Friday, September 30, 2005

EU Wants Shared Control of Internet

The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private sector must share the responsibility of overseeing the Internet, setting the stage for a showdown with the United States on the future of Internet governance.



Man! This is the last thing we want or need. Could you imagine if the French got hold of the net, or the UN? Talk about world domination via propaganda...
DUDE SMELLS SMOKE



Fire rages in southern Cal.
LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT of. . .
The bill would require the government to compensate property owners if steps to protect species thwarted development plans. It also would make political appointees responsible for some scientific determinations and would stop the government from designating "critical habitat," which limits development.

The changes were pushed through by the chairman of the House Resources Committee, GOP Rep. Richard Pombo. The California rancher contends the current rules unduly burden landowners and lead to costly lawsuits while doing too little to save plants and animals.

This is a long time coming.
MSM and the FACTS

Hugh Hewitt has a great observation.
Everything that American media could throw at a story, it threw at New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. No expense was spared. All hands were on deck. And yet not one news organization produced anything like complete coverage of the events unfolding inside the city's convention center or the Superdome. Horrific stories of murders and rapes spread like wildfire, reports of little girls with their throats slashed stunned Americans, and hysteria gripped many in the MSM. Weeks later the Los Angeles Times and others began to examine the collapse of the media's own levees that traditionally hold back rumor and urban myth.

Given this failure to capture the true story in New Orleans even with all of the combined resources of all the MSM working around the clock, why would anyone believe that American media is accurately reporting on the events in Iraq from the Green Zone, in the course of a bloody insurgency fought in a language they don't understand? If the combined forces of old media couldn't get one accurate story out of the convention center, why for a moment believe it can get a story out of Mosul or Najaf?
THE BASEBALL SCHEDULE

This is interesting.
this is the first time since it was adopted in 2001 that the unbalanced schedule has resulted in season-ending Yankee-Red Sox matchup. In 1999 and 2000, when the Yankees finished 4 and 2.5 games ahead of the Red Sox respectively, the final regular season games between the two clubs were on September 11 and 12, almost three weeks before the season's conclusion. All of which is even more stunning when you remember that the Yankees and Red Sox have finished first and second in the AL East respectively for the last seven straight seasons. Major League Baseball switched schedule makers prior to this season for the first time since 1981. Now, entering the season's final weekend, four of the six teams that have niether clinched nor been eliminated from the postseason are playing each other, including the first scheduled season-ending series between the Yankees and Red Sox to mean something since 1949. Kudos to baseball and the Sports Scheduling Group for correcting an obvious flaw in the system.
MOTHERS?

James Taranto had some fun yesterday with a doctor that forgot to use the prescribed euphemism.
In an item yesterday, we noted a curious quote from Jerry Edwards, an Arkansas aborter who was offering to evacuate the wombs of women who evacuated New Orleans free of charge. "If we didn't provide it now," Edwards said, "they would get it later--a late-term abortion that would give greater risk to the mother's health."

Needless to say, we were flummoxed. "How would the timing of a woman's choice affect her mother's health?" we asked. But several readers have written with a theory that, if true, is shocking: that by "the mother," Edwards meant the woman who is exercising her constitutional right to choose.

The implications are chilling. Of course it's possible that some of these women are mothers, as a result of previous pregnancies during which, tragically, they were too poor or uneducated to make a choice. But Edwards is sweepingly characterizing all women exercising their constitutional rights as "mothers." And think about what that means: If a woman availing herself of her right to choose is a "mother," then the fetus is a "child" rather than what science has definitively proved it to be, which is just a clump of cells.

Now if people want to reject science and believe in superstitious nonsense like this, they are entitled to do so. After all, the same Constitution that guarantees the right to choose also provides for a limited "freedom of religion." But when even abortion clinics are being run by antichoice fanatics, American women, and even enlightened male-Americans, should be afraid--very afraid.
THE CROON MONSTER

On the subject of baseball... Great piece this morning on NPR about baseball's great mysterious traditions, namely in this case the Fenway Park crowd singing along to Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the 8th inning of every home game. The curious reporter tried to get to the bottom of it by listening to the song itself for clues (no apparent connection to Boston, the Bosox, or baseball), asking an encyclopaedic Fenway tour guide, asking the organist, asking David Wells, and asking the park's music director. Several theories were suggested, ranging from pure guesswork to plausible. The search ended with a previous music director who explained simply that she played the song one day, people liked it, so she kept playing it, and soon it became a tradition, its origin in mere whimsy.

The piece concluded with the Neil Diamond snippet, overlaid with Red Sox fans singing along, joyfully and poorly, during a lopsided Sox win over the Royals. I smiled. A day at the park is still such a wonderful slice of American life, for reasons that are hard to understand and harder to explain.

Why do they sing that particular song? Just because they enjoy it. I'm kind of glad it wasn't anything more serious than that.

UPDATE: I found myself humming this song a couple times this morning, and sure enough it is a very happy tune.
ESPN AWFUL BASEBALL AWARDS

You may have alread seen these, but here is a sample
Gold Medal: Some day, when we compile our list of the wildest games any pitcher has ever been mixed up in, we're betting a June 10 evening in the life of Kansas City's Zack Greinke will be on it. Here's his fascinating little pitching line in Arizona:

4 1/3 IP, 15 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 3 HR allowed -- and 1 HR hit.

But what was the most incredible part of all? That he gave up all those hits and all those runs and didn't even get a loss out of it -- since the Royals somehow roared from nine runs back to get Greinke off the hook (but then lost anyway).

Facts of the day: According to Retrosheet's Dave Smith, Greinke was the first starting pitcher in the last 45 seasons to give up 15 hits and 11 runs in one game without taking a loss. He was also the first starter in the last 45 seasons to give up 11 runs in a game in which he homered. And he was just the second starter in the last 74 years (joining Scott Sanders, in 1998) to give up 15 hits without getting 14 outs. How 'bout that night in the desert?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

THE NEW TEN
ROBERTS IN

Roberts in with 78 votes - all the Rs and half the Ds. Just heard Specter on the radio saying he would like to see a nominee to succeed O'Connor "in the mold of Roberts."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

THE OTHER SENATOR DOC
But the Senate is currently slated to clamp down on the Joe Citizenry of Coburn. Senate rules currently allow those who practice medicine, such as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, to continue to do so free of charge to their patients. Coburn wants just enough to cover overhead and continue to serve his patients.

A Senate Ethics Committee ruling would have Coburn shut down his medical practice by the end of September — citing a potential conflict of interest in his profession as an obstetrician — or risk censure by the Senate.

But censuring him is simply a bad prescription.

Coburn won't be shut down, however. He has insisted: "I'm going to continue to practice medicine either way, one way or the other."

Watch this guy. He's just the kind of maverick we need up there.
DELAY INDICTED
A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on one count of criminal conspiracy, prompting the Sugar Land Republican to give up his leadership post in Congress.

"I have notified (House Speaker Dennis Hastert) that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said in a statement.

The charge, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years incarceration, stems from his role with his political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, a now-defunct organization that already had been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate money during the 2002 legislative elections.

State law generally bars corporate money from campaign-related activity. DeLay and his associates have insisted the corporate money was legally spent on committee overhead or issue advertising and not campaign-related activity.

The Clinton Adminstration took money from the Chinese government, but corporate money is tainted? Still, it will give Delay just the time he needs to find cuts in federal budget.

UPDATE: WaPo isnt buying.

UPDATE #2: Don't miss the movie.

UPDATE #3: Powerline has an interesting theory.
BILOXI - NOW WHAT?

A few months ago I prepared a report on Mississippi's economy and economic outlook for a Jackson-based law firm. It was clear that the state was gambling on the gulf coast casino industry to sustain and boost the state's economy. Other than a new auto plant outside Jackson, there was no viable economic engine anywhere else in the state. Now the entire gambling industry just got wiped off the map, stripping the nation's poorest state of some $189 million in annual tax revenues and hanging a huge question mark over its economic future.

Gov. Barbour (R), is talking up rebuilding the industry and bringing the casinos onshore, notwithstanding campaign promises not to expand the gambling industry in the state. How unfortunate that he has little other choice.

"When he was running for governor in 2003, he sat in my office twice and told me he would not expand the gambling industry," said Donald E. Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, a conservative social policy organization based in Tupelo. "His constituency was the money people and the moral people, but he's chosen to split his constituency and side with the money people. Well, they may have the money, but we have the people, we have the votes, and he's going to pay."

Mr. Barbour, a Republican who was once the national party chairman, said his position was entirely consistent with what he said during his campaign, since all he had promised was to stop the spread of gambling to new Mississippi counties.

But Mr. Perkins said: "Well, it all depends on what you mean by expand. We certainly understood him to mean that the way the casinos were was the way they would remain. What he's talking about here sure sounds like expansion to us."

When casinos were first legalized in Mississippi, gambling was limited to a few boats that would pick up customers and ferry them offshore to gamble. Then, legislators decided to allow the casinos to operate even if they were permanently moored to the shore, as long as they remained on the water.

And last year, the legislature voted to allow the casinos to sink pilings into the sea floor, to more safely secure the structures. But before such construction could be undertaken, Katrina came along and destroyed most of the coast's gambling boats.
Under Mr. Barbour's proposal, operators could build casinos as much as 1,500 feet inland, as long as they also had some sort of structure right on the beach like a hotel that linked the casino to the water.

Religious leaders, however, said the proposal could eventually lead to casinos overrunning the state until there were slot machines in almost every gas station and saloon, as there are in neighboring Louisiana.

"We keep taking little baby steps toward what we fear is a total takeover of the state by the gambling-political complex," Mr. Perkins said.


I see a consulting opportunity here for Swish.

Aside: Tom, your posting of Cindy Sheehan alongside Lucy was genius.
SHEEHAN PIMPS STRUGGLE TO KEEP THE CAMERAS ROLLING

March on Washington draws well-known fornicator and horde of photographers, available soon at fine adult video retailers.

But today protests of this sort have become so ritualized, so controlled, so derivative and predictable that it is a wonder anyone bothers. There is no particular tension, no threat of violence — power is not in the streets, and the whole world got bored with watching a long time ago.




Cindy Sheehan managed one final blip by slobbering on Jesse Jackson's back, but she is moments away from total irrelevancy. We viewers know she is nothing more than a convenient and disposable media product, a Big Story that has run its course. Americans don't care about anything for more than a month, six weeks tops, and half the country never cared about this so-called story in the first place.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

PROVING IT'S YOU
Requiring a photo ID to vote, as the Carter-Baker commission recommends, would have a chilling effect on voter participation. It would block some Americans from the political process.

The Carter-Baker recommendations are so restrictive that even a valid U.S. passport or photo ID issued by the U.S. military isn't good enough. Voters must have a driver's license that meets the requirements of the controversial Real ID Act, which set strict standards for obtaining state-issued licenses.

According to a 2001 election-reform report, 6% to 10% of voting-age Americans don't have driver's licenses, and requiring them would be a "burden that would fall disproportionately on people who are poorer and urban."

If Carter and Baker had one ounce of decency they would let the poor use their valid passports!
McCain meets the Trojan Woman
Peace mom Cindy Sheehan didn't change her opposition to the war in Iraq after meeting Tuesday with one of its supporters, Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran whom she called "a warmonger."

Although McCain has criticized the handling of the Iraq war, he has supported President Bush's call to stop terrorism abroad before it reaches the U.S. Sheehan, whose son, Casey, died in Iraq last year, has energized the anti-war movement with her call for troops to be brought home.

"He is a warmonger, and I'm not," Sheehan said after meeting with McCain. "I believe this war is not keeping America safer."

If McCain is a warmonger, what does that maker her son?
DOES PORK HELP RE-ELECTION?

I was thnking about the Novak column from yesterday and one line in particular.


Hastert believes it is not just the privilege but the duty of a House member to deliver federal projects to his constituents.

I'm very on top of politics and I can't finger one single pork barrel project from Washington courtesy of my Congressman Ric Keller or his predecessor, Bill McCollum. But I know they're coming. If I don't know how the money is being spent who does? And if we don't even know where it is going how can we know to re-elect these people because of it.
71-YEAR-OLD NAMED HOMECOMING QUEEN

When you can't paint the opponent's locker room pink and nobody wants to nail the homecoming queen, there is no point at all in going to college.
AMERICA'S TWO-PARTY SYSTEM: THE ALWAYS RIGHT AND THE ALWAYS WRONG

Have I ever been less interested in watching a new show?

Commander in Chief delivers Geena Davis as Mackenzie Allen, America’s first female president. Even as novel as the show’s premise is (which isn’t as novel as its marketers probably hoped it would be), Commander displays a remarkable lack of imagination: The travails of the first woman in the Oval Office are exactly what you would guess they would be. But Commander in Chief is interesting; interesting as a liberal fantasy (the New York Times’s description, not mine). An almost Freudian bomb is buried beneath its clich√© shots of D.C. monuments lit up at night: Deep down, liberals like the ones who wrote Commander harbor a repressed desire to be like George W. Bush.

Commander is an archetypal liberal tale: A hero is challenged by blind prejudice but rises to show us that when we embrace equality and diversity, it all works out.

Every time a character remarks how she would be the first female president, another shoots back “and the first independent.” In the glorious future, with the issues so perfectly framed, “Democrat” and “liberal” have withered away, and everyone presumably knows that their choice is between upright, sincere independents like Allen and icy, extremist Republicans. Ah, to dream.

WHERE THE RELIEF MONEY COMES FROM: NOWHERE

Spending has been literally out of control since Nixon abolished the gold standard.

How does the federal government pay for the damages caused by Katrina? Does anyone asking that question actually know how the government pays for anything? Essentially, the federal government pays for things in just one way — it credits a member bank account. Let’s review the process: The federal government writes a check to a construction company to pay for a bridge. The construction company deposits the check at a bank. When that check clears, the Fed credits the bank’s reserve account at the Fed, and then the bank credits the company’s bank account with “good funds.” Bottom line: Operationally, virtually all of the federal government’s spending per se consists of the Fed crediting an account — that’s all. The federal government doesn’t have any “box of money” that gets “filled” from tax collections and the proceeds from new Treasury securities and then gets “used up” by spending or lending. This is an operational reality. In today’s world of non-convertible currencies, spending is necessarily nothing more than “score keeping.” (If one football team scores a touchdown, and 6 points are added to its score, does anyone ask where the scorekeeper gets the points?)

So, the actual “paying for Katrina” is not the issue. The issue is the real economic ramifications of the proposed spending or the proposed tax increases — the impact on inflation, output, growth, employment, distribution, etc.

+BROWN BUNNY (2003) - (A Movie Review)

Roger Ebert hated the 120 minute version of Brown Bunny that debuted at festivals in 2003, but he gave the 90 minute re-edit three stars despite some reservations. I personally found it more interesting than Vincent Gallo’s directorial debut, BUFFALO 66. That film too may have benefited from a shortened length.

Gallo looks like a street hood straight from central casting and therefore Gallo the director uses that image to give the audience the wrong impression of the main character. He looks dangerous like young Marlon Brando on the outside, but he’s Jimmy Stewart on the inside. The action in both Gallo movies is the slow peeling away of the Brando for the Stewart. He likes to do that with his real-life image as well. Gallo has been on record several times saying that he is a Republican. He’s even attended events with Jenna Bush.

But the sex scene at the end of Brown Bunny is the most graphic thing I’ve ever seen between 2 mainstream actors. So is Gallo being ironic or contradictory or just enigmatic? Since being a Democrat in that community is the most conformist choice you could make, I think Gallo is asking his audience which choice is more provocative. I mean what’s a more avant-garde these days than identifying with George W. Bush? And when you can identify with Bush but make “open-minded” critics like Roger Ebert blush at the sexual content, you are really blazing a unique trail. Whatever Gallo’s actual politics, he’s certainly demonstrating that he wants to be a maverick.

BROWN BUNNY is mostly silent with intermittent dialogue to break things up. I liked the pace quite a bit and felt that the payoff tied the character’s actions together rather well. Some critics howled at what they considered an overly simple meaning, but most heart-wrenching events of real life are rather simple if you think about it.

Director Todd Haynes was lavishly praised for his Douglas Sirk rip-off FAR FROM HEAVEN by playing into our egos as open-minded individuals. It was well-made with good performances, but neither challenging nor surprising, though it was treated by critics as some sort of revelation. Critics love to pat themselves on the back and it’s a most comforting movie in a politically correct age. Gallo has made the antithesis of that effort, a movie that makes you feel uncomfortable before reminding you of the simple human yearnings that mirror real life much more than the “realism” critics usually praise. I liked it enough to watch it again the next night when Trish got back into town.

Monday, September 26, 2005


THE BIG RALLY














Tell me that Cindy Sheehan doesn't look like Lucy Van Pelt from Peanuts posing for the cover of "Happiness is a Warm . . . Shakedown Artist."

I love the sign in the background "WORST PRESIDENT EVER" which would be news to the likes of James Buchanan who maybe could have just tried a little to prevent a bigger war than the one we're in now.

We saw a lot of these same kind of people marching before the Republican convention in 2004. In both places we saw Che signs and other communist propaganda, as well as the usual hate-Bush stuff. You have to give them credit for taking the time what with College Football and the penant race on TV.

What's troubling is how so many people think that the act of doing nothing is a solution to the realities of the world. The media romanticizes the Vietnam protests without ever mentioning the million or so South Vietnamese that were wholesale butchered once we listened to the hippies and jumped ship.

Now while the people who protest may be sincere, the groups funding the protest are worrisome says Christopher Hitchens.

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh.
MORE CHINA

Here's another article on the subject Steve addressed.
Today, many Americans get the news by reading the headlines on the Yahoo!, Google or Microsoft Web portals. Many more Americans learn about current events by using a search engine from one of these companies. In China, however, such behavior can get you thrown in prison - sometimes with the cooperation of the U.S. companies that tout their supposed commitment to goodness and freedom.

Indeed, Yahoo! is so enthusiastic to comply with "local law" - however tyrannical and unjust - that in 2002 Yahoo! signed the "Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry" (www.isc.org.cn/20020417/ca102762.htm). Thus, explains Reporters Without Borders, a Chinese Web user who runs a Yahoo! search query for a controversial topic such as "Taiwan independence" will "retrieve only a limited and approved set of results." If "you try to post a message on the subject in a discussion forum, it never appears online."

Google and Microsoft have also signed the so-called "Responsibility" code. After the Chinese government blocked Google in 2002, Google modified its Chinese search engine. Google maintains on its own servers a cache of various Web content, so a Chinese surfer previously might have been able to find forbidden content by using the Google cache, rather than reading the content directly from a banned Web site.

A disgrace. Didn't Marx say something like the last capitalist would be hung with the rope he manufactured?
MORE ON PORK from Robert Novak
Neither President Bush nor congressional leaders will tolerate tampering with the drug subsidy, the president's least popular initiative among conservatives. While the White House would be happy to see some highway pork eliminated, the House leaders absolutely refused. At stake here is a basic disagreement over the philosophy of government within the Republican Party as it nears the end of its 11th year controlling the House of Representatives.

Hastert believes it is not just the privilege but the duty of a House member to deliver federal projects to his constituents. Many younger conservatives could not disagree more, but most -- like Pence -- are loyal Republicans who are loath to criticize their leaders.

We need someone other than Hastert then. These guys are just begging to be in the minority it seems.
CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS

Just for fun, I thought I would document my brushes with fame for the amusement of the Junto Boys. I wrote last year about seeing Wil and Jada at a Sunday showing of THE INCREDIBLES. Last year I also saw Vin Scully at gymnastics class, Martin Landau at LAX, Andy Dick also at gymnastics class, and Dylan McDermott (formerly of THE PRACTICE) at Heathrow Airport. I recently saw Ron Cey at the deli, and I think the Lisa Bonet-clone at music class was Rosario Dawson. Her daughter comes complete with attitude.

I had two sightings this past weekend. On Saturday, we arrived early for Mason's soccer game and I wasn't sure where to set up the chairs. I stood on the sidelines to watch a game in progress and I was next to the animated cheering dad, whom I soon recognized as Turk from SCRUBS, one of the few shows I set Tivo to regularly record. I wanted to call him Brown Bear and give him a hug, but decided that would be inappropriate.

On Sunday, we hosted Mason's birthday party at a place in Oak Park called Bright Child, which is a super-fun indoor playground. On our way out, while I was settling the bill, I shared the lobby with none other than Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson. I couldn't figure that one out - they didn't have kids with them so far that I could tell. I know from the sex tape that Pamela has no kids - maybe Kid has kids and they were already inside. Rock was just a skinny guy with a super fancy watch and a Tigers cap. Pamela without makeup wasn't all that alluring. There were half a dozen MILFs inside already that I would prefer in my sex tape.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

CHINA SHOWS US THE WAY! (NOT!!)

Right when I start getting depressed about the US, I came across this news report by AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer:

(Internet) sites should only post news on current events and politics, according to the new regulations issued by the Ministry of Information Industry and China's cabinet, the State Council. The subjects that would be acceptable under those categories was not clear.

Only "healthy and civilized news and information that is beneficial to the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to its economic development and conducive to social progress" will be allowed, Xinhua said.

"The sites are prohibited from spreading news and information that goes against state security and public interest," it added.

While the communist government encourages Internet use for education and business, it also blocks material it deems subversive or pornographic. Online dissidents who post items critical of the government, or those expressing opinions in chatrooms, are regularly arrested and charged under vaguely worded state security laws.


God bless America! I guess they'd carted me off by now for most of what I put on this blog. And liberals still bitch about the Patriot act.


HBO's: ROME

I'm a sucker for most any period film/TV show. I loved Ben Hur, Sparticus, Gladiator, and most recently HBO's Rome. When you read the actual facts of the Roman Empire, look at the behind the scenes politics, and then see this show, it really exhibits the fact that nothing has changed. So much of current politics and our own society mirror these ancient times. What I respect about the Romans though, is that they didn't give a rats behind about Political Correctness. They "knew" that Roman civilization was the best. They "knew" that being Roman, was superior to all other ways. A good example is in the Bible. When the Apostle Paul was being interrogated by a Roman official for being part of spreading the radical religion of Christianity, Paul stopped the proceedings in it's tracks: "The officers reported this (Pauls captivity) to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed." (Acts 16:38). To be a Roman citizen was a badge of honor and a shield against lawlessness. When the Romans invaded an area they said, "Become Roman or die" (or worse be enslaved). Would we win the war on terror quicker if we took such a hard line? We can't because we're too, "Bless your heart, come here let me give you a billion dollars and rebuild your nation for you." Actually, the Romans did do a lot of nation building. Take Carthage for example. After decades of war, the Romans finally conquered the equally powerful Carthaginian Nation. The ancient site of Carthage was located in what is today Tunisia. As you can see from this map (link), The continent of Africa is at one of the Roman's closest points to Europe (the island of Sicily) Carthage, then, could control trade from the eastern to the western Mediterranean. That's why Rome envied and feared her. When the Romans conquered Carthage, they rebuilt it in the Roman image. The Carthaginians were no more, the survivors were changed to Romans from that day onward. America is an imperialist empire. We just pretend we're not.

In 1984, when I was in 10th grade, our local congressman came to the High School for a "visit." During the question and answer section I asked, "What if President Reagan declared himself emperor?" The congressman blushed, laughed, then went off on some rambling discourse about democracy. I'd love to see an Emperor Bush, but he doesn't have the bearing or heart for it. So for now, I'll have to get my fantasy fulfilled via Rome the TV series. The real question is, 2000 years from now, will they have a series about American civilization?
WHERE ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

The blending of the parties is becoming so prevasive that I long and pine for some alternative. I wish the libertarians had a viable candidate and/or a viable money machine. What you realize in watching the way government works (regardless of whose in power) is that companies (especially big companies) and individuals want the government as it is. They've all learned to manipulate it and control it to their own end. "Give me this tax break, create that loop-hole, don't touch my Social Security!" It's as if Americans have forgotten what a self reliant people we once were. I mean it takes a major self-reliant human to homestead 40 acres, or pioneer into the wilderness, or start a new company. I believe that pioneer spirit still exists, but it doesn't soak into everyday life. The Simpson's has always had a great way of distilling the truth. There was a Halloween Treehouse of Horror, episode where Mordo and Kang (the green aliens always laughing at Earthlings from above), capture Dole and Clinton. They disguise themselves as such and continue running for office. When the truth is finally learned and they are unmasked as aliens before the election, one audience member steps forward and proclaims, "I'm voting for a third party candidate!" The Kang repiles, "Go ahead, THROW your vote away!" Needless to say, Kang is elected and Earth is enslaved.

What do we need? How can we fulfill the dreams so many of us had after reading the "Contract with America" in '94? Where's this decades Ronald Reagan, Newt, heck even Barry Goldwater? I'd love for Jeb to run, but he won't. At the very least, I wish we would nominate Pat Buchanan. Could you see Buchanan debating Hillary. I'd fall out of my chair with glee. Or some really absurd team-up. Like Minister Louis Farakan with running mate Cal Thomas (I know he's conservative) on the Democratic ticket. Then on the Republican ticket lets get Adam Sandler and Spike Lee. Arrrrgggghhhh!!! Just give me anything but the same boring crap.
SCIENCE FICTION POST STARWARS/STARTREK

I never thought I'd say this. But I'm so happy Starwars and Startrek is over. Both series have outlived their useful time. I will not make any further Starwars comments as Pal Tom's eloquent blog on Star Wars will suffice. I'll just "ditto" Tom on that. Startrek alternatively had become so bogged down in discontinuity, absurd storylines, and tired overused plots (i.e. An alien virus is mutating somebody, some alien is teaching humanity a lesson, the holodeck has gone haywire, etc. etc.). What has happened is new, even superior, science fiction is taking hold. Take for example the wonderful show Stargate and it's spin-off Stargate: Atlantis. I starting watching this show pretty late in the series run (Season 8). Luckily, thanks to Netflix, I was able to back track and watch the whole series on DVD. Stargate is a TV spinoff of the equally good movie starring Kirk Russell and James Spader. Basically it's about an ancient device discovered in Egypt that is more than 10,000 years old. The device is a giant circle with symbols on it. They figure out that the symbols are really star constellations and if you dial a particular set, you get a gate address. A wormhole in space is created and you can step through the gate onto another planet (where an identical stargate resides). In the show the bad guys are small alien parasites who inhabit human hosts and pose as "gods." (Mostly from the Egyptian pantheon). Because of their superior technology, most primitive human cultures take them as gods. These aliens constantly battle each other for supremacy of the galaxy. The series just keeps getting better, now in Season 11 (Stargate) and Season 2 for Atlantis. The continuity is near perfect, the writing is sharp and witty, the character development is phenomenal. For someone who loves Science Fiction, Stargate is the best series since, well, Star Trek. I just hope they don't fall into any of the same pitfalls that led to the latter's demise.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

2008

Aficionados know that the campaign has already begun despite the fact that most Americans are oblivious to it. A lot can change before then, but here are my current thoughts:

Unlike Republicans who give losing candidates more chances, such as Nixon in 1968, Reagan in 1980, and Dole in 1996, Democrats almost always choose a fresh face. After losing twice with Adlai Stevenson versus Ike, they have run mint condition John Kennedy, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michaek Dukakis, and Bill Clinton. Retreads like Humphrey and Gore only got nods because they were incumbent VPs. Therefore, John Kerry and John Edwards might as well practice their skiing and write their memoirs.

If Al Gore wants to run again, he might make it interesting in the primaries, but Hilary Clinton will beat him nonetheless. The division caused by a close race between the first serious woman candidate versus her husband's VP will cause so much turmoil in the Democrat party that I don't think they could recover in time for the general election. Hilary represents not only feminism but the kind of practical politics that half the party and most of the money will get behind. Gore represents the heart of the party represented by people with far less money, but much more political conviction. Many Gore supporters will be angry that Hilary's opportunism stood in the way of their favorite son and some won't vote at all. The question is how many. Hilary is better off if she can get Democrat operatives to make Gore stand down. She has an easier journey to the white house without him around.

The Republicans have far more questions as I can see. The best two candidates don't seem to be interested in running. Jeb Bush understandably doesn't want to be the victim of Bush fatigue although he is probably the best Governor in America. Dick Cheney is reviled by the Left, but speaks with such clear thought and calmness that I don't think they could paint him as an extremist in the general election. If for no other reason, health problems will make it very tough for him to run. I would vote for either of them in the primary if they did run.

John McCain thinks he's the favorite, but he's dreaming. His glory-hounding, headline grabbing darling with the national media persona may make him feel important, but it's wearing thin with Republican stalwarts even though he'd most certainly beat Clinton. He's a leader on the war and deficit spending, but conservatives don't want an opportunist like McCain in the white house where he can further sell right wing principles down the river in the name of pragmatism. He traded a chance at the presidency for a legacy as the Godfather of campaign finance reform, a media issue that violates the first amendment.

Although he is much more reliably liberal than McCain, Guliani has real respect from conservatives for his no apology style of leadership and support for law and order. His
chance at the nomination would be tricky, but he could pull it off by moving just enough to the right on social issues to convince the base he won’t be grandstanding social issues in office. I think Republicans will forgive a pro-choice candidate if he isn’t giving NARAL speeches and he can support the ban on late-term procedures. A steady and reliable Guliani is preferable to the random and rabbit-eared McCain in my opinion.

I haven't seen anything from Bill Frist to make me vote for him in the primary. He seems earnest and hard working, yet incredibly bland. I don't see him beating Hilary in a debate.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

I don’t know enough about Sen. George Allen or Gov. Bill Owens although I understand them both to have mainstream conservative backers. Cato named Owens the best fiscal Governor in America a few years back. Jeb Bush was #2. Allen has also had experience as a Governor.

The Republicans have a lot of work to find the right person. Democrats already have theirs and it’s just a matter of whether she can beat whoever is picked to be her general election opponent.
THE TRUTH ABOUT HILARY by Edward Klein (A Book Review)

The 2008 presidential campaign has already begun so it’s not surprising that an author would capitalize on Hilary’s political history with a recap of her antics. THE TRUTH ABOUT HILARY begins at childhood and highlights her youthful experiences and personal faults that would shape her into the manipulative character that felt entitled as co-President despite the fact that she didn’t appear on any ballots.

The best part of the book is the story behind her decision to run for Senator, so that she could shed her co-dependent political marriage for the less damaging carpetbagger reputation. This was the only part of the history that I didn’t know. Klein makes Senator Moynihan a sympathetic figure that is serious about the people of New York and the problems with the country who reluctantly agrees to tepidly endorse Clinton for the good of the party.

This is not a book that will take long to read and it’s probably best for people who were too young to remember Hillary’s role in the 1990s. As a repudiation of Hilary it’s better than Peggy Noonan’s THE CASE AGAINST HILARY (2000) which depended more on psychology and not enough on the treachery.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A RETURN TO CUBA

You might be interested in this short film. It's a true story about a guy Dan and I work with that returned to Cuba for the first time since fleeing in the 1960s. Dan produced it and I contributed as the script writer. It's only about 4 minutes long.

This link will take you to the main page and you'll have to select the video that says: A RETURN TO CUBA. I couldn't create a direct link

LINK
SCALIA IS NO WEAK NELLIE

Last night he spoke at Julliard and told them what they didn't want to hear.
The justice, an opera lover and a strict conservative, was part of a Juilliard symposium on American society and the arts that put him in the company of the soprano Reneé Fleming, the composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and the historian David McCullough. He acknowledged the incongruity.

"The First Amendment has not repealed the basic rule of life, that he who pays the piper calls the tune," Justice Scalia said. "When you place the government in charge of funding art, just as when you place the government in charge of providing education, somebody has to pick the content of what art is going to be funded, what subjects are going to be taught.

"The only way to eliminate any government choice on what art is worthwhile, what art isn't worthwhile, is to get the government totally out of the business of funding," he said.
PINK IOWA

I thought Trish was too busy at work to read the blog until she commented last night about the McCartney piece. Here's a story from her old school.
A University of Iowa law professor says the school is promoting homophobia and will challenge whether Iowa is violating N-C-A-A rules by painting a visitors' locker room pink.

Erin Buzuvis moved to Iowa from Boston in the fall and discovered the visiting team's locker room at Kinnick Stadium was pink -- something she says promotes sexism and homophobia.

But officials with the school's sports department say they won't change the pink walls -- which is a long-time facet in Kinnick Stadium.

The color was introduced decades ago by former Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry to soften opponents. But recent stadium renovations added more pink items to the locker room, including lockers, sinks and urinals.

Buzuvis plans to speak with a school committee compiling a report on Iowa's compliance with N-C-A-A regulations. The report is conducted every five years and does not yet address the pink locker room.

Isn't it sexist and homophobic to assume that pink is the color that represents certain segments of the population? I think Buzuvis is engaged in promoting harmful stereotypes. Maybe he should be dismissed according to the school's sensitivity policy.
ELEANOR CLIFT EVEN LIKES ROBERTS. . . SORT OF

Or at least she sees the danger of opposing him.
Roberts will sail through next week with the support of all 55 Republicans and perhaps half of the Senate Democrats, and the country will wonder what all the fuss was about. Roberts is a bland careerist with a fine legal mind whose heart may not be as big as his head, but he’s the best a left-wing partisan could hope to get out of this White House. Someday there will be another Democratic president, and Democrats may be setting a standard that could come back to haunt them.
HURRICANE RITA

As I see the trafic jams heading out of Houston I tend to think that too many people are evacuating. There will be a lot of rain and some wind damage, but even a category five isn't going to flood out the whole city like New Orleans. The media has unduly scared people with the constant Katrina video. The people living on the water and especially the barrier islands need to vacate and it looks like they're bumper to bumper with people from north Houston who should just stay put.
NRA FIGHTS ILLEGAL GUN CONFISCATION
Two national gun rights groups yesterday joined individual Louisiana gun owners in a federal lawsuit to stop authorities from confiscating firearms from private citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, seeking a temporary restraining order to halt the seizures of guns from law-abiding citizens. They described the confiscations as "arbitrary," "without warrant or probable cause" and thus "illegal."

Given the lawlessness in New Orleans, residents who remain in the storm-ravaged area there need their guns for protection, said Mr. LaPierre.

"Things are worse at night, and people say their gun is the only source of comfort they have, the one thing they can depend on to save themselves and their families," Mr. LaPierre said, noting that a "third of the New Orleans Police Department walked off their jobs" during the Katrina emergency.

"In fact, the Second Amendment has really been the underpinning for [New Orleans] citizens to stay alive," he said.

Opponents of private gun ownership often say that public safety is their goal, "but in New Orleans, there was a complete collapse of government's ability to protect anyone," Mr. LaPierre said. "Citizens could only count on the looters, robbers and rapists."

Attempts to reach the New Orleans Police Department yesterday about its gun confiscation policy were unsuccessful.

Plaintiffs in the suit against the City of New Orleans are two local gun owners. One, whom Mr. LaPierre identified as Buell Teel, was on a boat rescuing people. "To protect himself, he had a firearm on the boat," which police saw and seized, Mr. LaPierre said.

Selling such guns would be a way to replace the lost graft income. They could pawn them during their free Vegas trips.

UPDATE:
The Good Guys Win
POOR KIDS DYING TO MAKE A LIVING

Boxer Leavander Johnson died Thursday from injuries sustained five days earlier in a lightweight title fight with Jesus Chavez.

The 35-year-old died at University Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized since being injured in the fight Saturday night at the MGM Grand hotel-casino.

A hospital spokeswoman said Johnson was pronounced dead at 4:23 p.m.

Johnson was put in a medically induced coma after undergoing brain surgery less than an hour after his fight with Chavez. Doctors were initially unsure he would make it through the night, but the next day expressed cautious optimism after tests showed improvement in brain function.

Johnson spent 16 years as a professional fighter before finally winning a version of the 135-pound title in June. But, in his first defense, he took a beating from Chavez before finally being stopped by a flurry of punches in the 11th round.

Very few boxers achieve what Johnson did, but they all risk their lives trying to win. Jim Lampley complained that we should have a draft so that poor kids aren't forced into Iraq to escape poverty, but Lampley makes his own money commentating over boxing matches where different poor kids risk their lives to make money.

So does Jim Lampley really worry about poor kids or is it just an easy way to target Bush?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

PORK REPORTS

I linked this blog on the left, but I forgot to mention them here. The Heritage Foundation wrote a great list of government programs that should be cut last year and I wrote my Republican congressman about it. He didn't bother to respond.

Pork reports is an answer to Tom Delay's absurd statement that the government is lean. This blog is trying to get everyone to write their congressman about this uncontrolled spending. They have some great examples of nonsense that local government would never waste their own money on.

I listened to Neil Boortz this morning and he makes a good case for the implementation of his fair tax proposal. His recipe sounds like a great one, but I think the size of government is even a greater problem. If the government is going to spend two trillion dollars a year, no fair tax proposal is going to solve the problem of how much they will have to collect.

We need to hit them with a one-two punch.

Here's my letter to Congressman, Ric Keller:

Dear Ric,

I’m interested in your thoughts on Tom Delay’s assertion that the government is lean and there are no more spending cuts to make. It seems like every year Washington takes a bigger chunk of money out of the private sector to finance the kinds of things that localities wouldn’t waste their own money on. The recent transportation Bill is full of examples.

Delay’s statement bothers me because once Republicans resemble Democrats in operation, it will only take more handsome or well spoken Democrats to come along and grab power. Eisenhower had a chance to slash the New Deal and his lost opportunity gave way to Kennedy. Bush 41 broke his tax pledge and it led to Bill Clinton.

The Republican Congress is headed for the same fall if they cannot show leadership on the reduction of the size of government. It’s the Democrats that need to cast themselves in gold and be worshipped by the people unwilling to help themselves. Republicans need to represent productive people. It’s been more than ten years since the Gingrich revolution and more than four years since we won back the White House and I can’t think of a single government program that we cut equal to the size of the Medicare drug benefit.

The Republicans have been given a pass because of 9-11 and the war, but Americans have short memories and the Republican inability to be fiscally conservative will give an opening to Democrats to use the same rhetoric that Newt once used. They’ll give the credit for the 90s surpluses to Clinton not Congress. What will a Republican Congress have to run on then?

I appreciate your support for tax cuts, Ric. I hope you share these other concerns with me. What government programs do you think we should cut and how do you plan to introduce them? I have some ideas if you don't.

Tom
FREE ENTERPRISE SHOULD RULE!

Humans are resourceful creatures. Given time & freedom, we can solve just about any problem. Today I heard a news report that Congress is looking at "coming down hard" on those who "profiteer from tragedy." (i.e. businesses who raise prices after hurricanes, etc.). What republican's in congress don't understand nor does our beloved President is that we need just the opposite. Again, given time and freedom, we can solve just about any problem. For example, imagine if the free market were allowed to truly work during difficult times like hurricane disasters. At first, you would have very high prices for basic goods (water, gas, milk, hygiene products, etc.). But that would only occur in the first few days, if not hours, after he disaster. Others in unaffected areas (which are many times only an hour away) would arrive in trucks full of ice, water, etc. Think of the money you could make and the people you could help if you were allowed to load up a U-Haul van full of supplies from Sam's Club or Costco. The free market would force down prices as more U-Hauls arrived. Later, whole companies would crop up whose sole business was disaster relief. I guarantee, if a company whose livelihood was on the line, had to rescue folks; you would see the most efficient, cost effective rescue efforts in history. But because our beloved Federal government has to get involved, it winds up costing Billions. What's happening to all that money going to New Orleans? And all the billions that will go to Texas after Rita hits? It'll go into local and state government coffers and will be used for political pet projects. Donald Trump asked last night on Larry King, "I can't understand why it costs 20 billion to fix a levy. Why does it even cost a billion?" Here's a man whose spend 30 years building things. I ask the same question. Really it's because government is doing it. I feel so strongly that the time for Libertarian leadership is needed in this country. Republicans aren't doing any better at managing the government than did democrats. It's truly ridiculous. I get most mad at the Republicans who are elected by people, like me, who want strong leadership and heavy restraint of government. Yet they (the Rep.'s) continue to use the government to foster their own social agenda, just like Liberals. When are they going to get a clue?

Let's have a constitutional convention and start over.
FRIENDS OF HILLARY

Marci gets all kinds of appeals for money in the mail. Luckily, I am able to screen the mail and I don't let any of them get through to her, lest she feel compelled to contribute. She has a poor record of declining such appeals, so I like it best if they never reach her desk. I don't contribute to politial causes or alumni funds either, so it's a level playing field. I'm willing to give money to the American Red Cross, but everyone else is on their own.

Well, recently Marci got an appeal from Hillary Rodham Clinton, which I found unusual since she is not running for any office which directly concerns us. I expect to hear from Arnold, but not Hillary. She sent out a "2005 Critical National Issues Survey" which is her way of making non-constituents feel as if they have a voice as they send her financial support.

In Part One, you get to rank the issues as defined by Hillary. Then she asks how concerned you are that...
- President Bush is not doing enough to get Americans back to work, create more jobs, and get the economy moving again?
It doesn't ask if you think it is true, just how concerned you are about it.
- the massive budget deficits caused by Republican economic and tax policies will inevitably result in drastic cuts in Social Securty, Medicare, education, and social services?
I don't like the massive budget deficits either, but hello, Congress controls the money and that is you.
- Administration proposals for Homeland Security underfund crucially important first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, and local health agencies?
I don't see where this even makes sense. How do federal security issues even affect local agencies? Republicans not only want to starve grandma and foul the water, but the bastards also hate firefighters!
- ongoing Republican proposals to privatize Social Security by investing some of it in the stock market and putting the retirement of millions of Americans at risk?
Please explain fully why you think investing in the American stock market is a loser.
- the Bush Administration continues to weaken environmental laws designed to protect our air, water, and wilderness areas?
The GOP really should be more focused on destabalizing education and slashing the benefits of firefighters.
- social conservatives who now control the Republican Party will ultimately deny women their reproductive rights by stacking the Supreme Court and overturning Roe v Wade?
Because that is the central mandate of the Republican Party. Women should vote Democrat.
- our children will continue to lose teachers and classrooms because of the Bush Administration's failure to adequately fund public education?
If we have not yet adequately funded the war on stupidity, then perhaps it is time to overhaul the system.
- the Administration's unilateral policies have reduced our number of allies and endangered our national security?
As evidenced by zero attacks on US soil in four years.
- George W Bush could shape the fate of the Supreme Court for decades to come?
Isn't this the same threat as overturning Roe v Wade?

In Part 2, you rate which of the political parties you trust more to... such and such. My favorite is ...protect the environment from those who would harm it for profit? Do people really think there is profit in harming the environment? I can understand accusing the GOP of not protecting the environment enough, but the wording seems odd to suggest that the harm is anything but incidental to the profit-making activity.

In Part 3, you get to "express your opinions" by choosing the best answer from predetermined choices. One of the questions gets as close as Hillary comes to addressing foreign policy when she asks you how you feel about Bush's decision to deny federal funding to international family planning organizations in underdevoped countries.

The woman is running for Senator of New York! What is this survey doing in California? Aren't there laws against this sort of thing? Maybe the evil Republicans have driven her to campaign 3000 miles away via bulk mail. I'm just glad Marci will never see this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

SENATOR REID, WHO ARE YOU?
The Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said Tuesday that he would oppose the confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice, surprising both the White House and fellow Democrats still conflicted about how to vote.

In becoming the first Democrat to declare formally how he intended to vote, Mr. Reid may have made it more difficult for fellow Democrats to support Judge Roberts. Many Senate observers expected Mr. Reid, who comes from a Republican-leaning state and is opposed to abortion, to support Judge Roberts.

In announcing his decision in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor, Mr. Reid questioned Judge Roberts's commitment to civil rights and said he was "very swayed" by the civil rights and women's rights leaders who testified Thursday in opposition to the nomination - and with whom Mr. Reid met privately that same day. Liberal advocacy groups, who raise millions of dollars to support Democratic candidates and who have been putting intense pressure on Democrats to oppose the nomination, were elated.

Something funny here. The second paragraph reminds readers that Reid is opposed to abortion. The third paragraph says that women's rights leaders swayed him. Here's a sample of Reid's a voting record that was posted on Free Republic.
Voted YES on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime. (Mar 2004)
Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life. (Mar 2003)
Voted YES on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions. (Jun 2000)
Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions. (Oct 1999)
Voted YES on disallowing overseas military abortions. (May 1999)
Rated 29% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)

Which is it?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

PAUL McCARTNEY IN CONCERT (Review of his 9-17-05 performance in Tampa, FL)

Paul McCartney ended the US leg of his 2002 tour in Florida and in 2005, he began here. I hadn’t thought that would be significant, but McCartney and band were so sharp in Tampa in 2002 that it was a phenomenal experience. So much so, that I talked Brother John into driving down to Fort Lauderdale to see him again. Now neither Sir Saunders nor I had ever seen him in concert before, so that would certainly lead to good feelings, but the second time in South Florida was maybe even a bit better, it was certainly no worse. Last night the band seemed a bit off and since it was only the second night of the tour it played more like an extended rehearsal.

Later when a portion of centerstage lowered so that the crew could roll a piano on, Paul was still unsure enough of his blocking that he accidently rode it down to the bottom joking that it got a big enough laugh that maybe he would keep that gag in the show.

Last time the show began with a sort of operatic costume procession through the audience. He must have had 50 people dressed and marching up to the stage. It didn’t serve much purpose but it gave us something to look at while people took their seats. This time it began with a DJ on stage playing dance versions of more obscure McCartney solo efforts. From there it showed an interesting biography of Paul beginning with air raids over Liverpool when Paul was born. I had never thought about how being born during the war might have shaped all the Beatles and their surroundings. The problem with the documentary was that the sound was too loud to the point of distortion in places. The speakers were geared to rev up over the crowd noise during music, but the fans were quiet here and the knob was on eleven.

McCartney and band began the concert with MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR which is a good number but it seemed a bit flat. It certainly didn’t match his introduction last time with HELLO/GOODBYE. His second song was a poor choice too, something from the album released on Tuesday that no one has heard. The crowd wasn’t quite invigorated enough by MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR and it brought them down having to listen next to something that they didn’t know.

It’s interesting what Paul chooses to sing considering he has such a wide catalog. How many singers could play 2 ½ hours and not get to some of their #1 hits? Of course, I can understand his not wanting to play SAY, SAY, SAY and EBONY AND IVORY. But on neither tour did he play UNCLE ALBERT/ADMIRAL HALSEY, SILLY LOVE SONGS or WITH A LITTLE LUCK. Thankfully, he played one of my non-charting favorites both times, LET ME ROLL IT.

He tried a few “new” old songs this time among them the interesting “TOO MANY PEOPLE” from the underrated RAM album. He also did “HELTER SKLETER” during the second encore. I had read that those two songs were at the top of a poll of what fans wanted to hear him play.

During his playing of the melodic “I WILL” he accidently skipped ahead and sang

“Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we'r e apart”,

before singing

“Love you forever, and for ever
Love you with all my heart”

He stopped himself before the second verse and joked that he wrote the song a long time ago.

He also explained that the last shuttle crew was awoken with the song “GOOD DAY SUNSHINE” on the day of their return. He played the intro audio from ground control leading into his playing the tune himself. After the song he said very boyishly proud way, “Imagine if they chose your song to play to the astronauts.” Songs like GOOD DAY SUNSHINE really separated Paul from the hippy part of the 60s. Sure he did his experimenting like the rest of them, but his life affirmative songs were really in direct contrast to a more ambivalent culture.

I was also happy to hear “GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE” a song that actually charted 5 years after the band broke up. I can easily imagine that an average sixties band could have made a whole career out of a song like that, much like the RASCALS did with “GOOD LOVIN’.” Here it’s one more in the catalog.

We all have our tastes. The first Beatles album I had was the 20 Greatest Hits and I played it over and over. So now I’m more tired of the big songs and yearn for the obscure stuff. Still, I could hear songs like GET BACK and LET IT BE endlessly, but PENNY LANE, ELEANOR RIGBY and LONG AND WINDING ROAD get boring to me. Even YESTERDAY wears thin with me nowadays.

He didn’t plan a lot of early British Invasion tunes this time. We did hear PLEASE, PLEASE ME and I’ll GET YOU though. He also sang that cover from the Music Man, “’Til there was you.” explaining that he use to sing it in Cabaret clubs long ago. He also sang a cover of what he called the first recorded Beatles song that predated even Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe. I don’t remember the name though I have heard someone else sing it. The band contained a guy named Duff that I had never heard of and another guy I didn’t remember.

DRIVE MY CAR was the only number from RUBBER SOUL album, but I guess that record was dominated by Lennon songs like IN MY LIFE and NORWEGIAN WOOD.

He seems to love his work from REVOLVER because we heard FOR NO ONE in addition to RIGBY, GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE, and GOOD DAY SUNSHINE.

He’s 63 now so I wonder what singing a song like WHEN I’M 64 is like for him. He didn’t try it last night.

A few moments reached the heights of 2002, including HEY JUDE where Paul has the crowd sing the chorus. It’s amazing that so many people singing together can sound that good. I thought the biggest crowd pleaser was BAND ON THE RUN, especially the change from “If we ever get out of here” to “The rain exploded with a mighty crash.” That change brought people to their feet including me.

The concert ended the same way as the previous one with the reprise of SGT PEPPER and THE END from Abbey Road. After the standing ovation, Paul went to the mic and said “See you Next Time.”

Having seen him twice already I wasn’t committed to going again this time. The concert sold out the first day and I didn’t get any tickets. I did win some on an EBAY auction in May, but the cheep chiseler didn’t send the tickets. I had to go through PAY PAL to get a refund minus $25. I decided that it was probably a sign that I didn’t need to hear him again. About a week ago, fellow McCartney fan, James Cheshire told me that rumors were circulating that he was going to sing some non-Paul Beatles songs. That became an intriguing reason to see the concert. I thought that hearing Paul sing things like TICKET TO RIDE, HELP, COME TOGETHER, WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM FRIENDS or YELLOW SUBMARINE would be unique. Of course, the rumors about the play list were unfounded, but I did get a heck of deal on tickets.

I had originally won two seats in the third deck. It was far enough behind the stage that I wouldn’t have been able to see the screen. I was lucky he was a crook. This time I bought the tickets in an EBAY fire sale the day before the concert and got seats in the first deck with a good view of everything. The seller really took a bath on them. I paid $142 (about the same price as the others) for a pair of tickets that cost over $300 face value if you count the convenience charge and taxes.

I go through periods of listening to music, but unlike most people I know, I go through periods of being tired of music for long stretches. At certain times of year, I’ll forgo music entirely to watch movies and listen to talk radio. I don’t go to concerts very often. I’ve seen 5 or 6 (when I wasn’t working it) in my life and I haven’t been to one since McCartney last played here. My going to see McCartney in concert is like how people who avoid art museums might change their minds to see a touring Van Gogh exhibit. Or like how my friend Dan, though hostile to basketball bought tickets to see Michael Jordan’s last game in Orlando. People make exceptions to their usual rules when greatness is involved.

Although, I liked the 2002 concert better, I would recommend seeing this tour as it comes through America this year. It might be the last chance to see one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
WAR DEAD COMPARISON


Created by the Big Lizards Blog Posted by Picasa
CUTTING TO OFFSET KATRINA

CATO has some ideas (via Instapundit)


Proposed Budget Cuts to Offset Katrina Spending
Annual savings in $billions
ProgramSavingsRationale
Farm subsidies: cut in half$10.6Wasteful and have negative environmental and trade effects
NASA: cut in half$7.9NASA is obsolete with the arrival of private manned space flight
Energy research and subsidies$6.2Private sector responsibility
Subsidies to airports$5.8Airports should be privatized as in dozens of major foreign cities
Community development grants$5.4Projects such as parking lots and sidewalks are a local responsibility
USAID (foreign aid)$4.7Duplicates Bush Millennium Challenge Corporation foreign aid agency
Army Corps of Engineers$4.6Civilian activities should be privatized or devolved to the states
Homeland security grants$4.2Homeland security grants to states have been mired in scandal
Foreign economic aid$2.7Foreign economic aid does not work
Rural subsidies$2.5Wasteful and unfair to urban taxpayers
Bureau of Indian Affairs$2.4BIA is scandal-plagued. Tribes earn $19 billion annually from gambling
Davis-Bacon Act: repeal$2.0Repeal Davis-Bacon and the Service Contract Act to cut federal costs
Air traffic control$1.6"Privatize air traffic control as in Canada and Britain"
Trade adjustment assistance$1.0Unneeded giveaway that is in addition to unemployment insurance
Amtrak$0.4Privatize the rail system
Total$62
Source: Chris Edwards and Stephen Slivinski, Cato Institute, based on Budget of the U.S. Government, FY2006.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

STAR WARS III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) - A movie Review

This is the only film that I have seen in the theatre this summer and although I saw it way back in June, and I enjoyed it more than the first two, I've since been troubled by it's meaning as it relates to the series.

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The most revealing thing about this final film is what wasted opportunity this whole series was. It’s the best entry in the new trilogy, but that’s only because George Lucas actually uses the background material we’re familiar with and he has fewer opportunities to expand and revise his vision. You can forgive ridiculous ideas like Chewbacca being a pal of Yoda in Episode III, but it’s hard to forgive the series when you realize how far he has strayed from the original material with the first two episodes.

Lucas was once a young filmmaker struggling to become somebody and that struggle is embodied in the Luke Skywalker character from the first trilogy. Mark Hamill isn’t a great actor, but he's an earnest one and his struggle to overcome was gripping for three films. Lucas can no longer identify with Luke’s struggle to find himself. You need to understand self-doubt to write that character. Now Lucas is a man that has made some of the biggest box office successes of all time and the only holdout to his greatness are film critics and the Academy Awards. So Annakin’s struggle is not finding his place in the world but being recognized for his greatness by the Jedi counsel.

Luke’s struggle was man v. self while Annakin’s struggle is more man v. society. Lucas had an inherent understanding of the first conflict and we the middle class filmgoers could identify readily. Unlike Orson Welles who could show you the greatness of the character struggling against society, Lucas shows you a sniveling brat that’s whining and he has to remind you with dialogue of how he’s the “chosen one” because he can’t show you any greatness. The plot shows the one great character to be Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the dialogue wants us to believe Annakin is more important. The ending of this movie should be tragic with the supposedly “great” Annakin being forced into the dark side. The ending of Jedi with Vader finding his inner goodness is now hollow because we didn’t see any deepness in this current trilogy. His motivations are all selfish.

Had this second trilogy been produced immediately after JEDI, it might have retained something from the early films. The harbinger for these last three can be seen in the Special Edition films from the late 90s when Lucas re-edited episode IV to have the Greedo character shoot at Han Solo before he’s smoked. Besides the fact that there is no way Greedo could miss Solo shooting him at point blank range, it’s most significant because it changes the whole complex nature of Solo’s character. The point before was that Solo was a rogue that would do anything to avoid the arm of Jabba and he entered into the deal with Ben and Luke to pay off his debt to the mob boss. He slowly comes around in the series to see himself as part of a larger community. This is a character of the greatest tradition in American film, played most effectively by people like Humphrey Bogart in CASABLANCA. By changing that one thing in the first film, Solo’s character has no where to grow. Now it’s just a matter of time before Solo stops the big talk and signs on with the rebellion.

This new trilogy misses those two elements, the young man’s struggle with self-doubt and the rogue’s gradual realization that he belongs in a community of like minded individuals. The only real theme I can identify is the danger of unrecognized genius. That’s the most self-indulgent and boring choice a filmmaker could choose, but I don’t think he consciously chose it, rather I think that these new screenplays were an outpouring of his current auto-biography and that became the most consistent theme of his current life.

Like many, I had longed that he would continue this story someday, but his break after Jedi was detrimental to his thinking on these characters and the meaning of the story overall. He no longer identifies with the characters he created in the mid 70s and is in some ways he’s embarrassed by them. It shows in the inconsistencies and changing motivations in the two series. The larger part of Episode III should have really been episode I with the more stories to follow to flesh out Annakin’s fall.

Now Lucas is done making Star Wars films and rather than explain more of the universe that meant so much to many of us in our youth, he has muddied the whole thing. He says he won’t re-release the old version ever again. These wretched SE versions are now considered the definitive work. Choices like the insertion of cartoon Jabba in episode one and Han’s emasculating are now the new “truths.” It’s like Van Gogh lived to be 80 and went back and painted modern looking clothing on his authentic period subjects.

It’s a loss to those who will read about the importance of Star Wars in 1970s cinema, but will never actually get to see the movies that we saw. Orson Welles was once quoted as saying he wanted Ted Turner to keep his crayons off his films, although Turner never eradicated the original version of any movie. Lucas owns the Star Wars films and can cut them up and throw them into the fireplace if he likes, but it’s a weak choice to not let your original work stand as a testament of the time. I now wish Lucas would have been as tired of STAR WARS as Sean Connery was of James Bond. Too bad that we couldn’t imagine how great the films might have been rather than live with the reality that lightning didn’t strike twice except if you mean it burned down everything the original films stood for.

Friday, September 16, 2005

ROBERTS

It is the rare individual indeed who lives his life in such a way as not to allow a hostile Senate Judiciary Committee a single opening.

And he'll be a great Chief Justice.

When judges interpret the law as written, rather than deciding to write it themselves, the preferences of the people are honored and protected. On the other hand, when judges impose their individual policy preferences under the guise of interpreting the Constitution, the nation may be stuck with those preferences for a long time.

There is little indication Judge Roberts would ever seek to impose his personal views on the nation from the bench. This is important in many areas, but perhaps none more than the war on terrorism. In the end, this is why members of both parties should support Roberts.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

FREAKY STATS

The Steelers play the Texans on Sunday. I remember the last time they played, the Steelers got blown out while allowing only 47 yards and three first downs in four quarters. The Steelers were a very good team that year and the Texans a very bad one. It was the nuttiest thing.

The last time the Steelers and Texans played, the Texans left Heinz Field with a stunning 24-6 win.

The victory was not only surprising because the Texans were an expansion team at the time, but because the Steelers beat them in every aspect of the game, except the one that mattered most – the final score.

The Steelers defense gave up only 47 yards in the game, allowed three first downs, had four sacks, and allowed only three pass completions for 10 yards. “It was one of those games you couldn’t believe it turned out that way,” said linebacker Joey Porter. “It was very disappointing for the simple fact that we set a record that day and it didn’t get talked about because we lost the game. We held them to 47 yards on total offense and lost.

“It’s a stat that will probably never be done again as far as the defense playing that well. You should never lose a game when you play like that. It’s one of those fluke situations.”

The Texans scored all three of their touchdowns on defense, with two interception returns and one fumble return.

“That was one of the craziest games, at least statistical-wise, in NFL history,” said cornerback Deshea Townsend. “The main thing we always say is win, and they did it that day. That was one of the weirdest things ever. I can’t imagine anything like that really happening. You could see it happening on television or whatever, but not in real life. It was crazy."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

To go on a "Vision Quest" is an act that is not typically honored nor even known in the modern Western World. My own particular formal Vision Quest took the form of the Temagami Vision Quest sponsored by my favorite Jungian Organization, "Journey into Wholeness." It was at once a thrilling experience and sorrow-filled one as well. I left August 31, 2005 and boarded a plane to Toronto. Toronto is a great city: clean, efficient, tidy, and wholly American in most of it's culture (they even have an American Baseball team for crying out loud). I stayed at the "Grand" hotel for a night then rented a car for the drive further North. As I finally got out of Canada, I quickly realized I was now as far north as I'd ever been in my life. The air was cooling and even some of the fall colors began to peak out from behind summer green. I stopped several times along the way, especially in the country side where the real culture of the region begins to emerge. I stopped at a cool Solar power retail/wholesale center and had a good conversation with the owner. I expressed my love for his country already to which he rolled his eyes. "Yep, it's lovely countryside but the government really is poor. My wife is an MD and we recently had to drive 10 hours to Buffalo, NY for an MRI because she had to have one for herself. They suspected cancerous tumors." The man went on about his perception of what he called "Our failed medical system." He and his wife are considering a move to the US to find more opportunities. I drove on for another hour and was stopped by Canada's equivalent of the State Trooper. "Clocked ya doin' 140 in a 100" said the kind officer. "What!" I exclaimed. Only to realize he was talking Kilometers not Miles. I thought I was on Canada's autobahn and just floored it. Unfortunately, the officer wouldn't take my pleas of "ignorant" American and he thought I was trying to bribe him when I offered to take him to Disneyworld. I got my first ticket in another country. I drove on and finally found the town of Temagami 8 hours later. I stayed in a tiny little lodge on Lake Angus, just outside of town. The next day I had a hearty breakfast and drove on to Lakeland Airways, where our group was scheduled to take a series of float planes out to the island where we would be staying. I was on the 5 or 6th plane out. The view was spectacular and we flew deeper into wilderness. Soon houses disappeared and all I could see was forest and lake all the way to the horizon. We landed on the lake and taxied up to the dock. Some of the staff were waiting there for us. Barry Williams, a Jungian Analyst that I knew for several years, was there. "Welcome to the center of creation" he cried as I disembarked. It was good to see him. David, the wilderness/ Native culture expert greeted us as well. David quickly stuck me as a mix of Wyatt Earp, Sitting Bull, and the Sgt. from Full metal Jacket. All of these assumptions proved to be correct but with a surprising mix of Mary Poppins type compassion to boot. The remaining week was spent in dream groups, sleeping on the land, canoeing, sweat lodge ceremonies, Shamanic visionary experiences, being with new friends, terrific food, fasting, ropes courses, bathing in the lake, crying, and laughing. The details almost seem superlative at this point. Suffice it to say that it is among the most powerful self-improvement experiences of my life. I'll never forget it......

10 days later I returned to the world. I was stuck by the harshness of my culture. How the headlines jumped out, how the lights seemed too much. How I longed for my simple 10 day life...

To see photos from my adventure go to http://www.praisethedivine.org/visionquest.htm
RADIANT

Spider writes "LUNCH" in web, moths oblige.
GOVT. SPENDING

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.

Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."

This pretty much sums up my digust with Republicans and my ebrace of libertarians.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

THE LINK I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR

I have been wondering how different parts of New Orleans made out. I still have a number of friends there as well as many favorite memories. Click here for a tremendous interactive map showing the maximum flooding and current water level for any point on a richly detailed map.

Tulane's campus came away quite well. The parts of campus where most of the academic buildings are located suffered minimal flooding. The parts of campus where the more serious flooding of 2 or 3 feet occurred are home mostly to residence halls, athletics complexes and parking. I saw rain-triggered flooding of 3+ feet twice during my years there; this flood is not as deep although it has stood longer. Campus is designed to withstand occasional floodwaters.

Most of my various apartments around campus should be fine. Zero to 3 ft of flooding but all the houses are built up off the ground.

The French Quarter suffered minimal flooding, less than a foot in most places and 0.0 ft in many places. Pat O'Brien's, 0.0 ft. Tom, Cafe du Monde is safe - 0.0 ft. Mardi Gras will roll, says Blaine Kern in today's news.

My friend in Harahan, 0.0 ft of flooding.

My friend on the other side of the Mississippi, no problem. The river levees held. All the flooding is between the lake and the river.

My friend in New Orleans East, trouble. Flooding topped out at 7.9 ft on hs block, down to 3.4 ft presently. He has lost everything. That was one way to get rid of the cat urine smell.

UNO took a beating.

Tragically, the areas with the 6-10 feet of flooding are heavily residential. The business district is not wet and neither is the Quarter, but a lot of the people who made those places go have nowhere to live.
ROBERTS ON TRIAL, etc.

Philly talk show host Michael Smerconish spent time this morning in the offices of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R?-PA) on Capitol Hill.

I become more impressed with Sen. Santorum every time I hear him speak. He has really been making the rounds where he can speak for himself and overcome to some extent the image the media conveys of him. He is a brilliant man who can extemporaneously lay out a rational, persuasive position on any of the topics of the day. He is forthright, articulate, direct, unambiguous, not afraid to take a position, and a man of great personal convictions. Of course the latter point is what scares the media types and why they go to great lengths to caricature him as the usual out-of-touch, backwards, extremist simpleton. He faces a difficult re-election campaign next year and needs to do better in Philadelphia which votes overwhelmingly blue and tends to carry the state. He is doing a lot of local radio, attending Phillies games and talking Eagles footballs.

Sen. Specter never fails to live up to his reputation as one of the cockiest SOBs on mother Earth. He volunteered that he will go directly and immediately after John Roberts on the issue of Roe v. Wade (Specter is pro-choice) in his opening question, along the lines of "Judge Roberts, what is your position on a woman's right to choose, as established in Roe v. Wade and upheld by Casey v. Planned Parenthood and entrenched as the law of this land for 32 years?" with references to stare decisis and so forth. That's the question everyone wants answered, so at least we get it on the table right away. Then we get to hear it asked a hundred different ways by the other panelists.

Every time I hear Specter talk about the Judiciary Committee hearings, he makes the point that Roberts is 50 years old, Stevens is 85 years old, and if Roberts were to serve 35 years on the high court, that could tremendously impact the direction of the nation. Even better, if Roberts serves 35 years, and O'Connor's replacement serves 25 years and Stevens' replacement serves 25 years, their combined impact could have a seismic shift on the direction of the nation. The point of contention, of course, is whether one thinks the direction of the nation needs changed.

Another interesting question is whether the Supreme Court lags or leads -- whether it sets the tone or merely responds to it. But that's for another day.

I remember during the presidential election all the reporting on the polls which asked the question, "Do you think the country is heading in the right direction?" and how all the pundits interpretated the negative responses to that question as indictments of Bush. My own response to the question would be Yes, I think the country is heading in the wrong direction, but for that reason I supported Bush rather than opposed him. Isn't it reasonable to consider that many of Bush's core supporters believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, which is why they back the more conservative candidate? That connection was not often made in the political reporting.

In other words, the reporting was (a) Bush is in charge; (b) people don't like the direction the country is going; therefore (c) Bush is failing, or Bush is responsible for all the angst. An alternate valid construction is (a) people believe the country is heading in the wrong direction; (b) liberal leadership has taken the country in that direction; therefore (c) those people prefer conservative leadership. Our assumptions always inform our conclusions.

Monday, September 12, 2005

NOLA OK FOR HUMANS, BAD FOR GOATS
New test results released by the federal Environmental Protection Agency Sunday evening confirm that toxic chemicals contained in floodwaters in New Orleans and Metairie are in concentrations too small to be an immediate threat to humans. But
so much saltwater has entered the city that it could be very difficult to grow a lawn for a very long time, according to Wilma Subra, an independent chemist from New Iberia who often advises environmental groups.

I have been wondering about the cockroaches. When the floodwaters rose, all those disgusting giant cockroaches headed to the attic along with Grandpa. That could not have been a good scene, especially if Grandpa brought some crackers.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

NEWS OUT OF NEW ORLEANS

I have made it a point not to watch any news since last Sunday so I don't know whether the following is noteworthy or not, but I thought parts of it were very interesting. This was posted to my fraternity listserv today. I don't know who the original author was.

Folks: There are some bright spots!

1. The New Orleans Airport will open Concourses A and B to scheduled passenger jet service on Tuesday! Cargo service began Saturday. Talked to Roy Williams, aviation director. He said there would be police checkpoints to prevent your driving into Jefferson or Orleans until they are reopened. The remainder of the airport, Concourse C and D, will remain dedicated to the relief effort. Up to 20 percent of the 10 million passengers a year are from parishes other than Jefferson or Orleans.

2. The draining is going faster than they had anticipated. See the map I sent previously to check flood levels on your block.

3. The Picyaune (I smell a Pulitzer) quoted Entergy as saying power would be restored to the CBD by the end of this week and to the Quarter and Uptown within 2 weeks. This means your air conditioning will come back on and cut down on the mold and mildew. It also means I will probably be moving to my apartment on Julia Street to cover the story from now on.

4. NOPD announced that the city is now crime-free for the first time in its history. This is due to 2 things: they've shot many of the thugs(they will never say how any, but a firefighter told me they had "taken care of" 140. A state representative, after attended a briefing, said the police and guardsmen, going house to house, block to block, have arrested many. Kinda hard for them to explain all that loot sitting around their house. This representative thinks that a significant chunk of the criminal element has been captured and taken off the streets.

Later today, I will send you my account of an inspection of the historic part of the city, from Bywater to Carrollton, that I took with three New Orleanians: Patty Gay, the Preservation Resource Center director; Jimmy Blanchard, the archivists artists and designer, Peter Raarup, the landscape architect (www.landscape-excellence.com; he will need work to salvage his business!); and with LSU urban planned Mike Desmond of Baton Rouge. They have some very significant observations. I'm beginning to sense that it will be sooner rather than later that you are allowed back in. I also have a clue there will be staged re-entry.

Now, Peter Raarup checked his Coliseum at Napoleon house that I had previously eyeballed as being found. First, we found a hole in the living room ceiling that allowed sunshine to fall onto his rug. When he went up into the attack, there was lots of
sunshine. He described his roof as "Swiss cheese." He's going to buy tarp in Baton Rouge to cover the whole thing. You might consider brining some when you come. Just because there's no visible damage from the street doesn't mean there isn't any. Check for leaks.

There is a real push to get the French Quarter and CBD going as soon as possible to restart the economy.

THELMA PURRED! A note on traumatized Thelma. She is becoming a lady, presenting herself in a pleasant way to be petting. Last night, she purred for the first time. She has become very talkative. Thelma's"mom," Heidi Quenan, wants you all to know that she did not abandon her animal. Heidi had left Thelma in the hands of a house sitter while she visited a friend in Mexico City. The house sitter had left extra food and water out for Thelma when the evacuation order came. "I am not a bad Mom," Heidi said. But I know others who left their cats, who are difficult to corral, you know, with extra food and water. Most of them came through the hurricane.

Had the levee not broken, this would have been a regular hurricane.There will be great attention to why it did. The Orleans Levee Board's expenditures are now being
examined by the New York Times. Everything is going to be examined under a
microscope.

By the way, I highly recommend going to see "The Forty Year OldVirgin." After about 15 minutes, I forgot about the hurricane and laughed the rest of the time. You need the relief.

More later today.