Upon enlistment, they were promised seventy-two virgins and a spot in heaven. Instead, they were sent to a place they described as "hell." Like so many other soldiers, their recruiters lied to them.
The United States just released two French nationals from Guantanamo Bay who fought in Afghanistan for the Taliban. "We have emerged from hell," the Islamist duo complain. Recruitment promises aside, what did you think would happen to you upon enlisting with the terrorists? A trip to Club Med?
The United States is, and should be, held to a higher standard than Hussein's Iraq, the Taliban's Afghanistan, and the mullahs' Iran. Before we shed tears for terrorists desiring to kill us, please remember the conditions of Americans held in captivity among the Muslim radicals.
The wait is over. It's been two long years since "Signs" came out, and now the best filmmaker in the world is back with "The Village." CNN.com's review calls "The Village" "Shyamalan's best film yet, demanding repeated viewings and endless discussion about the morality and implications of the characters' choices." Tune in to FlynnFiles later this weekend and I'll give you my take.
"Help is on the way." No thank you, I can help myself.
John Kerry's Thursday night mantra reminds me of the ten scariest words in the English language: "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."
The candidate's "I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty" line along with its accompanying salute seemed forced and corny. As honest commentators noted after the nearly hour-long speech ended, Kerry rushed his way through. His words stepped on applauses that he should have gloried in. Some in the convention hall, and many at home, certainly dozed off before the lecture ended.
The text of the speech was quite a gamble. Kerry generally buried traditional Democratic issues like health care, abortion, education, and Social Security. Instead, Kerry stressed traditional Republican issues: defense, foreign policy, and patriotism. The rationale for going this route may have been a recognition amongst the Democrats that these are the issues of great salience to 2004 voters, so why not establish Kerry's credentials as soon as possible? The risk is that Kerry will have to fight on the Republicans' home turf. Will the gamble pay off? We'll see this November.
For me, Kerry's most effective line was "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America." The powerful theme of the speech, of the night, and of the convention is that one candidate is an armchair warrior while the other is an actual warrior.
Not surprisingly, Kerry lost me, but stirred the hearts of the delegates, when he got to the red meat of his program. He argued for, "Head Start, Early Start, Smart Start." Why not ditch these daytime orphanages for a program that works: the family. "And when I'm president," Kerry announced, "America will stop being the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy, the connected, and the elected--it is a right for all Americans." If it's a right, who is responsible for supplying it? Scariest of all was his line that "all Americans will be able to buy less expensive prescription drugs from countries like Canada." Kerry's plan is an attack on American industry and patent law. The Canadian government dictates to companies how much they can sell drugs for there. They also violate our patent laws, which have ensured that so many innovative medical advances have occured here. Non-American companies sponge off the research of American drug companies by copying the drugs American companies develop and then offering them for less. It's a form of stealing, but so are so many other government programs that Kerry supports.
Kerry gets a B-. His running mate's address didn't upstage his, but the last Democratic President's did--as did the pre-Kerry Hollywood production. Kerry didn't come close to hitting a home run. He did, however, succeed in creating a credible image in the minds of Americans of a President John Kerry.
His politics are horrible, but John Kerry's taste in music is excellent. The Democrats' nominee approached the podium on Thursday evening to Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender." He closed to U2's "Beautiful Day." And he took his curtain calls to Van Halen's "Dreams." Surely this beats the mariachi bands and country music noise pollution that followed George W. Bush in 2000.
America is less economically free than it was just a few years ago. This is especially true relative to the rest of the world. The United States stands at number ten on the 2004 Index of Economic Freedom. A decade ago, the U.S. occupied the fourth position on the annual study conducted by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation.
Why are we less free? "First, the U.S. government's continued expansion of expensive entitlement programs has increased the fiscal burden," the Heritage Foundation's Ana Isabel Eiras points out. "Second, other important areas of economic openness--capital flows and foreign investment, trade policy, wages and prices, and regulations--have simply failed to maintain pace with the changing world."
At the federal level since 1998, farm subsidies have increased 76 percent, education spending has increased 78 percent, and unemployment compensation has increased 128 percent. In other words, under Republican control of the purse strings of Congress the state has grown larger. This necessarily means the people have become less free vis a vis the government.
Albert Jay Nock demonstrates this in his classic book, Our Enemy, the State. He wrote: "just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power; there is never, nor can be, any strengthening of State power without a corresponding and roughly equivalent depletion of social power."
John Edwards' speech was a lot like, well, John Edwards: long on style and short on substance. Edwards informed the viewing audience that he chooses "hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism," that "there will always be heartache and struggle," and that his parents taught him to "never look down on anybody." I didn't think it was possible to speak for twenty minutes (without taking a breath) and say absolutely nothing. Now I know: it is.
Twenty years ago, Whodini informed us that "The freaks come out at night." The rap trio's timeless wisdom was again proved correct on Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention.
For reasons unexplained, the Democrats gave Al Sharpton six minutes at the podium. He took twenty instead. Dennis Kucinich, even further on the fringe than Sharpton, uttered the craziest words I've heard yet from the podium: "Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Racism is a weapon of mass destruction." Nearly everything seems a weapon of mass destruction in Kucinich's eyes, except, of course, actual weapons of mass destruction.
For two days, I anxiously awaited the moment when some Democrat would rebel against the party ventriloquists and deliver a speech in tune with the radicals populating the convention floor. Tonight, at least for a few minutes, it happened. Thank you Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton for reminding us why not to vote Democrat.
The Democrats and Republicans are both looking to display moderation to the American people at their conventions. The two parties manner of doing this differs greatly.
Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Tammy Baldwin, Hillary Clintion, and other liberal stalwarts have dominated the proceedings in Boston thus far, but they have toned down their rhetoric. The right-wing of the Republican party, on the other hand, is almost wholly excluded from the prime-time spots at the Republican National Convention. In their stead, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak. The Democrats parade their liberals, asking only that they exercise caution in choosing their words. Republicans hide their conservatives.
It would seem that liberals have less to complain about regarding the Democrats' convention than conservatives do regarding the Republicans' convention.
"I'm Howard Dean, and I'm voting for John Kerry." I'm Dan Flynn, and I'm not. Many Christians have adopted the slogan "What Would Jesus Do?" I've embraced a similar slogan: "What Would Howard Dean Do?"--or WWHDD? for short. When I don't feel like thinking, I ask that question and then do the opposite. It has served as an excellent guide.
While Bill O'Reilly-Michael Moore was less Ali-Frazier and more Laura Ingalls-Nellie Oleson, Michael Reagan came out slugging, in a brotherly sort of way, in expressing his disapointment in Ron Reagan's recent words and actions. Saying on Hannity & Colmes that his brother, who addressed the Democratic National Convention last night, was being "used" by the Democrats, Michael called Ron Reagan: "the typical liberal"--something anyone watching MSNBC this week can attest to. Michael acknowledged that Ron Reagan would never be addressing the Democrats' gathering if he were anyone else's son. He added that Ron was always Nancy Reagan's "favorite." Perhaps most startling was Michael Reagan's remembrance of something Ron had told him upon refusing to attend the ceremony christening the USS Ronald Reagan: "To me, it's a weapon of mass destruction."
The much anticipated Michael Moore-Bill O'Reilly debate was a big-time letdown. I had high hopes, but Geraldo's opening of Al Capone's vault really came to mind in watching the protagonists. Honesty compelled O'Reilly to make the argument, again and again, that George W. Bush was mistaken but not deceitful in taking us to war. Moore, on the other hand, repeatedly said the president wasn't merely mistaken but was a liar. Moore continuously asked O'Reilly if he would send his children to die in Iraq, to which O'Reilly continuously responded that he would go but wouldn't sacrifice his children.
Last I checked, no American "children" died in the war. But more than nine-hundred men and women did. The whole "it's about the kids" argument is enough to make one wonder if the reductio ad Hitlerum has been replaced by the reductio ad children. Anyhow, the whole thing was an "I'm right"/"No, I'm right" type of debate. O'Reilly wanted Moore on the program, but did he really want him on enough to allow the filmmaker to ask a question for every one asked by the host? When was the last time a conservative author interviewed by Katie Couric or Bill Moyers got to do that?
When Chris Matthews asked Wesley Clark last night if he denounces Michael Moore's message, Clark refused and made some foolish remark about Moore being a "man of conscience." "On the actual facts," MSNBC's Ron Reagan claimed, Fahrenheit 9/11's "pretty rock solid." I guess he missed my review. In a fawning interview, Moore himself told Reagan that Fahrenheit 9/11 was "a small piece" of what will bring down the Republicans this November. Moore actually sat in Jimmy Carter's presidential box at the convention.
I suspect that tonight, Michael Moore will have a tougher go of it. He'll appear on The O'Reilly Factor, whose online poll had eight-five percent of respondents saying that Michael Moore is worse than Al Franken.
"Are you troubled by the erosion of some of America's most basic civil liberties?" Al Gore asked Monday night. Why yes, in fact, I am. Seeing my hometown transformed into a police state is disturbing. (Actually, I'm from nearby Arlington, but if Michael Moore can continue to claim that he's from Flint I guess it's okay to say I'm from Boston).
Random police searches, a seven-foot fence surrounding the entire Fleet Center, communter trains shut down, the major artery into Boston closed, machine-gunners on rooftops, helicopters circling overhead, and protestors barricaded from the event all greatly trouble me, Mr. Gore. When it comes to their own security, Democrats make John Ashcroft appear as if he were the chairman of the ACLU. When it comes to the security of the American people, they're much more lax.
The first night of the convention was a success for the Democrats. The red-meat issues that the activists in attendance eat up--abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, etc.--were almost entirely absent. Instead, a steady stream of speakers attacked the Bush record and created an image of John Kerry as a navy captain ready to steer the ship of state.
Among the minor leaguers, condescending Tammy Baldwin appeared to be speaking to school children and Barbara Mikulski stumbled over her words with the eloquence of an overworked truck driver on nodoz. Public speaking clearly isn't foreign to the Reverend David Alston, who pumped up the crowd. The major leaguers get graded on a more competitive scale. Jimmy Carter came across as bitter and mean spirited, Al Gore appeared more comfortable than I remember him, and Hillary Clinton's address was rather pedestrian.
President Clinton's speech clearly stands as the highlight of day one. He received a rock star's greeting, and supplied the line of the night in his assault on the Bush Administration: "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values." Like all conventioneers, the delegates embarrassed themselves by wearing silly hats and dancing horribly to stale songs. But you didn't see rainbow flags, pro-abortion placards, or anything else that screamed "radical."
Let's see if they can keep up the act for another three days.
Do you think maybe, just maybe, Bill Clinton was the wrong guy to juxtapose Kerry's Vietnam service with George W. Bush's avoidance of it? Or how about the hubris of Jimmy Carter in criticizing the president's, or any president's, foreign policy? Could it be that after the Hillary-Care debacle, Senator Clinton may not have been the right speaker to stress health care issues? Might sore-loser Al Gore have been an ill-conceived choice to whine about the Florida election controversy?
The opening night of the convention shows that the Democrats want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to bash the president for going to war in Iraq, and omit the fact that their nominee voted to authorize that war. This week's convention is already full of war hypocrisy from the Democrats.
Dennis Kucinich remarked on MSNBC, "This is George W. Bush's war, not John Kerry's war." Jimmy Carter condemned "wars of choice," clearly implying Iraq. Howard Dean characterized Iraq as "a war based on apparently nothing." Did Dean, Carter, and Kucinich miss the fact that the man they want to be president supported the war?
During the primary season, John Kerry clumsily fostered this war ambiguity by remarking, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." The bill in question involved funding for existing war operations in Iraq.
Democratic delegates believe the U.S. should have stayed out of the war by a twelve to one ratio. But the platform that they drafted benignly states, "People of good will disagree about whether America should have gone to war in Iraq."
George W. Bush is wrong about Iraq. But at least he has the courage of his convictions. You know where he stands. John Kerry and the Democrats don't want you to know where they stand. What does it say about a political party when it seeks to muddle rather than proclaim its position on the most important question a nation faces?
Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones turns sixty-one today. My five favorite Stones songs are: 5. Heartbreaker 4. Can't You Hear Me Knockin' 3. Brown Sugar 2. Gimme Shelter 1. Memory Motel. Have you got a different top five? Let's see it in the comments section below.
Michael Moore is a base, obnoxious slob. He took took home the Palme d'Or from the Cannes Film Festival, and is celebrated in France. Lance Armstrong beat cancer to win the Tour de France six times in a row. No one has ever won the race so many times, and as a result, the French revile Armstrong. Therein lies a cultural lesson on the psychology of the French.
Juxtaposed with Moore, it's quite easy to feel good about yourself. Next to Armstrong, we find ourselves lacking. Moore inspires no inferiority complexes among the French, so he's feted. Armstrong's achievements are so grand, the French contend, that he must be cheating. No one, the argument goes, can be that much better than the pack.
In France, it's three cheers for mediocrity. Greatness, however, is an affront to the national ethos of equality.
If the Democrats who show up to this week's convention look like this, this, and this, John Kerry will lose. If the Democrats showcase more mainstream elements, the party will greatly increase their fortunes coming out of Boston. John Kerry's history as an anti-war protestor, as Michael Dukakis's lieutenant governor, and as Ted Kennedy's understudy is an albatross for the candidate in every constituency save the true believers. Having the convention in Massachusetts, hardly a bastion of mainstream political sentiment, serves to highlight Kerry's liberalism. He best be careful to avoid playing to the passions of the left-wing delegates inside the Fleet Center, and instead focus on winning the votes of, well, the more normal (and more numerous) people watching on television. Will the Democrats in Boston be the party of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, or will they be the party of Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, and Cynthia McKinney? How they answer this question may determine the next president.
A Florida court has ruled that a woman who underwent gender reassignment surgery is not a man. The ruling is a victory for common sense. Removing your breasts, injecting large amounts of hormones into your body, and surgically attaching a plastic penis to your groin doesn't make you a man. It makes you seriously disturbed.
Have you been following Francis Fukuyama's rift with the neoconservatives? I have, and up until now I've been a bit dumbstruck.
In the years leading up to the Iraq war, Fukuyama signed numerous public letters calling on the American government to "challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values," and "have as its explicit goal removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power and establishing a peaceful and democratic Iraq in its place."
But now Fukuyama sings from a very different sheet of music. The president's war policies have so alienated Fukuyama that the scholar says that he will not vote for Bush come November. In a recent opinion piece entitled "Shattered Illusions," Fukuyama criticizes the manner in which the Iraq war has been conducted, the notion that democracy in Iraq will take hold anytime soon, and the intelligence failures of the Bush administration.
"The Bush administration went into Iraq with enormous illusions about how easy the post-war situation would be: it thought the reconstruction would be self-financing, that Americans could draw on a lasting well of gratitude for liberating Iraq, and that we could occupy the country with a small force structure and even draw US forces down significantly within a few months," writes Fukuyama. The famed author of The End of History and the Last Man points to the Bush administration's "flawed" judgment on the threat posed by Iraq, which has "created an enormous legitimacy problem for the US, one that will hurt American interests for a long time to come." He cautions the U.S. against "taking on large social engineering projects in parts of the world it doesn't understand very well."
Reality has indeed "shattered illusions" for many who envisioned in Iraq a mini-America rather than America's West Bank. Could it be that the illusions that shattered most dramatically were Fukuyama's own?
The Red Sox beat up the Yankees on Saturday. Then they beat the Yankees on the scoreboard--with a Bill Mueller walk-off home run. Arturo Gatti delivered a vicsious liver-shot to Leonard Dorin. The Italian Montrealian sent the Romanian Montrealian to the canvass--to stay--in less than two rounds. Gatti is a legend who still plies his trade. That makes him a living legend. There is no one in sports I would pay more money to see than Gatti. Lance Armstrong is poised to win a sixth straight Tour de France on Sunday. We send Lance to France just to suggest that if we sent tanks, it would be a helluva lot worse. And Ricky Williams, one of the best running backs ever to step onto the field, says that he is retiring after only five years in the NFL. The Patriots fan in me celebrates. The football fan in me mourns.
I had hoped to go to Atlantic City this weekend to see the Arturo Gatti-Leonard Dorin fight. It wasn't in the cards. Instead, I found myself gambling with some DC-area bloggers last night in a Texas Hold 'em tournament. Knowing that the game had been promoted, I kept waiting for this guy to show up and take our money. He never did. But I had an early departure from the game anyhow. Under normal circumstances saying "I've never played before" serves as a good excuse for losing. Texas Hold 'em contests, however, bizarrely run on several cable channels, so the excuse doesn't hold here. Simply by pop-culture osmosis, everyone has some idea of how the game works. If that doesn't explain my defeat, what does? I didn't recognize it at the time, but I've come to suspect that the constant loop of songs from Cake that curiously played in the background of our game contained subliminal messages telling me to bet it all when I got dealt a two and a six. Yes, yes, of course. That's it. My lack of card-playing skills had absolutely nothing to do with my loss. At least that's the comforting myth I've invented to make myself feel better. Mike Krempasky came away the winner, host Tom Bridge the runner up, followed by Tony Rathbone and Ben Domenech. Other players included Tiffany, Chris Hynes, Mike Wasylik, and Chris O'Donnell.
I've been "outed" as an unreconstructed Old-Right conservative. I've never felt the need to put a prefix on my conservative leanings (neo-, paleo-, compassionate-, etc.). Just conservative will do. After all, conservatives I've admired--Russell Kirk, M. Stanton Evans, Ron Paul--have always been, to me, just that: conservatives. Why should I yield the term to some Republican cheerleader whose idea of heavy reading is the back page of The Weekly Standard? But, I guess, if the shoe fits--wear it. Maybe I am Old Right.
In an article on the widely read LewRockwell.com, Daniel McCarthy praises me as one of the "Young Men of the Old Right." He writes: "Consider the emerging cohort of brilliant--nothing short of that will do--and principled young conservative journalists who have written critically about the Iraq War and related issues." A few paragraphs later he devotes considerable space to previewing my forthcoming book, Intellectual Morons. I don't know about "brilliant," but I did oppose the Iraq war when it wasn't fashionable to do so on the Right. Now, thankfully, I'm crowded in that view.
What I like most about the article is that it highlights numerous individuals I've had the opportunity to influence or interact with. The author of the piece, Daniel McCarthy, I remember as a student in Missouri when I was executive director of Accuracy in Academia. He passed through our programs, and I was later glad to see him in attendance at a talk I gave at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Marcus Epstein, labeled an "especially insightful student of the history of the Old Right" in the piece, worked as an intern for me when I ran AIA. He's a graduate of AIA's Conservative University, and at 21, he's someone you'll hear from more as the years pass. Reginald Jones's "popularity with college conservatives is hard to overestimate," the piece reports. I second that. I met Reggie at Young America's Foundation. I spent a day in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium with the Bronx-bred Jones. He later electrified students at numerous Accuracy in Academia conferences. Reggie is a tremendous orator, mainly because he knows his stuff and can communicate in a language that non-nerds can understand. They all came to conservative ideas through different paths, but I'm glad that my path intersected with theirs along the way.
If "Old Right" means preserving economic liberty, traditional morality, and a Washingtonian foreign policy, then count me in. Trading big government, at home and abroad, for Republican ballot-box success is not my idea of a fair deal. I'd rather not be a part of something that is so wedded to the electoral prospects of Republican Party hacks, which, unfortunately, phony conservatism (neo-, compassionate-, and otherwise) has become. I'm a conservative. Let the others employ prefixes and modifiers to describe their conservatism.
“Until the day I die, I shall wonder how Whittaker Chambers got into my house to use my typewriter.”
“I remember walking around for a period of time and then going back to my hotel room. When I fully realized what had happened this morning, I immediately contacted the police.”
“Bitch set me up.”
“It depends upon what the meaning of the word is means.”
“In the course of reviewing over several days thousands of pages of documents on behalf of the Clinton administration in connection with requests by the Sept. 11 commission, I inadvertently took a few documents from the Archives.”
On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Kerry and President Bush are polling within the margin of error. It's the 2000 election all over again. Bush trails 49 percent to 47 percent. Most striking, the poll reports that 83 percent of Americans have already made up their minds about their vote. This poll is a good barometer to see what kind of a bounce Kerry receives from his four-day promotional event in Boston next week.
"Tracing some of [Michael] Moore's recent comments," Kay Hymowitz wrote last summer, "one can piece together the argument—or rather the hazy impressions, for Moore never constructs an argument—that will make up this so-called documentary. Moore will insinuate that the United States created Usama—'or USA-ma, which is more appropriate considering we trained him to be a terrorist.' He will tell us that in the late nineties the oil firm Unocal held a meeting with Taliban representatives in Houston, 'when Bush was governor,' to talk about building a pipeline through Afghanistan. He will imply that this project was the reason the U.S. gave humanitarian aid to the Taliban, until 'the deal went south,' and 'suddenly the Taliban were evil.' And thus, Michael Moore will finally reveal the awful truth that only he is courageous enough to admit about why the United States really went to war with the Taliban."
Hymowitz, a full year before Fahrenheit 9/11 hit American theaters, nailed the script to a tee. What's more, she called the international reaction to Fahrenheit 9/11 as well.
"And you can be sure that the trendy sophisticates in Cannes and Hollywood will once again rise to their feet to honor their mendacious auteur, European intellectuals will bow before his Manichaean simplicities, and the international radical Left will cheer the moral obtuseness of the man who has made his fortune turning the documentary into fiction," she wrote in The City Journal.
Among the punditry, Hymowitz's feat is a bit like Babe Ruth calling his shot. Or maybe the hackneyed Michael Moore is just that predictable.
The media has been horrible on the Sandy Berger story. Two examples stand out for me: The Washington Post and Dan Rather. A news article in today's Post conjured up the idea of "one of Washington’s most respected foreign policy figures being subjected to treatment that had at least a faint odor of a sting operation." Last night, Dan Rather noted that this story "was triggered by a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger, and the timing of it appears to be no coincidence." More bothersome than what they're saying is what they aren't saying. The media seems to lack curiousity on the Sandy Berger affair. Why would a man who served in high positions in government be stuffing top secret documents into his clothing? Journalists don't know. What's worse, journalists don't want to know.
The Communist Party USA has urged its supporters to vote for John Kerry. The party's website notes that "a Kerry election presents the possibility for greater struggles to undo damage and move forward." John Kerry, the Communists say, "is the vehicle by which George W. Bush...can be defeated." This surely puts some votes in the Kerry column in Santa Cruz, California, Yellow Springs, Ohio, and Amherst, Massachusetts. Everywhere else, it reinforces Kerry's image as an out-to-lunch Massachusetts liberal.
Even when the Soviet Union ordered the CPUSA not to harm the Roosevelt campaign during the "popular front" days in 1936, the American Communists did so by bashing Alf Landon rather than praising Franklin Roosevelt. They even ran, at least nominally, a candidate that year. Things must be truly desperate on the Left if the Communist Party is backing the Democrats' horse.
Say what you want about George W. Bush, but the man has all the right enemies.
Van Halen's double-disc greatest hits package, The Best of Both Worlds, hits stores this week. The compilation includes material from the David Lee Roth years: "Ain't Talkin Bout Love," "Jump," "Dance the Night Away," etc. It contains about an equal number of songs from the Van Hagar era: "When It's Love," "Right Now," "Why Can't This Be Love," etc. There's a lot of great songs in the Van Halen catalogue. Both of these incarnations of the group put out some awesome music. So, I ask FlynnFiles readers: Sammy or Dave?
The Drudge Report headline reads, "9/11 report spares Bush, Clinton." The MSNBC headline reads, "9/11 panel will criticize Clinton, Bush administrations." Like the Bible and the White Album, I suspect that the lengthy 9/11 Report will launch a million competing and contradictory interpretations. The spin starts now.
Did you ever make the "honest mistake" of "inadvertently" stuffing highly sensitive national security documents in your socks, jacket, and pants? No? Well, me neither. But Sandy Berger assures us that this is nothing more than being "sloppy." I don't buy it.
Sandy Berger, National Security Advisor for President Clinton, was caught taking classified material from the National Archives. This includes his notes on classified documents, as well as several classified documents themselves. Now Berger says he can't find some of the missing material.
One of the missing items is said to be a draft report highly critical of the Clinton Administration's handling of the Millenium Bombing plot. Sandy Berger doesn't know where it is now. This is troubling for a few reasons. First, the document is secret--it's not meant for non-governmental eyes. It's been compromised. No one knows where it is. Second, removing the document might have shielded current individuals charged with oversight and future researchers from information damaging to the Clinton Administration. Third, Republicans allege the document may have been used by the Kerry campaign in a political attack on the president.
There are more questions than answers at this point. But the whole idea of a National Security Advisor acting in such a slipshod or reckless manner stands as an indictment against those who entrusted him with such power.
“What information could be so embarrassing that a man with decades of experience in handling classified documents would risk being caught pilfering our nation’s most sensitive secrets?” asked House Speaker Dennis Hastert. That's what I'd like to know.
"We were all laughing about it," reacted former President Bill Clinton to allegations that his National Security Advisor illegally poached secret documents from the National Archives.
On Bill Clinton's watch, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, two of our embassies in Africa, the Khobar Towers housing our servicemen in Saudi Arabia, and the USS Cole. While al Qaeda plotted, Bill Clinton plotted too. He plotted his next sexual conquest. He plotted how to gain popularity by trumpeting innocuous issues like school uniforms. He plotted how to settle scores with his political enemies.
Bill Clinton was an unserious president. His childish reaction to the serious allegations lodged at Sandy Berger reconfirm that he's an unserious ex-president too.
New Yorker Amy Richards killed two of her unborn children. The New York Times awarded the 34-year-old woman nearly a thousand words of column space. Further west in the Empire State, 31-year-old Stacey DeBeer killed two of her children too. And like Amy Richards, newspapers have devoted ink to her.
What's the difference between the two women? There is no ethical difference in their actions, only a legal distinction. You see, DeBeer killed her two infants after they had left her body. So, she will be serving thirty years to life. During that time, Amy Richards will be free to lecture on college campuses, peddle her theories in dark corners of the Internet, and participate in vacuous Manhattan political discussions.
"I had a recurring feeling that this was going to come back and haunt me," Richards recalls, but "everything is fine." DeBeer, who was sentenced yesterday, reacts quite differently to her offense. "I will live with this everyday," she said as she wept. "My babies deserved more."
Amy Richards' babies deserved more too.
The readership of FlynnFiles has grown exponentially over the past two months. Our community continues to expand. More readers means a livelier discussion. I'm asking readers, right now, to tell five friends about FlynnFiles.com so that the site reaches an even larger audience. Email a link or encourage friends to visit the site. Do whatever you can to spread the word. I'll make you a deal: I won't burden you with annoying pop-ups if you get the message out about FlynnFiles.com. The best way for this site to grow is through positive word of mouth. This means you play a most important role in bringing in new readers and commenters. Your help in this endeavor is essential and I thank you for it.
The most hated American in France is a Texan, but his name isn't George W. Bush. It's cyclist Lance Armstrong. He'll be the guy wearing that yellow jersey today.
Armstrong took the lead in the Tour de France on Tuesday. With five stages to go, Armstrong looks like a strong favorite to win the race for the sixth straight time. This would make the ugly American the greatest Tour de France champion in history. Frenchmen suffering from inferiority complexes don't like this.
Though Armstrong boasts legions of French fans, armies of Frenchmen hate him. In 2002, French fans booed the cancer survivor as he peddled up a mountain. Last year, a spectator "accidentally" collided with Armstrong. This year, the French press has harped on the theory that Armstrong uses performance enhancing drugs--despite the fact that drug test after drug test has discredited this idea.
The French contempt for Lance Armstrong might be best viewed as a microcosm of their current hysterical anti-Americanism. French elites hate America because it dominates militarily, economically, and culturally. Similarly, Armstrong is hated not for his failures but for his successes. In both instances, the fuel for the Gaullic hatred is the same: envy.
Today is the 35th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's moonwalk (which didn't, I must insist, take place on a movie set). Apollo 11's moon landing and the subsequent walk on the lunar surface by astronauts is a truly remarkable accomplishment in human history.
"One knew that this spectacle was not the product of inanimate nature, like some aurora borealis, or of chance, or of luck, that it was unmistakably human—with 'human,' for once, meaning grandeur—that a purpose and a long, sustained, disciplined effort had gone to achieve this series of moments, and that man was succeeding, succeeding, succeeding!" Ayn Rand wrote upon witnessing Apollo 11 launch into space.
Rand makes the point that the event proved man's greatness in contrast to nature. I say the opposite. Walking on the moon was a huge achievement for science and for America. But we walked on our own moon, in our own solar system, in our own galaxy. The event demonstrates not only how much man hasn't done, but how much that he will never do. On a more practical level, unlike Columbus's voyage in 1492, what happened in 1969 hasn't changed the course of history in any dramatic fashion. More than anything else, though, Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was a symbolic acheivement. Consider that it's been thirty-five years since man first walked upon the moon. It's been thirty-two years since man last walked upon the moon.
When you are a chef and your customers vomit after their meals, you get fired. When you are a doctor and your patients keep dying, you get fired. When you are an accountant that can't add or subtract, you get fired. When you are an entertainer who gets booed and leaves audiences scurrying towards the exits, if you get fired you should call it censorship and blame your boss.
The Alladin casino fired Linda Ronstadt after she went on a political tirade in front of an audience of thousands during a lackluster performance. She is paid to sing. The rant sparked booing, a mass exodus, and defacement of her pictures by idiotic audience members. The Alladin fired Ronstadt shortly thereafter. "We live in a city where people come from all over the world to be entertained," Alladin President Bill Timmins explained to a local paper. "We hired Ms. Ronstadt as an entertainer, not as a political activist."
A thirty-four year-old professional woman describes her reaction to being informed that she had acheived her goal of becoming pregnant. Only, the doctor informs her that she is carrying three babies. "My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets," Amy Richards explained. "I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?"
The mom-to-be explored other options, grisly options. She asked the doctor, ''Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?'' So that's what she did. She directed the "doctor" to kill two of her unborn children. "I had a boy, and everything is fine," she concludes. "But thinking about becoming pregnant again is terrifying." Terrifying to whom?
Gays used to worry about the government invading their bedrooms. Now they have to worry about other gays. (Well, maybe gays have always worried about other gays invading their bedrooms, but just not in the way that I’m talking about.)
Homosexual political activists and newspaper editors are engaged in a campaign of exposing closeted gays who work for politicians opposing gay marriage. They have “outed” one congressman, a senator, and numerous congressional staffers.
“Gays and lesbians are under attack!” Mike Rogers, one of the men behind the assault on the privacy of other homosexuals, ironically contends. “It’s amazing to me that people don’t get that! So what are we going to do? Protect these gay staffers who have influence on policy matters while their bosses spew hate and bigotry?”
The campaign is a crude form of blackmail. Support our political agenda, the Gay Left declares, or we’ll ransack your personal life. What might the reaction be if conservatives engaged in this type of political extortion? The fact is there is no figure on the Religious Right who poses as great a threat to the privacy of homosexuals as do the fanatics on the Left. One need only look at the recent history of outing to understand that this is a tactic almost uniformly employed by the Left.
A vindictive Greenwich Village homosexual launched a public crusade to expose Roy Cohn’s homosexuality by spray-painting that message on Manhattan streets and helping to publish thousands of fake inserts of the New York Times detailing Cohn’s gay escapades. Later, left-wing columnist Jack Anderson would despicably publicize Cohn’s medical condition--AIDS. Queer Nation co-founder Michelangelo Signorile outed publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes, Sr. Liberal Frank Rich revealed the homosexuality of then conservative David Brock in a column in the New York Times. Shortly after Congressman Jim Kolbe received word that a hit piece revealing his homosexuality would appear in The Advocate, a major gay publication, the Arizona Republican reluctantly came out of the closet.
Many homosexuals, like many heterosexuals, don’t care to keep the world apprised of the on-goings in their bedrooms. If they want to keep private matters, well, private, shouldn’t we respect their wishes? Activist gays answer “no.” To them, hurting individual gays in outing campaigns serves the larger political cause. Their glorious ends justify their vile means.
Barney Frank shacking up with a male prostitute who ran a brothel out of the congressman’s DC home, academic Michel Foucault purposefully spreading AIDS, and former Rep. Gerry Studds plying a congressional page with liquor before bedding the teenager all elicit cries from the Gay Left that society should stop prying into the personal affairs of public figures. At the same time, they say the private activities of anonymous congressional staffers deserve exposure over the Internet and other media outlets. The Gay Left's stance doesn’t even rise to the level of hypocrisy.
With the standards of a spoiled child, the Gay Left abandons principle in favor of whim. How can any thinking person take their cries of “stay out of our bedrooms” seriously when they are utterly incapable of doing just that when it comes to the private lives of other gays?
Quietly, July is turning into one of the bloodiest months of the Iraq war for U.S. armed forces. "Since the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003, only three months have had a higher average of daily losses than this month: April and May of this year and last November, which saw an average of almost four US and coalition military deaths per day," an article in the Boston Globe points out today. In fact, the U.S. casualty rate has spiked since the handover. Halfway through July, U.S. forces have seen about as many deaths this month as they did in the entirety of June.
One week before their convention, Democrats have a lot more to worry about than Republicans. Possible terrorists, protestors, and the police union are among those who are making life difficult for the organizers of John Kerry's hometown coronation. In turn, locals claim that the Democrats have made life difficult for them.
Spending a few days in Boston made clear that although the convention hasn't happened, Bostonians have already proclaimed it a disaster.
The city will be in virtual lockdown during the four-day event. Next week I-93, the main artery leading into Boston, will be shut down from Medford to Braintree during the convention. This section of I-93 includes the newly opened Big Dig, a project Democrats had hoped to use for a national show-and-tell. North Station, the MBTA stop adjacent to the Fleet Center, will be closed. MBTA commuter rails will be disrupted as well.
Financially, the event will likely be a net negative for the city. Workers are being urged to take the week off. In some convention-area businesses that can't afford a week's furlough, business owners will be sleeping in their shops to stay open. Local talk radio is abuzz with landlords underwhelmed by the lack of interest in convention-week rentals--a financial windfall widely expected just a few months ago. The Democrats who control local government forced cab drivers to offer reduced fares from Logan Airport to area hotels for convention-goers. "It's forcing us to help subsidize the Democratic convention, which is illegal,'' cab driver Bill Ford told the Boston Herald. "I'm taking their advice: 'If you can, take the week off.'"
The Boston Police Department and Mayor Thomas Menino are currently embroiled in a labor dispute. Boston's police union has promised to picket all thirty of the welcoming parties for delegates hosted by Mayor Menino. This has put Democrats in a bind: cross the picket lines or boycott the parties. Either way, they alienate other Democrats. One anonymous flier further fueled the animosity by stating: ''Before Democrats respect the BPPA's protests, isn't it time the BPPA showed our party some respect." The union counters that they give 15 to 1 to Democrat candidates, leaving some to wonder what ratio would signify a proper level of respect by the union towards the Democrats.
Seventy-five new security cameras have sprouted up throughout the city. Random searches will occur with frequency on trains and buses. Boston Police are estimating as many as 2,500 arrests, which, if proves accurate, would be four times as many arrests as made at both the Democratic and Republican 2000 conventions.
What a complete mess!
I made the return trip from Boston to DC on Sunday evening. The drive took exactly nine hours, mostly because of congestion from New Haven, Connecticut to central New Jersey. Having the gas tank on the passenger side of the car, however, saved me from an even longer trip. At the Richard Stockton Rest Area (named for Revolutionary War hero, not the sports announcer), gas lines were more than twelve deep for cars with the gas-tank opening on the driver's side. I was the line for the passenger-side tanks. I'll have a report on Convention-eve Boston shortly.
Sometimes obvious omissions speak louder than words explicitly spoken. Today's Boston Globe features a political cartoon depicting Martha Stewart, heading to prison, thinking: "Next time I'll lie about weapons of mass destruction." Actually, we just had a president face charges remarkably similar to the accusations against Stewart that she lied and obstructed justice.
She's going to prison. He's on a book tour. She lied about stocks. He lied about sex.
Instead of making the obvious corollary to President Clinton's famous legal troubles, cartoonist Dan Wasserman opts for political solidarity and makes a clumsy reference to weapons of mass destruction that doesn't seem in any way analagous to the Stewart case. A cartoon more concerned with putting out a better product rather than scoring political points might have had Stewart thinking: "Next time I'll lie about sex."
Boyashaka! Hear me now, HBO's most bestest comedy program, the Ali G Show, premieres tonight (All idiotic buzzwords and catchphrases courtesy of Mr. G himself). Ali G, Bruno, and Borat return for another season, with Pat Buchanan and Sam Donaldson rumored to be among the show's victims. We are blessed with a lot of funny shows these days--Chappelle's Show, Wildboyz, Reno 911, South Park--and Ali G is one of the funniest. Ali G is wicked, so tell all your homies to give respect and tune the telly to the Jewish British dude who plays an Arab attempting to impersonate a Caribbean black rapper. That's Ali G-speak for watch HBO tonight. And if you don't have HBO, fork over some cash to that entrepreneurial foreign gentleman I've told you about who'll hook you up with all the channels for much less than the cable company charges.
George W. Bush didn't dump Paul Wolfowitz when he advised an attack on Iraq instead of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. He didn't ask for the resignation of his CIA director, who neither prevented 9/11 nor got intelligence on Iraq right. He didn't even reprimand Colin Powell for getting his facts screwed up when making a pre-Iraq war presentation to the UN.
It's not in W's character to dump Dick Cheney. The vice president's remained loyal. More importantly, the president has remained loyal to too many who didn't rate it. George Bush isn't going to dump someone whose major offense is a sour personality--something Cheney had in 2000. For better or worse, it's Bush-Cheney against Kerry-Edwards. To quote the great Mills Lane, "Let's get it on!"
I made the lonely I-95 journey from Washington, DC to Boston last night, so I'll be blogging from the Hub of the Universe (that nickname always struck me as bizarre) this weekend. The drive took seven hours, and the highlight came towards the tail end of the trip when Boston's WZLX played Abbey Road's side-two medley from "Golden Slumbers" through "The End" (No "Her Majesty"). The Democrats roll into town (or should I say more Democrats roll into town) next week, so I'll be departing before they can find me and do harm to me. The Democrats announced they will be giving bloggers credentials at the convention, but all of the bloggers happen to be liberals or Bush-bashers. No place at the table for FlynnFiles-types, I guess. Anyhow, with so many liberals already populating the area, and more of their brethren making their way to Boston from around the nation, I'm going to keep a low-profile in the 02474 zip-code area--kind of like you might do if you were in Mecca or Islamabad.
The polling stations have closed. The votes have been counted. And Barbara Bush has narrowly attained victory by just two votes in the election that really matters. Despite my best efforts, the lovely Jenna went down to defeat at the hands of her twin sister. Call it a readers' revolt. Barbara's victory makes me suspicious of voter irregularities, and Sir Mix-a-Lot--a definite Jenna voter--is claiming disenfranchisement, so I'm calling in UN monitors to oversee the next election. But for now, congratulations Barbara!
Slim-Fast dumped Whoopi Goldberg as a celebrity spokesperson. Goldberg, if you haven't heard, made some off-color remarks regarding President Bush's last name at a Democratic fundraiser. How much creativity did that take? Sure, the joke was offensive. But what's worse is that it's the type of joke a vulgar fifth-grade boy would tell. It took no imagination. Being offensive is a rather pedestrian sin for a comedian. Being unfunny, however, is the cardinal sin. Unfortunately, Whoopi commits the latter offense on a regular basis.
Leaving Whoopi's bad comedy aside, what galls me about Slim-Fast's association with Goldberg is not that she said some nasty things about the president. It's that Goldberg admits to having more than a half-dozen abortions.
Using crude words got her fired. Serially killing her unborn babies, however, didn't preclude her from getting hired.
Archaeologists found what they believe to be human bone where many within the Donner Party met their end. That's about as newsworthy as someone finding the carcass of a chicken in the dumpster behind Popeye's. Near Donner Lake, people ate other people. In the 157 years since, various observers have tried to deny or excuse what occurred.
"If some of the bones are human," the Associated Press report contends, "they would be the first physical evidence to back up survivors’ accounts that some members of the Donner Party resorted to cannibalism to survive being trapped in snow during the winter of 1846-47." Say what? Rescue parties found boiling hearts and livers, human corpses with their flesh stripped, and faces stained with human blood. Finding human bones near Donner Lake today will neither prove nor disprove what undeniably happened more than a century ago.
Harassed by Indians--Diggers--who killed their livestock for fun, and later trapped in the Sierra Nevadas in brutal snowstorms in the winter of 1846-47, the Donner Party suffered from bad luck. They also made their bad luck. Ever been told, "Don't take shortcuts"? The Donner Party were told this, but they didn't listen.
Starving and trapped in the mountains, some of the overlanders resorted to cannibalism. Of the eighty-one human beings within the Donner Party, only forty-seven survived. Children ate their own parents. Pioneers plotted to kill and eat the Indian guides. The trapped resorted to praying to Baal. Some remained in the mountains for six months.
"The general public understands the reasons for cannibalism now," a descendant of the Donners told the AP. "They realize the pioneers had no choice. What would you do in that situation if you were starving and had kids to feed?"
Well, I'd like to think that I wouldn't cook them somebody's brains and liver. Some died rather than eat their friends and family members. Others fled. Still others dined on humans. They had choices. Some chose good. Others chose evil. William Eddy ate grass and escaped to find help. Lewis Keseberg devoured human beings despite fresh horse meat being readily available. "Oh, it's too dry eating," Keseberg complained of horse flesh. Human "liver and lights were a great deal better, and the brains made good soup," he maintained.
"The Donner tragedy illustrates a perennial truth," Frank McLynn observes in his excellent book Wagons West. "There are almost no depths of infamy to which human beings cannot sink, but they are also capable of godlike courage, nobility and self-sacrifice."
Michael Moore reminds me of another gluttonous left-winger. In his heyday, the contempt for Gore Vidal spanned the ideological divide. Sure, people like William F. Buckley disliked him. But so did Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Bobby Kennedy, and even Vidal's own mother.
"When first approached I knew nothing about the content of his film Fahrenheit 9/11," Townshend writes regarding Moore's desire to use the song "Won't Get Fooled Again" over the film's closing credits. "I had not really been convinced by Bowling for Columbine and had been worried about its accuracy. Once I had an idea what the film was about, I was 90% certain my song was not right for them."
Townshend refused, and Moore has since claimed the rock great wouldn't permit the use of Who's Next's closing number for ideological reasons. Townshend denies this, saying the real reason he didn't grant Moore use of the song is that he doesn't believe Moore has a high regard for truth. As the film closes with President Bush stumbling over the phrase "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me," Townshend's song would have been a better fit than the song used: Neil Young's "Keep on Rockin in the Free World."
"I greatly resent being bullied and slurred by him in interviews just because he did not get what he wanted from me," Townshend notes. "It seems to me that this aspect of his nature is not unlike that of the powerful and wilful man at the centre of his new documentary."
Time and Newsweek released Kerry-Edwards campaign pamphlets masquerading as magazine covers this week. The magazines look remarkably similar to something you would see in tribute to Aaron Carter or Justin Timberlake on the front of Tiger Beat. All that's missing from the newsweeklies are lots of yellows and pinks, and little hearts surrounding the candidates. Do you suppose Bush-Cheney will receive similar fawning treatment? No, they'll get the ominous looking black-and-white magazine covers? I guess you're right.
What does "pro-choice" mean? The logic goes something like this: any female, for whatever reason, should be free to kill her unborn child; any doctor, no matter the moral reservations, must be forced to perform, or refer clients to where they might obtain, abortions.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to block federal funding for governmental agencies that sue doctors, hospitals, and others involved in health care who refuse to perform abortions.
The existing state of affairs in which the government sues health care providers for refusing to offer abortions is wrong on so many levels. Can't the pro-abortion lobby bankroll their own frivolous lawsuits without our money? If it's wrong for the government to impose morality, isn't it also wrong for the government to force immorality? Doesn't pro-choice mean, well, pro-choice--the freedom to not perform abortions?
"The effect of this amendment would be a gag order on physicians," New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey contended, "to be able to give patients the full range of options." No, there are hundreds of places across America--at least one in every state--where women can get abortions. NARAL condemned the amendment as an aspect of President Bush's "anti-choice agenda." This is an Alice-in-Wonderland inversion of reality. The amendment doesn't stop health care providers from performing abortions. It merely stops government from subsidizing lawsuits against them should they decide to steer clear of abortion.
"Pro-choice" is a euphemism. It really stands for the freedom of abortion's proponents to do anything they want, and the conscription of its opponents to do what they don't want.
Forget Mary-Kate and Ashley, how about those Bush twins?
At the risk of an IRS audit, I have to say President Bush's daughters are quite a bit more attractive and fashionable than past presidential offspring roaming the halls of the White House. I don't recall Amy Carter, for instance, ever looking like she just stepped out of an Old Navy commercial. Disagree with with the president's policies if you must, but admit that the man has passed on some good genes.
Kerry v. Bush, at least at the moment, is boring. Let's have our own, more exciting election. Cast your vote below in the "comments" section. There will be no hanging chads on FlynnFiles. I'll announce the winner from these two worthy competitors on Friday. Let your voice be heard: Jenna or Barbara?
Two-hundred and fifteen years ago, the French performed a dress rehearsal for the twentieth century. Like the Communists, the French Jacobins engaged in class warfare, attacked Christianity, and violently exported their revolutionary ambitions to neighboring countries. Thinking people don't celebrate Bastille Day. They mourn it. What started out as "liberty, equality, and fraternity," recognized Nicolas de Chamfort, quickly transformed into "Be my brother or I will kill you."
A few weeks back, William F. Buckley declared: "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war." I've been waiting for him to expand on this, and he did so today--sort of.
"Should We Have Gone to War?" Buckley's current column asks. After reading the piece, I still find myself wanting its author's answer. The National Review founder writes: "Reason fortifies the two positions: 1) that we should have gone to war, and 2) that we need not have gone to war." Come again?
On Hardball Tuesday night, Buckley was a little more direct--as those appearing opposite Chris Matthews often are. He remarked that Bush's Iraq venture suffered from "strategic malconsideration," and that the White House "overreached" in its attempts to establish democracy in Iraq. Acknowledging that deposing Hussein was a positive consequence of the invasion, Buckley conceded that "viewed retrospectively [Bush] should have tried something else."
I knew one day, that if I read Eric Alterman enough, I would find something to agree with him on. That day has finally come.
Alterman discusses the neoconservative fetishization for democracy in the Arab world as an almost cure-all to anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and terrorism. It's not. Alterman writes, "the more democratic Arab nations become, the more anti-American/anti-Israeli/pro-terrorist they become."
In other words, the people in many Arab countries are more extreme than their leaders. In many cases, democracy would not be responsible; nor would democratic governments necessarily mean improvements on the current, dictatorial regimes that pollute the Arab world. Democracy doesn't work with unenlightened voters. People who almost unanimously hate the United States, prefer Osama bin Laden to any Western leader, and support Palestinian suicide bombings against Israeli civilians deserve the control of nations like death-row inmates deserve weapons stashes in their cells.
A pack of six North African youths set off a national firestorm in France after they attacked a 23-year-old French woman and her baby. The men drew swastikas on her stomach, beat her, cut her hair, and tipped over her baby carriage. They did this, the victim alleged, because the thugs incorrectly believed her to be Jewish.
The anti-Semitic assault elicited condemnation from President Jacques Chirac and drew international headlines.
The crime initially proved difficult to solve. No area surveillence tapes showed an Islamic gang, let alone one fleeing the scene. Not one of the twenty people who the victim claimed witnessed the crime came forward. And the young mother who endured the anti-Semitic assault had a history of filing phony police reports.
It turns out the attack occurred only in its victims imagination. She made it all up.
A controversy has erupted at a global conference over the tactics used to battle the AIDS crisis. In an address at the event, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni offered that abstinence is a superior choice to condoms. President Museveni remarked that the goal should be "optimal relationships based on love and trust instead of institutionalized mistrust which is what the condom is all about."
U.S. Representative Barbara Lee responded to the abstinence message by claiming, "women and girls too often do not have the choice to abstain, an abstinence until marriage program is not only irresponsible, it's really inhumane." But in those rare instances when woman and girls aren't able to choose abstinence, do they really have a choice to choose condoms? Implicit in Lee's remarks is the idea that people are not responsible for their own behavior--that choices made are really "choices" imposed. There are rare cases when this is so--like rape--but in most instances sex or chastity is a choice.
In Museveni's Uganda, AIDS cases have declined from thirty percent of the country's population in the 1980s to six percent today. Barbara Lee represents a district in the Bay Area of California. Which approach, and which area, is having greater success at curtailing AIDS?
The conference is being held in Thailand, where many a tourist has been known to double-bag it. The condom advocates definitely have home-field advantage there. In fairness, the abstinence proponents should demand the next such meeting be held in Vatican City.
What's lost in the abstinence versus condoms debate is that for many people it really isn't an either/or proposition. All actions have risks. Promiscuity poses a certain risk level for contracting HIV. Still greater risks are taken by the intravenous drug user, who in an altered state of consciousness can't be expected to always avoid sharing needles. Gay sex, especially certain varieties of it, present enormous risks too.
If you want to avoid AIDS, abstinence until marriage is your safest bet. If abstinence isn't for you, avoiding promiscuity, gay sex, and injecting drugs will increase the likelihood that you will steer clear of the virus that causes AIDS. But even this path holds risks. The only way to completely stay safe is to obey God and not Larry Kramer.
More than 500,000 Americans have died of AIDS since its outbreak in the early '80s. Abstinence didn't kill them.
Readers of FlynnFiles are undoubtedly familiar with former WWF champion Warrior. Try as we might to get him out of his shell, Warrior just always seems to come across as guarded and bashful. Warrior just posted on Ultimate Warrior.com, about, among other topics, Michael Moore.
Warrior writes: "Moore is simply an obese, grotesque blob. A virulent blight on mankind. Even through pictures of him you can smell his rot--his decayed breath festering from his black oral cavity, his magnet-infested deviant mind and his stinky fermenting what’s-a-bath? beard cheese. Looking at his dwarfish and greasy rat-like hands attached to his blimpish body repulses me into imagining the filthiness of the fat-ass always-eating head chef of a restaurant who when he uses the restroom, returns to work without having washed his hands... Whittaker Chambers wrote of a man he once met: 'I was always expecting him to sidle up to me and whisper: "Feelthy pictures?"' Moore sends the same pornographic ickiness up and down my spine."
Warrior takes issue with well-paid columnists who put nine bucks in Moore's pocket to see the film. I forked over my hard-earned dough to Moore, but since I'm not well paid I know Warrior wasn't referring to me. Anyhow, how else, but through these writers who saw the movie, would Warrior have any idea of the specific lies in it? Warrior is certainly not alone in the conservative community in his lack of curiousity when it comes to Fahrenheit 9/11. I spoke to a group of a dozen or so interns on Monday, and not one of them had seen Moore's movie.
Pat Buchanan challenged George H.W. Bush in the 1992 primaries. Ronald Reagan nearly dethroned Gerald Ford from the top of the Republican heap in 1976. Richard Nixon got primaried in 1972 by two congressmen, from the left flank by anti-war candidate Pete McCloskey and from his right flank by principled conservative John Ashbrook. George W. Bush, who drastically increased the size of government, lobbied for open borders, and signed a radical campaign finance bill, got a free pass to the general election by his fellow Republicans. Why?
Grumbling on the Right seems to grow louder as the election approaches. Yet of the five recent GOP incumbent presidents seeking a new four years in the White House, George W. Bush joins Ronald Reagan as the only two who avoided a primary challenge. Reagan proved an incredibly popular and successful president. George W. Bush, whose approval ratings hover above the forty percent marker, can't boast similar successes or popularity.
A few reasons stand out explaining why Bush got a bye in the semi-finals that precede November's championship round. First, we are at war. The war in Iraq grows less popular by the day, but many Republicans are hesitant to switch horses midway cross the stream. Second, memories of Bill Clinton remain fresh. After eight years of Slick Willie, conservatives are willing to sacrifice political purity for political expediency. Third, the nation is polarized. While Bush appears quite unpopular among non-Republicans, his approval rating among Republican voters is quite high. Finally, the influence of conservative ideas on the Republican Party are the weakest they've been since the pre-Reagan days. Conservatives were ascendant in the '70s, governed in the '80s, and held the line against the Clintons in the '90s. Today, while Republicans control all three branches of government, liberal ideas paradoxically hold sway over those same three branches of government.
I read the Senate Intelligence Committee's 30-page summary of its much lengthier report on pre-war intelligence on Iraq this weekend. It's a sober, yet scathing, indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The senate committee concludes that U.S. intelligence, particularly the CIA, overstated or misled in making the case that Iraq had stockpiles of chemical weapons, a more advanced biological weapons program than prior to the Gulf War, and reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. It also found "no evidence that the [intelligence community's] mischaracterization or exaggeration of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities was the result of political pressure."
The report gives the reader a few disturbing impressions. First, the CIA is overrun by analysts to the exclusion of collectors of actual intelligence. For instance, the report notes: "The Intelligence Community did not have a single [human intelligence] source collecting against Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs in Iraq after 1998." Second, these days there is nothing "Central" about the Central Intelligence Agency. The senators repeatedly demonstrate how the CIA excluded contradictory information from other U.S. intelligence gathering outfits when presenting information to lawmakers and shielded its own intelligence data from other intelligence agencies. Third, "The Intelligence Community suffered from a collective presumption that Iraq had an active and growing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program. This 'group think' dynamic led Intelligence Community analysts, collectors and managers to both interpret ambiguous evidence as conclusively indicative of a WMD program as well as ignore or minimize evidence that Iraq did not have active and expanding weapons of mass destruction programs."
The senators report a number of other disturbing conclusions:
* Secretary Powell's speech to the UN contained information cleared by the CIA that was "overstated, misleading, or incorrect."
* "CURVE BALL," the "principle source behind the Intelligence Community's assessments that Iraq had a mobile biological weapons program," was someone American intelligence didn't have access to.
* American intelligence "left itself open to possible manipulation by foreign governments and other parties interested in influencing U.S. policy."
Words like "misrepresented," "incorrect," "overstated," "not supported by the intelligence," "not substantiated," "inconsistent," and "misleading" copiously appear throughout the report to describe the CIA's presentation of pre-war intelligence.
With intelligence failure characterizing much of the last decade--bombing the Sudanese medicine factory, 9/11, and Iraqi WMD--this report is a wake-up call to the intelligence community to get its act together. The alternative, as we've seen with the African embassy bombings, the USS Cole, the Khobar Towers, 9/11, and the Iraq war, is simply too deadly.
Every now and again, I'm reminded of how tired, stale, and unsuccessful left-wing ideas are. I recently came across the following passage:
"I now declare to you and to the world, that man up to this hour has been in all parts of the earth a slave to a trinity of the most monstrous evil upon the whole race. I refer to private or individual property, absurd and irrational systems of religion and marriage founded upon individual property, combined with some of these irrational systems of religion."
Robert Owen spoke these words in 1826. One-hundred and seventy-eight years later, the Left is still harping on these institutions--the free market, religion, and marriage. Their ideas were as stupid then as they are now.
Whenever I want to feel better about myself, I look at this picture of Jim Norton. If you're unfamilar with Mr. Norton, he is a vile, classless, and troubled man. He's also one of the funniest comedians in America. Perhaps there's a connection between the two. Just as looking at his picture inevitably inspires self-confidence, exposure to his act can't help but make you feel like a better human being--at least relatively speaking. Jim Norton makes Lenny Bruce look like a choir boy. If you have a strong stomach and are not easily offended, check out his blog. If you are over the age of forty, prone to vomiting on amusement rides, or go to church more than once a week, take a pass. He is really, really gross.
After 9/11, national leaders urged the public to fly, engage in commerce, go to sporting events. Not going on with your regular life, we were informed, would be allowing the terrorists to succeed. If someone's refusal to fly represents a small victory for terrorism, where does postponing national elections rank?
There are whispers that the Department of Homeland Security has created a contingency plan to postpone November's elections in case of terrorism. I hope this isn't true. Aside from the numerous stupid conspiracy theories delaying the elections would launch on the Left, postponing the vote would be a massive show of weakness in the face of terrorism. It would stand as a black mark in U.S. history. If terrorism occurs on or before November 2, Homeland Security should have a back-up plan to ensure elections take place, not a plan to postpone them.
America managed to hold elections in the midst of a civil war. Ditto for World War II. Why should our current situation call for anything this drastic?
For Jason Alexander, it all goes down hill from here. For 55 hours last December, Alexander was married to Britney Spears. For the uninitiated, Spears isn't the one with the annoying reality show on MTV; nor is she the one who appears as the human personification of chlamydia. She wore the school-girl uniform and kissed a fiftysomething Madonna (gross!).
I hate to turn this into the FlynnFiles Enquirer, but Alexander's interview with The News of the World is impossible to ignore. "We made love in her bed, her shower and her bath," notes Alexander, whose interview reads like a letter to Penthouse Forum. Alexander adds, "She was an animal in bed."
Alexander seems to be speaking out in response to Spears' upcoming marriage to a dancer in music videos. Naturally, Alexander, a normal-looking football-player dude, doesn't want to lose the girl he's known since age four to some guy who could, and probably does, pass for a girl. I don't blame him.
"The sex was mind-blowing and rough," Alexander remembers. "We did it in every position you could think of. It was so wild we managed to fall off the bed together." Well, I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted Mr. Alexander. As much as I'd like for you to continue to divulge secrets about your 55 hours of passion, it might be healthier for you to start a support group with James Dougherty, Nicky Hilton, and Ojani Noa.
Michael Moore claims that Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle hugged him at Fahrenheit 9/11's premiere in the nation's capital. Daschle, wisely, denies this. Although there are political advantages to Daschle feigning innocence at such a charge, I nevertheless believe the South Dakota senator. If you don't buy Daschle's story, try hugging your refrigerator or car. It's physically impossible, folks. If it doesn't fit, you must acquit. Tom Daschle is innocent.
Attempts to solve personal problems with political solutions may make legislators feel good, but it rarely does anything to eradicate the trouble.
Oregon Senator Gordon Smith offered heartfelt testimony on the Senate floor yesterday regarding the loss of his son to suicide. Several other senators weighed in too, offering that their fathers had taken their own lives. They deserve our sympathy. They don’t deserve sixty-million dollars.
That’s the amount of money they want to launch a federal anti-suicide program. Judging from the morally indignant tone of some of the senators supporting the bill, opposing their scheme is viewed as tantamount to handing a revolver to someone on suicide watch. “I don’t know who you are yet,” Senator Pete Domenici said of the bill’s opponents, “but I’ll find out.”
The implication is clear: there is something base about opposing this bill. In fact, the opposite is true: there is something base about supporting such a bill. The federal government has no mandate, authority, or even means to directly influence the number of suicides in this country. But because suicide is a problem, lawmakers hubristically think they can solve it—just like they “cured” poverty through welfare and inner-city violence through gun control. In fact, Congress won’t help matters at all. They’ll just gain the appearance of taking action against a social ill that almost all voters oppose.
This bill encompasses almost everything that’s wrong with politics: lawmakers relying on emotion rather than logic, considering intentions instead of results, looking to government for solutions, and prescribing political cures for every random societal ill.
Senator Domenici wants to "find out" who the proposed legislation's opponents are. I do too--I'd like to shake their hands.
I received the bound uncorrected review copies of Intellectual Morons today. The book comes out on September 21, which may seem like a lot of time to properly pre-promote a book but it's not. I've got my work cut out for me. Shortly before Intellectual Morons hits store shelves, Three Rivers Press will be releasing the paperback version of Why the Left Hates America. It has a new afterword, and since the Left provides daily evidence of their hatred for this country the book should generate some interest two years after the release of the hardback edition.
In other book related news, I gave a number of speeches this past week in the DC-area--three of which focused on Intellectual Morons. Today, for instance, I spoke at an Accuracy in Academia mini-conference on Capitol Hill with fellow authors Ben Shapiro and Mike Adams. In trying out some talks on Intellectual Morons, two reactions stand out. First, the title grabs attention. It always gets a strong response. Second, elements of the conservative audiences I've been speaking to love the idea of me dissecting Noam Chomsky, Alfred Kinsey, Margaret Sanger, etc., but are a bit squeamish when I apply the book's thesis regarding ideology acting as a mental straitjacket to intellectual figures on the Right.
One of the more dangerous falsehoods embraced by intellectuals is the idea that man is perfectible. Intellectuals, of course, appoint themselves as those doing the perfecting. This is a form of narcissism, in which man fires the Creator and hires himself in His place. What God failed to do, man would succeed at. The drive to make men perfect has launched a disastrous stream of utopian ideas, including Nazism and Communism.
In a thought provoking article callled "Freedom from Sin," Matthew Anger discusses man's evasion of personal responsibility and embrace of outward blame, e.g., "It's not my fault I murdered a stranger for his wallet, it is my family's, society's, or another race's fault." When "society" sins, the state determines penance. It imposes punishment on the innocent (the rest of society) rather than the guilty (the individual offender). In other words, the state will make things perfect by reshaping the collective. In the process, the state lifts the burden of responsibility from the shoulders of individuals. The former is a recipe for tyranny, the latter for anarchy--neither for perfection.
"The underlying premise of secularism since the Enlightenment is that the consequences of man's fallen nature can be eliminated through physical or political action," Anger writes. "In other words, sin is not an inherent tendency in people, but is something that comes about through purely external influences. As the atheistic Ivan says in Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov, 'men of wisdom and learning will proclaim that there is no such thing as crime, that there is therefore no sin either, that there are only hungry people.'"
Rockers Dave Grohl and Liz Phair, as well as Jack Black's Tenacious D, played a glitzy Hollywood fundraiser for the Kerry campaign earlier this week. Lance Bass, William H. Macey, David Spade, and Lisa Loeb were among the celebrities who helped raise $200,000 at the event.
Democratic candidates relying on actors and rock stars to raise money is nothing new. Actors and rock stars frequently uttering the "f" word at a presidential fundraiser, however, strikes me as a relatively recent phenomenon. Phair played a number of songs that included the "f" bomb, for instance, and Jack Black labeled President Bush "the worst f---ing president in the history of time."
When Phair, Black, and Grohl used the king of four-letter words at the Kerry event, did they think they were doing their candidate a favor? John Kerry is running for president--of the United States, not of the cannabis club.
The Republican Convention is shaping up to be a dog-and-pony show for liberals and moderates within the Grand Old Party. Vaunted speaking slots have been awarded to Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, John McCain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A Democrat, Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, will address the gathering in prime time, but conservatives seem to be personae non grata. The event will even feature a tribute to Nelson Rockefeller, whose greatest accomplishment was donating his last name to serve as an adjective to describe Republicans who vote like Democrats.
“Given the political ambitions of some of the speakers, the party faithful should pray that Rockefeller Republicanism is not back in the future,” Kate O’Beirne writes on National Review Online. “So don’t worry about country club Republicans making a comeback,” responds John Hawkins of Right Wing News, who tells his readers: “this year’s group of ‘big name speakers’ is just a fluke.”
Folks, did you miss the last four years?
George W. Bush signed into law McCain-Feingold despite calling the bill unconstitutional. The president attempted to solve the illegal immigration problem by making illegals legals. He supports reauthorization of the assault weapons ban. The 1996 Republican Party platform called for the elimination of the Department of Education. A few years later George W. Bush labeled education his priority, and pushed hard to pass the No Child Left Behind Act. The president has offered only token opposition to homosexual “marriage,” and endorsed some forms of racial preferences. Governor Bush denounced “nation-building.” President Bush nation-builds like none of his predecessors. He crusaded for increased funding for AIDS, the NEA, and a bizarre trip to Mars. Bush succeeded in codifying the largest entitlement program since the days of the Great Society, a half-trillion dollar prescription drug plan. Is it any wonder that federal expenditures will have increased by about 30 percent on his watch?
If prime-time sightings of liberal and moderate Republicans are frequent at the GOP’s national convention, it’ll be because the man calling the shots wants to be surrounded by like-minded politicians.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is, surprise, a hit with the French. The film played to packed houses upon its opening yesterday in France.
"Even if a majority of the French thought this," a young theater-goer said of the film's message, "I think that now they have a confirmation."
No, now we have a confirmation--or perhaps a reconfirmation. The French hate America. The bestseller status of The Appalling Fraud, a book that claims a plane didn't crash into the Pentagon on 9/11, indicates this, as does polling showing America with a 37 percent approval rating among the French. The wild success of Fahrenheit 9/11 in France provides further proof of France's nationwide Napoleon Complex when it comes to America.
Thirty-seven years ago, The Beatles asked: "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?" Ringo Starr is the first Beatle to reach that age, turning sixty-four today. Fools often portray Ringo as a mediocre drummer who fell into a good thing, but nothing could be further from the truth. To fully appreciate Ringo's greatness, listen to "Ticket to Ride," "Tomorrow Never Knows," or the drum solo on the side-two medley on Abbey Road.
What evangelical Christians are to the Republican party, African Americans are to the Democrats. A new Gallup poll shows John Kerry beating George W. Bush 80 percent to 12 percent among blacks. The Hispanic vote is more heavily contested, as Kerry takes 56 percent while Bush takes 37 percent. Since the survey puts the Massachusetts senator ahead of the president by just a single percentage point, I'm guessing Bush has piled up a substantial lead among whites.
Ayn Rand died 22 years ago, but from the grave she weighs in on the war in Iraq. Her 41-year-old essay “Collectivized ‘Rights,’” outlines principles that are championed as easily in 2004 as they were in 1963. Rand contends that free nations have the right to overthrow tyrannical governments, but should do so only when it serves their national interests.
“Dictatorship nations are outlaws,” Rand wrote. “Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the nonexistent ‘rights’ of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.”
I have a disagreement with Rand regarding the exercise of the “right” to wantonly overthrow oppressive governments, particularly in instances when the outcome of revolutionary wars—generated internally or externally—exacerbate problems (see France, 1789; see also Russia, 1917; see also Iran, 1979). But her main points stand: First, since tyrants don’t derive their powers from the consent of the governed, they are not legitimately sovereign; second, nations should act in their own interests.
In a nutshell, Rand has outlined one aspect of the rhetorical divide between pro-war and anti-war conservatives. The pro-war side is wont to reference Saddam’s cruelties, barbarism, and oppression. The anti-war side wonders how combating the very real cruelties, barbarism, and oppression furthers American interests.
Within minutes of arriving at Parris Island in 1994, I witnessed a drill instructor tear into a terrified recruit for "eyeballing" him at close quarters. The hulking, battle-scarred Marine informed the quivering recruit that staring at him at close range meant one of two things: either the recruit wanted to fight, or the recruit, well, wanted to engage in other physical contact that also began with the letter "f." Whatever the intent, the drill instructor let it be known that future infringements on his personal space would elicit an unfriendly physical response. Everyone got the message.
I wish this persuasive Marine staff sergeant had five minutes alone with John Kerry. You see, the Democrats' candidate for president is a space invader. Pictures of him appearing on today's Drudge Report gazing into the eyes of John Edwards and Dick Gephardt, mouths agape, are downright creepy. To quote untold numbers of nuns at Catholic youth center dances, "Leave some room for the holy ghost!" Tom Crowe, who features both pictures on his site, offered a possible caption for the incriminating photos: "Edwards beat out Gephardt in the all-important 'best kisser' test for the Veep slot." Perhaps Kerry was attempting to win the YMCA-sauna-dweller or peeping-Tom demographic, but he lost me. Like my drill instructor in receiving at Parris Island, I too have discomfort when strangers, and even most friends, get too close. If twelve miles of coastline works for nations, eighteen inches seems an appropriate boundary for people.
If his positions on abortion, taxes, and gay marriage haven't sufficiently turned you off, certainly this fresh evidence that John Kerry is a space invader should dissuade you from voting for him come November.
The Democratic Party picked the wrong John in its choice of the junior Senator from Massachusetts, rather than the senior Senator from North Carolina, as its standard bearer. John Kerry, though, made the right choice in selecting John Edwards as his running mate.
Edwards brings youth, regional balance, charisma, and likeability to the ticket. His opposition to NAFTA helps with labor, and his Southern accent boosts Kerry's chances in some border states as well as the more moderate parts of Dixie.
Possible downsides to picking Edwards include his history as a trial lawyer, his inability to guarantee the electoral votes of his home state, and his inexperience as an attack dog. Edwards's reluctance to go negative on his primary rival may have earned him a spot on the ticket, but to continue that aw-shucks song-and-dance act in the general election may help George W. Bush. The role of the running mate is to serve as the attack dog so that the man at the top of the ticket can seem above the fray. Al Gore and Dick Cheney did this well as vice presidential candidates. Jack Kemp did this poorly. Like Kemp, Edwards may not be naturally cut out to play the bad cop. Or, perhaps, he may not want to because going negative will hurt his popularity--and his future aspirations that go beyond his current one of becoming the next vice president.
“All the other bands had spandex and make-up and crap,” Guns n’ Roses drummer Steven Adler told VH1’s Behind the Music. “We just played rock ‘n’ roll.” From the time Appetite for Destruction hit #1 in the summer of 1988, until 1992 when the band had lost credibility through lavish videos, bloated tours, and departed band members, Guns n’ Roses was the biggest rock band in the world. They released just four original albums, toured for years at a time, and dominated MTV. And then they were gone.
In the late ’80s, Axl Rose could be heard singing, “I see your sister in her Sunday dress,” ordering his missus to “Take your credit card to the liquor store,” and going off on immigrants starting “some mini-Iran” and gays who “spread some f---ing disease.” Within a few years, Axl insisted on the inclusion of a dreadful rap track on Use Your Illusion II, sang at glitzy AIDS benefits with Elton John, and demanded background singers and a horn section tour with the band. By the time The Spaghetti Incident was released in 1993, Guns n’ Roses was no longer cool. What happened? VH1 attempts to explain the rise and fall of one of America’s greatest rock bands on their Fourth of July installment of Behind the Music.
Starting with the banned original cover art for Appetite for Destruction, Guns n’ Roses proved the nostrum that any publicity is good publicity. Authorities arrested Izzy Stradlin for urinating in the galley of a commercial airplane. Slash and Duff, in altered states of consciousness, began swearing on live television at the 1989 American Music Awards. At MTV’s Video Music Awards that year, Motley Crue’s Vince Neil punched Stradlin in the face, launching a dumb series of heavily publicized challenges between Axl and Vince. GNR’s live act attracted endless publicity for riots in St. Louis and Montreal, no-shows at various venues, and habitual tardiness. GNR sent the youth of America an unmistakable message: this band is unpredictable, dangerous, and not your parents’ cup of tea.
While VH1 covers these well-publicized episodes, they fail to delve into the murkier aspects of GNR’s history. How much truth is there in tales of Axl Rose abusing wife Erin Everly, girlfriend Stephanie Seymour, and various other women? What about rumors of Steven Adler and Slash engaging in prostitution? Was Izzy Stradlin really once a heroin dealer? Such unanswered questions are among the reasons the band remains an enigma.
Perhaps the most interesting theme explored in the VH1 program is the destructive effects coming off the road had on the band. In the case of Guns n’ Roses, idleness truly was the devil’s workshop. After taking a break in ’89, Slash admits: “That’s where we really went down hill. I got lost. Izzy got lost. Steven got lost. Duff even got lost.” GNR truly became a band of junkies, and Axl famously issued an ultimatum to his chemically dependant band mates: stop dancing with Mr. Brownstone, or Guns n’ Roses is no more. GNR persevered, but Steven Adler’s addictions proved too powerful and his fellow gunners let him go. The entire band became the casualty after they returned from two-and-a-half years of touring in support of the Use Your Illusions project.
By the early ’90s the grimy, tattooed, hard-rockers had transformed into staid, poster-children for music industry excess. Lavish videos, a singer with the attitude of a diva, and a string of ballads (Don’t Cry, November Rain, Estranged) released as singles helped to undo their image and popularity. “What’s with the piano?” thought drummer Matt Sorum. “It got bloated, plain and simple,” GNR tour manager John Reese told VH1. Fed up with Axl’s dictatorial methods and the music increasingly taking a secondary role, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin split. “Everyone wished they could go with him,” tour manager Reese admitted. When Stradlin left in late ’91, he took much of the band’s songwriting talent with him. Guns n’ Roses has released just one original composition since Stradlin’s departure.
Ultimately, one hour isn’t enough time to tell the GNR story. Other constraints beyond VH1’s control hurt the documentary. Of the band’s original line-up, only Slash and Steven—GNR’s Southern California contingent—consented to be interviewed. The story is thus told largely from their perspective. The takes of the band’s two reclusive Hoosiers, Izzy and Axl, go unrepresented. Ditto for Seattle punk rocker Duff McKagan. Other errors are apparent. The narrator claims that “Axl supplied the menacing lyrics” to GNR’s tunes, for instance, ignoring that Stradlin penned “Patience,” “Mr. Brownstone,” and so many other songs. Wouldn’t Axl’s twenty arrests in Indiana, or the explosion of Duff’s pancreas, have made great BTM fodder? Alas, GNR is not Tony Orlando, so many of their exploits naturally ended up on BTM’s cutting room floor.
In 1991, I stood in line on a Monday night at Tower Records in Harvard Square to purchase the Use Your Illusion albums on their release date. Two Guns n’ Roses concerts I attended in late ’91 were among the best I’ve seen. On the tail end of that marathon tour, I saw a drugged-out GNR stumble through a set at the old Boston Garden. Complete with an unplanned intermission stemming from Axl storming off the stage, it was the worst concert I have ever witnessed. That was Guns n’ Roses. When they were bad, they were horrible. When they were good, they were untouchable.
“That kind of s---,” Illusions-era drummer Matt Sorum noted, “will never happen again.” No, it won’t.
You may remember Jim McDermott from the time he was caught sending a surreptitiously recorded conversation between Republicans Newt Gingrich and John Boehner to the New York Times. Or perhaps the Washington congressman crossed your radar screen when he took his shameful trip to Baghdad prior to the war in Iraq. Maybe it was his conclusion that Bush staged the capture of Saddam Hussein for domestic political purposes that grabbed your attention. If you've seen Fahrenheit 9/11, you know McDermott as one of the celluloid conspiracy theory's talking heads.
If you aren't aware of Jim McDermott, his remarks in India this past week should give you a good idea of what he is all about.
A few days ago McDermott told an audience of business leaders in New Dehli, "There are already rumours circulating that Osama bin Laden is being held somewhere already and it's only that they are trying to decide what day they should bring him out."
Sure, and there was a rumor that all the Jews who worked in the World Trade Center stayed home on September 11. I also heard a rumor that Tupac Shakur is really still alive. Another rumor passed along to me posited that the CIA invented crack cocaine and AIDS. Because I knew that these rumors stemmed from some crackpot's imagination and not reality, I dismissed them. Unless he believes (or wants others to believe) this fairy tale about the Bush Administration secretly holding Osama bin Laden, why would Jim McDermott uncritically repeat this baseless charge to a foreign audience?
It's not quite Michael Dukakis riding in a tank, but the staged pictures of John Kerry trap-shooting appear nearly as unnatural. Kerry, who served as Dukakis's lieutenant governor, should have known better. If they were trying to win over the Wal-Mart/Nascar vote, why didn't his aides go the full monty. Perhaps the billionaire senator's handlers are easing him into his man-of-the-people role. Next time, we should expect to see a plug of chew in Kerry's mouth, a #3 Dale Earnhardt hat on his head, and a wardrobe complete with cutoff jean shorts and one of those shirts airbrushed at the mall. This race for the White House is only big enough for one Ivy League rich kid posing as an everyman.
Two-hundred and twenty-eight years ago today, more than four-dozen Americans pledged their "lives," "fortunes," and "sacred honor" in declaring America's secession from the British Empire. They meant it. South Carolinian signer Thomas Heyward got shot in battle and became a prisoner of war. Virginian signer Thomas Nelson gave the order to shell his own home when the redcoats occupied it. New Jersey's Richard Stockton endured the ransacking of his home and time as a prisoner of the Brits. He died penniless.
More than two centuries later, the document they signed deserves a reading by every American. This is especially true on this day. Among its more timeless pronouncements, the Declaration of Independence notes that governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed," that people "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," and that when governments become oppressive "it is [the citizens'] duty, to throw off such Government."
This weekend showcases the talents of the world's two greatest athletes. Today, American Lance Armstrong got off to a good start in his bid to win an unprecedented sixth consecutive Tour de France. Tomorrow, Japan's Takeru Kobayashi defends his title of World Hot Dog Eating Champion at Coney Island.
Do you like the youthful, 1950s Elvis, or the fat, 1970s Elvis? The same question might be posed of Marlon Brando, who you remember either as the black-and-white Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, or the all-too-colorful Don Corleone in The Godfather.
I prefer Brando in On the Waterfront. His portrayal of over-the-hill boxer and struggling dock worker Malloy is one of the great performances in the history of film. Unlike Arthur Miller's none-too-subtle The Crucilble, Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront can be experienced without knowledge of a deeper message than the surface story, which depicts one man's struggle against a corrupt union. But, of course, there is a deeper story, and it was as unfashionable in Hollywood then as it is now.
Marlon Brando left us with some great performances in the 1950s, and again in the 1970s. And then he disappeared for a while. He left us permanently yesterday, passing away at the age of 80.
Through the power of the telephone, I spent an hour last night on radios across Southern California through KABC's Al Rantel Show. We discussed Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, and then moved to the broader theme of the anti-American impulse on the Left that I covered in Why the Left Hates America. A couple of fringe types called in to the show, and Al did a clever thing. He posed a question, something like: Who served as the greater threat, menace, danger to the world, Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush? Neither caller could bring themselves to say Saddam, nor could they, if I heard correctly, opt for Osama bin Laden when his name was substituted for Hussein's.
Think of how much you despise the terrorist Osama bin Laden or the tyrant Saddam Hussein. Many American leftists harbor that same hate for George W. Bush. I know this not merely because two talk-radio callers said as much to Al Rantel. I know this from interviewing hundreds of anti-war protestors, many of whom have said the same thing to me. However much John Kerry rubs you the wrong way, you would have to be out of your mind to draw a moral equivalence between him and Saddam Hussein or him and Osama bin Laden. Kerry's hardcore base, however, imagines similarities between America's president, on the one hand, and al Qaeda's leader and the most famous defendant in Iraq, on the other.
This is just something to think about as November approaches.
I attended Fahrenheit 9/11 in the liberal Chevy Chase section of Washington, DC last night. A group called Mothers Opposing Bush formed a gauntlet outside the theater's entrance selling anti-Bush shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers. "Know Your Power: Vote for Change 2004," read their banner. Inside the theater, the proceeds of tickets to the show previous to mine went to anti-Bush causes. All this delayed things quite a bit. Fahrenheit 9/11, though, wasn't worth the wait.
Fahrenheit 9/11 screens as a crude campaign commercial against George W. Bush. Two things stand out. First, the movie relies on very little original material. Instead, grainy news footage spliced together pervades. Second, Fahrenheit 9/11 is short on facts and heavy on suggestion.
Aristotle mocked Melissus and Parmenides by humorously noting, "their premises are false, and their conclusions do not follow." One could make the same observation regarding Michael Moore.
For instance, Fahrenheit 9/11 suggests that Bush went to war in Afghanistan to protect Unocal's planned oil pipeline through the country. But Unocal announced in 1998 that it had withdrawn plans to build an oil pipeline in Afghanistan. The mythic pipeline that Moore discusses in the film exists in his imagination, but not in actual world. If it did exist, would a pipeline or the terrorist attacks of 9/11 be the cause of the war? Rather than some Marxist interpretation of the war that attributes the Bush Administration's motives to greed, the real reason America invaded Afghanistan was to go after the 9/11 conspirators and the state that gave them safe haven.
A second example of unfounded conclusions following false premises is Moore's suggestion that the Bush family looks out for the Saudis more than the Americans because of money derived from the Arab kingdom. Moore's evidence of this seems to consist of the copious amounts of B-roll footage showing the Bushes shaking hands with unidentified Arab men. Fahrenheit 9/11 compares "$1.4 billion" that Bush business interests got from the Saudis with the $400,000 George W. Bush earns as president, leaving the filmaker to ask: "Who's your daddy?" Bush, however, never received anything like $1.4 billion from the Saudis. Bush's father does sit on the advisory board of the Carlyle Group. And a one-time subsidiary of that group, BDM, did receive about $1.2 billion in contracts from the Saudis. BDM, however, is no longer part of the Carlyle Group, and Bush the elder didn't join Carlyle's advisory board until after BDM had been sold off.
Other aspects of Fahrenheit 9/11 stand out as propaganda. Moore complains that Bush waited more than a month before going after bin Laden. Moore, though, would never have invaded Afghanistan in the first place. Moore villifies American soldiers throughout the film, only casting them in a positive light when they serve his political ends--like when they're dead or urging viewers to vote Democrat. In pre-war Iraq, Moore shows smiling children riding ferris wheels, flying kites, and riding bicycles. Then Moore cuts to the war and shows pictures of burned, wounded, and dead children. Couldn't proponents of the war just as easily have juxtaposed Saddam's pre-war brutalities with post-war happiness?
Until last night, I've never experienced a delay in an advertised showtime because of a political fundraiser in the theater. In the future, I will take this to be what's called in police terminology a "clue"--a clue suggesting "don't see this film."
The release of Wilco's new album, A Ghost Is Born, was delayed by band leader Jeff Tweedy's stint in rehab. By the especially dour mood of the record, I'm guessing valium or xanax may have been Tweedy's drug of choice.
A Ghost Is Born is quite listenable as background music, but little stands out. It's music for people who keep the curtains drawn shut all day. It's gloomy, with the listener struggling to hear mumbled or whispered lyrics set to music fit for an undertaker's transistor radio.
With two songs clocking at more then ten minutes, much of A Ghost Is Born is filler. The song "Less Than You Think," for instance, is as advertised. The tune runs about three-minutes long and is followed by twelve minutes of effects, computer noises, and annoying sounds that remind me of something that I might have heard on an old Dr. Who episode. Mr. Tweedy might want to leave the marathon songs to Pink Floyd next time around.
Those excruciating twelve minutes are made up for by the album's final track. "The Late Greats" is a commentary on the music scene. "The best songs will never get sung/The best life never leaves your lungs/So good you won't ever know/You'll never hear it on the radio." When you hear the line, "The best band will never get signed," the reality of its truthfulness sets in: Could ugly dudes like The Rolling Stones get signed in today's topsy-turvy, look-first, sound-second music industry? Wilco has made some great music over the years, but just as Mr. Tweedy sings, "you'll never hear it on the radio."
Wilco's A Ghost Is Born is an improvement over just about everything on the radio, and MTV for that matter. Unfortunately, it doesn't measure up to the band's existing body of work.
I'll appear as a guest on The Al Rantel Show on KABC in Los Angeles tonight at 6 p.m. on the West Coast. We'll be discussing Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which I saw tonight in a packed theater of true believers in the Chevy Chase section of DC. I'll post my take on the film later today, so check back in to FlynnFiles for that. Al Rantel is an independent-minded conservative, and I always enjoy the intelligent discussion on his program. If you get KABC, tune in this evening.
Saddam Hussein got his day in court. This is better than what he gave his regime's many victims. Whether it's all "theater" as the gaunt defendant claimed at today's hearing, the public trial will show one way or the other. Amidst America's loss of lives, treasure, and credibility--and gain of next to nothing in its concrete national interest--the ouster of Saddam Hussein stands as one positive outcome of the war. Murder by the state is one of the great unpunished crimes of any, but particularly of our, age. Saddam's trial, and its expected outcome, should have a chilling effect on the killings and repression of other would-be tyrants.
On principle, I don’t play videogames that cost more than a quarter or require reading a book to understand. In other words, I haven’t played very many videogames since 1987. New games are too complicated, too expensive, and require an investment of time that few who don’t live in their mother’s attic can make.
Thankfully, I’m not alone in my longing for the days of Spy Hunter, Punch Out, and Space Invaders. Classic videogames are making a comeback. Home systems like Intellivision, Colecovision, and, of course, the Atari 2600, as well as arcade-style machines, are hot on Ebay and other online purchasing sites. Nintendo is launching a classic version of Gameboy, and will be releasing a series of vintage cartridges like Excitebike and Xevious: The Avenger. There’s even an annual convention for aficionados of old-school arcades and home systems--it needs a larger meeting space this year.
“There’s a phrase that's used a lot in marketing—‘easy to learn, hard to master’—that describes most classic video games,” remarks avid player Rob O'Hara.
Unlike the movies, videogame sequels often outdid the original. Ms. Pac Man was definitely the highpoint of the feminist movement, as it clearly proved women could outdo men. Millipede bettered Centipede. Donkey Kong begat Super Mario Brothers, which was the most popular of the second-wave videogames.
So many early television and radio shows were blatant rip-offs of other programs. On TV, one could watch the The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and One Step Beyond. The king-of-all-radio-shows, The Shadow, launched so many copycats that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Early videogames were no different. Galaga and Galaxian are essentially the same game. They’re both awesome though. I think Galaxian came first but Galaga is the better one. Perhaps someone else can fill me in regarding the history. The far superior Mr. Do ripped off Dig-Dug. Atari, the makers of Phoenix, actually sued Imagic, the makers of Demon Attack in 1982. Atari lost, but I can’t spot too much variation between the games. What’s the difference between Breakout and Arkenoid? Tekken and Street Fighter? Berzerk and Venture?
But creativity generally trumped imitation. Some games were too original to copy. The computer-geeks designing games on eccentric themes in the early-‘80s were either really creative, or really into hallucinogens. What other explanation can there be for Q*bert, Burger Time, or Paperboy (I was a paperboy for five-plus years and I don’t recall ever having to undergo a paper-route obstacle course when I finished delivery.). And I know it’s not a videogame, but seriously, what bizarre mind dreamed up the concept of Whack-a-Mole?
So why the resurgence in vintage gaming? The twelve-year-olds of 1983 are the thirty-three-year-olds of 2004, and they have a lot more quarters. Just as they might watch a rerun of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Outsiders, or turn up the radio to The English Beat or The Psychedelic Furs, Gen-Xers find in classic videogames yet another way to relive good times past.
Calling medical homicide "an act of mercy," Right Wing News's John Hawkins writes, "Much as it pains me to do so, I'm forced to agree with the French on [euthanasia]." He concedes, "I suspect that a majority of people reading RWN are not going to agree with me." Hawkins is dead wrong. Tons of conservatives I know would enthusiastically support euthanasia for the French.
Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas is on schedule to hit bookstores on September 21. My final tweaks were turned in on Monday. Crown Forum, a division of Random House, is the publisher. Already, a healthy buzz about the book is growing. I'm excited. A number of positive developments regarding Intellectual Morons have occured. Let me report on two. First, William F. Buckley, M. Stanton Evans, Burt Folsom, and G. Gordon Liddy have endorsed the book. I admire each of these thinkers and am proud--and a bit overwhelmed--that they've lent their support to my work. Second, American Compass, a division of the Book of the Month Club that specializes in conservative titles, will feature Intellectual Morons as an alternate selection in one of its Fall mailings.