More than two centuries ago, Americans fought to gain freedom, untether their links to a foreign power, and forge a new nation. Today, Europeans fight to join a union that erodes freedom, takes decisions further from the people, and erases national identity.
Ten new countries joined the European Union today. This has millions cheering; not me.
Matt Drudge excerpts some poignant remarks from Vaclav Klaus, the only leader of a new EU country who refused to support entry into the confederation. Klaus is the elected leader of the Czech Republic, a country steeped in tradition and architectural beauty. Let's hope it remains a republic; let's hope it remains its own country.
My alma mater made news today.
In one of the most vicious and ignorant rants that I have ever read, some fool named Rene Gonzalez attacked American hero Pat Tillman as an idiot who deserved his death. "This was a 'G.I. Joe' guy who got what was coming to him," the grad student said of Tillman. "That was not heroism, it was prophetic idiocy."
The hatred and bad writing continued: "You know he was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the 'real' thick of things. I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures. Well, he got his wish. Even Rambo got shot in the third movie, but in real life, you die as a result of being shot. They should call Pat Tillman's army life 'Rambo 4: Rambo Attempts to Strike Back at His Former Rambo 3 Taliban Friends, and Gets Killed.'"
How Mr. Gonzalez could divine so much just by looking at Pat Tillman's picture was left unexplained.
UMass-Amherst breeds crackpots like Rene Gonzalez. Its 26-floor library is named in honor of a communist who renounced his American citizenship. It once did away with Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day. Every few years, a serious effort is made to erase the school's Minuteman nickname because, the reasoning goes, the Revolution's freedom fighters were really racist, sexist, white men with guns.
Knowing that this is the air Rene Gonzalez breathes, should we be surprised?
For fans of Why the Left Hates America, I have some good news. Three Rivers Press will be releasing a paperback version of the book in September. The edition will feature a new afterword focusing on events that occured after the release of the book, the lively reaction to the book, and the direction America is headed.
As you might have guessed from looking at the right side of the page, my follow-up to Why the Left Hates America comes out this year. The book is called Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall For Stupid Ideas. I began writing it in 1998, and I think the years of hard work really paid off. The book is about how ideology deludes, breeds fanaticism, and rationalizes dishonesty. It's longer than WTLHA, but short enough to still be viable commercially. The release date is September 21, less than five months away. I'm excited.
Who is weirder, Kevin Spacey or his brother Randy? On the one hand, Kevin pretended that he was mugged at 4 a.m. in London last week. On the other hand, Randy impersonates Rod Stewart and admits to writing a tell-all book about his famous brother because "I'm looking for 15 minutes of fame and this book will give me that." The strange gene is apparently dominant in the Spacey, er, Fowler family.
I've just completed two days of interviews at protests in our nation's capital.
The first demonstration occurred Saturday. About two-thousand people gathered near the World Bank to protest capitalism, America, and international lending practices. The event featured radical cheerleaders, sickle-and-hammer waving retreads, and masked anarchists. One activist I interviewed hoped for the defeat of America in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others called for a revolution in the U.S.
A larger and more mainstream crowd convened on the Mall today to support abortion. Still, extremists peppered the audience and the stage at the rally. One interviewee labeled Attorney General John Ashcroft a greater terrorist threat than Osama bin Laden. Others demanded that the government pay for all abortions. From the podium, some vulgar woman went on an incoherent rant about the "c" word. Chanting "Two, Four, Six, Eight/We're the Ones Who Ovulate," demonstrators carried such signs as "Bush Admin: Our Very Own Taliban," "My Body, My Choice," and "Reproductive Justice for All."
How about some "reproductive justice" for babies?
We've heard a lot about the Rae Carruths and O.J. Simpsons. We're now hearing about a very different football player. I'm just heartbroken that it took Pat Tillman's death to bring mass attention to his heroism.
The former Arizona Cardinal had every reason--fame, fortune, a new wife--not to become an Army Ranger, but he became one anyway. A man who quit battling Cowboys, Raiders, and Redskins to fight al Qaeda made the ultimate sacrifice for his country last night. Thankfully, our military contains exponentially more Pat Tillmans than shirkers. RIP, Pat Tillman. We will remember you.
The opening line of a "news" piece on Reuters about this weekend's abortion rally in Washington, DC gives readers a clear demonstration (if they needed further evidence) of the media's bias with regard to issues of sexual responsibility.
"Armies of demonstrators headed for Washington on Wednesday for a weekend march in favor of abortion rights and global reproductive freedom that organizers hope will counterbalance sharp anti-abortion rhetoric from the White House," Deborah Zabaranko wrote.
Pro-life advocates are "anti," while the pro-choice side favors "rights." Note the use of the Orwellian phrase "global reproductive freedom," a euphemism that actually means the "freedom" to kill rather than reproduce. By using the term "Armies," the piece presumes the rectitude of the organizers' pre-march hype of 500,000 attendees. Yes, lots of people--perhaps armies--will show up Sunday, but we won't know until it happens. Finally, using a phrase that could have been written by a Planned Parenthood spokesman, the reporter highlights the "sharp anti-abortion rhetoric from the White House." The rest of the piece doesn't get any better.
The article leaves readers wondering: Will Ms. Zabaranko be marching or reporting this Sunday?
Some shows leave audiences wanting more. The retro Freaks and Geeks, which featured high school kids who actually looked like high school kids, and the mid-'90s teen drama My So Called Life, memorable to me for featuring Buffalo Tom, are two rookie-season cancellations that have received a second life in the DVD format. Other shows overstay their welcome. They leave us wanting less. We suffer, but so do the actors whose careers are destroyed through something known as the Ziering effect. Named for 90210's Ian Ziering, the thirtysomething actor who passed himself off as an 11th grader, the Ziering effect's victims include Todd Bridges, Robert Reed, Shelley Long, and other type-casted television actors who struggle to find work after primetime stardom fades.
There are several interesting new developments in the Oklahoma City Bombing murder trial of Terry Nichols. The most startling assertions involve allegations that a video exists of the bombing and that several accomplices of Tim McVeigh appear on the tape. Like any event of this magnitude, the Oklahoma City Bombing has launched a fair share of conspiracy theories. Whether these new allegations are more grassy knoll than gospel truth, time will tell. And if time doesn't tell us the truth, some guy who has the X Files running on a constant loop on his VCR will--or at least his version of it.
Stay tuned to this blog for information on the launch of my website. The site will feature the blog, plus my articles, scheduled appearances, interviews with interesting personalities, information on my books, and other cool items. For the next few weeks, you still will be able to access my posts through blogspot. When the site is launched in early May, this blog will be incorporated into the new website. In the coming days, I will unveil the site's address, and other news related to this exciting development. This blog, of course, will continue to operate as usual until it's absorbed into my full-fledged site, so keep coming back for more posts.
The Red Sox took their second straight against the Yankees this afternoon, 5-2. It's early in the season, but a few observations are in order regarding the greatest rivalry in baseball. Among today's Yankee line-up, Jorge Posada has the highest batting average at .257. Yankee regulars Alex Rodriguez, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui, Enrique Wilson, and Kenny Lofton are all hitting below the Mendoza line. Manny Ramirez is on a tear, batting .405 with 3 home runs. The two teams' major off-season acquisitions have fared quite differently this young season: A-Rod has gone 0-8 in the series and is batting .171, while Curt Schilling dominated the Yankees today and is 2-0. Bubba Crosby seems to be the only Yankee hitting the ball well. On a team of high-priced veterans, though, batting .400 seems a less important statistic than making $301,400 a year.
Last night's Fox broadcast was the first baseball game aired on prime-time network television since the 1998 Sammy-McGwire season. It was significant for another reason as well. On Friday night, Fox unveiled a computerized monstrosity known as "Scooter." Scooter is a talking baseball that supposedly teaches children about things like knuckleballs and curves. The concept is so bad that I initially thought it was a joke (Anyone who witnessed this knows what I am talking about.). If it were a joke, the joke was on us. As Enrique Wilson was grounding out in the 3rd inning, viewers were treated to Scooter instead of the game. As far as bad ideas go, I place "Scooter" somewhere between Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park and Patrick Swayze's music career.
If you were looking to become a porn star, now would not be a good time. Two actors have recently tested positive for HIV, sending a panic throughout Van Nuys, California, the Rome of porn. AIDS is, I guess, something of an occupational hazard in the adult film industry. This is especially true when you engage in receptive anal sex with multiple partners as several porn stars have done prior to learning of their HIV+ status.
Some adult video companies have announced a moratorium on shooting movies, while actors that had contact with their infected colleagues will be sexually quarantined from other performers for several months. These are all steps in the right direction, but the industry might want to consider an approach that I've come up with: stop filming scenes of unprotected anal sex between multiple participants who've bedded dozens of other people in the last six months. I know, I know--this is really thinking outside the box, but this is just the type of unconventional plan that might work.
I'm back. I had a successful trip to Ithaca College and Tulane University. At Ithaca, a professor heckled me throughout the question and answer period. Ironically, this was his way of objecting to my speech on the lack of intellectual diversity and tolerance on college campuses. The Tulane College Republicans sponsored me as part of its "Conservative Awareness Week," which curiously was mirrored by liberal events paid for by the school throughout the week. A Black Panther activist, for instance, spoke the evening of my talk, and Tulane hosted Molly Ivins earlier in the week.
Tulane is one of the prettier campuses in the South. It is located in the best neighborhood of any campus I have been to, and I've spoken at about 100 schools. An earlier visit to New Orleans prompted me to view it as one of the filthiest, most crime-ridden, disgusting cities in the United States. I've done a 180. The garden district and uptown New Orleans feature some of the prettiest homes and most beautiful architecture in America. There is more to New Orleans than the French Quarter.
Rock 'n' roll turns fifty today. On April 12, 1954, Bill Haley and the Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock" in New York City.
A quick perusal of the websites of MTV and Rolling Stone don't show any recognition of today's significance. Not to worry--MTV's site informs that Britney's new video is about "reincarnation," while Rolling Stone reports how Avril Lavigne "let's go in Canada."
I'm surprised that I'm surprised. Both media outlets have long ceased to exhibit any meaningful interest in rock music. It would almost be dishonest for either outfit to make hay of this anniversary.
Other rock 'n' roll songs certainly predated "Rock Around the Clock," but none broke through the way that it did. From Blackboard Jungle to Happy Days, "Rock Around the Clock" has become synonymous with rock 'n' roll, the 1950s, and youth rebellion. Haley's version of the song sold more than 25 million copies, making it the second best selling vinyl single in music history (Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" stands alone at the top). This song's success paved the way for acts like Chuck Berry, Elvis, The Beatles, and all that followed.
Thankfully, some people still care about history. An excellent website exhaustively goes through the story of "Rock Around the Clock." It's definitely worth checking out.
Tomorrow I travel to Ithaca College. My speech will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Textor Hall. On Wednesday, I speak at Tulane University at 6:00 p.m. in Jones Hall Room 306. Both events are free, open to the public, and sponsored by Young America's Foundation.
It's not called "the greatest story ever told" for nothing. I saw The Passion of the Christ for the first time on Good Friday. The crowded matinee, the scene of a fair share of weeping, foretold this weekend's #1 showing for Mel Gibson's depiction of Christ's crucifixion. This is the film's last hurrah--but only for this run. Like Christ, The Passion will no doubt resurrect itself during future Lenten seasons.
My initial reaction is that I feel as though I've been lied to. Was there violence? Yes. Was it a two-hour gore-fest without a storyline? No.
First, Maia Morgenstern's Mary is incredibly powerful. The state of shock and horror indelibly etched on her face was more difficult to take then the terrible violence. Gibson's juxtaposition of Mary's motherly reaction to a childhood fall by Jesus with her reaction to Jesus falling beneath the weight of the cross is the most emotionally gripping scene in the history of film.
Besides Christ himself, Pontius Pilate is the film's most interesting character. He is perhaps the world's first postmodernist ("Quid est veritas?"). Worse than this, he is a politician. He sees no cause to execute Jesus, yet he gives it his stamp of approval. He is the only one with the power to crucify Christ, but he finds ways to absolve himself. Unlike the mob, Pilate knows he does wrong and does it anyway.
The twelve hours before Christ's death contain violence, betrayal, love, redemption, and other ingredients for a blockbuster movie. It is not at all surprising to me that The Passion of the Christ will become the largest grossing film ever.
Why did the critics and the studios so misjudge this movie? We were told the film would inspire hate crimes, vandalism at synagogues, and perhaps a twenty-first century pogrom. It didn't. Instead, we witnessed a resurgence in religious interest and criminals turning themselves in because of the film.
The studios and critics don't get this movie because they don't get Jesus Christ. Because we sin, he suffered. The Romans and Jews who scourged, beat, tortured, and crucified Jesus Christ were merely the physical agents inflicting the punishment that all of mankind issued to Christ. When you realize that your sin caused Christ's burden, and not some drunken centurion or self-righteous high priest, this inspires goodness. If you don't get this, you won't get the film.
Gibson has probably launched a few artistic trends. The Nordic Jesus that we're used to may be gone for good. The Devil of our imagination no longer sports a goatee, red skin, horns, and tail. Satan's new physical manifestation resembles a male dancer for Britney Spears or a member of the Heaven's Gate cult--and this androgynous Lucifer is a lot scarier than the old Devil. Most importantly, The Passion changes the film industry forever. For too long, Hollywood has made movies catering to the tastes of people in Hollywood. Most theater-goers, however, live elsewhere. Gibson made a movie that Tinseltown hated, but the rest of the world embraced. Which approach do you think sells more tickets? Either Hollywood adapts to the new reality of the market, or Gibson makes a Hollywood outside of Hollywood. Either way, audiences win.
Both Gibson and Christ saved the best for last. Following Jesus' death on the cross, the film goes dark momentarily--the world goes dark momentarily. As Jesus rises, his tomb opens and the light returns. The Light has remained ever since.
The Red Sox defeated the Blue Jays 4-1 today. Pedro got his first win of the year. If that news wasn't good enough, the Yankees lost to the White Sox in the Bronx. A-Rod is batting .160. You can keep him.
Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified for the sins of all mankind. It is also the day that I finally get to see Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. Check-in later for my belated take on the film.
Some dude named James Speedy has been arrested in Seattle for allegedly stalking Avril Lavigne.
Certainly Mr. Speedy is now the laughingstock of stalkers everywhere. One can comprehend how some lonely twelve-year-old boy might become obsessed with Miss Lavigne, but a thirty-year-old man?
It was an unlucky thirteenth for the Boston Red Sox this evening. I watched the game at Camden Yards. Despite cheering on the Sox in the cold and the rain, they fell short in extra innings. Although the game was played in Baltimore, it might as well have been a home game considering the strong fan support from Red Sox Nation. BoSox fans were loud and proud, even in defeat.
Every loss is tough. But seeing Ellis Burks back in a Red Sox uniform, nay, seeing Ellis Burks homer again in a Red Sox uniform--seventeen years after watching him patrol Fenway Park's centerfield in his rookie season--was worth the price of admission.
As if the previous post's link wasn't damning enough, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jimmy Breslin stands accused of making up quotes and attributing them to Reverend Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition. The quotes put in Sheldon's mouth seem like something a liberal would imagine an opponent of homosexuality saying.
On Frontpagemag.com, George Shadroui writes a damning critique of bias in bestowing Pulitzers on writers and reporters. "In short," Shadroui observes, "like many national awards of this kind, the Pulitzer is a political prize bestowed almost exclusively on writers, journalists and thinkers who cater to suitably liberal or left-wing points of view." The article reveals that since 1970 a 4 to 1 liberal/conservative disparity in the prize for commentary. In general non-fiction, autobiography/biography, and history, no conservative has won the award in the 35 years Shadroui examined.
Hope springs eternal--especially during the first week of the baseball season. Right now, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays lead the American League East, while the lowly Detroit Tigers rule the AL Central. In the National League, the New York Mets own a share of first place in the East and the Milwaukee Brewers lead the Central. As of this moment, Kansas City, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Colorado are among the teams that remain undefeated. Check back with me later in the season to see if current trends continue.
My name is Dan, and I watch American Idol.
Now that I got that out of the way, I'd like to say that the producers of the show should call off the competition and declare George Huff the winner. He is clearly head and shoulders above the rest.
Today is the ten-year anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide. I bought Nirvana's Nevermind early, and listened to it often. I still believe "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is one the best pop songs of all time, but I don't listen to Nirvana very much anymore. Of the 300+ CDs in my collection, Nevermind probably makes its way into my stereo less than any other disc save a dozen or so.
My sense is that Nirvana is more talked about than listened to these days. The other groups that fall into this category (The Doors come to mind), usually seem to have a deceased member as a common denominator. We'll call this the JFK-effect--tragedy's inflation of one's greatness. The difference with Nirvana is that they really were great. Sure, blowing your head off is a sure-fire publicity coup. But I would still deem Cobain brilliant had he not taken that extreme step.
And that is among the reasons his death was so horrible. The music Nirvana made has an early-1990s vibe all over it. It's great, but with the exception of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" it's not timeless like The Beatles. Had Nirvana lasted, they no doubt would have transcended their times. With In Utero a better album then Nevermind, and the posthumously released "You Know You're Right" ranking as one of their best songs, there is every reason to believe that Nirvana would have improved as a band as time went on. We'll never know, though.
What great music did we miss out on because of one man's death? Would the 1990s still have evolved into a completely atrocious time for music by the end of the decade had Cobain not taken his own life?
My guess is that we missed out on a lot. My guess is that radio would have saved more space for quality, and less for Korn, Limp Bizkit, The Backstreet Boys, Eve 6, and other crap that made music so terrible by the end of the '90s.
RIP, Kurt Cobain.
A few years ago, I spoke on the Mumia Abu-Jamal case at the University of Maryland. During my speech and the question and answer period that followed, a group of thugs disrupted the meeting with yelling and other interruptions. Among other things, I was accused of being an FBI agent.
As far as treatment from the campus Left is concerned, I've experienced a lot worse. The reason I bring it up is that the University of Maryland is currently doing something about anti-free speech activists. Three students at Maryland's flagship university face punishment for disrupting a speech by Lynne Cheney with heckling and vulgarity.
The American Civil Liberties Union is finally defending speech on campus. The twist is that the speech that it is defending is the "right" of hecklers to disrupt lectures. In the past six years, I've been barred from speaking at a couple of campuses, shouted down at numerous locales, witnessed my writings go up in smoke in a book burning, and threatened with arrest if I dared take the podium. In all this time, the ACLU has never spoken out against any of this. They do feel compelled to speak in defense of those who assail free speech.
"What the university officials [at Maryland] appear to have done appears not only to be in violation of their own speech code, but also of the First Amendment," claims Susan Goering, the executive director of the ACLU in Maryland.
Whose civil liberties, exactly, are the ACLU protecting in their defense of hecklers and would-be censors?
The release date for U2's 11th album has been apparently pushed back yet again. Early last year, reports circulated of a Christmas release. That pushed back into March 2004, then May, and then September/October. Now, a November drop date is being discussed, with some pessimistic (realistic?) reports talking Spring 2005.
What's taking so long?
The revolving door of producers who have worked on the project seems to indicate that either nothing is getting done, or that the band is not happy with the material that they already have. Chris Thomas, producer of the Sex Pistols's Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols, worked on material for what was billed as U2's "rock" record. Thomas is now gone. Longtime U2 collaborator Daniel Lanois dropped by the studio for a short period. Steve Lillywhite, who produced U2's first three albums, is now working on material.
Another reason for the delay centers around the band's most conspicuous member. Bono seems to have forgotten that his profession is rock star and not professional whiner. While Bono has been fighting against AIDS, hunger, Third-World debt, and other maladies, nearly four years have passed since the band's last album, All That You Can't Leave Behind. "The simple fact is they haven't recorded enough songs for the new album," a source told The Mirror in Great Britain. "Bono's been away a lot and that's caused a few delays."
Al Gore's attempt to sue his way into the Oval Office may have set a bad precedent, but a lawsuit seems in order for a disputed March 9 primary battle in Texas.
Two Democrats have abandoned a second recount of their primary contest in favor of letting the courts decide matters. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez defeated former Texas Secretary of State Henry Cueller in the election by 145 votes. A recount revealed a 203-vote edge for Cueller. But there is reason to believe the results may not be what they seem.
The Associated Press reports that "a box containing 304 previously uncounted ballots turned up [in Zapata county] during the recount, with nearly 80 percent of them going to Cuellar." The find bears a striking resemblance to various discoveries of uncounted votes for Al Gore in the aftermath of Florida's 2000 presidential vote.
Wilco fans rejoice! The alt-country outfit behind "A Shot in the Arm," "The Lonely 1," and other cool songs will release its fifth album, A Ghost Is Born, on June 22. In more somber news, The Backstreet Boys are in the studio recording an album set for release this summer.
I haven't posted in a while. My original explanation was going to be that I was stuck in a marsh after a six-foot tall white guy abducted me using a knife, a gun, duct tape, rope, cough medicine, and other accoutrements of the black art of kidnapping. Apparently, somebody else has already used this excuse.
In France, three brothers petitioned that nation's courts to ban The Passion of the Christ. Opponents of the film were more successful in Bahrain, where the government banned the movie two weeks ago. In Burma, Christian children have been reportedly forced to become Buddhist monks, and crosses are being removed from Christian villages. In Russia, where the last remaining independent television network has gone off the air, the parliament gave its initial endorsement to a bill that would effectively ban most public protests.
Thank God for the U.S. Constitution and its First Amendment. We can still say what we want, worship whatever God we care to, demonstrate for any cause, and use the airwaves, Internet, and printed word to challenge the powerful--and the federal government can't do a thing about it.