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Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Blog Mop-up Vol. 3: And Another Thing

What's the deal with Arnold's commercial? You'd think that one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood could afford a better make-up job.

Blog Mop-up, Vol. 2: Who Cares if Cruz Wins?

So much to blog. So much.

All right - I've had many thoughts about the California recall/election issue, the issue of compromise, Tom / Arnold (not to be confused with the jack-ass who used to be married to Rosanne), etc. I didn't know where to start, but fortunately Brad's running commentary of the HH show almost a month ago gave me loads of items to respond to.

The first issue is the obsession with a "Republican victory", which seems to be the centerpiece of any pro-Ahnold argument, even if it's not explicitly constructed that way. It goes something like this, "If we don't vote for Arnold, then Cruz will win! Oh no! Oh no!" So what if Cruz does win? How much worse will it be? A DEMOCRAT will be the governor of California. Like that's never happened before.

Brad said, "I think a stronger case could be made that a real conservative ought to be ashamed of himself knowing that his vote helped to elect Cruz," but I think it really is a "Republican vs. Democrat" issue here, not a "conservative vs. liberal issue." It is NOT in the interest of conservatism that any old yahoo that registers Republican wins an election. I ask you this: If everything about this campaign were the same - Arnold's positions, his associations, etc. - but he were running as a Democrat or an Independent, would you even CONSIDER voting for him? If the answer is "no", then why vote for him now? He's not a conservative, so this isn't about conservatives winning - it's about REPUBLICANS winning, and when you start voting for a party regardless of what the party stands for, you've stopped thinking.

Based on much of that I've read and heard, one answer to the "Why vote for him?" question has to do with re-electing W. in 2004 - helping to hand over California's 666 (or so) electoral votes. This is a horrible reason to select a governor. If the governor of California really has so little affect on the lives of Californians that people are more concerned with using the position to return King George XLIII to power, then it REALLY doesn't matter who wins.

To get more pragmatic, do you really want a raging centrist carrying the Republican coat of arms into the governor's mansion? If the state's going to continue its slide into oblivion, wouldn't it be better for the Republicans if it did so under Cruz's watch? Is there any part of Arnold's agenda that might stop that slide?

Blog Mop-up, Vol. 1: Decent food in Anaheim

Well, I finally found the Outback down here, so that I don't have to suffer through another over-dry rack of ribs like I did last time. If anyone knows of a place I can get a REAL meal in this neck of the woods, please send e-mail to the address in the upper left corner.

I just finished watching the Cubs eke out a down-to-the-wire victory over Atlanta in their first playoff game, and it was very nerve-wracking. They managed to finish the Braves off with the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning, so I can now digest my food properly. In other cheery playoff news, the Minnesota Twins (go Northern Alliance!) beat the accursed New York Yankees 3-1. I'm not sure which would please me more - the Cubs going to the World Series, or the Yankees losing in the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. Maybe I won't have to choose. Wouldn't a midwest series between the Cubs and Twins be fantastic? No person of Scandinavian descent would get any work done for weeks.

I do wish the lineup for the National League playoffs had been different - I would have preferred to see the Cubs play the Braves in the NLCS, rather than the first round, but rules is rules.

Hit me with your rhythm stick

We Monkeys have "stirred the drink," but kind of in the wrong direction. How? Well, we've distracted Mitch Berg from things political, getting him off on music again. I appreciate Mitch's musing on matters musical (alliteration not planned), though I have never shared his views on the sound of CD's, nor do I think that there is any measurable difference between the dreck content of CD's vs. vinyl. Oh, wait - there we go again...

Anyway, I figured we ought to fess up and take the blame, since we're apparently keeping Mitch from writing on more pressing matters, like the gun-views of the next governor of the state of California.

Hmm... think about it: Mitch still needs a job - and Arnold obviously needs a better advisor on Second Amendment issues... Can't you just see Mitch loadin' up the truck and movin' to Beverly? Hills, that is. Swimmin pools, movie stars.


Uh, yeah... that's all I got to say.

And another thing, a monkey wouldn't beat up a two-year-old kid, not unless there was extenuating circumstances. Like the kid pulled a knife on him or something. And then a monkey's gotta do what a monkey's gotta do.

it's gonna come out that that kid pulled a shotgun on Little Joe, but will the press bury in the back pages somewhere: "2-Year-Old Pulls Gun on Defenseless Ape." It's always like that. There is no justice for primates in America.

They promsied us forty acres and a banana tree. Did we get that? No. Just countless human lies.

We Monkeys just want to say we are offended by the treatment given a gorilla arrested by the Boston Police Department for escaping from the Frankjlin park Zoo. First off we want to say that Little Joe is not a "serial escappee" as labelled by the news media-- he is a serial freedom seeker.

Secondly, the charge that he beat beat up a two-year-old girl and 18-year-old woman are unsubstantiated. We regret any injuries suffered to any humans in Little Joe's quest for freedom. However, as regettable as the injuries are-- what about Little Joe? Imprisoned for life on false charges, for the amusement of the general human public. What about about the injuries to Little Joe's spirit?

We find it laughable that an entire SWAT team had to be called to subdue one ape. One ape! And even they fled! They shot Joe several times and that still did not stop him. That was an ape who wanted his freedom.

We here at Infinite Monkeys will not rest until Little Joe is freed, or until somebody sends us a case of genuine Tennessee moonshine.

Moonshine good.

Monday, September 29, 2003
Great booze post by The Elder.

Scrappleface offers a valid explanation for why McClintock's strong debate performance didn't help him.

I don't agree with Robb's take on the polling numbers. A few points:

1) Why would McClintock want to come in third? It's sad--while the poll shows he would also beat Cruz if it were one-on-one, it isn't. The impression left to most Californians will be that he lost of Arnold AND Cruz.
2) This poll doesn't "free" McClintock or his supporters at all. This is a snapshot with a small sample size (1007 voters) with a four percentage point margin of error. The truly negative hits on Arnold are still to come, so Cruz could still win.
3) Check question 22 on the poll. Most people in the poll think McClintock did the best in the debate. This disagrees with Hugh's take, but it also shows a lot of people favorable to McClintock in this poll saying they are going to vote for Arnold. "Freeing" those people to vote for McClintock would not be a good thing.

Hewitt vs. McClintockWell, I took a peek over at Hugh Hewitt's analysis (Sept. 29, 7:15am entry) of the latest CA poll results, and I must disagree. If Cruz is running at only 25%, and Arnold and McClintock are splitting 58% between them, this is good news for McClintock supporters. First, even if McClintock only gets the 18% he's currently polling at, people can vote their consciences and not worry that a Democrat will win the election. Second, it frees up McClintock supporters who were voting for Arnold out of fear to go back to McClintock, because ONE of these guys is going to win the election. As long as Cruz is sitting at 25 points, then there is room for a "real conservative" on the ballot. And even if Arnold wins with only 30% of the vote, savvy Republican operatives can still spin the results favorably - Republican candidates received an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of the votes. If you're looking for a mandate, you just combine Arnold's and Tom's numbers together - 58% of the voters want a Republican in office. In California. 58%.

I think it's actually worse, at this point, if McClintock steps aside. If Arnold takes the whole 58%, then all that can be said is 58% of the voters wanted Arnold to be Governor. Not a conservative (because he isn't), and not even a Republican (because the other Republicans who aren't running on celebrity didn't get any votes).

If McClintock gets more votes than Cruz Bustamante, he wins, even if he doesn't become Governor. Both Arnold and the legislature will have to accept that he was a contender, with genuine support.

They die in threesJames mentioned the deaths of Robert Palmer and George Plimpton, and how these things always come in threes. However, I would argue that this time we're looking for two more deaths. You see, with John Ritter and Johnny Cash dying on the same day a couple of weeks ago, I think we're looking for another pair to go on the same day. And, judging from the pattern, the younger will be in his mid-50's and die of an undiagnosed/unpredicted heart failure, and the elder will be in his 70's.

Within a couple of weeks, I think we're looking at more carnage, I'm sad to say.

Sunday, September 28, 2003
"Blogs good. Newspapers bad. Ombudsman dumb."

This post's title comes directly from an article in which the Sac Bee's Ombudsman responds to the blogosphere's collective disdain for his handling of the Weintraub "editing" minder issue. (No, it's not on their new editors' group blog. I still feel disinclined to link to that.) I don't have time for a full fisking, but amid the expected platitudes and convenient rationalizations is this distortion:
"I find it ironic that those who have slapped a censor label on The Bee would have it slap a muzzle on staffers who have a contrary opinion."
Okay, I'm counting on you to know the backstory here. Those of us who expressed contempt for the Bee's cave-in to a collection of its own peeved staffers could not in any way be reasonably interpreted as having called for the excitable bunch to be censored. There's got to be a name for such fatuous spin - I just don't know it. To assert that one should not reward a group's ravings is in no way the equivalent of suggesting that they have their right to voice said ravings removed. To refuse to take action over some staffers' complaints is not the same as "muzzling" them.

Let's turn this ombudsman's logic around. Does it constitute "censorship" for the Bee to take all of the critical emails from bloggers and then not implement the changes those bloggers suggest? Of course not. It's just telling to see how far this ombudsman will go to try to cast the blogosphere as hypocritical.

(Thanks for the Bee link go to Rough & Tumble, by way of a link at CalBlog.)

UPDATE: Fresh Potatoes is fisking the article's other points.

Your money for their lives...

Speaking of Adam Ant (which we were yesterday), it's not just here on Infinite Monkeys that the Dandy Highwayman is linked with primates.

Seen on a bumper stickerSeen on a bumper sticker last Friday:

Ninja monkeys are meeting as we speak, plotting my demise.

Smells Like BlackmailWell, the mailbag produced another, less pleasant item late last week. Here's the text, with both the innocent and the guilty removed for different reasons:

Subject: Save [deleted]!


You may or may not be aware that your fellow Bear Flag League member
[deleted] also happens to be a member of the [deleted]. [deleted]'s
seat on the council is in jeopardy, and she needs 12 blogs to help her if
she is to stay on... if you are interested in finding out how you can help
her, please read this post: [deleted]

Best regards,

When you follow the link, it tells of how 12 blogs need to create inbound links to the "council's" weblog in order to retain her "seat".

I don't know about you, but it smells like blackmail to me. My answer, and I hope the answer that the other BFL members give, is "We do not negotiate with terrorists."

An Infinite Monkeys mail bag entry, sent by researcher, writer, and editor, (as well as consultant and humorist) Ken Umbach:
I have been thinking about the brouhaha over the Bee and Weintraub. My initial reaction was that this was just wrong, that Weintraub should be free to post unfettered by editorial review.

On reconsideration:
(1) the URL at which Weintraub posts begins "" -- that is, it is the Bee's own site -- the publisher pays for it and it reflects on the company.

(2) presumably, Weintraub does his online work on company time as well as on company-owned Web space and using the publisher's commercial URL.

(3) given the above, it is by no means unreasonable that management of the Bee (or of any other paper in a similar position) feels it should at least do a pro forma review of what is to be posted on its own commercial site in advance of the posting.
What would be unreasonable, given that Weintraub is an opinion columnist (and may well be the best in the business -- certainly one of the best), would be to intrude inappropriately in the content of his posted columns. What is appropriate intrusion? I would suggest that pointing out what might be material misstatements or statements that Weintraub might himself wish to give an additional review before posting on account of some particular issue that the editor spotted. (As a writer and an editor, I do appreciate the value of a sound editorial "second set of eyes" on a document.) What is inappropriate intrusion?  I would suggest that removal of factually correct and pertinent information or arbitrary requirement of rewriting in order to soften a position or to change an opinion. So as long as the editorial review remains "appropriate," to my mind this is a nonissue. And I have seen nothing since the policy was changed to require the review to suggest that Weintraub has been defanged. [Emphasis in original.]

Saturday, September 27, 2003
Stop right there!Stop right there!

I don't want to hear any crap about Oingo Boingo!

Mentioning XTC (who also don't deserve to get lumped in the same list with A-ha and Stryper) reminded me of a great song by They Might Be Giants called "XTC vs. Adam Ant". Sample lyrics:

XTC versus Adam Ant
Content versus form
Fighting for their place in rock and roll
There is no right or wrong

Just when you think it's finished
With XTC on top
Antmusic, like a phoenix
Flies back up the charts

XTC versus Adam Ant
Only one will survive
Beatle-based pop versus new romantic
History will decide

XTC versus Adam Ant
I can't tell you why
Even the singer from Bow Wow Wow
Can't make up her mind

Current Song: "Ain't This The Life" from the album Farewell by Oingo Boingo

Friday, September 26, 2003
Just to comment on something Ben wrote earlier: "Even Orange County is trending Democrat." Orange County trending to the left has nothing to do with Pete Wilson, and more to do with changing demographics my friend. It's more that the county is trending Hispanic.

One more thing about Robert Palmer: man, Power Station totally sucked. Had to be one of the worst bands of the 80s-- I'd put them up there with Toto or Styper. Oh, God the memories are flowing back: Wham! Haircut 100. Boy George. Thommpson Twins. A-ha! Oingo Boingo. Duran Duran. Flock of Seagulls. ELO. Whitesnake. Warrant. Scorpion. Wang Chung. Tom Tom Club. Hall and Oates. Bananarama. The Bangles. The Go-Gos. Journey. Styx. Yes. Sugar Hill Gang. The Alan Parsons Project. Genesis. XTC. Simple Minds. Peter Gabriel. Devo. Human League. The Cult. Depeche Mode. The Motels. Rick Astley. DiVynyls. Pet Shop Boys.

Must.... escape.... musical... wasteland!!!!! Ahhhhhh! There is no escape!!!

Sigh. You know what tragic part of this post is? I bought most of the albums by these people, and I still have them. And every once in a while, I play them.

They Always Die in Threes
So Robert Palmer and George Plimpton are dead. One more famous person must die-- it's the law of the universe-- who will it be? I'm puttin' my money on Jimmy "J.J." Walker from "Good Times." Or the guy who played Horshack on "Welcome Back Kotter." I say it's their time to pass into the celebrity netherworld.

Thursday, September 25, 2003
She Hate Me
If you buy The New York Times just one time, buy the upcoming Sunday edition. In the Sunday magazine, the cover story is about the California recall. In the story they interview 79 year-old Charlotte Goland, Gray Davis' next door neighbor. Not only did Goland sign the petition for Davis' recall but she sent in a check for $2,000. When asked by the reporter why she boomed,"Because I don't like him! Want to come in and talk about it?"

Another bit from the story:

"Charlotte cannot quite put her face on why she so despises Gray Davis. She met him in 1999 when he moved into the governor's house.... "Maybe I'm stubborn," she says. "But I've got such a violent reaction to the man. It's a gut reaction. I don't like him. It's intuitive. I'm not really sure this feeling I have for him would be as strong if I didn't live here next o him."

Anyhow, it's some good stuff. And I guess it just goes to show you, be nice to people, big or small, because you never know.

So I've been gettting spam from Some of the subject headings from the spam are pretty interesting:

9/24: "James, do you know...I love you?"

9/22: "President Bush has sent a message to James."

9/19: "just wondering"

9/16: "i'm a barbie girl, in a barbie world :)"

9/15: "President Bush Presses Economic and Energy Plans"

9/12: "funbags"

9/6: "James, your neighbors will be jealous"

9/8: "James, see how the Cold War was won! 14 Gb of Best softcore and hardcore videos with beautiful young russian girls!"

8/26: "President Vows You Will Save up to 90% - Inkjet & Laser Toners ovtgvzrwvzzl^lnubb(p... "

8/18: "Fwd: Comebacks to pick-up lines"

8/8: "dude, free for lunch?"

Speaking of flying pigs, this building is endangered, according to this story.

McClintock seems to be left with four scenarios:

1) He doesn't drop out, Arnold win anyway, but doesn't return Tom's calls.
2) He doesn't drop out, and Cruz wins.
3) He drops out, and Cruz wins anyway.
4) He drops out, Arnold wins and does return his calls.

Yes, yes, I know there's a fifth scenario where Tom wins, and rides a victory lap astride a flying pig around a snow-covered Capitol. Let's leave that one to tell children late at night when they can't sleep.

Tom's political career is dead in the first three of these scenarios. He might believe that in case #2 he could overcome GOP resentment, and win a nomination again, but that's moot: in both scenarios #2 and #3, Republican candidates will not be winning big races in California for many years to come. There's a variation of scenario #1 that Tom might be thinking of: Arnold wins, but governs so poorly that he's a Jesse Ventura-like object of ridicule. Why anyone would wish this on California is beyond me, as is any logic where that helps Tom. He tried to beat the guy and couldn't, the GOP is in tatters, and so is Tom's career.

Option #4 is the best for Tom and everyone, if he can find the guts to do it. That means not only working to elect Arnold, but working to make him successful. I'd like McClintock in the U.S. Senate more than in Sacramento anyway...but if he doesn't take action very soon, he's going to be lucky to get a job as a commentator opposite Ariana on Public Radio.

The debate tonight was interesting, with few surprises. Ariana is nutcase, but some have know that for a very long time (I owe an apology to a certain National Review writer I took to task many years ago for mocking her during a forum--he saw much more than I did at the time). The Green party is so sweet and naive you just want to invite them over for a sock hop and an (organic) taffy pull. Cruz is a bad, bad man who is way out of the mainstream. And by "mainstream," I mean the way that humans live on the planet in the 21st century. McClintock is living in a world that must be very beautiful, albeit unconnected to this one (see next post). And Arnold, oh, Arnold. We want to love you. I heard a guy on the radio today say that you'd be in big trouble if you attacked Ariana, but you did exactly that, and it may cost you. Fair? No. Welcome to the worst part of politics: the odd nature of the perceptions of the electorate. In your case, you're well on your way to a woman problem, and the fact that Ariana is closer to a howler monkey on his third peanut butter'n'cocaine sandwich than to a woman might not help you.

I want to like Arnold, I really do. A lot of his answers are squishy, and he's not standing up for some issues I really care about. But I honestly believe he will do what's right for the state, will whip the legislature into line with strong use of veto powers and the bully pulpit (remember, the cameras will stay to cover Arnold, when they wouldn't for anyone else--for good or ill). As I've mentioned before, I fully trust Arnold's take on economic issues.

I once argued, many years ago, that G.H.W. Bush's loss to Clinton wasn't too bad: GHWB wasn't a real conservative, Clinton wasn't too liberal, and the loss would teach the GOP a lesson. Well, the California GOP needs to stop learning lessons and needs to start applying some common sense. Yes, the risk is that you suffer a tragedy like the Democrats did with Clinton--his wishy-washy unprincipled politics took a lot of the heart out of the party. It also didn't do the country any good, which is what the GOP is supposed to put first.

I won't support Arnold for President, even if the Constitution is changed. But, to steal a line from David Frum, he's the right man for California.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Reader Mail

A great e-mail from reader James Phillips of Folsom, CA (I hear that whistle blowin'), in response to Ben's haircut post:

Governor Davis does not get his hair cut. I don't know what it is, but it is not hair. A few years ago (quite a few), I rode in an elevator with then Lt. Gov. Davis and I stood right behind him. I was mesmerized by his hair. The artist who created it really did make it look like hair. The attention to detail was incredible. It was so life-like.

(If you've seen the movie Roxanne, imagine Rick Rossovich when he first sees Steve Martin and his nose in the fire house. That was me standing behind Davis.)

Kindergarten Governor

Even if you buy the idea that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a viable Republican candidate, he makes it next to impossible for anyone with an intact frontal lobe to respect him. I just saw one of his new spots. He's sitting in a classroom, or something, talking to adults of various hues and sexes. "These are my leadership principles," he says. "Progress over politics. Bipartisanship always. And the will of the people is paramount." Who writes this stuff? Who believes it? It's stomach-churning, pandering, demagogic garbage. Just awful.

Current drink: Sapphire martini. Current song: "Ground Force" music by the Black Dyke Band on BBC America.

If An Actor Can Be Governor...

...then why not U.S. Senator?

"We'll Always Have Florida"

Advice to The New Republic's Jonathan Chait, courtesy of La Rochefoucauld: "When our hatred is too keen it places us beneath those we hate."

At the core of Chait's brief for Bush hatred is this sentence, which actually appears around the middle of his essay: "Liberals hate Bush not because he has succeeded but because his success is deeply unfair and could even be described as cheating."

You don't have to read another word. There you have it. Forget the war (please!): Whatever else Bush may say, whatever else he may do, he'll always be the "selected" president. Bush hatred is, at bottom, Bush envy.

Reality? Check. Manhood? Check.

I'm not going to lie to you, I've been a little bit depressed lately. I won't bore you with the reasons. But let me just say that, every so often, it's a good idea to take stock of your life. Sometimes, you know, it's easy to take things for granted. You should never rest on your laurels. You don't want to get into a rut, either. Adopt, adapt, improve. Because if you think your life is the big suck-a-roo, just imagine having a cup of tea and ending up like this poor, dumb bastard.

The Cynicism Behind Schwarzenegger

I bumped into a few of my many Republican party friends this weekend, who were almost all enthusiastic about Arnold Schwarzeneggar. I was particularly amused by the very conservative, otherwise sensible Lincoln Club of Orange County getting solidly behind an actor who went on Oprah the other day and spoke of how "a pump was better than coming." None of them cared much about Arnold's actual positions, however. All they cared about is his perceived ability to win. One explained that the white-hot rage at Davis and Bustamante had now tippled over into a cold determination to beat him, by whatever means necessary. I have to say I respect this kind of political argument. But it also strikes me that the right really cannot criticize Bustamante as a cipher for other forces aligned behind him, when they are doing exactly the same with an actor they view as a purely Potemkin figure. "Look, if it means we get Pete Wilson running the state again, I don't much care who they put up as a front-man," one partisan gleefully explained. All of this reminds me of Bill Kristol's flirtation with Colin Powell as a Republican candidate a few years back. Why the Powell boomlet? He was black and could win. Er, that was it. Powell was a cipher to innoculate the Republicans from seeming too white-bread. Similarly, Schwarzenegger is a perceived winner and a cipher to innoculate the Republicans from seeming ... what, exactly? Uncool? Weak on after-school programs? Out of the political mainstream? Who knows? It all smacks of phoniness and opportunism to me. And it's a clear sign that those who control big Republican money are worried. It would make me want to vote for McClintock even more. After all, what would be healthiest for the future of the Republicans—a party still run by principle-free pols like Wilson or one built up from the grass roots by people with passion and ideas?

Correction: Oh, dear. I seem to have accidentally ripped off Andrew Sullivan's take on Wesley Clark almost word for word. Strangely, to my fevered mind at least, I think it holds up.

A note about the reference to the O.C. Lincoln Club. They're very good guys, very shrewd Republicans, and conservative through-and-through. But they jumped on the Arnold bandwagon too early and now they may be having second thoughts. They took a poll, you see. The results were, perhaps, not what they expected. What to do? What to do? Watch the debate, and keep your fingers crossed, I guess.

Also, a note about Pete Wilson. A lot of Republicans have fond memories of Wilson's administration. In fact, the last two or three years of his tenure were pretty good for the state, economically speaking. He appointed some decent judges, too, such as Janice Brown, and brought Eloise Anderson out from Wisconsin to help reform welfare.

But how quickly they forget the first term. They forget the tax boondoggle of '91, with the much-detested "snack tax," "newspaper tax," and the rest of it. Wilson may have held the line on spending subsequently, but he did next to nothing to reduce the size and scope of the state government. When he had the chance to kill the vehicle license fee, he agreed to this preposterous scheme that allowed Gray Davis to trigger the 300% increase earlier this year. (On second thought, the car tax hike seemed to have galvanized the recall effort, so maybe we should thank Wilson, rather than damn him. Hmmm? Ah, no.)

Wilson was useless in keeping California's U.S. Senate seats in the hands of his party, backing losers like John Seymour, and he could not deliver the state for George Bush the Elder or Bob Dole. (Then again, who could?) His co-opting of the Proposition 187 campaign may have had short-term benefits (i.e., getting the thing passed), but in the long-run the tactics played into the hands of the pro-illegal lobby and the Democrats. Bottom line: Wilson all but destroyed the conservative grass-roots apparatus in the Golden State. Outside of a few enclaves, it has yet to recover. Even Orange County is trending Democrat.

Wilson is chairman of the Schwarzeneggar campaign. Many of Wilson's top aides are Schwarzenegger's top advisors as well.

Tom McClintock fought Wilson tooth-and-nail over the budget. He wrote the bill (and is currently pushing the ballot initiative) to kill the car tax. Almost all of his predictions came to pass: higher taxes retarded the state's economic recovery, drove businesses out of the state, and failed to bolster revenues. And that was when the budget deficit was a mere $14 billion.

Wilson and his men never forgave McClintock for his recalcitrant and principled stand. He didn't go along "for the good of the party," or cave to the wishes of a cynical and calculating Republican governor. Understand that, and you will understand the dynamics of the present recall fight a little bit better.

Stand Down, Men

The judicial usurpers have had second thoughts about their usurpation.

Professor Bainbridge has written quite a bit on the SacBee/Weintraub Nannygate, including this:
"To be clear, I'm saying that the Bee did make a mistake -- a business mistake -- by muzzling Weintraub. I just thought the blogosphere was getting off track by framing the issue as one of political correctness, free speech, censorship, and so on. I think its a business issue."
The Bee's ham-handedness may indeed be bad business, but it wasn't a business decision. It was a purely political decision. Politically correct, that is. The SacBee's cave-in to a minority caucus squeaky wheel, or to the racially-enumerated inter-office handwringing [whichever story you believe] are practically PC archetypes.

BTW, can we just get past the need to all restate that the paper certainly had the right to do whatever it wanted with the blog they funded, and that the Blogosphere has the right to be up in arms over the Bee's myopic stupidity?

Lastly, I think Prof. Bainbridge is just off base with his insistence in comparing the Weintraub situation to the BBC's issues with Gilligan. In the attempt to keep the blinders on and focus just on the "business issue," Bainbridge is neglecting something as obvious as the "rights" issues I mentioned in the last paragraph. There are reasons for tightening the reigns on a writer that are honorable, and reasons that are not (note: I said "honorable" not moral or ethical). There is a vast chasm between a Weintraub and a Gilligan; one that renders any rhetorical bridge far too protracted to be considered sound.

Monday, September 22, 2003
There is a Point at Which the Marriage of Gin and Vermouth is Consummated...

"...It varies a little with the constituents, but for a gin of 94.4 proof and a harmonious vermouth it may be generalized at about 3.7 to one. And that is not only the proper proportion but the critical one; if you use less gin it is a marriage in name only and the name is not martini. You get a drinkable and even pleasurable result, but not art’s sunburst of imagined delight becoming real."

Thus spake Bernard DeVoto in 1949. I'd go a bit further. A perfect martini needs dilution. It should be about 25% water. So there.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first "Monkey Brothers Booze Blogging Challenge":

Write about where to get and/or how to make a good martini. Favorite recipe, best chain restaurant/bar martini, best martini you've ever had, merits of shaken vs. stirred, is it a real martini if it's not made with gin, how many olives does a real man have in his martini, how much vermouth is the "right amount", etc...

This challenge is officially directed at the gin-bibbing members of Infinite Monkeys and Fraters Libertas, but of course we would welcome entries from other blogs, as well, or via e-mail and we'll post your comments here. If you have an e-mail suggestion or want to bring another blog's entry to our attention, please send e-mail to the address in the upper left corner.

Let the blogging begin!

Current Song: "D.R.I.N.K." from the album Draining The Glass - 1982-86 by The Jazz Butcher

Current Drink: Breve Latte at my favorite local coffee bar

Laugh, Clown, Laugh!

Jay Nordlinger reports on a lyric he "heard on the Muzak in a store: 'Just like Pagliacci did, I try to keep my sadness hid.'"

He comments: "Boy, what a beautiful, treasurable rhyme. Of course, there is no 'Pagliacci' — that is the name of the (Leoncavallo) opera whose protagonist (the pagliaccio) is Canio. But still..."

The lyric is from "Tears of a Clown," written by one William "Smokey" Robinson, performed by same, and accompanied by a now-defunct band called "The Miracles." The song was something of a hit a few decades ago. But I'm not sure Mr. Robinson is referring to the opera. I think he's making a sly reference to one of the greatest jokes of all time:

A man goes to a therapist. "Doctor," he says, "I'm miserable. My life isn't worth living. I'm so unhappy. I want to kill myself." The doctor reaches into his pocket and hands the man a ticket. "Go to the theater tonight. The great clown Pagliacci is in town. If he can't make you laugh, no one can!"

"But, doctor," the man replies, "I am Pagliacci!"

Get it? The clown is sad! Hence, his tears!

Right. (Ahem.) Well, then...

It's funnier in the original Italian.

Current drink: Sapphire martini. Current song: Something with a lot of percussion on the television.

There Are Two Kinds of Voters in California...

The ones who get their hair cut at a barbershop, and those who get their hair "styled" at a salon. I'd wager that four out of five barbershop voters are in favor of the recall. Easy.

I wonder where Gray Davis gets his hair cut? Does the state have a barber on the payroll? Probably. This occurred to me over the weekend, when I took my son for his second haircut (it was a multi-generational family affair: my dad got his haircut, too, and played with Benjamin while I got my bi-weekly buzz).

I don't think Gov. Davis would have been able to get his haircut there. Safely, I mean. I read that the recall is losing support in the latest polls, but certainly not among the men at waiting at the barbershop on Saturday afternoon. Yes, sure, it was a pretty small sample. Still, it's not a very political shop to begin with—the conversation is limited generally to sports, home improvement, ski trips, dogs, golf, boats, and more sports. But these days, even boat talk turns quickly to politics.

"Did you know that they're closing Castiac Lake?"


"Lack of funding."

"How is that possible?"

"Yeah? Didn't Davis triple the car tax?"

"We gotta get rid of that guy."

And so it goes.

(Evidently, I'm not the only one to have noticed this phenomenon—or to have employed this device. For every rule, however, there must be an exception or two.)

Current drink: Lipton iced tea with a splash of hibiscus. Current song: "Bring It On" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on the album, "Nocturama."

Fly in the Bell Jar

Since the new SacBee Editorial group blog (like I'm gonna link directly to it...) doesn't feature comments, here's another way to vent your spleen:

Email your "boos and hisses" about Weintraub's leash to:

Oh, and here's a page of SacBee contacts, including one that might be the "deputy" mentioned as the other guy that Weintraub will be submitting to.

Sunday, September 21, 2003
Free Weintraub!

There's already a spiffy web graphic to go along with the new Free Weintraub Coalition. Bear Flag Leaguer Fresh Potatoes has the goods. Scroll down a bit and look for the FWC logo on the left, just across from the BFL logo.

Ninth Circuit / Recall Reality Show UPDATED (again)

I wonder if Daniel Weintraub will be allowed to watch the 9th Circuit "Reality Show" (Reality Check may be more like it) without being accompanied by a guardian - er, I mean his Editor... (follow link and see the September 21, 8:00 AM entry).

So can California Insider really be considered a true "blog" any longer? I mean, it's still better than standard newspaper fare by a longshot, but how can the immediacy not be directly compromised? (Granted, that's not all that makes a blog, but it's something I haven't seen questioned or discussed anywhere yet.)

And as long as I started this post on the 9th Circuit tv show (En Banc Live!), let me ask this: I'm happy to have the opportunity to peer into the goings on, but what planets aligned in order to make this en banc hearing such a court's "first significant experiment with live broadcasting"? Doesn't it just heap another scoop onto the media-circus-angle banana split? I wonder if any of the judges are staying up late tonight sewing gold stripes on their robes, a la William Rehnquist.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus has mentioned the "immediacy" aspect of Weintraub's new leash, and the "inevitable degrading effect" it will have. Matt Welch skewers the concept of an "ombudsman" and goes on to scorch the Bee's officeholder. (Hat tip to Brendan, quick out of the gate at BoiFromTroy.)

Round-UPDATE 2: LA Observed takes a slightly more circumspect look at the matter ("I'm pro editor and have yet to meet the journalist, myself included, who wouldn't benefit from a good collaborative editor. Even so, I think the Bee erred") and the new SacBee Editorial group blog. Meanwhile, Priorities & Frivolities points out that "the hippest mystery novelist in the world," Roger Simon says, "It was bound to happen."

The oral argument for the recall appeal before the Ninth Circuit appeals panel will be broadcast live on C-SPAN and other networks at 1 PM Pacific Daylight Time this Monday, September 22.

If you want to understand this TV show better, the various documents associated
with the case, including the parties' briefs, the opinion of the three-judge panel and the order of the district court, are all available on the Ninth Circuit website.

Saturday, September 20, 2003
I tried to Blog about this on September 11th, but had some Internet access difficulties in the airport. But now the transcript is available. To put it in context, Wolf Blitzer was interviewing person after person asking essentially "isn't the Bush administration terrible?" He got this surprising answer from former New York mayor Ed Koch:
I happen to think that President Bush and his team deserve enormous credit. They had a monumental but short war with minimal casualties, and I think they should be commended and not attacked by the Democratic candidate, and I'm a Democrat.

I'm not suggesting anybody is unpatriotic by having a different position, but it seems to me that you have an obligation not to weaken America by denigrating the president of the country.
I also loved that when he was asked about Joe Lieberman, he said, "I like Joe Lieberman. He came to see me when he was deciding whether or not to run. And I said, I love you, you are the conscious of the United States Senate, go back there because if you run for president you're going to lose. I'm voting for Bush. I told him that."

It's a relief to hear that Judge Kozinski is on the (randomly selected) appeals panel.

Kozinski is sure to at least write a very funny opinion, which could be important. Remember this, this, and this.

A friend of mine who works for the Federal government said "I'll take heat for Waco, Ruby Ridge, and most any other clusterf--k you can think of, but we take no responsibilty for any Ninth Circuit judges."

I'll make an exception for Kozinski, though. (Full disclosure: he's a friend of a friend of mine, but I've never met the guy and probably never will.)

The LA Times has profiles of the judges. (Free registration required.)

Friday, September 19, 2003
How I spent me "International Talk Like a Pirate Day"

Well, other than frequently uttering my favorite phrase from "Pirates of the Caribbean" (the ride, not the movie) - "Properly warned be thee, says I" - it looked like my ITLaPD was going to be a bust, er, a "wash". But Nickelodeon came through in a pinch - when I got home from work, my daughters were both watching the "all pirate episodes" edition of "SpongeBob SquarePants". When I walked into the room, my youngest looked up at me and said, "Arrrr, Papa!" A single tear of indescribable joy and pride ran down my face.

To give me lil' wenches some much deserved positive reinforcement, I read them all 62 pages of "Pirates Past Noon" and did me best pirate accent whenever Cap'N Bones was speakin'.

A fine day, indeed, lubbers.

Yet another opportunity to utter the phrase

"Properly warned be thee, says I", when my travel schedule lightens up you'll be subject to so much pent-up blogging from me you'll wish you'd walked the plank!

Current Song: "Jolly Roger" from the album Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam & The Ants

Current Drink: Grog

Cap'n Hewitt be wearin' but one gold hoop in his ear this day...

Twas on this very day that the scurvy dog, Hugh Hewitt, was found to have purloined our post below. The bilge rat nicked our meme and scuttled whatever remained o' his honor. Arrrrrr. To make matters worse, 'e tried to Talk Like A Pirate. Aye, twas the worst you'd ever 'ear. (At least 'e had mate Moses scurryin' 'round the cabin as 'is "servant"...) The poor excuse for a buccaneer did declare that the pirate talk had run its course with nary a reference to Davy Jones' locker havin' been uttered. Not a soul was sent aloft, nor below. The captain were a downright coward, says I, 'bout runnin' anyone through or "cleanin 'em through the brisket." No anchor were raised. Not a landlubber asked permission to come aboard the show. Ne'er did the seaworthy monikers corsair, freebooter, picaroon, rover, sea dog, sea robber, sea rover, sea wolf, privateer, marauder, or raider pass the lips of any crew or telephonin' stowaway. Nary a hint of a peg-leg or hook. And no Ode to (or even a chanty about) the water of life - whisk(e)y!

Aye, he be a disgrace this Hewitt.

Be warned, ya rickety cur! As the sun be settin' on this yearly o-cassion, yer show-prep fer next year begins.

Avast, ye!

Since it seems nearly everyone missed Constitution Day earlier this week, I thought I'd get an early start on pointing out that this is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
I consider Survivor a proud entry on my lists of shows I've never seen. But the easy-distracted Hugh Hewitt seems to have allowed the program to take over his life. He's blogging about it now. He's already got a favorite cast member, and he's all wrapped up in the strategy. Perhaps I shouldn't comment on something I know nothing about, but hey, that hasn't stopped Hugh from discussing music or movies. (Honestly, the guy's a lawyer and yet he's never seen To Kill A Mockingbird.)

Anyway, Hugh opens a recent post by exclaiming, "As a Royalist, I am obliged to cheer Rupert of new Survivor fame." Royalist? Wha? He links to a page of concise English Civil War history. Does Hugh consider himself a "Royalist" because that page described the Royalists as being otherwise known as "cavaliers"? (See, Hugh is a Cleveland native.)

No, that can't be it. That's too lame, even for him. Perhaps it's that he recognized something of his own character when he read that web site's account of these Royalist cavaliers:
A royalist patrol was relaxing in the village inn when they were discovered by enemy scouts... the cavaliers did not make the most of their initial success, as their troops became more interested in robbing the town than finishing the fight.
That might be it. Or perhaps the tv-glazed and impressionable Hugh simply got stuck on the beginning of the first study-question assignment at the bottom of that page:
1) You are a Cavalier...
That's what Hugh keeps feeding into the text-to-speech web service that the Fraters' Atomizer pointed everyone to. He's using the "Audrey - UK English" voice and imagining that it's the fetching Brit-historian Bettany Hughes talking to him. No, wait -- that's what The Elder is doing. Hugh is using the "Mike - US English" voice and pretending its Victor Davis Hanson.

Cool Waste-o'-Time Find of the Week

Here's a terrific way to blow an hour: Make a virtual British lady recite lines from "Apocalypse Now."

(Thanks to Atomizer of Fraters Libertas for the link.)

Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing things as they are said to be.
One said to the other,"Listen here, you two.
I just heard a rumor that CAN'T be true."

"That man descended from our noble race!
The very idea is a big disgrace.
No monkey ever cheated his wife,
Starved her baby, and ruined her life."

The monkey speaks his mind!

"You'll never see a mother monk
Leave her child with others to bunk.
Passing him off from one to the other,
Till the poor child sca'cely knows his mother."

The monkey speaks his mind!

"And here's another thing you'll never see -
A monkey build a fence around a coconut tree.
Letting good coconuts go to waste
While forbidding all others to come and taste.
Why, if I built a fence around a tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me."

The monkey speaks his mind!

"And here's one more thing a monkey won't do -
Go out at night and get on a stew.
Or use a gun, or club, or knife
To take another monkey's life.
Yes, man descended, the worthless bum.
But brothers, from us HE DID NOT COME."

The monkey speaks his mind!

On the other hand, we live by the law of the jungle . . . but the jungle is quiet now.

Hey, James Taranto stole our bit! (Last item today.)

Monkey's have a sense of justice. That's news? Of course they do!!! They have strong and sacred beliefs.

[Cut to scene in jungle. monkeys sit solemnly in a semi-circle as The Lawgiver descends from a tree.]

THE LAWGIVER: (solemnly) Today I read from the sacred banana scroll: "Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, for he is the harbinger of death.

[Monkeys nod in agreement.]

THE LAWGIVER: What is Monkey Law?

MONKEYS: (unison) Monkey must not kill monkey!

THE LAWGIVER: What is Monkey Law?

MONKEYS: (unison) Monkey must not kill monkey!!!!

THE LAWGIVER: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. All right, see you next week. We have a little potluck fruit thingy behind the tree. Mrs. Bob brought sticks for eating termites...

I haven't heard anything from my manservant Charles about Hugh Hewitt. In fact I haven't heard from him in days. Which isn't unusual. Charles tends to keep his activities on the the down low.

However I must plan for ALL contingencies. That is why I must now send out my Butler, Mr. Lee, to investigate. He is trained in the ancient and mysterious and deadly martial art of Gymkata. Surely he will find the answers I seek.

We are firm but fair. But mess with our livelihoods, and you'd better get ready for a screaming volley of poo!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
"Thus I Consent to This Constitution, Because I Expect No Better..."

Today is Constitution Day. On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates in Philadelphia signed their names to the document that they had spent the better part of four sweltering months hashing out and sent it to the states for ratification. The charter they produced—amended, disputed, revered—governs the United States to this day.

Nobody—well, almost nobody—celebrates Constitution Day. It certainly doesn't receive the same recognition as Independence Day. I imagine that the occasion gets its due in the nation's classrooms. (Although, given the state of civics education, I hope it's getting better than that.) But a quick glance at the papers today suggests that the editorialists may not have noticed the date on their calendars. Nothing appears in the big dailies, not even so much as a garment-rending lament from The New York Times or the Washington Post about how Attorney General Ashcroft is running the nation's charter of liberties through a shredder. Nothing to be read in the reliable conservative press, either. Strange.

Or maybe not so strange. It's easy to take the Constitution for granted. Even after more than two centuries, it remains at the forefront of Americans' daily lives. Consider any of the political controversies of the just last six months, from the debate about the reach of the USA Patriot Act to the brouhaha this week over the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling on the California recall. At the heart of all these controversies is the worry, often well-founded, that our hard-fought freedoms are at risk of being lost.

It's true. They are.

On this day in 1787, Benjamin Franklin, America's grand old man, addressed the Convention for the last time. At 81, he was, in fact, too feeble to read his own words. Though his eyes may have failed him, Franklin was clear-sighted to end. Everyone understood the Constitution to be an imperfect product of compromise, a fact easily forgotten today. Given Franklin's stature, his "last speech" was both a powerful endorsement of the new charter and a warning. In retrospect, he was, perhaps, the most prescient of them all.

Mr. President:

I confess that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present; but, sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it; for, having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change my opinions even on important subjects, which I onced thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that, the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them, it is so far error...

In these sentiments, sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults—if they are such; because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt, too, whether any other Convention we can obtain may be able to make a better constitution; for when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly, can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the builders of Babel, and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats.

Thus I consent, sir, to this Constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength and efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing the happiness to the people, depends on opinion, and the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors. I hope, therefore, for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, that we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution, wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavors to the means of having it well administered.

On the whole, sir, I cannot help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.

Charles Is On The Case

I've been wondering who in the hell is this Hugh Hewitt fella that everyone seems to be up in arms about. Supposedly he's some kind of radio host. But I never heard of the guy. And as we all know brothers, if I ain't heard of him, he ain't diddly squat.

In mean he's not broadcast in New York City, so obviously he's not a player. I'm sure he's a player to the penny ante chattering classes of South Bend or Spokane. But here in NYC he's a big zero. He wouldn't even get to have dinner with Fareed Zakaria.

But this Hugh Hewitt is apparently causing some kind of a ruckus in America's heartland. So I decided to investigate. Find out the real deal. Who is Hugh Hewitt? What's his angle? Is he a demagogue? Is he a wolf in sheep's clothing? What brand of charlatanism is he trying to sell to the American people?

So, I sent my loyal manservant Charles out to get some information about this Hugh Hewitt.

Charles does my dirty work. He's six-foot-seven with cornrow braids. 300 pounds of pure muscle. And he's got a bad attitude. He answers to me and me alone. All of the Monkey fear him, as they rightly should.

"Don't cross Charles," I tell them. And they don't because they know that to do so would have them facing wrath of God type violence. Like in the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation. The serious shit. Wars and pestilence and turning into pillars of salt and earthquakes and rivers turning to blood and fire from the sky type of violence. I know I'm sounding all mystical and everything, but what I'm saying is, when Charles is on the case, Charles means business.

Anyhow, what I'm saying is, I sent Charles out get the dish on Hugh Hewitt. "Find if he has weird predilictions, or dirty little secrets like having sex with barnyard animals or underage girls. I want to know everything you hear me Charles! EVERYTHING!"

Anyhow Mr. Hewitt, I just wanted you to know--Charles is on the case. He's busting heads and taking names. And I'm telling you Hugh, like I tell the other Monkeys: don't cross Charles.

Consider yourself warned.

There's a pair of photos posted over at Fraters Libertas. They compare the strikingly similar appearances of professional radio man Paul Harvey and johnny-come-lately wannabe Hugh Hewitt.

I should point out that the Fraters boys should have used this picture of Hugh to go beside Mr. Harvey's. I first saw that promo photo of Hugh in his studio. He keeps two 8x10's of it on his desk. (Well, now that I think about it, it seems like every staffer's desk in the place had a 4x6 framed copy.) Yes, I've seen that photo up close, and trust me, there's been a lot of airbrushing done.

The odd thing about the Paul Harvey picture is that the tiny flash-shadows resulting from his seventies-style sideburns fall right on his earlobes making it look like there are little holes there, you know -- like for earrings. Everyone knows that Paul Harvey does not have pierced ears. What everyone does not know is that Hugh Hewitt's ears are pierced. No, it doesn't show up well in the photo of him that they've used. The Salem Radio people probably requested that it be "touched up." That's why I recommend the other picture. (It's small, so you'll have to look real close.)

Now, I was as shocked as I'm sure you are. But when I was in-studio earlier this month, there was no denying that this guy must sometimes wear earrings. Well, not dangling goofy hoops or anything like Duane his producer wears, or like the expand-o-hole tribal wood discs that Adam Young-man wears. No, it looks like Hugh's are probably more like simple, conservative studs. Nothing too flashy. I think he wrote about this sort of judgment with regard to personal appearance his his latest book; In, But Not Out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Yesterday the all-too-frequent subject of my posts (radio-man Hugh Hewitt) put out a call for submissions; what ought the Northern Alliance of Blogs hold out for as it is courted by the opposing sides in the latest Great Blog War? Well, having been "dispatched" by Hugh as the negotiator between himself and his rebellious underlings back on August 29th, I emailed him, "Hey, I thought I was your [third-party] bag-man on NA matters of negotiation."

Referring to the mischief I caused around his studio earlier this month as an operator for the Fraters Fedayeen [despite the fact that it lead to a peaceful resolution], Hugh responded, "Like I want Richelieu working for me..."

My reply:
C'mon, as a Protestant [in more than the ecclesiastical sense], it was my duty to defend the resistant Hug(h)uenots who faced the threat of being crushed under your intendant thumb.

Me, Richelieu? Remember when you called Lileks the Loki of the web? Well, I was forced to expose YOU as the Loki, Hugh. And in this case? Who's the power mad (former) Catholic politico who finds a rationale for expansion of influence and usurpation of authority? Who has played King Pawlenty XIII like a fiddle?

[Hewitt's archives are not equiped with permalinks, though they are accessible through a sort of calendar feature under the "archives" link at the very bottom of his homepage. His posts in the background matters discussed in this post may be found in his Aug. 27th and 29th "Message of the Day" posts. For some background on Richelieu, see this brief bio.]

In the Grave Will Be Sleeping Enough

If I read this story right, I'm brash and reserved, suspicious and gregarious, sensitive and, uh, a woman? "What's interesting is that the profile behind the posture is often very different from what we would expect," says the guy behind this new study of how people sleep and what it's supposed to mean. All I know is, I usually go to bed in the fetal position and wake up when my son jumps on my head. Apart for that, I'm sort of interested in all this sleep talk, mostly because talking about it is a cheap but strangely satisfying substitute for the real thing. One of the books near the top of my "read for fun" pile is a title I bought from Amazon UK last year called Counting Sheep, by Paul Martin. It's not just some dry text about the biological whys and wherefors of sleeping. As a matter of fact, "It is as keen on literature as it is on science." Or so I just read in the London Guardian review. I think the review that persuaded me to pay the exorbitant price for it (the book hasn't been published in the U.S. yet, and I wasn't really thinking about the unfavorable exchange rate) appeared in the Telegraph, but I can't seem to find it on the web. Maybe I dreamed it? Yes, yes, that's probably right.

Killing Me Softly With Football
So I suffered my first loss in my fantasy football league. Now I am 1-1. Therere is nothing like the sting of defeat. It's all Trent Green's fault. You let me down Trent. Big time. Big time. I hurt, oh I hurt. I'm all twisted up inside. I don't even feel like writing about Arnold Scwarzeneggar's appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show.

That's how much I hurt. Damn you Trent Green! Damn you!!! Damn you!!! And damn Dick Vermiel. Throw the freaking balll to Tony Gonzales!! What's so hard about that! And I have to do running backs by committee. It's just so much responsibility being a fantasy league coach. So trying. So everything.

I think I can talk about Arnold on Oprah now. Oooh, that's sounds kinda dirty. Yeah. Huh. I wonder. I wonder what that'd be like-- Arnold on Oprah. I'd pay good money to see that. Just for the weird sex freak show quality of all. Arnold on Oprah.

That would be an interesting porno movie. You got your interracial thing. Muscle guy slash big mama thing. Maybe you have like Steadman in the shadows watching them do it. That would be kinky. And maybe Maria Shriver gets involved. Yeah. A three-way. I'm liking this porno movie already. And you know Oprah ain't bad looking. It's not she's like Star Jones from "The View." I'm just saying -- she ain't half bad.

And let's be honest brothers, when you turn out the light, it's all the same. Turn out the lights, you could be Oprah winfrey or Halle Berry.When you turn out the lights, it don't matter at that point. If we're being honest.

Anyhow, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, fantasy football league. Damn you Trent Green. Dick Vermeil throw the ball to Tony Gonzales. Oh yeah, and Arnold on the Oprah Winfrey show-- he wasn't half bad.

Monday, September 15, 2003
Mr. B Natural?

My 15-month-old son likes to dance. He knows how to turn on our clock radio, which is tuned to a country music station. He's the only infant we know who will spend and hour or more plinking away on a toy piano. He can tap along to a song in time, and, in fact, has been doing this since he was about six-months old. It may have helped that we played almost nothing but classical music--everything from Alkan to Zemlinsky, with massive doses of Bach (the real stuff, not that "Baby Needs Bach" crap)--for the first couple of months after he was born. But I'd like to think he was born this way, that he's hard-wired for sound. Scientists don't know for sure, but they have some ideas, as the New York Times reports in Tuesday's paper.

One group of researchers from Montreal Neurological Institute took PET scans of musicians' brains while they listened to certain compositions. "The music, the researchers reported, activated similar neural systems of reward and emotion as those stimulated by food, sex and addictive drugs."

Psychologists disagree about how and why the brain developed a faculty for enjoying music. It may have been an accident. But, as the Times notes, "Darwin suggested that human ancestors, before acquiring the power of speech, 'endeavored to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm.' It is because of music's origin in courtship, Darwin believed, that it is 'firmly associated with some of the strongest passions an animal is capable of feeling.'"

Well, I'm not a psychologist and my knowledge of biology is limited to what I learned and quickly forgot in high school and Bio for Dummies in college. Could there be something else at work here? Watching my son tap-tap-tap along to a song on the radio, it makes a good deal of sense to me.

Quite clearly, Western Civilization is going into the toilet. Bad enough that republican government is being usurped by unelected judges with suspect partisan motives. Now an acute case of philistinism has broken out in the pages of The Spectator of London. Tom Utley, reflecting on the recent theft of Leonardo da Vinci's "Madonna of the Yarnwinder" from Drumlanrig Castle, writes:
The shameful truth swept over me that hardly ever had I sat through a play or a concert—let alone a ballet or an opera—without secretly longing for it to end. Oh, I would tell my friends afterwards that it had been wonderful, and that they really must go and see it—particularly if the reviews were good, and the byline was something highbrow like Chekhov or Verdi. I would not add that I had spent the last 40 minutes of the show shifting my weight from one buttock to the other, sweating in the heat and dying for a pee, glancing furtively at my watch, yearning for the final curtain and the dash to the pub.
Look, of course this has happened to me, too, from time to time. I've sat through a few really horrible concerts. I once dozed off in the front row of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion during a performance of Mahler's 5th, and I love Mahler, but the Pittsburgh Symphony just wasn't doing it for me. But I've sat through some truly marvelous performances wishing they wouldn't end. Utley is a clever writer, and there's really no arguing questions of taste, but given a choice between between—oh, I don't know—"South Park" and Michelangelo, or Led Zeppelin and Shostakovich, it's really no contest. (But if it's James Brown versus Mozart, I'd have to think about it a minute...)

Speaking of hard choices, Terry Teachout every week has a feature called "In the Bag," which challenges readers to choose five pieces of art (music, novels, paintings, etc.) on the fly, "no matter how uncool they may sound." I've tried this a few times, but I keep coming up with the same stuff. I guess I'm more of a philistine than I'd like to think.

Our Robed Masters II

Prestopundit has a pretty comprehensive round-up of commentary on the 9th Circuit's ruling. Rough and Tumble links to the big stories, including a report that the appeal will go directly to the United States Supreme Court, and not the 9th circuit en banc. So much for Arnie Steinberg's prediction that the ruling will be thrown out by Wednesday. "If Justice O'Connor were around, she might ask the full Supreme Court," writes Steinberg. "But I don't think Scalia would. And, I don't think it will ever get to them." We'll see.

In related news, Dan Weintraub reports that if the recall drags out 'til March, Tom McClintock will run for governor and seek reelection to state senate simultaneously. Run, Tom, run.

Our Robed Masters

Read the 9th Circuit's opinion on the recall case, if you haven't already. It is no exaggeration to say that the court has ruled that voters are too stupid to know how to vote correctly. The proof of this appears on the fourth page of the opinion: "After casting a ballot, the punchcard voter does not have the opportunity to inspect the ballot for vote accuracy. All the voter is left to examine is a standard Hollerithian punchcard with holes punched through certain numbers." This is, if not a lie, a deliberate distortion of the truth. The judges fail to point out that each candidate (or ballot measure) is assigned a number. That number corresponds with the numbers on the punchcard. It's a simple matter, really, to compare the number next your favorite candidate with the number you punched out on the ballot. Unless, of course, you're too dim to know that the missing number on the ballot is the one you punched out. Which may be a problem for certain liberal federal court judges, but most of us seem to have grasped this fairly elementary concept.

The judges go on to observe that, "If the ballot is not positioned correctly in the voting machine, the incorrect rectangles [chads] will be removed. If the chad is not removed completely by the stylus, the tabulation machine may not count the vote. Unlike mechanical lever machines, the VotoMatic does not have any built-in protection preventing the voter from casting more than one vote for a candidate or ballot measure." True enough. But who, after the events of 2000, doesn't check his ballot to make sure no chads are left dangling? And, again, if voting is so important, who wouldn't take the time and care to ensure that he's punched his ballot correctly?

There's more along these lines, enough to make you sick. The fact is, whatever you may think of the recall, it's constitutional. Gray Davis was going to be out on his rump on October 8, no question. But it's clear that the judges felt they needed to intervene because the voters just might do the wrong thing (or, more charitably in the judges' eyes, might not realize what they're doing), and this one would be hard to fix. "Once the election occurs, the harm will be irreparable because Plaintiffs are without an adequate post-election remedy." Harmful to whom, exactly?

9th Circuit Kangaroo Court9th Circuit Kangaroo Court

Uh, I'm not sure if we do things differently here in the Grand Canyon State, but why was it okay for Gray Davis to get ELECTED with outmoded ballot counting technology, but it's not okay for him to be RECALLED two years later using the exact same technology?

I wasn't going to write about this. But then I woke up this morning with a phrase running through my head. It sounded just like Mr. Dursley in the first Harry Potter book/movie. Harry's guardian had been driven nearly around-the-bend by the constant barrage of letters being delivered accepting Harry to the School of Magic. When Sunday finally rolled around, Dursley expressed relief: "There's no post on Sunday..."

It briefly became a mantra for him, sing-song-ily repeating, "No post on Sunday. No post on Sunday. No post on Sunday..."

This morning I was nearly driven mad by a mantra that had invaded my brain.

There's no -o on "Instapundit." No -O on "Instapundit."

Though our group blog has not yet determined its collective will in the Great Blog War, this tiny bit of cathartic blogging may illuminate a small hole in the in the opening strategy of the Alliance of Free Blogs. (Not much, granted, but wiser minds than mine may be able to find an advantage through this grammatical equivalent of a "small unguarded exhaust port.")

The Alliance's solgan, "Instapundito delenda est," is not exactly proper Latin. (Though it's not as bad as "Fraters Libertas," which should read "Fratres Libertatis.")

Obviously, it's based on the old line from Cato the Elder, who ended every speech before the Senate, no matter what the topic, with Carthago delenda est , "Carthage must be destroyed." The phrase had recently been adopted and adapted by radio man Hugh Hewitt as "The power of the Democratic party must be destroyed. So, we can see the model the Alliance is trying to fit. But, in true pedantic nature, I can't help but nitpick. Happily, they do have the (complicated passive paraphrastic) verb form correct, but that has come unchanged from the original.

The proper names Cato and Carthago seem to have lulled the Alliance of Free Blogs into some sloppy assumptions. In classical Latin, we almost never see nouns ending in -o. A few proper names, yes. But they're relatively rare exceptions.

The word pundit comes to us from Hindi and Sanskrit and has an etymological origin late in the 17th century A.D. In my book, that just wouldn't hold up as an o-ending proper noun. Not when we're talking about the slogan on an emblem, after all.

My best guess?

It's a 3rd Declension Neuter Noun:

Singular Plural
Nominative Instapundit Instapundites
Genitive Instapunditis Instapunditum
Dative Instapundite Instapunditibus
Accusative Instapunditem Instapundites
Ablative Instapundite Instapunditibus

Not an -o in sight.

Okay, okay... I'm sorry. I just had to get it out.

Friday, September 12, 2003
qui fugiebat rursas proeliabitur
"he who has fled will do battle once more*"

Ben and I have been exchanging emails about Bruce Herschensohn's guest spot on (what else?) the Hugh Hewitt Show. We're typing as the multi-segment interview plays out.

[I don't have clearance yet to post Ben's off-blog comments, so you'll only get my side of the conversation until a deal can be struck, and an update can be posted.]

Well, it's probably not surprising to hear me say it, but... I didn't think Hugh got his ass kicked or handed to him or anything. He was just surprised at Bruce's positions. I didn't really hear Herschensohn make a solid case in favor of McClintock. In fact, I thought his line about not being able to look at himself in the mirror the morning after he hypothetically voted for Schwarzenegger was silly and self-centered. I think a stronger case could be made that a real conservative ought to be ashamed of himself knowing that his vote helped to elect Cruz.

[Ben responds with the claim that I'm very close to prompting a substantial blog entry from him detailing why one should vote McClintock over Schwarzenegger.]

Bring it on.

I might learn something.

Bruce Herschensohn on the morning after a vote for McClintock: "I will have done what I thought was right," and (later), "I have a belief in a philosophy and a person."

That's fine in a primary.

But it's masturbatory in a run-off like this.

I mean, Herschensohn has stated that he doesn't have a real problem with Arnold. But he thinks McClintock is better. This is not theology. It's politics. This is the arena in which compromise is standard fare. You know the line about letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. But to what end?

I don't see the virtue in handing power to one's opponents. If it were only about Bruce and his self esteem, that would be fine. But it's not just about him. It's about a whole heckuva lot more. If it's not bigger than just the individual conservative's self image, then why the reluctance to compromise?

Better to be eaten by the lions than recant your saving faith? Yes.

Better dead than red? Well, okay.

But better unsullied than back on the road to empowerment? To what degree? And for what are we trying to keep our prom dresses pristine?

[The interview was still playing on the radio.] Okay, now Herschensohn is making an appeal to history and the "unpredictability" of Reagan without Ford as a Co-President running mate. This is at least reasonable. In matters like this, I must defer to my elder's experience, if not wholly, at least respectfully.

But somebody's gonna get to indulge in a big "I-told-ya-so." I won't mind being on the losing end of that deal. How will a McClintock supporter feel about it? Is the satisfaction of being "right" worth it?

A guy claiming to be a state senator from (my home state of) Arizona called up after Herschensohn was off the air. Hewitt took the call blindly, without it being screened. The senator explained that Herschensohn had done an excellent job of illustrating why Republicans are great -- at losing elections.

He offered the analogy of a starving man who walks into a restaurant and asking for filet mignon. "Sorry, all we have is T-bone." "Nope, I like filet mignon and think it would be better for me."

And the senator used the word "selfish."

As the show went on, Califonia Assemblyman John Campbell came on for a scheduled visit. He likened Herschensohn's position to a football strategy. Campbell described California's Republican party as being on their own 10-yard line. How did they get that deep in their own territory? He explained that the Democrats have been willing to play incrementally. Three yards and a cloud of dust. Over and over again. Before you know it, they've moved the length of the field, several times over, repeatedly scoring legislative touchdowns and field goals. Now the Republicans have a chance to advance the ball. But the only play Herschensohn's wants to call is a Hail-Mary pass to the end zone 90 yards away.

*Yes, it's usually translated as the familiar, "He who fights and runs away..." I think that literal translations add to the understanding of such nuggets of ancient wisdom by helping us to see them freed from the pall of cliché.

The Jerusalem Post and Harry V. Jaffa agree: Yasser Arafat must die.

I'll admit it, I do fantasy league baseball and football and basketball. It brings out a dark side in me, like my fascination with German girls. Anyhow, judging from the trash talking in my leagues, I always wondered: why hasn't there been a weird fantasy murder? Fantasy league been around for a while, and you'd think by now somebody woulda done something by now. Somebody getting burned in a bad trade. Something. Weird. Disturbing. Freaky. Something that makes people look at fantasy league guys like they Dungeons & Dragons. That kind of weird.

Mark Steyn on Charles Bronson: "A liberal mugged by reality."

I was listening to Johnny Cash before Johnny Cash was cool . . . for, what? The seventh or eighth time in his career? Anyway, before the kids re-discovered him in the '90s (with a little help from Rick Rubin). My mom and dad loved Johnny Cash. Whenever we took those long summer road trips, he could often be heard on the old Dodge van's tapedeck. Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Burl Ives, not to mention Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass--they were all in heavy rotation on my parents' playlist. And I hated them all. Hey, I was 13. I wanted to listen to Motley Crue.

But good music is like a virus. Little by little, I became infected. And so it was hard to resist when I heard The Man In Black sing "One" and "I Won't Back Down." My dad didn't think much of the new stuff. "He's not really singing anymore," Dad would say. "This doesn't sound like Johnny Cash at all." Well, it's true that Cash didn't exactly sing in his last years, but there was no denying it was him. He had one of the most recognizable voices in all of music. He got under the music. He made the songs his own.

RIP, Johnny. We'll meet again.

Which Came First, the Chicken or the Eggheads?

David Skinner has a piece at The Weekly Standard online called When Linguists Attack. Yes, the humor contained therein is aimed at a pretty narrow audience - dorks like me (and probably King at SCSU Scholars) who enjoy pedantic banter.

But Skinner winds up showing us just how insufferable the scholastic progressives' utopia would be.

One thing though. Skinner seems to miss the point that one cannot get anywhere trying to use truth as a defense against these lingual fascists. The notion that the real world's condition supports the so-called stereotypes in your sample sentences (you'd probably have to read the article for this to make much sense) practically proves some of these hyper-linguists' points for them. [WARNING: Hip-deep geek speak a comin']

Theories such as Benjamin Whorf's Principle of Linguistic Relativity, and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis basically propose that the language people use doesn't just mirror and communicate the thoughts they have. No, these theorists believe that the language actually defines what and how people think. (This isn't new to you if you've read Orwell. It's just like the theory behind NewSpeak. But that fictional language was artificially restricted and strategically manipulated -- for people's own good. Sound familiar?) Some real life linguists actually argue that "thoughts [are] determined by the language available to express them." Begin to grow that culture in an ivory tower petri dish, and soon, you wind up with a justification for microscopic nitpicking of textbooks and battalions of PC language police.

Is it any wonder that this is the branch of academia that Noam Chomsky emerged from? (To his credit, Chomsky argued against Sapir-Whorf, but still managed to get a monkey named after him -- Nim Chimpsky, whose web page features a link to Famous Monkeys Through History.

[Yes, that was a nerdy post. Anybody want to talk about E-Prime?]

Thursday, September 11, 2003
FX programming updateFYI - "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" is the WORST remake of Cyrano de Bergerac EVER. If you aren't up for the real thing, try this one, instead.

Michael Lehmann made one good movie. Arguably, one great movie. Then he made Hudson Hawk. Funny, if your expectations were low. And then, a seemingly endless cavalcade of crap. "Airheads", people! "My Giant", even. "MEET THE APPLEGATES"!!! And, tragically, "The Truth About Cats and Dogs". Why would ANY cable channel air this swill? Somebody lost a bet, I'm guessing.

Steer clear of all Michael Lehmann movies that do not feature either Christian Slater brandishing a firearm in the school cafeteria or, MAYBE, a secret agent named "Chlamydia".

Swedes? Swedes??? Swedes.Well, I'm married to a Swede. My in-laws are all Swedes. And we're not talking "my great uncle went to Stockholm once" Swedes, these are 100% Swedes. Two-"s"es-in-your-last-name-because-one-isn't-enough Swedes. Ya-sure-ya-betcha Swedes. I'd like to offer a correction to James's tirade. But I can't. He's right. Pure Viking blood runs through their veins, and they may seem soft-spoken and unemotional, but they'll kill you in your sleep if you make their coffee too weak.

I don't know why the Swedes keep killing their elected officials. Neither does the Jazz Butcher. Could we learn something from this cold-hearted Viking alternative to democratic elections? It's hard to say...

[I'm just kidding, of course - my in-laws are some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. Everyone minds their own business - a trait I wish I could attribute to my mom's family some times...]

Light A Candle Against The Darkness

I find today to be a difficult day on which to write. I didn't expect to be posting anything today. But here I am. Today Mitch Berg wrote, among other things, about his feelings over the last few years -- wanting to make the world a better place. There are lots of moving articles today about the September 11th anniversary. I would encourage you to read several. But I would like to take this odd opportunity to point out another set of horrors, and a sliver of hope; a way that we can do something -- something that must be done.

A few weeks ago, Claudia Rosett authored a must-read article on the personal human faces of the North Korean refugees whom we almost never hear about. In writing about it, I mentioned a German doctor who has been tirelessly dedicating himself to exposing the plight of the average North Korean citizens and the (numerous) North Koreans persecuted by their own government. The doctor's name is Norbert Vollertsen. A Wall Street Journal article that he has written can be found here. (Special thanks to James Taranto.) I encourage, no, I beg you to read it.

Yes, it's grim. And I apologize for piling on, this somber day. (I wouldn't be surprised if I got feedback about how inappropriate it was for me to champion this cause on the anniversary of 9/11. I may be out of line here, but given the gravity of the topic, I am willing to run the risk.) The good news is that there is a bit of progress being made. As Claudia Rosett mentioned on the radio last Wednesday, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is backing a new draft bill that would seek to open channels for North Korean refugees to immigrate to the U.S., and put much needed pressure on South Korea to recognize it's long ignored obligations to other NoKo refugees.

This Rich Lowry article on the bill, its supporters, and its potential impact should serve as a bookend to the Vollertsen article. Please take the time to learn about this subject. Chances are, you're just not going to hear about it in the regular media. But these very real people trapped in a hopeless gulag of a country need to be noticed by us. They're not asking for much. In truth, they can't ask us for anything. We must make the effort to turn our attention to them and their plight. As a beacon of freedom (yes, we are), and as that shining city on a hill, aren't we obligated by our history and our conscience to lend our attention to those who would risk their lives to escape a most brutal tyranny?

Click here for that first post of mine, about Claudia Rosett's "Where is Ms. Cho?" article. In it, I call for the blogosphere to take the time to dig into this issue (remember the blog rally to shine the light of international attention on the Iranian students a few months back?). Links are included. Mitch at Shot in the Dark really got it. So did a few others. My hope would be that we take this time between now and the next round of international nuclear talks with the North Korean government to study up on the details of that country's refugee crisis. Nuclear arms are not the only issue that should bring the world's focus onto North Korea.

[Okay, I'm out of time on this lunch break. No time to polish up the post.]