I will be guest hosting on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Boston's Talk Evolution 96.9 WTKK. If you live in the Greater Boston area, tune in to 96.9 to hear me substitute for Joe & Huggy on Saturday morning. If you are beyond the reach of WTKK's strong FM signal, listen live here.
Joe Biden cautioned America against travelling on airplanes or subway cars today because of the swine flu. Keep in mind that the swine flu has killed just one person in America, a baby who most likely caught the malady in Mexico, in this go around. More than a half-million Americans have died of AIDS. Will Biden also tell Americans to refrain from gay sex? There are more than 40,000 deaths on the roads every year. Should we ban automobiles? Somewhere around 4,000 Americans drown annually. Would the beaches, then, be off limits under Biden's logic? There is no epidemic of swine flu. There is an epidemic of hysteria, particularly among the people who should be voices of calm rather than voices of alarm.
People like to hear Barack Obama talk but not as much as Barack Obama likes to hear Himself talk. I guess we should be grateful that President Obama, rather than President Bush, is the Wordy One. Reminiscent of election night, I clicked off to read--this time Will Durant--rather than indulge the Narcissisist-in-Chief. I did remain long enough to catch Jeff Zeleny's strange question about humility, enchantment, surprise, and trouble, and President Obama's revealing answer, specifically in regard to what has humbled Him in office: "Humbled by the--humbled by the fact that the presidency is extraordinarily powerful, but we are just part of a much broader tapestry of American life, and there are a lot of different power centers. And so I can't just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want or, you know, turn on a switch and suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line." Who, but an egomaniac, would be humbled by the inability to control people like video game characters with the push of a button?
Perception isn't reality. Reality is. The reality is that Barack Obama isn't all that popular. Just 56 percent of the American people approve of the way he does his job. Every president, save Bill Clinton, was more popular at the 100-day mark--which is today--since the Gallup organization began tracking presidential popularity in 1969. You wouldn't get this impression from watching the network news, or reading Time and Newsweek, which have become auxiliaries of the White House press office. Obama's "popularity," such as it is, is a bit like high school popularity. It ocassionally turns out that not many students like the "popular" kid.
More than a month ago, the State Department warned Americans about travel to Mexico because of out-of-control violence. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns Americans about travel to Mexico because of the swine flu. For years, Americans, rather sensibly given the myriad problems south of the border, have warned their government about large numbers of Mexicans travelling to America. The lesson here? Americans heed their government's warnings more than their government heeds the warnings of Americans. That's not how a republic is supposed to work, is it?
How many taxpayers does it take to fly Air Force One on a photo op mission to the Statue of Liberty? I wish I could offer a punchline here, but I only have a number: $328,835. That's the cost to the taxpayer of the White House's idiotic decision to send Air Force One, minus The One, on a low-flying jaunt to New York City accompanied by F-16s. In a memo, the Federal Aviation Administration's James Johnston conceded "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" over New York, but inexplicably ordered the NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office to keep it secret. The feds even threatened punishment against various agencies should the secret get out. Well, the secret got out when New Yorkers caught what appeared to be a horrific replay of 9/11 and appropriately responded by evacuating buildings. Obama's White House lackeys may have forgotten 9/11. But they shouldn't have expected New Yorkers to have forgotten.
Pat Toomey defeated Arlen Specter in the 2010 Republican primary today. Pennsylvania's senior senator announced a switch from the Republicans to the Democrats. What took him so long? I don't understand conservatives who shout "betrayal" after calling Specter a Republican In Name Only for so long. First, conservatives don't lose anything in the shift; Republicans do. There's one more septuagenarian solon with a "D" next to his name. So what? Second, if Specter really were a RINO, a shift to the Democratic Party should be applauded as honest and fitting. Third, the Republican Party has in the last twenty or so years nominated for president McCain, Dole, and Bush (four times). When are conservatives going to figure out that they are the ones who are Republicans In Name Only?
Reading Randy Shiltz's And the Band Played On a few years back, I came across the peculiar case of the swine flu epidemic that wasn't. That ancient trivia is suddenly no longer a curio. The event demonstrated that it's more often the guy ringing the alarm bell, rather than the cause for alarm, that we have to fear most. In hysterical reaction to news that the swine flu had appeared in the United States, President Ford ordered Americans vaccinated. One guy died from swine flu. More than thirty died as a result of the vaccinations.
Chris Matthews made a fool of himself on national television last night. What else is new? Ever since MSNBC moved left, Matthews has been trying to tag along. This is a shame. Chris Matthews is better at being Chris Matthews--straight-talking politico--than being Keith Olbermann, Jr.
On last night's Hardball, Olbermann Jr. quoted from this excellent piece by a former CIA official written in the Washington Post: "Americans should be clear on what Obama has done. In a breathtaking display of self-righteousness and intellectual arrogance, the president told Americans that his personal beliefs are more important than protecting their country, their homes and their families. The interrogation techniques in question, the president asserted, are a sign that Americans have lost their 'moral compass,'.... Mulling Obama's claim, one can wonder what could be more moral for a president than doing all that is needed to defend America and its citizens?"
Matthews testily responded, "My sense is that that guy talking in that memo is an ideologue--a hard-Right neocon." Not quite. It's unclear which error is more offensive: 1. misidentifying one of the most vocal, authoritative, and effective critics of the Bush administration's foreign policy as a "hard-Right neocon"; or 2. failing to recognize ("that guy"!) one of the most significant players in the war on terror.
Matthews's "hard-Right neocon" is a man of many names, but never, until now, has he been called "a hard-Right necon." In The 9/11 Report, he is "Mike," the CIA's Captain Ahab-like pursuer of Osama bin Laden who angrily laments the Clinton administration having blown "the chance to get [Bin Laden] three times in 36 hours." On the cover of his bestselling books, he is Anonymous--the guy who literally wrote the book on the foolishness of Bush's starry-eyed foreign policy. It's called Imperial Hubris, and I reviewed it on this site four years ago. Therein, the author tears apart the Bushies' feel-good notion that the terrorists attack us merely for who we are--"They hate our freedoms"--rather than for what we do (American bombs, missiles, or men in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, etc. in my lifetime alone). In the Washington Post on Sunday, the former chief of the CIA's Bin Laden unit and bestselling author employed his given name, Michael Scheuer. One would think the name of one who played so crucial a role in the war on terrorism would ring a bell for the host of a major public affairs program. Apparantly not. Scheuer deserved better than being slimed by the most vile names in Matthews's lexicon.
The release of legal memos on CIA interrogations of terrorists is one of the more shameful acts of the young Obama administration. One needn't be a "necon" or a Bush lackey to hold this opinion. Those who fall under those labels are few, which makes it a comforting delusion to categorize all who are appalled at Obama's sell-out of American intelligence thusly. Obama gave away the playbook to terrorists on what to expect and what not to expect should they fall into the hands of the Great Satan. He aimed to deal a cheap political blow to the previous administration at the expense of national security. He labelled the pouring of water up the noses of three terrrorists responsible for murdering Americans a "dark and painful chapter in our history." It wasn't, but the president selling out U.S. intelligence for "bravos" on the world stage truly was.
"As a people, Americans have a heritage to be proud of and one that is worth defending with their children's lives," Scheuer explains in Imperial Hubris. "It is not, however, a heritage whose experiences, heroes, wars, scandals, sacrifices, victories, mistakes, and villains can be condensed, loaded on a CD-ROM, and given to non-Americans with an expectation that they will quickly, and at little expense, become just like us." Doesn't that read as the antithesis of Bush's crusading, utopian second inaugural address?
Matthews's ideologically-inspired assumption is that the guy who wrote that is "an ideologue--a hard Right neocon." If only are enemies were always who we wished them to be. Then we would never feel compelled to argue their points, and instead just throw slimey labels upon them.
Tijuana is off-limits to Camp Pendleton Marines. Last year, Tijuana had more murders than Atlanta, St. Louis, and Baltimore combined. When I trained at Camp Pendleton for a few months in the mid-1990s, Tijuana was off limits to me. Unlike so much of the regimented military life, this was a personal rule imposed on me by me. It wasn't so much the crime then, as it was the fear of catching hepatitis, as a friend did by merely eating the food, or having to bribe my way out of a lock-up where the jailers are no better than the jailed. President Obama, apparantly, doesn't share my antipathy toward travel south of the border. On his trip to Mexico a week ago, the president reportedly met a man who subsequently died of swine flu, which has already killed over 100 Mexicans. Though acutely affecting Mexicans, the illness has been around the world and back again several times over. Why it prefers Mexico as a travel destination more than I do is a mystery to me.
Here's the best sports headline, found on ESPN.com, that I have seen in a while: "Pens turn to Satan for Game 5, bench Sykora." The most amazing sports feat I have stumbled upon in sometime comes from Trinity, Florida, where high school senior Patrick Schuster has thrown four consecutive no hitters. In Bayonne, New Jersey, Mackenzie Brown threw a perfect game in her town's little league. There's about sixty such perfect games a year in little league. What distinguishes Brown's feat is that she, as the pronoun might have clued you in, is a girl. I got a chuckle out of the Raiders selecting Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the number seven pick. It's very much a Raiders pick, in that he tested that fastest forty in the combines and, in the spirit of former first rounders Todd Marinovich and Sebastian Janikowski, nobody foresaw this guy as an early pick. Both ESPN analysts graded the selection an "F." The best part about the Red Sox sweep of the Yankees was Jacoby Ellsbury's steal of home in last night's game. I suspected, and confirmed, that I witnessed--in between breaks selling hot dogs--the last time a Red Sox player (Billy Hatcher) made a straight steal of home without the benefit of a squeeze or a double steal. I assured a fellow boxing fan that there was no way Carl Froch would defeat Jermain Taylor in their 168-pound title fight. It sure looked that way, and then in the last round--with 14 seconds left to be exact--Froch stopped Taylor with a TKO.
The late anchorman Peter Jennings eulogized I.F. Stone as "a journalist's journalist" upon his 1989 passing. From Harvard to Berkeley, journalism programs have named fellowships and awards for I.F. Stone. This week's revelation from scholars Alexander Vassiliev, John Earl Haynes, and Harvey Klehr that the archives of Soviet intelligence (atop past incriminating evidence from a KGB general and the Venona intercepts) identify this "journalist's journalist" as an agent of the Soviet Union puts Stone, and his fan club, in another light. Read my piece @ the American Spectator to learn why the exposure of liberal icon Izzy Stone as a Communist agent tarnishes not only Izzy Stone, but his media admirers as well.
YouTube is a time machine that ushers us anywhere in the video age. My preferred destination today is the late 1970s/early 1980s, where rock reemerged from the disco era with its stars having their hair sheared off like Samson and wearing Nike sneakers as if they were the prescribed uniform. Enjoy the music.
Continuity, rather than a new beginning, marks the seamless transition from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. George W. Bush waged expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barack Obama continues to wage those wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a manner that the Republican leader in the Senate finds "hardly distinguishable" from his predecessor. Bush ran up unprecedented deficits. Obama runs up unprecedented deficits. Bush's last 100 days were occupied with bailouts for bankers and automotive companies. Obama's first 100 days are marked with spending the bailout money on banks and car companies. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
Everywhere one looks, elected officials are devising imaginative ways to raise taxes. Sodas, video games, beer, and strippers are a few of the targets. Here in Massachusetts, after already hiking the cigarette tax by a dollar, they are proposing raises in the sales tax, in highway tolls, and in the gasoline tax, which would make ours the highest in the nation. There is something, to borrow the words of part-time poet Abraham Lincoln, completely bassackwards about this. We are in a recession. In the past, politicians tried to find ways to inject money into the economy to boost it. Whatever downsides there are to this, there's at least some logic behind it. The push--in the states, at the federal level, overseas--to extract money from the private economy is so incredibly short sighted. It demonstrates that politicians prefer going deeper into recession than to cut the money available to them to spend. The last thing the economy needs is to subtract even more money from it. But that's exactly what the myriad tax increases do. Politicians blame factory closings on corporations. But the fact is that there are reasons beyond the control of the capitalists for the demise of such industries. One reason is the siphoning off of even more money from the private economy through taxes.
It's outrageous that the United Kingdom will tax its highest earners at 50 percent. It's even more outrageous that Americans gawking at the Union-Jack Eurosocialism don't realize that the same mindset governs the United States, where the federal system masks several levels of taxation. Take California, the most populous state. The Golden State's income tax on its highest earners approaches 11 percent. Add this to the top federal rate of 35 percent and the rate paid to government closes in on the Eurosocialism of Great Britain. Furthermore, the Obama administration will raise the top tax rate to 40 percent by the end of this year. At that point, top earners in California will be paying a higher rate than what the top earners in the UK pay to their national government.
The Boston Globe is losing tens of millions of dollars a year because many onetime readers refuse to pay 75 cents a copy to be insulted on a daily basis. If I want to be insulted, I'll get the insults for free from Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. I don't find it pleasant to pay for a newspaper that informs me that I am a homophobe because I oppose court-ordered gay marriage or that I am a racist because I oppose court-ordered bussing. The business model of alienating a huge portion of the Greater Boston community is not working.
This bothers Senator John Kerry, who has been a beneficiary of the Globe's service as a booster paper for the Democratic Party, so much that he plans to hold hearings on the decline of the print dinosaurs. He says that he is committed to ensuring that newspapers like the Globe do not disappear. That's pretty scary when you think about it. What if he had said that he is committed to making certain newspapers disappear? That's the flipside of what he said. The government, in other words, has no stake in this fight--at least not while there is a First Amendment.
Rather than yield to market demands, such as diversifying the outlook of its writers and freeing itself of union remora, the Globe wants a bailout. Right now it receives one from its New York Times parent company, which is $1.3 billion in debt. "America's newspapers are struggling to survive," Kerry notes, "and while there will be serious consequences in terms of the lives and financial security of the employees involved, including hundreds at the Globe, there will also be serious consequences for our democracy where diversity of opinion and strong debate are paramount."
Indeed, which is why the monolithic Globe should embrace intellectual diversity and strong debate. If it doesn't, this former Globe paperboy won't cry at its funeral.
I am unable to grant the premise of either side of the controversy on CIA interrogation techniques. The agency's detractors label a variety of techniques--including "face slapping" and forcibly grasping the interviewee's lapels--"torture." Other than waterboarding, the tactics employed by the CIA don't match any reasonable person's definition of torture. And on waterboarding, I think reasonable people can disagree. President Obama's national intelligence director conceded to his employees that the controversial interrogations yielded "high value information." Perhaps, but we just have the intelligence chief's word on this. Do you remember what happened the last time we took an intelligence honcho's word at face value? For the sake of argument, let's grant both premises: that the CIA tortured al Qaeda members and that the tortures resulted in valuable information passed on to U.S. intelligence. The battlefield isn't a philosophy classroom, but the argument here makes me uneasy. The ends don't justify the means. My suspicion is that even Bush cheerleaders who have taken the Left's bait--conceding the interrogation tactics as torture and then reflexively defending torture--realize this at some level. If the ends did justify the means, then waterboarding would be the mildest rather than the most extreme interrogation tactic used.
People who get their hands caught in the cookie jar and then lash out at the people who catch them amuse me. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton successfully employed this bold tactic. And now Representative Jane Harman of California is using it. "Many members of Congress talk to advocacy groups," Harman explained yesterday. "My phone is ringing off the hook from worried members who think it could have happened to them. I think this is an abuse of power." What she is talking about is the federal wiretap that allegedly caught her negotiating a deal with a suspected Israeli agent to aid two accused espionage agents who are set to stand trial in June. She says this is an "outrage"--the wiretap, not her discussions of a quid pro quo with such a shady character on behalf of two accused spies. As if the hubris wasn't brash enough, Harman supported warentless domestic wiretaps by the feds--just not when she's on the line, apparently. Jane Harman is the chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment.
Political correctness is attitudinal pressure aimed to bring about mass dishonesty (and conformity) on various hot-button topics. Even when it fails to convert the heathen, political correctness disarms the opposition by forcing them to apologize for holding political positions that offend elite, but not mass, opinion. When pressure compels you to start a debate by saying, "Let me first say that I don't hate gay people...," it's probably not an argument that you are going to win.
Political correctness is what they wanted at the Miss USA Pageant this weekend. They got honesty, which is why the mental circuits of so many have overloaded. Here's the story: Talentless gossip Perez Hilton tastelessly injected politics into the contest by asking Miss California her thoughts on gay marriage. Her answer was diplomatic, but ultimately her answer was her answer and not Perez Hilton's answer, which infuriated Mr. Hilton.
"Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other," Carrie Prejean awkwardly remarked. "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage.... And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be--between a man and a woman." (Incidentally, that's how a majority of voters in Miss California's home state think that it should be too.)
For this, Miss California has been attacked by one of the contest's judges and the organizers of her state's pageant. Hilton, infuriated that anyone would disagree with him, subsequently called Miss California "a dumb bitch" with "half a brain." Should she have answered dishonestly?
The controversy here maybe should be that Perez Hilton injected politics into a beauty pageant; that Perez Hilton intolerantly berated a contestant for supplying an answer that differs from his desired answer; that Perez Hilton judged a beauty contest based on a contestant's position on a moral question that he is obsessed with; or that Perez Hilton was invited to be a judge at a beauty pageant where the contestants didn't have to duct tape their genitals. The controversy shouldn't be that a pageant contestant gave an uncontroversial answer to a question on gay marriage. Would this have been news had she answered that she disagreed with the majority of her state and supported gay marriage?
Massachusetts has become its Taxachusetts caricature in the Town Fair Tire case. The case revolves around the state's presumptuous presentation of a $108,947 tax bill to three Town Fair Tire stores in New Hampshire for failing to collect and remit sales taxes on its Massachusetts customers. The brash move violates the Constitution's equal protection and commerce clauses, not to mention Massachusetts statutes. But it will put a lot of money in Massachusetts's coffers, which, I suppose, is why the frustrated Bay State politicos have gone after merchants in sales-tax-free New Hampshire. Read my article on this absolutely jaw-dropping case at Forbes.com (or in the Spring issue of City Journal).
It is difficult to discern what Alex Beam's A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books objects to most about the Great Books: the rejection of relativism that deems some books truly great, or the marketing of great books to mediocre minds. In a smug, condescending book that often sneers but rarely speaks, Alex Beam looks down on autodidact Mort Adler, University of Chicago President Robert Hutchins, and Encyclopedia Britannica publisher William Benton from below. Read my review at ISI's First Principles.
Amnesty International judges the United States guilty of "widespread torture." But the waterboarding at the center of the controversy over harsh interrogation techniques has thus far claimed just three confirmed victims: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. I am supposed to feel bad, but I don't. Mr. Mohammed is, according to the 9/11 Report, the "principal architecht of the 9/11 attacks." Mr. Zubaydah also played a role in planning the 9/11 atrocities. Mr. al-Nashiri organized the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole that killed 17 American sailors.
Is waterboarding torture? I don't know. It seems to do violence to language to apply the same word to it as one applies to bamboo shoots forced under the fingernails or jumper cables to the testicles. It's also worth noting that the Navy Seals have used waterboarding as a training technique in the past. It's interesting that the New York Times never complained very loudly when waterboarding was used on the American military.
Whatever word one uses to describe waterboarding, it's safe to say that it's unpleasant, which, I assume, is the point. In those scary days after 9/11 everyone, everyone, assumed another attack was imminent. Did the Bush administration's interrogation techniques make everyone's assumption wrong? We don't know. We just know an attack didn't follow when everyone assumed that it would. The people working to that end deserve our thanks, not our scorn.
Designed to attaint the previous administration, President Obama's release, over the objection of his own CIA director, of Bush-era CIA legal briefings on various interrogation techniques gives terrorists a heads-up on what to expect should they ever find themselves in the hands of the Great Satan. "What we have described for our enemies in the midst of a war are the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al Qaeda terrorist. That's very valuable information," former CIA chief Michael Hayden explained to Fox News yesterday. The document dump plays politics at the expense of national security. The president obtusely referred to the waterboarding of the three murderers, rather than their acts of terrorism, as a "dark and painful chapter in our history." Such holier-than-thou rhetoric will no doubt impress the American government's new Latin American and European friends, but what American who lived through 9/11 is scandalized that the attack's mastermind had water poured into his nose as a method to extract information?
Had the average American, rather than George W. Bush, overseen interrogation tactics against 9/11 terrorists, my sense is that these three dregs would have been forced to dine on their eyeballs a long time ago. This is not to defend vigilantism, downplay the unpleasantness of waterboarding, or even defend it as an effective or just interrogation method. It's just to say that what is most shocking about the CIA interrogation memos is how restrained U.S. intelligence acted in dealing with three murderers who had information on future murder schemes.
The U.S. should not torture detainees, whether they be covered by the Geneva Convention or not. The CIA memos released by the Obama administration on the interrogation tactics proposed for use on terrorist detainees during the Bush administration are shocking in that methods so mild should cause controversy so massive. The "torture" methods include face slapping, face holding, and something called the "attention grasp," which involves an interrogator grabbing the lapels of the interrogated and bringing him toward the interrogator (presumably while the interrogator yells at him). Sorry, this isn't torture. When the Japanese force-marched thousands of Westerners for a week without food or water during the Bataan Death March, that was torture. When the Chinese government uses electric shocks on Falun Gong prisoners, that is torture. When the CIA proposes unleashing caterpillars on Abu Zubaydah because they understand him to have an irrational fear of creepy-crawlies, that's not torture. It's a variant on the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition skit.
The coverage of the various Tea Parties protesting big government is demonstrative of just how far outside of the mainstream the mainstream media are. Since when did supporting low taxes make one a radical? This is about the closest thing to a default position for the American electorate as any issue is. Add to this the timing--April 15 is tax day after all--and I'm left scratching my head why CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and other broadcast news outlets covered the protests so smugly. Take heart, modern-day tea partiers. Your forebears didn't get a universally friendly reception at first either. Benjamin Franklin spoke for many in labelling the destruction of 342 crates of tea on Griffin's Wharf "an act of violent injustice." Ultimately, however, the Tea Party galvanized the colonists around an issue--no taxation without representation--that had widespread appeal. Maybe these Tea Parties will do the same thing for conservatives. "Keep your hands out of the pockets of the Americans," Member of Parliament Isaac Barre counselled his fellow Englishmen, "and they will be obedient subjects." Barack Obama would be wise to heed Barre's 236-year-old warning.
I will be speaking at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro this Thursday, April 16. If you live in the area, I encourage you to attend the event, which is free and open to the public. The 7:30 p.m. lecture takes place in Room 200, otherwise known as the Wachovia Room, of the Sullivan Science Building. The lecture topic is Why the Left Hates America. The UNC-Greensboro College Republicans and Young America's Foundation are the sponsors.
The thwarted attack on a second U.S. ship by Somali pirates works as a metaphor for foreign aid. The gratitude expressed to the deliverers of "thousands of tons" of humanitarian aid on the Liberty Sun came in the form of rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire. When the aid is delivered, its principal beneficiaries are the thugs and strongmen. The thugs and strongmen attacking the Liberty Sun, one might say, were just trying to speed up the process that would have inevitably worked out on dry land.
The visual has so overwhelmed the audio that people unsuprisingly get surprised when they hear a beautiful voice come from a plain jane. Susan Boyle, a 47-year-old Brit who lives with her cat, admitted to Britain's Got Talent television show that she has never been kissed. The audience reacted to her as if she were a joke--cringing, laughing, etc. Then Susan Boyle started singing. The joke was on the shallow gawkers. Watch the moving video if you haven't already.
"One shot, one kill," is the motto of the Marine sniper. Apparently, as the work of three Navy Seals demonstrates, the catchphrase has made the rounds outside of the Marines. Hitting a target at 75 feet away is a rather pedestrian occurance. Such marksmanship from a moving platform to partially obscured targets on a another moving platform is outstanding.
A jury of his peers convicted Phil Spector of murder yesterday. A judge of one, me, long ago convicted him of adding strings to The Long and Winding Road and bizarrely excluding Don't Let Me Down from Let It Be. The latter offenses carry a sentence of death; the former, eighteen to life.
It didn't take long for the kooks to come to the defense of the pirates who kidnapped Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama. The sea brigands were Third Worlders, after all, and their prey was an American. Susie Madrak writes at
Crooks Kooks and Liars, "I wonder which principled member of our corporate media will point out that, in the big picture, the Somali pirates are acting in self-defense?" A commenter on MYDD adds of the gun-toting kidnappers, "I am tired of seeing of Africans die for no reason." Me too, but this pirate trio clearly died for a reason--something to do with sticking another human being with an AK-47 and threatening to pull the trigger.
Thomas Frazier is a one-man sexual revolution. He is the alleged father of fourteen children by thirteen different women. The counterrevolution is child support, $500,000 of which unsurprisingly has gone unpaid. This, despite police arresting the deadbeat dad in his Mercedes with a $5,000 roll of bills and a plane ticket to sunny Florida on him. From jail, the prolific Mr. Frazier offers this strange piece of advice to his children. "Use a condom," he told the Flint Journal. "You don't want to end up like your dad." Alas, the brood owes its existence to father practicing not what he preaches. No word yet on if the jails in Genesee County, Michigan allow conjugal visits.
If Disneyworld replaced Pirates of the Caribbean with Pirates of the Gulf of Aden, would the ride be so scary that no one would want to go on? There's something about the khat-chewing Somali ocean bandits that's far less appealing than Yellowbeard, Captain Kidd, and Long John Silver.
Listen in to Boston's Talk Evolution 96.9 WTKK this Friday (4/10) from 7-10 p.m. and the following Monday (4/13) from 7-10 p.m. as I guest host. If you're outside of WTKK's strong FM signal, which I have heard in Providence, Worcester, and points beyond, then click on the listen live button at WTKK's website. So radio-listening blog commenters, what topics should I devote time to on the radio?
It's strange that the same Congressional Black Caucus that incessantly laments the high U.S. incarceration rate would fete the warden of the largest prison in the Western Hemisphere. To hear it from the delegation that just made a pilgrimage to visit a sick Fidel Castro, one might get the impression that Cubans in Miami risk their lives in shark infested waters to escape to Havana. Castro is a tyrant and a murderer. But to Congressman Bobby Rush meeting with the Cuban dictator "was almost like listening to an old friend." It makes one wonder who Rush's old friends are.
Hospital signs constantly remind visitors to wash their hands. Perhaps they should also post signs reminding medical staff to wash colonoscopy equipment. After failing to sterilize such a device, and subsequently using it "at an ear, nose, and throat facility," a Veterans Affairs hospital sent out a letter to patients asking them to get blood tests. One tested veteran learned that he now has the HIV. What the four horsemen of the apocalypse are to armegeddon, the recycled colonoscopy equipment is to ObamaCare. Don't complain that you weren't warned.
Barack Obama wants a world without nuclear weapons. "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it," Obama declared in Prague. Has the President never watched Raiders of the Lost Ark? "Throw me the idol. I throw you the whip." The President's naivety can only end badly for the United States. Either we do away with our nuclear stockpile, and China, Russia, and company don't. Or, we don't do away with our nuclear stockpile and the rest of the world blames us for not living up to our Leader's word. By acknowledging that His Miss-America-like goal may not come true in His lifetime, Obama ensures that no matter what happens He doesn't get the blame.
Michael Kinsley writes, "You may love the morning ritual of the paper and coffee, as I do, but do you seriously think that this deserves a subsidy? Sorry, but people who have grown up around computers find reading the news on paper just as annoying as you find reading it on a screen." The late Tom Braden's replacement on Crossfire scoffed at the notion of a bailout for print news: "A newspaper industry that was a ward of the state or of high-minded foundations would be sadly compromised." Indeed. Now why can't liberals apply this logic to PBS and NPR?
It's hard to beat the string of albums the Stones put out when Mick Taylor played guitar for them. I own Exile on Main Street, but I don't own the others in that '69-'74 golden age. So when I heard that the band was reissuing their last fourteen albums, I thought: here is my excuse to pick up Goat's Head Soup and Sticky Fingers. Maybe I'd get a demo of Coming Down Again or a live take of Can't You Hear Me Knocking.
No such luck. There's a right way to roll out a reissue of a classic album, and there's a wrong way. The Rolling Stones decided to trod the latter path. Given that Mick, Keith, and company haven't put out a really great album in almost thirty years, one would think they might feel compelled to jazz up the rerelease of their back catalogue. They're apparently remastered the recordings, and that's it. No live tracks, no demos, no b-sides, no nothing.
Juxtapose the insult the Stones threw at their fans with the fan-friendly approach taken by Radiohead and Pearl Jam. Radiohead's The Bends--to take just one of three of the band's new reissues--includes demos, unreleased tracks, live performances, b-sides, remixes, unplugged versions. It is triple the length of the original album, and includes a bonus DVD featuring this in-concert version of Black Star and this televised performance of The Bends. I own The Bends, and now I may own it again.
Ditto for Peal Jam's Ten, which more accurately, I once owned before someone stole it from me, and now the band has given me an excuse to buy it again. Pearl Jam's debut is remastered and, on a separate CD, remixed by Brendan O'Brien. It includes Singles soundtrack song State of Love and Trust the MTV Unplugged performance of Neil Young's Keep on Rockin' in the Free World.
Granted, the multiple-disc reissue is pricier than the route the Stones took. But why would a band make a fuss over rereleasing an old album--that's been available in the CD format for nearly a quarter century--without providing a new reason to buy it? I recently got reissues of The Who By Numbers and The Kinks's State of Confusion. With no price boost to the customer, the former added three live tracks from '75 and the latter contained several hard-to-get bonus tracks. The Stones are a similar band. Why do they think they can get away with mailing it in? With CDs going the way of 8-tracks fast, I am doubly puzzled by the reissue of the same old standard issue.
The Boston Globe is discovering the difficulties of practicing the liberal polices it preaches in its newspaper. Its parent company, the New York Times, has ordered the numerous unions at the paper to accept pay cuts, the elimination of corporate funding of pensions, and more elastic rules on firing union members. I can't say the Globe's hypocrisy surprises me. I delivered the Boston Globe for more than five years in the 1980s. Over that time, I held three different paper routes--delivering two routes at once for a prolonged period--and temporarily absorbed additional routes when friends went on vacation. I'm not complaining. I earned a paper-route-to-college scholarship and forged intergenerational friendships with people born in the 19th century. But consider the flagrant disregard of so many of the labor laws that good liberals like the Globies champion in their treatment of paperboys, a profession that is about as thriving as door-to-door salesman. Child-labor laws aside, I started delivering the Boston Globe when I was eight years old. Minumum-wage laws aside, I initially made about thirty-five cents per full-time subscriber, deriving almost the entirety of my profits from customers who tipped, making probably $15-20 a week. And all fairness aside, when my customers refused payment, or feigned already having made the payment, I was responsible for paying the Globe for their paper. I'm sure there were lawful exceptions to minimum-wage and child-labor laws for paperboys, and I am grateful for them. It just seems strange that the primary beneficiary of these exceptions, and the primary beneficiary of the current beatdown of the union--the Boston Globe--sings such a different tune in its newspaper.
Twenty Goofballs (G20) saved the world yesterday. They saved it the same way Obama saved America: they punished success and rewarded failure. Alas, the G20 stimulus plan that will further depress the economy on planet earth redistributes a mere $300 billion more than Obama's stimulus plan for America. Perhaps we should be glad that the 20 Goofballs believe rescuing the planet will cost just $175 per resident.
What if George W. Bush had given the British prime minister a series of DVDs that aren't compatible with European DVD players or awarded the queen of England an iPod loaded with his own speeches? (Just what kind of queen did Obama think He was meeting when He added Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli, and Ethel Merman to the play list?) When Dan Quayle, Ronald Reagan, or Gerald Ford misstepped, it was held as proof of their lack of intelligence. When Barack Obama missteps, it is held as proof that meanspirited people like to call attention to His gaffes.
Guiding Light has been broadcast continuously on television and radio for 72 years. I have been alive for roughly half that time, and I have never watched the program. Evidently, there are others like me. CBS announced that it's cancelling the soap opera.
Did you ever see Howard Beale's "I'm as mad as hell" oration in Network? Actor Peter Finch died about a month after the movie's release, but his character's spirit has reincarnated in this citizen editorialist's "You Disgust Me" video assaulting the 160 percent rise in federal cigarette taxes. It's entrancing. The gentleman obviously owes a debt to Beale's style, but not his substance. Notice how Mr. Youdigustme tells his audience to leave him alone, while Mr. Madashell tells his audience that he is not going to leave them alone.
It's April 1, and after a brutal winter with tons of snow dumped on my plot of earth, two slivers of ice remain. This is significant for me. Starting with a late November ice storm, snow and ice have remained a constant on my land. Today, with any luck, all will be gone for good (bad, for any inquiring minds, is when the snow and ice return). One patch of ice is about a foot long and three inches wide, while the other one is a smaller square. They have proved resilient for a number of reasons. Situated in a shady spot, the remaining ice also benefitted from being at the botton of the snow pile shoveled from my walkway and from avoiding human erosion by being off the beaten path. I will enjoy the end of the ice age. As for the ice, my suspicion is: water, snow, or popsicle, it's all the same to them.
Harvard Square lost its character a long time ago. Barnes and Noble took over operations of the Harvard Coop. Landlords forced out traditional watering holes such as the Bow & Arrow. Newstands Nini's and Out of Town News, mainly because the internet has killed the demand for print pornography, are on their last legs. The Tasty, immortalized for millions in Good Will Hunting and immortalized for one future writer when a group of his late-night friends ran out on the tab without informing him of their scheme, is gone too (maybe my comrades are partly responsible for the loss of this venerable greasy eatery). Hippies are scarce. Scratch a punk rocker and you will find an uberwealthy spoiled brat underneath. Charming shops have given way to vulgar chains. So news of the gentrified Square's war on a homeless used-book peddler comes as no shock. The Boston Globe article tells a tale of expensive licensing fees, bureaucratic red-tape, and forever shifting regulations. With the business of doing business so expensive, it's no wonder that those doing business in the Square are increasingly corporate behemoths. Ken O'Brien, proprietor of the Almost Banned in Harvard Square Bookstore that goes out of business today, notes: "It's the paperwork that killed me." Isn't it always?