The Irish counterpart to the American Civil Liberties Union is claiming the Republic's prohibition on polygamy is racist and violates the rights of Muslims. A spokeswoman for the Irish Council on Civil Liberties claims that an Irish law that requires Islamic immigrants to attest to having one spouse before gaining entry into the country "assumes that Muslims, irrespective of whether they come from secular societies or states that do not recognise polygamy, do not understand or would not respect the normal law of the land because they are 'different.'"
But Muslims are not merely "different." They are different. Muslims believe in polygamy, which is illegal in Ireland. Muslim immigrants to Ireland have sought to reject the rules of Ireland regarding marriage, and live by their own code. Your laws and rules don't necessarily immigrate with you when you arrive in a new land.
If proscribing polygamy is racist, what other unsavory aspects of foreign cultures must we respect and codify? Are we racists for rejecting female clitorectomy? Must we now allow dowry killings among Indian immigrants? How about beheadings for Christian converts? Foot-binding? Human sacrifice? Cannibalism?
The critics and the people agree: Hoosiers is the best sports movie of the past twenty-five years. I'm glad none of the horrific Rocky sequels made the list, but where was Victory and All the Right Moves? Personally, I'd have placed Raging Bull on top ("You didn't knock me down Ray"). Go back more than twenty-five years and you find a lot of great sports movies--The Bad News Bears, Rocky, and Slap Shot.
"Many of you are well enough off that...the tax cuts may have helped you," Hillary Clinton told a San Francisco audience of fat-cat donors on Monday. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
At least the mugger stealing your wallet doesn't claim he's doing it for the "common good."
North Carolina law directs witnesses to take an oath to God affirming their veracity on the witness stand. A judge there didn't like this, so he removed the reference to God. He also didn't like bailiffs opening court sessions by announcing, "God save the state and this honorable court." So, he threatened bailiffs with citing them for contempt of court if they continued using the phrase.
County officials in North Carolina objected to Judge James Honeycutt's heavy-handed courtroom lawlessness. They took him to court and won. The North Carolina Supreme Court yesterday ordered the law-breaking judge to use the oath as directed by North Carolina statute, and to allow bailiffs to refer to God when opening sessions of the court. In other words, the court reaffirmed what every student of third-grade civics class knows: the legislative branch, not the judiciary, makes law.
A satisfied Davidson County Clerk of the Court Brian Shipwash noted, "I think this decision returns this court to the people instead of like a dictatorship of one judge."
Buried in Tuesday's New York Times article discussing William F. Buckley's retirement from overseeing National Review was his admission that going to war in Iraq may not have been such a good idea.
"With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago," Buckley told the Times. "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."
Buckley joins George Will and Tucker Carlson as major conservatives who have expressed second thoughts about the war in Iraq. Numerous intellectual figures on the Right, of course, have opposed the war from the outset. These include Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, Bob Novak, and Donald Devine.
Buckley's impulse to rethink rather than retrench on Iraq is further proof that his reputation as an intellectual heavyweight is well deserved.
William F. Buckley is giving up control of National Review, the magazine he helped found fifty years ago to "stand athwart history yelling, 'Stop'!"
I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Buckley at an event I helped organize at the University of Chicago several years ago. As his reputation suggests, he was a true gentleman. What surprised me, though, was how down to earth he was. He was not some god who had descended from Mt. Olympus, but a man who displayed great kindness in interacting with students, some of whom occassionally behaved towards Buckley as Chris Farley's jittery-interviewer character acted towards Paul McCartney on Saturday Night Live ("Re, Re, Remember when you were in the Beatles? That was awesome.").
Buckley's rapport with young people certainly predated this packed-house Chicago lecture. Young Americans for Freedom was established at Buckley's Sharon, Connecticut estate in 1960. He groomed Joe Sobran, Richard Brookhiser, and several other great writers when they were quite young. Several years ago, he made a then twentysomething Rich Lowry his magazine's editor. He even enthusiastically provided an endorsement and encouraging comments for my new book. And now, one of the five men Buckley has designated to people the board controlling National Review is Austin Bramwell, a 2000 graduate of Yale. Some have expressed shock at Mr. Bramwell's appointment. They shouldn't have. William F. Buckley's modus operandi has always been to mentor, cultivate, and promote the talents of young conservatives. At least in that one sense, he has always looked to the future rather than the past.
The Bush Administration's turnover of power to the interim Iraqi government two days early was a brilliant maneuver. Symbolically, it told the world that the transition is ahead of schedule. Concretely, it pulled the rug out from under any wave of terrorism that might have been planned for June 30. Historically, it lets the record show America had no imperial designs on Mesopotamia.
The return of sovereignty to Iraqis might be best seen as a progression. There are more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines still in Iraq. They didn't get to go home with Paul Bremer. A permanent constitution has yet to be ratified. National elections aren't scheduled until 2006. But with the handover, even though it's not a full handover, one hopes that future terrorist attacks in Iraq will be increasingly seen by the Arab world as attacks on the people of Iraq and not attacks on the United States.
I'm skeptical that a free, stable, and democratic society will emerge from an Iraq artificially constructed by colonial powers just seventy or so years ago, tormented by decades of brutal oppression, recovering from numerous recent wars, suffering from centuries of a backward cultural climate, and living under a faith largely inhospitable to self-government and religious pluralism. Here's hoping that I'm wrong.
Michael Larson took the game show Press Your Luck for $110,237 in 1984. He took forty-five spins in a row without getting the dreaded whammy. CBS called him a "cheater," but Larson walked away from the network with three-times the amount of money than the game show's second biggest winner.
The Game Show Network's "Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal" is certainly better than that other documentary you might have heard about. Larson's life as a two-bit scammer, coupled with his amazing feat that graduated him to this larger scam, makes for a fascinating story.
Press Your Luck features a board with eighteen individual squares. Contestants spin and try to accumulate money and prizes while avoiding "whammies," which bankrupt the player's earnings. Boxes--with prizes (good) or whammies (bad)--are rapidly highlighted on the big board. Contestants are compelled to "press their luck" and guess when to stop the board.
Michael Larson, however, relied on something other than luck. For six months, Larson studied the show. He tracked repeating patterns on its big board and discovered that the show's board featured only a half dozen repeating patterns, and that in one of the patterns two squares never hosted whammies.
The tape from the May 19, 1984 episode shows Larson's eyes fixated on the playing board. They bob back and forth. Clearly, he was up to something. He wasn't pressing his luck, he was working his brain. His competitors' plastic smiles hardly masked their frustration. Network executives, the documentary reports, were "depressed" and "angry." Larson kept pressing on, and on, and on. Curiously, Larson always seemed to land on one of two of the board's eighteen squares. And he always seemed to defy the laws of probability by never losing.
So who was Michael Larson? Was he a mathematician? A psychic? A financier? No, he was an out-of-work ice-cream truck driver who fathered three kids by three different women. He used his winnings from CBS on other scams, earning the attention of more powerful three-lettered outfits: the FBI, SEC, and IRS. Larson ended his life penniless and estranged from his family, but he did get his fifteen minutes of fame.
"I think it was a David and Goliath story," former CBS employee Bill Mitchell remarked. "He slew us."
The Archbishop of Canterbury has given his approval to Good as New, a politically correct rewrite of The Bible.
In the real Bible, to take one example, St. Paul counsels men to avoid temptation by finding wives. He counsels women to avoid temptation by finding husbands. In Good as New, a book that John Benson claims he translated from original scripture, St. Paul says something very different. “There’s nothing wrong with remaining single, like me,” Good as New’s St. Paul says. “But if you know you have strong needs, get yourself a partner. Better than being frustrated.” What? Get yourself a partner? Is this a joke?
Blasphemy isn’t merely a term marking one as a latter day Cotton Mather. Blasphemy is a real sin, especially grievous if committed by one who actually believes in the God of the Bible. Is it that John Benson thinks he can write better than God, or is it that he just doesn’t like what God has to say? It’s probably an equal share of both. Even if one doesn’t believe in God, bowdlerizing history and falsely attributing quotes to others should stand as disreputable actions.
It’s fashionable to be seen as Christian but unfashionable to behave as one. Non-believers want to maintain the societal respectability without following the faith. So, they long for God to follow man’s whim rather than man to follow God’s command. Everyman is his own God, I guess. That’s the message of Good as New.
“Instead of being taken into a specialised religious frame of reference,” the Church of England's most well-known clerical leader maintains, “we have here a vehicle for thinking and worshiping that is fully earthed, recognisably about our humanity.” And that’s just what Good as New is: Man discarding God and worshiping himself.
Don't go to Michael Moore's new movie. It's all a trick. He wants to eat you.
"Gay Pride" parades were held in New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, and other cities across America on Sunday. Of the seven deadly sins, I suppose I'm glad homosexuals chose to march about gay "pride" rather than gay "gluttony" or gay "lust."
My post on America's increasing view that going to war in Iraq was a mistake has become a minor point of debate in the blogosphere. Mike Krempasky and Tom Crowe have weighed in, and well, they don't like what I have to say--in some instances, they don't even like what they imagine me saying. Read their sites, and my response on Crowe's site to his piece, and judge for yourself.
On weapons of mass destruction, Krempasky admits: "Not a real issue for me, I wanted [Saddam] croaked on principle." First, Krempasky doesn't make policy. Those who did make the policy certainly thought WMD was a big issue--arguably the biggest issue--in making the case to invade Iraq. Second, Krempasky claims he wanted Saddam "croaked on principle." On what principle? There's a lot of world leaders that we'd be better off without. Is an evil tyrant running a country halfway around the world sufficient cause for sacrificing American lives and taxdollars in a nation-building scheme, particularly when more than 90 percent of that country's citizens see us as occupiers?
Tom Crowe reminds me of Kevin Bacon's ROTC-cadet character during the closing mayhem of Animal House. "Remain calm. All is well." Among his more curious statements are that the situation in Iraq is "hardly anarchy" and that "Iraqis are, in fact, now free." They're liberated from the butcher Hussein and better off, but free? I hope the future holds freedom for the Iraqis, but the present unfortunately doesn't. He calls Saddam Hussein "a benefactor of Al Qaeda" (Is this something you slip in a post without documentation?). Finally, he contends that charges of Iraqi WMD are "not our resposibility to prove."
And I guess that's my quarrel with supporters of the Iraq war in a nutshell. They believe it's not their responsibility to prove anything. From fantasies of a 9/11-Iraqi conspiracy to tales of Hussein attempting to purchase uranium from Niger to massive stockpiles of WMD that haven't been found and more importantly weren't used in the war, so many of the arguments for going to war collapse under the weight of facts--inconvenient facts, but facts nonetheless.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of my ultimate interview of the Ultimate Warrior is now online. Read Warrior's behind-the-scenes take on Hulk Hogan, Sting, Vince McMahon, and other wrestling heavyweights. Plus, Warrior talks politics, gives one of the best definitions of conservatism I've read ("preserving those things that have worked throughout time"), and dishes out weight-training advice.
"In Darfur, [Sudan] there is no hunger," the Sudanese foreign minister told the Washington Post. "There is no malnutrition. There is no epidemic disease." Widespread hunger, he claimed, was "imagined" by members of the press.
One only wishes. In reality, it is Sudanese government officials, as documented in today's Post, whose imaginations have run wild.
In Sudan, there are more than a million displaced persons, vestiges of slavery, and several hundred-thousand dying of starvation or disease. Arab goons have destroyed 56,000 homes and killed 10,000 people in the last year and a half. A civil war has raged since the '80s. Be glad you don't live there.
There are several children in the United States named ESPN. A legally blind man in Doylestown, Pennsylvania entered a guilty plea to charges of possessing massive amounts of child pornography. A Berlin woman stabbed her boyfriend in the head for watching the German-Czech Republic World Cup soccer game. "While seated on the bench," The Smoking Gun reports, "an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist." When a blood-covered man enters your Wal-Mart at 4 a.m. looking to buy garbage bags and new clothes, that is what they call in police terminology a "clue." The employees of the Naples, Florida Wal-Mart interpreted Sheddrick Deon Bentley's strange appearance and behavior as such, and when police discovered a dead body in a nearby dumpster, Mr. Bentley was arrested thanks to the detective work of the graveyard shift at the Naples Wal-Mart.
The Green Party nominated a Texan named David Cobb as its presidential candidate this afternoon. This is a huge setback for Ralph Nader, who could have had automatic ballot access in 22 states if he had simply won the party's nomination. The Reform Party already has endorsed Nader, which likely gets him on the ballot in seven states.
While the on-goings of the Green Party and the Reform Party normally have little national relavence, today's developments command attention because of their ramifications for the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. As a result of the Green Party's decision, Ralph Nader will find it a lot harder to get his name placed on ballots. John Kerry is smiling somewhere.
A majority of the American public now believes that going to war in Iraq wasn't worth it, according to two new polls. An ABC News/Washington Post poll reports that 52 percent of Americans believe the war in Iraq was a mistake. A poll conducted by CNN and USA Today puts the figure at 54 percent.
Polls prior to the war indicated American support at around three-fourths of the populace. What happened?
One philosophical concept that we are indebted to Ayn Rand for highlighting is the idea of the "blank out." To blank out means to gush over the benefits of an idea but to fail to conceive of the costs. In other words, there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Rand herself defined "blank out" as "the willful suspension of one's consciousness.... the act of unfocusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgement."
On Iraq, the American people blanked out. They liked the ideal presented--free Iraqis, destroyed weapons of mass destruction, a punished Saddam Hussein, a democracy in the Middle East, etc. The reality delivered wasn't so compelling--more than 800 dead Americans, a terrorist Woodstock, anarchy, non-existent or unaccounted for WMD, etc.
In March 2003, Seventy-five percent of Americans bought into a best-possible-scenario war in Iraq. When presented with an actual rather than a fantasized scenario, majorities now believe the war a mistake.
Zell Miller gave the keynote address at the 1992 Democratic National Convention that nominated Bill Clinton for president. Twelve years later, he'll be speaking in a primetime slot at the Republican National Convention that will renominate George W. Bush for the presidency. In 1992, Miller was the governor of Georgia. Now, he's a retiring senator. While he switched jobs, he remains a Democrat.
Did the Democrats really expect to keep all of its factions united in nominating a man who served as Ted Kennedy's understudy, Michael Dukakis's lieutenant governor, a supporter of the Bay State's imposition of gay marriage, and a Vietnam War protestor?
Massachusetts has a national reputation as an extremely liberal state. Nominating a Bay State liberal scares moderate and conservative Democrats in Southern and Western states in the same way that nominating a right-wing Senator from say, Mississippi or South Carolina, would scare moderate and liberal Republicans in the Northeast. Liberals don't understand this because they don't exercise the ability to step out of their own shoes.
When apprised of the news of Miller's plan to speak at the Republican Convention, Congressman John Lewis called the decision of his fellow member of Georgia's congressional delegation a "shame and a disgrace." Miller, he claims, "sold his soul."
Zell Miller didn't sell out his soul or his party. By nominating a Massachusetts liberal, Zell Miller's party sold out Southern and Western Democrats who are tied in this year's election to a candidate who has a good chance to win the election, but will act as an albatross around the necks of most Southern and Western Democratic candidates.
In yesterday's NBA draft, only two American-born whites were selected in the first round. One need only look at the NBA--77 percent of its players are African American--to realize the racial realities of modern sports. You can realize this, just don't say anything about it.
After witnessing so many writers reflexively condemn anyone offering more than a superficial examination of race in sports, it's refreshing to see Steve Sailer's current column denouncing the mob mentality that goes after sports heroes who speak candidly about race. Celtics great Larry Bird, Cubs manager Dusty Baker, and Green Bay Packers star running back Paul Hornung are a few who have felt the brunt of political correctness.
Hornung was recently fired from his job as a color commentator for Fighting Irish football games for suggesting that Notre Dame's high academic standards limit the pool of great black athletes that they can recruit. Bird was widely criticized for suggesting that the NBA loses fans because its on-court product boasts less and less players of the ethnic category that the majority of Americans fall under.
Both statements are true. Would it, for instance, be controversial to say that one of the reasons the NHL hasn't caught on among inner-city blacks is that the Grant Fuhrs and Anson Carters of the hockey are few and far between? No, but if you make the same assessment regarding the NBA, you'll catch heat for it.
One could easily challenge Sailer's genetic argument explaining the failure of white American NBA players. After all, is there a major difference in the genes of foreign whites who still excel at basketball and American whites who fail? But the larger point stands: in many ways, there is an increasing racial gap in the sports that Americans watch and play. As a current spectator, and youthful participant, in football and basketball, this disturbs me. As a fan of Marvin Hagler, Reggie Miller, and Walter Payton, the whole notion of identifying with a sports figure because of his race and not his accomplishments is bothersome too. It's bothersome, but that doesn't mean we should pretend that this phenomenon doesn't exist.
"Of course," Sailer concludes, "there is a problem with free discussion: some people might not like the answers."
Joe Sobran writes in his current column, "We're living in an orgy of greed, all right: government greed."
Sobran notes that the whole notion of greed has been inverted. Individuals desiring to decide what to do with the money they earn are deemed greedy, while government bureaucrats wanting to get their hands on other people's money are deemed not greedy, but altruistic, benevolent, and charitable.
"Private ownership is also the best way to prevent concentrated and limitless power," Sobran concludes. "It disperses power like nothing else, and formal limits on government—checks and balances, and all that—are empty if the state owns everything in principle. The very phrase tax revolt implies that the state is the master and the people merely the servants. If it were the other way around, it would be nonsense to call a popular vote a 'revolt.'"
Vice President Dick Cheney is clearly pandering for the FlynnFiles vote.
Cheney reportedly told Senator Patrick Leahy to "F--- off" after the pair had a confrontation on the floor of the Senate. Some reports claim that Cheney said "F--- you." Whatever he said, it wasn't nice. Earlier in the week, Leahy had made suggestions that Cheney helped Halliburton get government contracts in Iraq. In 2000, you may remember President Bush referred to New York Times reporter Adam Clymer as a "major-league a--hole." Cheney famously responded, "big time."
I welcome readers of FlynnFiles.com to attend my lectures. Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program will be holding a lecture event for interns around our nation's capital on July 6, where I will discuss my forthcoming book Intellectual Morons and campus activism. I'll also be speaking at Leadership Institute's Student Publications School on July 31. I'm a veteran of a student publication at UMass, so I'm always eager to interact with students who do what I was doing a decade ago. They are far more advanced and talented than we were. Accuracy in Academia will be hosting a Capitol Hill mini-conference for DC-area interns on July 8. Authors Ben Shapiro, Mike Adams, and myself will be speaking. The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 121. I go on at about 1:30 p.m. and will give a preview of my new book (it comes out September 21) and field questions for about a half hour. I'll be speaking at Colby College in Maine on October 27 and High Point University in North Carolina on November 11. Both events are sponsored by Young America's Foundation, free, and open to the public. If you live in Maine or North Carolina, I look forward to meeting you at one of these events.
As Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 sets to open in theaters, RightWingNews.com has compiled an interesting set of the rotund documentary-maker's quotations.
For instance, Moore told Bob Costas: "I think our government knows where [bin Laden] is and I don't think we're going to be capturing him or killing him any time soon." Americans, Moore says, "are possibly the dumbest people on the planet ... in thrall to conniving, thieving, smug pricks. We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don’t know about anything that’s happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing." Speak for yourself.
In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan details the scary evacuation that took place around the Capitol before the Reagan state funeral. "As we moved down the Capitol steps a guard yelled 'Run for your lives! Ladies, take off your shoes, run for your lives! Go north. North!'" I was there (on the outside and not the inside of the Capitol), and that's exactly what I remember. With 9/11 still fresh in everyone's minds, the false alarm had men, women, and children running for their lives. Instead of saying, "Don't panic," the police were in effect saying, "Do panic." It was surreal.
Democrats have filed suit to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot in Arizona. By adding Hispanic Peter Camejo to his ticket, Nader hopes to boost support in several Western states. Democrats have countered this move by involving the courts, something they've claimed to stand against since the Supreme Court's ruling in the 2000 Florida election controversy. The Democratic (?) Party contends that a large percentage of signatures on petitions seeking ballot access in Arizona are non-voters, non-persons, and felons.
"Too many of these very active liberal Democrats who call themselves progressives are really disgracing themselves," Nader remarked on Monday regarding Democratic Party intimidation efforts. "When they meet the moment of truth as to whether they are going to stand for the right of candidates to speak … they turn authoritarian and exclusionary."
Paul Wolfowitz appeared on Hardball last night. Excerpts appear on MSNBC's website, and reveal how much the deputy defense secretary grasps at straws to justify the war in Iraq.
Regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, for instance, Wolfowitz now states: "No one doubts that [Saddam] had the capacity to build them." If the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction is now a cause for war, should we invade MIT and jail half its student body? No evidence uncovered thus far shows that Hussein possessed the vast amounts of WMD that Wolfowitz and others argued that he had before the war, so the rationale for war has shifted from the likelihood that Hussein would use WMD against the U.S. to simple possession of WMD to the capacity to build WMD. That's weak.
Wolfowitz continues: "And you have to remember, there was time to move and hide stuff, and there was systematic looting that went on right after the fall of Baghdad." Iraqis are incapable of defending their country from invasion, but we are supposed to believe that their skills at hiding things--in this case, weapons of mass destruction--is legendary.
If Wolfowitz's assumption of hidden stockpiles of Iraqi WMD someday proves correct, the question remains: if Hussein didn't use chemical or biological weapons against an invading U.S. military force, what plausible scenario exists in which he would have used them against the U.S. mainland?
After 9/11, Paul Wolfowitz argued that America should forgo invading Afghanistan in favor of toppling Saddam Hussein. He was wrong then. He is wrong now.
The White House came out in support of Iowa Rep. Jim Nussle's proposed bill that places limits on discretionary spending. Through the No Child Left Behind Act, nation building in Iraq, free prescription drugs for seniors, and various other scemes to boost federal spending--for AIDS, the NEA, a trip to Mars--President Bush's four budgets enlarged government by about 30 percent. It would have been nice if he had embraced the spirit of Rep. Nussle's bill three-and-a-half years ago.
White Chicks looks like it could be the worst movie of all time. If Atkins didn't work out for you, you might want to try the Mary-Kate diet. Cat Stevens became Jusuf Islam. Bushwick Bill changed his name to Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir. Prince abandoned the traditional assemblage of letters for this symbol. Puff Daddy traded an "a" for someone else's "i" and became P. Diddy. Now Madonna wants us to call her Esther. Copy cat. This latest publicity stunt is lamer than her intergenerational kiss with Britney. I like the Reno 911 episode where Officer Weigel falls in love with the Truckee River Killer. The hottest team in baseball over the last month is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I don't remember Dr. Ruth being as creepy and gross as the Oxygen Network's Sue Johanson.
Day two of Lynne Stewart's trial gets underway in New York today. The activist/lawyer stands accused by the prosecution of using "her status as a lawyer as a cloak to smuggle messages into and out of prison" from terrorists. Stewart served as a lawyer for Sheik Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of conspiring to bomb the United Nations building, the George Washington Bridge, and other New York City targets.
Stewart's counsel, Michael Tigar, proclaimed to the twelve jurors, "in 40 years in this town, Lynne Stewart has been building for justice, not for terrorism." The facts show otherwise.
Stewart labeled the 9/11 attacks an "armed struggle." The radical lawyer opined, "I have a lot of trouble figuring out why that is wrong, especially when people are placed in a position of having no other way." Stewart candidly professes her belief in "violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions and accompanied by popular support." In other words, she believes in terrorism just like her blind imam client.
A jury will ultimately decide whether Lynne Stewart served as a messenger for Islamic terrorists. The court of public opinion has already found her guilty of being a first-degree lunatic.
Velvet Revolver’s Contraband is the new #1 album in America. This has social significance.
It’s not just that Contraband dethroned Usher, who spent nine of the last eleven weeks pulling in the most album sales. Anyone perusing recent Billboard charts can see that rock has taken a back seat to other musical genres. Despite a weak single (“Slither”) and an album with only one truly great song (“Loving the Alien”), Velvet Revolver's Contraband flew off store shelves last week. Listeners are starved for rock music.
Velvet Revolver’s sales success sends a message to the market to correct itself. Demand for rock music exceeds supply.
There is historical precedent for this, and it’s not grunge or punk (which actually ushered in new variations of rock rather than reasserting an existing type). Twenty-five years ago, another seemingly run-of-the-mill band playing rock music served as the catalyst for a huge change in the music industry.
When The Knack’s “My Sharona” hit number one on the singles chart on August 25, 1979, there had not been a non-disco, non-ballad song to hit the top spot in over a year. Get the Knack eventually sold six million copies and “My Sharona” claimed the top spot on the singles chart for six weeks. Like Velvet Revolver, there was nothing revolutionary about The Knack’s music. Sure, “My Sharona” is a catchy song, but its success was due more to the timeliness of its release than its quality. The same goes for Velvet Revolver’s Contraband. More so than the band’s famous line-up or the substance of the album, Velvet Revolver’s success lies in arriving just when we needed them. They represent rock music at its most embattled moment.
10. Sad Eyes, Robert John
9. Too Much Heaven, The Bee Gees
8. YMCA, The Village People
7. Hot Stuff, Donna Summer
6. I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
5. Reunited, Peaches & Herb
4. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, Rod Stewart
3. Bad Girls, Donna Summer
2. Le Freak, Chic
1. My Sharona, The Knack
The labels may have changed, but the largely soulless music that plagued 1979 also plagues 2004. Back then they called it disco. Today, the enemy has many names: slut-pop (Britney, Xtina), second-grade rhyming (Ludacris, Nelly), Clear-Channel rock (Nickelback, Evanescence), and lobotomy music (Train, Five for Fighting). Okay, I made up some of those labels, but you get the point. A large portion of the CD-buying public are sick of music played by computers, sick of the visual trumping the audio, and sick of songs churned out by Diane Warren or some Scandinavian songwriting factory.
Twenty five years ago, “Disco Sucks” and “Death to Disco” were ubiquitous catchphrases. In July of ’79, the Chicago White Sox actually had to forfeit a game after fans jubilantly destroyed disco records during a Comiskey Park promotion. In 1979, music listeners had had enough. Here’s hoping history repeats itself in 2004.
The man who performed an almost naked, on-field, Irish jig at the Super Bowl only to be leveled by Patriots special teams player Matt Chatham faces sentencing in a Texas courtroom today.
"As light-hearted about this as I'd like to be," the prosecutor explained to the jury that found Mark Roberts guilty on Monday, "we don't live in a society anymore where we can excuse this kind of behavior." Does she mean it's no longer the 1970s?
Roberts purchased a ticket to the Super Bowl, attended wearing a tear-away referee uniform beneath his clothing, and snuck onto the field after halftime. In February, Roberts labeled his Super Bowl, g-stringed jaunt the "holy grail of streaking." Roberts, who has streaked almost 300 times since 1993, now faces a possible six months in prison and $2,000 in fines.
It would be hard to argue that Mr. Roberts is innocent, as several hundred million people witnessed his "crime." But as Roberts himself noted, "If making people laugh is a criminal offense, then they should send me to prison for life."
If you are part of the official Super Bowl halftime show and expose yourself, that's "artistic freedom." If you streak, that's a crime.
Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe has been engaged in an anti-white crusade for the past several years. Mugabe's policies have included governmental intimidation against English farmers and expropriation of white-owned property. Plan A, however, didn't work as well as anticipated. Plan B is outlined in a chilling document entitled, "Solution to the white problem."
The plan calls for the bombing of a significant target in Zimbabwe, which would be blamed on white terrorists. The government could then force whites to leave the country without incurring the wrath of international opinion.
"We realistically believe that expelling the British citizens will cause an 80 to 90 per cent drop in the (white) population within six months," the government document claims. "If implemented soon, we could be almost entirely free of them before the final run-up to the parliamentary elections."
Success breeds envy. Group success has bred bigotry against Jews, Huguenots, Chinese, and so many others around the world. Due north 1,000 or so miles from Zimbabwe is Uganda, which should have provided Mugabe a lesson in why not to attack groups producing wealth. In the early 1970s, Uganda seized the assets of, then deported, the community of Indian immigrants living there. In 1968, 96,000 Asians lived in Uganda. By 1973, about 1,000 remained. Uganda has yet to recover from its ill-fated experiment in creating wealth by destroying the wealth creators. Mugabe, apparently, is not a quick study.
When Zimbabwe solves its white "problem," perhaps it will be compelled to finally face its Mugabe problem.
Even in the midst of a media blitz aimed as much at resuscitating his reputation as selling books, Bill Clinton is viewed in an unfavorable light by a majority of Americans. An Associated Press poll shows that Americans split on whether President George W. Bush or his immediate predecessor would be viewed more favorably by history. No such ambiguity marked the American public's reaction to the juxtaposition of Reagan and Clinton. By a seven to three margin, Americans believe Reagan the better president.
Such an outcome may be surprising to liberals living in their own dreamworlds, but to few others.
Clinton failed to get his major policy item--national health care--approved by a Democratic Congress. Reagan's domestic agenda sought a drastic reduction in tax rates. Despite Tip O'Neil controlling the House of Representatives, Reagan succeeded in radically slashing taxes. Clinton employed lofty rhetoric to address minor issues--gun locks, school uniforms, gays in the military. Reagan tackled huge problems and solved them--an out-of-control tax code, the Evil Empire, and America's standing in the world. Reagan revered the presidency so greatly that he reportedly never removed his jacket while in the Oval Office. Clinton was so base that he--well, we all know what he did in the Oval Office.
The American public views Ronald Reagan more favorably than an impeached president who shrank from the challenges of his times. That's news?
Move on? That's what liberals said they wanted everyone to do during the Clinton scandals. But it's Bill Clinton himself who has the greatest difficulty putting the past behind him.
President Clinton's new autobiography offers the obligatory regrets over cheating on his wife with a trashy intern, but apparently spends a lot more ink on settling scores with old impeachment enemies. Echoing his wife's laughable charge of a "vast, right-wing conspiracy," Clinton now calls Ken Starr "the instrument of a grand design." Clinton seems game to refight the Monica-gate battles of the late 1990s, with the former president erupting in anger when a British interviewer dared question his contrition over the whole affair.
Republicans, who were glad to be rid of Clinton after eight years in the White House, may be dreading the Arkansan's reemergence on the political scene. It's Democrats, however, who should be uneasy.
In 1988, Bill Clinton's long-winded nomination speech at the Democratic Convention hurt Michael Dukakis by pushing his acceptance speech out of prime viewing time. While in office, Clinton presided over the Democratic Party's first loss of a majority in the House of Representatives in 40 years. In 2000, his presence (and absence) on the campaign trail overshadowed his heir-apparent and fired-up the opposition to elect a Republican president. This summer, his book tour assures that Clinton will steal the spotlight (at least for a few weeks) from John Kerry.
Why, again, do Democrats like this guy?
"After all, those of us who remember when birth control was illegal and when 10,000 American women a year died from illegal abortions don't have to imagine a world without choices," columnist Ellen Goodman recently wrote. "We were there." No, actually, you weren't.
Cecil Adams is the author of The Straight Dope, one of the best weekly columns in America, and in a recent piece he gave us the straight dope on Goodman's abortion statistics. Adams notes, "even a generous reading of the statistics we do have indicates that Goodman is off by a factor of ten; a stickler might say she blew it by a ratio of 250 to 1." In the year prior to 1973's Roe v. Wade decision, for instance, 39 women died from illegal abortions (ten less than died from legal abortions). Seventy or so years ago, official counts claim that more than a thousand women died annually from botched abortions. Some estimate that the true number must have been higher (which it most certainly was), and they arbitrarily place the number at 10,000. But with the advent of penicillin, thousands of women dying in back alleys from coat-hanger abortions existed only in the minds of imaginative propagandists.
Adams concludes: "the claim that legalization has prevented the deaths of thousands upon thousands of women doesn't hold up."
HBO broadcast a pair of lopsided bouts Saturday night. In the first, Jermain Taylor proved why many regard him as the best up-and-coming fighter by literally sending Raul Marquez into retirement after Marquez's corner figuratively threw in the towel. Should Bernard Hopkins get by Oscar de la Hoya in September, he might be wise to call it quits before taking on the dangerous Taylor. Bouncing back from his devastating loss at the hands of Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera handed an aging Paulie Ayala his first professional knockdown, then his second, and then his third--all on bodyshots. Barrera finally scored a stoppage in the featured bout when he belted a vicious tenth-round punch to the undefended midsection of Ayala.
Barrera looked great, and his performance opens up some interesting possibilities. The Mexico City featherweight could move up to 130 pounds and take on his longtime nemesis Erik Morales. Another option has Barrera fighting the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao II. Regarding a rematch with Pacquiao, Barrera confessed: "I'm that type of Mexican, a hard-headed Mexican. I need a second fight to learn the lesson."
Fifty-one years ago today, the U.S. government executed Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. “The execution of two human beings is a grave matter,” President Dwight Eisenhower wrote in refusing to grant clemency, “but even graver is the thought of the millions of dead whose death may be directly attributable to what these spies have done.”
As memories of the case have faded, HBO and the Rosenbergs’ granddaughter, Ivy Meeropol, have sought to portray the treasonous pair as heroic martyrs in “Heir to an Execution: A Granddaughter’s Story.” The program runs more like an infomercial for the Rosenbergs than a documentary.
“So this,” states Miss Meeropol as she points to a collection can for orphans of the Spanish Civil War, “is proof of evil doing.” HBO and Miss Meeropol might want us to believe that a tin-can found in the Rosenbergs’ home represents all the evidence against them. In addition to the copious amounts of testimony and evidence that convicted them, the Rosenbergs confront from the grave declassified intelligence files from the United States and the Soviet Union that agree the couple engaged in espionage work for Stalin.
Both Rosenbergs conspired to obtain nuclear secrets to aid the Soviet Union, engaged in cloak-and-dagger games to aid the Communists, and recruited spies. Their level of involvement may have differed, but their commitment didn’t. If asked, both of them would have sacrificed anything to serve their unholy cause. When asked, they did just that.
Julius Rosenberg “was a member of a group who did everything to collect information and get it to the Soviet Union,” an old comrade of the Rosenbergs proudly tells the condemned pair’s granddaughter. Clearly uneasy, Ivy Meeropol grapples with family tales of her grandparents’ innocence juxtaposed with her grandparents’ friends bragging of their service to the Soviet Union. Both can't be true.
“Venona didn’t prove a damn thing,” another aging leftist contends. “It was a joke.”
But clearly, not every family member or comrade of the Rosenbergs is so dismissive of the damning revelations in the declassified material. “It’s difficult,” grandson Greg Meeropol admits. “Why didn’t he say it was me and not my wife?”
The answer is because Julius Rosenberg loved Stalin more than he loved his wife and children.
An affiliate of al Qaeda released pictures today showing that they had beheaded American hostage Paul Johnson. What else can you say, except that these people are barbarians. Some of Johnson's suspected killers, thankfully, no longer ply their nefarious trade.
The terrorist group threatened the grisly execution unless Saudi Arabia released al Qaeda prisoners and all Americans departed the country. Knowing that these demands wouldn't and couldn't be met, the terrorists chopped off Johnson's head. The group released a statement that the beheading should be "a lesson for them to learn for whoever comes to our country, this will be their punishment."
More than half the world's immigrants are leaving predominantly Muslim nations, yet when a handful of non-Muslims work in a Muslim nation it creates a xenophobic frenzy. In addition to the xenophobia present in many Muslim states is a proclivity to engage in warfare. Samuel Huntington pointed out in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order that although followers of Islam constituted about a sixth of the world's population, they found themselves in the 1990s involved in more than half the world's wars. Based on observation, Muslims seem to be disproportionately involved in terrorism as well.
Whereas Christians seek to convert non-believers, many Muslims gain satisfaction by simply killing them. "The Koran and other statements of Muslim beliefs contain few prohibitions on violence," Huntington notes, "and a concept of nonviolence is absent from Muslim doctrine and practice."
So how do we prevent violence--like the murder of Paul Johnson--from occuring in the future? Discarding our naivety about our enemies--e.g., Islam is a religion of peace--seems a good first step. Their culture is not like ours, and approaching regional problems with Western solutions (democracy, free-market economies, religious tolerance) will not work as long as Islamic nations revel in their backwardness and savagery. Uprooting fourteen-hundred years of tradition doesn't happen overnight, nor is it a realistic endeavor for the West to undertake.
"The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism," Huntington asserts. "It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed by the inferiority of their power."
Muslims aren't the only terrorists.
A federal judge sentenced an anarchist calling himself "Dr. Chaos" to more than twenty years in prison on Thursday. The 27-year-old man helped destroy more than $800,000 in property. He had also recently been imprisoned for hiding two containers of cyanide in the Chicago subway.
Meanwhile, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has claimed responsibility for burning a lumberyard in Utah, which caused $1.5 million in damage. Days earlier, the FBI issued a warning of possible violence by environmentalists and listed eco-terrorism as the chief domestic terrorist threat. ELF's act of arson in Utah destroyed a storage building. ELF provided no explanation why they find burning the wood preferable to using it to make furniture and houses.
The Bush administration is trying to have its cake and eat it too.
They sold the war in Iraq partially by insinuating that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. Dick Cheney stated his belief that Muhammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague, for instance, on several appearances on Meet the Press (despite U.S. intelligence finding the story unconvincing). Now that cooler heads have prevailed and the 9/11 panel has examined the evidence, the administration is claiming that they meant to paint no such picture.
Administration officials and their allies in the punditry now speak of Hussein-al Qaeda "ties," "relationships," and "connections." These are weasel words. The people using them want to make a claim without taking ownership of the claim. The vagueness of such words give rise to any number of interpretations. Before the Iraq war, these words suggested Iraqi complicity in 9/11; today, they mean something less consequential--like one party attempting to communicate with the other.
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda," President Bush remarked yesterday, "is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda." Earlier in the week, Dick Cheney announced that Saddam Hussein "had long established ties with al Qaeda." In April, Chris Matthews asked Donald Rumsfeld ten times whether Iraq was involved in 9/11. Ten times, Rumsfeld played dodgeball to Matthews' hardball. Typical of Rumsfeld's non-answer answers was: "It's too complex a subject for me to answer yes or no."
No, it's not. Either they were involved, or they weren't. It's that clear.
The 9/11 Commission allows that contact may have existed between al Qaeda and the Hussein regime, but their report notes that the contact "did not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship." The panel declared: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."
If there is evidence of Hussein and bin Laden working together on a specific terrorist attack, please let us know. If not, kindly be quiet.
The fourth and final installment of the mammoth Ultimate Warrior interview is here. The former wrestling superstar expounds on Warrior Conservatism, talks about his favorite books, gives some pointers on weightlifting, delivers his verdict on Vince, Jesse "the Body," Arnold, and George W., and gets politically incorrect. Read part four here.
Activists in Canada are angry that a nationwide survey reports that only one percent of the nation's population is homosexual.
"Clearly, from a right-wing perspective, they'd like to see the numbers lower," sociologist Michael Botnick opined. "From the more libertarian perspective, they'd like to see the numbers more accurate, or higher."
Botnick equates a "higher" count of homosexuals as necessarily more accurate. Other than his own ideological desires, on what does he base his claim?
As the Toronto Globe and Mail piece notes, "The 10-per-cent figure usually cited by the gay community comes from the research of Alfred Kinsey," whose 1948 report claimed that one in ten American males were homosexual.
If you polled the inhabitants of a YMCA sauna, you might arrive at conclusions similar to Kinsey's. But by employing valid sampling techniques to survey an entire population, no one but the strange Indiana University professor has ever found the percentage of homosexuals to rise above the low single digits.
Publicly, Alfred Kinsey presented himself as a stuffy scientist. Privately, he swapped wives, made porn movies in his attic, regularly masturbated with a toothbrush inserted in his urethra, and hung himself by his testicles.
Kinsey cooked the books for his surveys to rationalize his own perversions. About twenty percent of Kinsey's male sample group, for instance, were prison inmates, and a large chunk of the inmates--as all of his co-authors later admitted--were sex offenders. Judith Reisman exposed Kinsey as a fraud more than twenty years ago, but because his findings proved convenient for sexual anarchists they continue to use his statistics. Because academics and journalists still cite Kinsey approvingly, I devote a chapter in my forthcoming book, Intellectual Morons, to making the case against this nutty professor.
For gay activists, reality isn't as flattering as ideological "reality." A survey showing homosexuality to be a fetish practiced by a tiny minority automatically is denounced without examination. The long discredited Kinsey Reports, on the other hand, are held up as the height of science. When facts and ideology clash, the true believers discard facts every time.
In part three of my interview with Warrior, the former WWF champion talks candidly about his lawsuit against the WWF, the fall of WCW, the deaths of Davey Boy Smith, Curt Hennig, and Rick Rude, and the infamous "Montreal Screwjob." Plus, Warrior gives a behind-the-scenes look at Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Haku, the Undertaker, Owen Hart, and others. To read part three, click here.
Martin Luther King demanded that people "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Some modern claimants to the civil rights mantle have reversed this noble sentiment.
In Queens, a Police Athletic League community center is being named in honor of Edward Byrne. In 1988, a drug gang assassinated the rookie cop as he guarded a witness set to testify against a crack-cocaine ring. Byrne's death "was a tragedy," local activist Betty Dopson allows, "but..." But what? But Edward Byrne was white.
"The center is in the middle of an African-American community," local pastor Charles Norris declared. "It should be named for a slain African-American law enforcement officer."
By this line of reasoning, America, as predominantly white nation, shouldn't honor a man--Martin Luther King--whose skin shade differs from the majority. This is stupid. The actions of Martin Luther King make him worthy of honor, not the pigment of his skin--just as the actions of Ed Byrne make him deserving of public remembrance. Byrne's skin color should be irrelevant.
Edward Byrne died protecting a community of people whose skin shade was generally darker than his own. He didn't care what color they were. He just did his job. Why should his race be such an issue now that he is dead?
Huey Long famously remarked that if fascism ever came to America, it would do so by calling itself anti-fascism. Civil rights activists who employ racism to fight racism remind us of the hypocrisy illustrated by Long's witticism.
Like all decent people, I hate the Los Angeles Lakers. I particularly despise their current rent-a-team incarnation. Adding Gary Payton and Karl Malone made them champions on paper. But basketball games are played on the hardwood and not the stat sheet.
The Detroit Pistons embodied two basketball cliches: "No Rebounds, No Rings" and "Defense Wins Championships." By outrebounding, outhustling, outdefending, and outplaying their opponents, Detroit won its first NBA title since the days of Laimbeer, Isiah, Mahorn, Rodman, the Microwave, Joe Dumars, and an assortment of other colorful characters.
A few thoughts on this year's NBA Finals: Ben Wallace is a stud. The Lakers brilliantly played through distractions and injuries this year, but just collapsed in the Finals--it was as though twelve dead men donned the purple and gold. Piston fans put the "advantage" in home court advantage. Laker fans are better suited for a yacht race. Rip Hamilton confirms something we all knew: Michael Jordan wasn't the Michael Jordan of NBA GMs; he was more like the Chuck Nevitt of NBA GMs. If fans were allowed to storm the court, would they burn down cities in celebration? Has a change of scenery ever benefitted a player more than Rashid Wallace, who went from posterchild of what's wrong with the NBA to the final piece in the puzzle for a championship team? And finally, I predicted a Pistons' championship despite only watching a handful of NBA games each season since the Larry Joe Bird era.
In part two of my interview with Warrior, the former WWF champion discusses his Wrestlemania victory over Hulk Hogan, the WWF's early to mid-90s drop in popularity, legal trouble in the wrestling world over steroids, Vince McMahon's risk-taking in business, and the notorious Papa Shango angle. Read part two here.
Mikhail Gorbachev tried to save the Communist system. Ronald Reagan tried to destroy it. Reagan achieved his goal. Gorbachev failed at his. Yet through the Alice-in-Wonderland looking glass of the intellectuals, Gorbachev is awarded the credit for something he tried to prevent. Reagan, on the other hand, is portrayed in textbooks as a mere bystander to history.
To the victor go the spoils. This old axiom is turned on its head when it comes to the Cold War. The end of the Cold War, an Oxford University Press history of post-war America supposes, was “above all a gift from Gorbachev.” Yeah right, and we should give the lion’s share of the credit to Lee for surrendering at Appomattox, Hirohito for instructing his emissaries to sign for peace on the USS Missouri, and Napoleon for blundering at Waterloo. Only when it comes to the Cold War do the rules get rewritten to assign victory’s credit to the defeated.
The Cold War didn’t just end. The West won it. The West emerged victorious because the leader of the West’s flagship nation dramatically shifted policy. Presidents Eisenhower through Carter essentially pursued a policy of peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union. President Reagan altered course dramatically. Thus, world events altered course dramatically.
Reagan significantly increased the defense budget. Reagan confronted the Soviet Union in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Grenada, and elsewhere. He used the presidency as a bully-pulpit to shame Communism. During his presidency, for instance, he predicted that Communism’s “last pages are even now being written,” noted that humanity would “leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history,” and famously demanded, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” It all happened—to the consternation of too many academics.
President Reagan’s unforgivable sin was making learned men look ignorant.
Intellectuals can rewrite history. They can’t, thankfully, alter it.
The Ultimate Warrior interview is here at last. It is mammoth and FlynnFiles will be posting a section of the interview everyday through Thursday. In part one, Warrior discusses his entry into wrestling with Sting, the Dingo Warrior, Kerry von Erich, the demise of the Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling, what he describes as the WWF's inside-man within WCCW, and how he became involved in promoting conservative ideas. Read the interview here.
Has the world gone mad? Men who undergo operations to butcher their own genitals can now compete as "women" in the Olympics. Australia allows citizens to change their birth certificates to reflect the sex they desire to be identified as--no matter what sex they actually are. American college professors regularly refer to the "seven genders."
Australian Keith Windschuttle appropriately takes such silliness seriously in his excellent article, Language Wars.
"[S]exual differences are grounded in biology," Windschuttle writes. "They are determined at conception by the distribution of X and Y chromosomes and cannot be altered, no matter what identity a person assumes, how many hormones someone ingests, or whatever surgery is performed."
Sex is a precisely defined biological category. But gender, as we discover in grammar, is flexible. It doesn't always mirror sex distinctions. Sex is male and female. Gender is masculine, feminine, and neuter. The two concepts are often mistakenly equated. But they are definitely not the same thing.
Activists recognized, Windschuttle points out, that "if sex was redefined as gender, it too became arbitrary and changeable. Hence, masculinity, femininity and homosexuality were transformed from the realm of biological necessity to that of custom." This is why the accepted term "sex" became discarded for the politically loaded term "gender."
Getting breast implants, injecting yourself with estrogen, and having your penis surgically removed doesn't make you a woman. It makes you insane.
Consider a theoretical person who lops off his arms, fuses his legs together, and surgically forks his tongue. He demands that we call him a snake. Some people do, and accuse those who don't of intolerance. Special laws are passed to protect snake-man's tiny community.
Is the man undergoing the "species-change operation" really a snake, or just totally nuts?
Granted, this scenario is more than a bit preposterous. But why should we view someone who undergoes a sex-change operation any differently? The man surgically taking on the characteristics of a reptile no more becomes a snake than the man undergoing "gender reassignment" surgery becomes a woman.
Activists can change laws, alter customs through social pressure, and impose Orwellian constraints on language. They can't repeal biology.
FlynnFiles is quite young, but it's already made a number of friends. Let me introduce you to some of them, and hopefully you will pay them a visit.
Dan Labert hosts the marquee Fantasy Football site, the Ultimate Warrior goes off on everything, Tom Crowe covers Catholic concerns, and Mike Krempasky has issues with the French. The Conservative Caucus promotes taking the Constitution seriously in public policy, Young America's Foundation sponsors my lectures--and the lectures of many other conservatives--on campus, and Accuracy in Media fights bias in journalism.
I don't have a proper links page, so my hope is that this post will direct readers to some other worthy sites. If you don't like one site, try another. There's something for everybody.
For some, Ronald Reagan's funeral wasn't a time to mourn. It was a time to celebrate. A club called Visions Bar Noire in Washington, DC held a party called "Ray Gun: Remembering Ronnie" to cater to DC-area liberals who are not so fond of the 40th President. The bar's owners, and its patrons, have no class.
"We needed this," party-goer Rebecca Orris told the Washington Post. "When I think of him, I just think of all the horrible things he started." "I've been very bitter all week, and a big part of it is the media telling the country how to feel--'A Nation Mourns' and all that," another celebrant remarked. Friday's event showed a few of Reagan's poorer movies (Bedtime for Bonzo and The Killers), served a vegetarian Wein-Burger named for Reagan's secretary of defense, and screened an anti-Reagan documentary.
"History is being rewritten in front of our eyes," someone calling himself "Noskilz" whined to the Post. "Most of the country is in mourning. Just remember everyone who isn't."
Heather Huston, a promoter for the club, stated: "We aren't bashing Reagan, necessarily." Yes you are.
In my travels to college campuses, I've occassionally been asked by young conservatives: "What's the best book to read on the Reagan years?" I recommend The Real Reagan Record, which isn't a book at all but a National Review number from 1992. Everything you want to know about the Reagan presidency is there. Years ago I xeroxed the entire issue. You needn't, since it's now available online. But you should read it.
"The Real Reagan Record" hit at the height of left-wing Reagan revisionism. As Bill Clinton's political prospects rose, Reagan-bashing became de rigueur. National Review countered the political rhetoric with hard reality. For me, it is the most memorable issue of the magazine. I suggest it for college students because I read it as a college freshman. It provided copious amounts of ammunition against the less-than-Reaganite professors who populate Amherst, Massachusetts.
The issue is important because it dispels so many liberal myths. Think the rich got richer and the poor got poorer during the 1980s? Think again. Split into five income brackets, all classes saw their incomes rise--in sharp contrast to the Carter years when the poor really did get poorer. The 1980s are often called the Decade of Greed; strangely, the Reagan years witnessed an upsurge in charitable giving. If the 1981 tax cuts caused larger deficits, why did lower taxes correspond with a doubling of federal revenues?
When the facts about the 1980s proved inconvenient, Reagan's opponents simply invented new ones. I'll take the facts over the "facts" any day of the week.
It's ten years later, and O.J. Simpson has yet to find the "real killers" as he pledged to do after he was acquitted of double-murder in 1995. OJ's been a bit mum on his pursuit, but it seems that he's convinced that the real killers are hiding out on a golf course somewhere in Florida. He's been pretty dogged in following-up on this lead. Anyhow O.J., I think you will find the real culprit staring at you in the face if you just look in your bathroom above the sink. And yes, O.J., I do want to collect on the $100,000 reward you're offering for handing over "the killer or killers of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman."
"Ronald Reagan adopted me into his family 1945," Michael Reagan explained with his back to the Pacific. "I was a chosen one. I was the lucky one. And all of his years, he never mentioned that I was adopted either behind my back or in front of me. I was his son, Michael Edward Reagan."
Michael Reagan's burial oration was beautiful. Read it here.
"This man is a criminal. This man is a murderer and doesn't deserve any respect," remarked Honduran Zenaida Velasquez Rodriguez about Ronald Reagan. Others agreed that the day of his burial was a perfect time for protest. "I have no problem criticizing the dead, especially when hundreds of thousands of Central Americans died without even a decent burial," San Francisco State University anthropologist Sheila Tully told the Associated Press.
A few dozen protestors lined the route Reagan's hearse took to the National Cathedral, some carrying signs stating: "Reagan in Hell."
"I don't see how anybody can summon grief," widley unread columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote. "His whole weeklong funeral is cheap, utterly distasteful American publicity." According to Breslin, Reagan was "a callous man," "Ronald Reagan hated children," and "Reagan belongs on a $3-bill."
Where does Jimmy Breslin, Professor Sheila Tully, and the assortment of weirdos and hatemongers who've attacked Ronald Reagan on the day of his funeral belong? Somewhere quiet, and serene, and with a lot of doctors; somewhere they can get what troubles them off their chests; somewhere proper medication is readily available; somewhere they can relate to people with similar problems; somewhere far away from the rest of us.
A disc jockey at a college radio station devoted a recent show to celebrating President Ronald Reagan's death. KSUA, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks station that aired the tirade, suspended the DJ.
"I said that I was sick of all of the media that was glorifying Reagan and rewriting history that was pretty despicable," the student host told the Associated Press. "Basically, what the gist of the show was, it was a celebration that Ronald Reagan was dead, was finally dead."
A listener remembers the host suggesting urinating on Reagan's final resting place. As he played Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walking," the host stated his desire to "walk over the newly laid dirt" at Reagan's gravesite.
The AP article about the radio outburst noted that the host stands by his comments. But he does so anonymously; as a coward. The student uses an on-air pseudonym. If he is proud of what he said, why doesn't he release his real name?
"With the lever of American patriotism," Margaret Thatcher spoke in her videotaped tribute to Ronald Reagan, "he lifted up the world. And so today the world--in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev and in Moscow itself--the world mourns the passing of the Great Liberator and echoes his prayer 'God Bless America.'
The former prime minister of Great Britain's eulogy of President Reagan was simply awesome. Despite several minor strokes impairing her speech, Margaret Thatcher could teach several current world leaders--who shall remain nameless--a thing or two about eloquence.
At long last, my interview of professional wrestling hero Ultimate Warrior will appear next week in four parts. Check in Monday for part one. Warrior speaks candidly about Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon, Sting, Kerry von Erich, the decline and fall of WCW, and the WWF steriod controversy, as well as the Great Books, George W. Bush, weight training, and a whole lot more. Tell every wrestling junkie you know. Warrior pulls no punches. Whether you're a wrestling fan, or a fan of "Warrior Conservatism," you don't want to miss this interview.
It's less than a week since his death, but already plans are being hatched to memorialize Ronald Reagan in a multitude of ambitious ways. Reagan enemies balk.
This debate should take place when passions have cooled. Having it now puts opponents in the unenviable position of appearing as if they are attacking a dead man. Sure, it's winning politics for Republicans. But it's also base.
That said, carve Reagan's visage on Mount Rushmore, put him on U.S. currency, erect a monument to him on the Mall. Let's just wait and act on reason and not emotion.
Cable news goofball Keith Olberman bloviated on this subject last night on MSNBC. Olberman, in his usual condescending tone, mocked various ideas to honor Reagan. Reagan's face on a half-dollar coin? "Too small." How about a twenty-dollar bill? "Too big." The former SportsCenter anchor then read a long list of existing memorials to Reagan, as if to say enough already.
John F. Kennedy appears on the fifty-cent piece, while his name graces a space center, the school of government at Harvard, and an airport in New York. Martin Luther King has a whole day named for him, numerous grammar schools, and a street in just about every urban area in America.
How might Keith Uberliberal react if someone suggested that too many things were named in honor of Martin Luther King or John F. Kennedy?
America lost another great one. Music legend Ray Charles passed away yesterday at 73. I have an early memory of my parents taking me and my brothers to see a free Ray Charles concert in Boston. It must have been the late 1970s. I was young but impressed--not a bad first concert. His version of America, the Beautiful is inspiring, but when remembering Ray Charles I strangely keep coming back to the hilarious scene in The Blues Brothers when the blind musician catches a young thief in his music store. He was multitalented, I guess. Ray Charles sang about Georgia on My Mind. Today, all of America has Ray Charles in their hearts.
For years, Americans watched Harry Thomason's television shows. Now, the TV producer wants to watch you.
Hollywood "Friend of Bill" Harry Thomason appeared on Deborah Norville's MSNBC program tonight, exemplifying the liberal impulse to run everyone else's lives.
Thomason complained that corporations owning media outlets actually want to make money. "I'm not sure that the FCC shouldn't require it--that news should not make a profit," Thomason pontificated. He continued to excoriate the public for their choices in where they get their news (read: Fox News Channel). "There may be a period where we have to teach the public what they should be watching," Thomason opined.
Who decides what we 'should' be watching? The man who gave us Designing Women, of course.
Liberals know best. They think they can spend your money better than you can. When you make the wrong policy choices at the ballot box, they're there to correct you through the courts. If you own a gun, they want to take it away. (It's for your own good, you know.) They'll determine what school your children attend, where you're permitted to say the Pledge of Allegiance, and whether you can smoke in a bar.
And now, liberals like Thomason want to decide what I watch on television. No thanks, but I think I'll keep the remote.
Lady Margaret Thatcher, Vice President Richard Cheney, and over 800 dignitaries paid tribute to President Reagan at a state funeral inside the Capitol. Outside, a twenty-one gun salute, formations of jets screeching above, and companies of marching soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines honored the 40th U.S. President. Perhaps Reagan's greatest adulation came from the everyday Americans lining the route of his funeral procession. Read my article at FrontPageMag.
Viewing Ronald Reagan's funeral procession was an incredibly powerful experience: less so for the pomp and circumstance than for the multitudes of everyday Americans who came from all over the country to pay tribute to a great leader. Later today, I should have a link to an article I wrote based on my interviews with attendees. This was an historic event not because it was a president's state funeral, but because it was President Reagan's state funeral.
In addition to being emotionally gripping, my experience on Constitution Avenue was quite scary--at least for a little while. For several minutes, it was my impression, and the impression of just about everyone near the Capitol, that the terrorists were striking again.
Police began screaming. A massive crowd resonded by stampeding away from Capitol Hill. Someone said that they smelled chemicals. Others imagined hearing an explosion. Witnessing older men in full-on sprints, ladies removing their high-heels, and children crying made for an unpleasant scene. I asked a policeman, "What's going on?" He loudly replied, "Run!" Where? "North! Run north!" Since the usual practice of law enforcement is to encourage calm and prevent panic, hearing the opposite counsel underscored the gravity of the situation. I arrived at Union Station intact, but drenched in sweat.
Apparently, police issued the ominous warning for the Capitol building: "You have one minute to impact," and noted an "incoming plane." That plane turned out to be carrying not a Muhammed Atta impersonator, but the governor of Kentucky. Thankfully, it turned out to be a false alarm and I returned to Constitution Avenue within twenty-minutes.
The scare was quick, but I must say, intense.
Like a lot of people, I feel compelled to go down to Constitution Avenue to pay my respects to Ronald Reagan as his casket is brought to the Capitol for his state funeral. Apparently, crowds have started to form. It's good to see so many Americans giving Reagan his due. On MSNBC and Fox, reporters have been interviewing people on the Mall who traveled to DC from all around America to pay homage to the 40th President. Ronald Reagan deserves the outpouring of support he is receiving today.
If you are under the age of sixteen, you might think rock ‘n’ roll means Nickleback, Korn, and Evanescence. No wonder rap and slut-pop enjoy popularity.
Velvet Revolver’s Contraband arrived in stores Tuesday to save rock music. I did my part in their worthy crusade by purchasing the album. (If you’re wondering, I bought the one with the red cover.)
Velvet Revolver combines former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland with Slash, Duff, and Matt Sorum of Guns 'n' Roses. More STP than GNR, VR’s Contraband is a solid record. Does it live up to the media hype? Not quite, but what album could? If Velvet Revolver falls short of the lofty expectations, it transcends what’s on the radio today. It gives listeners something that’s been missing for awhile: rock music without some dude scratching records in the background, rock music with a lead singer and not a lead screamer, rock music devoid of whiny lyrics, rock music with tattoos and not temp-toos. In case you doubted Velvet Revolver’s credentials, check out what appears to be a mimeograph of the police report from one of Scott Weiland’s arrests that graces the album’s lyrics sheet.
Despite making their names as hard-rock musicians, Velvet Revolver’s hard-rock songs fall short of the slowed-down, softer songs—such as “Fall to Pieces” and “You Got No Right.” Towards the end of its inaugural spin on my CD player, Contraband seemed to be lacking something. The album is eminently listenable, I thought, but it lacks a really memorable song. Then I heard “Loving the Alien,” Contraband’s final and standout track. Velvet Revolver saved the best for last.
“Loving the Alien” is one of the best songs of 2004, and the year is not even half over. With a hypnotic, repeating guitar pattern as the backdrop, Scott Weiland sings the mantra: “And I’m moving on.” And that’s what they have done. Slash, Weiland, and company have moved on from the bands that made them famous to shake things up yet again.
There they go again. The revisionists can't stop trying to rewrite the history of the 1980s. This time, Eric Alterman tries to take Ronald Reagan down a few rungs.
"As president, [Reagan] was never even as popular as Bill Clinton during the period of Clinton’s impeachment," Alterman writes on Slate. "Nor was he considered to be as 'great' a president after leaving office, at least compared to Clinton whose post-presidency rating is also higher."
Let's examine both points.
Alterman's article cites some polls to buttress his contention, but he ultimately fails to make his case. The Gallup Poll, which Alterman relies on, is of course an important poll. But it's not as important as the poll taken every four years in November. In that poll, Reagan buries Clinton. Clinton never won a majority of votes in his presidential runs. Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, won huge landslide victories in 1980 and 1984. Reagan beat Carter by ten percentage points despite the presence of a third candidate, liberal Republican John Anderson, in the race. Four years later, Reagan trounced Walter Mondale by 18 percent. His victory margins in the Electoral College, the count that ultimately matters, were even greater. What's more, after their respective presidencies, Reagan's vice-president won the presidency while Clinton's lost it.
Alterman states that Clinton's post-presidency popularity exceeds Reagan's. Alterman cites one poll that showed that 11 percent of the American public saw Bill Clinton as America's best president, while 10 percent saw Reagan as the best. Alterman fails to note a similar poll, taken two years earlier, that showed Reagan the most popular president among living Americans.
Did he just miss this? Maybe. But it seems liberals like Alterman miss a lot about the Reagan era--peace, prosperity, victory in the Cold War, restored patriotism, and so much more.
Up until very recently, I faithfully observed a rule to avoid “all-time” lists where the name Ronnie James Dio appeared to the right of any integer below seven. This was, of course, before I encountered VH1’s 100 Most Metal Moments, in which Mr. “Holy Diver” himself is the subject of numbers three and one.
Seriously, did I miss something? When did someone who is best known these days for appearing in cartoon form at a South Park school dance become such a pivotal figure in music? Somebody clue me in please.
This weekend's International ANSWER march from the White House to the Pentagon fell victim to rain and unseasonably cool weather. Less than one-thousand people showed up to the “Speak Truth to Power” event on June 5th. Those who braved the bad weather made up for in passion what the protest lacked in numbers.
“This is a war for imperialism,” boomed the public address system. “It's a war for Exxon, and CitiBank.” The protestors largely agreed.
“I'm here as a vampire giving the Nazi salute because George Bush believes in war,” explained David Barrows, who donned a George W. Bush mask at the White House rally. Bush “thinks war is what makes you valid. If you’re the war-master of the world you have the greatest respect and the greatest power.” Barrows believes Bush tricked the nation into war “to get his vice president the oil contracts, and Halliburton the contracts in Iraq.”
Clearly, the "fascist," "slime," and "reactionary" Ronald Reagan wasn't the only president they despised.
Protestors at the march held aloft signs displaying such slogans as “George W. Bush: A Real Amerikkkan Hero,” “Jail Bush,” and “Hitler Would Be Proud.” From the podium, anti-American screams of “torturers,” “murderers,” “war criminals,” and “terrorists” were matched by an audience echo. Some waved Iraqi flags, while others handed out Communist literature.
Did bin Laden orchestrate the 9/11 attacks? "I don't know," maintained a New York woman. "I don't know who the hell bin Laden was because he was friends with the Bush family, and there’s all this CIA stuff. No, I’m not convinced." "Afghanistan was not responsible for 9/11," she believes. "The people who were theoretically on that plane were mostly from Saudi Arabia." Although she can’t come to proclaim Osama bin Laden guilty, the seasoned protestor confessed: "I'd like to see [Bush] in handcuffs."
So what if Bush wins come November?
The masked Mr. Barrows is holding out hope for a Bush defeat, but contends: "America is pretty pathetic in terms of enlightenment." "If he gets reelected," Pennsylvanian Jennifer Huseman noted, "I’m not coming back into the country until he’s gone." "I think the only reason Republicans get elected," Jared Hermann believes, "is because people are ignorant." Even World War II veteran Joe Murphy admitted, "I've already told my wife that I plan on moving to Canada."
"I think [Bush is] running the entire country to suit himself and his rich friends," North Carolinian Cinda McGwynn opined. "America is trying to take control of so many different countries," Lisa Goldstein remarked, noting that it reminds her "of the way Hitler wanted to control the world." "I think he’s the most arrogant man I've ever come in contact with in public life," Jennifer Huseman commented. "I think that he's a religious fanatic, and that he's allowing his business interests—which is oil—and his religious fanaticism to influence his policy way too heavily."
There are scores of reasons to oppose the war in Iraq. Real reasons to question the war include the lack of a vital U.S. interest in Iraq, the nation-building component of the mission, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction or Iraqi links to 9/11, the distraction from the job of dismantling al Qaeda, and the dangerous precedent of pre-emptive war based on speculation and not fact. Imaginary reasons to oppose the war include world-domination conspiracy theories and the notion that the war was a massive oil grab. The International ANSWER protestors prefer the fairy-tale reasons, and thus discredit legitimate critics of the war in Iraq.
You can't pick your enemies. But if you could, George W. Bush couldn't do a better job of selecting his opponents than the ones currently assigned to him.
The vultures have begun to circle.
On the very day of Ronald Reagan's death, I interviewed numerous activists wishing the 40th President death and seeing his passing as an event demanding celebration. These crackpots that I wrote about today on National Review Online are not alone in their opinions.
Christopher Hitchens eulogizes Reagan as a "cruel and stupid lizard," "as dumb as a stump," and "an obvious phony and loon." About this last part, was Hitchens talking about Reagan or himself? Cartoonist Ted Rall imagines Reagan burning in hell. "Ronald Reagan was a conman," Greg Palast writes. "Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer."
Why does Ronald Reagan, even in death, elicit such unglued reactions? Maybe because he travelled down a path the Ted Ralls, Christopher Hitchenses, and Greg Palasts of the world knew led to certain failure. Yet Reagan, a man they viewed as an intellectual inferior, pursued that path and found overwhelming success--92 months of economic expansion, diminishing inflation, unemployment, and interest rates, the demise of the Soviet Union, and restored pride in America after the disasters of the 1970s.
How dare he suceed when their theories determined he would fail?
What Ronald Reagan failed to do in his lifetime, he accomplished in death. For one day at least--this Friday--government will be off our backs as it shuts down operations for Reagan's funeral. Things sadly return to normal when the federal leviathan resumes regular operations the following Monday.
The nation mourns President Reagan's death. The hardcore Left cheers. On the day of Ronald Reagan's passing, activists at an International ANSWER rally outside the White House celebrated the death of America's 40th President. Read the article at National Review Online.
"The Soviet empire is faltering because it is rigid--centralized control has destroyed incentives for innovation, efficiency, and individual achievement. Spiritually, there is a sense of malaise and resentment," Ronald Reagan told the Eureka College class of 1982.
"But in the midst of social and economic problems," he continued, "the Soviet dictatorship has forged the largest armed force in the world. It has done so by pre-empting the human needs of its people, and in the end, this course will undermine the foundations of the Soviet system."
Ronald Reagan made this forecast seven years before the Berlin Wall fell and nine years before the Soviet Union disintegrated. At the same time, men with far more learned pedigrees than a diploma from Eureka College mocked Reagan’s outlook.
"The Soviet economy has made great national progress in recent years," economist John Kenneth Galbraith insisted in 1984. That same year, columnist Anthony Lewis scoffed at "the notion that a diplomacy of abuse would make the Russians cry 'uncle,'" labeling this view "fantasy." The USSR, the New York Times scribe said, "is not going to disappear because we want it to." A few years later, MIT professor Lester Thurow held, "No one can deny that [the Soviet Union] has made great economic progress."
Who was Reagan to question them? They had high IQs, wore bow-ties and tweed jackets, and used words like "problematize," "postmodern," and "bourgeoisie." Reagan, on the other hand, co-starred in a film with a monkey.
But Ronald Reagan was right. Anthony Lewis, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lester Thurow, and so many other wise men were wrong. Instead of discarding their inept theories, intellectuals lashed out at the man who made them look like fools. Don’t expect the good-feelings toward President Reagan in the wake of his death to continue much longer, at least not among academics and journalists.
I liken the season finale of The Sopranos to the NBA Finals of recent years.
Once Michael Jordan retired, the Western Conference Finals served as the de facto NBA championship. The West's dominance made the actual NBA Finals, up until this year, anti-climactic. Similarly, the pre-finale episode of The Sopranos was so good that last night's season-farewell show couldn't help but disappoint a little.
"All my choices were wrong," Tony confesses. Then he goes ahead and kills his own cousin, which not only fails to appease Johnny Sack and Phil Leotardo but proves unnecessary when the New York crime family gets taken down by the feds in a well-done scene.
After Tony's parting insult to Johnny Sack that ended the previous episode, I was hoping for Sack or Leotardo to sleep with the fishes. They appear to be going to jail, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that I wanted some "mob justice" for Phil Leotardo--whose likability exceeds only all-time Sopranos lowlife Richie Aprille--and not courtroom justice. There's always next season.
Phil Leotardo called. He wants his charming personality back.
Let's remember Ronald Reagan. Let's remember the soldiers who hit the beach at Normandy.
One of the most memorable speeches of Ronald Reagan's presidency was on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We're 20 years removed from Reagan's address. We're 60 years removed from D-Day.
Let's remember the patriots who overran the Germans. Let's remember the patriot who won the cold war without firing a shot.
Ronald Reagan, our 40th president, died today. He defeated the Evil Empire, unleashed more than seven years of sustained economic growth, and restored our nation's pride after Vietnam, Watergate, stagflation, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the expansion of Communism in the 1970s. Reagan was truly a great president.
Not everyone agrees, and I spoke to some of these dissenters at a rally in Washington, DC earlier today. Their response to Reagan's ill-health (which resulted in his death later in the day) was vile. I will have an article on the celebratory mood of some on the Left to the downturn in Reagan's condition soon.
Rest in peace, President Reagan. We are all in your debt.
Columnist Sam Francis weighs-in on the mounting conservative dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush. He writes: "The Iraq boondoggle fulfills all that anti-war conservatives warned against; the president's amnesty for illegal aliens is a disaster, as are the vast increase of government power in the Patriot Act, the swelling of the federal budget, and the president's lackluster embrace of social issues like the pro-life and anti-homosexual marriage causes."
The fault for all this, Francis suggests, is not so much Bush but the conservatives who promoted him in the first place. "The conservatives wanted to elect a Republican," Francis concludes, "and they didn't much care who it was or what he believed."
After eight years of Bill Clinton, conservatives were willing to overlook ideological shortcomings for what was politically expedient. With the threat of a John Kerry presidency, what makes anyone think they'll act any differently in 2004?
"George Bush organizes progressives for Kerry the way Bill Clinton organized the right for Bush," Robert Borosage of Campaign for America's Future told the Boston Globe. He's right. Just as conservative support for Bush in 2000 was largely a reaction against the previous eight years, liberal support for Kerry in 2004 is largely a reaction against the previous four years--the Florida election controversy, the tax cuts, Enron, the war in Iraq, etc.
But as a Boston Globe article demonstrates, not every liberal is playing from the same sheet of music. Some remain bitter about Howard Dean's rapid fall. Many of these same people are open to voting for Ralph Nader, despite his impact on the 2000 race. As Professor Jorge Rogachevsky of St. Mary's College in Maryland admitted, "I won't back a right-wing Democrat just because I hate Bush."
Neither candidate seems to inspire the base--at least his own.
As speculation grows about who John Kerry might select as his running mate, a look at the potential candidates reveals an assortment of losers and has-beens. Seriously, check out the rogues gallery on CNN's site and ask yourself how many of these people would make an acceptable president. Mark Warner? James Clyburn? Russ Feingold? C'mon.
Leaving aside the unrealistic candidates for the job--John McCain won't bolt the Republican Party and Bill Clinton can't constitutionally serve as vice president--a few of Kerry's potential running mates stand out: John Edwards, Sam Nunn, Max Cleland, Mary Landrieu, and Bob Kerrey. All would bring geographic balance to the ticket, as well as make it more politically moderate. Edwards brings youth and charisma, two things the mortician-looking Kerry lacks. Cleland and Kerrey, two disabled vets, negate any attempt by Bush to wrap himself in the flag, diminish Bush's advantage on national security issues, and subtly highlight the Vietnam-era activities of the opposing ticket. Sam Nunn, a more conservative Democrat, adds defense policy experience that's highly valued during the war on terrorism. Landrieu, a youthful, exuberant, somewhat moderate, and attractive woman, may enhance Kerry's electoral chances the most.
But each of these selections has drawbacks, and it's probably more likely that someone from the rest of the sorry field--Gephardt, Biden, Feinstein--will round out the Democrat ticket.
John Nance Garner, FDR's VP for eight years, famously remarked that the vice presidency wasn't worth a bucket of warm piss. Looking at things from this perspective, the Democrats have an abundance of qualified candidates for the job.
MTV is just one reason popular music has become worse and worse. There are fewer major record (can I still say 'record'?) companies than there were ten years ago. Not surprisingly, fewer music companies mean fewer music options. Some investors purchased the Warner Music Group a few months back. They consolidated the operations of Elektra, Atlantic, and Lava Records. They laid off more than 1,000 people. Now, they plan on cutting 80 or so acts from their roster. Rumored to be on the chopping block are some cool bands, including The Breeders and Third Eye Blind. Worse still, Warner has no plans to stop releasing the records of that talentless hag Madonna.
Video killed the radio star. Corporate behemoths hammered the nail in his coffin.
Republicans aren't the only party capable of shooting itself in the foot. Thank God for the occasional ineptitude of the Democrats.
According to a piece in today's Wall Street Journal by Daniel Henninger, some Democrats have embraced "the political paranormal." The overheated rhetoric of Al Gore, Michael Moore, and the leaders of Moveon.org, among others, have the effect of turning off most voters. So, Mr. Moore and friends, by all means, keep talking.
"But between the twin cities of Manhattan and Hollywood, where condescension is a civic virtue," Henninger writes, "many Americans identify with Mr. Bush's lack of sophistication. The danger with a 'Fahrenheit 9/11' is that these voters will think they too are being condescended to; and so Michael Moore's politics of ridicule exists as not much more than a smirkers' cult."
John Stuart Mill labeled conservatives of his time and place the stupid party. Unfortunately, the label too often works for American conservatives as well.
President Bush agreed to cease using his power to make recess apointments of judges in exchange for the Senate Democrats' word that they would stop holding-up the confirmation process of the twenty-five judges they find least disagreeable. Since the Democrats still refuse to allow the confirmation process to proceed on many of the most conservative jurists, and since Bush agreed to discard his use of judicial recess appointments, the deal virtually guarantees that the remainder of the President's confirmed court nominees in the first-term will lack any significant number of conservatives.
"The Bush administration’s promise to end recess appointments through the end of this term ensures that the most extreme nominees will not be confirmed," celebrated Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice.
The Senate Democrats "get a public relations boost for doing something that is standard operating procedure," Sean Rushton of the conservative Committee for Justice assessed the deal. "The president has to repudiate his use of a legitimate power and we’ve wasted three or four months."
So who's a part of the stupid party? The administration who brokered this deal, or the conservatives who blindly sing their praises as they are being thrown overboard?
Nicholas Lee Wiley, who was released from prison earlier this year, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder. The accused allegedly told police in Syracuse that the two dead women found in his apartment complex are not his only victims. The two second-degree murder charges may soon be upped to numerous first-degree murder charges.
Why did authorities let him loose a few months ago?
Wiley's rap sheet is disturbing. The criminal justice system's penchant for giving him second, third, and fourth chances is more unsettling. Wiley stabbed a woman in 1979, beat and robbed a woman in her sixties in 1983, and sexually assaulted a teenage girl in 1991. No one's asking judges and parole boards to act as Nostradamus, but wouldn't just a little bit of foresight on their part have prevented these deaths?
"Mercy to the guilty," the saying goes, "is cruelty to the innocent."
Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet resigned today. Better late than never, I guess. Tenet was wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, provided faulty intelligence on the bombing of the al Shifa factory in Sudan, and failed to connect the dots to prevent 9/11. A lot of bright people believed Saddam had stockpiles of WMD, and no one I know predicted 9/11. But none of those people are the director of the CIA, and he is. I doubt that anyone else in his position could have prevented 9/11, but his long tenure as CIA chief will be rightly remembered as a time of costly intelligence blunders.
You don't want to get on the wrong side of Joe Sobran's pen. The columnist's piece on George W. Bush is a must-read. As usual, Sobran is scathing and hilarious. With Joe, the two usually go together.
"Like rap music," he writes. "Bush is an alarming sign of America’s cultural decline. When the president of France and the king of Jordan speak better English than the successor of Jefferson and Lincoln, something has gone wrong. It’s not just that he has trouble with big, fancy words; he even misuses prepositions like to and for. At his most recent press conference, the reporters could have gotten more thoughtful answers from a Magic Eight-Ball."
You're guaranteed to get a laugh reading Sobran, but Bush's policies have been more tragic than comedic. The Republican President has created a more gargantuan federal government, OK'd more intrusive campaign finance laws, pursued nation-building military adventures in Iraq and Haiti, sought to bankroll an idiotic mission to Mars, helped increase the deficit and the debt, and signed into law liberal policies on health care and education. When your strongest argument for four more years is "I'm not John Kerry," this is usually not considered a sign of a job well done.
"What’s amazing, and appalling, is that so many traditional conservatives, not just the neocons, are still groveling before Bush, who has not only abandoned but flagrantly violated their once-sacred principles of limited government and prudence," Sobran concludes. "It will be a tragedy for conservatism if it comes to be identified with a president who is a deadly enemy of nearly everything conservatives used to espouse."
The four original members of Black Sabbath will be reuiniting for the tour, and the Rob Halford-led Judas Priest returns as well. I don't know who Hatebreed, Lamb of God, or several other of the lesser bands at the festival are. I don't think I care to know them, either. I do know Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, and I've grown to appreciate them more in the past few years. I'd like to see them live while they're still alive.
With Ozzy Osbourne becoming a bit of a caricature of himself in his advancing years, it's easy to dismiss the importance of his work--easy, but wrong. Black Sabbath basically invented heavy metal. They are remembered for "Iron Man" and "Paranoid," but I prefer "NIB," their ode to marijuana "Sweet Leaf," the warlike anti-war anthem "War Pigs," and the song "Black Sabbath," which ominously warns: "Satan's coming round the bend." Their music, their lyrics, their look all had the effect of scaring small children.
Judas Priest played loud and fast. It's easy to see Rob Halford's screaming-banshee vocals as a preface to Axl Rose and Sebastian Bach. After years of an imitation Judas Priest (it was pretty good as far as imitations go), it's good to see the real thing again.
Heavy metal has spawned some hideous bastard children like Hair Metal (Poison, Warrant), Thrash Metal (Slayer, Slipknot), NuMetal (Korn, Limp Bizkit), and a new catch-all category I've just invented called Shit Metal (Linkin Park, Megadeth, Slaughter, Drowning Pool). But on the rare occassions when Heavy Metal is done right (AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Andrew WK), it's pretty cool. Black Sabbath and Judas Priest do it right.
A few months back, this site reported on the strange case of Kerri Dunn, the Claremont McKenna College professor who sparked a campus uproar when she alleged that racists vandalized her car. As two witnesses attested, and Dunn's own conflicting accounts suggested, the vandal was Dunn herself. Now a court has ruled that Professor Dunn must stand trial for her deception. She will be arraigned in a court of law on June 15. The administrators who fell for her lies and cancelled classes to indulge protestors have already been tried in the court of public opinion. They were found guilty of being fools.
I have decreed June 2, 2004, Tell-Five-Friends-About-FlynnFiles Day. I'm asking each of my readers to tell five people about FlynnFiles.com so that our numbers can grow. You can spread the word by speaking to friends, or better yet, emailing them a link to this site.
Over the next few weeks, FlynnFiles.com will be reaching new readers through various means. This starts with the launch of an interview series next week. The inaugural interview will feature WWF-champion-turned-conservative-activist the Ultimate Warrior. Warrior has a lot to say about everything from Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon to George Bush and John Kerry, so it will be interesting and exciting. There should be a lot to talk about. And with your help, the interview should have five times the audience. I appreciate your assistance spreading the word, and your continued visits to FlynnFiles.com.
Conservatives carrying on about Iraq-9/11 connections are beginning to sound like Miss Havisham ranting about her wedding dress. They just can't let go.
Articles by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard and Andrew McCarthy on National Review Online read more like the headspinning pieces you might see in The New American about the Bilderbergers and the Trilateral Commission running the world. It's conspiracy theory stuff that cites the absence of proof as proof, demands the opposition prove negatives, relies on unfounded assertions as premises, and invents dots when the existing ones don't connect to make the right picture.
In a preview of his book The Connection, Stephen Hayes posits that an Iraqi intelligence agent may have helped plan the 9/11 attacks. Let's get Hayes's story straight: a man named Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, who may or may not have been the same Ahmed Hikmat Shakir in the Fedayeen Saddam, was in Kuala Lumpur and may or may not have attended a meeting there with three of the 9/11 terrorists. Based on this, Hayes writes: "The Shakir story is perhaps the government's strongest indication that Saddam and al Qaeda may have worked together on September 11." This information is worth investigating, but at this point Hayes doesn't commit to it being the same man, doesn't know if Shakir attended the meeting, doesn't know what was said at the meeting (although one needn't be a conspiracy theorist to imagine), and doesn't know if the man shared information from the meeting with Saddam Hussein.
Other "evidence" forwarded in the brief is similarly unpersuasive:
* Hayes quotes a 1999 "report on the psychology of terrorism" that speculates that Saddam and al Qaeda might work together in the future. Wow, that's convincing stuff!
* Hayes points to the alleged meeting of Mohammed Atta with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague. But U.S. intelligence has been unable to corroborate this story and even the Czech government--the sole source of the claim--has backed away from it.
* Hayes cites Bill Clinton's ill-fated bombing of a medicine factory in Sudan--widely panned as a "wag the dog" scenario at the time--as further proof of an Iraqi-al Qaeda tie. He notes, "at least six top Clinton administration officials have defended on the record the strikes in Sudan by citing a link to Iraq." (Might these be the same people who assured us that Bill Clinton "didn't have sex with that woman"?) But evidence that the al Shifa plant even manufactured chemical weapons rather than pharmaceuticals is scant at best. If it hasn't been proven that the Sudanese target made chemical weapons, what would a connection to Iraq prove?
The Weekly Standard piece is heavy on charges, but short on proof. Add a whole bunch of zeroes and you get a whole lot of nothing.
As poorly argued as the Stephen Hayes piece is, Andrew McCarthy's article on National Review Online is even worse. He assails the "pigheaded blindness" that moves "breathtakingly irresponsible" journalists and intelligence analysts to dismiss connections between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda terror.
Since the NRO piece relies on the "assiduous detective work" of Hayes, we don't need to explore territory we already crossed in Part I. But it is worth specifically looking at one of McCarthy's claims.
"Even if there were absolutely no other evidence of the Prague meeting than the Czech eyewitness identification corroborated by the appointment calendar, the inability to account for Atta's whereabouts on April 8, and the means he appears to have had to travel," he writes, "that would be reason enough, for national-security purposes, to assume an Iraqi tie to Atta." No, actually it wouldn't. We have our own intelligence and they are not persuaded by the story of the phantom Prague meeting, and the inability to track Atta's location on April 8 doesn't mean that he was in the Czech Republic.
Employing the twisted logic that led to the preemptive war that preempted nothing, McCarthy conjects: "we need to assume guilt until we are satisfied otherwise."
"I don't pretend to have the answers," McCarthy admits, "but it sure looks to me like Saddam was in cahoots with al Qaeda and that his regime may well have rendered assistance--probably very substantial assistance--to the 9/11 plot." When you find evidence to support this belief, do let the rest of us know.
When I want wild conspiracy theories I'll watch The X-Files. I expect better from two of the most widely-read publications of American conservatism.
A U.S. district judge in San Francisco today overturned a law supported by vast majorities in both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President. The "unconstitutional" legislation is the ban on partial birth abortions. "The act poses an undue burden on a woman's right to choose an abortion," opined Judge Phyllis Hamilton.
But where, exactly, in the Constitution does it say that women have the right to abortions, let alone the right to terminate the lives of fully-formed babies? At the time of Roe v. Wade, all fifty states had prohibitions on abortion. Did every state misinterpret the law?
No, banning abortion is completely consistent with the Constitution. The Constitution doesn't mention the procedure, or even a "right to privacy" on which much of abortion law is based. No one even questioned the constitutionality of prohibitions on abortion from 1821, when the first state law targeting abortion appeared on the books, to 1973, when seven judges decided to make law. And that is what unelected Phyllis Hamilton did today, make law. She usurped the power entrusted to elected officials and decided that a democracy of one--her--knew what's best for the rest.
In a perfect world, Ms. Hamilton would be immediately impeached for undermining democracy and exercising powers not granted to her. Unfortunately, this won't happen. What can and should happen is for people to wake up to what kind of jurists John Kerry will stack our judicial system with if he becomes President.
Who has a longer life expectancy at this point: Johnny Sack from The Sopranos, or newly appointed interim Iraqi President Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar? President of Iraq now has to rank up there in danger with snake charmer, suicide bomber, and parachute tester. I think the label "interim" is a bit redundant considering his position.
I survived the Memorial Day commute from Boston to Washington. I filled-up in Connecticut at $2.20 a gallon. I'm used to the high prices by now, but some of the fine print on the gas pump really startled me. A posted notice itemized the taxes included in the cost per gallon of gas. The federal government snatches more than 18 cents per gallon, while the state of Connecticut's take amounts to about a quarter for every gallon of gas. On top of all this, an additional tax of 5% of the total cost is levied, which amounts to about a dime per gallon.
What this means is that, in Connecticut at least, government is responsible for about one-fourth of what you pay in direct costs at the pump. Fifty-five or so cents of the $2.20 I paid for every gallon of gas went to government.
It's convenient for American politicians to blame Riyadh for the high price of petroleum when Washington, DC (not to mention state capitals like Hartford) deserves some of the blame as well. We rail about Saudi Arabian gas price hikes (which we can't control), but are silent about American gas tax hikes (which we can control).
Despite the absurdity of a 25% tax on gasoline when prices are skyrocketing, some pundits who call themselves conservative (though they might prefix that label with "neo" or "compassionate") are calling for higher gas taxes. Higher taxes make us less free and hinder prosperity. Why would any conservative want government siphoning more than what it already takes?
Perhaps homesick, Brit Andrew Sullivan hopes for a more Europeanized taxation policy on gas, while Charles Krauthammer argues for a $3 floor for a gallon of gas. "Keep gasoline prices high and American consumers will once again start demanding and buying lighter and more fuel-efficient cars--exactly as they did in the late '70s and early '80s. Prices will continue to drop, and the U.S. economy will capture the difference," Krauthammer writes.
Nice try, but the U.S. government, not the economy, "will capture the difference." The U.S. economy will suffer, as costs will inflate on airline tickets, products transported to stores, and everything else that factors gasoline costs into its price. And these "lighter" and "more fuel-efficient" cars that Krauthammer dreams of--do they have sails or Flintstones-style foot-power? Cars would be more fuel-efficient if they were made of cardboard, but wouldn't this make them less safe?
Why do we need liberals when we have "conservatives" like Krauthammer and Sullivan?