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Thursday, July 31, 2003
Did you happen to read the Wall Street Journal's story yesterday about the resurgence of gin? (Link will only work for subscribers to the online edition. Sorry.) The good news is that the old Dutch Courage is getting its due...again. In the Journal's words: "[t]he revival might be for real. Gin is now the subject of trend articles in men's magazines, and a sophisticated push by the most high-powered spirits makers in the business." Glad they finally noticed. I was on the story more than two years ago.

The bad news? According to the Journal:
Now these gin marketers are fiddling with the distillation process to make the flavor of gin more palatable to vodka consumers. Allied Domecq [French owners Courvoisier, Maker's Mark and Malibu Rum] of calls its new gin the "non-gin-drinker's gin." Wet by Beefeater, a super-premium extension of the company's Beefeater gin franchise, is distilled to a lower proof than the top imported gins, but it's also infused with a "hint" of pear flavoring, according to the label.

Anything you can make with vodka, you can make with Wet by Beefeater, the company argues. To that end, Allied Domecq commissioned a bartender to concoct new cocktails such as the Wet Blue Martini, which combines Wet with lemon juice, simple syrup, blue Curaçao and Sprite.
What can I say? For starters: UGH. There are more than 300 cocktails with gin as the base spirit, of which maybe a baker's dozen are drinkable. The "Wet Blue Martini" ain't one of them. Blue, apparently, is the new "clear." The story also features a gin called "Magellan," brought to you by the good people who made Absolut a monster. The gimmick? Iris root and a blue tint. (This follows on the heels of the ridiculously named Hipnotiq, a pricey blue cognac-based concoction that club-going hipsters seem to like. Or so I have read.)

Plymouth gets a mention in the story as one of these "newer," lower proof gins the booze companies are peddling to the vodka set. (Plymouth is an old brand, but the recipe is new.) I happen to like Plymouth -- I'm drinking a Plymouth martini as I write this. It's mellow and it's relatively inexpensive as these "premium" gins go, so I sure hope the Journal story doesn't cause a shortage of the stuff. In fact, forget I mentioned it.

Current song: Something annoying on the idiot box... I'm not paying attention. Current drink: Martini made with a gin I will not name.

As short as the news cycle has become, and with the blog-cycle seemingly ahead of that pace, the whole "death pool futures market" topic may have already worn out its welcome. [Don't worry, this post only starts there, then kind of peters out... - now clichéd imaginary Ed.] But for those diehards, I'll report on the results of following a vague link from Tyler Cowen of The Volokh Conspiracy. Cowen refers to the site's owner as one of his colleagues. He describes this Robin Hanson as the man behind the "original inspiration behind [the "futarchy"] idea." I sleuthed out the link to Hanson's writing on the topic on a page called "Fourteen Wild Ideas - Five of Which are True." (See the page for an explanation of his definitions.) The topics range from Ghost in the Machine theories, to the statistical likelihood of a real world Matrix scenario, to why taxing up the cost of healthcare would make us healthier, cryogenics predictions, economic growth & non-growth, alien colonization schemes, and more ideas too brainy to seem reasonable. The 13th item on the list is the one about "Futarchy," in which Hanson uses (coins?) the phrase, "vote on values, but bet on beliefs." (Have I read it all yet? Of course not. You know me... It's not long though.) Now I'm noticing that the page links to a .pdf ("Shall We Vote on Values, But Bet on Beliefs?") that you may have run across had you followed enough links from the Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds) piece I posted yesterday. (Doesn't the blogfather leave anything for us mortals to dig up?)

So, it seems that this post is really just about the 14 Wild Ideas. They're more entertaining than rehashing the futures market thing again. Anyone want to start a pool on which of Hanson's 14 ideas will get government sponsorship next? (Everybody's turning to the gambling model these days.)

It's been a while since we've written anything about drinking. While most good drinking posts involve something about long standing traditions, time honored practices, and historical insights, here's a modern development to help when help is needed most.

While Blogger was down I was searching for an article that Michael Medved mentioned yesterday so I could send it to my great uncle, an Episcopalian who is fighting the good fight to preserve his denomination. I found the USA Today story, but was amused at this Google News Search result:

Gay backlash
Straits Times, Singapore- Jul 22, 2003
... The battle lines are now drawn and it is time for the Church in Singapore to rise
up and make a stand.'. The gay issue has been hotly debated in the media. ...

Just look at what happens when Blogger goes down

I don't know if this is more like a parody of a Losertarian newsletter article or one of Jack Handy's "Deep Thoughts," but I'll abuse our readership with my musing... Is there any government standardization of the width of a roll of toilet paper? Or, more specifically, on the width of the little spring-loaded rod on which a roll of TP mounts? I doubt it. I can't imagine it's even in a building code somewhere. I'd hope it's an example of the market regulating all by itself. Of course, I could be completely mistaken, and we could be living in a much more overarching govt. standards dystopia (Apple's spell-check didn't recognize the word "dystopia" - hmm, perhaps I've uncovered a cog in the wheel of modern "New Speak"). I'm sure the vast InfMonks readership will fill our inbox with responses.

If you wish hard enough...If you wish hard enough... may just happen.

Okay, now everybody visualize men of principle in congress.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Mickey Kaus links to this delightful Rob Long article about contributing to his local NPR station. I've felt the exact same thing, and though I still listen to KCRW's music programing on the web since I left L.A., I don't contribute.

But I have.

Just when you thought he was out, Dean may pull Gore back in. At first, I thought this was more utopian speculation from people still steamed about Florida. But this is a genuine exercise in serious guesswork published in a "legitimate news source," (linked via Drudge) so I've got to take it seriously. I shudder to think what would happen if Gore re-entered the race.

< shudder > Huhhh-huh-huh! < /shudder >


Are the Democrats really scared of Howard Dean? Or is Gore's possible change of heart a response to an even more terrifying scenario?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Run Howard, run!

Terry Teachout reflects on Bob Hope's passing and offers the following observation:
The world spins immeasurably faster today than it did when I was a boy, and the fixed stars I remember are mostly fallen now. Meanwhile, here I sit, writing about a hundred-year-old comedian for a journalistic medium that didn’t even exist five years ago. What will I be doing in another five years? In the words of my favorite refrigerator magnet, "Time passes quickly, whether you’re having fun or not." (I wonder what that sounds like in Latin.)

That’s what makes you cling to the landmarks of your youth, cherished or not. The older you get, the more you cherish everything that used to be, not so very long ago.

Meanwhile, over at The Remedy, Ken Masugi challenges readers to provide " evidence from a legitimate news source that Howard Dean has ever been labelled a right-winger." One reader replies: "What do you mean by 'legitimate news source'?" I think Masugi means a major news outlet, such as ABC News or the New York Times (which he disparages in the post) or the AP (which the reader links to). But I wondered the same thing. Aren't Andrew Sullivan, Joshua Micah Marshall, and Glenn Reynolds, to name but three, legitimate news sources? It's hardly an original observation, but it was the Blogosphere that brought the late New York Times and BBC scandals to light. Sure, they deal in opinion-news. But the very best opinion writing (even mediocre opinion writing) is built on a foundation of fact. Look no further than Mark Steyn.

I linked the other day to Robert Bartley's column on objectivity in the news, but I didn't say too much about it because I was slightly sloshed at the time. "I think we're coming to the end of the era of 'objectivity' that has dominated journalism over this time," he writes. "We need to define a new ethic that lends legitimacy to opinion, honestly disclosed and disciplined by some sense of propriety." I think that's right, and I've been saying so in print and in private for a long time. Does that mean factual reporting will go by the boards? Hardly. When I worked for a national Business Daily paper geared toward Investors, I would occasionally write front-page articles that appeared in the section that dealt with Issues of National importance. These were analysis pieces, a hybrid of news and opinion writing, and they were generally good. I don't think anyone—writer or reader—ever labored under the pretext that these were straight news stories. But some of my best reporting (in my humble opinion, anyway) appeared on the editorial page.

I think journalism in America would be improved vastly if we did away with "objectivity" as a kind of sacred cow. "Opinion journalism," Bartley concludes, "...can find a lot of news. But journalists can't have it both ways. Since they're increasingly dealing with subjective opinion, they should stop wearing 'objectivity' on their sleeves." Readers (and, to a lesser extent, viewers) are much more sophisticated today (more cynical, some might say) about the information they get from the news. "Fair and balanced" is the motto of the Fox News Channel, an unabashedly right-leaning network. Liberals and leftists like to mock Fox News, or they point to its ascendance as a refutation of the old conservative complaint about the liberal media. But I think it's a good motto. It's in Fox's interest to provide news spiced with conservative opinion. It offers an alternative to the networks and CNN, viewers are invited to decide for themselves whether or not Fox shucking and jiving them, and, if the ratings are any indication, it's good for business.

Update: Our resident Latin instructor Brad has the translation for Terry Teachout's refrigerator magnet: "Tempus celeriter degit, utrum frueris necne." Really trips off the tongue, doesn't it?

Current song: Michael Medved's Calvalcade of Nepotism by Michael Medved on The Michael Medved Show. Current drink: So very thirsty.

The Moral IssueWhat Would Attila Do?

[a portion of this message was originally contained in an off-line e-mail exchange]

I do think that y'all (including Hewitt and Reynolds) are downplaying the weight of the "moral issue". The moral issue is THE issue. There is a colossal difference between placing bets on where a downed sub is and placing bets on what Prime Minister is going to get killed next.

While I'm positive the Dems were "hyperventilating", I'm also pretty certain that Wolfowitz was lying if he claimed that he had no idea this was going on (if he's not lying, he's incompetent - this project was FUNDED, not skunk works). And in absolute agreement that Poindexter and Tether (at the least) should be fired immediately. Any official that doesn't immediately recognize this to be a morally repugnant idea is just another soulless Machiavellian that shouldn't be anywhere near a position of political or military authority (I'm looking at you, too, Rumsfeld).

Here's the problem: While it is (for example) the job of the military to "kill people and break things", it is the job of the leaders to make sure that they are engaged in a just war against a deserving enemy. Similarly, an amoral approach to intelligence gathering cheapens our civilization, and completely invalidates our moral authority in a conflict (if we had any in the first place). It was Poindexter's job (and Tether's) to FIRST ask the question, "Is this moral?" before asking "Would this work?" To do otherwise would lead us to simply "turn the desert into glass" and threaten the same for any other "enemy" that stands in our way.

While my own foray into Objectivsim was short lived and now far in the past, I found this little gem of wisdom in an article on modern trial lawyers called "Reductio ad Totalitarianism" by Robert Tracinski, the senior editor for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif.
The problem with the "reductio ad absurdum" argument, one of my philosophy teachers once warned me, is that your opponent may simply embrace the logical end result of his ideas—no matter how absurd it is. And that's exactly what is happening now.
Welcome to postmodern jurisprudence.

UPDATE: Check out Mr. Tracinski's photo. Isn't it an uncanny combination of Rush Limbaugh and Andy Richter?

An off-blog email exchange went as follows:

R.B.: Robb, about that death pool futures market... Since somebody's idea of, "Hey, the market can solve any problem," made it so far, it may only be a matter of time before Lawrence Kudlow suggests a capital gains tax cut to take the legs out from under the terrorists. (Isn't that the guy you always complain about with the capital gains tax cut panacea?)

Robb: Yes, Kudlow's the man. At least when he's on the McLaughlin Group, a capital gains tax cut seems to be the answer to everything. Coup attempts in Central America? Wouldn't have happened if they'd had a capital gains tax cut. Israeli-Palestinian conflict? It's not about Isaac & Ishmael, it's about those confiscatory capital gains taxes!

As usual, Glenn Reynolds puts us all to shame by posting a practically exhaustive collection of opinion and fact in defense of the less-than-conventionally-accepted idea of using "idea futures."

Tuesday, July 29, 2003
My fellow monkeys have been rightly critical of the now dead DARPA terrorism pool idea. But I feel compelled to defend the underlying priciple involved.

Using a betting system is a very effective way to synthesize expert knowledge. For example, in the book Blind Man's Bluff, the authors recount the true story of how the U.S. found a lost submarine wreck. They had the experts place bets of varying amounts on where they thought the sub could be (higher amounts, obviously, where they thought most likely). Then they used weighted averaging to bring the knowledge of all these experts together. If I remember the story correctly (my library is in transition), while the Soviets were looking vainly for the sub, this method yielded a location very near the sub--within feet, not miles.

This DARPA idea suffered from two key weaknesses. First, the obvious political and moral one--it's in poor taste. Second, and more important, failing to limit "players" to experts who know what they are doing and are not, in fact, terrorists (otherwise, it's like letting Pete Rose bet on baseball when he's the Red's manager).

I'm glad the idea is gone, but I hope it doesn't stifle other creative ideas about how to tap into the vast knowledge of the American people. I remember a commentator (I think it was Mark Steyn, but I can't find the link) mentioning during the beginnings of the war on terror that if Bin Laden makes a video in a cave, somewhere in America there is someone who is an expert on Afghan geology who can call the FBI and give a good guess where he is based on the rock behind him (I think this actually happened). How can evil win against such a country?

Update: Here is the excerpt from Blind Man's Bluff explaining the method.

Speaking of throwing money at hopeless political candidates, I sent $75 to Tom McClintock's fledgling gubernatorial campaign today. For all the good it will do. McClintock is a principled conservative who's forgotten more about the minutiae of California's budget than most of his colleagues will ever know. He understands the limits of government. He speaks eloquently about what ails California, and what needs to be done to fix it. He lost the race for State Controller last year by a hair to eBay tycoon Steve Westly, who ran a scurrilous campaign. If he actually runs for governor in California's recall, McClintock will not win. Why? Money, that's why. Dinky donations from schmoes like me don't win elections. It helps to have a pile of money, like U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa. Issa isn't a conservative exactly. Neither is Richard Riordan, who is also a candidate whose name you hear a lot these days. Riordan is the former mayor of L.A. who said he would support Arnold Schwarzeneggar for governor. Schwarzeneggar, who isn't running for governor but who is apparently running interference for Riordan, isn't a conservative, either. Evidently, nobody is a conservative in California, where Democrats rule. And Davis calls the recall a "right-wing plot." Yeah, and I'm a Chinese jet pilot.

So, did I throw $75 away today? I don't think so. McClintock has a future in California. If he supports Issa, and Issa wins, he would have a powerful ally in the statehouse if he decides to challenge Westly in 2006. Also, there's a campaign underway to repeal California's odious car tax, which Governor Davis tripled illegally. He tripled the car tax. Illegally. That's why he should be recalled. That, and about half a dozen other reasons. Right-wing plot, my foot. He's an incompetent fraud, and a crook to boot. He's defrauded Californians long enough. Let us be rid of him.

Current song: None. Current drink: Plymouth martini.

The New York Times has gotten serious about correctly bylining articles. So even a long stored-away obituary for Bob Hope is carefully credited to Vincent Canby.

How do we know it was "long stored-away?"

Canby died in October 2000.

(Thanks to my friend Jason at Teevee for pointing this out. Here is a link to the NY Post article on this.)

Update: James Taranto e-mailed to let me know he had this in Best of the Web Today on Monday. Damn. I missed that one sentence. He may not believe me now, but I have read every "BotWB" column since it debuted three years ago. (Happy anniversary!)

Death Pool ShelvedPentagon Death Pool Shelved

I don't know who's wacky idea it was in the first place, but thank merciful God the "Pentagon Death Pool" which I referenced in a previous entry has been stopped. The web site front page now goes nowhere, and hopefully that will be the last we hear of such an amoral horror. Here's the Associated Press story (via Yahoo!) on the cancellation.

Now, I don't believe for a minute that Wolfowitz learned about it in the newspaper, and quotes saying that DARPA "didn't think through the full ramifications of the program" make it sound like they want us to believe some intern did this on their own without consulting his superiors.

Current song: Gale-force winds blowing against my recently-broken window Current drink: Nothing now, but a glass of Powers Gold Label once the kids are in bed.

It's become painfully obvious that co-Monkey Ben and I sit in front of our respective computers all day listening to the Salem Radio Network talk line up. (At least we're in good company alongside James Lileks, and St. Paul of Fraters Libertas.) Anyway, I frequently pester afternoon host Hugh Hewitt with emails, and save my phone calls for late Friday afternoons when listeners line up to tell Emmett of the Unblinking Eye which film gems he left of the weekly "Ten Best..." list. But today, Hugh gave a suggestion to a caller that seemed inconsistent with an admonition he delivered just a few weeks ago. Today he held that Republicans donating to Howard Dean were doing the next best thing to donating directly to Bush/Cheney, as it would ultimately help re-elect our Republican incumbent (a good thing). But not long ago, I could swear I heard Hewitt try to dissuade someone from giving to Dean's campaign, arguing that it was not unlike giving a loaded gun to a crazy man. (It's all coming back to me now.) Support was one thing, but money was another. Hugh went on to offer what sounded like well worn truisms like, "Never give money to a Democrat," or somesuch catchphrase. (Okay, I guess it's not all coming back to me.)

Back to my call. I got through lightning quick. Suddenly I was on the air. Hugh responded to my challenge by offering some qualifier about the political bent of the donor – something about (boy, this post is really sharp on the details, in'it?) how the donor from wees ago was a left-leaner who wanted to support someone other than Bush, but the caller today was a solid Repubilcan looking to undermine the Dems by propping up Dean. I don't really see the difference, since "parts is parts" afterall. Of course, I didn't make that point. I just kinda sat on the line. I think I said, "hmm." Good radio!

And to top it all off, when the call first started, I tried to give a greeting in Latin, but I actually said "Vale," which translates to "Goodbye."

What a loser...

My only hope is that the over-educated audience memebers who heard might have thought, "Did he really say 'Vale?' No, he must have said 'Salve.' They sound so much alike over the phone, over the radio." Or they might have thought, "Poor S.O.B., he must have really been nervous on a national radio show like that."

More than likely they just thought, "'Latin Teacher,' my eye... What a dork."

After my call Hugh announced that the phone lines were completely clear. You could almost hear the crickets chirping. Better turn to something that's proven to work – Quick! Hugh wrapped up the end of the show by getting a t.v. allusion so wrong that Lileks had to call in to correct him. From there, he tried to explain the technology of bump music filesto Lileks. That went over well with ol' James. Then Hugh brought it home by razzing Lileks once he was off the line (worse than calling him a Democrat, which they did, Hugh & Duane referred to him as "Jimbo.") Yep, "a regular day at the office." Mercifully, the broadcast came to an end to the fading strains of the new Lileks signature music, the theme from A Summer Place.

Oh, I almost forgot what prompted me to blog the experience in the first place. The exact moment I got off the air, I got an email from Ben: Hey, you're on the Hugh Hewitt show! Plug the Monkeys! Followed less than a minute later by: Ah! No Monkey plug! Nope. No Monkey plug. I let us all down. Please forgive me (for my failure to promote InfMonks, and for the length of this post).

The East Valley Tribune, here in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix, AZ), finally got its act together and put its articles online! And not a minute too soon, as today the paper ran this story on the school where I teach. (For my large coterie of local InfMonks readers [guffaw], the piece is on page A5.)
UPDATE: Our web/email info was included in the story. A day later, all the school has received is an email promoting discreet delivery of original or generic Viagra.

Shocking news from Ohio:
Using a black teacher at Oberlin High School would send the wrong message to white students, said A.G. Miller, an associate professor of American religious history at Oberlin College.

"The message is that we are not concerned about the importance of your historical background...that that is less important than a schedule conflict," said Miller, whose three children graduated from Oberlin High School....

Phyllis Yarber Hogan, a member of the Oberlin White Citizen's Alliance for Progress, said a black teacher wouldn't be well-suited to teaching students about subjects like slavery.

"When you talk about slavery, students need to understand it is not our fault," she said. "Our ancestors did nothing wrong.

"How do you work through that when the person teaching it is the same type of person who was enslaved?"

Is Ku Kluxery alive and well in Oberlin, Ohio? Thankfully, no. But racism most certainly is. I changed some of the wording above: "black" is "white," the Oberlin Black Alliance for Progress is the White Citizen's Alliance, and so forth. The real story here is that some black parents at Oberlin High School don't want a white teacher to instruct their children in black history. How can a white person, who is undoubtedly the descendant of slaveowners, possibly teach black kids about the evils of slavery? Slaveownership is in the blood, you see.

This couldn't be more bigoted if David Duke said it. Dennis Prager had it right today: The last people to talk this way were the Nazis (the real ones, I mean, not the caricatures drawn by Berkeley psychologists).

Current song: "Boomtown" by the Yellowjackets on the album "Mint Jam". Current drink: Iced Tea.

In his 3:29 PM post today, Robb pointed us to a long article on the looming dystopian near-future. (It's in the Village Voice, so Robb must really be serious about his consideration of a Democratic re-registration.) Well, I've found my own really long article to link to. So long, in fact, that I haven't yet finished it. But the other InfMonks read and type faster than I do, so their critique of it may save me from having to plow all the way through it.

Give me $100 on Al Qaeda

This Pentagon atrocity has neocon foolishness written all over it. (It's the NY Times, so you'll need an ID, but it's free).

The "speculative market" for terror events should be an appropriate accompaniment to another Pentagon Pet Project that has mysteriously escaped scrutiny.

Clarity of vision, indeed. Like Stalin.

Current song: None. Current drink: Four Peaks' Kiltlifter Scottish Style Ale

Monkey Logo Talk (Cont.)

The very best monkeys wear fezzes. And drink martinis. Like this one.

Philistinism is the Disease. He's the Cure

Have you read Terry Teachout today? Well, what are you waiting for?

So does it make me an evil person when the first words out of my mouth when I hear news about Bob Hope's death was: "Finally!"? Yeah, I suppose it does.

Monday, July 28, 2003
Warning: Stupid post of probable interest to the blog authors only. (if anyone at all...)
As we gear up for the move (any day now, I'm sure) to the Promised Land of Movable Type, we're going to need a logo. Actually, I'm thinking it would be nice to find a third monkey similar to this one and this one, for that "see no evil, hear no evil, blog no evil" sort of thing. Or perhaps we could each adopt a monkey that best represents our persona, kind of like monkey avatars.
I n f M o n k s

Okay, maybe not.

Wow... I decide to take a much needed break from my busy schedule of procrastination, and I come back to a blog full of emasculated curse words. Yes, it's Indecent Monkeys... where we put the *ss in class. This all reminds me of a Backfence article in which Lileks wrote on people's favorite "nerf-curses." (I could swear that there were a few articles that addressed the subject, but oh, my stars and garters, I could only find the one.) UPDATE: Here's another one.

Strange and sad news from Stratfor, the global intelligence/strategic forecasting company. Stratfor provided invaluable analysis during the Iraq war (readers of the Agonist were reading the analysis without knowing it, thanks to plagiarism). Today's e-mail briefing started with this news:
Stratfor is mourning the loss of its chief analyst, Matthew
Baker, who has been with the company since its inception in 1996.
Matthew, aged 33, was shot and killed at his home in Austin,
Texas, on the evening of July 24.
Apparently he was shot by a neighbor in a property line dispute.
Not to be flip about it, but this confirms my belief that you should avoid talking to your neighbors as much as possible. A very sad story...

You Drop the F-Bomb on Me, Baby

F*** all, Robb. You f***ing beat me that f***ing Smoking Gun piece.

If you can find it (because it is, sadly, out of print), I recommend The 'F' Word, edited by Jesse Sheidlower. Believe it or not, it's a serious etymological treatment.

Working BlueWorking Blue - Parents Strongly Cautioned!

Okay, todays update from The Smoking Gun includes a "f***ing" hilarious story of a Colorado state public defender trying to justify his client's use of "the eff-dash-dash-dash word" when referring to school principal. Start with this page, which includes many instances of the word, along with great sentences such as:

"Andrew Dice Clay, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Robin Williams and countless others have used the F*** family to entertain audiences across the land, enriching their lives with the entertainment and comedic value of F*** and its progeny."

"Literally millions of F***ing recordings have been distributed by national recording artists..."

"...there are roughly eight thousand six hundred words in the English language that begin with the letter F. . . . F*** has the unique distinction of being the only word commonly known as the F word."

So "get the f***" over to The Smoking Gun and take a gander.

Current Song: "F*** School" from the album The Replacements Stink by The Replacements

By now you've probably heard that Bob Hope passed away last night. To be honest, I can't say I was surprised at the news this morning. When Hope celebrated his 100th birthday a few months ago, all of the tribute pieces read like obituaries. "The guy is still alive, for goodness sake!" I remember exclaiming at the time to nobody in particular. Still, as tribute writers go, Mark Steyn is impossible to beat.

Current song: Unknown Bumper Music by Unknown Artist on the "Dennis Prager Show". Current drink: None.

I noticed this on MacSlash a couple of weeks ago, but kept forgetting to Blog about it, until Robb reminded me. Griffin is introducing a TiVo-like device for radio. If it works, it will be a great gift to those of us who keep forgetting to tune in for Lileks on Hewitt's show.

Sunday, July 27, 2003
Objectivity in news is a mythical thing, not unlike the unicorn, the griffin, or the duck-billed platypus. The late scandals at the New York Times and the BBC should have put one last bullet in the notion. But the damned thing...just...won't...die. Robert Bartley conducts a post-mortum, of sorts in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

Current song: Act of Contrition by Bill Bennett on the Tim Russert Show. Current drink: Water, after several Mai Tais.

I've linked to this wildly inaccurate prediction before, but it's worth noting that most of those people screaming "quagmire" now had predicted a much worse aftermath.
Apart from deaths and casualties resulting directly from hostilities, the aftermath of a conventional war would include civil war, famine, epidemics, refugees and displaced people, and catastrophic effects on children's health and development, according to Medact. The United Nations estimates a war will result in 500,000 direct and indirect casualties.
By those standards, things are going very well indeed. Little Green Footballs has a good cartoon on the subject.

I try to resist linking to Mark Steyn because if I start, I'll link to every article. But this one is just too perfect to resist. At least I'll resist quoting a big chunk of it like Sullivan did.

Saturday, July 26, 2003
MechamI know he wasn't TECHNICALLY recalled, because he was impeached before the recall election could take place, but how about a shout out to former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, who proved to the nation that you don't have to be a Californian to govern your state like a car dealer...

In my entire adult life, we haven't managed to elect a single governor who wasn't either a criminal, a shameless political hack, or, in Mecham's case, both.

I have to say I agree with George Will (sorry, no link - it was an editorial in the print edition of NewsWeek, the "Is Gay Marriage Next?" issue - you know, the one with Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla on the cover) who thinks recalling Davis was a bad idea for Republicans if they want to be successful in garnering California's 1,000,000 electoral votes in the 2004 election. Not just because recall is a Progressive concept, but because whatever candidate (and party) gets elected as Davis's mid-term replacement will be the focus of the voters' wrath in November 2004. There's no way they will be able to fix the problem by then, but everyone will have forgotten who created the problem in the first place.

Current Song: "Insanity" from the album iTunes Music Store Exclusive Track by Liz Phair

To follow on "Hunting for Bambi" being a hoax... it's hard to tell who's less credible – the man crowing for exposure or the man crowing about the exposé. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said of the case, "I'll do everything I can to see this man is punished for trying to embarrass Las Vegas."

Embarrass Las Vegas?

Now, isn't this the same mayor who was behind the recent move to retool the Vegas image, dump the family-friendly theme, and reinforce the Sin-City motif under the "What Happens Here, Stays Here" banner? From an Only Vegas press release:
There are certain activities, behaviors and unforgettable experiences that happen in Las Vegas that simply don't or can't happen anywhere else. These events or stories provide the framework for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's (LVCVA) new campaign titled "Vegas Stories" launching nationally today on 14 cable networks and in primetime in seven target markets. Be it a spontaneous marriage, a weekend romance or hobnobbing with celebrities, Vegas stories are adventurous, sexy and fun. You may even have a Vegas story of your own.

Inspired by real stories from Las Vegas visitors, each "Vegas Stories" ad brings to life a scintillating adult story -- some reveal more than others -- but what makes the ads so provocative and mysterious is what the characters don't say or what isn't shown during the 30-second and 60-second spots.
[Emphasis added.]
Truth be told, I think the biggest mistake the Bambi folks made in the eyes of the Vegas officials was not making the participants (hunters and hunted) look more like models than like the people you see on COPS.

UPDATE: The hypocrisy indicator is getting a real workout here. The town that is embarrassed about paying-men hunting naked women is selling advance tickets to Cirque du Soleil's upcoming "Zumanity, A Provocative and Arousing Display of Human Sensuality." The show, officially nicknamed "The Human Zoo," carries an 18-and-over-only restriction, and while it promises "only glimpses" of nudity, the costumes (reportedly, though I can't find the original story online) have built in (on?) naughty bits which are designed to fit together and have been enhanced for greater visibility and dramatic effect.

UPDATE 2: Haven't found the original story about the interlocking features, but here's at least confirmation of the prosthetics (scroll about two thirds of the way down and look for the highlighting). "Embarrass Las Vegas," indeed...

To answer an earlier post about the separation of church and state I turn to the Founding Fathers:

Thomas Jefferson: "In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes."

James Madison: "Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects. Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded project."

Benjamin Franklin: "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."

John Adams: "As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?"

The point of these quotes to me are rather clear, in general most of the Founders had a rather suspicious attitude when it came came to religion and it involvement in civil affairs. Would they have begrudged a person's religious beliefs? No. But than likely they would have thought you a rube. They were Men of Reason. And while they could accept that there was a God, most of them could not accept the myths surrounding religion.

ABC may not have free transcripts, but CNN does. Poking around, I came across this interesting read from September 10th, 2001. Aside from the unfortunate "attacking the Pentagon" phrases, it gives a glimpse of how clear Secretary Rumsfeld's vision was and is--and how lucky we were to have him there on that day, the terrible day after that, and the days since.

Friday, July 25, 2003
Deceived! We thought it would be Arianna, but it was the other Huffington all along!

Or was it? Is it possible that there is no deception here at all? Could it be that gay ex-Congressman Michael will enter the recall fray to thwart his megalomaniacal ex-wife's insane schemes? One thing's for certain: all of these machinations are making me thirsty...

Hwahh!!! GIMME SOME AIR! It's too ironic in here! Gimme some Air! oo woo WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO woo! too IRON-IC, OW! gimme some AIR... ow, nyow!

It's so ironic, that I doubt even God can take this much irony. Postmodernism is gorging itself to death. Is there no justice? I think I may be sick.

Current song: Who can think about music after reading that story? Current drink: Bourbon. And make it a double.

It's official: "Hunting for Bambi" is a hoax. The barbarians have not breached the gates...yet.

Current song: None. Current drink: Gin and tonic, with lots of lime.

Today, Andrew Sullivan writes
"...we don't really have a problem in this country with Christians believing that there is no real distinction between religion and politics. Except for one group: white evangelical protestants, who see no reason not to use politics to reflect their sometimes literalist Biblical views."
A problem? So, would Sullivan argue that people ought to vote without regard to what they believe? Am I to cast an a priori ballot – without regard for what I hold to be real and true? This is nonsense, but it seems to be what is implied by his expressed "problem." Without getting too deep in the comparison of homosexuality to religion, would Sullivan accept the premise that he ought not use politics to reflect his views on gay issues? O, where's Joyful Christian when you need him? (oh, yeah... he's in New Jersey)

A book recommendation: Seek by Denis Johnson. Johnson is one of my favorite writers (he wrote Jesus' Son and taught middle school English to one of my co-bloggers). He writes eloquently of Liberia in the first and last piece in Seek, and articulates the horror of the place. He agonizes about his decision to go there a second time, and I hope no editor has the guts to ask him to go again, as much as I'd like his perspective on the current situation. But I highly recommend the book to anyone who is interested in Liberia as American troops prepare to go there.

Another scary possibility for Governor: Ozzy.

Recall Freak Show (cont.)

Our friend Hugh Hewitt observes today that the relatively low threshhold for candidates to enter California's recall election ($3,500 and 65 signatures) could cause a lot of mischief. Among the more terrifying-but-plausible names Hewitt floats: Willie Brown, Tom Hayden, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, Tom Hanks, Jay Leno, Michael Moore, and (again) Arianna Huffington. He mentions a few not-so-frightening names, too.

Hell, I might run. I could get 65 signatures in an afternoon. Scraping together the $3,500 may be a little tougher, though. I wonder if maybe Charles Taylor would front me?

Well, Team BBC continues the attack and launches a breakaway from the peloton. But are they stretching too far too fast? (Open the little slideshow about two thirds of the way down that page for some grisly but humorously strained equivocations.)

Here is the text of Vice President Cheney's speech at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday.

A high-falutin' observation or two, if I may: Too much has been made of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as America's rationale for deposing Saddam Hussein and his brutal Ba'athist regime. Anti-war journalists have struggled mightily to descredit America's military success in Iraq. Where is the VX? Where are the nukes? And so this silly talk about fictional Nigerian yellowcake fuels rumors of greater sacrifices to appease the White House's political enemies. But as the House Republican leadership learned this week, sorry isn't enough. Sorry is never good enough. Not when your opponents want to destroy you.

Cheney offers a pretty good exegesis of why the U.S. had to bring the hammer down on Saddam:
Every measure was taken to avoid a war, but it was Saddam Hussein himself who made war unavoidable. He had a lengthy history of reckless and sudden aggression. He bore a deep and bitter hatred for the United States. He cultivated ties to terrorist groups. He built, possessed and used weapons of mass destruction. He refused all international demands to account for those weapons.
The second and third items are the most relevant. Earlier, Cheney said, "This worldwide campaign began after the attacks of September 11, 2001, a watershed event in the history of our nation." Question: Why has the Bush Administration steadfastly refused to make the obvious argument, namely, that the war in Iraq is the latest battle in the War on Terrorism. The White House's mistake, one which the press has gleefully used to its advantage, was to lean so heavily on weapons of mass destruction. I'm sure we'll find Saddam's WMD sooner or later. But that's gravy. It's beside the point, in the same way that finding and killing Osama bin Laden is beside the point.

So what's the point? Angelo Codevilla has been making it, over and over, since the autumn of 2001, a couple of months after the September 11 attacks. It is, in brief:
Killing individuals who do not count [e.g., low-ranking al Qaeda lieutenants driving around Yemen, Osama, Mullah Omar] engenders hatred, while sparing those who do count guarantees contempt.

Victory against terrorists requires precisely the opposite approach: expend little or no energy chasing the trigger pullers and bombers. Rather, make sure that any life devoted to terror will be a wasted life. This means leaving no hope whatever for any of the causes from which the Arab tyrannies draw such legitimacy as they have: people who give their lives for lost causes exist more in novels than in reality. It means discrediting and insofar as possible impoverishing (rather than paying for) Arab regimes that foster opposition to America. It means using military force to kill the regimes—the ruling classes—of countries that are in any way associated with terrorism.

Such regimes cannot be other than matrices of terrorism; they are riding tigers. Should the people who run them try to change, they would perish at the hands of internal enemies. America cannot possibly reform them. The choice is to suffer them, their causes, and their terrorist methods—or to kill them.
Notice, nothing about WMD here. WMD is an artifice. It was right to overthrow Saddam because he (not Bush) helped make scum like Osama possible. It was right to overthrow Saddam because he paid off the families of suicide bombers in Gaza. It will be right to depose the Assads of Syria and the Ayatollahs of Iran for the same reason.

Update: Daniel Drezner over at The Volokh Conspiracy offers a variation on the Cheney theme above. Drezner, commenting about the ongoing debate between Joshua Micah Marshall and Steven Den Beste, is not persuaded that WMD was the only reason the U.S. went to war, nor is he convinced that failure to turn up evidence of those weapons means that the mission is a failure or that Bush lied. But, without saying so, he doesn't seem so keen on the Codevilla argument, either. Although it may be true that "states often go to war for a melange of reasons that go beyond self-defense," I'm not sure that making Iraq into a viable democracy is a great or desirable policy goal, either. Killing the regimes that want to kill us is sufficient. Too bad the Administration can't simply say so.

Some have argued that capturing notorious no-goods like the Twin Terrors, Papa Hussein, or Bin Laden and dragging them through some trial would almost inevitably lead to miscarriages of justice. Well, now someone of Charles Taylor's ilk may put that theory to the test.

Yes Ben, I am satisfied, but enouugh of these high-falutin' topics. This blog has gotten a little too high-minded of late-- didja guys hear? Mini-Me from the Austin Powers movies is getting married married-- to 5"8 blonde stunner to boot! See, just goes to show you there's somebody for everyone-- even Mini Me

The Situation in Liberia is Deteriorating

As mortar rounds continue to slam into and around the U.S. embassy in Monrovia, President Bush today ordered the Navy to deploy an unspecified number of ships off the coast of Liberia. Top Pentagon brass warn that any U.S. intervention in West Africa will be "a long-term fix." Meanwhile, Charles Taylor, the embattled president of the civil-war torn country, promised this week to leave the country in about 10 days. All told, more than 600 people have died in the latest fighting, with at least 11 killed in the shelling today.

It so happens that I received an e-mail this morning from President Taylor about his impending departure. As you can well imagine, he's under a lot of stress.

The U.S.-educated African strongman writes:
I am in a big problem now ,the rebels have been fighting me seriously here in Monrovia and soonest i will go into exile to Nigeria ,i am making every arragements to move soon.
President Taylor wonders if I, as an important and influential U.S. citizen, might be able to aid him in his departure. Specifically, he mentions "some important documents and money i want to hide and transfer some money into a private account ,the amount is 47million us dollars,pls try to reply me so that i can give you the details and where the money is now ..."

$47 million? Is that all? I bet he has a hell of a lot more than that stashed away in Switzerland. Typical greedy dictator, always trying to hold out. Well, he'll get no help from me. In fact, I hope the rebels cut his head off and carry it atop a tall pike through the center of Monrovia. I might even send him an e-mail and give him a piece of my mind.

Current song: "Where It's At" by Dr. Lonnie Smith on the album, "Boogaloo To Beck". Current drink: None.

Very well, James. I will concede that the highly touted "Arab Street" is a myth. What I meant to say was the comically hypocritical Saudis will get the point. (Read between the lines.) Satisfied?

Current song: "Harlem Nocturne" by Jack Costanzo on the album "A Movie for Daddy: Scores to Groove the Screens by Blue Note". Current drink: Water.

Unlike Ben, don't believe in the so-called "Arab Street" it's a mythological fiction created by the mass media. What will the Arab Street think of all of this? That's the stupidest question I ever heard. That's like asking what the Loch Ness Monster what he thinks of global warming or surmising what Unicorns think about genetically modified foods. Or if leprecauns think there can finally be peace in Ireland. Arab Street-- that one goes up there with Bigfoot.

I wish we had mounted the Terrors' heads on pikes, and broadcast the image on Al Jazeera. American liberals would have been appalled, of course. (Or, should I say, more appalled than they are now.) But the much-vaunted "Arab Street" would have understood perfectly.

I'm in a very Kurtz-y mood today, aren't I?

Current song: None. Current drink: Lukewarm coffee.

Just below, James spoke of the ridiculous notion voiced by some that greater efforts to capture the Twin Terrors should have been made. (That was the idea that Bird Dog was reacting to when I posted his "[not by the] color of your ineloquence, but the content of your idiocy" quip yesterday.) For those dim bulbs who posit such theories, and for anyone who may encounter them, there is a must-read post over at Instapundit.

The top of the hour news on the radio spoke of doubts and criticism developing around the pictures and video of the now dead Twin Terrors. There's a lot of talk about putty on the faces, manipulative shaving, "whose leg is that, really?" and more. The news links on the web seem to indicate that the unconvinced are the Iraqi people, but the radio news made it sound like a spark had landed among the dry chaff that is the Uraniumgate crowd.
Imaginary quote: "We question the administration's motives behind the inclusion of 16 disparate body parts, inserted into the State of the Hussein Sons report.
The race is also on to equate the confirmation of the deed (deed, as in "act" - not "dead" with a Scottish accent) with the exploitive images of the slain or captured rank and file combatants released early in the war. Here's one Canadian entry that equates the pictures with "saw[ing] off the heads of their fallen enemies, mount[ing] them on wooden pikes and parad[ing] them through the streets, while brandishing their weapons and cheering their gods." And of course, there's this roundup from the BBC that's not entirely unbalanced.

UPDATE: Check out the collapsed nostrils and facial "relaxation" in these morgue-shots. I don't care what you say, they're still easier to recognize as their former selves than Michael Jackson.

UPDATE 2: MSNBC's Chris Matthews on the room-temp. photo of Uday – "He’s bloated. He is dead. He doesn’t look his best, of course, but it’s him."

I find myself amused by people who wonder why the U.S. couldn't have captured brothers Uday and Qusay Hussein alive, so they could be brought to justice. And I say they faced justice, the poetic justice of God: "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword." Sometimes a dog just ain't no damn good and you gotta take him out to the back yard and shoot him. This was what was done, and it was a damn good thing.

Why am I not surprised? Not 24 hours after the photos of Uday and Qusay come out, and we get stories like this. Would it have been better to release the photos of the brothers without their faces? Ah, that's much too morbid for this hour...

Thursday, July 24, 2003
It sounds like a children's book title: The Purple Polar Bear. Maybe he's a Libertarian. may be cheaper, but the program as a whole sucks. Follow this link to be overwhelmed with restrictions that Apple simply doesn't place on their music. Here's the list of Apple's restrictions:

1. You may only simultaneously use downloaded music on three Macs at a time. If you want to move songs to a fourth Mac, you must de-register one of the others. You may de-register and re-register systems as frequently as you like.
2. You may copy the downloaded music to as many iPods as you like.
3. You may burn the downloaded music to as many Music CD's as you like, with the caveat that you can only burn the same playlist 10 times in a row before changing the playlist.

Here are just some of's restrictions:

1. You must download your music to a "primary" PC, and then you are limited in the number of "secondary" computers you may transfer the music to. These secondary computers may ONLY play the song, and may not transfer the song to a portable device or burn it to a CD. What happens when you sell your "primary" PC or the hard drive crashes? "The licenses are non-transferable." Also, "You cannot buy your music on one machine and then transfer your primary license to another computer."
2. You are limited in the number of portable devices you may copy the songs to.
3. You are limited in the number of times you may burn a downloaded song to a music CD.

Other things that suck about

1. Not available for Macs. Apple is scheduling a Windows version of iTunes Music Store by the end of the year. has no intention of supporting Macs.
2. They use Windows Media format. Apple uses the MPEG-4 "AAC" format with digital rights management. Its standards are controlled by a cross-industry body. Microsoft controls the Windows Media format.
3. Because of #2, the tracks cannot be played on the leading digital media player, the iPod.
4. Instead of having a spine and insisting that all labels and artists abide by the same "rules" and contract conditions, as Apple did, lets each label specify the number of times a track may be copied and burned.

In short, is a "Windows-style" delivery and playback model, with typically restrictive and obtuse terms of use. I hope the market realizes you don't have to put up with that crap, any more than you have to put up with paying $20 a disc for CD's. And I hope Apple's Windows version of the iTunes Music Store is able to help prove that the market is smarter than it often appears to be.

Okay, it's less than groundbreaking blogging on my part, but I want to make sure you see what Powerline's Hindrocket calls "much more detailed and colorful coverage of the deaths of Uday and Qusay than I have seen in the American press." And it's from The Sun, who brought us much more detailed and colorful coverage of The Hulk than even Mark Steyn.

As Steve Hayward noted over at The Corner, California election law requires any ballot initiative that has qualified for the ballot be considered in the next election. Well, Ward Connerly's Racial Privacy Institiative (RPI) has qualified. An interesting little wrinkle. Not only will the liberals have to spend resources to keep Davis in office, they will also need to fight this initiative. Divide and conquer, anyone?

The advantage, for the moment, appears to be with Connerly. If the special election in October does, in fact, favor conservative grass-roots activists, the RPI could be carried to victory on the coattails of the recall. But, as with the recall, the Racial Privacy Initiative's success is far from assured. For one thing, the RPI campaign hasn't raised much money. Also few people are aware this initiative even exists. The fight for control of the governor's office could very easily overshadow RPI. Finally, the coalition that helped carry Proposition 209 to victory in 1996 no longer exists.

It will be interesting to see if Davis, who is a master at changing the subject in an election, will make RPI an issue in his campaign to discredit the recall as a right-wing plot. ("If"? "If"? "When" and "how" are more like it.) The governor is already on record against the initiative. One might also ask how the RPI campaign will exploit this unpopular governor's opposition?

Music industry lawsuits aside, I'm just glad that the Price Wars have begun. While I appreciated Apple's iTunes Music Store model, I did think that the price was a bit high at 99 cents per track. Considering the voluminous nature of most listeners' collections, I believe that the 79 cent counter-offer may be just the beginning of competitive pricepoint battles. The goofball theory that "information wants to be free" is ready for the dustbin. It's markets that want to be free.

"The Clone War has begun it has." It's kinda fun to see the Music Industry in a final last gasp sorta death rattle kind of thing sue each and every person who shares music files. Sure they might actually stop people. But it's only gonna make the computer programming guys more audacious and push them into doing something that's really gonna hurt the music industry. All of the lawsuits in the world aren't going to change one thing: the miusic business will no longer exist in 10 years. Know why? Because the music sucks. And any music that doesn't suck, doesn't get played on radio. And i'm not just talking about the old-fogey bands that Ben and Dave like, I'm talking NEW guys, people who are making music that's vital and full of life force. And oddly enough they all seem to be from Sweden.

In another attempt to get my fellow Monkey typists to tune into the Tour de France (it's on the Outdoor Life Network), I will point out that today brings the riders into wine country – from Dax to Bordeaux. What's more, we have another American to celebrate in le Tour – Tyler Hamilton. Yep, the same guy I blogged about back in the early stages of the race. The same guy who is riding with a broken collar bone. He won Stage 16 yesterday in a remarkable performance.
"Hamilton is an enormous surprise, a great surprise, a beautiful surprise. Here's this rider who we thought was out on day 1 and who not only hasn't lost time but who's still among the best. I find that phenomenal"    - Race Director Jean-Marie Leblanc
Here's the short version. Here's a longer account. (And remember, Hamilton is blogging the experience.)

UPDATE: is another great site from which to follow the Tour. Whether you've caught the fever or not, let me pass on the invitation to read the first chapter of Lance's upcoming 2nd book.

When Sorry Isn't Enough

This is what apologizing gets you. From the NYT account of Rep. Bill Thomas's little speech yesterday:
"I thought that Mr. Thomas's emotional apology answered some of the questions that we had, but not all," [Democratic Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi told reporters. While saying she sympathized with Mr. Thomas and accepted his apology, she added, "That's not the end of it."

As I pointed out earlier, Thomas was strongarmed into apologizing (maybe that's why he was crying) by Hastert and Delay in a futile effort to "repair the political damage" caused by calling the cops on unruly Democrats. The Democrats answered by denouncing the Republicans as tyrants. And this is news, why? Aren't the GOPs used to these shennanigans by now?

Nightline covered the recall last night (free transcripts are no longer available from ABC, but this gives the flavor). It was typical patronizing East Coast nonsense; the opening was done like Hollywood credits, the show title was "Total Recall," and there were the obvious shots of surfers and rollbladers. The tone was "there goes that wacky la-la land again," and the discussion of the budget crisis made it sound like it was the GOP's fault (there was no mention of the hysterical open mike gaffe that proved the opposite). I generally like Nightline, but this showed again how out of touch East Coast journalists are with the West (and, thus, much of the country). It's long past time for a great surge in West Coast journalism. Aside from a few good think tanks and blogs (like Claremont Institute, of course), most of the talent goes East...and is assimilated in the collective...

Vice President Cheney offers a timely reminder of why it's still 9/12. I'll link to the transcript as soon as the American Enterprise Institute posts it.

It's Recall Mania! Our main man Hugh Hewitt surveys the scene on "The Daily Standard" today, likening the coming election to a "King of the Ring" contest in professional wrestling. (Which, I wonder, does he consider to be the greater sham?) On his own blog, Hewitt ponders possible Democratic contenders for the statehouse. Al Checchi and Rep. Jane Harmon took a shot in 1998, and Davis whupped 'em. They may smell the blood in the water now.

A survey of the major editorial pages is a largely masochistic exercise. The Los Angeles Times cannot resist indulging in a little moral equivocation: "Davis has certainly dithered over major crises, including power shortages and the budget deficit. But by that measure, dozens of governors might be toast in this battered economy. He is a shameless fund-raising hound, but so is President Bush." Let's be clear: Davis looked the voters in the eye a week before the election and said the budget deficit would be $12 billion, tops. The hapless Bill Simon, Davis said at the time, is trying to scare you into thinking the budget crisis is much worse than it is. Indeed, Simon seemed more interested in making hay of Davis's dubious fundraising practices, to his own eventual embarrassment and defeat. A week after the election, the truth came out. Davis is a despicable swine. He may not be solely responsible for getting us into this mess. But as the top Democrat in a state dominated by Democrats, he's the one who will pay the political price.

The outlook at the San Francisco Chronicle is similarly grim: "We continue to believe the recall election is a bad idea, especially in the absence of evidence of malfeasance by the governor... Historians will decide whether we have entered a period of madness or catharsis." Live by Progress, die by Progress, I say.

Looks like D-Day is October 7.

Current song: None. Current drink: None.

Ah, I see James is off his meds again. I think it's supposed to be two pills every 12 hours, not 12 pills every two hours.

Dick Gephardt seems to have let at least one of his prescriptions lapse, too. When he's not comparing himself to Our Lord and Savior, he's making wild claims about national security. Neocon conspiracy ring-leader Bill Kristol provides a cure in today's Washington Post.

Current song: "War Toad" by Robby Krieger on the album, "Cinematix". Current drink: Coffee.

Let these images be broadcast far and wide. Let them be printed on posters, on t-shirts, on coffee cups. Let them be FedEx'd to the Ba'athists in Syria, the Ayatollahs in Iran, and their Jihadist errand boys in the West Bank and Gaza. And, not to put too fine a point on it, let the caption be this: "You started this war. This is how it will end for you."

Update: I hope Salam Pax is happy now.

Current song: "Don't Tread on Me" by Metallica on the "Black Album". Current drink: Coffee.

I just wannna say something about Iraq. We're gonna make it work. I am unwavering in this belief. In a year or so, people will be shocked. Right now, it's like watching the grass grow. it's a subtle thjing, but I can't help but notice-- and you really have read in between the lines on the news reports-- that every time the U.S. has made a misstep or hit an obstacle, they've quietly adapted. The U.S. is kinda like the Borg. People are going to be shocked and the Democrats will eating shit. It's a toroise and the hare thing. And slowly but surely the tortoise is winning the race.

Oh wait, Stark's a Democrat, that explains why he's a pussy.

My God, what happened to the Grand Old Party? Crying on the floor of House?!!!! Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thoms (R-Calif.), must officially and formally be ostracized by the Republicans for being such a pussy.

Mere minutes after I posted the item below, I read that House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas offered a tearful apology today for calling the cops on his wily Democrat colleagues last week. He was forced to do it by Denny Hastert and Tom Delay in order to "repair the political damage." Typical. Stark was half-right: what a bunch of suckers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Pete Stark: Statesman, Orator, Gentleman

You may have read that Democrat Rep. Pete Stark called one Republican member a "fruitcake" in that near-brawl on Capitol Hill last week. You may not have read about some of the other terms of opprobrium Stark hurled at his colleagues, including Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas. Fox News has the goods. Classic quote:
When asked later if he also aimed a vulgar, anti-gay slur in the direction of Thomas, Stark said, "I'm certain that at some point in the last year I called Chairman Thomas a ' ****sucker,' but not last Friday."

Stark reportedly dropped the f-bomb, too. Beautiful.

As an aside, the Democrats are trying to make a big deal about the fact that Bill Thomas called the Capitol Police on the unruly members. "This is how tyranny can begin in America," said Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett. Yeah, the Reichstag is burning, Lloyd. Meanwhile, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a silly woman, vowed to give the Republicans "a week from hell." Let's leave aside the long history of Democratic leadership putting the kabosh on debate when they were in charge. Does anybody really think these hyperbolic protests will have any traction at all? Maybe.

(Speaking of tyranny . . . just wait until these guys are in charge.)

Current song: None. Current drink: The last drops of the aforementioned martini.

It's one minute closer to midnight for Gray Davis's tenure as governor of California.

So, how will this all go down? Davis will lose, but not without a fight. A dirty fight, as is the Davis custom. As in the last election, Davis will attempt to change the subject and make the election a referendum on abortion and gun control. He told reporters at a health care center in East L.A. yesterday that "this election... is about a change of direction." California's voters, he predicted, will not reject a "progressive agenda" for a "right-wing agenda." The progressive agenda is a disaster. It is literally transforming the Golden State into a banana republic. But I think it's marvelous, really, that this "progressive" politician will be undone by Progressive means. (Funny how the modern-day "progressives" regard the old Progressive reforms with such disdain. They almost sound sincere. As it happens, so do I. Philosophically, I oppose the referendum, initiative, and recall. But I signed the recall petition enthusiastically, and I've supported many ballot initiatives in the past. I'm comfortable with my hypocrisy, because sometimes these anti-constitutional measures can and do advance the cause of limited, constitutional government.)

I say Davis will lose the recall, but I'm not convinced that the Republicans will win it. It's possible that the Lieutenant Governor may attempt a coup. Even if he fails, the Democrats control nearly two-thirds of the state legislature. Most of them are certifiable. That won't change if Davis is ousted. Since the Pete Wilson administration, the Republicans have demonstrated, time and again, a special talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It's almost as if they want to lose.

What of the candidates? Despite the headline on Drudge, Arnold Schwarzeneggar's chief political advisor, George Gorton, was on the radio earlier tonight denying the rumor that the Terminator isn't going to run. He didn't deny the rumor categorically, mind you, but he tried to laugh it the whole thing off. We'll see. I, for one, hope Schwarzeneggar doesn't run. He's essentially a Bloomberg Republican. So is Richard Riordan. I'm not enthusiastic about Issa, either. He's a bit squishy. By far the best Republican candidate to replace Davis is State Senator Tom McClintock. He understands the budget mess through and through, and he's got principles. What he hasn't got, alas, is money. I sent him $75 last year for his campaign for state controller (the only candidate I've ever given money to; he lost by a fraction of a percent to eBay magnate Steve Westly, who smeared McClintock shamelessly), and I intend to send him more. Not that it will matter much, in the end. Looks like we'll be stuck with Issa. Ah well.

Current song: Interlude music by the Black Dyke Band for the BBC America series "Ground Force". Current drink: Martini (alas, no White Russian tonight. I couldn't find the Kahlua.)

Hugh Hewitt has made the call today that Arnold Schwarzenegger will not run for Gov. in Cal. No link yet. Not even via a Google News search. More as it develops. And remember, you heard about me hearing it on the Hugh Hewitt Show here first. (Attention-whore that I am, I just have to point out HH's new WorldNetDaily column which includes my submissions on Gimli and Hans Blix.)

"Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!"

Current song: "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition from the "Big Lebowski" soundtrack. Current drink: Nothing right now, but I may make myself a White Russian when I get home.

I'm usually not impressed by the flames or trollish remarks that frequently appear in the Comments sections of (the more advanced) blogs, but this one actually made me laugh out loud. (The site was that of Tacitus who had posted an email from a Marine in Baghdad reporting on the local reaction to the death of the twin terrors.) Perhaps this turn of phrase has been out there for some time now, but I hadn't heard it before.
"[...your comments] have convinced me that you're a moron. The issue isn't the color of your ineloquence, but the content of your idiocy."

Posted by: Bird Dog at July 23, 2003 07:08 PM

Casual references to this story are already popping up in blog comments posts and the like, without any backstory. So, I figured you should be up to speed on this meme.

A group of "academics" (I got the scare quotes on sale from the BBC) has categorized "the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism." They include:
Fear and aggression
Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
Uncertainty avoidance
Need for cognitive closure
Terror management
Terror management?!? So, by contrast, I guess we are to assume that a lack of terror management is a defining factor of liberalism. That'll play well with the electorate. DEAN in '04!

UPDATE: Members of the Northern Alliance of Bloggers, the SCSU Scholars, had not only beaten me to the story (yeah, big surprise), but they've done an exemplary treatment of it. GREENS in '04!

Tuesday, July 22, 2003
A few weeks ago, I wondered if "The Hulk" is as bad as everybody says. Surely, I opined at the time, it can't be worse than "T3."

Well, I never got around to seeing "The Hulk." My wife and I saw "Johnny English" instead. (Very funny, highly recommended, with the exception of one bit involving an "awful poo tube.")

Mark Steyn saw it, though. "The most authentic touch is the Hulk’s purple pants. Unlike the rest of the picture, they hold up." Jeez, I guess it really is that bad.

Holy crow! Now there is an ad for Clyde Prestowitz's idiotic book about American foriegn policy. Google must have picked up my reference to Gephardt and America's "cowboy unilateralism." I liked it better when all the ads were about booze. Booze! Booze! Bourbon! Scotch! Rye! Sazeracs! Gin! Junipero! Martinis! Hmmmmmmm, martinis...

Hope that works.

I need a drink.

Would somebody explain how Google's ad generator works? I just followed the link to Ben Cohen's "True Majority," where I was encouraged to send an e-mail to urge My Representative to support a congressional investigation into Bush's WMD claims. Yeah, I'll get right on that.

More interesting (to me, anyway) is the list of True Majority's supporters. They include:

  • National Council of Churches
  • Campaign for America's Future
  • Campus Greens
  • Peace Action
  • Co-op America
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Global Exchange
  • Rainforest Action Network
  • Greenpeace
  • Rock the Vote
  • Infact
  • Service Employees International Union
  • The Interfaith Alliance
  • Sojourners
  • National Council of La Raza
  • United for a Fair Economy
  • National Head Start Association
  • Women's Action for New Directions

Most of these names aren't surprising. The Religious Left is morally bankrupt on this question, but wealthy. Rock the Vote? Gimme a break. But, I asked myself, what is the National Head Start Association doing there? Upon further reflection (and inspection), that's not so surprising, either, I suppose. The NHSA is a special interest group (not that there's anything wrong with that) dedicated to preserving a massively expensive, failed federal program. I just figured they would be too busy campaigning against proposed reforms of the aforementioned expensive failure to waste time chasing spooks. But then I realized, throwing money down ratholes is what the NHSA does best.

Current song: "Happiness Pie" by Death Lurks from the "Brain Candy" soundtrack. Current drink: None.

In an earlier post, Robb challenged us to guess why he was considering registering as a Democrat. Well, recent news has given me an insight into his scheming. Of course you've heard about the California Democrats' closed-door but accidentally open-mic strategy session. (If not, you need to. The media seems to be soft-pedaling it, and the big news of the Goon Brothers assuming room temperature has helped keep it covered.) Anyway, the gist of the story is that the real face of the coniving Dems was shown – they were planning ways to extend the state's financial crisis, and exploit the resulting suffering for political gain. Here's one telling quote:
"Some of us are thinking that maybe people should see the pain up close and personal, right now," said [Assemblywoman] Goldberg, who could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Back to Robb. Recently Ben linked to a piece on how the current Bush is not really conservative. Disheartened that the Republicans are losing touch with the stereotype of the greedy, self-centered bastard who lives only to keep the little people down, Robb is now looking to the new Mr. Potter's (from It's a Wonderful Life, not J.K. Rowling) of American politics – the Democrats.

I still don't know why Robb wants to go over to the Democrats, but God bless 'im. I'm starting to get excited about the Democrats in '04. Why, just the other day, Dick Gephardt compared himself to Jesus Christ. (Gephardt also had some interesting things to say in San Francisco today about America's cowboy unilateralism.) And Howard Dean, who is leading in California, told the A.P. that "the ends didn't justify the means" in response to the news that U.S. soldiers killed Uday and Qusay Hussein in a gun battle today. I may send Dean ten bucks and a note thanking him for his candor. I can't wait to hear his acceptance speech in Boston next summer.

Current song: "Monkey on My Mind" by the Phil Gruen Quartet on the album "Smelly Rainbows". Current drink: Water.

Nothing original here - just pure distillation (No, not that kind). Earlier, Ben posted about a few pieces at NRO's The Corner on the cartoon flap. Besides Jonah Goldberg's past article on the photographer of that (in)famous picture, what I found most interesting was the Higher Criticism (of the Gospels) flap that the cartoon talk was smack in the middle of. No, it's not the end-all, be-all of Christian controversies, nor does it definitively set the record straight henceforth, but I thought it was interesting to observe. It all started with this post. From there, it continued (with a snippet, probably interesting only to me, on Latin pronunciation) here (and then went on through the next three posts). Then here and here.

For a little more background on the movie (The Passion), and it's maker (Mel Gibson), see the two links in this Corner post.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has been contemplating the accuracy of the recreation of crucifixtion here, and he includes a follow-up link to someone else's blog post and resulting comments that lead to more than you'll want to read on the historicity of the Gospels, the hands nailed vs. wrists nailed, soaked sponges, and more. It's not an exemplary academic discussion, but it is sadly typical.