Friday, June 27, 2008

Around The Horn

Some links for the weekend:
  • Maybe everybody else already knew about this, but I just discovered this amazing site where you can watch episodes of classic and current television shows (like "Hill Street Blues," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Office") as well as movies (like "Raising Arizona," "The Jerk," and "The Usual Suspects").
  • Salon offers this complete de-pantsing of Keith Olbermann, who spent ten minutes on his program in January comparing President Bush to the Third Reich for wanting to amend the Foreign Intelligence Survellience Act (FISA) to give telcomm companies retroactive immunity for warrentless surveillance conducted under presidential authority. When Barack Obama said the other day that he also thought maybe it was a good idea, Olbermann turned out to be all for it. But while Salon strips Olbermann bare, at least they leave his toupee largely intact.
  • Jonah Goldberg at NRO must have read my blog yesterday. His piece on the Supreme Court nails it, saying, "Today, that despot has a name. It’s Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy rules — thanks to his status as the court’s swing vote — as the true King of America." Commenting on the despicable act committed by President Bush--who is sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution--in signing McCain-Feingold while admitting the unconstitutionality of it, Goldberg also writes:
    Aside from a legalistic-yet-lawless despotism that makes the meaning of our Constitution hinge on how much fiber Justice Kennedy’s diet has on a particular day, the result of this pathetic state of affairs is that the first branch of government doesn’t take itself seriously.
  • Mona Charen is equally excellent, writing:
    In fact, when you consider that the court is pretty well divided between four liberals and four conservatives with Justice Kennedy swinging from one side to another as the spirit moves him, we now enjoy a Republic of Kennedy. All this fuss and bother about the presidential race is misplaced. The most powerful man in the land is someone most Americans couldn’t pick out of a lineup.
  • Canada's National Post points out a difficult but obvious Canadian truth: Mike Myers just isn't funny anymore, and hasn't been for some time.
Have a great weekend, and don't kill each other stampeding into the theater for that new Pixar film, "We Print Our Own Money Now."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The King And I

So I see that the United States Supreme Court has narrowly decided to allow us to keep the Second Amendment for at least a little while longer, with King Anthony once again the swing vote in a 5-4 decision.

While I'm glad the Court got this one right, it should be noted that they have absolutely no authority anyway to strike down one of the provisions of the Bill of Rights, and so regardless of what they might have decided, the right would still exist. The notion that we would be having to wait, 219 years after the ratification of the Constitution, for a court to tell us whether the Second Amendment will remain operative is absurd, and it's reminiscent of the kind of monarchy from which the nation's founders were trying to extricate themselves.

Because we are a nation of laws rather than men, and because the supreme law of the land is the Constitution, citizens would be not only have been right, but even obligated to disobey the Court's ruling had it gone the other direction. Ironically, the very purpose of the amendment was to prevent a tyrant from waving away our rights on a whim, which the Court was one swishy (as usually) Anthony Kennedy vote away from trying to do.

Because the Court has chosen to insert itself in all the major political battles of the day and rule by fiat (with the help of the liberal advocacy groups that decided the democratic process wasn't going their way in the 20th century), one unelected man--Anthony Kennedy--is now the most powerful person in the land. Whichever way the wind happens to blow the famously vascillating Justice Kennedy is the way our constitutional rights go that day. Today the wind was blowing in a good direction. Tomorrow it may not be. Such a setup, of course, makes an utter mockery of the Constitution, a situation that's not changed when Kennedy follows the broken clock rule and happens to get a decision right.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Around The Horn

Some links for a Monday afternoon:
  • My fellow evangelicals tend to think that the core message one is trying to communicate is one thing and the form that message takes is entirely another. But while Marshall McLuhan may have overstated it with his maxim "the medium is the message," it becomes more and more clear that the medium affects the message in powerful ways. This must-read article in the Atlantic Monthly wonders if the Internet, which admittedly contains a wealth of wonderful and helpful information, might be entirely rewiring the way we think. (HT: Carl Trueman)
  • King Kaufman of Salon takes a specialized look back at the late George Carlin's work particularly dealing with sports. (And of course beware of Carlin's normal R-rated, frequently blasphemous language.) As a former sports talk host, I found Carlin's contributions to the never-ending, time-killing "sport/not-a-sport" discussion were invaluable. My favorites: "Swimming isn't a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning." And also, "Tennis isn't a sport. Tennis is just ping pong standing on the table."
  • Speaking of sports talk radio, it looks like the premiere duo in the genre might be breaking up.
  • Is it just me, or does the mainstream media seem to be studiously avoiding questioning Barack Obama's sketchy relationship with Islam earlier in life? Oh, I guess it's not just me. The outstanding journalist Melanie Phillips wonders about it too.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

...Like Church Bells

Today's Chutzpah Award goes to South Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-Embarrassment). He says in today's Sun-Sentinel that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be impeached, adding that they "should not only be impeached, they ought to be jailed for what they did to this nation."

And of course, Alcee would know, having been himself impeached and convicted by the U.S. Senate as a federal judge in 1989 for soliciting a $150,000 bribe. He became only the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

U2, President Bush?

Now that my kids are at the age when they've become far more internet savvy than I am, they direct my attention to things I'd never have found on my own. Lately, they've pointed me to some unusual videos, like this oddly hypnotic clip of George W. Bush doing the U2 song, "Sunday Bloody Sunday." It starts out amusing, and then becomes transfixing. Somebody spent months editing this thing. It has to be seen to be believed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

He Liked Me, He Really Liked Me

One of the sad television spectacles of this past weekend was Keith Olbermann's desperate, ongoing attempt to hitch himself to the Tim Russert wagon, as if the two were so close that he was in the habit of sitting between Russert and Russert's son at Buffalo Bisons ballgames.

But one column reminds us today that only days before his death, Russert was actually distancing himself from Olbermann. The column cites a New Yorker profile of Olbermann which chronicles the incredibly long string of former colleagues who utterly hate the guy. Indeed, long before he became the host of "Pravda" (or whatever they call it) on MSNBC, Olbermann was primarily known in my former industry of sportscasting as a pompous, utter tool who usually got fired from jobs in six months.

Anyway, in the New Yorker story, Olbermann's close, personal friend, confidant, and mentor Tim Russert is quoted as saying, "What cable emphasizes, more and more, is opinion, or even advocacy. Whether it’s Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann or Lou Dobbs, that’s what that particular platform or venue does. It’s not what I do."

The article also makes clear that Tom Brokaw thinks Olbermann is a nutcase who's a long-term detriment to NBC's news division. Whether or not Olbermann's on-air behavior is a detriment to NBC, I'll leave to others. But I will say this: the guy's toupee definitely is a detriment.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Just One More Russert Story

A lot has been said about Tim Russert in the 72 hours since his sudden death. Though he was obviously well-loved, and though I considered him by far to be the best and the fairest of the mainstream media interviewers, after the first few hours following the stunning news, I began to find many of the reminiscences repetitive and a little bland. Nice guy. Loved Buffalo. Loved what he did. Loved his family.

But this morning, one stood out to me for some reason. I found myself touched by the sweet rememberance of former NBC News president Michael Gartner, the man who pushed Russert out from the backstage shadows of NBC into the limelight. In all the stories over this weekend, this is one I hadn't seen told.
Finally, I told him he should be – had to be – the moderator of Meet the Press, which wasn't doing well.

"No way," he said again.

We argued. We debated. We fought. He raised objections, I shot them down. At the end, he said, "Look, I can't do it. I'm ugly." "Well, I said with a laugh, I can't argue that one (he had a chubby face that looked like it was made out of Play-Doh) but I'm not looking for a handsome guy, I'm looking for a smart one." Finally, he agreed, and in 1991 he became moderator of the show.

...The show made him rich and famous. I don't know how rich, but a few years ago, when he signed a new, long-term contract with NBC, he called me up to tell me, and he remembered his reluctance about taking the job. He laughed, and he said: "I thank you. My wife thanks you. My son thanks you. And my unborn grandchildren, however many there will be, thank you." It must have been a good deal.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Around The Horn

Sorry the blogging has been so light. It seems to be one of those seasons of life when blogging is difficult to get to. In the middle of an election season, no less! My daughter keeps reminding me that I need to get to the TV shows that I purposely left out of my top 10 sitcoms of all-time. In the meantime, until I can get to that, some links I've been enjoying today--with free annotation!:

  • This was published months ago and I missed it, but the New York Times has a fascinating piece on the "conversion" of noted former atheist Antony Flew to theism (or really Deism, more accurately). If the story is to be believed, evangelicals might be taking advantage of a confused old man to bolster their case against atheism. (HT: Heidelblog)
  • Doug Wilson has been beautifully contesting N.T. Wright's notions of Christian solutions for Third World problems. Wright advocates the traditional liberal responses (e.g. aid, debt forgiveness, etc.), but as Wilson aptly points out, "just do something--anything" is not a wise or helpful course of action:
    Turns out that food aid to Africa isn't doing what liberal guilt motives insist that it must be doing. Many of the things we do over there just make things worse. Let's go over that again, so that the point is not missed or lost in the confusion. Many of the things we do just make things worse.
    Wilson goes on to cite this interesting article for details. (For other excellent entries in Wilson's series, see here, here, here, and here.)
  • Here's a good article about how Ted Kennedy is awfully fortunate that he's not limited to the European-style universal health care he's dead-set on sticking the rest of us with. For example:
    Consider, too, the chemo drug Kennedy is receiving: Temodar, the first oral medicine for brain tumors in 25 years.

    Temodar has been widely used in this country since the FDA approved it in 2000. But a British health-care rationing agency, the National Institute for Comparative Effectiveness, ruled that, while the drug helps people live longer, it wasn't worth the money - and denied coverage for it.
    But, of course, as is often the case with liberals, Kennedy's "solutions" are for everybody else.
  • In an effort to figure out what all the hubbub is about and enter the 21st century, I'm now what feels like the oldest person on Facebook. Just being there makes me feel like some kind of creepy predator. But other than that, it's great. Stop by and say hi. Or however it works. I hope someday to conduct all of my human relationships exclusively via Facebook.