Sunday, December 31, 2006
- In the January poll, 44% of the respondents had served at least one tour in Iraq. In the latest poll, 50% had. So while the poll does capture the opinions of members of the military, it's not necessarily the opinions of those who have first hand experience in Iraq. It would be interesting to see the results split out for those had served in Iraq and those who had not.
- In the January poll, 56% said the US should have gone to war in Iraq while 26% said no and 18% had no opinion or didn't answer. The numbers in the latest poll are 41% yes, 37% no and 20% percent no opinion/didn't answer. This is an area where opinion definitely seems to have shifted.
- In the January poll, 54% approved of the way Bush was handling the war, while 25% disapproved, and 21% had no opinion/didn't answer. In the latest poll, the numbers are 35% approve, 42% disapprove, and 22% no opinion/didn't answer. This is the result that has gotten most of the attention from gleeful lefties.
But before they start assuming that the troops want to join their push to pack 'er in and go home, they should consider a couple of other questions and answers from the latest poll that were not asked in the January poll.
One is that 52% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president, while 31% disapprove, and 16% have no opinion/didn't answer. This would indicate that their disapproval of the president is largely limited to the handling of the war in Iraq. But that disapproval should not be confused with support for bailing out.
Consider this question and result from the latest poll:
We currently have 145,000 troops in Iraq and Kuwait. How many troops do you think we should have there?
No opinion/Don't know 23%
Only 13% favor a complete withdrawal and a combined 26% a reduction from current troop levels. In fact, 38% favor sending more troops to Iraq.
The other item to note about both of these of polls is the methodology:
The mail survey, conducted Nov. 13 through Dec. 22, is the fourth annual gauge of active-duty military subscribers to the Military Times newspapers. The results should not be read as representative of the military as a whole; the survey's respondents are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
And we should salute the LOTY runner-up, especially since we won't be able to enjoy her antics in 2007. Check out the very special (and oh so looney) tribute to Cynthia McKinney. We're going to miss you Cynthia.
Whenever you open a non-liquor gift, loudly proclaim, "Oh, great, how the f*** am I supposed to drink this?" They'll know what to get you next year.
Don't freak out if it's your turn bring the Christmas Turkey to a family gathering.
Just make sure you buy the one-liter family-sized bottle so there's enough to go around.
Check out the entire list that the Modern Drunkard has put together.
Atomizer sez: I like this one:
If you receive three cocktail shakers every Christmas, you are a drunkard.I received twenty four.
If you receive ten, get ready for an intervention.
The Gophers football team played arguably its finest half of football this season before halftime and built a 38-7 lead against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the third quarter of the Insight Bowl ...
And then gave it all away.
Shannon Woods' 3-yard touchdown run in overtime capped the largest comeback in NCAA Division I-A bowl game history as Texas Tech stunned Minnesota 44-41 before an announced crowd of 48,391 at Sun Devil Stadium.
Just the latest chapter in an increasingly lengthy volume of Gopher football shame. Thank God for hockey.
Friday, December 29, 2006
There were only a few souls cynical and jaded enough to assume that final justice would drag on for as long as it has. One of those was Atomizer's dad, whose personal experience with the legal system led him to believe that Saddam would never face the noose. Thankfully, his prediction has not come to pass, although there were certainly moments of doubt as to whether this day would ever come.
The other was our Northern Alliance brethren Mitch Berg, whose prognostication of January 1st, 2007 appears to be proving uncannily accurate. It looks like Mitch will only be two days off. Not bad considering that Saddam was dragged from his spider hole over three years ago.
But, and this is a big one, a question remains to be resolved. Are we going by "Price Is Right" rules? You know, closest to the actual price without going over. If so. Mitch's guess, although by far the most accurate, would be disqualified. In that case, Joe Carter, who went with April 24th, 2006, would be the winner.
At this moment, our team of crack lawyers is meeting in order to resolve the issue. They have assured us that they should have a final resolution within two, three years tops. Stay tuned for further developments.
UPDATE: The deed is done. In this case, I think a little celebratory gunfire is in order.
Spirit of America
Daniel Henniger writes on Spirit of America in his Wonder Land column in today's Wall Street Journal (free for all):
Spirit of America's experience in Iraq has followed the same rugged timeline of events as the war. Recall that in April 2004 it raised sufficient monies to rebuild TV stations in Al Anbar province, staffed by Iraqis, to counterbalance propaganda from the likes of al-Jazeera. Those TV stations were built. And they have been destroyed. A sewing center for Iraqi women was similarly destroyed.
This past year, the group got a request from the Army 451st Battalion to help restore the medical facilities at the Najaf Teaching Hospital. The Mahdi militia had occupied it for a time. Spirit of America sent seven cardiac monitors to the hospital's director, Safaa Hamedi. In October, gunmen killed Dr. Hamedi outside his home.
Still, requests from the Marines and Army continue to arrive at Spirit of America. An Army captain in Afghanistan's Parwan province asked for medical textbooks for local doctors. SoA sent bee serum to inoculate honey bees at a business in Iraq's Diyala region. Marine Lt. Jim Wilmott got camping equipment for 200 Iraqi Boy Scouts. At the request of U.S. Embassy personnel, SoA has sent clothing and school supplies for orphans in Baghdad and Basra. They've sent thousands of kids' backpacks and school supplies requested by soldiers around the country. With the SonoSite ultrasound company, SoA delivered handheld ultrasound machines to the primary hospital in Al Qaim, Iraq, near the Syrian border. "Before this," said Mr. Hake, "they were using seashells to listen to the sounds of a pregnant mother and baby; the Marines couldn't believe it."
Jim Hake says Spirit of America's contributions have fallen off since 2004 owing to general fatigue with Iraq, "but under the circumstances people continue to be quite generous." An end-of-the-year funding request raised more than $150,000. "The emails we send to donors are not a good-news operation," says Mr. Hake. "We don't want to put a happy face on it. But the information is more encouraging than what they typically hear. The destroyed projects are hardly good news, but there are lots of guys and gals in the military there who are not just marking time, who want to see this work."
As Henniger goes on to suggest, those in the thick of things, like S0A, seem to have the most resolve to see the way through to victory:
Could this determination be a variant of the much-mocked "stay the course"? It is at least an interesting irony that the people who have had their faces deepest in Iraq and Afghanistan the longest, as soldiers or volunteers like these, are the ones inclined to stick it out; while many here whose experience comes off the bloody front page every day are the ones looking for a way to -- there is no other phrase -- cut and run.
Like the members of the military, groups like SoA doing the hard work on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq deserve nothing less than our complete support.
If you'd like to know how the numbers breakdown on charitable giving in America and why it's important, you'll want to check out Arthur C. Brooks' excellent new book:
It's well-written and refreshingly concise (under 200 pages). Most importantly, even though Brooks is an Ivory Tower egghead (university professor), he communicates in a down-to-earth, conversational fashion that your average Joe Six Pack (or JB Doubtless) would readily appreciate. He answers the question posed in the book's title thoroughly and convincingly, even though it's not necessarily what he expected to find when he began his research. You'll definitely want to read the book if you want to know Who Really Cares? Hint: it's not secular liberals.
We'll also be looking back at some of our favorite looney moments from the past year as well as highlights of the year in radio. Listen locally on WWTC AM1280 The Patriot or on the internet stream. Don't you dare miss it.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Beyond getting tasered, click here for more photos of Krok at his new radio show in Atlanta, including dressing as a Muslim at a mall. It's good to see there are few levels below even the depths he reached at KSTP.
Amal Dbouk, a 35-year-old housewife, said she came to the credit agency to pay off part of $1,000 she had borrowed to cover school fees for two of her three children. Abir Mansara, 27, a self-employed hairdresser, said she needed money to buy hair dye and cover other costs. She's taken out two loans, depositing three gold bracelets, a necklace and a gold ring as collateral.
Lebanon's mainstream banks, the two women say, would never give them loans. Both support Hezbollah and both took part in the recent street demonstrations against Lebanon's American-backed government. Ms. Mansara says she adores Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, comparing him to a "rock star." "He fights for his country and fights for us," she says. Ms. Dbouk complains that America helps only Israel. "Hezbollah," she says, "helps us."
Bill Clinton, Barak Obama (among others), and now Hassan Nasrallah. This "rock star" nonsense has gone on far too long. The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
During the next segment, Mason did introduce himself and explain that he was indeed filling in for Ingraham. It was obvious that Mason doesn't have a lot of radio experience and a couple of times I even caught a producer whispering advice to him in the background. But as a amateur/hobby/part-time/hack weekend radio host, I appreciate how difficult it can be to carry on a monologue for any length of time and Mason's conversational style, while far from polished, was interesting. You literally never knew what you were going to hear next and in radio that counts for a lot. There's nothing worse than boring, predictable talk radio. In the hour that I listened to today, Jackie Mason was anything but that.
And you can never have too much good Scotch. My wife came through on this front. I was delighted to find a bottle of double-matured Talisker Distillers Edition waiting under the tree on Christmas morn. Forget the old adage ladies. The truly best way to a man's heart is through his liver. Seriously, it's hard to go wrong with the gift of quality booze.
My mom continued her own special Christmas tradition when, a couple of fortnights ago, she asked me what was on my wish list. A gift card to Best Buy would be welcome, I offered. So I got a sweater from Macy's. At least it was the right size. Not so many years back, she made a point of asking what size I wore in advance and then getting me clothing items whose proportions bore no resemblance to what I said. Mother knows best, right?
The highlight of the holiday of course was Mass on Christmas Eve. The choir kicked things off fifteen minutes before the service began with a rousing batch of carols. The church was immaculately decorated and the overflowing crowd was decked out in their holiday best. Everything was perfect. It was almost like a scene from a Christmas movie.
And then, as the long lines of revelers had just about all made their way through the communion lines, my wife gently nudged me and directed my attention to the Christmas abomination strutting down the aisle. A slack-jawed juvenile wearing vinyl red sweatpants and a...
...a green Brett Favre Packers home jersey. On Christmas Eve, of all the days of the year, you would think this punk could put on something appropriate for church. But no, he HAD to wear his Packers laundry. I'm not sure what was worse, this clueless kid or his parents who allowed him to represent his team on Christmas.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
A private equity firm has reached an agreement to buy the Star Tribune from the McClatchy Co., publisher Keith Moyer announced today.
Whether that means the days are numbered for front page agenda journalism, PC blinders on important stories, insult editorials, unchecked casual plagiarism, and the willful arrogance of a self-aware monopoly is anyone's guess. But it sure wasn't going to endunder current ownership, so with this change, at least there is hope.
It looks like the current owners couldn't get away from their flagship publication fast enough. They sold it for less than half of what they paid for it eight years ago:
Newspaper publisher The McClatchy Co. said on Tuesday that it will sell its flagship newspaper Star Tribune to a private equity firm for $530 million, a sharp drop from the $1.2 billion it paid to acquire the newspaper just eight years ago.
Apparently taking a loss on this deal was necessary, and perhaps the primary reason for the sale. McClatchy sold 12 other papers for high profit in the aftermath of its acquiring Knight Ridder and it needs a large volume of red ink on the books to stave off the tax man. Which I'm sure is true. But I've seen no speculation stating that the Star Tribune is being sold at a bargain price. It's worth less than half of what it was less than 10 years ago. And that certainly correlates with the esteem it is now held by a large portion of the potential readership.
There are some dispiriting early reports that having new ownership will mean nothing to the operations of a business entity that lost half its value in less than a decade. Current and apparently continuing publisher Ken Moyer characterized the new owners (Avista) as:
They are progressive, very smart, good-hearted people who believe that no other media platform can reach a local audience as effectively as newspapers
Past on their own back and self-serving liberal euphemism is certainly business as usual for them. More ominously:
Moyer said he will remain as publisher, reporting to [Avista Board Member Chris Harte], and that the newspaper's management team will remain intact.
Maybe they're trying not to spook the herd before the deal is finalized, or they're going to make change with, or despite, the present staff. Either way, I'm sure this statement from the new boss sent some chills down a few spines:
You and I and everyone who works with us will have to listen carefully to our readers and our advertisers and make sure we provide them with the information and advertising they want, when they want it, how they want it.
Ah, were that it were true.
UPDATE: Hope ebbs with some cursory research on the new boss's campaign donation history.
The Marines also are looking for new ways to help the war-ravaged local economy. Most of al Anbar's business leaders have fled to neighboring Jordan and Syria, and unemployment in the province is well above 60%.
In recent weeks, the Marines preparing to go to al Anbar have brought in economic-development experts to talk with them about microlending as a means of jump-starting small businesses. Microlenders provide small loans to would-be entrepreneurs who can't secure traditional financing. Loan recipients typically open shops or craft businesses, helping to bolster the local economy.
"The legitimate economy in al Anbar is dominated by local businesses that employ eight to 15 people," says Col. John Koenig, who is overseeing economic development and governance planning. Only about $250,000 has been allocated from the U.S. government's multibillion-dollar Iraq reconstruction budget for microlending efforts in al Anbar, but Marine officials are hopeful that will grow.
Given the success of microlending in other areas of the world and the problems in Anbar, one certainly would hope that we could find a few million dollars to invest.
Marine commanders also have brought in experts from the Agriculture Department to teach them about date farming, the honey industry and wheat, three of the province's agricultural mainstays.
One of the Marines' priorities in al Anbar will be getting a phosphate plant that has been idle since the 2003 invasion up and running, potentially providing hundreds of new jobs. To prepare for that challenge, Gen. Allen toured a major phosphate plant in North Carolina last month.
Other Marine officials have spent November and December visiting electrical and sewage plants in the state to better understand their workings. "We have tested the outer limits of applying a military solution in al Anbar," says Col. Koenig. "We need to make progress in economic development and governance to succeed."
The Marines' focus on economic development in al Anbar reflects the Army and Marine Corps' new counterinsurgency doctrine, which stresses that in such wars 80% of the effort should be along political and economic lines and only 20% should be military.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
It's so easy to forget them there,
As we warm beside the fire,
Those spread so far out everywhere,
Those sent to man the wire.
Patrolling on the front line,
As peacefully here we bask,
Protecting what is yours and mine,
That's their hard, dreary task.
Like sheep we are protected,
From the far off wolves of war,
And our Sheepdogs as expected,
Never waver from their chore.
In peace we sheep ignore their kind,
Wary of their violent trends;
But when the wolves attack we find,
These Sheepdogs are our friends.
Forever this has been the way,
Since time for us began,
Sheep fearing that the Sheepdogs may
Disrupt our placid plan.
Yet time again Dogs surely prove,
When comes a wolfine danger,
The Sheepdogs will most swiftly move
To guard the lambs, the manger.
So here's to Sheepdogs everywhere
At this Christmas time of year;
Just know the flock is with you there,
And we wish you Christmas cheer.
We wish we could advance the clock,
Cause truth is, Dogs, we miss you,
To the day that you'll rejoin the flock,
When we'll sheepishly then kiss you.
Merry Christmas to all, especially our Sheepdogs.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
You asked the question "I wonder how it [Che chic] would play in Miami.
Let me answer that.
A couple of years ago, I was vacationing in South Beach, and at a restaurant, a young co-ed was sporting a black shirt with a rainbow Che blazoned on the front. As she and her cohorts paid the bill and began their egress, a middle-aged man (presumably Cuban) stopped her and asked if she knew who the man was on her shirt.
She mumbled something about revolutionary heroism or some such. The Cuban man laid into her something fierce, describing how his parents were killed in Cuba under the "revolutionary and heroic" regime Guevara helped usher in. When he was done ten minutes later, he asked the girl what she had to say for herself.
The girl just stood there, mortified.
I think for a large majority of the Che mythologizers, its willful ignorance of the facts that fuels their zealous idolatry.
They simply do not care to learn how their "hero" gained his notoriety.
Nor do they care to recognize the true nature of the regime that their "hero" helped bring about. Further evidence of that is provided by Matthew, who e-mails to inform us of an upcoming birthday celebration:
As a Returned Peace Corp Volunteer I received the following message in my group list. So if you have nothing to do, you could clear your calendar and bring a friend(s).
In reading your the above mentioned post I am sure you will be there "with bells on."
Here's hoping that this is the last year that said event will be taking place.
Hello all, Good news. Mayday Books have agreed to host
"Get Well" Fidel,
Birthday Celebration Sunday January 14th
3 to 5pm at 301 Cedar in
This event will be a belated Birthday and Get Well Celebration with a Cuba Update, 1 minute "open mic" for Cuba/Fidel Supporters, Get Well / Birthday Card signatures and comments, Photographs /Video via computer to send to Cuba Media.
There will be music and food. Black Beans and Rice, Yams, Vegetable Soup, and of course Cake and Peace Coffee.
This event will be a fun opportunity for Cuba supporters to get together
and talk, listen and enjoy good food, conversation and company.
I will provide the food and coffee. I am working on a specially designed Get Well
Your support is still needed. Here is a needs list.
1. Someone to help design an appropriate flier.
2. Someone to take pictures and download on computer
3. Someone to video event and send to media via computer
4. Suggestions for Music
Finally, we need good weather and everyone's help in getting the word out.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Until yesterday Christmas shoppers at Target department stores could purchase a 24-CD carrying case decorated with the image of Che Guevara. When I heard about it, I wondered why the retailer would want to promote the memory of a mass murderer. What's next, I asked, when I spoke with a representative of the company on Wednesday, Pol Pot pajamas?
Late Wednesday evening Target sent me this statement: "It is never our intent to offend any of our guests through the merchandise we carry. We have made the decision to remove this item from our shelves and we sincerely apologize for any discomfort this situation may have caused our guests."
The fact that it took only a day for Target to make that admirable decision suggests that at least someone at the company knows who Guevara was and what Cuba is today thanks in part to him. The misstep, though, probably occurred because others at the company allowed Target to become a target itself of the Che myth.
The Che reality of course is not so pleasant:
The fear under which Cubans have lived for 48 years was fathered by the merciless Che Guevara. The unhappy Argentine Marxist met Fidel Castro in Mexico in 1955 and later became a rebel commander. "The Black Book of Communism," published in 1999 by Harvard University Press, notes that early in his career Guevara earned a "reputation for ruthlessness; a child in his guerrilla unit who had stolen a little food was immediately shot without trial." In his will, the book says, "this graduate of the school of terror praised the 'extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless and cold killing machines.'"
Peruvian-born Alvaro Vargas Llosa penned his own book this year titled "The Che Guevara Myth." Mr. Vargas Llosa documents a twisted life, such as when Che shot a comrade and made the following entry in his diary: "I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain. . . . His belongings were now mine." After that, Mr. Vargas Llosa says, Guevara shot "a peasant who expressed the desire to leave whenever the rebels moved on." Guevara also liked to simulate executions, as a form of torture. "At every stage of his adult life, his megalomania manifested itself in the predatory urge to take over other people's lives and property, and to abolish their free will."
Guevara was an architect of Cuba's forced labor camps, which by 1965 were transformed into concentration camps for dissidents, homosexuals, people with AIDS, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Cubans of other religious sects.
All independent thought that refused to worship the communist state was an affront to Guevara. Christians were an especially difficult lot. From the earliest days after Castro took power, Che sent hundreds of men to face firing squads at the Havana prison known as La Cabaña. His victims could be heard at dawn loudly crying "Long live Christ the King, down with communism," just before the rifle shots rang out.
About a month ago, I saw a toddler waddling around with a mini Che t-shirt and it was all I could do to restrain myself from approaching the father and asking him what the hell he was thinking having his son wear something that celebrated such a monster. While the disgusting "revolutionary chic" of Che is apparently acceptable here in Minneapolis, I wonder how it would play in Miami.
In a private ceremony, of course I'll put my hand on a book that is the basis of my faith, which is Islam, and I think that this is a -- this is a beauty. This is a wonderful thing for our country because Jewish members will put their hands on the Torah, Mormon members will put their hand on the Book of Mormon, Catholic members will put their hand on the book of their choice and members who don't want to put any book -- their hand on any book are also fully free to do that.
Yeah, those Catholics, which deity do they worship again? I know, it's hard to keep track of such an obscure sect, especially in the multicultural utopia of the MN 5th district.
Since we are given such wide discretion by the distinguished gentleman, I think we should take advantage of it. If the American people are ever foolish enough to elect any of my favorite Cathlolics to higher office, I predict their hands will be firmly placed, or perhaps trembling, on each of the following books of their choice at their swearing-in ceremonies:
Atomizer: The Bartender's Bible
Chad the Elder: Blog, by Hugh Hewitt
JB Doubtless: Liberalism is a Mental Disorder
Nihilist in Golf Pants: 2005 City Pages "Best Of" Issue
Sisyphus: The Personal Beliefs of Jimmy Carter
Minneapolis is one step away from becoming the latest big city to stop asking about criminal records on city job application forms.
The City Council's Ways and Means/Budget Committee unanimously recommended a resolution Monday that will remove the question about someone's criminal record on city forms. It will go before the full council on Friday.
Considering the chain gang that has passed through the City Council in recent years, it would seem a trifle hypocritical to expect their underlings to have a clean criminal record. There's been a lot of traffic from the City Council to prison, now it's just going to be a two way street.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Click here to read Billy Bush's blog thoughts on "Donald vs. Rosie"
Of course I followed it. It doesn't disappoint. Excerpt:
I wonder what Regis will do in this matter....
...Dean Barnett volunteering to carry water and wearing his political heart on his sleeve to cozy up to his crush Mitt Romney?
The more the "conservative punditocracy" relentlessly pushes this guy for 2008, the more inclined I am to look elsewhere. Give it a rest boys. It's way too early and you're trying way too hard.
A four-pack of Bodingtons pint cans.
No need to worry about exchanging these babies. Now, if I only had a fridge under my desk...
Before anyone is tempted to do something desperate like buy Al Gore's DVD, I should point out that according to historical averages, the chances we're not going to get a white Christmas on any given year is about one in four. And the last time we had a "Brown Christmas" in the Twin Cities was 2002, so we're long overdue.
Thank goodness, it appears we're reverting to the scientifically calibrated historical norms. But we're not out of the woods on this one yet. If the thermometer drops a few degrees and this rain turns to snow, it's clear we all need to start preparing for the oncoming global ice age.
UPDATE--The Elder Adds: It's 1:43pm and, in the southwestern 'burbs at least, it's snowing to beat hell. Looks like we won't have to dream of a White Christmas after all. We'll be enjoying the real deal.
UPDATE - SP PANICS: big glops of wet snow now falling on the east side of the river! This is historically unlikely! Run for the hills, the advance of the glaciers can't be far behind!
UPDATE: Les Enfants Terrible sums up the day in meteorology.
Chavonne Yee, who is single, has long wanted to adopt from China and has already completed many of the requirements. But when the 41-year-old Chicago resident learned last week from her adoption agency that China may bar singles, she decided to consider adopting a special-needs child, which would allow her to complete the adoption more quickly before the rules kick in. "I'm concerned that if they've made these restrictions now, they could change again," says Ms. Yee, who is a business development manager at Texas Instruments.
While I respect Ms. Yee's willingness to consider adopting a special needs baby (although I'm not sure if that willingness is motivated more by compassion or desperation), I find the very idea of a single, forty-something career woman adopting any child rather appalling. Isn't a cat good enough?
...wavy-haired, glasses clad, tie-wearing car sales man, who's also been fighting a losing battle with gravity since birth, Hugh Neutron?
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
He's getting 2½ years in federal prison. A relatively lax sentence. Federal prosecutors argued for more, given this egregious violation of public trust, but the judge disagreed.
Interestingly, bribe taking isn't the only crime Zimmerman is guilty of. Buried in the story is this little factoid:
Noting that a presentence investigation found Zimmermann smoked marijuana a couple of times a week since the 1960s and drank beer daily, the judge suggested he participate in a drug treatment program that could cut seven months off the sentence.
It's too bad he wasn't smoking crack too, he might have been let go with time served.
But it is a lesson to be learned for all the children of Minneapolis. If you're going to use your public office for personal enrichment, make sure you're also regularly blazing up.
BTW, local media this is kind of an interesting story. A Minneapolis council person brazenly flouting the law by purchasing and using drugs throughout his term in office. Who did he get his drugs from? Did his colleagues ever suspect anything? Are they willing to submit to drug testing themselves? Was Zimmerman baked when he voted for the smoking ban? This is how you sell newspapers, people.
UPDATE: For more on this story, the Nihilist in Golf Pants.
In fact, there is much more transparency, accountability, and free speech in the present U.S. government than under the UN as run by Mr. Annan. Had one of the Bush children, Annan-style, shipped in a Mercedes using government exemptions to avoid fees and charges, or had Bush himself turned over his government-subsidized apartment to a wealthy sibling, the outrage would have been immediate.
When we do see prosecutorial abuse and judicial overreach--such as the supposed rape case at Duke or the Kafkan pursuit of Scooter Libby (when Mr. Armitage, at no apparent liability, has confessed to the leaks concerning Ms. Plame)--Mr. Annan and others are conveniently quiet.
Rudimentary Internet research doesn't reveal any direct references to this concept. For fear of it becoming an almost Sisyphusian endeavor, I'm stopping. But in context, I think he must be referring to Franz Kafka and using an uncommon, but probably more grammatically correct, synonym for Kafkaesque:
The adjective refers to anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish type of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape. The term's meaning has transcended the literary realm to apply to real-life occurrences and situations that are incomprehensibly complex, bizarre, or illogical.
More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.
Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion...
Hard to argue with those sentiments. As with most things, quantity does not equal quality and, as Rago mentions, neither does traffic.
The blogs must be timely if they are to influence politics. This element--here's my opinion--is necessarily modified and partly determined by the right now. Instant response, with not even a day of delay, impairs rigor. It is also a coagulant for orthodoxies. We rarely encounter sustained or systematic blog thought--instead, panics and manias; endless rehearsings of arguments put forward elsewhere; and a tendency to substitute ideology for cognition. The participatory Internet, in combination with the hyperlink, which allows sites to interrelate, appears to encourage mobs and mob behavior.
Amen to that. The one piece of advice I always offer to new bloggers is to not write about the same things that the twenty million bloggers who came before you already are. Sometimes it's unavoidable, and there are obviously subjects that nearly every one is going to weigh in on, but if all you're doing is giving your opinion on the top three or four news stories of the day, it's very unlikely that you're going to offer readers anything they can't get somewhere else from someone who can do it better than you.
Rago also points out that the problems with blogs span the political spectrum.
Because political blogs are predictable, they are excruciatingly boring. More acutely, they promote intellectual disingenuousness, with every constituency hostage to its assumptions and the party line. Thus the right-leaning blogs exhaustively pursue second-order distractions--John Kerry always providing useful material--while leaving underexamined more fundamental issues, say, Iraq. Conservatives have long taken it as self-evident that the press unfavorably distorts the war, which may be the case; but today that country is a vastation, and the unified field theory of media bias has not been altered one jot.
Leftward fatuities too are easily found: The fatuity matters more than the politics. If the blogs have enthusiastically endorsed Joseph Conrad's judgment of newspapering--"written by fools to be read by imbeciles"--they have also demonstrated a remarkable ecumenicalism in filling out that same role themselves.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Ken from Arizona checks in with this old favorite:
While I share your frustration with the "check writers", I think you've got it good where you are. Out here in Scottsdale, there are two more steps (or rather non-steps) in the process. Since we're heavily populated by long-time retirees, it is not unusual to watch a grandmom from Detroit Lakes wait until the groceries are totaled to begin the search for the checkbook prior to completing the register followed by the check. Once that process is completed, the search for the driver's license begins.Ken, I feel your pain.
I'm constantly amazed how anyone can spend several minutes watching the cashier ring up their basket of goods and then seem so completely gobsmacked when actually asked to produce some form of legal tender.
You have absolutely nothing else to do while holding the lead position at that checkout line than prepare for its impending conclusion. Pull out that billfold, write that check or yank that handgun out from your waistband...whatever method you prefer. Just do it quickly and then get yourself out of my way.
Tim from Colorado pipes in with this:
Please inform your readers who may work at a drive-through to please place the coins from my change in my hand first, and then the bills. That way, I can grip the coins with my palm while I grip the bills with my fingers. Please don't put the bills flat in my palm and then pile the coins on top, so that I have to crumple it all in a wad and try and get my money back into my pocket, most likely dropping it outside the vehicle where I cannot trouble the others behind me while I retrieve it, or dropping it inside the vehicle where the change will fall into some crevice, never to be seen again, but definitely heard again as it goes through the vacuum hose at the car wash.Consider them informed, Tim.
Personally, I run into this particular peeve in the convenience store checkout line. The C-store I frequent most often, however, has that nifty little coin super-slide thingy that spits the requisite amount of pennies and such out of the register automatically. Now, I like that. See, then I can pick up the coins at the time of my choosing...and who out there doesn't like to choose the picking-up time of their own coins?
Colorado Tim continues with one last blast of hate filled vitriol:
It probably doesn't sound like it from my message here, but I love this time of year, and I really am in pretty good holiday spirits.I couldn't agree more, Tim. Merry Christmas to all of us here at Fraters Libertas...and to those of you out there who keep those checkout lines moving. God bless you, every one!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year to you and yours, and everybody else at FL.
This city, not inappropriately, has produced a smorgasbord of new architecture in the past year, and like the children of Lake Wobegon, all the buildings are above average.
Is it possible to write a story about Minnesota without a lame reference to our alleged Scandinavian heritage (in reality more German) and "A Prairie Home Companion"?
Minneapolis is no stranger to the new. Its modernist landmarks of the 1960s look better than ever. Philip Johnson's IDM building, completed before he succumbed to the sillier aspects of postmodernism, is a rational rebuke to today's torqued and tortured towers.
Ah yes, the famous "IDM" building. Symbol of the civic pride of Minneapolis.
The details do matter. And when you miss such obvious ones, it makes me wonder about the rest of the work.
This year's winter solstice will be hotter than usual, if a Princeton-inspired movement has its way.
The antiwar group Baring Witness is organizing what it calls "Global Orgasms for Peace," an effort to persuade people worldwide to orgasm on Dec. 22 while concentrating on peace. The purpose is to "effect change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy," founders Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell say on the movement's web site.
The initiative was inspired by the University-affiliated Global Consciousness Project (GCP), a research project that aims to demonstrate the impact of global consciousness by measuring correlations between international events and the generation of random numbers.
The GCP "is not 'involved' in the Orgasms for Peace movement," GCP director Roger Nelson said in an email. But "we're aware of it and admire the creativity, and hope along with others that it can have a good effect."
Sheehan and Reffell urge everyone to follow through with the project, especially in countries with weapons of mass destruction. Any time on Dec. 22 would work, they say on the website globalorgasm.org, and "[you can have] as much privacy as you choose."
C'mon baby...you're not against world peace, are you?
[Via FIRST THINGS]
Alcohol may actually provide some life-saving benefits to drinkers who get themselves into car crashes and other serious accidents, new research out of Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre shows.
But that's no licence to drink and drive, warn researchers, whose study was published yesterday in the journal Archives of Surgery.
The study shows that people with low to moderate amounts of alcohol in their systems may be less likely to die after arriving in hospital with serious head injuries than those who have not been drinking.
"Low concentrations of alcohol may have the ability to reduce secondary brain injury and may therefore improve brain-injury survival," Sunnybrook trauma surgeon Dr. Homer Tien, who led the study, said in a news release.
"However, the study only describes the effect of alcohol on the brain after injury occurs, and I'd like to stress that alcohol remains the leading cause of preventable trauma deaths and dramatically increases the likelihood of injury and fatal injury."
About a third to a half of all patients hospitalized from trauma are intoxicated at the time of their injury, the report says.
Paradoxically, however, the same alcohol responsible for the trauma might offer some significant brain protection in the aftermath of injury, Tien said.
Proving once again the wisdom of Homer Simpson's toast: "To alcohol! The cause of and solution to all of life's problems."
I can relate to your dislike of mall kiosks all too well. These days every other one of these hawks cell phones or cell phone accessories. Market oversaturation, anyone? I really despise when the people working at these places get in your way and ask if you want to take a survey or learn about whatever they're selling. No, if I'm interested, I'll walk over to you in the same way I'll walk into a store. I have a working set of eyes and ears and am aware of my surroundings. I'm too polite to say that to the kiosk employees, not to worry. My fiance and I have learned to walk through malls with focused expressions and a sense of purpose.
A standard kiosk gambit that I experienced once again yesterday is for the person running the stand to approach you as you walk by and innocently inquire, "Can I ask you a question?"
My standard reply is a quick "You already did" while staring straight ahead and picking up my pace.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Neal actually landed a couple of shots on him before he turtled and it was over.
Here's the video. Doesn't seem possible that this was almost 25 years ago.
And whilst I'm walking through the park and reminiscing, here's some vintage North Stars footage of Dino Ciccarelli swinging his stick at a Toronto Maple Leaf. Wild!
UPDATE-The Elder Adds: I recall that night fondly and I believe it was right around the holiday season. No better Christmas present than that.
My up the ante challenge to JB is to find a clip of Dino leaving the penalty box at Met Center to fight one of the Winnipeg Jet--I believe it was Tim Trimper.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
How about this instead? Get a state of the art ultrasound photo, one of the new 3D, HD variety that clearly shows the proof of life inside the womb. The little fingers, toes, lungs, heart, etc. On top of the picture ask the simple question, "What Is This?" Underneath the photo, two check boxes.
One with the choice "An unviable tissue mass."
The other with "A baby."
Simple, straight-forward, and effective.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The home bar may be vaguely illicit, but it is also eminently practical -- a designated place for bottles, glasses and the rest. The English novelist Kingsley Amis liked a good drink or three and wrote a couple of books on the hobby. In "On Drink," he includes a section on how to outfit a bar at home. For the most part he focuses on the tools needed -- bar spoons, lemon squeezers, corkscrews and a "really very sharp knife." (Amis suggests: "If you want to finish the evening with your usual number of fingers, do any cutting-up, peel-slicing and the like before you have had more than a couple of drinks, preferably before your first.") But No. 1 on Amis's list of "Bar Kit" essentials is a refrigerator of one's own.
"Wives and such are constantly filling up any refrigerator they have a claim on, even its ice-compartment, with irrelevant rubbish like food," Amis writes. And what might he have had in his bar refrigerator? Among the bottles might be some freshly squeezed cucumber juice, which he would have used to make a proprietary cocktail named after his first novel, the Lucky Jim. It's a curious, and not unpleasant, twist on the dry Vodka Martini, a drink that would look fine sitting on one's own slab of vintage mahogany.
UPDATE: Jonathan from Mangled Cat posts a pic of his basement bar and, other than the barstools (which will be appearing in Lileks' next book on horrible interior design), it's a beaut.
Friday, December 15, 2006
That's terrific. I'm glad that you've finally seen the light. Pro-choice is a perfectly legitimate position in American political life.
A woman's body is her own. The government has no right to legislate her reproductive choices. Rudy believes it. And you're down w/Rudy! Love it!
With this spewing of clichés and feminist obfuscation, it's clear Paul isn't at risk of over thinking the issue of abortion. And any time a man starts so glibly throwing around these notions, I suspect he's one of those guys who thinks he'd get laid more often if enough women were deluded into accepting the notion of an abortion rich, consequences free environment. Or as Chris Rock once put it:
Abortion, it's beautiful, it's beautiful abortion is legal. I love going to an abortion rally to pick up women, cause you know they are f*!@*%g.
To be clear, any vote by me for Rudy G. would be in spite of these sophisticated social views, not because of them. Richard Brookhiser said "his political problems sit there like turds in a punch bowl" and it's not going to be easy for me to drink that Kool Aid.
He wouldn't get my vote in a contest where he's running against a proven social conservative. Let me go out on a limb and suggest that scenario will not be in play should he make it to the 2008 general election. Hillary, Osama Obama, Kerry/Gore/Edwards, Dean, Kucinich. They, or any other standard bearer of the Democrats, will be fiercely defending and looking for ways to expand a women's right to make themselves more attractive to Chris Rock.
If Giuliani somehow makes it through the crucible of GOP primary elections (where I probably won't have my voice heard, even I have better things to do on a cold February Tuesday night than attend a caucus - come on Minnesota, get on the primary election bandwagon), against what could be an excellent roster of competitors, he will be the superior option to anyone form the menagerie of the left. Reasons for conservatives to hold their nose with one hand and pull the lever for him with the other:
1) The President's role in influencing abortion policy in this country is limited. For evidence, look no further than all the progress in restricting the practice made under social conservative heroes like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. They claim they would have signed relevant legislation presented to them. I suppose Giuliani, to stay true to his abortion supporting beliefs, would veto this same legislation. But in either case, a prerequisite is a Congress with the moral fortitude to pass such legislation in the first place. We didn't have it for Reagan, we don't have it now, and the recent influx of all those tolerant people with (D) after their names makes this increasingly unlikely, at least in the short term.
More to the point, because of misguided Supreme Court decisions of the past, the real action on the abortion front is in the decrees of the courts, not the democratic process. Which brings us to the next reason to support Giuliani
2) Giuliani's views on abortion law seems to be identical to that of social conservatives. He wants to return it to the states and to legislatures. He's for strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution. He's kind of a reverse of the "personally opposed, but support the right to choose" canard. He's personally in favor, but supports the right of democratically elected bodies to enact the laws that would reflect the people's wishes to restrict it.
3) There may be bigger problems than abortion politics for the federal government to concern itself with between January 2009 and January 2013. Of course ,there is no larger concern for individuals than saving their immortal souls and avoiding the wages of evil. That struggle will continue, as it ever has (repent now!). But if things continue on their present course with Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea, terrorist threats, flying imams, etc. two years from now, the nation is going to have as its priority survival, first and foremost. In understanding the threats that face us and having the strength to fight, there may be no better candidate than Giuliani on either side of the aisle.
For an alternate view, see Joe Carter with 7 Reasons Rudy Ain't Right.
But damnit if "Africa" is not a perfect pop song, then there is no such thing. Every piece of the song is perfect: the arrangement, the harmonies, the singing, the melody, the production, the engineering, the expert muscianship--it's as finely crafted a piece of pop as has ever been produced.
(btw, here is a great link to all the recordings played on by legendary studio drummer Jeff Porcaro, an original Toto member. Wow.)
It was over-played in it's day and gets no props from the hipnoscenti but this song is almost 25 years old and still sounds amazing.
It's not Important and it's not revolutionary. It's just five minutes of pure entertainment bliss by pros at the top of their game.
If you have Itunes, it's worth .99 to see if you agree.
UPDATE--The Elder Adds: I hate to rain on your parade JB, but I'm pretty sure that said song has been cited by a certain well-known shock jock as ideal music to run to. Imagining him humming the tune with this visual will no doubt put you off your Toto feed for some time.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
In the October 2006 edition of Armed Forces Journal, Lt. Col. John A. Nagl and Lt. Col Paul L Yingling propose some new rules for new enemies in The Long War:
Critics may object that the proposals outlined above--language training, higher education and force-structure redesign--are enormously expensive. These critics are correct. Counterinsurgency is an intensely human activity and requires significant investment in human capital. Providing continuous security to civilian populations and encouraging political and economic development cannot be done by machines at standoff ranges. There are many opportunities for material solutions to aid soldiers in COIN operations. However, there is no substitute for adaptive, intelligent and disciplined soldiers and leaders operating in close contact with host-nation security forces and the civilian populations they secure. The Long War can be fought only at close range.
Furthermore, the costs of transforming the Army for the Long War pale in comparison to the risks of failing to do so. The U.S. is already fighting active insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we fail to bring stability to these states, their territories and populations will soon become instruments for spreading instability throughout the greater Middle East. Fragile governments such as those in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan may fall, endangering global oil supplies and nuclear nonproliferation controls. If we fail to dominate this conflict at the lower end of the spectrum, we may indeed find the need to fight a major theater war to impose stability on a region too vital to ignore. The costs of doing so will be exponentially greater than our current operations.
We have responsibility.
Lt. Col Nagl is also the author of the highly-touted Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam, which compares the British military's ability to adapt and learn in Malaya with the corresponding failure of the US to do so in Vietnam. This Saturday, he will be our guest on the Northern Alliance Radio Network at noon central time. Lt. Col. Nagl has served in Iraq as well and we'll be discussing both the theory and actual practice of successful counterinsurgency operations.
Listen live locally to all six hours of the NARN on WWTC AM1280 The Patriot (and stock up on last minute stocking stuffers at the Patriot
Just as I was prepared to write off the idea of ever supporting Mitt Romney--despite the on-going effort to tout him as the "only conservative choice"--a couple of items came to my attention which have given me reason for pause.
The first was an article by John J. Miller in the latest edition of National Review called Evangelicals for Romney?. Here's the key quote:
"People will be practical, and they will make judgments based on the alternatives," says Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic intellectual who is widely respected by Protestants. "From what I've seen of Romney, I'm very favorably impressed--he's done well within the eccentric politics of Massachusetts. For me, his Mormonism is not a positive factor, but I could support him."
The second is an interview with Romney by Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review Online:
Lopez: Read anything good lately?
Gov. Romney: A few of my current favorites are "The Cube and the Cathedral" by George Weigel, "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright, "America Alone" by Mark Steyn, "The Places in Between" by Rory Stewart, and Bill Bryson's latest book "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid."
That's a reading list that hits very close to home. While I would still prefer a Gingrich, Brownback, or Sanford (on the slim chance that he would enter the race), these two items are definitely positives for Romney. Let's not close that door just yet.
SP Adds: I must admit, the full court press for Romney by various sections of the conservative punditocracy is creating a reflexive rejection response in me. I think Newt Gingrich would be the best President of any potential candidate in 2008. And I thought I could write off Guiliani as being too socially liberal. But when Richard Brookhiser (a guy so intelligent and learned in the intellectual disciplines I value, I'm tempted to believe anything he says), provides this full endorsement, I have to give it some serious consideration. And I better get started brooding soon, only got 23 candidate shopping months to go!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
At the top of the list of common courtesies that I'd love to see afforded to all of us in my ever shortening lifetime is a simple attempt at brevity when writing a personal check (a payment method that I resolutely abhor).
If you feel that you simply MUST write a check, Rule Number One is to never, under any circumstances, fill out your check register before you trouble yourself to actually write the dag-blasted check! The vehemence of this request is infinitely magnified if you are equipped with the magic that is the duplicate checkbook. Why not just invite us all over on the night that you balance your checking account so we can spend hours adoring your unique way of meticulously recording every payment you've made in the past month (with perfect penmanship, of course) despite the existence of a completely up-to-date imprint of every single check built right into your checkbook?
To be perfectly honest, I'd much prefer that mind-numbingly dull experience over being forced to stand in a motionless line at the Walgreen's pharmacy counter while I wait to pick up my Gout medication with nothing to look at other than your stultifying performance and a copy of People magazine so old it features K-Fed and Britney's favorite places to "hook up".
More advice to follow as conditions warrant.
Incoming Reps. Tim Walz and Keith Ellison, both Minnesota Democrats, got their first committee assignments on Tuesday.
Walz was selected to sit on the House Agriculture Committee, while Ellison was named to the Financial Services Committee.
It appears that the Democratic Congress is handing out job assignments like the military used to.
Let's see...you had problems filing your taxes, following campaign finance laws, and paying parking tickets? Finance is the perfect place for you. Next.
But is there anything worse than working the kiosks in your typical suburban shopping mall? You know what I mean. The stand alone booths and carts that feature such novelties as genuine Norwegian reindeer slippers, "never wrinkle" osmosis skin moisturizers, and Styrofoam "fun" gliders.
Working anywhere in a mall is not high on my list of dream jobs, but the poor saps slaving at those kiosks are laboring in a whole new level of hell. Trying to cajole busy shoppers to stop by their stands and buy the useless crap they're trying to shill. All the while standing (or sitting on a stool) with no place to hide their shame. I have to imagine that turnover in these positions is astronomical, to say nothing of the suicide rate.
For four years, WCCO was home to the governor's program, a topical mixture of entertainment, politics and Pawlenty's brand of humor. The station is now one of three vying for the right to air his show; the others are KTLK (100.3 FM), which airs talk shows and Minnesota Vikings games, and WWTC (1280 AM), the Patriot. Pawlenty's office expects to award the two-year contract by next week; he could be on the air the first week of January.
UPDATE-- Scott e-mails to ask:
If the Patriot broadcasts Pawlenty's show, do they have to drop the Always Right slogan?
A tough, but accurate query.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
Hero sacrifices himself saving fellow Soldiers:
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq--Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis packed only 136 pounds into his 6-foot frame, but few have ever matched his inner strength.
McGinnis sacrificed himself in an act of supreme bravery on Dec. 4, belying his status as the youngest Soldier in Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
The 19-year-old amateur mechanic from Knox, Pa., who enjoyed poker and loud music, likely saved the lives of four Soldiers riding with him on a mission in Baghdad.
McGinnis was manning the gunner's hatch when an insurgent tossed a grenade from above. It flew past McGinnis and down through the hatch before lodging near the radio.
His platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas of Longview, Texas, recalled what happened next.
"Pfc. McGinnis yelled 'Grenade...It's in the truck,'" Thomas said. "I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down."
McGinnis did so even though he could have escaped.
"He had time to jump out of the truck," Thomas said. "He chose not to."
Thomas remembered McGinnis talking about how he would respond in such a situation. McGinnis said then he didn't know how he would act, but when the time came, he delivered.
"He gave his life to save his crew and his platoon sergeant," Thomas said. "He's a hero. He's a professional. He was just an awesome guy."
Three of the Soldiers with McGinnis who were wounded that day have returned to duty, while a fourth is recovering in Germany.
For saving the lives of his friends and giving up his own in the process, McGinnis earned the Silver Star, posthumously. His unit paid their final respects in a somber ceremony here Dec. 11.
McGinnis was born June 14, 1987, and joined the Army right after graduating high school in 2005. He had been in the Army 18 months and made his mark even before his heroic deed.
"He was a good kid," said C Company's senior enlisted Soldier, 1st Sgt. Kenneth J. Hendrix. "He had just gotten approved for a waiver to be promoted to specialist."
He also appeared on the Nov. 30 cover of Stars & Stripes, manning his turret.
Besides his military accomplishments, McGinnis leaves his friends and family with memories of a fun-loving, loyal man.
Private First Class Brennan Beck, a 1-26 infantryman from Lodi, Calif., said McGinnis made others feel better.
"He would go into a room and when he left, everyone was laughing," Beck said. "He did impersonations of others in the company. He was quick-witted, just hilarious. He loved making people laugh. He was a comedian through and through."
While having a witty side, McGinnis took his job seriously.
"He was not a garrison Soldier. He hated it back in garrison," Beck said. "He loved it here in Iraq. He loved being a gunner. It was a thrill, he loved everything about it. He was one our best Soldiers. He did a great job."
Beck has memories of talking all night with McGinnis about where they wanted their lives to go, and said McGinnis always remembered his friends.
"When I had my appendix removed, he was the only one who visited me in the hospital," Beck said. "That meant a lot."
Another 1-26 infantryman, Private First Class Michael Blair of Klamath Falls, Ore., recalled that McGinnis helped him when he arrived at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany.
"When I first came to the unit...he was there and took me in and showed me around," Blair said. "He was real easy to talk to. You could tell him anything. He was a funny guy. He was always making somebody laugh."
McGinnis' final heroic act came as no surprise to Blair.
"He was that kind of person," Blair said. "He would rather take it himself than have his buddies go down."
The brigade's senior noncommissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. William Johnson, also had high praise for McGinnis.
"Anytime when you get a Soldier to do something like that - to give his life to protect his fellow Soldiers - that's what heroes are made of," Johnson said.
It also demonstrates, Johnson continued, that the "MySpace Generation" has what it takes to carry on the Army's proud traditions.
"Some think Soldiers who come in today are all about themselves," Johnson said. "I see it differently."
The Silver Star has already been approved for McGinnis' actions Dec.4, and will be awarded posthumously.
Ross A. McGinnis R.I.P.
Monday, December 11, 2006
As is VDH's style, he drops a few cultural allusions that may need some explanation to anyone not holding advanced degrees in Greek History and Political Zoological Science. Here is the key paragraph, link enhanced with original sources for your reading pleasure:
Listening recently to the pious homilies of Jimmy Carter on C-Span demands a bath in the waters of Lethe. How else to think away hundreds of days watching him like a deer in the headlights as a few students in Teheran paralyzed his administration, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, he sent Mohammed Ali on a mission to boycott the Olympics, Central America seemed lost to Cuba-like communism, over a million died in Cambodia, the economy suffered double-digit inflation and interest rates, high unemployment, and low growth?before, then and afterwards punctuated by petty, snide comments about kicking Ted Kennedy's ass, George Bush Sr. being effeminate, secret lusting in his heart, and vicious, swamp rabbits skimming toward the President in a pond attack mode.
There they all are, all forty-three of them. Their pictures take up the better part of the front page of this Sunday's "Week in Review" section of the New York Times. Underneath the pictures is the headline of the story by Adam Nagourney, "The Pattern May Change, if..." Aha, so there's a pattern we're supposed to detect. The Times regularly reminds us that its readership is highly educated, and I like to think that I'm no slouch when it comes to detecting patterns, so I study the pictures carefully.
Pattern, pattern, what's the pattern? Well, all forty-three were, and one still is, president of the United States. Most are middle-aged or older. The more recent ones are smiling for their picture. But I have the sense I'm not getting the pattern that the Times wants me to get. And then there it is, right before my eyes. Recognizing that even highly educated readers may need some help, the editors put the clue to the pattern under each and every picture: "White Male." Is it really possible? I go back and study the pictures again and, sure enough, every one of them is a person of pallor and every one is a man. There does indeed seem to be a pattern here.
Read the whole post to find out what the shocking revelation of this pattern means for the 2008 election.
UPDATE-- Jonathan also knows how to connect les dots:
I did some digging on Wikipedia and discovered the exact same pattern in another country.
Go here and then click on each President (they are near the bottom of the page, so scroll, please -ed) going back to Napoleon Bonaparte himself and the pattern is the same. Somehow, I doubt that Adam Nagourney would categorize them the same way.
Well, it is liberté, égalité, and fraternité after all.
A statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants looks likelier than ever.
For several years the biggest obstacle to the ban has been the Republican majority in the state House of Representatives, which was swayed by the concerns of restaurant and bar owners who said the ban would hurt their business. With Democrats set to take control of the House in January, supporters believe their time has come.
And yet, the smarter-than-thou libertarians will continue to assure you that there is no difference between the two parties.
"This is definitely the year for the dialogue to happen," said Pat McKone, president-elect of the Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition, which includes an array of public health organizations. "We see a lot of acceptance, even from people who once opposed the idea."
Funny, but I don't see a lot of opportunities for "dialogue" when you're talking about the imposition of a statewide smoking ban.
Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he'd sign the ban into law. Some predict the new Legislature could pass it within weeks of the start of the session in January.
We're happy to surrender more freedoms for a better Minnesota.
Due to overwhelming demand, here again is the post.
Careful though, you don't want to wind up acting like this after sucking down 2-3 of these sumbitches.
JB's Holiday Bracer
As we all know, "The Holidays" or what I call Christmastime can be quite stressful. There's in-laws, travel, work parties you really don't want to attend, purchasing expensive presents for ungrateful brats, weather--basically any number of things can go wrong and cause your stress to rise to unacceptable levels. (Kind of like what Captain Ed must have gone through when the Drudge Report was down the other morning.)
Which is why I am willing to share with you all a new drink recipe I came up with this weekend. I call it JB's Holiday Bracer and it's sure to get you through even the toughest social challenges this season.
Ingredients: ice, gin, vodka (no plastic bottles of either) bourbon or rye (I find the Wild Turkey 100 proof Rye to be delicious), Angostura bitters and 7-Up (no diet).
Take your shaker and add copious amounts of ice. Important step here, so no chinzing on the ice. Next add equal measures (about 2-3 1.5 ounce shots) each of the gin, vodka and bourbon or rye. Personally, I add more a little more bourbon than gin or vodka since it carries more taste, but that's up to you. Add a couple of dashes of the bitters and top the creation with a small splash of 7-Up--a splash, this is a strong drink and you don't want to be watering down the taste of the booze.
Shake the concoction vigorously. The flavors should infuse each other and become one singular elixir. Pour the contents into a chilled rocks glass, garnish with a cherry and enjoy.
Early field tests have shown the only problem so far is that the drink tastes so good you tend to suck them down quite quickly and immediately want another. I have to advise against this. You may consume it quickly, but let the booze settle a little in your system before going for round two. You WILL feel it the next day after two of these beauties, but most importantly whatever stress you are dealing with will seem light years away. Put on a little Brian Setzer and you will be all set.
Anyway, it was one of the house flippin' shows and the particular episode was set in Charleston, South Carolina. A professional company was managing the flip and the house was located in a neighborhood that was apparently a little questionable, based on the problems they were having with theft of job materials and tools.
Eventually, the owner of the company had enough and enlisted one of his managers to help take matters into their own hands. They decided to stake out the job site at night to send a message to the criminals. On the way to the job site in a pick-up (of course), the manager--who was riding shotgun--explained, "'Round here we don't call it vigilante, we call it common sense," between pulls on his beer which he made no effort to hide from the camera. Not sure what the laws are in South Carolina, but 'round here that's an open bottle violation.
The owner was cradling a shotgun in his lap and he explained that since he wasn't a very good shot, he brought his scatter gun. They parked the pickup across the street and began the stakeout. And the beer drinking, with the driver putting 'em away along with his passenger. They ended up tossing several empties into the pickup bed in the course of the night. Two armed middle-aged men, sitting in a pickup truck, drinking beer at 2am in order to protect their property rights. On camera. Now THAT'S Red State America for ya.
Sometime before daybreak, the thief showed himself inside the house and our boys swung into action. No pussy-footing around. No, should we call the police? The both charged at the house, developing a plan on the way. which essentially was "you go this way and I'll go that way." While they did catch sight of the culprit, they were not able to prevent his escape, which was unfortunate since they both seemed eager for a little old fashioned two-fisted justice. They were quite certain however that he would not return. And they were correct.
The next day at work, they regaled their coworkers with tales of their escapade. A female staffer was a little shocked and said, "But you could have gotten hurt." To which the manager replied, "Hey, it we would have caught that guy, he's the one who would have gotten hurt." You gotta love that attitude. An attitude that just screams Red State America. An attitude that we would do well to have more of 'round here.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The original poll that was posted on Friday was missing a prominent name in looniness and two-time Loon of the Week winner, so we're going to start the voting over again.
The winner will be announced on the December 30th NARN broadcast. Vote early, vote often, vote looney.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Religion, excoriated by Karl Marx as the "opiate of the masses," has become a great mobilizing force -- even for zealous atheists. The phenomenon extends beyond the Middle East to Europe, Latin America and Africa, too. Causes that a few years ago seemed moribund or at least passé -- socialism, Third World solidarity, strident anti-Americanism -- have been injected with the fervor, though rarely the actual faith, of Islamic radicalism.
"We are all here to fight American hegemony," Naim Qassem, Hezbollah's deputy chief, told hundreds of secular activists from around the world who gathered last month in a Beirut conference center. They were there to celebrate his Islamic movement's "divine victory" over Israel this summer and cheer a broader battle against America's vision for the world. Mr. Qassem was dressed in flowing robes and a cleric's turban. Many in his audience wore T-shirts or badges featuring portraits of Che Guevara, clenched fists and other emblems of secular radical chic.
Strange bedfellows indeed. The enemy of my enemy is my friend movement seems to be spreading too:
Some of Hezbollah's biggest fans are in Europe. There, the hard left, demoralized by the collapse of communism, has found new energy, siding with Islamist militants in Lebanon, in Iraq and in a wider campaign against what they see as an American plot to impose unrestrained free-market capitalism.
"We are all Hezbollah now," read posters carried through London this summer during an antiwar protest march. Earlier, London Mayor Ken Livingston, once known as "Red Ken," invited a controversial Egyptian cleric to the British capital, arguing that his views have been distorted by the West.
In deeply Roman Catholic Latin America, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has become the exemplar of a new populism that sees common cause with Iran and Hezbollah. Mr. Chávez, re-elected in a landslide last Sunday, has met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad several times and this summer was given the Islamic Republic Medal, Iran's highest honor. Amid the rubble of Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold, portraits of Mr. Chávez now hang alongside pictures of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah put them up after Mr. Chávez denounced President Bush as the devil in a September speech to the UN. "Gracias Chávez," they say.
Africa, too, is boarding the bandwagon. A summit of the 53-nation African Union this summer in Gambia featured two special guests: Mr. Chavez and Mr. Ahmadinejad. Back in Tehran, Mr. Ahmadinejad in November hosted Zimbabwe's authoritarian Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, an erstwhile devotee of Mao Zedong. Fulminating against President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Mugabe said likeminded countries must "fight against these evil men and their evil systems."
Pot. Kettle. You know the rest.
With America's reputation badly blemished across much of the globe, widespread anger at Washington's foreign policy is fusing with local grievances in an unstable mix of discontent. The result is a motley assemblage rife with contradictions and competing agendas. The Islamist-led protest movement has none of the central organization once provided by the Comintern, the body set up by Vladimir Lenin to coordinate global communism. Nonetheless, it is giving voice and a sense of common cause to those opposed to America's plans.
Leading the way in embracing it are mostly fringe groups with names redolent of the 1960s: The Global Peace and Justice Coalition, The Socialist Workers Party, The League for the Fifth International. While such outfits are quirky, they "magnify trends in the mainstream," says Nick Cohen, a British writer who is publishing a book next year about the alliance between Islamists and leftists, "What's Left?" Karl Marx, he says, would be horrified.
"The sight of Godless communists in alliance with Islamo-fascists is one of the wonders of the modern world," Mr. Cohen says.
Wonder is not the first word that comes to my mind.
At the Beirut conference last month, a Mexican Marxist denounced America for "colonizing" New Mexico. A South Korean foe of free trade raged against American beef. A Turk fumed about American military bases. A Frenchman denounced American genetically engineered foods and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. There were even a few Americans. One thundered against big business, another against the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A big part of Hezbollah's appeal is simply that, unlike other tarnished icons of revolt, it can point to successes. It has defied Israel's military, by far the region's most powerful. It prodded Israel to end its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000 and unexpectedly bloodied Israeli troops in clashes this summer.
Hezbollah shows that "resistance," whether fuelled by religion or secular zeal, "can break governments and roll back the American project," says John Rees, a former editor of the journal International Socialism and a leader of Britain's anti-Iraq war movement. Hezbollah, he says, isn't a terrorist outfit but a social movement seeking better living conditions for its supporters. "It is better to think of it as an AFL-CIO with guns," he says.
Feel better now? Neither do I. The idea of the AFL-CIO as an armed militia isn't exactly comforting.
An American who traveled to Beirut in November to cheer Hezbollah, who identified himself as Bill Cecil, summed up the appeal of Islamism to non-Muslims: "Your enemy is our enemy; your victory is our victory," he told a conference. Mr. Cecil, an activist for a radical group in New York, later appeared as a guest on the breakfast show of Hezbollah's television station, al-Manar. America, he told a veiled female presenter, is "not a democracy ... but a dictatorship of giant corporations." America "needs a government that provides for the people like Hezbollah helps people here."
Just ask homosexuals and women how Hezbollah "provides" for them.
Sitting beneath a portrait of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara in his Beirut office, Khaled Hadadeh, the general secretary of the Lebanese communists, admits that Hezbollah and the Communist Party hated each other for years. "We started out in blood," says Mr. Hadadeh, a Sunni Muslim by birth but now a firm atheist. Che Guevara, he says, "is our symbol, like Jesus Christ or Mohammed."
What's the old line about a man who won't believe in God will believe in anything?
The larger question overriding the whole Islamic radical/hard left alliance is just who is playing the role of the useful idiot? I have a hunch it'll be the same people who willingly did so in the past.