Archive for April, 2007

My Car Can Do That

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Your Wife Called

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Qui-Gon Jinn: Worst Jedi Ever

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Greenlit on FARK.

Update: Oh dear Lord. I dished out a snarky snippet about Obi-Wan being worse. You would have thought I’d slaughtered a Jedi temple chock-full of younglings or something.

It’s Tweak-A-Geek Sunday, I guess.

Best Sentence XI

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

…and to think the best sentence I’ve heard lately, comes from the guy known far-and-wide, here too, for thoroughly botching up mediocre sentences. Nevermind getting out any good ones.

“When Americans went to the polls last November, they did not vote for politicians to substitute their judgment for the judgment of our commanders on the ground,” [U.S. President George] Bush said. “And they certainly did not vote to make peanut storage projects part of the funding for our troops.” [emphasis mine]

Harry ReidThe occasion was the admission — right out in plain sight, in broad daylight, not in the smoke-filled cloakrooms — by senior democrat legislators that they have no principles, none whatsoever. Or if any of them do, they don’t use them.

Democrats know they might lose this month’s showdown with President Bush on legislation to pull troops out of Iraq. But with 2008 elections in mind, majority Democrats says it is only a matter of time before they will get their way. Senior Democrats are calculating that if they keep the pressure on, eventually more Republicans will jump ship and challenge the president – or lose their seats to Democratic contenders.

“It’s at least my belief that they are going to have to break because they’re going to look extinction, some of them, in the eye,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., of his Republican colleagues.

Added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.: “We’re going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war.” [emphasis mine]

Good one, huh? It’s almost a contender for the House of Eratosthenes Best Sentence award in-and-of itself. Or…most telling sentence. Most revealing.

Can anyone with an I.Q. higher than their age, suppose even for a moment that the Majority Leader refers to the prospect that our troops are going to start kicking ass? That they’ve lost their last man between this moment and the day we enjoy complete uncompromised victory, our 21st-century V.E. day, and we’ll all sit back and realize that our military victory comes as a direct result of our new glorious democrat leadership?

You think that might be what he means? Yeah. Right.

But Don’t Question Their PatriotismTM.

Yes, Screwed We Are

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

All you blogger guys stop bitching about Imus now, it’s Sunday.

Came across this when my son had a question about the Throne Room scene in Return of the Jedi. I don’t even remember what the question was or what I was trying to find. It’s a thread, in which a bunch of Star Wars geeks…like I am one to talk…take some of the most stale, awkward dialog from the old trilogy and give it a twist.

It’s funny about half of the time. Maybe less if your standards are higher, but still it’s pretty good considering it goes on for 117 pages.

I Made a New Word

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

GOOGLESWIVEL (n.): A rotary motion one makes in a chair, usually in the neighborhood of 180 degrees. Immediately before it, you are engaged in a conversation with someone, and immediately after it you use your computer to prove how right you are.

I Finally Found Her!

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

While we’re back on the Imus circle-jerk, I need to get to this if I don’t have time for any other thing…and I think I don’t have time for any other thing. On Thursday, I made a list of ten things that I should have seen in the episode somewhere, any one of which, by its absence, would have heightened my suspicions that all was not quite cricket. And one is not missing…all ten are missing.

Well Number Three on that list of ten must now carry a caveat.

3. I did not see any of the girls on the Rutgers team say they were offended. Their coach said all the right things repeatedly; she’s clearly angry and outraged. But Imus didn’t insult her, did he? What do the girls have to say?

One girl has been found. Her name is Matee Ajavon.

Which team will better weather its unfair attack?

The women of Rutgers basketball, the object of Don Imus’ slur? Or the men of Duke lacrosse, targeted by a “rogue” prosecutor?

No question, the Rutgers women. That’s notwithstanding reactions like “this has scarred me for life,” as Rutgers junior Matee Ajavon put it Tuesday. Surely, she exaggerates. In fact much of America now knows that young women we’d never heard of are valedictorians and musical prodigies. The Rutgers women have overthrown the stereotype that there’s no such thing as student athletes.

Not sure I agree that this has had a beneficial effect on the Rutgers ladies. Matee Ajavon isn’t the name of just anyone; you can Google it. And as of yesterday, what you got back was an impressive avalanche of athletic accomplishments written up where they belong, in the Sports section of school newspapers, before the word “ho” ever crossed Don Imus’ withered-up old lips.

I got a feeling that’s gonna change. Matee Ajavon is a melodramatic whiner, and we’re good at giving lots of attention to our melodramatic whiners when they melodramatically whine. Behold the Ajavon “scars”; they are destined to become her legacy.

Number Three will not be struck, I should hasten to add. I said it now carried a caveat that is Ms. Ajavon’s whimpering. I strongly doubt it is a sentiment to which she gave voice early on in this little episode; I expect she uttered it after Imus was fired, or very shortly before.

Too little, too late. Very few people were actually clamoring for Don Imus’ firing, and the ones who did lifted not one pinky to learn the emotional reaction of the girls who were insulted, or to report back on what those emotions were.

To reiterate: That is what the entire drama was supposed to be about. There is absolutely nothing, or very little, to indicate that it was about that — not that an inspection of events would leave an intelligent observer curious. Deep down, anyone with an I.Q. approaching-or-over the century mark, understands this wasn’t about that. The meme that Al Sharpton was rattling a sabre fighting the good fight, defending the honor of the oppressed, was concocted from the get-go for the consumption by those with barely enough brainpower to get their flies zipped and their shoes tied.

Condi Joins In

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

Condoleeza has a lot of enemies. I am not one of them. Her account with me has a sky-high balance.

But alas, she’s just decided to make a large withdrawal.

Rice Calls Imus Remarks ‘Disgusting’
The Associated Press
Friday, April 13, 2007; 5:44 PM

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the highest-ranking black woman in government history, said Friday the racist, sexist comments that got radio shock jock Don Imus fired were “disgusting.”

In her first public remarks on the controversy, Rice said Imus had insulted not only female athletes but all young black women by referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hos.”

“They’re 18- and 19-year-old women,” she said. “And what were they doing except showing that they’re really fine athletes, playing under extraordinary pressure in which for them was a dream season.

“And it gets ruined by this disgusting _ and I’ll use the word ‘disgusting’ _ comment which doesn’t belong in any polite company and certainly doesn’t belong on any radio station that I would listen to,” Rice told talk show host Michael Medved.

“I just thought that it was an attack on women’s sports, first of all, and secondly an attack on very accomplished young black women in a way that was really offensive,” she said, according to a transcript of the interview released by the State Department.

Rice declined to offer an opinion on Imus’s firing but said she was “very glad that there was, in fact, a consequence” for the remarks.

There was also an apology for the remarks. And a meeting with those offended by the remarks. And a suspension…which almost certainly is not the consequence to which Dr. Rice was referring.

This country recognizes equal rights of everyone, by conferring on disparate demographies different “special” rights at different times. We play, in essence, a game of “Musical Rights.” And right now, some of these demographic groups enjoy the right where if you insult them intentionally or otherwise, there is no clemency.

Consequences are dealt out — so you may mend your ways? It would not seem so. I don’t know of anyone who’s going to follow Don Imus around to make sure he’s learned his lesson. Nobody in this farce seems to have given a rat’s ass about what Don Imus thinks about the Rutgers ladies, save for when he’s on his way to one more negotiating table to drop one more pound of flesh.

And not that I’m worried one tinker’s damn about his retirement plan. But it’s a little disturbing that his come-uppins have everything to do with eradicating his income and nothing at all to do with seeing to it that he mend his ways. Don Imus was dealt with by being…erased. To ensure that nobody hears his hateful words again? Don’t make me laugh. What panoply of healthy, wholesome, mind-expanding electronic programming are we left with. Get back to me on that as soon as American Idol is over, will you?

No, he was erased. To punish him. Because assassinations aren’t legal yet.

Imus is a gazillionaire — but Imus is Imus. This was done, clearly, to create a precedent so it can be done to someone else. Anyone with half the impressive menagerie of personal achievements to which Dr. Rice can lay claim, should have the intelligence to see that. And you know, maybe she’s such a rocket scientist that she can find a way to reconcile this with her oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.

But I don’t see any such reconciliation. The firing of Don Imus, in intent as well as in effect, was prologue to ensuring that all transmitted ideas in this culture are supervised. We’ll figure out who has that supervisory authority later. But the issue at hand was, whether we have it in us to uphold the right to free speech, even speech we don’t like.

And we don’t have it in us. I wish it was somehow more complicated than that. It isn’t.

Mass Murder and Overtime Parking

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, spends a lot of ink belaboring the obvious. It is often accused of doing this by the folks who aren’t supposed to be reading it, and I find this to be entirely accurate. But oftentimes in life it’s the most obvious observations that are given the least amount of ink…or breath…and, oftentimes, as a direct result we tend to fail to react to these “obvious” things we know to be true, that nobody jots down or says out loud.

Half a year ago I indulged in an exercise in belaboring the obvious. The occasion that inspired the belaboring was the release of a long, long, oh so long list of reasons to hate George W. Bush — who wasn’t running for re-election, but still. Hating’s fun, right?

There is an obvious problem with the hating. As a recruiting tool, it’s expensive, clumsy, and clearly toxic. It’s also deleterious to the primary mission of recruiting, which is to unite and mobilize disparate parties who have passion for a common mission. Oftentimes, it turns out the mission is not so common.

Here’s a great example. Even though nobody ever reads this blog, if anyone ever did happen to stumble into it they’d know I have no great affection for this thing Al Sharpton did to Don Imus. It would be fair to say I hate this thing Al Sharpton did. What if I were willing to say I hate Al Sharpton himself? What if…just as a hypothetical…I were to put out a recruiting drive and tell everyone on the Internet — in summary — if you hate Al Sharpton as much as I do, I want to talk to you.

That would be stupid. I’d end up with a “ragtag fugitive fleet,” the homily goes, of…skinheads, klansmen, Don Imus fans, Tennessee Lady Volunteers maybe, some folks who are just generally good at hating, etc. Maybe even some “ho’s.” Maybe a few folks like me who are genuinely concerned about free speech, and can logically see Sharpton’s little maneuver here was directly opposed to that principle in every possible way. I expect the bigots and the trash would badly outnumber us, and before anyone goes asking, no I’m not referring to the Lady Volunteers or the Imus Fans or the ho’s. I’m talking about the bigots. You ask to be united with all others who hate as you do, equally-and-moreso in a likewise direction…and it will happen. Be careful what you wish for. Garbage in, garbage out.

That’s the problem with hate.

Then there’s the problem with a list-of-102. What do you need from a list of 102, that you can’t get from a list of twenty? I pointed out that Item #1 on the list accused George Bush of aiding and abetting our enemies, the very people on whom he declared war soon after the September 11 attacks. Mmmkay, it’s a little asinine to presume people are motionless and that their allegiances remain static over time. Kind of indicates someone watches TV way too much. But okay, let’s go with that; George Bush gave millions of dollars to the Taliban four months before the attacks, therefore he was indirectly responsible for attacking his own country.

Let us say I am completely sold on that, both in the “facts” upon which it rests, and the conclusion it wants me to draw. Fine, whatever, I hate George Bush because he pumped money into the September 11 attacks. Sold. We got us a traitor in the White House. Under what circumstances, then, am I to even consider Number Eleven…

Of Bush’s proposed $2 trillion tax cut 43% goes to the wealthiest 1% of Americans.


We got bin-Laden-Lite running the country, and you want to further agitate my rage with your trifling disputes about taxation policy? That’s a little like taking down Al Capone for tax evasion, isn’t it?

Well, yeah it is, and that’s the point. When you take down Al Capone for tax evasion, the end justifies the means. Whatever principle is involved in it, at some point is chucked out the window. And this says something about the bedmates you make for yourself when you meet other Bush-haters through some meandering endless 102-item list of “reasons to hate.” Sure, you all want George Bush out, but there the similarities must end because there is no genuine debate after you all agree you hate him. Why, who knows. At the very next Bush-haters meeting bin Laden might be standing there right next to you…whoops, I did it again, questioning their patriotism. Better change the subject before I get into trouble.

Anyway, the point stands. It’s a fairly obvious point. I’m just some knucklehead who writes for a blog nobody reads; I’m certainly not, let us say for example, the retired Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler.

The Chairman, with someone who's allowed to use the word 'Ho'Well, Lee Iacocca has flipped his lid, either lately or some time ago. Maybe he’s got a raging case of insomnia brought on by nasal congestion just like me. Except what he’s got, makes him much, much, much crankier.

I. Had Enough?

Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

There ya go. The mass-murder-and-overtime-parking indictment of pure hate. Osama-bin-Laden-Lite led us “into war on a pack of lies,” and in case you’re wondering if Iacocca has lost all perspective of what a serious charge that is to make, he goes on to bitch and moan about being allowed to keep some more of the money he made.

Did I miss something here, Mister Iacocca? You want to lecture us about what leadership is, and in order to do that you’re proceeding from the premise that you know what it is, and Congress does not. Hey, as far as that’s concerned I’m on board with you…you have made a lot of money, Congress does have a predilection for pissing it away. But you think simply acknowledging this superior wisdom of yours, through a tax policy that allows you to keep more of your money to spend or invest as you wish, is evil on par with sending the country into war on a pack of lies.

What a glorious Gordian Knot of contradiction.

While you’re busy untangling that for my benefit, sir, let’s inspect some more of your — what did you call them? — “senile” remarks.

The Test of a Leader

I’ve never been Commander in Chief, but I’ve been a CEO. I understand a few things about leadership at the top. I’ve figured out nine points—not ten (I don’t want people accusing me of thinking I’m Moses). I call them the “Nine Cs of Leadership.” They’re not fancy or complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader should have…So, here’s my C list:

A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of the “Yes, sir” crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place. George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. “I just scan the headlines,” he says. Am I hearing this right? He’s the President of the United States and he never reads a newspaper?…A leader must have COURAGE. I’m talking about balls…George Bush comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family, but he likes to talk like a cowboy. You know, My gun is bigger than your gun. Courage in the twenty-first century doesn’t mean posturing and bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.

Well. I’ll leave it to the folks from Connecticut to figure out if Iacocca is accusing them of being geldings. I’m just wondering what he’s been reading voraciously. This big, complicated world has given us a lot of examples of big, complicated problems which our courageous leaders have been talking out at negotiating tables. And when I do my voracious reading, lately it seems the only tangible results being implemented from these negotiating tables, are the ones that have to do with the U.S. and our allies getting screwed over one more time.

Did Iacocca do any voracious reading about the shell game Saddam Hussein was doing while the United Nations passed seventeen resolutions against him? Am I reading this right? That courage would have led to an eighteenth resolution, and if I do some more voracious reading I’ll eventually be able to see the logic in that?

Well maybe he’s talking about something other than Iraq. Has he done his voracious reading about North Korea? Just speaking for myself, the most compelling argument against going into Iraq, and I’ll certainly keep it in mind when rear-view-mirror disputes become something worth my time — is this: We may need the troops currently committed to Iraq, if & when the negotiations with Kim-Jong break down. This fellow presents an interesting challenge to your nine C’s, Mister I: If we were to follow your Nine, we’d be committed to showing our “balls” by jibber-jabbering with him endlessly. And your indictment against Mr. B breaks down a little because he’s been doing exactly that. Perhaps to a fault. The fact of the matter is, “Team America: World Police” seems to have captured the essence of Kim Jong-Il’s character more accurately than any of these newspapers we’re reading so voraciously. Kim-Jong seems to be running a little light on some of those C’s.

You say we show balls when we sit down at negotiating tables. One of your C’s is Common Sense.

You can’t be a leader if you don’t have COMMON SENSE. I call this Charlie Beacham’s rule. When I was a young guy just starting out in the car business, one of my first jobs was as Ford’s zone manager in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. My boss was a guy named Charlie Beacham, who was the East Coast regional manager. Charlie was a big Southerner, with a warm drawl, a huge smile, and a core of steel. Charlie used to tell me, “Remember, Lee, the only thing you’ve got going for you as a human being is your ability to reason and your common sense. If you don’t know a dip of horseshit from a dip of vanilla ice cream, you’ll never make it.”

I’m sure you know who Jimmy Carter is, he’s the guy who thoroughly exacerbated the gas crisis and gave us an inflation crisis on top of it. He, too, missed a few of your C’s, and his incompetence is almost certainly responsible for a good chunk of this Iacocca fortune you want taxed away.

But he’d love the bit about negotiating with our enemies.

President Carter consistently failed us by continuing negotiations, when [C]ommon Sense would declare the point of diminishing returns to have been reached awhile back. He’s had the biggest impact by far with regard to our current situation with North Korea, and none of his influence has been any good. He’s running around demonstrating his lack of [C]haracter and [C]uriosity by spewing bile just like yours. He wants us to negotiate some more.

With people who don’t seem to be interested in negotiating with anyone. At all. So I guess he doesn’t know horseshit from ice cream.

But like George Bush, Carter has made it to the highest office in the land. The current President, who has aroused all this crankiness out of you, according to your own logic has done just a swell job of proving Charlie Beacham wrong. In my book, you can add Carter to that mix as well. Perhaps Beacham’s words had a lot of merit, but no longer do.

Come to think of it, you’ve managed to deal the Beacham maxim a rather devastating assault here. Had any ice cream lately?

Thirty Slutty Athletes

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Slutty AthletesWell, the title pretty much says it all on this one. Watch it at work though, fellas; as you can tell from the doctored graphic, things aren’t quite safe. It’s a matter of individual interpretation.

There are a lot of dudes in here

I guess by-and-large, the ladies in the athletic competitions have been relatively well-mannered. Each one married to their respective chosen craft. An aspirin between the knees is the best contraceptive, and all that.

Nerd Crushes

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Nerd CrushThis seems to be one of Maxim Magazine’s better lists. I agree with just about all the ladies in it, even the cartoon ones…just about. And the ones I don’t like, I can certainly see how someone else would.

Raquel Welch’s daughter from Coccoon isn’t in there anywhere though…neither is Princess Ardala. Other than that and a few Star Trek guest stars, maybe a Bond babe or two, it looks pretty complete. Oh…and it’s also missing Daisy Duke. And Velma Dinkley.

Gee now that I think about it some more, it’s got more holes than swiss cheese. Hey — does this mean I’m cool?

I’m Not In It

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

You just keep your opinion to yourself now.

Ten Things I Did Not See In The Imus Debacle

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

…but before I get to that — a few words from someone with absolutely no sympathy for Imus whatsoever. His identity is unimportant because I think he speaks for many.

Yes, Blame Imus, but Spare Me Sharpton
John W. Mashek

For starters, I am not a fan of Don Imus.

I never watch his TV show except when visiting friends who do. His trademark of making fun of people is galling. He ought to look in the mirror now and then. Too many politicians and journalists are willing to give legitimacy to his program with their appearances.

At the same time, his main tormentors–Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson–are hardly shining lights of virtue. After all, we all have our demons to deal with.

But both Sharpton and Jackson are politicians as well as ministers. They have both run for president and so should recognize they are fair game as public figures.

For example, Sharpton refuses to apologize for his role in the Tawana Brawley phony charge of rape some 20 years ago. He pointedly refused to apologize when reporters gave him the opportunity in the presidential race four years ago. Not exactly a profile in accountability by Sharpton, who demands it from others.

Now then, here are my ten. And let me add — if one or two out of these ten escaped my notice, something would already be smelling mighty fishy. Three would be rancid. Four would be asphyxiating.

All ten are missing, and the powers-that-be are instructing me to believe that justice has prevailed and everything’s fine. I can go back to worrying about minding my P’s and Q’s, and purchasing offsets against my “carbon footprint.”


1. I did not see Sharpton demonstrate any regard for the feelings of the girls on the Rutgers team, which is odd since this is supposed to have been all about that. And Imus, his chosen target, has done exactly that plenty of times.

2. I did not see any groundswell of popular support for taking down Imus, or taking down “shock jocks” like him. It is necessary here to distinguish between a frenzied blood-lust, and an eyeball-rolling fatigue. I’m looking for the former and not the latter. I’ve been able to divine no energetic popular consensus, or anything coming close to it, that the shock-jock industry has worn out some kind of welcome. Or, for that matter, that Reverend Al, and his “industry,” has not.

3. I did not see any of the girls on the Rutgers team say they were offended. Their coach said all the right things repeatedly; she’s clearly angry and outraged. But Imus didn’t insult her, did he? What do the girls have to say?

4. I did not see anyone — anywhere — disagree with the statement “Don Imus is a dumbass.” I get the impression some folks think he said a dumbass thing, and wasn’t one before, and has only lately become one — but this distinction is utterly without meaning and falls far short of justifying the breath needed to argue it.

5. I did not see anyone express the faintest whiff of confidence in Al Sharpton’s ability to discern right from wrong — even though, if you listen to his comments carefully, you’ll see they all have to do with decisions he unilaterally made according to his own moral compass. Can it be argued by any rational person that this is off-topic because his private desires have been without effect, or have been tempered with the wisdom of others who are more reliable or wise? My memory fails to provide me with a precedent for such a clear winner arising, Venus-like, from such a tempest; what he didn’t get out of this, he didn’t want.

6. I did not see anyone even pretend to have known Imus said something stupid, before Sharpton started making noises that there should be a problem with it. The appearance is that Imus’ comments became boneheaded the moment Sharpton said that’s what they were.

7. I did not see anyone in a position of power, even begin to try to reassure the rest of us that Al Sharpton isn’t writing all the rules and won’t be writing all the rules. And that’s strange. Shouldn’t this be obligatory? Like I said above, what he didn’t get out of this he didn’t want. Had all 535 members of Congress wanted to produce such results, how long would it take, and how far would they get? How many kings, emperors, satraps and caliphs from yesteryear have retired to the world beyond, never having tasted this kind of unfettered, dictatorial power?

8. A lot of liberals have been known in years past to produce some bastardization of the apocryphal one-liner from Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Clearly, if Imus had this right before, he no longer does, nor does anyone else in his former line of work. I don’t know of any of those liberals having expired in the last week or so, due to natural causes, or injuries related to such a noble gambit. If there’s anyone I missed, I apologize for the oversight, honor the sacrifice and extend my sympathy to the family. When’s the funeral?

9. I did not see anyone advance an argument that anyone else, anywhere, should care about what Al Sharpton finds offensive, or even — as far as that goes — tell me who he is. Or, while we’re on the subject of introductions, whether or not he’s really a Reverend, and/or when/where he was ordained. Now that he’s basically running things, shouldn’t such a credential be common knowledge?

10. As Mr. Mashek pointed out above, I did not see an apology from “Rev.” Sharpton for the Tawana Brawley mess, or for the Crown Heights riot. Not even so much as a finger-waggling lecture to people like me on why we’re committing a grievous offense against some nebulous principle for paying it some attention. Not even that. Nothing. As far as I know, he hasn’t been burdened with the minimal necessity of ignoring someone’s inconvenient question about those things.

Jesus Tomb Scholars Backtrack

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Well…back to the drawing board.

Why Atheists Feel Abused

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Poor little atheists. Rare is the atheist I met who didn’t have that “I’m so put-upon” attitude, and maybe this explains it. Mama calling their “rights” to their Christmas presents into question.

For the record, I’m voting “fake.”

CEH +145

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Charles Evans Hughes was born on April 11, 1862. He was the eleventh Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was responsible for laying the cornerstone of the current Supreme Court building, in 1936.

HughesHe passed the bar with an unheard-of score of 99+1/2. He was the Governor of New York, and then President Taft nominated him as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He quit that post in 1916 to campaign against Woodrow Wilson. He went to bed on Election Day thinking he was going to be the nation’s next President; it seems President Wilson retired the same night with the same thought. It was not to be.

He was appointed Secretary of State by President Harding. He served with distinction in that office into President Coolidge’s adminstration, and then retired to private life.

President Hoover nominated him for Chief Justice in 1930. When the Senate met to consider his confirmation, it was much more contentious than his elevation to Associate Justice in 1910. The Great Depression was in full swing by then, and the interests of The Poor were already stacked up against the interests of The Rich. Mr. Hughes was thought by the Democrats to be aligned with the second of those two, and they caused a lot of grief about this. Nevertheless, his commission was confirmed.

Years later into the first term of Franklin Roosevelt, the Supreme Court struck down the American Caesar. In Schechter Poultry Corp. vs. U.S. (1935), Hughes delivered the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court that Congress had unconstitutionally delegated legislative authority to the President.

The Court Packing Scandal of 1937 followed. Roosevelt, accustomed to being given whatever he requested from Congress, approached them demanding the authority to expand the Supreme Court. His court-packing plan was based on a big fat red-herring, that anyone on the Supreme Court over 70 years of age was a doddering old fool and needed an assistant lest the nation’s judicial business be clogged up by the gray-hairs. At the time of the court-packing plan, six Supreme Court justices achieved this level of maturity including Hughes. So FDR, embittered at finishing his first term without a single Supreme Court appointment, was demanding the authority to expand the Court to 15 seats.

He lost that battle. But he won the war.

The crisis was averted when Justice Willis Van Devanter changed his vote in the “Switch In Time That Saved Nine” case of 1937, the West Coast Hotels vs. Parrish decision. Van Devanter sided with the President…and Chief Justice Hughes…ruling that the executive branch had the authority to enforce a minimum wage. A Supreme Court decision made purely out of political expediency.

Hughes said at the time that Justice Van Devanter “saved the court.” He was probably right.

Chief Justice Hughes stands alone in history. He is both the savior of the delicate balance of powers in the American Republic…and it’s traitor. In fairness to him, however, it should be pointed out that this tiny civil war between 1935 and 1937 was all-important. It was an Alamo. We did lose a lot of our liberties by the time FDR came to dominate the judicial branch, but if we had lost those liberties in 1935 instead we would surely have lost a lot more of them.

How did he do as an officer of the court? Surely, he was less influential than Chief Justice John Marshall. However, interestingly, Charles E. Hughes was way out in front of the great Federalist when measured according to the attribute that is supposed to matter the most: impartiality. Chief Justice Hughes sided with FDR when the Constitution sided with FDR; he went against the administration when the Constitution was being assaulted by the administration (which was far more often). Until the switch-in-time fiasco of ’37, at least, Hughes lived up to his oath. Against insurmountable and unprecedented odds.

He was a true American patriot, and in spite of his winter-season weakness he is well deserving of our gratitude and respect. He didn’t start out trying to oppose the most prestigious liberal Democrat presidential administration in history — he just ended up doing that, by having more respect for the rules than what President Roosevelt had. This is exactly what judicial officers are supposed to do.

Yeah, he was inconsistent. He is guilty of abandoning his post. But only when the judicial branch had been shaken to its very core; by which time, the case can certainly be made that sticking by the post was a pointless exercise. Until that point, he stood firm…loyal not to Republicans or Democrats, but to the document he swore to uphold. Furthermore — sometime, when you have time to spare, just gather up some of his opinions and read them. They are works of art, models for how Supreme Court decisions should be written — and decided — indeed, for how all important thinking should be done. I wish I could say that about a majority of our current justices.

Nifong vs. Imus

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Guys on the radio made a quick observation that I thought was thought-provoking and noteworthy. Just wanted to jot it down real quick.

I would bet…you may assemble any focus group you care to assemble. Democrats, Republicans, greenies, vegans, fems, just throw together whoever you want as long as the group is somewhat random. Just make it a bunch of real people. And I will bet time after time, the consensus will emerge among the focus group that the following is agreeable.

The folks who get the sound bites and tell us what to think, will never agree with it. But “real” people will.

Here it is:

Something bad should happen to the career of Mike Nifong long, long, long before anything happens to Don Imus. Nifong is more dangerous than Imus. He’s more of an embarrassment. The world is spinning all wobbly on its axis while Nifong is still allowed to do what he does, and it could hum along just fine with Imus allowed to keep doing what he does.

Pretty much everyone will agree with all that, as long as they’re real people.

Our pundits are selling us something we don’t even want to buy. And the ongoing events being any indication, we’re scarfing it up and beggin’ for seconds.

Update: And as far as that goes, I think the focus group would mostly agree this is silly:

…when asked about more mundane matters — like the price of some basic staples — [former NY City Mayor Rudy] Giuliani had trouble with a reporter’s question.

“A gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30,” he said.

A check of the Web site for D’Agostino supermarket on Manhattan’s Upper East Side showed a gallon of milk priced at $4.19 and a loaf of white bread at $2.99 to $3.39. In Montgomery, Ala., a gallon of milk goes for about $3.39 and bread is about $2.

I know what groceries cost, believe me. Unlike whoever trotted off to D’Agostino’s with Blackberry in hand, I’m a raging cheapass. Let me tell you something: Giuliani did alright. He’s still wrong by any reasonable measure, but he’s a lot closer than I would have expected.

Buck fifty a gallon? I’ve actually paid exactly that, at one of the ritzy places where I splurge for the really nice salad dressing and sauces, no less. The caveat is that it’s the second gallon of two, on special. But it can certainly be done. The D’Agostino’s Blackberry reporter embarrassed himself or herself. I’ll not be sending them down to buy my groceries for me anytime soon. I’d be much happier with Giuliani doing it.

And bread? Seventy-four cents, babe. I’ve paid as little as fifty-eight. It’s called “bag your own,” otherwise known as food-stamp stores. Looks like Giuliani knows a little bit more about them than whoever was trying to slime him. What was the point of this?

Even better question: How often do Democrats get ambushed this way? I’d love to know how Hillary would do with it.

Update: Nifong still stands. Imus is fired.

I find it impossible to believe that anyone, anywhere, with red blood and a triple-digit I.Q., would be willing to place their name under these words: If it’s alright with Sharpton it’s okay with me, and if it isn’t then it’s not. I don’t think you can find anyone anywhere who’d be willing to sign onto that. And yet…how do we conduct ourselves.

NBC News dropped Don Imus yesterday, canceling his talk show on its MSNBC cable news channel a week after Mr. Imus made racially disparaging remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

The move came after several days of widening calls for Mr. Imus to lose his job both on MSNBC, which simulcasts the “Imus in the Morning” show, and CBS Radio, which originates the show.

I can think of a few people I’d like fired. How do I do that? Falsely accuse someone of rape and then wait a few years?

Just damn.

Dealing With Telemarketers

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Yes, we live in a world that has telemarketers in it. That’s a problem. Sometimes we need a reminder that there’s more than one way to deal with any given problem.

Don’t try this at home, after all they’re just trying to make a living too. But enjoy. Some language may be .

Buck’s V-Strom

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

V-StromKeep an eye on my blogger friend Buck in the days ahead. Lucky bastard is living out the fantasy we all have.

I’ll be on the two wheels soon. I’m really super-serious about it this time. This year, or maybe worst-case scenario sometime next year. I really want something with four cylinders, which isn’t in style right now. Trying to find a way to capitalize on that. The VMAX looks really nice, but lately I discovered BMWs aren’t nearly as pricey as I thought. I’ve always loved the sound of a BMW engine, and the customers seem very pleased. I’ve got time to make up my mind.

Meanwhile, Buck takes delivery today or tomorrow, he said.

Things We Don’t Know

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Temp dataI completely missed this two weeks ago even though I’ve been reading blogger friend Phil since then. Don’t know how it flew under my radar.

Phil credits me for inspiring his own list of things he knows, and he came up with his own TIKs #3 and #4. And that’s fine, but then he goes on to a brilliant essay about things we don’t know about anthropogenic global warming. Must-read stuff.

I got something I don’t really know, but I’m almost sure of it and would be willing to bet some money on it: If you went door to door and asked a hundred people — limited to just those who fancy themselves well-educated about global warming — what the science has proven, exactly? Ninety-seven or more of them would get the answer wrong. They’d overstate the case. The “science is settled” about some of this stuff, that much is true or mostly true; but it’s surprising how little has been proven. And what can be concluded from the “hard facts,” such as they are, that we really do have? Far, far less than what most people are told.

The Perils of Consensus Science

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Consensus science has a broad appeal to non-inquisitive people. It’s the process of taking a vote on something that we all, deep down inside, intuitively know shouldn’t be put to a vote.

Trouble is, you’ve got to be selective. Our environmentalists insist we use consensus science on global warming, but turn around and abandon it when the topic changes to genetically-engineered food.

And you know, that just doesn’t end up looking very scientific.

Thing I Know #129. Leaders; votes; clergy; academics; pundits; prevailing sentiment; political expediency. Wherever these decide what is & isn’t true, an empire will surely fall.

Things Computers Can Do in Movies

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Quite a few things, actually.

14. You may bypass “PERMISSION DENIED” message by using the “OVERRIDE” function. (See “Demolition Man”.)
20. Computers can interface with any other computer regardless of the manufacturer or galaxy where it originated. (See “Independence Day”.)
27. Searches on the internet will always return what you are looking for no matter how vague your keywords are. (See “Mission Impossible”, Tom Cruise searches with keywords like “file” and “computer” and 3 results are returned.)

They should have said something about the people. If you are a bad guy with plans for world domination, or are just super-secretive and suspicious by nature, or are hiding a deep dark terrible secret, your home computer password is always…one word. Someone’s given name. And whoever belongs to that name, you’ve got a picture of them on the desk right next to the computer, or a momento of that person hanging prominently on the wall.

And if you’ve been working with computers for awhile, you can “crack a 128-bit encryption envelope” by thinking really hard. Also, if you’re that clever with the computers, you can only engage in competent hand-to-hand combat, pistol marksmanship, and look really sexy if you are female. If you’re a dude you have to look like you haven’t showered since the sixth grade, you must wear glasses, and you leave that cool athletic stuff to some other dude who in turn gets to sleep with all the women. Oh and Mister Gorgeous, wherever the computer is not concerned, always knows exactly what to do. He just needs you to get that envelope cracked.

Living in a KOSsack World

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

I had to preserve a link to the comments from the DailyKOS kids about the Imus situation. Nothing surprising behind the link. Just a bunch of leftists coming up with imaginative and refreshing hateful invective about Don Imus’ situtation. Just indulging in a creative-writing exercise to ingratiate themselves with each other.

One wonders how they would react to a bunch of 700 Club viewers doing exactly the same thing, to a different target.

I don’t know that any of the KOS kids are ladies on the Rutgers basketball team. Most folks are hesitant to get offended on behalf of a third party, because their mommas taught them to let other kids fight their own battles. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe for the last generation or so, mommas haven’t been teaching little boys and girls to let their friends fight their own fights. Seems we’ve got a lot of “proxy” outrage going on lately.

Along the same lines, the crooks and liars at Crooks & Liars would like to announce they think all their readers are raging idiots.

This Is Good XXXVIII

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Via Miss Cellania. Thanks, Miss C!

(Pull pin, toss when no one’s looking, stick hands in pockets, whistle, walk away…)

Jesse Jackson Hops Onboard

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Well, Jesse Jackson has joined the glorious effort to try to end Don Imus’ career. Video.

Someone please tell me what Mr. Jackson’s title is?

I’ve been wondering this since I was a little kid. Yeah, sure, you’d have to be living on Mars in order to not know who he is…that’s true enough. But throughout all of my adult life, respected newspapers have talked about what he’s doing lately, introducing him as “Jesse Jackson” as if he, and I, and the guy writing the newspaper article all went to the same church or lived on the same block or worked at the same company. If I was too stupid to know who Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton were, the newspapers would consider it proper protocol to tell me who the current United States president was. But Jesse Jackson — he’s just Jesse Jackson.

There’s something unseemly about such a high honor. Kind of like having your name put on a coin while you’re still alive.

One difference, though. I can’t quite tell you what the worst thing is that will happen, if you’re still alive and we chisel your likeness into a coin. I really can’t justify that taboo. But I can say what’s wrong with newspapers talking about Jesse Jackson without qualifying exactly who he is. It could be…and in fact, the appearance is given that this is exactly what is taken place…that if anyone in professional journalism begins to ponder what Rev. Jackson’s position is in the grand scheme of things, they’ll be forced to ponder why exactly it is that we care about what he’s doing. And once they start to ponder that, they’ll come to the realization that there’s no reason to pay attention to him at all.

And the first little boy who cries about that emperor’s lack of clothes, is sure to be targeted for the next shakedown. Well, that’s my theory anyway.

Either way, it’s awfully weird. The President, the Pope, God Himself…if they’re mentioned in the news, it’s obligatory to tell me who they are just in case I don’t know. Jesse Jackson — he’s just Jesse Jackson. Like I said. Weird.

What Offends Me

Monday, April 9th, 2007

Although Don Imus’ two-week suspension comes right after his own admission that his on-air race-based joke “went way too far,” I’m relieved to see one thing: It is based on “legitimate expressions of outrage.”

Good. I’d hate to think careers can be ended based solely on people like Al Sharpton just sniffing around for blood. Hate to think we’re living in an environment like that, or something.

Beginning Monday, April 16, MSNBC will suspend simulcasting the syndicated “Imus in the Morning” radio program for two weeks. This comes after careful consideration in the days since his racist, abhorrent comments were made. Don Imus has expressed profound regret and embarrassment and has made a commitment to listen to all of those who have raised legitimate expressions of outrage. In addition, his dedication – in his words – to change the discourse on his program moving forward, has confirmed for us that this action is appropriate. Our future relationship with Imus is contingent on his ability to live up to his word. [emphasis mine]

One thing is missing. Can anybody guess what it is? Anybody? Anybody at all?


Okay…here’s what I would have expected to see by now. Here it is. Drum roll, please…I would have expected to see…the legitimate expression of outrage.

Which, I would expect…would be a lady who plays for the Rutgers basketball team, the “target” of Imus’ stupid crack. As Imus himself said, and this is something I found to be contrite, well-written, sincere, and really a model for future apologies — I’ll let his words stand as he delivered them

…I’m not inclined to try to weasel out of these comments, which is why, when I reached out to Reverend Sharpton and he invited me on his program, I’m grateful that he is allowing me to come talk to him and his audience, so—he is still calling for me to be fired and that’s his right, but at least he is going to let me talk to him.

So, these young women at Rutgers, they don’t know who I am. I mean, they pick the paper up, and they don’t know—they don’t know whether I’m some right-wing racist nut, whether I was angry, whether it was some kind of diatribe, whether I was drunk. They don’t know whether I just came on the radio and said hey, the young women of Rutgers are yada, yada. So let me provide a context briefly for them—not as an excuse, not that this makes this okay, nothing makes this okay. But there is a difference between premeditated murder and accidental, the gun going off accidentally. I mean, somebody still gets shot, but the charges are dramatically different.

Now, I disagree with Imus on a lot of things, and I think it’s fair to say he offends me quite often. But in this apology, although by his own admission it doesn’t make his comment any more tasteful or acceptable, it does do one thing. And his critics, to the best of my knowledge, haven’t done this: It addresses the feelings and sentiments of his “targets” who are in the “best” position to be offended.

I haven’t heard Reverend Al do anything like that. All I’ve heard of him doing, is going on and on about some “line” or what “should” be tolerated or what’s “unacceptable” — according to HIM.

Time to scribble down some observations. Pretty obvious ones. Observations that are never mentioned by anyone, but, since I have a survival instinct like anyone else, some pretty safe ones.

First. Imus is a “shock jock.” That is not to say I think it’s an excuse for what he did. I’m not saying that…I’m simply saying this. His position, the socket in which the Imus cog spins in the corporate machinery, is one which provokes. That is his purpose. His job is not merely to provoke, but to provoke optimally. OF course it is a well-established rule by now that there is a line somewhere, and shock jocks should expect that once they go over it, punitive events will take place. This should be a surprise to no one. But there is a penalty for underperforming too…a penalty of pointlessness. I would compare it to Blackjack. It’s exactly like Blackjack. Draw twenty-one, you win. Draw twenty, and if your opponent draws nineteen or less, you still win — your opponent, for that hand, is a big nothing. He might as well have drawn a two. There is no second place, so get as close to twenty-one as you possibly can. But draw twenty-two and it’s all over. So there is a line somewhere. Everybody knows this is the case with shock jocks. Nobody ever points it out, because it doesn’t personally benefit anyone to be the guy pointing it out. But there is a line, everything revolves around that line, and that’s how it works.

Second. The line has no absolute location, which is interesting because everything is decided by what has crossed the line and what hasn’t. Absolutely everything.

Third. Just as Imus makes his “living,” if you want to call it that, by drawing twenty-one or something close to it — Sharpton makes his living taking down people like Imus. It is what he does. He’s a predator. If Imus minded his P’s and Q’s, Sharpton would be reduced to taking down insignificant microorganisms. Like for example, some guy who writes for a blog nobody reads. On the other hand, if Rush Limbaugh did something vile and stupid, Imus could scream the n-word into his microphone all day long and Sharpton wouldn’t give two shits about it because he’d have bigger fish to fry. To compare Sharpton to a hyena is an insult to hyenas because hyenas hunt in packs, have a social order they need to observe, and an ostracized hyena is sure to be a dead hyena. They have their own code of honor, of sorts, such as it is. Sharpton is more like a buzzard. He circles what he has calculated to be road kill or soon-to-be road kill, and pecks away at it in a manner most economically viable to him alone.

Four. His words notwithstanding, Sharpton has not even a passing clue where the “line” is. He’ll draw it himself based on his calculations of where he may get away with drawing it, and excite people into phony outrage.

Five. And this is most obvious of all…and the least mentioned. Given how people like Imus make a living, and how people like Sharpton make a living — nothing is being solved here. It’s a perpetual cycle. Imus makes money offending people, Sharpton makes money being offended. Whether Imus shakes this thing off or not, we’re due for another lap around the track next year and the year after.

Six. Investing anything more emotionally substantial than a blog-posting or an eyeball-roll in any of this, is a discredit to onesself. And as a society, we discredit ourselves by allowing it to continue over and over again.

All of those are completely obvious. Everyone with a room-temperature-or-greater I.Q., consciously or not, knows all six points to be true. Put them all together, and it’s impossible to escape how meaningless, senseless and downright stupid all this stuff is.

One thing does kind of bug me a little bit though. Remember, I don’t know of any Rutger’s ladies who personally heard Imus’ comments, and personally reported being offended by them. I don’t doubt such a lady athlete exists. I’m sure she does, or that they do. But I wouldn’t be willing to bet too much money on it, frankly.

Contrasted with that…

…there are some things that go on fairly regularly that I know for a fact, offend people. I know this for absolute-certain, and I haven’t heard Reverend Al say butkus about any of them. How do I know these things offend people? Because I’m one of the offended.

They Offend MeI thought I’d make a list. Al Sharpton presents himself not as the predator I know him to be, but as a crusader against things that are offensive. If I am to take him seriously, I must necessarily expect him to prioritize all these things over and above the Imus/Rutgers thing. I therefore anticipate him to crusade on all these issues, bullhorn in hand.

Although I’m a compulsive list-maker, I draw the line at having two lists in one post so I’ve moved my list of offensive things to a separate page.

Hey Reverend Al, there’s two dozen things in there and I’m not even counting the Tawana Brawley mess from twenty years ago. They all offend me, and therefore, I can guarantee someone somewhere finds all 24 offensive. I can swear an oath to that effect. In all honesty, I can’t do the same with the Imus debacle. Are you the scourge of offensive things, or aren’t you?

Olbermann’s Best Person

Monday, April 9th, 2007

Keith Olbermann has a “shocking announcement” to make. Why don’t you watch it.

Regarding the O’Reilly/Rivera dust-up: Those two have kissed & made-up. Which is to say, they & their bosses figured out the publicity value involved in the little drama had exceeded the point of diminishing returns, and they’re telling us what they think they need to tell us in order to keep the ratings high.

What to make of this? Well I agree with this editorial over here:

Fox broadcaster Bill O’Reilly has certainly stirred up the city of Virginia Beach. Two Virginia Beach teenagers Alison Kunhardt, 17, and Tessa Tranchant, 16, were killed recently when their car was slammed into by a vehicle driven by Alfredo Ramos, 22. Ramos is an illegal alien with a record of three-alcohol-related convictions.

Mr. O’Reilly has criticized the lenient sentences Ramos received in his prior DUI convictions and attacked Virginia Beach for basically providing “sanctuary” for illegal aliens.

In defending his city, Virginia Beach police chief Jake Jacocks made a stunning statement. He said he found it “ironic that had the intoxicated driver been born and raised in Virginia Beach, little notice would have been given to this senseless tragedy by the media or the community at large.

If that’s true, it’s appalling. A great deal of notice should have been given when a man has been convicted of DUI three times is still on the road. The driver should have been in jail.

In jail, and/or out of the country.

However, the rest of the Chief’s comments do carry a certain logic. Immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the feds. I’ve not yet seen any facts to confound the notion that O’Reilly is, effectively, making scapegoats out of the Virginia Beach city officials for a problem that primarily rests with the federal government.

That’s O’Reilly’s first mistake. Losing his temper was his second.

But if he must blow his stack sometime, what a great occasion for it. What exactly was wrong with O’Reilly’s indignation, Geraldo didn’t say; I don’t think he can do so. I’m absolutely confident that the salivating fans of Olbermann and Rivera can’t tell me, or if they do, their answer will be anything but unified from person-to-person. What did Rivera say word for word…something about illegal immigrants committing fewer crimes than citizens? That’s a load of crap. Illegal immigrants are lawbreakers by definition. If there are statistics that say they commit fewer crimes, that’s a sign that the method of gathering the statistics is busted.

And how could you expect the method not to be busted? You’d be comparing more-or-less complete records, with incomplete ones. That’s what illlegal means — you don’t know the record. Geraldo understands this.

So since he’s proven himself utterly untrustworthy and completely unconcerned with the truth, I’ll state his argument for him. Geraldo is from the anarchy crowd. Anti-law-and-order. Some of us are weary of seeing people hurt by malicious or negligent people, and we want something done about it — other folks are mad at us for becoming weary, and have drummed up a plethora of reasons why we shouldn’t be weary yet. But they aren’t defending any principle. They’re just suspicious of human machineries dedicated to law-and-order. They don’t trust them, and for this reason, prefer chaos. They’re prejudiced against the idea of Matt Dillon riding in to town and locking up the guy in the black hat. They have a childish desire to see Matt Dillon gunned down instead, and as for the guy in the black hat, well, let the chips fall where they may.

Keith Olbermann, according to his own remarks, has also engaged in a “first.” He’s handed out a “Best Person” award. For what? Well, I’ve given a summary of the reason in the preceding paragraph. It is the only coherent one you’re going to see; you’ll certainly see nothing clearer or plainer coming from the folks who agree with Olbermann and Rivera. The point about discriminating against illegal aliens, is a complete crock. We’re supposed to discriminate against them. They’re criminals. The point about illegal aliens not breaking the law, is an even bigger crock.

In my book, this shows Olbermann is in favor of people getting drunk and killing other people, as long as the drunk driver is an illegal alien. I’m sure that notion gets under the skin of a lot of readers, and I’m sure a lot of them think I’m curtailing someone’s rights…even though, all I’m doing is making up my own mind as a private citizen, and writing it down. But unlike Rivera, Olby made his comments without anyone talking over him. He had plenty of time to say what he wanted to say. And what I saw was 1) O’Reilly pointed out the deaths were utterly preventable and that city officials should be held accountable; 2) Rivera gave a bunch of bullshit reasons why this is not the case; 3) O’Reilly lost his cool; 4) Olbermann — for reasons he’s afraid to state, or thinks unnecessary to state, or both — gave Rivera the first-ever “Best Person” award. An award he could have handed out at any other time over the last two years. For anything. He thought this was the right occasion. Making a stand for………illegal immigrants who break into the country, and get drunk, and use their cars as weapons and kill girls. He wanted now to be the time, so he could be crystal-clear about what he supports and what he opposes.

Am I to conclude something else?

Why We Have Blogs

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Regarding Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Syria: This is why we have blogs.

The print and electronic media, in both hard news and editorial, have entirely failed us in this area. They’ve had all week long to address this thing the Speaker did. Let me boil down how they addressed it: The hard news resources give us the events and the sound bites. If you’re trying to figure out how to vote in 2008 based on events like this, and you rely on hard news, you must rely on the sound bites from the White House and from the Democrats in Congress. That’s an example of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse if ever there was one. Both sides spin — and rest assured on this, if either side manages to sound more compelling than the other, it’s probably the least honorable side that prevails. So what we call “hard news” sucks, as a tool to address the problem at hand.

Editorials aren’t much better. Speaker Pelosi may have committed a felony here; conservative editorials will play that up, liberal ones will play that down. Occasionally, someone will step back and take a broader view that may be useful to us across a longer timeframe, like Fred Barnes when he wrote for the Weekly Standard:

Something gets into political leaders when they take over Congress. It makes them think they can run Washington and the government from Capitol Hill. So they overreach, but it never works. Republicans tried it in 1995 and were slapped down by President Clinton in the fight over the budget and a government shutdown. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is operating as if she rules much more than just the House of Representatives. This includes having her own foreign policy — a sure recipe for trouble.

Thus is Pelosi’s misstep explained according to her human failings, rather than simply by the corrupting influence of politics.

But such contributions are few and far between, and if the Barnes editorial gets any visibility, the citadel that is the print editorial “industry” will mobilize to get it slimed. Editorials don’t exist, after all, to show us our leaders are human; they exist to show us our leaders are corrupt if they have the letter “R” after their names, or had the best of intentions if they have the letter “D” after their names. And certainly, they aren’t supposed to depict the emperor’s nakedness when said emperor is the first emperess to hold the House gavel.

And even Barnes’ comments fail to address the underlying question: Just how far do we have to position our Democrats from official diplomatic offices, before they’ll stop flying around making promises to foreign heads-of-state that we don’t want them to make? Seems to me, that’s what the American electorate needs to know.

And it falls to the blogging community to answer that. I’ll tell you why. To answer that question, you have to have a certain level of healthy cynicism. There is such a thing, you know. Humans are cynical creatures. It’s a survival instinct. You take your family to a nice restaurant, part with more money than you expected, and get lousy service and lousy food. You give the place a second shot the next month, part with the same amount of money, get lousy service and lousy food. You give the place a third chance the next month, with the same results…you won’t be going back a fourth time. Ever. That’s cynicism. It’s a healthy thing.

And the fact of the matter is — as unprofessional as bloggers can be, and as helpful as “real” editorials can be sometimes — editorials aren’t supposed to be cynical. Good cynicism, bad cynicism, it’s all the same. The first rough draft passes from the pen of the author, and passes under the eyeball of the very first editor, the first casualty after the stuff Microsoft Word underlines as spelling and grammar mistakes, is cynicism. All kinds.

This is a problem. We live in an age where we need our cynicism to help us with our thinking.

And my cynicism tells me things. Things that are unprovable, but still things that are undisputed…or if they are disputed, they ought not be.

Let’s parse what what Speaker Pelosi herself had to say about the administration’s objections:

“Our message was President Bush’s message,” Pelosi told the Associated Press from Portugal. “The funny thing is, I think we may have even had a more powerful impact with our message because of the attention that was called to our trip. It became clear to President Assad that even though we have our differences in the United States, there is no division between the president and the Congress and the Democrats on the message we wanted him to receive.”

Speaker Pelosi’s position is based on two lies. First of all, to believe the things she has had to say about her trip, you have to believe that her office and the White House are in agreement about things. On the other hand, to believe the things the White House has had to say, you have to believe that the House Speaker and the President disagree. Well, guess what: They don’t agree. So to believe Speaker Pelosi, you have to accept that she’s in lock-step with President Bush about everything that needs to be told to Syria, even as those two fail to agree on everything from bacon-or-eggs to tastes-great-less-filling to black-or-cream-sugar.

Second lie: Her talking points are carefully calculated to shore up a constituency that is hopelessly divided. She says “our message was President Bush’s message,” and what she’s doing — you won’t read this in any editorial, but it’s the truth — is addressing two constituencies instead of one. Her job is to keep on doing this throughout Election Day ’08. Moderates who long for an end to partisan disputes and are ready to vote for anyone showing signs of bringing that end, hear these words and interpret them the way they want. Oh, Speaker Pelosi has respect for the President’s authority. She’s discharging that authority in a way President Bush himself cannot…perhaps because she’s more articulate. The results are sure to be positive. Why, think what would happen if we put someone from her party in the President’s chair…and come to think of it, it’s been awhile since they had the chance. Maybe we should give it to them again. After all, the policies won’t change much, but the execution will be better. Perhaps that’s what we need. Hmmm.

And then the MoveOnDotOrgsters, who want anything but an end to partisan divide — they hear the same words and think something else. Pelosi, they think, is pointing out Bush’s incompetence. Go Nan! Because, after all, according to the KOSsacks and MoveOn.Orgsters, there is no point to anyone making a public comment about anything, other than to make Bush look bad. Think about it. When’s the last time you heard a liberal Democrat say something in public that had any other purpose? Been a while, huh?

Pelosi’s comments united these two camps. At least tangentially. Now, you get representatives from these two groups, moderates and extreme leftists, in a room together and — look out. The likely result is flying furniture. But Pelosi has managed to deliver words that each side of the split, will pick out and interpret in the way they want.

Of course, when the words are sufficiently vague to bring about that false emulsification, they become meaningless. “Our message was President Bush’s message.” That really means nothing. But who cares?

Meanwhile, in a sane world, the value of Pelosi’s trip would be measured according to the yardstick of Jimmy Carter’s trip to North Korea thirteen years ago, and the disaster that followed. The House Speaker’s authority to negotiate with foreign governments, is pretty much the same as the authority of a failed former President. Or a football, or expired carton of milk. I do hope the eventual results are better. There is no reason for me to think so.

Time to drag out the dialog between McClane and Ellis from the first Die Hard movie. I wish it didn’t mesh with real events quite so often…

Ellis: It’s not what I want, it’s what I can give you. Look, let’s be straight, okay? It’s obvious you’re not some dumb thug up here to snatch a few purses, am I right?

Hans: You’re very perceptive.

Ellis: Hey, I read the papers, I watch 60 minutes, I say to myself, these guys are professionals, they’re motivated, they’re happening. They want something. Now, personally, I don’t care about your politics. Maybe you’re pissed at the Camel Jockeys, maybe it’s the Hebes, Northern Ireland, that’s none of my business. I figure, You’re here to negotiate, am I right?

Hans: You’re amazing. You figured this all out already?

Ellis: Hey, business is business. You use a gun, I use a fountain pen, what’s the difference? To put it in my terms, you’re here on a hostile takeover and you grab us for some greenmail but you didn’t expect a poison pill was gonna be running around the building. Hans, baby… I’m your white knight.

Hans: I must have missed 60 Minutes. What are you saying?

Ellis: The guy upstairs who’s fucking things up? I can give him to you.
Hans [on radio to McClane]: I have someone who wants to talk to you. A very special friend who was at the party with you tonight.

Ellis: Hello, John boy?

McClane: Ellis?

Ellis: John, they’re giving me a few minutes to try and talk some sense into you. I know you think you’re doing your job, and I can appreciate that, but you’re just dragging this thing out. None of us gets out of here until these people can negotiate with the LA police, and they’re just not gonna start doing that until you stop messing up the works.

McClane: Ellis, what have you told them?

Ellis: I told them we’re old friends and you were my guest at the party.

McClane: Ellis… you shouldn’t be doing this…

Ellis: Tell me about it.

Ellis: All right… John, listen to me… They want you to tell them where the detonators are. They know people are listening. They want the detonators of they’re going to kill me.

Ellis: John, didn’t you hear me?

McClane: Yeah, I hear you, you fucking moron!

Ellis: John, I think you could get with the program a little. The police are here now. It’s their problem. Tell these guys where the detonators are so no one else gets hurt. Hey, I’m putting my life on the line for you buddy…

McClane: Don’t you think I know that! Put Hans on! Hans, listen to me, that shithead doesn’t know what kind of scum you are, but I do –

Hans: Good. Then you’ll give us what we want and save your friend’s life. You’re not part of this equation. It’s time to realize that.

Ellis: What am I, a method actor? Hans, babe, put away the gun. This is

McClane: That asshole’s not my friend! I barely know him! I hate his fucking guts — Ellis, for Christ’s sake, tell him you don’t mean shit to me –

Ellis: John, how can you say that, after all these years–? John? John?

[Hans shoots Ellis]

Hans: Hear that? Talk to me, where are my detonators. Where are they or shall I shoot another one?

Fortunately, the gunshot was figurative and unlike the hapless Ellis, Speaker Pelosi is okay. But her strategy is just as kooky as his, and I’m afraid every bit as ill-fated.

Update 4-10-07: Welcome Pajamas Media readers.

Bouncing Boobs

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Just something fun.

Question It Again

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Someone was holding up this “Talking Points Memo” as an example of Bill O’Reilly “questioning the patriotism of anyone who would disagree with Bush’s policies” or some words to that effect. I remember thinking I must be the slope-foreheaded bushbot they say I am, because I scanned it from top to bottom two or three times and couldn’t find where O’Reilly was doing this.

Now patriotic Americans, those who put the good of their country above partisan politics, can disagree all day long about the Iraq conflict. There’s no question the war has not gone well. And those of us who thought the Iraqi people en mass would help America and Britain were wrong.

As “Talking Points” has stated, many Iraqis are far more interested in killing their rivals than they are in having a peaceful Democratic nation, but there’s much on the line in Iraq, including blunting an increasingly belligerent Iran, which seeks to control the oil flow from the Gulf.

So if there is a possibility of stabilizing things in Iraq, and there is, my stated opinion is to support one last attempt to do that.

Therefore, Harry Reid is wrong to force a timetable and try to cut funding at this moment. He and Speaker Pelosi are putting American troops in a very bad position. The soldiers and marines fighting in Iraq know what’s going on in Washington and it affects them.

This is an issue that’s been visited and revisited. But the whole Iraq thing seems to be rounding some sort of corner, so maybe it’s good to examine this one more time.

In all seriousness, I’m alarmed at the explosive expansion of this bulls-eye that is the “questioning of patriotism.” For a number of reasons. First of all, let’s skirt past the issue of whether O’Reilly did the questioning or not — and ponder what great offense has been committed, assuming he did. I must say I’m a little lost on the usefulness involved in pointing it out. It must be some sort of taboo, as in, everybody has agreed it’s something you’re not supposed to be doing.

When did that vote go down?

If it’s wrong to question patriotism, it seems to me it must be wrong because we live in a country where arguments are considered purely on their merits and people shouldn’t be ostracized just for holding unpopular views. Wouldn’t such a rule, ironically, make it quite okay to question patriotism wherever we as thinking individuals find it to be questionable? So this irascible protest has never made much sense to me. In fact, when a little more oomph is positioned behind it, with the optional “How DARE you!” undertone riveted on at the factory like an extra cupholder or moon-roof, it’s always taken on a none-too-subtle “doth protest too much” flavor in my eyes. As in, what’s wrong with questioning your patriotism, Sparky? You might not like the answer that emerges if we ask the question too much?

I just can’t stop myself from thinking that. How am I supposed to, when there’s anger injected in and the “how-dare-you” guy seems to be the one injecting it?

Well if we’re living in the twilight of the era where I’m able to question patriotism, there are a number of places where I’d like to direct that question. So much patriotism to be questioned, so little time to do it — I’d better get started.

First of all, there is the question of what object of affection has aroused the “patriotism” of the so-called patriots who have this unquestionable patriotism. America is, after all, a country built on stolen land. We got a lot of people walking around with all kinds of respect for the land, and with none at all for the country that was built upon it. Some of them say we should get out of Iraq now, come what may, and I’m not allowed to question their patriotism because of course they have all this love for the country. What country is that, anyway? Am I not allowed to ask? If you think all the acreage between Maine and Big Sur is oh so lovable but everything that happened since 1492 is just an enormous mistake, isn’t that something I should know about before I consider your ideas about leaving Iraq?

There are others who aren’t quite so keen on the past, but are endlessly fascinated with the future. Mostly secular humanists, these folks have watched way too many episodes of Star Trek and think of capitalism and religion as ugly things to be destroyed. They are peaceful because they’re convinced time is on their side. We’ll all stop believing in God, and then we’ll achieve a one-world government. We’ll all labor endlessly for the benefit of one another, even though rankings, offices, and economic classes will have been systematically eliminated. These folks think we should leave Iraq. But this is in service of a vision for humanity that has never before been attained, and is logically quite impossible. Isn’t it fair to take that into account?

There are folks who don’t like what we’re doing in Iraq right now simply because it takes attention away from other things. Our Democrats like to run for re-election every two years by promising to “shore up” Social Security. Every election season they promise to fix it, and hope people forget that they promised exactly the same thing twenty-four months previous. And bring down premiums, make sure everybody has health insurance and free college, et cetera et cetera…let’s face it. It’s a little tough to get excited about it when good young people are fighting and dying in a foreign land. It’s understandable they want the fighting to stop, so they can go back to selling us their crap. But they have other things in mind besides the welfare of the troops that are getting hurt and killed. If the fighting stops and their agenda for giving more money to people who already have generous retirement funds, suddenly takes on an air of “gotta get ‘er done” just because we’re no longer thinking about terrorists that want to kill us — is that a renewal of perspective, or a loss of it? The terrorists are still out there; they still want to kill us; thinking about a new triple-retirement plan for geezers who already have huge motorhomes, isn’t going to make the terrorists go away. Can’t I question the patriotism, just enough to consider this as a cynical political ploy? Just to consider it?

And then there are people who genuinely don’t like fighting. They honestly believe this is “George Bush’s war for oil,” and if we stop rattling sabers everybody else will stop too. I’m thinking this is the loudest of the bunch. To them, peace is something that seldom comes with strings, nevermind what history has to say about it. Peace, to them, is something for which you place a wish…just like shooting off an order through cyberspace to Amazon. Allow a few days for shipping and it’ll be here. Some of them are young and male and desperately afraid they’ll be drafted. Or not so desperately…they like to read about the hippies back in the 1960’s, and want to protest in similar fashion. A lot of them fancy themselves as oppressed, and spend vast reserves of energy finding a way to make it happen. They’re isolationists in the purest form. They refuse to support the authority our government may have to enforce resolutions against hostile nations, because in so doing they may bolster the authority our government would have to do other things. Like take away their weed someday. This doesn’t exactly impress me as “patriotism.” Again — I can ask the question, can’t I? Just ask it?

We’re not done yet, because there is the matter of our “allies.” Former presidential contender John Kerry seems to have been on a mission to make sure I never stop hearing that word; and, to make sure he’s never called-upon to list who these allies are. Fun fact: He mentioned this word not less than seven times in the first presidential debate in ’04. Seven times. If you were making his arguments, and not hiding something, wouldn’t you list who these allies are? And more importantly, what exactly it is they want? He asked “What message does [the war] send to our allies?” He said we need “a president who can bring allies to our side.” The prudent voter would have to wonder if there’s a price involved in that; Senator Kerry never said anything to the contrary. And the unpleasant fact of the matter is, when you talk about the intrests of other countries you’re sometimes talking about something against ours. There’s the matter of currency exchange, if nothing else. A year goes by, the dollar sinks by eight to ten cents maybe. That’s a relative thing, you know. The dollar slides against the Yen…or the Euro…or the Pound. This makes our exports cheaper to other countries. Good for them, bad for us. And the things we do politically, have an effect on this. I can’t begrudge other countries for wanting us to do things that will enable them to buy more of our stuff for less money. It’s in their interest. But it goes to show that “bring[ing] allies to our side” is not always a worthy and cost-effective venture. Not unqualifiably so; not axiomatically so. It bears inspection. Can I not inspect it by inspecting the motives of those who want us to do certain things?

Let us not forget the hostility to Israel both at home and abroad. The movement to destroy Israel is as old as that nation itself. The United States gives a lot of aid to Israel and some folks think that’s a bad idea. Some folks are trying to follow George Washington’s caution against foreign entanglements, or think that’s what they’re doing; others are blatant neo-Nazis, or are in bed with the neo-Nazi movement. They don’t want us in Iraq because they want Israel surrounded by enemies. Maybe they think they’ve got a compelling argument to make about this. Maybe some of them are eloquent enough to make it sound like “patriotism.” I just think they should go ahead and make the argument, rather than avoid it by sniping and snarking at anyone who questions their patriotism. Antisemite jackasses should be loud and proud.

Those are six noisy, angry factions of people — each one millions and millions of American citizens strong — who have their reasons for supporting the “Out Of Iraq Now” movement. I could think of more if I tried, and they’re all working hard to recruit. Each of them take the position that they’re “patriots,” and can actually defend that to a certain extent. Well, I disagree with all six of them; I think a lot of other folks disagree with all six of them too. And personally, I don’t think they’re patriotic at all. Not in the way I define it.

I just think a discussion is in order. I think it’s compulsory.

That isn’t to say there are no good reasons for wanting us out of Iraq. But in my book, anyone signing up for the mass exodus because he’s been bullied and coerced from “questioning” somebody’s “patriotism” — or simply wants to go-along to get-along — is a fool. A complete asinine fool. With whom are you sharing that bed? And aren’t you worse than any of the six, if you don’t know who’s on-board with you, and don’t care to find out?