...busting up my brains for the words

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Joel stein pile on

As is my habit these days, I listened to the Hugh Hewitt Show this evening and when I tuned in, Hugh was conducting this interview.
And by coincidence, I'd heard Dennis Prager talking about Stein's piece earlier this afternoon while I was getting my workout at the gym. So I found it interesting that while Prager had been praising Stein for his forthright honesty in proclaiming that he opposes the war and therefore does not support the troops, Hugh had little time for any praise. Prager disagrees with Stein's opposition to the war, but he agrees that one cannot oppose the war and claim to support the troops.
Hugh was not interested in that facet of the Stein piece. Hugh was more interested in the blatant disrespect and ignorance of our men and women in uniform and so he was lucky enough to get Stein to do an on-the-air interview.

Hugh is absolutely right, of course. And Stein couldn't be more wrong...except for that part about how an anti-war proponent can't claim to support the troops. But I must say in all honesty that this interview was ugly. Hugh just absolutely destroyed Stein. Another blogger called it an evisceration. It was so embarrassing to listen to that when Hugh reran the taped interview later in the show, I turned the radio off even though I hadn't heard all of it. I couldn't bear to witness a guy getting such a thorough drubbing as was administered to Stein. It was like watching a Praying Mantis devour a hummingbird. That's a good analogy by half, at least, as Hugh is a praying Evangelical Christian. But I'm not so sure Stein's ideas are so harmless or sweet as the hummingbird.

Our armed forces and the brave and wonderful men and women who act to defend the United States are to be honored and supported. Stein has tried to trash them. Maybe I should have enjoyed Stein's humiliating defeat, but I just didn't have the stomach for it. But hey, even Praying Mantises have to eat.

UPDATE: Joel Stein calls himself a humorist. So does Lileks. Scroll down.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

That sticky iran problem

Yes, you know what I'm talking about. The problem is how to pronounce the name of the leader, Ahmadinejad. I've heard Hugh Hewitt proclaim that no one knows how to pronounce this name. And a lot of folks don't. But I've settled on a pronunciation that I've noticed most people seem to be gravitating to.
First of all, any word or name, no matter long and difficult it seems to appear, can be easily pronounced if you break it down into segments, or syllables. Then, one must decide which syllable to stress as being the stronger.

I've decided that this name should look like this; Ahma DEEN e jod.

Say it. Rolls off the tongue once you've made up your mind, doesn't it? Now, all that's left is to secure confidence in this pronunciation. Make a little sing song with it to cement that confidence. Like this;

Ahma DEEN e jod.
Ahma DEEN e jod.
Ahma DEEN e jod is an Iranian clod.

Good. You've got it. And remember this; even if this pronunciation isn't perfect, if you say it with confidence, everyone else will be impressed and believe you know how. And who the heck are they to argue with you?

Okay. Now for that other sticky Iranian problem...the nukes. I'm no military or world order expert, but I've been sampling the many opinions in the blogosphere. And it seems to me that the worst thing we could do is nothing...allowing Iran to go nuclear and blackmail the world or share nukes with terrorists. So we have to do something.

And so it seems that there are basically three camps of thought on this;
1) Continue diplomacy
2) Launch air strikes
3) Invade

All of these choices are dicey and fearsome for the world. Continuing diplomacy in hopes of an internal uprising is dangerous because it allows Iran to continue to buy time. The remaining two choices are obviously dangerous, as well, for their own reasons. I can only hope that the US Special Operations might have some secret aces up its sleeve in order to bring about an internal coup in Iran to energize the young populace there that hates the mullahs and supports the US. I believe that's what Donald Rumsfeld's military emphasis has been all along since he took the job as Secretary of Defense.

But falling short of any Special Ops wizbang miracle, I feel that we should not shrink from the dirty but necessary job of invading this member of the Axis of Evil if necessary to keep the region safe from Iran's nuclear ambitions. We are very well positioned for an invasion, as our forces are already heavily positioned on both sides of Iran. It seems to me that once we display a firm will to invade, Iran will be forced to recognise that brinkmanship can only result in their own destruction.

All my years of playing Risk have taught me a thing or two about strategy. But sadly, this is no game.

TV jag continues

I wrote about Meet The Press this morning. Now my television viewing day brings me to 60 Minutes. I just now watched a story about sand saturated with oil in Canada. According to this story there is enough oil in the ground here to provide a reliable source of energy for America's needs.

Now the only question we have to ask is, did CBS simply make this story up as they have done in the recent past? We can't believe anything this network tries to tell us.


NBCs Meet The Press is attempting to groom Barack Obama for the upcoming political battles of 2006 and 2008. In an exclusive interview with Mr. Obama, Tim Russert showed him video clips of Harry Belafonte's controversial comments in Venezuela. Russert asked Obama if he thought those comments were appropriate.

I would have to ask why Harry Belafonte's comments have any bearing in this interview. Belafonte is a former actor and singer. He's not a politician or an elected official. Harry Belafonte has already received far more publicity than he deserves. He should be ignored. But NBC finds him useful for grooming Obama.

Amazinging, Obama actually tried to find a way to agree with Belafonte without doing so directly. He pointed out that Americans are at liberty to say what they want to without recrimination. He said that while he wouldn't characterize the Bush Administration in the same words that Belafonte did, he can understand why he would be critical.

Obama is a rightwinger! He does not agree that George Bush is "the world's greatest terrorist." Surely, NBCs opinion shapers are grooming Obama for a more centrist position in light of the evidence that Democrat leftist positions do not win elections.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Taking it to the people

Fox News reports that the Bush Administration is going to take its case for the NSA warrantless wiretaps to the American people.

"We are stepping up our efforts to educate the American people," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said about Bush's trip to the NSA, based at Fort Meade in Maryland."This is a critical tool that helps us save lives and prevent attacks," he said. "It is limited and targeted to Al Qaeda communications, with the focus being on detection and prevention."

This is great news, of course. And it's necessary. If Average Joe is left with the impression the msm leaves over these wiretaps, he will most likely come to believe that his every phone call is being listened in on by the police state and that our president should be impeached.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Back to work

This week marks my cautious return to the rat race. Regular readers of this blog and those who know me know that back in September I got my elbow shattered when a jogger unexpectedly ran in front of my bicycle. I had two surgeries and was on physical disability for three months.

Well, this week marks my return to work and the end of disability, although my doctor is allowing me to work only part time. I'm doing alright. Yes, I have pain. Yes, I am self-administering physical therapy. Yes, the use of my left arm is still limited in strength and I have limited mobility.

But I'm getting better. Lately, I've been leaving my brace and sling at home, but if I have to venture out on a particularly icy day, I'll try to remember to wear it for additional protection.

Monday, January 16, 2006

MLK day

This very worthy national day of observance of Dr. Martin Luther King is nearly over. But I just now opened an email from Republican Chairman, Ken Mehlman. I think it's worth reprinting here, as it's important to remember that Republicans are every bit as keen on the spirit and ideas of Dr. King as all Americans should be.
Sorry I'm posting this so late in the day. I hope you took a moment to remember those ideas and that spirit. That's really what the day is all about and that's a good part of what being an American is.

Today, we reflect upon the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and rededicate ourselves to fulfilling his Dream. In the courageous struggle for civil rights, we find the inspiration to grow more united as a Nation and stronger as a Party by welcoming Americans from every race and every background to our cause.

Under this President's leadership, we have made great strides towards fulfilling the promise of opportunity for every American. Thanks to the President's bold education reforms, we have narrowed the achievement gap between white and African American children. The homeownership rate among African Americans is near record highs, and African Americans are starting new businesses at a rate double the national average. And President Bush is leading the way in reforming Social Security and Medicare so that those who most rely on these programs have more choices and better benefits.

In this President's Administration and at the highest levels of our party, African Americans are leading the way. We are proud to be the party of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Alphonso Jackson and Rod Paige. Leaders like Michael Steele from my native Maryland make me proud to be a Republican - and Michael is joined by a growing number of African American candidates and officeholders in our Republican family.

We have come a long way, but we are only part way along in this journey of progress and opportunity. Let me be clear. No matter how many elections Republicans win, no matter how many times we hold the White House, no matter how many seats in Congress, the party of Lincoln will not be whole again until more African Americans come back home.

Quoting scripture, Dr. King said "Let justice roll down like the waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." These words remind us that the principles of freedom and equal opportunity for which Dr. King heroically stood endure beyond the life of one man, and must be advanced not just on this day, but every day.


Ken Mehlman
Chairman, Republican National Committee

P.S. In February, we celebrate some of our nation's most extraordinary achievements during Black History Month. Watch our African American Team Web site for special features throughout the month.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Hang rummy show"

L. Paul Bremer, III has a new book; My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope. Mr. Bremer (why is he sometimes called "Jerry"?) was ambassador to Iraq in the aftermath of Saddam's removal. I've seen Mr. Bremer in interview over this book on The Charlie Rose Show. And I also heard him interviewed on The Michael Medved Show. Now this morning, Bremer is interviewed by Tim Russert on Meet The Press.
It's noteworthy that Rose and Russert were both aggressive in trying to get Bremer to say that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld ignored needs for more troops on the ground at that time. And I mean aggressive. Russert even went so far as to ask Bremer if the Bush Administration told him to say that we did not need more troops. At two separate points, Bremer responded to Russert that "you can have any interpretation you want...I'm telling you how I saw it."

Michael Medved had a couple of hardball questions for Mr. Bremer, too. After all, even President Bush's supporters in the war have been critical of the troop levels in Iraq. Most notable among them is William Kristol.
But it was obvious to me that Russert and Rose were out to hang Rummy.

And there's not much that's very surprising about that, is there?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Zawahri reportedly still alive

There was some commotion in the news yesterday of a drone-launched missile attack in Pakistan that targeted al Qaeda's number two man yesterday. It should be of little surprise today to learn that Zawahri was reportedly not in the zone and is still alive.

Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri is alive, Al Arabiya television reported on Saturday, quoting a source which it said has contact with al Qaeda. A source with contacts with al Qaeda reiterated to Arabiya that Zawahri is alive," the satellite television said.

Of course, it should also be remembered that while probably true, none of these sources are completely reliable. Al Qaeda has good reason to lie. The source in connection has good reason to lie. Al Arabiya has good reason to lie. We are at war, and one of the tools of war is disinformation.

In any case, my understanding is that a reliable team is already on the target site or is on its way to perform the unsavory task of scrapping up vials of bloody goo for dna analysis. The tests that would come out of those samples could take a week to process. We'll have more reliable information then as to whether this murderous doctor was successfully sent to meet Allah yesterday.

The upside of this news, if true, is that if Zawahri is still alive, then we can still kill him some day

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Craig ferguson's funny lies

Recently, I've been watching a very funny comedian, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS.

I like him. He's a funny man.

I've noted before, Ferguson's jokes about W.

One thing that's come to my attention since I made that post is the fact that Ferguson has his own personal battles with alcoholism. To his credit, Ferguson came to terms with his affliction and quit drinking 14 years ago. That might explain his readiness to make light of President George W. Bush's past history with alcohol. Hey, it's all just comedy, right?

I've got the show on my tv right now. Just a moment ago, Ferguson made a joke about "Fox News' made up news." Naturally, the crowd squealed with glee over this joke. I don't know if the crowd reactions are canned or if they are real.

Is it just me, or does anybody else notice that it is CBS News' 60 Minutes II that is the guilty perpetrator of "made up news"? Not Fox News.

Is this what CBS has sunk to? Having failed to sell their lies and made up stuff in their packaged news programs, it's just so much easier to flaunt their fantasies in their comedy programs. Hey, we all know it's not true. That's not the point.

It's funny.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dead brain cells

As usual, John Podhoretz says it much better than I ever could. Here is his entry at The Corner blog over at National Review Online regarding the Alito hearings;

[John Podhoretz]
"I'm sorry you had to go through this. I'm sorry your family had to sit through this." That's very nice of Graham, but really, I think he and the committee should beg forgiveness, and the guys over at Bench Memos, and Ramesh over on PBS, and every other American who is sitting through this nonsense. Our brain cells are dying by the minute over here, Lindsey! And I'm 44 years old, which means when they die, they're gone and they never grow back!

I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who has to watch this crap. If the Republican Party had stayed with Harriet Miers, we'd probably be done by now and, if you trust W as I do, we'd have a nominee who is every bit as conservative as Alito is.

Your tax dollars at work.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bowie's 59th birthday

As the rock and roll gods would have it, today is shared as the birthdays of two giants. Elvis Presley and David Bowie were both born on this day of January 8th. Bowie turns 59 years old today.
Local radio station, KFAI-FM Fresh Air will be hosting a unique program in his honor tonight at 90.3 FM, midnight. It's a show called This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'.
I got this email from the regular program dj today;

Hey Scott-- Whatta great e-mail name "pinkmonkeybird." There used to be a bidder on eBay whose user name was "hot donkey" and THAT made me giggle, too. Super Listener Tom is filling in tomorrow night/TONIGHT, now that it's Sunday. I believe he is going to play GIRLS singing David Bowie songs. "Cover Girls." SLT is a HUGE David Bowie fan and when I asked if he could fill in for me this week, he paused and with excitement said, "It's David's Bowie Birthday! I'll do a Bowie tribute!" Idiosyncratic as it is, Mister Novak found a Marc Bolan tribute record yesterday and there are 2 "cover girls" doing Bolan tunes.... another idiot-syncratic thing -- it's MY birthday on Monday. I'm a little bit younger than David Jones Bowie. Thanks for listening & for the e-mail and enjoy tonight's show -- Mick Novak

What a great idea! Naturally, I've already got a complete library of Bowie's recordings, as do all true Bowie fans. So if they were filling the program with Bowie's recordings, that would be a little mundane, would it not? So I'll be sure to tune in to this show to hear a pile of stuff I've never heard before. It seems like quite a challenge. I honestly can't think of a single Bowie cover recorded by a woman. This show will be an education.

Oh wait!...I have a terrific recording of Bowie's bassist, Gail Ann Dorsey, singing Under Pressure. So, while they exist, I suppose this show will gently remind me that there are more "Cover Girls" of Bowie than I am aware at first blush.

Thanks to the genius of today's modern communications innovations, you can listen to this show without tuning in at midnight to hear it "live". Fresh Air radio has an online archival library and so you can listen to this show online at your convenience whenever you want (after today) for the next two weeks by simply clicking on my above provided hyperlink located in the program's title. And, of course, if you don't live within broadcast range of the Twin Cities, the Internet option is your only option.

Tune in and celebrate Bowie's birthday before he becomes a sexagenarian.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I'm a fan of Mark Steyn's work. Whenever he guests on the Hugh Hewitt Show I do whatever is necessary to stop what I'm doing and just listen to the guy. He's not only extremely insightful in politics, he has a wonderful sense of humor and a true gift for clever wordplay.
One of Steyn's favorite topics is the suicide of civilization. Having read most of his columns on this subject, I can say that he's written what is probably the best and most well defined piece yet on the subject. Published in the Opinion Journal just the other day, it's entitled It's the demography, Stupid.The real reason the West is in danger of extinction.

The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it. Post-Christian hyperrationalism is, in the objective sense, a lot less rational than Catholicism or Mormonism. Indeed, in its reliance on immigration to ensure its future, the European Union has adopted a 21st-century variation on the strategy of the Shakers, who were forbidden from reproducing and thus could increase their numbers only by conversion. The problem is that secondary-impulse societies mistake their weaknesses for strengths--or, at any rate, virtues--and that's why they're proving so feeble at dealing with a primal force like Islam.
As I see it, Steyn's thesis can be summed up by saying that Progressivism is the doom of the West. I had a brief discussion of this subject with a Progressive friend of mine some months ago. My good friend argued that immigration will suffice as it has in the past to sustain our societies. But since we'd had that conversation a year ago, Europe witnessed widespread riots throughout France and parts of Germany and Belgium. These riots were conducted by Islamic youths who feel disenfranchised from their host countries.

I doubt these are the sort of immigrants my friend had in mind for keeping these societies flush.

So, what if Steyn is right? What do we do to save ourselves, Steyn doesn't offer any specifics. Should I grab the first available single Christian woman, propose marriage and then create a family of 4.8 children with her? While I could then smugly maintain that I have done my part to save the world, a lot of other folks would have to have the same plan of action in order to make it successful.
Steyn believes that our society worries too much about the unimportant things, stealing the time away from us to worry about the big problems that are truly worth worrying about. But how do we get such a set of worries in gear?

Reading this article is a good way to start.

UPDATE: Lileks offers his thoughts on Steyn's piece in his Screedblog.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: Dafydd of Big Lizards blog has some interesting analysis as well, mostly toward dispelling the weight of Steyn's argument.

It is Mark Steyn's despair I reject. I have seen nothing to make me believe that the most powerful culture ever invented by humans, Western liberal democracy, having risen up and defeated the Moslem jihadists the first five hundred times, will simply roll over and die on the five hundred and first. And that is the crack in the marble that splinters the beautiful edifice of Mark Steyn's thesis: Western Civ will survive because we have been socially evolved as winners and survivors for millennia; we will prevail because we refuse, in the end, to accept any other result.

I think it's possible that Steyn is well aware of the dynamics Dafydd writes of. But the politically correct mindset requires that some very cold water be splashed into their sleepy faces.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Media sloppiness and limitations

It's a big, bad world of half-truths and mischaracterizations and yes, even a little bit of truth out there. Consumers of news must find those sources that are credible. The series of events that transpired in the coal mines of Tallmansville, West Virginia and then by extension, the nation's news media is instructive. If you think you know where I'm headed with this, then keep reading because I'm going somewhere else entirely.

One of the prime sources of news I utilize is the Hugh Hewitt Show. But he let me down today. Fortunately, I have the Internet to clarify the facts for me. Listening to the HH Show this Wednesday evening, he took a phone call from a woman right here in my home town of Minneapolis. She reported that the StarTribune had carried the false front page story that the 12 miners were recovered alive. Hugh remarked that he wasn't aware that any newspapers had gotten the story wrong and went on to point out that the Strib is one of the worst papers in the country. Hugh, who lives and broadcasts from California, is at the opposite end of the lower 48 from West Virginia. That puts him into four hours of time lag from the Eastern Time Zone. Consequently, the newspapers Hugh reads had plenty of time to correct their story before going to press. I find that odd, as according to Mr. Hewitt, he doesn't read the papers. So why then, did he say he wasn't aware that any papers had miscarried the story? Many of them miscarried the story. The Strib story, for example, was carried from the Washington Post.
Hugh then went on to lambast the newspapers.
"They are lazy. They don't check their facts.", says Hugh.

Well, it turns out that many of them actually did check their facts.

Television also got the story wrong;

"We didn't take the family's word for it," "Nightline" executive producer James Goldston said. "We had confirmation from two separate, very well-sourced people involved in the rescue, from a very high level. They both told us repeatedly the same information. We had five or six separate sources. By our reckoning, it was enough to go with, and we went with it."
But the sources were just wrong. Does Hugh expect the papers to fly a reporter out to Tallmansville and dig into the mine shaft himself to uncover the true facts? It turns out that the Governor of the State of West Virginia was sourced. He thought the false story was true. As we all know, the family members of the miners thought the false story was true. The mining company was incommunicative on the matter while they tried to gather more information.
Hugh urges us to cancel our newspaper subscriptions. I'm not going to disagree with that advice. I don't subscribe to any papers and for the same reasons Hugh cites, I don't intend to.

Hugh also challenges any newspaper person to phone his show if they want to disagree with him on the accuracy of newspapers. I hope James Lileks will take him up on that challenge. If Lileks is aware of the challenge, I think he will, as the Strib is his employer.

Here's the way I see it. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody's wrong sometimes, including news reporters, "radio shock jocks" and yes, bloggers. The key question is, does your favorite news source correct itself in a competent manner and in a competent time frame? On a story such as this mining story, which is essentially a human story, 24 hours will pass and these media will have time to correct. What's the problem? To my mind, the real problem might be the mining company. Why did they wait three hours to correct the information? This is literally a life and death issue. The mining company should have a well defined policy regarding control of information to avoid this terrible sort of thing from ever happening. You don't play yo-yo with mining family's heart strings. I understand the control of information was lost because someone misunderstood a telephone communication. As soon as the mining company learned that the town was celebrating, they should have issued a corrective, even if only a limited corrective.

Three hours is a long time to be overjoyed that your family member has been saved from a horrible death in the mines. Consumers of news media around the country might have been under the thumb of false information for at least that long before word of mouth or a television update corrected. But those folks around the country are not, most of them, family.

What's the lesson? Simple. No matter what your political persuasion, for the love of Mike, get your news from a variety of sources. Don't depend on just one or two, especially if they happen to be the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Hugh Hewitt is right. MSM is lazy and biased. But I think he's overplaying his case on this miner story. The lost lives of the miners, each and every one of them, is tragic and terrible. But since this really is just a "human" story, it will be easily corrected. This, unlike other more egregiously mischaracterized stories the msm never corrects regarding the war in Iraq or Joe Wilson, III. And so far as I know, no further lives were jeopardized through the false reports coming out of West Virginia.