Rick Wagoner thought he was the CEO of General Motors. He was mistaken. The CEO's name is Barack Obama. Once the auto giant accepted a government bailout, they became, in the government's eyes, part of the state. No word yet on if Obama gets to appoint GM's new CEO, or if the position requires senate confirmation. Beam me up, Scotty.
The College Democrats at Boston College invited Bill Ayers to speak on campus. The school tried to keep it a secret. Then, on Friday, all of Boston found out. I confess: I played a role in spotlighting what BC tried to keep in the shadows. I devoted an hour to the controversy as I guest-hosted on WTKK, interviewing Ayers's former Weatherman colleague Mark Rudd. Outraged Boston College alums called in and vowed to withhold donations from the school. Boston's WCVB interviewed me for the 11 O'clock News (click on the clip on the right). The half-hour format being, well, a half hour, featured me saying, simplistically but accurately, that Bill Ayers was a terrorist bomber. BC rescinded the invitation. Own it, cowards. It's too late to put the toothpaste back into the tube. What I find humorous about the whole debacle is that while a faculty uproar greeted the attempt to place crucifixes in the classrooms of the Jesuit institution, a terrorist speaking in one of those same classrooms caused not a peep on campus. It was the off-campus outrage that resulted in BC jettisoning the event. It's too bad, both that BC students exhibited horrible judgment in inviting a terrorist enemy of America and democracy to speak on "The State of American Democracy" and that Boston College succumbed to the heckler's veto. Let him speak. I won't be listening.
At the Boys Club (later rechristened the Boys and Girls Club), a few blocks from my house, Section 8 ruffians would strip the towels from pool-goers and shout, "Saw you naked!" The ritual caused me to walk home with sweatpants covering my wet swimsuit in single-digit temperatures. I dared not take the trunks from my body so some older kid could shout, "Saw you naked!" I once saw a kid, certainly now dead from crystal methamphetamine, pin another kid by way of knees over the shoulders--both combatants totally naked--to humilate him (and bloody his nose) with a taunt of "I saw you naked!" When the overseers shut the building down one night because ABC planned to broadcast The Warriors (Boston's affiliate refused), I knew, even then, that I needed to get a new hangout. The naked assailants, in their defense, were 12, and it was 1981. This same phenomenon now occurs among older, and more cultured, members of society. A case in point involves the vice president's beautiful 27-year-old daughter. An alleged "friend" caught her on video allegedly snorting a line of cocaine. If he were more than an alleged friend, he might have discussed this with her dad or her brother rather than the New York Post. But he wants to make a buck. He doesn't care about reorienting a life. "I saw you naked!" It doesn't matter if the object of attention is the daughter of Joe Biden, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, or Joe Schmuckatelli. It's voyeuristic, not news, and undeserving of the attention of decent people. Avert your gaze. My sense, from reading the enlightened comments that regularly grace this site, is that you probably have already done so without the need of my prompt. Whatever. I just needed an excuse to pass on these scarring stories from my youth.
If you are an insomniac, over 35, and live in the eastern half of the United States, chances are that Larry Glick kept you company at some point between the 1960s and the 1990s. On Boston-based WMEX, WHDH, and WBZ--whose monster signal reaches into 38 states and Canada in the best conditions--the Commander manned the overnight shift, when callers are scarce and listeners struggle to stay awake (or tune in to get talked to sleep). Glick humoring inebriated callers, or randomly dialing rest-stop pay-phones to strike up a conversation with whomever answered, entertained. He didn't shout. He laughed, and so did his listeners--the Glicknics. Great callers earned "Glick University" t-shirts. Horrid ones got shot off the air. The overnight format dictated a free-for-all on topics and allowed callers greater latitude. I caught Glick toward the tail end of his career, when he had shifted from overnights to the nighttime shift. His voice put me to sleep with a smile on my face. After he retired from the airwaves, Larry followed the Boston migration pattern south to Boca Raton to serve as a greeter at Legal Seafoods, where patrons from the northeast disbelieved that he was the Larry Glick. It's a testimony to Glick's career that earlier this year, when CBS, owner of his former home of WBZ, ditched local programming in its overnight Boston slot for a syndicated program, a listeners' revolt forced the corporate behemoth to reconsider and reinstall the local host. That slot was a Boston tradition, and Glick helped make it so. If you have never heard Larry Glick, the difficulty in describing his schtick to you lies in the fact that nobody in radio is doing it. He was an original. Before I hosted radio shows, I listened to them. Larry Glick was about the best radio host I've ever heard--at least that's what my memories from being ten tell me. Larry Glick, now dean of the Glick University in the Sky, rest in peace.
Bun E. Carlos teams with Hanson. The Asexual One returns. Don't call it a comeback, Third Eye Blind has been here for years. Spring means fresh music. Listen to the new tunes below. Or don't, and see what happens to you.
I should have seen it coming. After months of depressing coverage of out-of-control violence south of the border, the media has en masse, and simultaneously, discovered its causes: guns and America. These villains are familiar to anyone following any number of media narratives. While Obama's State Department has rightly warned Americans of the dangers of travel to Mexico, Obama's administration seems indifferent to the prospect of Mexico coming to America.
I will be guest hosting on Boston's Talk Evolution, 96.9 WTKK, on Friday from 7-10 p.m. For listeners outside of the radius of WTKK's strong FM signal, click on the "listen live" button at WTKK's website to hear me over the internet. So, what's worth talking about?
I scored some U2 tickets from Monday's internet presale for Gillette Stadium. I have had a blast over the past year in Foxboro for a Patriot's win over the Broncos on Monday Night Football and for a Springsteen concert in which I arrived in style in a limousine (the third such ride of my life--I knew enough not to get in the front seat this time). The tailgating in both instances was supercool. I'm excited to go back. Aside from fond Foxboro memories, I also have a history with U2.
On a whim (and on a school night), I went to Providence on the opening leg of their Zoo TV Tour and caught them at the Civic Center with The Pixies. After scoring inflated tickets from a middleman (scalper, for reasons soon to become apparent, is a term I frown upon), my trio rushed into the arena fearing that we had missed the opening act. The moment I emerged, breathless, into the arena's bowl from one of those entrance alcoves, this song blasted. The Pixies broke up shortly thereafter, so it was a relief to hear them live and in their prime. It was one of my more memorable concert experiences.
My most memorable one came during the intermission. Thirsty, and upset that I had handed most of my money over to a
scalper middleman, I devised a wicked plot based on my experiences working as a concessionaire. Having pooled our resources together, my trio purchased two beers. I instructed them to drink two thirds of the contents of one cup, which I promptly brought back to the stand with a histrionic complaint of the beer tasting like bleach. "Did you just clean the taps, or something?" It worked. When the second cup became two-thirds empty, we repeated the act of charlatanism again, and again, and again. If a problem arose, I implored the clerk: "Drink it! Taste it for yourself. It's disgusting!" Of course, I knew the busy clerk would never have done so. I also knew that of the 15,000 people in the arena we were the only degenerates ingenious enough to hatch such a scheme. It's not something the concessionaires were on guard about. We walked around the entire arena, acquiring in a Robin Hood-like fashion more than a half-dozen beers. I am perversely proud of the ingenuity of the scheme and the guts it took to pull it off (I was under the legal age for drinking stolen beers). If the venue can tag on an automatic fee for parking or for just selling you a ticket, wasn't it right and just for us to assume that beer was covered by the price of admission?
That was seventeen years ago this week. The statute of limitations has run out on my crime, so don't bother ratting me out to the authorities (I don't feel guilty, either!). That summer I partook in other illegalities at a U2 concert. When the band swung back through New England on the "outside broadcast" of the Zoo TV tour, I caught the shows at
Schaefer, Sullivan, Foxboro Stadium. I invested in eight tickets, sold them at slightly marked up prices to friends, and, despite having no license, used the proceeds to rent a UHaul. Stocking it with an old couch, pillows, and coolers, the moving truck transformed into a moving party. It worked out great for everyone--except me. Unable to turn a profit as I had at earlier endeavors serving as a ticket broker, I waited outside the stadium gates for panicked concert-goers with unsold tickets. I bought at below cost. Walked deep into the parking lot to sell at above cost. And then repeated the process. Had a seller balked at selling below cost, I would ask if he wanted some salt. "Excuse me?" "You're gonna eat that ticket and I just wanna make sure it tastes good when you do." That either annoyed the seller into leaving or scared him into selling. "Anybody buying? Selling?" It was a good racket.
The shows themselves were grand. Just as they amplified their guitars and drums, U2 amplified their showmanship. Concerts are a mixture of sound and vision, and for the latter quality at least, U2's Zoo TV Tour couldn't be beat. Scores of television sets flashed faux-subliminal messages. The headlights of Trabants spinning from the rafters provided a light show. Bono adopted his larger-than-life "Fly" persona with rap-around sunglasses, shiny leather jacket, and slicked-back jet-black hair. Juxtaposed with the era's whiny and mopey so-called rock stars, who hid behind their microphones and stared at their shoes, U2's embrace of rock excess was refreshing.
I haven't seen U2 since the PopMart Tour, which, incidentally was the last time they toured outdoor stadiums in the United States. I caught them in 1997 at Washington, DC's RFK Stadium--a great place to see a football game, a good place to see a concert, an okay place to watch a baseball game, and a bad place to be at night. This time around there will be no free beer schemes or ventures in parking lot entrepreneurialism. I am older and, alas, so are U2.
Bill Clinton felt your pain. Barack Obama laughs at it. Clinton was most effective when dealing with people in unscripted one-on-one situations. Obama is most effective in front of a teleprompter sermonizing a dehumanized mass of humanity. Clinton and Obama could campaign. But thus far, the latter has shown no capacity to govern. The Jedi Mind Trick obscuring this inconvenient truth has led to overexposure: Barack announcing his NCAA basketball tournament picks, Barack joking that he bowls as if he were in the Special Olympics, Barack conducting a publicity tour. What was charming is now tedious. As his plunging approval ratings indicate, the president's strategy of a permanent campaign in the place of the hard job of governing is backfiring.
Mumia Abu-Jamal says racism put him on death row (He's currently serving a life sentence off of death row because a judge bought into this argument at some level.). Could he mean his own racism? Abu-Jamal, after all, joined a racist group, the Black Panthers, at the age of fifteen. He later acted as a camp follower for the black supremacist MOVE organization. In keeping with his support for various hate groups, the coward Abu-Jamal shot a policeman in the back and then in the face in the ultimate act of hate. Certainly the cab-driver-turned-jailhouse-celebrity can't be referring to the "racism" of the black jurors that sentenced him to death or the "racism" of the black prostitute that identified him as the murderer. What, other than his own patent racism, could he be referring to?
If you like the health care administered by VA hospitals, then you're going to love government-run banks. Barack Obama is ready to unveil a new Public-Private Investment Program on Monday. The program, a deja vu of the failied TARP legislation, seeks to inject as much as $1 trillion into troubled banks. When does it end? The closer some people get to the cliff, the harder they depress the gas pedal.
Ayn Rand's been dead for more than a quarter century, but her books are more alive than ever. Whether one judges by the booming sales of Atlas Shrugged, libertarian weird beards "gulching" to avoid taxation, or corporations relocating to the real-life Galt's Gulch of Zug, Switzerland, the Russian-born novelist's ideas have proven amazingly resilient. Five years after dubbing Rand an "intellectual moron," I, alongside the likes of Joseph Bottum and Burt Folsom, explore the relevance of Ayn Rand in the age of Obama in a symposium @ NRO.
In the words of Ted Nugent, it's a free for all. Say it, don't spray it. The readers want the news, not the weather in this open-thread Friday. Say anything about anything in the comments section.
Historians call Korea "the forgotten war." Even viewers of MASH assumed it was set in Vietnam. But at least it took a couple of decades and another war for people to forget the Korean War. By way of demonstration: it's past 3 o'clock, and I hadn't realized today's significance until now. Six years after Operation Iraqi Freedom began, the war persists but it's outtasightouttamind for the taxpayers who are footing the tab.
And that still-open tab is a pricey one. It runs $800 billion, roughly the same price as the TARP banker-bailout--another initiative enacted by scare tactics--but at a far greater cost. Let's face it: 4,000+ Americans didn't lose their lives because of the bailouts. Financiers lost their minds to bring us to this sorry state, but they didn't lose limbs as a result.
Like the bailouts that rewarded bankers for failing, Operation Iraqi Freedom cannot help but undermine its purpose. Rather than discourage rogue states from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, Iraq encourages them (You don't see us attacking Pakistan or Iran, do you?); instead of serving as a model for other democracies in the region, Iraq is a massive negative advertisement for representative government; and in place of crushing terrorism, Iraq has served as a breeding ground for it.
If this war is the forgotten war, it is partly because it is an idiotic war. Americans, who supported the war by greater than 2-1 majorities initially, now oppose the war by greater than 2-1 majorities. Who wouldn't want to forget once serving as a booster for the Donner Party or the Hindenburg? Like the war-whooping Confederates ignoring the warnings of party-pooper Rhett Butler at the beginning of Gone with the Wind, those speaking of a "cakewalk" in Iraq quickly slammed into reality. (Well, not exactly. Few of this war's war whoopers, unlike those clowns at Twelve Oaks, actually fought in the war.) That the reality has been so horrible has to do with the irreality of the casus belli. Americans didn't find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even though the Bush administration pinpointed their imagined locations. The rationalization that suceeded the initial illusion has proved equally tenuous: transforming the sand people from Star Wars into New England-style town meeting members is a fool's errand. The protracted nature of the war is precisely a cause of the amorphous nature of the war aims.
When Barack Obama had no power in the federal government, he spoke out against the Iraq War. Now that he presides over the federal government, he conducts the war. He should have learned a lesson from his distant predecessor who presided over the demise of that other "forgotten war." Six months after taking the presidential oath, Dwight David Eisenhower had orchestrated a Korean War cease fire. Barack Obama, whose words opposed the Iraq War but whose actions perpetuate it, promises to bring the troops home by 2011.
This YouTube clip promoting the new documentary on Mike Tyson, which hits theaters in April, gives new meaning to the phrase "viral marketing." Was the outside-the-box thinking in putting this clip on YouTube to get theater-goers talking about the movie by making them vomit? Instead of grossing people out, why not try the more traditional route, used effectively by Rolling Stone on its cover, to get people to buy your product?
Unmarried women accounted for just one in twenty births in America in 1960. A decade later, the percent doubled. It doubled again to 1 in five in 1980. It has doubled once again. The parents of two out of every five children born in America are not married to one another. In Washington DC, where condoms have been available in schools since the early 1990s and the city government gives out about a million free condoms a year, the HIV rate is the highest of any city in America. That exploding illegitimacy and alarming AIDS rates have occurred amid the widespread availability of various forms of birth control and protective condoms makes one think twice about the pope's comments that AIDS "is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems." Had Benedict XVI's critics thought once they might have wondered why the more available condoms and birth control are, the worse problems such as AIDS and illegitimacy get.
"Is not the fanaticism of your irreligion more absurd and more dangerous than the fanaticism of superstition? Begin by tolerating the faith of your fathers. You talk of nothing but tolerance, and never was a sect more intolerant."
--Elie Catherine Freron (1719-1776)
President George W. Bush refuses to criticize President Barack Obama, saying his successor "deserves my silence." That Bush's stance is unreciprocated bespeaks the lack of class within the current crowd occupying his old haunts. Obama, the successful campaigner, is finding it difficult to govern, which is why he reverts to campaign mode and frequently invokes, directly or indirectly, Bush. Character, the issue that dogged Bush's predecessor, is such a non issue a decade after it was the issue that the graceless mudslinging against the former president barely muddies the mudslingers.
"Guilty as hell, free as a bird--America is a great country," Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers frequently jokes. Kathleen Soliah, member of the even crazier Symbonese Liberation Army that kidnapped Patty Hearst, might be muttering the same words under her breath today. Despite partaking in a bank robbery in which her gang murdered a mother of four ("She was a bourgeois pig anyway," an SLA kook rationalized), and allegedly kicking a pregnant bank teller in the stomach resulting in a miscarriage, Soliah today is guilty as hell but free as a bird after serving just seven years in prison. Her prison stint came after 23 years as a fugitive from justice. In the wake of her release, she is again a fugitive from justice.
Today is an offical holiday in Boston. A quarter of the population of Massachusetts is of Irish ancestry, the largest percentage of any state. The county I am from, Middlesex, is the most heavily Irish county in the United States. We can't help but celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Well, not exactly. You see, March 17 is a holiday, but it's called Evacuation Day. And the entire state doesn't celebrate it, only the city of Cambridge and Suffolk County, which encompasses Boston and a few smaller locales. Evacuation Day is known as a "hack holiday," in that the hacks who populate government offices in Boston and Cambridge get to play hookey today. Since the date coincides with St. Patrick's Day, few complain. If you ask the average Joe, he might tell you that the day signifies the evacuation of hacks from the state house, or the temporary evacuation of sane and sober Bostonians from a city of revelers, or the evacuation of the snakes from Ireland.
Evacuation Day actually commemorates the date that the patriots, led by General George Washington, drove the British from Boston in 1776. Washington had secured Dorchester Heights, overlooking the Shawmut from the South, in a surprise maneuver two weeks earlier. From their advantaged position, the patriots possessed intimidating canons, the latest in modern warfare, and even more intimidating containers of rocks, the most tried and tested weapons from ancient warfare, to be let loose on the British should they have dared to take the hill. They didn't, and instead negotiated their safe passage in exchange for the city escaping harm. The Red Coats absconded to Halifax and never came back. Neither did the loyalists who fled with them, many of them losing their property by picking the wrong side in the conflict.
As my Commonwealth History of Massachusetts describes March 17, 1776, "In Massachusetts it was a final blow for Royal rule. The evacuation of Boston meant the evacuation of Massachusetts--and forever. King Street was to become State Street. This was symbolical of the change brought about by the expulsion of the British troops from Boston, because the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was destined to be a State of the United States. Never again was there any danger of British rule for Massachusetts."
If you suckered a client out of $173 billion, with no service going in return for lucre in excess of the nominal GDP of Nigeria, don't you think you would expect a bonus from your employer too?
It's ironic that Rep. Barney Frank trashed AIG for "rewarding incompetence" in handing out bonuses to executives. Isn't that just what Frank did when he championed the bailout of financial companies in the first place? Come to think of it, "rewarding failure" is just what Frank has urged banks to do by lending to risks with poor credit histories who nevertheless score high with pols like Frank with their preferred minority status. When the government rewards failiure, government officials shouldn't be surprised when the reward recipients reward failure too.
Massachusetts is the upside-down state. I voted for freedom in November, along with the vast majority of my fellow Bay Staters, to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. The result, now, is a $100 ticket. It seems reasonable, relative to the other states at least, to reduce pot from a jailable offense to a matter akin to a parking infraction. What disturbs me about the attitude of Massachusetts is rather than extend the logic of marijuana tolerance, the state has shifted the ire from pot toward beer and cigarettes.
Whereas smoking a joint on the streets of Boston now elicits a $100 fine, drinking a beer in public rates a $200 fine. Not only that, the Boston Police Department feels so threatened by the St. Patrick's Day Parade turning the streets of South Boston into an open-air barroom that they vow to use twitter--yes, twitter--to track alcohol scofflaws. In days past, alcohol in a plastic cup or a paper bag covering the container would be enough to avoid police hassle. Now a cash-strapped city urges police to ticket drinkers on a drinkers holiday. Why not make it open-container-friendly French Quarter or River Street for a day?
It gets worse. Shortly after voters told Bay State law-enforcement to leave pot-smokers alone, the Boston Public Health Commission--busybodies all--decreed a $200 fine for those temporarily residing in Boston's hotel rooms who decide to light up a cigarette. In Beantown, you don't get the choice of a smoking or non-smoking room. The anti-tobacco commissars decide for you. The same $200 penalty goes for those who light up on a dry dock, at the patio outside the bar, etc. Put another way, smoking cigarettes and drinking beers is a graver infraction in the eyes of the Boston Police Department than smoking marijuana.
For some reason, drinking in public is now viewed as an offense alongside public indecency and streetwalking. But everyone save Neil Dow has pounded a beer walking down the street, riding the bus, behind their high school. Should we throw the book at offenders partaking in a universal offense? One couple is even crusading--launching People Against Concert Tailgating--to block the lots of Massachusetts concert venues from opening until two hours before showtime. After the two most recent professional sports-team championships, public revelers--one drinking a beer on the sidewalk--died as a direct result of confrontations with the police. Society would do well heed the advice of The Beatles: Let it be.
Much of the contempt for cigarettes and alcohol, and the tolerance for marijuana, is cultural prejudice masquerading as public policy. In Massachusetts they've put dog tracks out of business but countenance horse racing; they've issued a death sentence against cigar bars in Boston but look the other way at pot; they target bookies but pine for gambling casinos to bolster the take of the ultimate "house." A prejudice, not a principle, motivates. Where you stand on such questions probably has something to do with whether you call March 17 Evacuation Day or St. Patrick's Day.
Last year, I took my son to the St. Patrick's Day Parade. I saw numerous bottles of peppermint schnapps along the route, but little evidence of a proper parade. Stay home, avoid all the drunks except the one who matters, and enjoy the FlynnFiles soundtrack of St. Patrick's Day Weekend:
For David Frum, it's not the failed president he dubbed "the right man," or the far-fetched utopian military crusades he advocated as "an end to evil," but Rush Limbaugh who is to blame for the Republican Party's sorry state. Read my article @ the American Spectator detailing how the Robespierre who once attempted to drive "Unpatriotic Conservatives" (read: Iraq war opponents) out of the conservative movement now laments conservative intolerance of "squishes" (read: him).
Why are the Kennedys so popular in Massachusetts? One reason is government-funded advertising for their family. More than one in five dollars directed toward Massachusetts from the just-passed federal spending package is in someway connected to promoting the Kennedys. After Patches Kennedy's discombobulated car crash, the late Michael Kennedy's affair with a fourteen-year-old babysitter, and Caroline Kennedy's disastrous introduction to politics, the family could use some good publicity. The bill includes $6 million for an Edward M. Kennedy Institute, $22 million for the seashore eyesore JFK Library, and $5 million for the Rose Kennedy Greenway. While Ted Kennedy is at it, why not a few thousand dollars for jersey barriers on the Dike Bridge over Poucha Pond?
CNN reports, "One of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century has been put to rest: DNA analysis of bone fragments has proven that two of Czar Nicholas' children believed to have escaped were killed with their royal family during the Russian Revolution." One of the most enduring ideologically-inspired delusions continues. The Communists didn't overthrow the czar. They overthrew the people who overthrew the czar. Later, they characteristically murdered the czar and his family, a cowardly act that gets spun into some vaguely heroic stand against tyranny by revisionists. Instead of referring to the Bolshevik seizure of the state as the Russian Revolution, as so many mistakenly do, it would be more accurate to call it the Bolshevik coup d'etat. It more closely resembled the phrase Messrs Merriam and Webster define as a violent power grab by a tiny group. The real Russian Revolution, in which czarism was deposed, occurred in February 1917 and not November (so-called the October Revolution because of Russia's belated acceptance of Pope Gregory XIII's calendar).
"It seems clear to me that the desire of dominating one's fellows and asserting superiority is natural to man, so that there are few so in love with liberty that they would not seize a favorable opportunity of ruling and lording it. Look closely at the behavior of the indwellers of the selfsame city and examine their dissensions, and you shall find that the object is preponderance rather than freedom. Those, then, who are the foremost citizens do not strive after liberty, though that be in their mouths; but the increase of their own sway and pre-eminence is really in their hearts. Liberty is a cant term with them, and disguises their lust of superiority in power and honor."
--Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540)
Lemon, Furman, Roe, and other legal bizarreries caught conservatives off guard in the early '70s. Then the Right organized. Read how it happened in my review in First Principles of Steven M. Teles's The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement.
The New York Times dared ask Dear Leader: "Are you a socialist as some people have suggested?" (Full disclosure: I am one of those people who have suggested). President Obama initially answered no, but then called the Times, incredulous. "It was hard for Me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question," the President later explained. A combative Obama pointed out, "I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn't under Me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. It wasn't on My watch. And it wasn't on My watch that we passed a massive new entitlement--the prescription drug plan--without a source of funding. And so I think it's important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we've actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word 'socialist' around can't say the same." Indeed, it wasn't under Obama's watch that America creeped into socialism. It was under His predecessor, who Obama has repeatedly characterized as reckless and incompetent. This makes one wonder: why is Obama defending Himself by pointing out that He is only continuing the policies of the predecessor He has so frequently derided?
I always get a chuckle, in the I'm-laughing-at-you-not-with-you sense, when conservative speakers rail against the Washington Compost, the New York Crimes, or the Communist News Network. It's not very clever, but in the case of CNN the news that one of its former correspondents is now the presidential candidate of the El Salvadoran Communist Party provides a few grains of truth for the taunt.
In a celebration attended by Barack Obama, Lauren Bacall, and Bill Cosby, the Kennedy family awarded Ted Kennedy the "Profile in Courage Award" last night as a belated 77th birthday present. My prediction that New York Governor David Paterson would win was off somewhat. Was Ted Kennedy courageous in supporting the Vietnam war when it was popular among Democratic voters and then opposing the war once it became unpopular among Democratic voters? Maybe the transformation from Mr. Catholic--the first American to receive first communion from a pope--to Mr. Abortion once the political winds shifted motivated the honor? Or maybe it was the "courage" Kennedy showed in making seventeen phone calls, and waiting eleven hours, before reporting that Mary Jo Kopechne lay (suffocated) in his car submerged in Poucha Pond? If Ted Kennedy is a profile in courage, then I am a neat freak.
I don't own an iPod, XBox, or a Blackberry. I avoid Facebook and MySpace. I like technology when it saves time or makes life easier. I try to steer clear when it wastes time or complicates life. I proudly never learned to program a VCR, with its displacement by the DVD vindicating my ignorance. I wear your "atavist" charge as a badge of honor! Despite repeated entreaties that I start a Facebook page, I have stayed away. Matt Labash articulates my aversion to anti-social social networking sites in a must-read Weekly Standard cover story. For my mouthpiece Labash, Facebook is a cyber cesspool of superficiality, exhibitionism, and voyeurism, where "there is the crushing anticlimax of people re-entering your life who might've fallen away into your past, because in each other's past is where you mutually belong."
The ancient Egyptians had a hieroglyphic sign for 1,000,000: an man with hands stretched in astonishment above his head. That was about my reaction, as a paperboy in the mid-1980s, upon seeing the headline that Steve Young had signed a $40 million contract with the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League. I didn't realize that numbers went so high. A quarter century later I am again that hieroglyph upon reading Paul Beston's article that a spring-league USFL is making a comeback in 2010. What's next? Comebacks by Mike Rozier, Kelvin Bryant, and Bobby Hebert?
Did you know I receive transmissions on my idiot box once again? Longtime readers of this site know that I killed my television several years back. A combination of wanting to concentrate on reading and writing, the cable bill, and providing the right environment for a new son contributed to the radical change. There are too many people in our society suffering from acquired mental retardation, with television being a leading cause, and I didn't want to add to that list.
The motive for returning to television is less complicated. When I branched out into talk radio late last summer, several people stared at me as if I had nipples for eyes when I blurted out that I didn't watch television. It was supposed to establish my credibility as a radio devotee. It only succeeded in making people think I was out of touch and arrogant. Watchou thank ur bedda dan us cause u don wach TV? Radio hosts should be in tune with their listeners, which means tuning into television. I succumbed, and after a frustrating experience of the cable company standing me up for installation, I got a dish inconspicuously placed on the back of my house. To my disappointment, I have yet to receive transmissions from an alien race known as the Zolaxians. But it gets several hundred very similar channels with very different names broadcast from all over the earth. Okay, they broadcast from New York or Los Angeles, but you get the point.
When you don't see something for several years, you notice the changes more than the people who see it every day, e.g., when a friend loses weight you're more apt to notice if you haven't been in each other's company for a while than if you're around the friend every day. The first thing I noticed coming back was how smoking hot the women on Fox News have become. I realize television is a visual medium, but this is ridiculuous. The women on MSNBC and CNN must all have self-image complexes. MTV and VH1, once abbreviations of Music Television and Video Hits 1, don't play music videos any longer. I used to joke of this possibility in the wake of the encroachment of reality television, but now reality television is a complete reality on music television. Make a reality show about that reality, I guess.
I now have a favorite television show. It's called the First 48, and it documents attempts by homicide detectives to solve murders in various cities. I particularly like the episodes in Memphis. It's not a new show, but because I haven't watched television in several years it is new to me. Television has brought out my inner rent-delinquent-trailer-park-denizen. This side of me is especially strong when watching The Tool Academy, the brilliantly stupid show that chronicles the fool's errand of transforming twentysomething tools into model boyfriends. The dramatic conclusion is this weekend, but it can't be as dramatic as the hilarious expulsion of this student from The Tool Academy, and the taunt from his former classmate that his girlfriend is a hooker.
Television is like a Dawn of the Dead zombie: wherever you go, there's no escape. Try to collect your ideas in an airport, and CNN Headline News blaring in the foreground will shout down your thoughts. Go to fill up an empty gas tank, and the tube atop the pump will fill your head with images of various consumables found inside the service station. At the check-out line, in that restaurant, on the train--television, television, televison. If you don't watch it, people will start to watch you (as if you belonged in a zoo). You can't escape the television zombie, so why not become one--if only for a few hours a week.
The stock market plunges. The economy tanks. The deficit explodes. But all Obama's henchmen want to talk about is Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh! Could the motivation for this be any more transparent? This type of a desparate diversion usually comes much later than month two. How might Obama's most fervent supporters, until recently known as the Bush Haters, have reacted had George W. Bush's goon squad gone after Keith Obermann, Michael Moore, or Al Franken in the middle of this mess? Obama's Jedi Mind Trick seems to have backfired as the dean of talk radio has reduced the President to his level by challenging Him to a debate. Rahm Emanuel envisioned making the Republican Party seem as Rush Limbaugh's to command, not knocking his Boss down to the level of an A.M. yakker. It reminds me of the old saying, "Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it."
You can be a rock star. You can be a world saver. You can't be both, as Bono proves on U2's latest underwhelming effort No Line on the Horizon. Read my piece at the American Spectator detailing how the release of U2's much-hyped No Line on the Horizon confirms the Irish foursome's jump from relevant it band to greatest hits act.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, whose value is about what it was as 1996 ended, has shed roughly a third of its value since Election Day. Do you think the Winning Candidate's gospel of government takeovers, instrusions, and expansions might have something to do with this precipitous decline?
St. Thomas Aquinas offered five ways of proving God's existence. I came across one yesterday that not only proved existence but a sense of humor. As the usual suspects gathered for the Capitol Climate Change protest of coal, the Great Meteorologist in the Sky blessed the throngs with freezing temperatures and nearly a foot of snow. The prophets of old would have divined this as a sign. The global warming prophets are too stupid to take the hint.
I have been writing more pieces for outside publications than I used to. If you click on the articles button on the top right, and then scroll down, you can count 27 articles in the last year or so. If you scroll down further, you will see about a three year gap. Forgive me, I was in a cave for several years writing A Conservative History of the American Left. I don't want to disappear again, so I'm writing articles as I attempt to research a new book. Atop the book writing and blog posting, I have averaged about an article every two weeks for the last year. I aim to increase the output in the next year. Items that I might have once turned into elongated posts I will concentrate on shipping to outside venues. The reasons are twofold. More people read these outside venues than FlynnFiles and whereas I pay to keep FlynnFiles afloat these outside venues' pay keeps Flynn afloat. When I link to these articles on FlynnFiles, could I ask that you follow the link and read them? With a few obvious exceptions, I generally spend more time on these articles than on a blog post. Ironically, the attention outside articles generate on FlynnFiles is generally less than garden-variety posts. Perhaps this has to do with the ease of reading what is in front of you versus the added step of having to click a link to read an item hosted elsewhere. Whatever the cause, my hope is that the increase in articles leads to an increase of FlynnFiles readers of those articles. There's some good stuff coming on an eclectic range of topics--U2, the Great Books, my favorite historian, the revenue-generating schemes of cash-hungry states, and much, much more.
U2 releases its 13th album, No Line on the Horizon, tomorrow. They mark the occasion with a week in residence at the Ed Sullivan Theater to play on Late Night with David Letterman. I mark the occasion by issuing my list of the ten greatest U2 songs (Longtime readers will remember that I did this with Led Zeppelin a few years back). U2 on YouTube--enjoy.