob Wexler, Janet Reno, Donna Shalala, and Madonna.

    Thursday, April 01, 2004

    Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is under fire for recent comments he made about his alma mater, Notre Dame. The once proud Fighting Irish have struggled over the past few years, and Hornung thought he had a solution. According to a news report, he spoke out on WXYT radio in Detroit:
    "We can't stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we've got to get the black athlete," Hornung said. "We must get the black athlete if we're going to compete."
    After the remarks, Hornung was inundated with calls from the media, and has been pressed to retract his "insensitive" comments.

    That's odd. If he had described the exact same concept using its other name ("affirmative action"), they'd be engraving his name on an NAACP Image Award plaque right now.