4 posts: (1) A Thousand Days To Go--The Home Front; (2) Immigration: Call Their Bluff--The Home Front; (3) Egypt: Terror Target--Weenie Watch; (4) NYC Transit: Contract Not Settled--OOPS!
Peggy Noonan has sage advice for 43: With 1,000 days to go, it is time to stop trying to fix everything and focus on three clear, main goals: (1) the war; (2) the economy; (3) immigration. She puts her finger on a serious managerial failing in this White House--one of far too many: trying to do everything inevitably diffuses executive energy and gets little done. Outside two war efforts and one excellent tax bill--no small things, to be sure--43's years have been a major disappointment. To be precise, we are 98 days into 43's second year, which leaves, until January 20, 2009 a total of 997 days--72 hours more reason for 43 to get his operation rolling ASAP.
Victor Davis Hanson contemplates the upcoming demonstrations by illegals, and notes that they have received coaching from activists: no longer will they wave Mexican flags; all will wave the stars & stripes. Hanson, whose own farm has for decades been tended by immigrant farmers, says we should call their bluff: admit the 11 million, provided: (1) they accept responsibilities of citizenship as well; (2) they accept an end to bilingualism and rapidly assimilate; (3) they agree to limit future immigration from Mexico. Don't hold your breath.
Lee Smith, a visiting scholar at the Hudson Institute, predicts that Islamists will continue to use terror as a tool to try to topple the faltering regime of Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Egyptian Islamic Jihad in October 1981. Al-Qa'ida is the prime suspect here. Mubarak is expected to ally himself with the Muslum Brotherhood in an effort to defuse the situation, but prospects are iffy at best.
The first OOPS! of 2006 by LFTC: Contrary to my 4/24 entry on the wrist-slap given the NYC transit workers for their illegal XMAS walkout, no contract is currently in effect. The union membership did a re-vote that approved the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's pre-XMAS contract offer--a very generous one, but MTA chairman Peter Kalikow says that the MTA's position is that the original rejection "voided" the contract, and none is yet on the table. In response to union threats of a targeted slowdown if the contract is not approved soon, Kalikow replied: "They have no right to push that deal, in its exact form, down our throat." A state panel has accepted the MTA's position for binding arbitration. I regret the error. Stay tuned.
NRO's Jonah Goldberg has an idea: Let the Iraqi public vote "up" or "down" on whether American troops stay or go. Iraqi Idol! If we win we are no longer occupiers or playing oil politics. If we lose, we depart by consent, not at gunpoint or IED-point. Goldberg is sure we will not lose. I am not so sure. But he has a point. We have no clear exit strategy and little reason to think we will get a great outcome, given what has transpired. Iraqis had a Golden Moment in January 2005 when 8 million voters with purple fingertips showed the world what democracy could do and the courage of first-time voters. But Iraqi voters did not follow up strongly enough; they did not get behind us in large enough numbers, to squeeze recalcitrant Sunnis. And there was, aside from getting Syria out of Lebanon--a consequence of a botched assassination, no real follow-up by Mideast moderates. True, as LFTC has noted, we committed many blunders too. In the event the "Iraq the Model" moment has passed. Set a plebiscite--and make clear that if Iraqis vote to stay they must vow to give us more help in cleaning up the insurgents. Set it for end -2006, after our id-term elections. Time to move on, one way or another.
A WSJ editorial chronicles CIA treachery--leaks aimed at damaging the Administration during wartime--given selective focus by a hostile press. Max Boot's LA Times column recounts the infamous Chicago Tribune episode in WW-II--leaking that we knew Japan's military movements before Pearl Harbor--which fortunately the Japanese did not grasp--and also notes that patriotic war correspondents like the legendary Ernie Pyle made no pretense as to whose side they took. The studied neutrality of today's journalists, Boot says, is because their primary loyalty is to their profession, not their country. They are part of what many observers have noted is an international elite--symbolized by the Davos mega-summit each year--that identifies with its members as a super-class entitled to rule the rest of us, and beholden to no one but themselves.
Fair enough. If that be MSM's orientation policymakers must treat them as neutrals at best, hostile at worst. No favors. No quarter. No protection in war zones, save for journalists who demonstrate some commitment to fairness and also side with us. Eisenhower would have dropped Seymour Hersh in the English Channel before landing him in France. We might not imitate what Ike would have done, but let us take MSMers for what they are--exactly what they are.
The NY Times has a front-pager announcing that for its mammoth A380--what LFTC calls Europe's "Flying Fat Albert"--Airbus is weighing (excuse the pun) putting in standing seats (excuse the oxymoron) for economy class to squeeze more passengers in--the max the A380 is certified for is 853 passengers (in a one-class configuration). Alas, the online version of the story carries the text but not the delicious illustration showing what a standing seat looks like: picture an operating table at a near-vertical inclination. Not to worry, it would only be used on short domestic routes. Why stop there, guys? How about the "cord-wood stacking seat?" 853 passengers at 9 abreast works out to 95 rows of seats: rip them out. Now in place of each row stack 3 across, horizontally end to end, with 2 parallel horizontal rows replacing each seat row. Now figure 5 such layers stacked vertically. This makes for 30 per seat row; 30 times 94 rows makes for 2,850 happy adults! Kids? What are luggage bins for? Figure 4 bins per seat row, 1 kid per bin = 4 kids per seat row; 4 x 95 rows = 380 kids! Add 380 to 2,850 = 3,230 happy flyers! No need for airline food, nor small-screen cinema nor flight attendants One benefit of this configuration: No one can rush the cockpit and seize the plane. (Do not tell this to TSA, lest they insist that all planes entering US airpace henceforth "fly cord-wood.")
AEI scholar Michael Rubin, fluent in Persian and a visitor to Iran several times, tells us in an interview with NRO that Shi'a Islam is an anomaly in the history of Iran, which is Persian, and thus Indo-European and not Semitic in origin. His portrait merits a look-see.
A music professor claims that some compositions attributed to the great master may have been authored by his second wife, Anna Magdelena Bach. Thirty years research convinced Martin Jarvis, a professor of music at Charles Darwin University (Darwin, AU) that some famous pieces, including the 6 cello suites, were Anna's work; Anna was a copyist for much of JSB's output. He credits Anna with an aria from The Goldberg Variations and also with writing the first prelude in Book One of The Well-Tempered Clavier. One Bach star performer I consulted thinks it is nonsense, but might make for a nice graduate thesis. Stay tuned--literally.
April 26, 2006 in Class & Crass: Culture Vultures; Vultures' Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)
Columnist John Podhoretz says we should hope that Egyptian Prez Hosni Mubarak silences al-Jazeera; JP notes we considered doing so during the Iraqi Freedom phase. Mubarak will not likely do us the favor. But why should he do our work for us? Al-Jazeera is not a news network; it is a terrorist adjunct. What are covert operations for, if we cannot take out their network? It would have been far easier three years ago, but better to start now than wait. But what about "our values"--free debate, equal opportunity for both sides, etc.?
We are not in an Oxford debate. We are in a war. Fairness, equal opportunity etc. are for the birds. World War II correspondents were not eager to give both sides--did Edward R. Murrow report from London by giving the perspectives of Nazi airmen homesick for their favorite fraulein? We must distinguish between news and propaganda. Our own mass media have been damaging enough in this war; can we afford even worse damage inflicted by terror-allied pseudo-news? As 43 says, you are either with the terrorists or against them. Well, 43, what are you waiting for?
6 posts: (1) The New McCartyhism--The Home Front; (2) Osama's Outburst--Us v. Them; (3) Democracy: Sharansky Speaks--Us v. Them; (4) Intel Reform Turns 1--The Home Front; (5) Welfare Reform Turns 10--The Home Front; (6) Abolish Nukes?--Max Says "Restart!"--Us v. Them.
Mary McCarthy, the CIA official who leaked to the press information concerning detainees rendered by the CIA for interrogation at secret foreign prisons, should be prosecuted, argues NRO's Andrew (no relation) McCarthy, for violating the Espionage Act by disclosing classified information to a person not authorized to receive same. Ironically, she worked in the very CIA office that is supposed to collect whistleblower complaints. Democrats are comparing this to 43's decision to leak classified information re Joe Wilson & Spy Gal Val, but the comparison is risible. 43, as President, can't violate the classification rules, as he is the senior figure with authority to declassify, at his discretion. Ms. McCarthy had no such authority. Christopher Hitchens wants a special counsel appointed to investigate leaking by the CIA; a nice thought, but special counsels are too dangerous. Disciplining the CIA is 43's job.
And then there is, of course, the vast damage she inflicted on the war effort. Interrogation of foreign detainees has been stopped, as political pressure in European countries forced the hand of the governments helping us. Worse, who wants to pass on secret information to a CIA that cannot stop its own employees from leaking. Which is why Andrew is right in stating that his namesake Mary should be indicted by the Justice Department; alas, he notes that insiders are rarely indicted; Justice prefers targeting outside leakers.
So the new McCarthyism is that leakers who damage the Administration during wartime get a pass from the press, and maybe as well from the Justice Department. Terrific.
NRO's astute and ever interesting James Robbins offers his take on the tea leaves in OBL's latest taped missive. Seems the insurgency in Iraq has separated from al-Qa'ida and also that some top al-Qa'ida bigwigs were killed recently in Pakistan in several strikes.
Ex-Soviet dissident & Israeli minister Natan Sharansky says 43 should stay the course re promoting democracy in the Islamic world, but place more emphasis on building free institutions and less on quick elections like the one that put Hamas into power on the West Bank. After Iraq democracy promotion is going to be consigned to the deep freeze. Because we faltered in Iraq Syria's spine has stiffened, and Hezbollah's in Lebanon as well. And then there is Iran.
Heritage Foundation scholar Peter Brookes writes that Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has made progress in re-organizing the intelligence community. Most of it lies well under the media radar, but Brookes is upbeat. Problem is, the evidence of intel success must be kept secret. So how do we divine progress?
Manhattan Institute's Kay Hymowitz gives the scorecard on the 1996 welfare reform legislation, passionately opposed by liberals; it has dropped welfare rolls from 5 to 2 million--60 percent, with most of those tossed subsequently finding work. A fine, detailed article well worth a look.
Ambassador Max M. Kampelman, the great diplomat who negotiated human rights matters with the Soviets in the 1980s to great effect, writes an op-ed in the NY Times calling for resumption of efforts to eliminate nuclear arsenals from the Earth. Written with his usual intelligence and passion, his piece makes a nice case. But overlooked is one severe shortcoming of attaining absolute zero: After the Iraqi WMD intelligence fiasco, can anyone have confidence that any country is at absolute zero? And if everyone is truly at zero, what of a rogue state concealing small amounts of enriched uranium--a few tons are easily hid--before disarming, then breaking out later by putting nukes on a few dozen missiles?
7 posts: (1) Earth Day at 36; Guess Who at 136!--It's the Earth Stupid!; (2) Hard Men in Iraq; Soft Souls in Europe--Us v. Them; (3) China Markers--Us v. Them; (4) How Best to Fight al-Qai'da?--Us v. Them; (5) Iran: ISO a Model?--Us v. Them; (6) Farewell to Chuck II: Scott Crossfield--The Home Front; (7) NYC: Transit Wrist Slap--The Ap & the Cap.
Columnist John Tierney notes (subscription link) that enviros ignore progress made, and that US efforts to reduce pollution--such as with our commercial nuclear pact with India--do at least as much as Kyoto would, if not more to reduce greenhouse emissions. But Tierney misses on thing. Guess whose birthday April 22 is? No, not Hitler, who was born April 20. April 22 is a date that ought to be equally infamous: Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born April 22, 1870 (new calendar date--see link). Not a well-known name in the West, but his nom de guerre is better known. Taken from his days in exile in Siberia, he chose a sobriquet meaning "of the Lena"--referring to the main river in his exile domain. His choice: Lenin. True, unlike Lenin the enviros do not advocate cold-blooded mass murder. But given the totalitarian preferences of the enviros, in favor of massive coercive governmental action to enforce pollution rules, the shared anniversary date--the first Earth Day on Lenin's centennial, no less--is a neat coincidence.
I recently attended an event where first-person accounts of reality on the ground in Iraq were vouchsafed. These truths emerge:
* A few violent, sociopathic males egged on by wretched imams are undermining Iraqi civil order;
* Mass media impose immense constraints on American freedom of action;
* the two most famous names after 3 years are Jessica Lynch (victim) & Lynde England (criminal);
* the Sunni imams are lethal--and often are not serious religious figures, just slick agitators;
* the Sunni males think that , though outnumbered, they can "take" the Shi'a;
* 18 hours maximum detention, then 6 months trial or else, means we cannot interrogate usefully;
* Jordan licenses imams, Iraq doesn't;
* We once had radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in a sniper's cross-hairs, but permission to kill was denied (as happened in 2001 with Mullah Omar)
Paul Smith, whose heroics--recounted on LFTC recently--earned him the first Congressional Medal of Honor citation for Iraq II. Yet unlike famed WW-II hero Audie Murphy, who had a movie made about his combat exploits (1955's To Hell and Back), Paul Smith's is a name unknown. Instead MSM celebrates Jessica Lynch, whose incompetence got her captured, and excoriates Lyndie England, making her for liberals the face of America in Iraq. It will take men like Paul Smith to tame Iraq's hard young men, who exemplify the truth of what Pat Moynihan once said, i.e., that a society with large numbers of unsocialized young males is asking for trouble and will get it.
Those youthful sacrificial lambs are being brainwashed by imams who stuff impressionable, illiterate teenage minds with dreams of glory. So they step outside carrying an AK-47 or an RPG, strutting around feeling safe, and a Marine sniper nails them from 800 yards. Until this hard men are stopped, no peace is possible.
What to do? (1) Either license imams like Jordan does, or take them out. (2) Rescind interrogation limits that preclude obtaining necessary intelligence. (3) Punish media who lie or exhibit egregious bias, by denying access. (4) The FCC, if it has any spine, should lift the broadcast license of anyone who airs clips from Arab media sources without identifying the source and informing the public that such sources are not "news" but propaganda outfits (this should have been done over MSM mis-coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). MSM would go literally ape, but the public would back a resolute Administration in wartime.
Things are no better in the West. Diana West informs us that EU soft types have devised a lexicon as regards Islam: "a non-emotive lexicon for discussing radicalisation" [sic]. In other words, do not say "Islamic terrorists" have hijacked Flight XYZ but instead say "terrorists who abuse Islam" have hijacked Flight XYZ. Meanwhile Muslim youth in Europe mix jihad with rap music as they mug, burn and even kill, with authorities denying the Islamic content of their acts; in Stockholm & Malmo they commit an estimated 9 of 10 muggings. English women dress ultra-consrevatively to avoid being harassed by such thuggish elements, who label any female dressed in ways they dislike as "whore"and worse--where are the authorities on this one?
It does not help that 43 continues to preach is "Religion of Peace" bromide; denial is no better a strategy over here than over there--at minimum, Islam is a religion in crisis. As if in tandem, the 20th hijacker trial here has seen defendant's advocates resorting to what Alan Dershowitz calls "the abuse excuse": pleading that poverty and discrimination against French Muslims made the defendant into a terrorist; which, Dershowitz notes in his piece fro Slate, does not well explain how the 20th hijacker's brother is an engineering teacher in France.
Robert Kaplan warns that in our zeal to reshape the military to fight against radical Islam we cannot afford to slight the threat of big-power military conflict with China. Even if unlikely, we must must ensure it does not happen, by practicing credible deterrence. Systems like the F-22 are just the kind of advanced systems that will deter Chinese air power. Kaplan urges us to engage in military exercises with friendly Asian countries so as to build personal relationships among senior military staff of the kind that enabled us to work with Thai officers after the 2004 tsunami.
Yet conflict with China is hardly inevitable: a Wall Street Journal op-ed notes that more than half of Chinese have a favorable view of the US--better than in many European places; Beijing, unlike many "friends" of ours in the Mideast, is not pumping its population full of anti-US agitprop. But best to keep our powder dry, just in case. (Also, as Beijing is plagued increasingly by sandstorms blowing in the spring season from the encroaching Gobi Desert, if we go to war we had better have sand-survivable gear.) Steven Hayward of AEI offers good news: China is making progress on clean-up of one of the planet's most polluted environments. Right now, he writes, China is where the US was in 1950; clean-up is being driven by popular protest, and may also aid in pushing democratic change. NRO's Rich Lowry tells us that we should discard our habitual Eurocentric obsession and instead focus on relationships with Asia, which is where the future lies.
And oh, what a lovely touch, with Hu Jintao introduced at the White House as President of the "Republic of China"--Taiwan's title, rather than being introduced as President of the "People's Republic of China" (Commie-speak for "dictators' republic.")
West Point's Combating Terrorism Center has issued a pair of paper that merit close review: (1) Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting Al-Qa'ida's Organizational Vulnerabilities; (2) Stealing Al-Qa'ida's Playbook. The studies recommend various ways to exploit tensions among terror movements--between financial access and security vulnerability, and between level of violence and political backlash. The Harmony study runs 60 pages, plus some 60 more pages of terrorist documents. The Playbook paper argues that the US should avoid high-profile military actions like Iraq and also limit high-profile public diplomacy, which backfires. Rather, it should engage proxies whenever possible, clandestinely back friendly Islamic forces and in general stay below the media horizon.
The virtue of the these strategies is that they can be pursued below the media horizon, and thus largely unconstrained by a mass media hostile to most steps we take against terrorists. Their Achilles heel is that our intelligence is not nearly good enough to implement this strategy broadly--given limits on interrogation, ability to penetrate groups and to conduct surveillance. Also, mass media will often expose undercover funding of friendly assets, thus depriving them of credibility.
Our public diplomacy in the Islamic world cannot prevail--as a reading of the stupefyingly imbecilic remarks of hapless Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes, at a Feb. 18, 2006 forum in Qatar, shows. Therein she began by comparing Rosa Parks's struggle for civil rights in America with the struggles of Islamic dissenters--as if the latter had a Supreme Court and strong public opinion supporting them. She then referred to the Palestinian election that elevated Hamas to power as one in which the voters "hope for a better life and your dream of a state of your own living side by side in peace with Israel"; Hughes thinks the vote for Hamas was a vote for "better services and an end to corruption." She then straddled the cartoon issue, calling for restraint on both sides. Finally, she uttered this inanity: "I believe we have much to learn from each other and we have more that can unite us than divide us." The scary thing is, one suspects that Hughes did not utter this as a garden-variety diplo-speak bromide, but actually believes it is true.
It is sad to say, but the mass media and public diplomacy--which uses mass media--are truly the last best hopes of the jihadists. They cannot win on the battlefield, so they use access to mass media as a way to perform political judo at our expense, while too many on our side use mass media access to commit oratorical suicide. Sadly, the terrorist media strategy seems to be working today.
Policy analyst Edward Luttwak of the Georgetown Center for Strategic & International Studies has a long article in Commentary, on what to do with Iran. President Bush, to his great credit, has refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against Iran, stating that "all options are on the table." The heart of our dilemma, says Luttwak, is that the mullahs are an interruption of the natural amity that Iranians and Americans feel. After the mullahs, if we don't offend their successor, lies a better era, with a peaceful, democratic Iran as a strategic anchor in the region. The mullahs, in addition to being fanatics, are far more corrupt than were the Shah's minions.
Luttwak sees three reasons not to bomb: (1) the mullahs, too, will pass; (2) Iran's worst leaders want us to bomb them; (3) the regime has taken decades to get this far, and still may have years to go before making a bomb. Luttwak enumerates reasons why years may still be required--materials issues, design and organization. He is sure they cannot produce a bomb in less than three years, and may not even be able to do so after that. He sees "the advanced state of the regime's degeneration" but understands that we cannot co-exist with a bomb in the hands of Islamo-fascist millenarians. Iran now trains, finances and incites terrorist groups and seek to subvert our position in Iraq. Luttwak says that Iran would be much bolder behind a nuclear umbrella. In the end he declares that Iran's rulers can't be allowed to go nuclear, but argues that we wait to give maximum chance for resolution without American military action.
All fine and good-provided we can ascertain with confidence the nuclear tipping point. Who, in the wake of our intelligence mega-fiasco in Iraq, can have such confidence in our ability to divine nuclear imminence in Iran?
Comes now former Carter NSA Zbigniew Brzezinzski, who counsels patient negotiation, agreeing with Luttwak that the mullahs are not Iran's future. Zbig sees four dangers of a US strike now: (1) it would be, absent UN sanction, a unilateral act of war, given that Iran is still years away from crossing the nuclear threshold; (2) Iran could escalate in Iraq & Afghan theaters; (3) oil prices would skyrocket; (4) terrorism will surely escalate. All certainly possible complications, even likely. Zbig suggests we pursue a replay of the North Korean strategy. Huh? Where did THAT get us? A nuclear North menacing a cowered South, possibly stampeding Japan & Taiwan towards joining the nuclear club, help to Iran & other potential rogue proliferators? THIS is a model?
The NY Times has a fine obituary for legendary test pilot Scott Crossfield. First to fly at twice the sound barrier (piloting the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket on Nov. 20, 1953) and a star X-15 pilot who escaped two close calls then, Wednesday last week Crossfield died in the saddle, piloting a small plane. Asked once if he had been a pilot at the right time he answered: "The best time to be a pilot is anytime." Richer yet is what he said about not becoming an astronaut--he exemplified Tom Wolfe's protrayal of "right stuff" pilots who scorned the space program:
"I have a bad reputation for doing my own thing. I would turn off the radio if I didn't like the help I was getting from the ground, and the medicine men that were running the program thought that was too independent. They wanted medical subjects, not pilots."
To be fair John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth (Feb. 20, 1962), was a superb combat pilot in Korea; other astronauts were top flyers too. But Crossfield's independent streak (paralleled in Mach I pioneer Chuck Yeager, Wolfe's archetype "right stuff" pilot) is a kick.
A Wall Street Journal editorial understates the case as to the wrist-slap given the Transit Workers Union for the December walkout that cost New York City an estimated $1 billion. A $2.5 million fine and three months suspension of dues check-off privileges, plus a measly ten days in jail for the union's president is nowhere near enough. Reports have the union president inviting the 34,000 members to take ten days vigil at the jail as a gesture of solidarity. A treasury-emptying fine plus one year for the union thug-boss would have been more appropriate. Small business owners destroyed by the strike will just have to move on.
America's latest tort bar atrocity is a court awarding $27.5 million in damages to an Iranian woman who claims that Southwest "profiled" her in a 2003 security incident, when she alleges she was told by flight attendants that she looked like a terrorist. As the Wall Street Journal notes, free tickets should have sufficed. Makes one pray that a guard profiles you, eh?
Peggy Noonan pinpoints 43's monumental managerial failings. (1) He does not like criticism, even from friends. He makes a decision and that is it--which works fine when you are right. (2) His Administration does not recognize the concept of danger--and thus is too bold at times. (3) It also is "uncalibrated, in that it tries to do too many things at one time, all on a grand scale. There is, it seems, no sense of limits. As to Mr. Bush's reading of history, following the tradition of other occupants who wish to learn of the travails their predecessors endured, she tartly comments: "Just because they call you a jackass doesn't mean you're Lincoln."
The Atlantic Monthly has a long article by Mark Bowden (author of Blackhawk Down, on the 1993 Somalia ambush of US Marines) on a major American failure: the abortive attempt in April 1980 to rescue the 52 American hostages held in Iran. The online version has myriad interactive links, including interviews. Symptomatic of the failure was a story ignored by Bowden but told by Beckwith in his own book, Delta Force. At one White White House briefing Beckwith told his audience that when the commandos got to the embassy compound they would begin by taking out the guards. To which then-Under Secretary of State Warren Christopher (later a Clinton Secretary of State) asked what Beckwith meant by "take out" re the guards. To which Beckwith responded that he meant his people would shoot the guards right between the eyes, at which Christopher blanched (presumably they would be "shot" as in films, then get up after the rescue team left). Nothing better captures the mentality of the White House, which also was, per quoted statements made by President Carter, equally concerned for innocent Iranians as for American force casualties. So Carter forbade use of guns against menacing crowds, insisting on riot-control gas, as the Shah's firing on demonstrators was a major human rights complaint. It is hard to believe that the Iranians would have led the world's terror sponsor list for the next 20 years had we succeeded then. We are still payiing the steep price of abysmal failure at Desert One.
Leave it to the mass media to find more ways to indulge in epic tasteless gestures. Here is a trifecta of trash for just this week.
1. Pultizer Prize Piffle
Andrew McCarthy neatly skewers MSM for giving three reporters who unilaterally exposed wartime secrets (secret detention & the NSA communications monitoring program) Pulitzers. Meanwhile Claudia Rosett, who single-handedly exposed UN oil-for-food is left out. Given the tendentiousness of Pulitzer awards--following the Nobel tradition here--they have only devalued their awards by ignoring deserving candidates in favor of aiding those who seek to undermine the Administration's ability to conduct a war on its terms. McCarthy is not surprised; who is?
2. New York Times: From Beautiful Downtown Burbank....
Meanwhile, the Gray Lady, in its assault on Donald Rumsfeld, has truly gone Hollywood, decorating its front-page yesterday with the an article entitled: "Here's Donny! In His Defense, a Show is Born". Evoking Ed McMahon's zippy intro of the late Johnny Carson may strike current management as witty; those used to the sober paper of a generation ago may take it differently. What next, one wonders: the online NYT posting a drum solo from Carson pal (the late superstar jazzman) Buddy Rich, calling it the White House's beating the drums for its war policy?
3. ABC: American Beauts Corporation
Making a trifecta is ABC News inviting proven liar Joe Wilson & proven phony Spy Gal Val to a dinner which the President they slandered must attend is a new low for the networks.
Counter-terror consultant & lawyer David Gartenstein-Ross warns of a potentially ominous trend: foreign government representatives intervening in war cases before the Supreme Court, claiming that US foreign treaty obligations require changing US war policy. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld 422 foreign "friends" filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court" in law Latin) brief seeking to change US detention policy; one such "friend" is none other than George Galloway, Saddam's chief UK apologist. Two foreign "obligations" they cite are treaties that were ratified by the Senate, but with the proviso that they would not take effect until enabling legislation was passed, which did not happen in either case; the third "obligation" was never even ratified.
Amici, eh? The clear intention is for foreigners unhappy with 43's war policy to try to tie America's hands in its war effort, limiting interrogation, surveillance and whatever else creative minds can conjure up. Islamo-fascists need not worry: they will be untouched by this. And they will still get to make threats over cartoons they dislike.
After Michael Moore and countless other turds have taken pot-shots at America over 9/11 and events since, it is refreshing to learn of a movie that might actually be honest, patriotic and heart-stopping. United 93 may be such a film, according to this review. Apparently the movie-makers strove for accuracy and realism instead of fantasy and fraud. Keep an eye out for this one, and consider seeing it if other reviews confirm this assessment.
April 20, 2006 in Class & Crass: Culture Vultures; Vultures' Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)
5 posts: (1) Tripping the Light Fantastic--Cyber-Serendip; (2) Taiwan WILL Collide With China--Cyber-Serendip; (3) Quantum Indecision--Cyber-Serendip; (4) Should Rummy Stay?--The Home Front; (5) Bum Rap in the City of Angels--The Home Front.
A Colorado driver using a device brought on eBay to change traffic lights from red to green has been, alas, apprehended by John Law. For two years the driver saved time motoring to and from the office, so his $75 fine is probably worth it.
Taiwan's re-unification with the Chinese mainland is inevitable--not due to China's insistence, but due to Mother Nature's, in the form of tectonic plate shifts that nudge Taiwan towards the land mass of China. Millions of years will pass first, but, as one scientist put it, China should be patient.
Physicists using the Tevatron (a trillion-volt monster particle collider) have discovered the quantum world's answer to "She loves me, she loves me not!": a type of quark that alternates between matter and anti-matter 3 trillion times per second. The particle is a "strange neutral-B meson", composed of a pair of quarks; it flips from a bottom quark + anti-strange quark into anti-bottom quark + strange quark & then back. For more on a weird world indeed check out this quark chart and also check out the article for more on Twilight Zone fare even Rod Serling did not imagine.
It is fair to say that the disappointing state of affairs in Iraq and the evident myriad mistakes make a prima facie case for 43 to ask Donald Rumsfeld to step down. But columnist John Podhoretz writes that such a move would be a colossal blunder that would energize 43's enemies and paralyze the Administration. JP reasons that a follow-on confirmation hearing of a new SecDef would be a circus, with Democrats eager to extort commitments in Iraq & elsewhere as the price of voting for confirmation, and nervous Republicans resorting to "duck and take cover." JP is surely right about the confirmation hearings in today's poisonous atmosphere, so 43's decision to stand pat is defensible. But Bill Kristol, often on the same page as Podhoretz, bluntly says Rummy should go; BK is aware, no doubt, of the politics, but says 43 should say bye-bye anyway. Thomas Lipscomb writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer that generals who did not resign while in office, as a matter of principle (as Carter Secretary of State Cyrus Vance did over the Iran hostage rescue attempt in 1980) are ill-positioned to complain now.
NRO columnist Jack Dunphy (his handle is the nom de cyber of an LA cop) has an article on the Ninth Circuit's recent 2-1 decision overturning an LA ordinance banning vagrants from the streets. (Here are the 47-page majority opinion and the 25-page dissent.) The Court held, in essence, that those who sleep on the sidewalk do so because there are not enough beds in homeless shelters, and thus they cannot help but sleep in the streets. Dunphy offers a cop's take:
"Thus, if the city cannot provide a bed for every last bum on the street, it is enjoined from arresting those who make their home on the sidewalks. The opinion goes into some detail regarding each plaintiff's history and the purported reasons he or she is 'involuntarily homeless.' In accepting the plaintiffs' sob stories, the majority has demonstrated a degree of gullibility troubling to find in those entrusted with high office. Some of the plaintiffs claim to suffer from various afflictions that prevent them from working, others were merely swept onto the sidewalks of Skid Row by an uncaring society and a series of unfortunate events. If these woeful tales are indeed true, then the plaintiffs are the only six people on Skid Row who are truly involuntarily homeless.
"The population of Skid Row in Los Angeles can be categorized as follows: the addicted, the crazy, and the lazy. In more than 20 years with the LAPD, many of them spent working in and around Skid Row, I've encountered only a handful of the truly unfortunate, people whose lives collapsed suddenly and unpredictably to leave them no alternative but to seek refuge in the missions, shelters and cheap hotels of Skid Row. These people, after spending a few weeks or months among the homeless, almost always find their way back to a productive life, one that includes a roof over their heads. How, then, to explain the life of, to cite one example, plaintiff Robert Lee Purrie, who, according to Wardlaw's opinion, 'has lived in the Skid Row area for four decades.' The inescapable conclusion is that he lives there, like most of his fellow bums, because he likes it.
"The problem with the missions and shelters, the bums will tell you in candid moments, is that they have rules: no drinking, no drugs, no prostitution, none of the activities that make life on the streets so attractive for the great majority of the so-called homeless. You could have all the shelters you like on Skid Row, you could even turn the New Otani into one for that matter, but if they all enforced those pesky prohibitions against the various vices there would still be a substantial number of bums out on the streets enjoying a life unconstrained by expectations that they behave themselves."
Exxon's shameless Board of Directors has voted voted departing Chairman Lee Raymond a $400 million parachute, in the wake of 2005's all-time profit record of $36 billion. Just to make sure the departed potentate is comfortable he gets perks on top, including a car & driver, corporate jet service, two years personal security, etc. After all, with $400 million who cold afford FlexJet or a chauffeur? And this on top of a 2005 paycheck of $51.5 million. To give Raymond his due, in his twelve-year stewardship Exxon grew to be the world's largest oil company and its stock rose 500 percent.
Now to brass tacks. Raymond's haul is possible because Exxon profits from $60 oil much more than from oil below $20. The bonus, it seems, should go to consumers in China & India, plus sheiks in OPEC. Oh, and yes, to the US government for conducting a long war in Iraq that has nearly trebled oil prices.
As for Raymond, does he worry that public outrage could damage others and himself? Platinum-plus parachuted CEOs who cannot even tell the company to skip the chauffeur are blissfully oblivious to the collateral impact of their rapacity. If the Board's contemptuous excess is not a per se (legal parlance for slam dunk) breach of fiduciary duty to husband corporate assets nothing is. Gordon Gekko, take a back seat.
Robert Kaplan sums up his mea culpa re supporting Iraq with unusual eloquence in "Haunted by Hussein, Troubled By Events" --after noting that Saddam's nightmare Stalinist state was vastly worse:
"It is not pleasant to be humbled by events. The failure thus far to secure Iraq raises the issue — despite the incompetence of the administration — of whether the invasion was a flawed idea to begin with. The argument will go on for years.
"As for myself, because of the way the WMD argument intersected with the humanitarian one — buttressed, in turn, by my own memories of Iraq — there was never any chance that I would not have supported the war. Because Hussein's misrule was beyond normal dictatorship, even someone like me, skeptical about spreading democracy, felt it justified to remove him.
"The way to avoid tragedy is to think tragically. Those who invaded the Balkans spoke in idealistic terms about the peoples there, but they generally executed their plans as if they also knew the worst about them. Those whose task it was to plan the invasion and occupation of Iraq not only spoke in idealistic terms about the Iraqis, they apparently believed their own rhetoric to the exclusion of other, more troubling realities.
"We are not at the end of things in Iraq. Worse, we are in the middle of them. A national unity government will be a bunch of men in bad suits without institutions at their disposal, save for the United States military.
"My most recent searing, first-hand impression of Iraq, from last December, is this one: one town and village after another getting back on its feet, with residents telling American troops not to leave."
The past two decades have seen media saturation with the thoughts--mostly air-headed--and doings--mostly trashy--and dress--mostly skimpy to none--of what the celebrity world has come to call supermodels. (For a sample of supermodel wisdom here is a collection of deep thoughts from the supermodels to make your day.) The May 2004 issue of Vanity Fair carries a story (p. 216--not posted online) on the first true supermodel, albeit the term had not been invented. In the mid-1950s and the early 19602 the stunning high cheekbones and exquisite face framed by copper tresses that identified Suzy Parker (1932 - 2003) graced many a magazine cover. Suzy even did a few movies, albeit not successful; a well-known movie, Funny Face (1957), in which she had a cameo as a model, is based upon the real-life collaboration between Suzy and fashion photographer Richard Avedon, their parts played by Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire (the film, naturally, adds a fictional romance).
Suzy's story tale tells how far we have fallen from her grandeur into the pit of cheap celebrity. Ever elegant, gracious, scornful of celebrity and fame was Suzy, whose older sister was a famous model too(and led a life more like today's models). Suzy worked hard, then left the fashion and film stages for good and retired to play housewife for her third husband, the British actor Bradford Dillman. They lived in rural California, where Suzy baked bread and raised their children (six in all, three from former marriages). They shunned the party scene completely. A heartwarming tale, with photos of ever-memorable, ever-classy Suzy. Suzy, we miss you. Return and banish Kate & Co. from our news pages and TV screens. Let video catch you striding gracefully down the Champs-Elysee!. Poor Suzy, were she here today, would likely find herself mugged by protesting students or incinerated by Muslims torching cars. Which only goes to show that we've gone downhill in more than one way.
April 18, 2006 in Class & Crass: Culture Vultures; Vultures' Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)
Great historian Gordon Wood sees a gap in the No Child Left Behind Act: its focus on reading and math leaves history out in the cold. Seems that school principals put their money on improving what the governments asks, and nothing else. Considering what passes for history teaching these days I sympathize with GW, but he won't be teaching the kids. Too bad.
6 posts: (1) Cartoon Cave-In, Again--Weenie Watch; (2) OPEC: $60 Swan Song?--"It's the Earth, Stupid!"; (3) 20th Hijacker Trial: Zombie Nation--Weenie Watch; (4) Pre-Emption: Can 21st Century War Be Fought Under 20th Century Rules?--Us v. Them; (5) Immigration: A Fresh Idea--The Home Front; (6) Rumsfeld v. Retired Generals--The Home Front.
Michelle Malkin nails Comedy Central for censoring its popular South Park cartoon show by blocking depiction of Muhammad, having on other occasions declined to censor cartoons manifestly offensive to Christians.