Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Angels Bombs in America

For a while it seemed like there was no escape from the rave reviews for the HBO adaptation of “Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s pretentious drama of the 1980s and the advent of the AIDS plague.

Well, now that it was been broadcast over and over on cable television it seems no one has seen it.

The New York Times and HBO are at pains to explain how “Angels” has been a success worthy of its ostentatious promotion.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to mask the truth that the film bombed. But that hasn’t stopped HBO from trying to revise history by trotting out some obsequious PR guy to wrap this dead fish in the newspaper of record.

A spokesman for HBO, Quentin Shaffer, noted that HBO measured success in three ways, beginning with critical reaction, which in this case was enormously favorable, and then number of viewers. Mr. Shaffer said that HBO would fully assess viewing figures when all the numbers from the second part were accounted for. Over all, he said, they "look really good right now."

The third element comes at award time. There the film should prove to be dominant, Mr. Shaffer said, pointing to last week's Golden Globe nominations. HBO received seven for "Angels," a showing that tied the record set by "ER" for the most received by any television production in a single year.

Of course, success in broadcasting is measured in only one way . . . ratings.

And how long does it take to count all those numbers anyway? I suspect they are pretty much instantaneously available. I also suspect if they were worth bragging about, Quentin Schaffer would be jamming them down the reporter’s throat.

Fortunately, the truth is out there. In fact, it’s right on the facing page.

The Times says that “Angels” was seen by just 3 million people on December 14. On the following page there is a share listing of the top ten cable broadcasts of the week and an explanation that each share point counts for about 1.1 million viewers.

Do a little arithmetic and you’ll learn that Thursday’s episode of SpongeBob Sqaurepants was seen by more people than “Angels in America.”

Granted, SpongeBob is better written and more historically accurate than “Angels”, but it’s also on at 8am rather than primetime.

Kushner certainly deserves an award for “Angels in America.” Allow me to suggest a category: best attempt to force feed American viewers with warmed-over, revisionist, Hollywood-liberal, Reagan hatred while ignoring that fact that tens of thousands of people needlessly contracted a deadly disease because people like the producers insisted on making a political point rather than explain that certain lifestyle behaviors had a direct impact on ones’ likelihood to contract HIV..

A bit of a mouthful . . . to use an oddly appropriate expression.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Sharia in Canada?

An informal arbitration system that had been settling marital and business disputes in Ontario according to Sharia law has become a formal structure that can issue legally binding decisions. TheStar.com - New Islamic Institute set up for civil cases

This means a Canadian woman can be judged by Islamic Law if the infidel Canadian statutes don't deliver the kind of "justice" that Allah so often wills. That's good news for polygamists and wife beaters -- bad news for subjugated women who might otherwise have a hope of living lives independent of male "guardians" whose perverse sense of honor sometimes compels them to punish their daughters for provoking rapists and stone wives who get pregnant without permission.

This new dual track system supposedly reflects Canada's superior ability to tolerate the intolerable. According to Syed Mumtaz Ali, who is leading the organization of Canada's new Islamic Institute of Civil Justice,

"It offers not only a variety of choices, but shows the real spirit of our multicultural society."

"The Spirit of Multicultural Society" is presumably the title of a yet to be written book cataloging the proper responses of liberal, western-educated, European-Americans, to medieval, misogynist, theocratic cultures based on the individual's submission to the wishes of a group intrinsically intolerant of liberal, western concepts such as universal equality and the validity of multiple cultures.

In practical fact, there won't be any stonings in Montreal any time soon. First of all, the arbitration is voluntary and few women are likely to elect being stoned to death. Also, the decisions of the Islamic Institute can be overulled by the court if they are far out of line with established Canadian law.

But now that there are two legitimate sources of legal authority in Canada, what Muslim woman will refuse to participate in Sharia? What Muslim would dare to challenge the Sharia decision in a secular court?

What about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity . . . would she lose their children? Perhaps, especially if both parties in the marriage agreed to Sharia as a pre-nuptial agreement.

And what if both parties "voluntarily" agree to some barbaric Islamic remedy for, say, homosexual relations . . . will the Canadian court intervene to preserve Canadian rights and values?

Oh, Canada!

More here and here.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Let them Eat Deer

In suburban Connecticut a battle between hunters and vegans has claimed an unlikely victim . . . the homeless. The Homeless and the Meatless

In order to control the extreme overpopulation of deer in the area, the Audubon Society has sponsored a controlled hunt and has donated the venison to local homeless shelters. Good idea, right?

Not good enough for the strident pro-deer militants who try to stop the hunting of deer at all costs . . . even if the deer are starving to death and eating their young, even if the deer have totally wrecked the ecosystem by eating every living thing in sight, even if the deer are dispatched humanely and given a useful purpose for their grim lives.

Priscilla Feral is the president of Friends of Animals in Darien, Connecticut and a well know nutjob. She is appropriately named because she has gone completely native and was recently quoted in a local paper saying hunting deer is the equivalent of killing children in Iraq -- a terrible slur against Iraqis. It goes without saying the Feral is lacto-ovo vegan.

What's Feral's response to feeding the hungry with fresh lean meat?

Her group has pledged to replace, pound-for-pound, the 1,600 pounds of venison that the local food bank would reap from the deer hunt with what it calls "cruelty free" vegan fare. That is, if the Audubon calls off its hunt. Even stricter than vegetarians, vegans avoid all animal products including eggs, milk and honey.

According to Ms. Feral, proposed menus could include tempeh London broil, lentil orzo casserole, carrot pate, and wheat-free apple pie

Great! It's bad enough to find yourself hungry and homeless in the wealthiest county in the United States, but to top it off you get all the carrot pate you can eat (which is about one spitfull by my reckoning).

In the meantime the deer keep multiplying, keeping eating the next generation of trees and saplings, keep devouring the food supply for birds and other animals, keep colliding with cars and leaving their splattered carcasses all over the roadways.

These pseudo-environmentalists simply can't conceive that some animals are harder on the environment than people are.

My solution? Introduce a natural predator for the deer . . . like leopards!

The Joyous Sound of Teeth Gnashing

The one thing you've got to admire about the Bush Administration . . . they know just how to infuriate their enemies.

Yesterday, the Defense Department posted contracting guidelines for reconstruction projects in Iraq.

And guess what . . . for security reasons France, Germany and Russia are barred from submitting bids.

How unreasonable, and petty, and unilateral, and swaggering, and arrogant . . . were the responses from the Axis of Weasels.

Yet how elegantly have said Weasels been boxed in. After all, they said the war to overthrow the fascist regime was about money not human rights. And here they are upset when they don't have a place at the trough.

The message from DoD is twofold . . . these guys did all they could to protect Saddam from overthrow and that kind of behavior has consequences in the real world.

The other message is that France, Germany and Russia are security risks. If they were so intent on collaborating with the old Hussein regime would they not be inclined to see a restoration of that regime . . . particularly if that means they regain some hope of repayment of their outstanding loans?

But for all the complaints about Bush's crude political motivations from the excluded ones there is something notable that they have chosen to ignore . . . Israel is excluded too.

Is it because Israel supported Saddam? Is it because Israel might willingly undermine the reconstruction? Is it because Israelis said mean things about George Bush?

No, it's because awarding Israel a large reconstruction contract in Iraq would probainflamelame the Arab lunatics and feed their anti-semitic conspiracy theories and make the task harder than it already is.

The calculation is simple and without nuance: Whose participation would advance the reconstruction of Iraq?

France? No
Spain? Yes
Russia? No
Poland? Yes
Israel? No
Jordan? Yes

If the truth hurts . . . so be it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Everything Right Is Left Again

So bereft is the Left that it must commandeer the worst ideas of the Right in order to have something to say. See how effortlessly the Angry Left adopts the hate speech and racism of the fascists they so passionately claim to detest. Austin IndyMedia Center

How did the New Left, which began 40 years ago bathed in hope and light, turn so sour. Joy turned to frustration and to anger . . . and anger is just a step away from hatred. Today, what's left of the Left is an angry core of troubled people who seem to be participating in a mass self-loathing movement whereby they project their most odious beliefs and prejudices on those who they say they oppose.

Republicans are greedy, narrow-minded, antisemites? That's actually code for "I'm a greedy, narrow-minded, anti-semite." Bush is a Nazi? That's actually a cry for help, "I'm a Nazi and I can't help myself!"

Read the cover story in the The York Times Magazine about the Dean campaign and you'll learn that it's not about politics . . . it's about therapy. Anyone who has ever workled on a political campaign knows that the majority of hangers on are emotionally needy individuals who seek something that politics pretends to provide . . . meaning, a sense of purpose, a transcendent set of virtues.

These are fundamentally religious people who are too embarrassed to enter a church. That would make them evangelical Christians, and they hate evangelical Christians, right?

Hmmm . . . now it all begins to make sense.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

No Muslim Fanatics Here

Remember that sniper with the white van who terrorized Washington, DC about a year ago?

Remember how no one dared to link the random shootings to the global outbreak of Islamomurder. Indeed, recall how some boldly stated that the killer must be a homegrown right-wing gun nut not a foreign terrorist and certainly not a person of color?

Well, today the Baltimore Sun shares with us some of the frightening artwork done by foreign-born, trigger happy, boy sniper, John Malvo. And guess what? He seems to have been inspired by the Religion of Peace™.

Here’s a nice drawing that combines Islamofascism’s greatest hits – anti-Semitism, Osama worship, Amerihatred, and barbaric violence.

Here he shows almost as much talent as an artist as he does as a deranged religious fanatic.

And here he expresses his concerns about same-sex marriage. He’s opposed to it.

Now, of course, some will say that these scribblings have nothing to do with Islam. They are only the tortured illustrations of sick mind. They could just as easily have been made by a Christian fanatic.

True, but I find it odd how frequently that line of reasoning must be trotted out. It’s like saying, “yeah, but there are some nice parts of New Jersey too.” One never hears anyone saying that about Switzerland. It leads one to believe that maybe Trenton is a less desirable place to live than Lugano.

Islam may very well be a peaceful religion but it sure seems to inspire a lot of violence.

But that would be making a judgment, and we mustn’t do that.

Friday, December 05, 2003

"Religion of Peace" Watch

"The religious principle is that we cannot accept to live with infidels. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, said, `Hit the infidels wherever you find them.'

The New York Times quoting an Iraqi Freedom Fighter.

The Foe: A Tale of War: Iraqi Describes Battling G.I.’s
Peaceful Non-Existence Watch

Even though the Geneva "Peace Plan" gives the Palestinians everything they've ever asked for in diplomatic negotiations -- a sovereign state, Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, dismantlement of settlements, control over the Temple Mount including the sacred Wailing Wall, and the right of return for refugees -- even after all that, it's just not enough.

According to the National Post, Palestinian delegates to the Geneva meeting are being threatened with murder by their fellow death cultists.

In the Palestinian territories, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a terrorist group allied to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, denounced delegates who negotiated the Geneva Accord as "collaborators with Israel."

Shots were fired at Mr. Rabbo's home in Ramallah. When Palestinian delegates tried to leave Gaza to attend the ceremony in Geneva, they were jostled and spat on by angry crowds.

Two former Cabinet ministers who planned to endorse the accord decided to stay home for their own safety.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinian leaders are calling on Mr. Arafat to reject the peace plan "publicly and clearly."

Kind of makes you wonder just what will satisfy these guys. Nothing short of an ethnically cleansed Israel with extra credit for pain and suffering, I presume.

Europe and the Jews

Europeans tacitly claim to be more sophisticated, more culturally advanced than Americans. This may be true, but if cultural progress means a Euro-style tolerance for medieval anti-Semitism, give me Disneyworld and NASCAR any day.

According to an EU study on anti-Semitism -- a study that was considered a bit too blunt for public distribution by the way -- reveals that Jew hatred is acceptable to both the right and left wings of European political discourse especially when expressed under the cover of criticizing Israel.

Unlike most racism which usually portrays the targeted minority as inferior socially, mentally, or physically, anti-Semitism assigns superior intelligence and superior social skills to Jews. This unique upside-down racism resonates not only with the stagnating Europeans but with the out and out backward Islamic world.

In recent years this resonance has blossomed into a mainstream sort of anti-Semitism in Europe that is totally alien and unacceptable in the United States. These latent prejudices are frequently expressed in Europe as part of pro-Palestinian or anti-American political stances.

These stances, by the way, are about the only things the Greens and the National Front types ever seem to agree on. According to the C.R.I.F : Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France:

In the extreme left-wing scene anti-Semitic remarks were to be found mainly in the context of pro-Palestinian and anti-globalisation rallies and in newspaper articles using anti-Semitic stereotypes in their criticism of Israel.

Often this generated a combination of anti-Zionist and anti-American views that formed an important element in the emergence of an anti-Semitic mood in Europe.

Israel, seen as a capitalistic, imperialistic power, the “Zionist lobby”, and the United States are depicted as the evildoers in the Middle East conflict as well as exerting negative influence on global affairs.

The convergence of these motives served both critics of colonialism and globalisation from the extreme left and the traditional anti-Semitic right-wing extremism as well as parts of the radical Islamists in some European countries.

Is it surprising then that Europe’s rather large Islamic community takes its cues from the European mainstream and translates latent hatred into physical violence?

Physical attacks on Jews and the desecration and destruction of synagogues were acts often committed by young Muslim perpetrators in the monitoring period.

Many of these attacks occurred either during or after pro-Palestinian demonstrations, which were also used by radical Islamists for hurling verbal abuse.

In addition, radical Islamist circles were responsible for placing anti-Semitic propaganda on the Internet and in Arab-language media.

European culture has much going for it . . . much to admire and much Americans can learn from and emulate.

But the stain on the European character is an unreasoning hatred of Jews. And Europeans have successfully exported that hatred to less developed cultures where it has found fertile ground.

If Europeans want to play a central role in world affairs they can begin by confronting anti-Semitism and demonstrating to the rest of the world that civilized nations do not condone or accept hatred and violence against Jews.

No qualifiers about how other minorities are similarly oppressed. The truth is there are no other minority groups that are hated for their superior skills.

And while you can dismiss people you feel are inferior to you, they only recourse to the perception of intrinsic mental superiority is to counter it with superior physical violence.

Hence the Holocaust.

I can understand why blaming the United States for the troubles of the Middle East and Israel for the emergence of Islamic radicalism are easy for Europeans . . . it’s a painless alternative to examining European soul.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Freedom of Religion? Sure. As Long as it's Islam

There's always something interesting over at Little Green Footballs and today I found an article by an Arab-American woman named Nonie Darwish who writes about the tendency in the Arab world to present one face to each other and an entirely different one to outsiders . . . which is pretty much everyone else.

While I can't vouch for Darwish's insights they certainly seem to resonate with known practice.

For example, for western audiences the Palestinians always speak of the "Occupied Territories" as though they mean the West Bank and Gaza. Among themselves and according to their charter the occupied territories mean all of Israel.

Is Islam a religion of peace or submission? Depends on who you're talking to. Can a Muslim voluntarily convert to Christianity? That's not clear but according to Darwish the issue is touchy enough that Arab governments successfully lobbied to have that freedom struck from the UN charter on Human Rights and Religious Freedom.

Nonie Darwish

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

What Makes France Laugh?

The New York Times runs a front page story on virulent anti-semitism in France complete with the usual explanations and veiled blame for the victims themselves.

In this case the incidents are not old-style European anti-semitism but something more recent, more focused among the Franco-Islamofascist community, and generally having to do with Israel's reluctance to withdraw from the Earth's surface. This new wave of hatred is complicated by the fact that most French hate Israel even more than they hate Jews -- which is saying something.

So we then am I not surprised that Merde in France reports on a comedy sketch broadcast on state run television in which a comedian dressed as a rabbi jokes about the "axe americano-sioniste" and gives the Nazi salute while shouting "Heil Israel."

Now I know that humor translates poorly across languages and cultures, and I also know that French humor is a highly sophisticated thing -- as Jacques Tati, Jerry Lewis and Mickey Rourke demonstrate -- but is this sort of thing really funny to our French comrades? Are they really that insensitive, that provincial? Is this some sort of satirical mechanism for revealing the human folly undergirding our most serious issues so that we can all laugh at ourselves and defuse the tension?

Considering that France played a rather enthusiastic role in the last attempt to ethnically cleanse the world of Jews you might think this sort of satire was beyond the bounds of good taste.

obviously, good taste has been out of style in France for some time.

Le Figaro.fr
Speak For Yourself, Ken

Anguished tears stain the Letters page of The New York Times today. Ken Swensen, an enlightened reader from one of New York's tonier bedroom communities, takes issue with David Brooks’ column on how the conservatives in Republican Party have finally achieved their goal of tipping the political balance of the country to their favor in an enduring way just as FDR’s Democrats did in the 1930s.

Writing from the paneled seclusion of his McMansion in exclusive Pound Ridge far from the unwashed of the Big City, our latter-day Patrick Henry explains the ways of the world to the rest of us:

The reason conservatives will not stay in power long is simple: the majority of voters do not agree with their basic tenets. Their success must therefore rest on deception. Eventually, voters will unmask the truth.

Eventually these narrow minded proles will come to understand what Swensen has known for years. In fact, it seems Swensen knows what Americans really want even if they don't yet know it:

Americans do not want to dismantle environmental regulations. They don't want to favor big business over consumers and taxpayers. They don't want to starve the Social Security and Medicare programs. They don't want a foreign policy that shuns international cooperation. They don't want increasing concentrations of wealth.

Actually, no one wants those things except maybe increasing concentrations of wealth and then only as long as they are concentrating in bank accounts that are easily accessible.

It may take voters a few more years of George W. Bush to figure out what's happening. But it won't take 60 years.

Oh, those ignorant voters! My word. A few more months of that gauche cowboy and they'll finally come to their senses. I mean, really. They may be stupid but they’re not THAT stupid.

Until the masses finally come around to his point of view, Swensen will just have to content himself with deer running rampant on his protected wetlands, a six figure salary as some sort of corporate pilot fish, the comfort of knowing his 401K has been growing at a rate that actually surpasses inflation, and the security from random acts of barbaric cruelty that the U.N routinely deplores but rarely does anything about.

Oh, and that concentrating wealth? I’d say it’s a safe bet that Ken Swensen in a major beneficiary of this awful deception and that he’s not in any rush to correct the imbalance.

what I don't get is if ignorance is bliss, why is Ken so angry?

Conservatives in Power
Wackos Not Welcome in Canada

The New York Times runs a front page story about the growing cultural and political rift between the United States and Canada.

The gist of it is that Canada, historically more conservative than the revolutionary United States, has now become the vanguard of freedom and enlightenment when compared to its southern neighbor.

The only examples of this role reversal are Vancouver decriminalization of marijuana, Ontario's legalization of gay marriage, and Canada's overall lack of religious animation. Hardly the stuff of revolution but c'mon, let's give the Canucks a moment in the spotlight.

unfortunately, the nature of this new revolution in the Great White North can be summed up in quote:

"You can be a social conservative in the U.S. without being a wacko. Not in Canada."

Now some might find that sort of narrowing of the scope of acceptable thought to be refreshing after enduring so much resistance to progressivism among the Neanderthals in Bush Country. Sounds like the save old revolution to me. A bunch of congenitally uncool elitists who think they know what's best for me.

Good thing we're all armed to the teeth down here.

Canadaâ€Â™s View on Social Issues Is Opening Rifts With the U.S.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Common Concerns

I found an interesting poll today that reflected some very strongly held beliefs about the President Bush and Iraq.

It seems 69% of those surveyed in this poll said that Bush's Thanksgiving Day visit to the troops in Baghdad was a "publicity stunt." More than half say the Middle East is not safer without Saddam. An overwhelming majority said they would protest Bush's visit to the United Kingdom and three-quarters say the world is not safer with a single superpower.

Whose views are these? Well, it's not a stretch to say that they are probably in harmony with people who plan to vote in the U.S. Democratic primaries. They're probably in synch with elite opinion in the Axis of Chocolate: France, Belgium and Germany. I'd say they are probably a good reflection of the views of most university professors, Hollywood docudrama producers, foundation program officers, unionized elementary school teachers, network newsreaders, hemp clothing designers, and current State Department employees.

So whose opinions are these anyway? Why, the viewers of al-Jazeera of course.

Aljazeera.Net - Poll results

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Force Works

The New York Times reminds us today how important its story was yesterday about alleged last minute back channel peace entreaties from the fascist Hussein regime.

Apparently the pressure of US forces massed on the borders and President unwilling to play the appeasement game was too much for Saddam.

One of his "intelligence" officials even broke down and begged that the US agree to a peaceful resolution. Iraq was willing to do anything . . . anything at all . . . to avoid being routed by the Marines.

To the Times this is some sort of scandal. Peace was at hand George Bush ignored it. Assuming the story is true it seems more a vindication than a scandal.

After all, if under a credible threat of military action even the hardcore sadists in Baghdad will buckle to our every demand, then the US should apply that same pressure to Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea for good measure. In fact, the quick and merciless dispatch of the Saddam Administration only makes this threat more credible and more potent.

Conservatives have been saying "Peace Through Strength" for years. It's nice to see the Times is finally coming around.

Prince Charles Denies the Unmentionable

Prince Charles issued a strong denial of something that cannot even be reported in Britain, according to the BBC -- BBC NEWS | UK | Prince Charles denies 'ludicrous' claims

The libel laws are so strong in the UK that every major news outlet is reporting today that they cannot report on the big news that happened somewhere that might have to do with the Prince.

"This allegation is untrue," says the Prince even though no one knows what the allegation is. Prince Charles issued his statement from Oman where people may or not know what he's talking about.

According to his official statement:

"In recent days, there have been media reports concerning an allegation that a former Royal Household employee witnessed an incident some years ago involving a senior member of the Royal Family . . . The speculation needs to be brought to an end."

Yeah, right. That's going to end all speculation. Hell, I didn't even know there was anything to speculate about until I read this!

Now I'm wasting hours trolling the blogosphere to learn what the untrue allegation could possibly be.

Just goes to show the First Amendment is good for something.

Dean and Dixie

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean offended the offended-American community this week for suggesting that Democrats should include those who they are loath to include in their gorgeous tapestry of love.

Dean's toxic idea was that the Dems should go after the NASCAR vote. These of course are the people New England Democrats vilify as rednecks and racists and therein lies a bit of problem. Dean has clearly never met one of these people and has no vocabulary for talking with them.

Calling them guys with "pickup trucks and Confederate Flags"is sort of like saying your outreach campaign to gays and lesbians will target "hairdressers and Smith College alums."

But the real beauty of this "gaffe" (from the French word meaning "to utter the regrettable") it is that the most vocal criticism of Dean came from the race-obsessed left. This is the part of the Democratic Party that is so finely attuned to racial disrespect that it can detect insolence at the molecular level.

Of course Dean's reference to the Rebel flag must betray deep-seated racist views.

Now there are a lot of things I don't like about Howard Dean, but I seriously doubt he is a racist and if he is he's certainly compensating for it by being a liberal Vermont politician.

But what of these valuable goober voters that Dean wants to attract? What does the typical deep-fried corn dog eating, evangelical tongue-speaking, darkie-dragging, neo-Nazi, unilateral-isolationist, gun-owning, Dale Earnhardt Jr-loving, butt crack flashing, homo-hating, uneducated militia member think of all this? You know, what does the average Dwayne have to say?

The serious answer would be that the Republicans have connected with the voters Dean is talking about because the GOP is not afraid to talk in terms of honor, duty, loyalty, and faith. Indeed, these things appeal to many people outside the South. What does not appeal to them is hypersensitivity and weakness in the face of adversity.

These voters believe in the Jacksonian tradition. A good overview of this deep and encompassing theme of American history and how it still guides much of what passes for incomprehensible American attitudes in the rest of the world, read this National Interest essay by Walter Russell Mead.

The pickup/confederate flag episode only serves to remind Jacksonians that liberal northeastern Democrats are feckless and fearful and can only see the world as disparate greivence groups. The idea that there are individuals who don't see themselves as part of any affinity group seems to escape Democratic politicians.

The irony is, Jacksonians are an affinity group, perhaps the largest and most influential in the country today.

The trouble is, the only thing they can truly agree on is who they are not. And right now they sure as hell are not Democrats.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Chicken Hawk No More

I wonder if now that DepSecDef Paul Wolfowitz is a veteran of combat will his critics still keep calling him a Chicken Hawk?

Doubt it.
Who Will Be the First Dem to Go to Baghdad?

Kevin at Boots on the Ground makes an interesting observation from Iraq. How come none of the Democratic presidential candidates have come to Iraq to see for themselves what conditions are like?

If I were John Edwards' campaign manager I'd be arranging a visit to Baghdad right now. It would instantly differentiate one candidate from all the others, establish gravitas, courage, boldness, yada, yada.

It would also be a great photo-op: walking around town with a flak jacket to the crackle of gunfire, wounded women and children begging for an end to the occupation. Hordes of enraged Iraqis shouting "Death to Bush" in unison with occasional Toyota Landcruisers strafing the crowd before crashing through the plate glass windows at the local Cha'que al Cheeze restaurant and detonating in the midst of a children's birthday party.

Holy smokes . . . who wouldn't vote to cut and run after a death defying holiday in hell like that.

I guess the trouble is that the earnest candidate might look silly in the flak jacket in the middle of a bustling and working city. He might also be ignored by the local hot heads. Might even be dissed by the troops he (or she in the case of Carol Measly Brain) so passionately supports. Voters might get the wrong impression that things are under control.

Yeah, scratch that idea. Better to criticize from afar than actually see what's happening on the ground.

My guess is that one of the candidates will do it soon. And I bet it's either Clark or Lieberman. Edwards would be boyishly out of place. Dean would be unwelcome by everyone except the local Fedeyeen. Kerry the war hero is too cautious to put himself in actual danger. And the others so insignificant that they may already be there for all I know.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Death by the Numbers

In this complex world of ours its all too likely that each of us will one day end our lives as a statistic in some colossal database somewhere that will one day be studied by scholars for insights into our ancient civilization.

If this is the way I am to be remembered I can at least feel comfort knowing that opportunities for immortality exist even in this dry quantitative data wasteland.

The Centers for Disease Control spends an inordinate amount of time classifying the many ways people die. Wouldn’t it be great to stand out in the crowd and rather than be one of the hundreds of millions of people who will die of heart disease, be a singularity.

Oh to be one of the lucky few ever to expire because of unspecified cataclysmic earth surface movements and eruptions (E909.9) or battering by grandparent (E967.6) or how about death from unintentional human bite (E928.7) or perhaps suicide by paintball gun (E955.7) or fall from a toilet (E884.6). Death by terrorist depth charge (E979.0) sounds pretty cool. Or what about having the bad luck to be hit by a falling aircraft (E979.1) hit by an anvil while riding a funicular (E806c), die because you knocked yourself out while floating weightless in a spacecraft (E928.0)?

That’s a lot more manly than dying from a mosquito bite (915.4) or a splinter in the buttocks (911.4)

Interestingly, uncontrolled diarrhea is death cause number 007 as though James Bond would ever meet his end that way. I’d have figured he'd go as an E910.1, or an E843, E962.2 or maybe even an E979.5.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Building Toward a Greater Revolution

Herbert Muschamp, the New York Times’ uber-pretentious architecture critic is uber the moon today about the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall that opens tonight in Los Angeles.

In Muschamp the Magnificent’s opinion – as if any other mattered – Disney Hall is a wondrous, ecstatic success.

”Disney Hall must be assembled within the mind piece by piece as you approach and walk around it. A Surrealist ethos suffuses the design: the imagineering impulse of Disney as well as of Magritte. Pumpkin into carriage, cabbage into concert hall, bippidi-bobbidi-boo.”

How about concert hall into shapeless pile of debris at the stroke of midnight.

In actual fact, Disney Hall is just another one of Gehry’s signature titanium coprolites that litter the sidewalks of Bilbao, Seattle, and Cleveland with alarming frequency.

There is nothing new about this building that was not new the last time or the time before that.

It’s as if Frank Lloyd Wright built Fallingwater over and over again in different locations every few years to ever increasing praise.

The fact is these Gehry buildings are butt ugly, impossible to modify, and falling apart before our eyes. (For proof see this news item from the appropriately titled "Corrosion News.")

Of course, Muschamp is thrilled but such lousy design.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is a French curve in a city of T squares. The T squares are loving it madly. Why shouldn't they? Disney Hall was designed for them. It's a home for everyone who's ever felt like a French curve in a T square world.

Translation: Disney Hall is elitist architecture so unusual and jarring that even mutants and just plain Joes (T square people) can appreciate what geniuses (French curve people) like Herb and Gehry have bestowed upon them. “Yes, my little dears, this was all designed for you . . . just for you . . . you’re welcome, oh yes, you are so very welcome.”

How fabulous is the building? It’s so fab that you can’t even find your way out of the lobby:

Serpentine lobbies surround the auditorium, which is set diagonally to the building site. The adjustment is initially disorienting, but you won't get lost if you let your intuition lead the way. That is the way to go anyhow inside Disney Hall. Ahead lies a gathering of hunches: let's try it this way. No, maybe this way. Make up your mind! I don't want to.

Sound like fun? Yes, especially as curtain time draws close . . . or perhaps a fire! A gathering of char-broiled hunches. What a delight that would be. Sort of like a deconstructionist Triangle Waistcoat Factory.

But what’s done is done and we can only hope that nature takes its course on this insta-ruin before too long.

More troubling is a disaster in the making in San Francisco where the lunatics are already ripping apart one of the more pleasing parts of their foggy asylum to construct was is surely the stupidest building of all time, the poetically named Federal Building.

When it opens its doors (or flaps, or airlocks, or orifices, or something) in 2006, the Federal Building will be the first terrorist target that even al Qaeda would have to admit could only be improved by explosive charges.

It’s as if the Feds decided that instead of risking the destruction of beautiful new office building, they’ll just blow it up themselves right now and get it over with.

Indeed the schematics of the Federal Building (click through the all the pesky Flash pyrotechnics) seem to be directly inspired by the Alfred Murrugh Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma or perhaps the Khobar Towers in Infidelville, Saudi Arabia.

How bad will this building be? It’s hard to quantify but keep in mind that it will be an office tower tall enough to disrupt the skyline of the city yet its elevators will only stop on every third floor (to conserve precious energy). And after trudging up and down the stairs on a blazing summer afternoon the unfortunate tenants will soak in their own sweat because the building will have no air conditioning (again to save energy).

Who could have conceived of such a manifestly bad idea? Well, imagine a hip West Coast architect who surrounds himself with creative young things and calls his firm Morphosis and you have Thom Mayne.

Did I mention Thom Mayne wears Corbu glasses? Of course he does.

Corbu glasses are to pompous architects what Whaa Whaa guitar licks are to late 70s porno movie soundtracks. I’m beginning to think these glasses might actually be the root cause of bad architecture.

An article in today’s San Francisco Chronic includes this telling insight:

Mayne doesn't see his work as ugly, for starters. He also seems honestly baffled by the Bay Area notion that new buildings should mimic the architectural character of their surroundings -- or, as Mayne puts it, indulge in "the anachronistic illusion of some other time."

First of all, who starts a sentence about how ugly your work is not unless it is truly and demonstrably ugly? And secondly, if you are baffled by 3,000 years of esthetic wisdom you probably have no business designing real buildings that people might actually see.

Hopefully, the Mayne event in San Francisco will be so notoriously bad that it will do for lousy architecture what the Tweed Courthouse did for corrupt government . . . that is, give the odious offense unmistakable form that provokes people to corrective action.

Until then it’s safe to say that San Francisco will never again look as pretty as this.
Peaceful Non-Existence Watch

Peace in the Middle East is simply a matter of Israel withdrawing from the occupied territories, right?

Well, it depends on what you define as "occupied territories." Is it the West Bank and Gaza? The West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem? Or is it all those places and every other place too?

A new survey of Palestinian opinion reveals once again that Palestinians will not be satisfied until Israel withdraws from Israel itself.

In fact, 59% say that their murder-cult should continue even if Israel gives into all their demands for withdrawal from all the land captured from Jordan and Egypt after those countries invaded Israel in 1967 . . . even if an independent Palestinian state is created on this former Jordan and Egyptian real estate (which again was forfeited by those countries when they gambled on conquest and failed).

So what should Israel do? Negotiate? Negotiate what exactly? If the Palestinians want all of Israel ethnically cleansed what would be a reasonable compromise? Demi-genocide rather than full genocide?

The best possible outcome for the Israelis is peaceful coexistence. That's what most of the world wants, presumably. Why then are the Israelis criticized so frequently for not making progress on the "peace process?"

Seems to me the peace process is going to be a long and bloody affair unless the Palestinians agree to stop fighting.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Smoke on the Water

I'm just testing out the new "Blog This" button on my Google toolbar.

Here is an interesting satellite photo taken yesterday of Eastern China showing a thick haze of smoke that hangs over the coastline in part because a huge typhoon is approaching from the ocean but also because China uses sulfurous coal for energy.

China, by the way, would have been exempt from the air pollution mandates that developed countries like the United States would have had to adhere to under the Kyoto Protocol.EO Natural Hazards: Haze and Pollution over China

Friday, October 10, 2003

Let's Not the Facts Stand in the Way of a Good Sound Bite

Here’s a fascinating exchange from last night’s Democratic Debate.

A stroke victim on a fixed income tells of having to choose between medicine and food and asks Sen. Edwards what he would do about prescription drug costs.

As expected, former trial lawyer Edwards says he will stand up to the “price-gouging” monopolistic pharmaceutical giants.

But wait, when asked how much she pays per month, the woman says because of a Pfizer program she only pays $15. “I can afford it now,” she says.

So what exactly is the problem?

She has no supplemental insurance so she can’t afford her medicine, but she CAN afford her medicine because of a price-gouging monopolistic pharmaceutical company.

The solution is clear. “We need a president of the United States that will stand up for you and people like your family.”

WOODRUFF: All right, thank you.


I want to turn to Karen Dickinson. Karen, you are, you and I spoke a few minutes ago. Where are you? Right here. Please. Stand up, and do we have a microphone?

You are, I'm told, a stroke survivor ...


WOODRUFF: ... and you have concerns about health care, specifically about prescription drugs.

QUESTION: Yes. Forgive me for having to read this.

I am a stroke survivor, I am disabled and on a fixed income. For seven months I went without prescription medication because we cannot afford supplemental insurance to my Medicare.

I chose food over medicine. How can you assure me and the many other voters -- there's millions like me -- that you empathize with my hardship and as president you will make certain this won't happen to any other American? Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Who has -- Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: Thank you.

Karen, how long have you been without any kind of coverage for your prescription drugs?

QUESTION: It's been over a year.

EDWARDS: Over a year. And how much do your prescription drugs cost?

QUESTION: I went on a Merck program, and that's why I can do it, I can afford it now. And they're $15 that I pay. Before that it was 400 and some dollars a month.

EDWARDS: Which is just crippling, crippling for you, isn't it?

QUESTION: I get $800 -- and I don't care who knows it -- I get $830 a month from my Social Security because I had to take it at such a young age.

EDWARDS: And you and your family are in the same situation that millions of families are...

QUESTION: Millions.

EDWARDS: ... around this country. Here's what I think we need to do. First, we need a real comprehensive prescription drug benefit for you and family, under Medicare, not the George Bush plan that's going the Congress right now. That's the last thing we need to do.

And second, we have to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for you and for all of those Americans who are struggling to pay the cost, which means having a president to do what I've done my whole life, which is have the backbone to stand up to these big drug companies, with their advertising, with their price gouging, not allowing drugs to come back in here out of Canada, stopping their abuse of the system to keep a monopoly and keep generics out of the market.

WOODRUFF: All right.

EDWARDS: We need a president of the United States that will stand up for you and people like your family. I will be that president.


The details of the Merck program can be found here. A hell of a lot less expensive and complicated then what Senator Edwards is proposing.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

European Observations

Just returned from a long weekend in Rome . . . a blur of rich colors, sweet smells, narcotic food and spectacular-looking people.

During one languid dinner with distant relatives by marriage the subjects of politics and religion briefly mixed in a perfect thunderclap of opinion that took me by surprise.

The three relatives included a retired executive of one of Italy’s largest banks and a communications director at a pharmaceutical company. They were educated and well traveled. They were also deeply involved in the Catholic Church through one of its semi-clandestine lay organizations.

During a friendly and wide-ranging conversation we found ourselves talking about the scandals that have shaken the American Church. The mood suddenly turned grave and the former banker explained in measured tones that the entire scandal was an initiative of the Bush Administration to undermine the moral authority of Pope John Paul II and the Vatican so that Bush could carry out his plans to invade Iraq.

I had never heard that one before. It’s sort of a unified field theory of geopolitics.

I tried to explain that Vatican opposition to Operation Desert Freedom was, at best, a factor footnoted in the appendix of any secret strategy to defend the honor of the Bush family. But that sort of reasoning only elicited a weary smile . . . oh you Americans are so brainwashed.

Keep in mind that this seems to be an acceptable point of view in a country where six of the seven national television networks and several of the newspapers are controlled by Italy’s most outspoken supporter of George Bush.

It occurred to me later that the Bushies are missing an opportunity in Europe.

I have no idea how many Italians believe Bush toppled Saddam Hussein to avenge his father’s disgrace but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a large number. And I would also not be surprised to learn that this would not be considered an invalid reason for acting.

After all, Rome is filled with monuments to powerful families motivated by honor and power – names like Barberini, Aldobrandini, Borgia, and Medici are plastered all over town if you look closely enough.

Indeed, defending one’s family honor by using the tools of state is a long and respectable tradition in Europe. Bush should strongly imply to Europeans that family honor is what motivated him to succeed Clinton and Saddam. I think they'd respect that.

My second thought is that Bush is making a mistake by characterizing the war on Islamofascism as a “War on Terror.”

Terror is not the enemy. You can’t wage war on a technique of war.

The Administration is still very careful to characterize the war as something other than a clash of civilizations. I’m not sure why.

Certainly Europeans take there civilization quite seriously (as they should) and can be downright jingoistic about it when their feathers are ruffled. And unlike us, they are surrounded by the physical manifestations of this civilization – in America all we have are the ideas and little of the art or architecture.

In addition, Europeans are increasingly living next to more and more unassimilatable Muslims . . . Muslims who make no apology for their unrelenting conflict with the West.

Here and there are the signs that Europeans are becoming fed up with Islamic chauvinism – head scarves, separate schools, removal of Christian symbols from the public realm. At some point resentment will turn to action in ways that Europeans know all too well.

George Bush could give outlet to this pressure and connect deeply with ordinary Europeans by saying clearly that our common Judeo/Christian civilization is under attack from an extremist political movement that is using Islam as cover for achieving it’s radical agenda.

It is a clash between the West and a violent, intolerant, uncompromising medieval civilization that refuses to peacefully coexist with us.

That’s the sort of a clash Europeans historically relish.

Forget WMD, shoe bombers, and torture chambers . . . Europe already has plenty of those. Make it about honor and Western Civ and George Bush would be the most popular man in Europe.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

What Makes Washington So Special

I read Washingtonian Magazine by mistake this afternoon.

The smug and clueless advertising vehicle is a near perfect reflection of its vacuous, self-important, suburbanized readership – pilot fish on the mighty ship of state.

Washingtonian usually contains howlers when the editorial staff strays too far from “family restaurant” reviews and touches on actual public policy issues.

Case in point, a syrupy puff “interview” with Jesse Jackson Jr., the Illinois Congressman who happened to grow up in Washington, D.C. where his philandering father ran a Chicago-based race consultancy shakedown operation.

Washingtonian asks Rep. Jackson its very most favorite question of all:

What makes Washington special?

"Only our central government has the power to grant new rights to the American people, and it is those rights that make us indivisible and guarantee liberty and justice for all. When we turn our back on the central government and seek solutions within the states, we remain a separate and unequal system."

Rights granted by the central government?

This guy is a Congressman. He works in the U.S. Capitol.

To get to his desk he needs to walk past pictures and statues of famous Americans such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison.

Has he ever wondered who those people are . . . why are they crowding up the hallways like this. . . perhaps even what did they think the role of government was?

Jackson believes he is in the business of creating new rights and granting them to Americans. Rights like the right to clear television reception, the right to corruption-free professional wrestling, the right to unedited inane magazine copy.

And these rights are what make us indivisible and liberty and justice for all and shit.

Seeking solutions within the states – which I believe Jefferson called the “great laboratory of democracy” -- makes us separate and unequal.

Seems to me Congressman Jackson is the one who is separate and unequal. After all, he went to an elite secondary school and was elected to Congress as a first job on the basis of his father’s accomplishments.

I don’t begrudge him that . . . it’s just a shame that he’s missing a great opportunity there in Congress to learn about the fundamentals of American political philosophy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Tempest at the Times

David Brooks has caused a stir among the fevered readers of the New York Times.

Since joining the editorial page this month as a featured columnist after the putsch of Howell Raines, each of Brooks’ provocatively conservative columns have been followed by a rooster tail of angry letters from indignant Grey Lady zombies who apparently have never been exposed to such undiluted heresy.

Case in point, Brooks’ column on Saturday dared to suggest that conservatives are lonely on college campuses because their faculties are so predominantly liberal.

Today the tide of outrage washes up on the Times Letters page.

Several writers are clearly not used to having their conventional wisdom questioned.

Paul Steinle, the distinguished associate professor of communications at Southern Oregon University somewhere in southern Oregon deploys his masterful communications skills to prove that conservatives are schtoopid:

“David Brooks wants to continue the conservative notion that academia is divided into two camps, liberal and conservative.

It's the old "us-them" configuration. It serves the needs of conservatives (and maybe liberals) who are seeking sympathy for their hardened intellectual arteries. But it is a naïve, simplistic and self-serving view of the world.

Mr. Brooks should dust out the cobwebs and let in the possibility of mixed emotions and mixed attitudes in a complex world. Try appreciating life (and society and politics) in its rich complexity.”

Actually Brooks isn’t saying that campus is divided between liberals and conservatives . . . he’s saying it’s dominated by liberals and devoid of conservatives. And Associate Professor Steinle demonstrates why.

Campuses are so intellectually sterile that a faculty member at a prestigious community college for lumberjacks in Oregon can argue without embarrassment that people who don’t think the way the learned ass. prof. does are not just ignorant, but self-servingly ignorant.

Yes, life must be so much more rich and complex for a second tier academic at a mediocre school who spends his time searching for deeper meaning in a field that examines press releases and TV sitcoms way up there in Ashland, Oregon where simplistic debates were silenced long ago.

Herbert Gans of Columbia actually is a professor of some repute albeit in the absurd field of Sociology. He adds his twenty-five cents to the Letters page:

“If conservative students have difficulty getting teaching jobs, why do so many appear every generation in economics, political science, many of the humanities as well as all over business and engineering schools?”

Surprisingly, Professor Gans did not end his huffy letter with the traditional “so there” that closes such arguments.

Gans appears to take issue with Brooks’ article in its entirety. Brooks is totally wrong. Campuses are not predominantly liberal. They are full of conservatives in every field. Gans even seems mildly annoyed by their profusion and persistence.

But I’ve saved the best for last.

Rich Allen, also of that great state of higher learning, Oregon, articulates precisely the sort of attitude that David Brooks was lamenting . . . that the entrenched elite on campus are so closed minded that they can’t even recognize differing points of view as intellectually valid.

David Brooks ("Lonely Campus Voices," column, Sept. 27) presents several reasons conservative professors are underrepresented in higher education.

One reason he did not mention is that the arguments for conservative positions might actually be less sound and less compatible with the breadth and depth of knowledge that the most prestigious educators are rightly expected to possess.

Of course there are no conservatives on campus because you can’t possibly be intelligent and conservative at the same time.

Glad to see that diversity nonesense on campus does not actually extend to rational thought.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

UN cool

President Bush is due to speak today in the well of the United Nations General Assembly a few city blocks away from here.

No doubt he will string together a few well chosen words that conform to the tricky norms and decorum of the UN.

What is said is not important. At the UN it is the act of saying something that counts. I guess that’s inevitable. You can’t expect boldness from a committee of 191 members.

That’s a shame because I’m a closet United Nations fan but mainly for reasions of aesthetics.

I like the UN Building.

I see the UNO headquarters building every day on the way to work. In the morning, with the rising sun behind it looks full of hope and promise. The green glass curtain suspended between two sheer marble slabs, exceptionally at odds with the city grid, a hive of offices, and each worker bee an interesting foreigner with exotic clothing and a charmingly rich accent.

The building’s design is credited to an alliance of mediocre hero-architects. Le Corbusier, the father of all public housing disasters is often mentioned although his deadly touch is thankfully absent. Wallace Harrison, the court architect of the Rockefeller family, is also sometimes credited but he simply didn't have the imagination or talent to design such a refined and aspirational building. The real architect is Oscar Niemeyer -- even if he was muscled out of the spotlight by the more media savvy designers.

Look at the building from any angle and concentrate . . . it doesn't take long for the rancor and petty corruption of the actual UN to dissolve. Look a bit longer and the colors alternate between pastel and Technicolor, a gently samba plays . . . the music of the New Frontier . . . sophisticated, global, human, intelligent. This building speaks in the confident lilt of the New World, not the guttural cynicism of the Old World.

Think of Brasilia before the squalor of real world Brazil encroached on and devoured its pristine towers. In 1958 who could doubt that the future belonged to the energetic people of the developing world? How far back down to earth we've fallen.

Sadly the UN Headquarters Building reminds you that the future isn't what it once was.

No doubt the UNO will continue down its dead end path to irrelevance. But the consequences for the building are what concern me.

The Building evokes of time when thinking people could agree that some nations are more important than others. But the UNO says that all nations are equal members of the world community.

This of course is nonsense.

The UN is an organization of governments, not nations. And not all governments are equal.

The government Switzerland is in a different league than, say, the strutting, kleptocratic Castro dictatorship in Cuba. Yet, in UNO legalese, they are on par.

That's no way to confer legitimacy.

To live up to its aspirations the UN will have to discriminate. It should establish "tiered" membership. Full voting members would be those governments that are directly accountable to their citizens. The second tier of non-voting members would be those governments that are moving toward democracy and openness.

On the third tier would be governments that are repressive non-representative regimes. This tier would include North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and many others.

In the eyes of the UN, these non-member governments would be considered illegitimate and their sovereignty would be conditional.

Rather than excuse injustice as a "domestic matter," member governments would be charged with the responsibility for intervening in the third tier world to ensure that these nations evolve into second tier members and ultimately, fully representative governments.

This will never happen. And that's why the UN is destined for obscurity.

But the building . . . that has possibilities.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

It's a Small World . . . But That Doesn't Mean it's All the Same

Found some very enjoyable video things online today.

One is a rather sinister yet catchy North Korean music video called "Fuckin' USA!" Actually, this thing looks like it could have been produced by the Democratic National Committee.

While you sway to the music, keep in mind that these guys have nuclear weapons. It goes without saying, of course, that Jimmy Carter believes we can reason with these zombies.

Another member of the nuclear club, Britain, is a bit more cuddly. They have an admirable ability to be amusing and jingoistic at the same time.

Here's a TV commercial that demonstrates this uncanny ability while selling some no doubt foul tasting English fruit juice.

Yeah, the Brits are my favorite nationalists.

Friday, September 12, 2003

What’s Left of Allende?

Over the weekend radical chic Chileans gathered in knubbly turtleneck sweaters and designer jeans to remember the violent end of the Allende Administration . . . perhaps the least popular people’s revolution in history.

Allende, much like other sixties-era icons such as Jim Morrison, Bobby Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe, are far more popular in death than they ever were in life.

Salvador Allende, you are unlikely to recall, campaigned for the top political office as the lunatic left candidate in a largely conservative country. Because of the wonders of proportional politics Allende was able to win election with a fraction of the vote, the rest being split among mainstream candidates.

This is like Larry Flynt winning the California recall . . . most Chileans reacted to the election with alarm tempered by the knowledge that Allende had no mandate to do anything foolish.

Allende promptly began to do foolish things like invite Soviet economists to Chile to help dismantle the private sector and thugs from Cuba to apply a little persuasive peer pressure to dissenters.

After nationalizing industries and suspending the justice system Allende was overthrown in a military coup that replaced the bespectled left-wing dictator with a strutting right-wing dictator. The difference being, the right-wing dictator relinquished power peacefully and left behind a thriving economy. Allende did quite the opposite. Nonetheless, Pinochet offended “progressive” sensibilities and is therefore only brutal dictator the Left is willing to criticize.

Anyway, many years have passed and those with little memory or sense showed up at the big Allende love fest this weekend for a day of peace love and music in honor of their favorite authoritarian human rights abuser.

Many musicians from around the radical world played and the United States was ritually booed.

To underscore the true meaning of Lenin’s term “useful idiot” the greatest applause was reserved for Silvio Rodriguez, a Cuban singer whose social conscience is so selective that he actually supported Fidel Castro’s recent execution without trial of three black men who were caught leaving the island paradise without permission.

Rodriguez also managed to find virtue in the imprisonment earlier this year of scores of Cubans who had the nerve to circulate a petition asking the Castro regime to hold free elections.

So the Left celebrates its counter September 11 by cheering the mouthpiece of harsh and repressive Latin American military dictatorship.

I guess poetic justice is better than no justice at all.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Moonbats Among Us

Good God, the Riverside Church in upper Manhattan is commemorating the 2nd anniversary of the worst incident of mass murder in the nation's history by inviting a constellation of lunatics and 9/11 conspiracy zombies to a special film festival called "Reframing 911."

Among the honored attendees, none other than the anti-Semitic former Congresswoman from Georgia and al Qaeda apologist, Cynthia McKinney.

I haven't seen the films but if the the titles are anything to go by they should be an infuriating hate-fest:

AfterMath: Unanswered Questions from 9/11 a production of the Guerilla News Network.

The Great Deception by Barrie Zwicker, "the first television commentator to directly challenge aspects of the official narrative regarding 9/11."

Convoy of Death "a documentary of the brutal killing of prisoners of war by U.S. special forces following the Afghan war."

Yup, this looks balanced.

How appropriate that the festival kicks off just a day after Leni Riefenstahl did.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Mad Dogs and Bundestag

Andreas von Bulow, the one time socialist intelligence expert from Germany who has turned into a full-time grassy knoll conspiracy spotter has some pretty harsh views about Americans.

For his suggestion to make sense that the US government is behind the September 11 attacks you would first have to believe that the US government is adept enough to execute such a complex and risky operation and that its leaders are pure evil.

Of course, for a German government official and heir to perhaps the worst foreign policy tradition in recorded human history, such things are totally plausible. After all, if Germany is known for anything it is for the precise following of orders devised by evil leaders.

But von Bulow’s conspiracy can’t seem to get a foothold in America (where it would be expected to have the most power one would think.)

Why? Because we know the CIA is basically a branch of the same organization as the US Postal service. It is risk averse, generally inept, utterly unable to keep a secret, but at the very least loyal and capable of doing little real harm.

I think this may have something to do with the Euro definition of patriotism.

Europeans all . . . and I use a broad generalization because I know more than everyone else and I’m always right . . .they all equate patriotism with love of the national authority (King, Queen, Prince, President, Fuhrer).

On the other hand, even the most patriotic Americans are likely to see their government as a potential menace . . . hence the right to own a firearm to counterbalance the government’s power.

In any case, von Bulow thinks that Islamic fanatics have gotten a bad rap because their deep reservoirs of global good will are being offset by brainwashed drones who see hundreds of suicide murders committed in the name of Allah and mistakenly conclude that Islamic fanatics are bloodthirsty, revenege-driven . . . well, fanatics.

Von Buelow: With the help of the horrifying attacks, the Western mass democracies were subjected to brainwashing. The enemy image of anti-communism doesn't work any more; it is to be replaced by peoples of Islamic belief. They are accused of having given birth to suicidal terrorism.

Q: Brainwashing? That's a tough term.

Von Buelow: Yes? But the idea of the enemy image doesn't come from me. It comes from Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samuel Huntington, two policy-makers of American intelligence and foreign policy. Already in the middle of he 1990s, Huntingon believed, people in Europe and the U.S. needed someone they could hate--this would strengthen their identification with their own society. And Brzezinski, the mad dog, as adviser to President Jimmy Carter, campaigned for the exclusive right of the U.S. to seize all the raw materials of the world, especially oil and gas.

Yes, that mad dog Jimmy Carter and his greedy henchmen. I don’t quite remember that campaign for exclusive mineral rights to the Earth but it makes sense since the Nixon Administration had already claimed the Moon.

Oh well, thank goodness those crazy Europeans are completely inconsequential. Otherwise we’d have to turn our mighty death rays on them.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Power to the People

One of the oft repeated complaints about the American administration of liberated Iraq is that electricity is only available sporadically. There is no contesting this sad fact. Iraqis even in the most cosmopolitan quarters of Baghdad are often without electricity.

But a friend of mine traveling through the area this week relays an interesting bit of information. Electrical power in free in Iraq. That’s right, its cost of power to Iraqi electricity consumers is nothing, nada, nil, the null set.

Could it be that newly liberated Iraqis are plugging in their air conditioners, refrigerators, and Playstations and turning them all on to Max Power all at once?

I’m no engineer but wouldn’t that sort of load cripple even a robust power grid like the one in the Northeastern United States and Canada?
Doctor or Escalator?

Lileks proves he has achieved mastery of yet another medium with an inspired music sample called Doctor Poppycock that can be found here.

It includes amusing sound bites from Star Trek's Dr. McCoy.

The best of which is a desperate demand to know what planet he's on. Basically, it's the sort of inquiry you should never make with an unreasonable level of urgency, as McCoy does here. Chances are people will not take you seriously.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Euros Question 9/11

Old Europe just can't seem to grasp 21st Century reality. That's the only conclusion one can draw from the news that both the French and the German bestsellers lists contain homegrown conspiracy diatribes that suggest the September 11th attacks were some sort of Bush Administration policy initiative gone wild.

FAZ.net has an article about one of them, Die CIA und der 11. September. Internationaler Terror und die Rolle der Geheimdienste (The CIA and Sept. 11: International Terror and the Role of the Secret Services), by Andreas von Bulow, which moved up two places this week to number five on the Der Spiegel non-fiction book list.

Von Bulow, claims that such audacious and well-organized strikes could not have occurred without the "support of the intelligence agencies," and he disputes that the 19 Arabs identified as the hijackers were really responsible claiming that they were not Islamist extremists and that seven of them were still alive after Sept. 11.

According to FAZ,

He also explores, over 20 pages, the theory that huge charges were secretly planted in the World Trade Center beforehand and then detonated when the planes struck, assuring that the explosions would be powerful enough to cause the landmark skyscrapers to collapse.

Rejecting the official claim that Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network were behind the worst terrorist attacks in American history, von Bulow suggests that the four hijacked jets had been secretly fitted with equipment that allowed unknown parties on the ground to deprive the pilots of control and then direct the aircraft, by remote control, into their targets.

Von Bulow's source for this information is apparently a billboard covered in dense type carried by a man living in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House.

The rationale, according to von Bulow: To "secure American global dominance" by mobilizing an ambivalent American public into supporting military action in the Middle East that would secure U.S. control of the region and its oil supplies.

Only in Old Europe would this be plausible. It requires a belief that the United States was not already globally dominant, that the U.S., as the world's largest buyer, doesn't already control the region's oil, or that the American public is ambivalent about Islamofacism.

In fact, it's the Old Europeans who dream of influence, oil and are willing to ignore genocide to get there. Heck, there's probably a secret workgroup toiling away in some grubby basement in Brussels on "Operation Grandslam," an audacious plan to kidnap every cow in the United States and cripple our ability to make cheese and milk chocolate and make Americans dependant on foreign sources for these nutritional staples.

Von Bulow, 66, once a rising star on the German political scene, hardly fits the standard image of the paranoid conspiracy theorist: A lawyer with a doctorate degree in jurisprudence, he was Germany's federal research minister between 1980 and 1982, and for four years before that served as parliamentary secretary in the German Defense Ministry.

Yes, those educated and cultured Germans . . . you never know what they'll come up with next.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Dean People Suck

Come here to buy my new line offensive political merchandise.

These shirts and bumper stickers are scientifically designed to annoy those pesky ideologues who self-righteously insult mean people while at the same time promote the political fortunes of Howard Dean, perhaps the meanest bastard to run for president since Nixon.

Proudly display this clever design to impress your friends and confound your enemies.

Plus, I donate all profits to charity . . . me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

John Kerry Demonstrates His “Courage”

This morning Adam Nagourney of the New York Times covers John Kerry’s presidential campaign kick-off with an almost palpable sneer.

I must admit, I rather enjoy one of the Times’ exquisite hatchet jobs when it’s directed at someone I can’t stand.

Kerry addressed “a listless crowd” on a “sweltering morning” in front of “an elaborate backdrop of the docked carrier Yorktown 1,000 miles from his Boston home.”

The article reports that the speech represented a “relaunching of a ship that had drifted off course this summer.”

While not directly dispatching the speech as a colossal failure, Nagourney notes that the candidate felt compelled to issue a statement an hour later expressing confidence in his campaign team and declaring that there would be no changes in his staff.

Helpfully, the Times notes, “it took Kerry only two sentences in his prepared remarks before he made his first reference to his service in Vietnam.”

Nagourney also includes this wonderful snippet from deep within Kerry’s speech:

"Some might not like to hear it, courage means standing up for gun safety, not retreating from the issue out of political fear or trying to have it both ways," Mr. Kerry said. "I'm a hunter and I believe in the Second Amendment but I've never gone hunting with an AK-47. Our party will never be the choice of the N.R.A., and I'm not looking to be the candidate of the N.R.A.”

What is this, some sort of psychological disorder? He has the “courage” to stand up for some focus-grouped non-term, pseudo-issue called “gun safety” and not “have it both ways” before claiming that he is both a gun enthusiast and not a gun enthusiast?

I think I speak for much of the American public when I say, what the fuck?

Kerry goes on to explain his uncomfortable vote in Congress authorizing President Bush to unleash his terrible swift sword against the sadistic fascist Saddam Hussein regime thusly:

"I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations."

Nagourney properly calls this "an unusual description." I'll say. Isn’t this like saying “I only meant to threaten the use of force, not actually use it” and isn’t that the sort of thinking that made us vulnerable to attack in the first place? Jeez, no wonder no one trusts the Democrats with national security.

It’s kind of hard to imagine what might be motivating a hard-core Kerry supporter if there are any?

I presume that they’re the sort of coddled and privileged young guys from Tufts who imply they went to Harvard and see politics as a way of furthering their imaginary careers as one-day influential investment bankers with a global focus along the lines of Roger Hormats who can get rich without sullying themselves in actual commerce and some day work at the IMF as a prestigious and useless international bureaucrat.

Sorry guys, but Kerry is a sure loser.

And thanks to the New York Times for demonstrating what they can do when they put their talent to work in the service of good rather than evil.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Europeans Still Not Getting It

There's been much crowing in Germany over President Bush's praise for Gerhard Schroeder's commitment to help militarily in Afghanistan.

To the peace-at-all- costs crowd, such praise appears to be yet more validation of their belief that America has gotten itself into a quagmire that only the mature nations can resolve.

The fact that Bush's favorable statements about the German commitment have succeeded in driving the wedge between France and Germany even deeper seems to be lost on these geo-political realists.

Score another one for W.

But the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has an interesting take on this. Basically, Richard Wagner -- the columnist not the composer -- says that Germans who believe they "know" the United States are kidding themselves.

"The Germans do not grasp the Americans' political courage, which precedes all material power.

The Germans don't understand the fact that, ever since the first settlements on this continent, Americans have regarded their country as the promised land and from this have derived a world historical mission. The columnist Thomas Friedman speaks of the “revolutionary side of U.S. power“ in the Iraq question.

No matter how close Germans and Americans may get in practical terms, the fact that the Germans have no corresponding political concept will continue to keep the two peoples at a distance."

I've said before that Europeans tend to believe they understand America much more deeply than Americans understand them. This sense comes from constant exposure to American-made movies, music, food and other pop culture froth.

But this understanding is as superficial as the insight you get about Germany from watching a Volkswagen commercial.

Even among the educated and well-traveled elite of Europe, few truly understand America. That's why "Bowling for Columbine" is considered an important social commentary in Germany while in the U.S. it's a comedy flick. (In fact, Michael Moore has become a sort of neo-Jerry Lewis -- a buffoon in America but an artiste in Europe.)

Imagine how perplexing the real America looks from overseas. Gun ownership, religious fervor, huge gas guzzling cars, and widespread indifference to foreign affairs, yet also the most successful society at assimilating foreigners, the cleanest and most environmentally conscious nation on earth, the most tolerant of divergent opinions and lifestyles, the most stable political system yet devised, and the safest from from the sort of chaos that engulfs much of the world.

Perhaps most perplexing is America's ability to change radically. The recent blackout is a great illustration of this.

In 1977, the blackout immediately turned ugly with much of New York ravaged by looting. When it happened again a week and a half ago, New Yorkers practically held hands and sang Kumbaya.

Change is hard-wired into American culture. And when people say they understand the culture they are usually talking about a culture that no longer exists.

Few Americans would be so arrogant as to say they understand Germany, or France, or the Arab world. (I, of course, am one of those few).

Yet show me a European who doesn't think they know more about the world than George Bush.

Then consider, who is the greater fool?

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"Islamic Democracy"

How disappointing it is to find that friends who used to share my concern for peace and justice are now concerned with peace to the exclusion of justice.

Not only is this an obvious dead-end, but it's morally lazy.

I wish they could imagine -- as they once could -- what it must be like to be on the wrong side of an unjust system.

For those whose compassion has completely atrophied, here's a helpful guide: Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and currently director of The Dialogue Project at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

Is it not insulting to think that democracy is the property of a few Western countries? Do Iranian women like to be flogged for a piece of hair showing? If this was their tradition and culture, [would] they need to be flogged and stoned and jailed [to] implement it? Do Americans need the state [to] put a gun to their heads to carry on their traditions and culture: going to church, reading Mark Twain, or simply protesting against or for the war? Is this Islam?

Perhaps, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz are right, that the Arab world is oppressed by authoritarian regimes not because of some cultural heritage, but in spite of it.

The burden of accepting this perspective might mean leaving the safety of "progressive" conformity and opening yourself up to attacks from Michael Moore and the cultural enforcers of the left.

Painful at first. Liberating in the end.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Uday in the Park

Strange but there are some people who are actually upset that Uday and Qusay are dead.

Check out this letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle:


Editor -- I assume the Hussein brothers were as evil as they are painted in today's San Francisco Chronicle. Yet the heartless gloating over the deaths of these men, accused and killed without due process and trial, is unworthy of your editorial policy.

They apparently were killed in retaliation for defending themselves from our armed American soldiers surrounding them.

Justice does not come with a victorious shootout. This is one more instance of teaching our children that violence is the best way to bring justice.

San Francisco

Huh? Due process? Defending themselves? Even if you correct for the writer being from San Francisco, this is some fuzzy logic alright.

My only disappointment with the demise of the Hussein brothers was that it wasn't televised live with a special Uday-cam®.

Actually this was one of the best lessons in justice a frightened Iraqi kid could ever learn.

And yes, Bob , there are times when violence is the best justice delivery method. It worked against slavery, Nazism, Communism, and seems particularly effective against fascism.

As entertaining as a trial against Uday and Qusay would have been, American-style litigation would only have tarnished our reputation.

If there were ever a time to gloat this would be it.

Unless, of course, you don't want the liberation of Iraq to succeed.

My greatest concern now is that they be given a proper funeral. Perhaps a shallow unmarked grave in a park someplace.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Uday Without Sunshine

Rumor has it that the rascally fun-loving Hussein boys were visited by grief counselors from the 101st Airborne Division this afternoon.

Saddam's beloved cut-ups were playing ping-pong in the basement rec room of a garish mansion in an upscale neighborhood of Mosul when misguided, demoralized and lied-to American soldiers shot them both dead in a gun related incident.

Authorities are no doubt looking into charges that the death of the Uday and Qusay Hussein has be exaggerated, or "sexed up" according to the BBC.

Today's violence is sure to further tarnish President Bush's reputation for veracity and puts beseiged Prime Minister Tony Blair in the uncomfortable position of confirming the ongoing success of the unilateral invasion of Iraq by a coalition of American, British, Polish, Australian, Dutch, Italian forces.
Funny How Some Stereotypes Endure

"The men who have migrated to the United States have not been rich people. They went there to make a living. They were prepared to work, their purpose was to improve their condition, and they were willing to undertake any manual or mental labor to accomplish their object.

They were hardy and strong and could bear a heavy strain. Their children inherited their good qualities, and so an American is generally more hard working and enterprising than most of the people in Europe and elsewhere."

America Observed Through the Spectacles of a Chinese Diplomat, Wu TinFang, 1914

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Hurray for Larry Summers

Will Ferrell delivered the Class Day Address as part of Harvard's Commencement in June.

Just found a transcript via Catchdubs. Not only Ferrell a talented actor, he's also a pretty funny speaker.

I'm not one of you. Okay?

I can't relate to who you are and what you've been through. I graduated from the University of Life. All right?

I received a degree from the School of Hard Knocks. And our colors were black and blue, baby. I had office hours with the Dean of Bloody Noses. All right?

I borrowed my class notes from Professor Knuckle Sandwich and his Teaching Assistant, Ms. Fat Lip Thon Nyun.

That's the kind of school I went to for real, okay?

It gets better.