Saturday, October 05, 2002

Nepal PM overturned makes political chaos

No, that isn't a puzzle clue, it's a headline (sort of). Which reminds me, this blog was originally supposed to be about puzzles. Some day I'll get back to them. I've got about a dozen of them backlogged on my clipboard.

I thought it was odd, though, that a full-fledged political crisis can go by the American media so completely. What if Queen Elizabeth had dismissed Tony Blair? She can't, you say? Well, what if she did anyway? What would happen? Crisis, that's what. And lots of reportage all over.
Darn GenX commercial

I heard that idiot commercial for Lee or Wrangler or whatever jeans again. It's the one that uses a few bars from the CCR song "Fortunate Son" for the exact opposite effect that the song had originally. It's made to seem patriotic, although the real song went on from the commercial's "Some people wave the flag, ooh that red, white and blue" to say "It ain't me, it ain't me" and to criticize the deferments and political influence that kept rich college kids and politicians' sons from being drafted. I keep thinking, how can they be so stupid as to think that's really a patriotic song? It's worse than the usual commercialization, such as, to name some hypotheticals, the makers of Viagra might use the bars from Bob Dylan's song "Hard Rain's gonna Fall" where Dylan says "it's a hard, it's a hard .." and stop right there. Or the makers of Miracle Gro might use "Where Have all the Flowers Gone?" as a lead in to introducing their product to bring the flowers back. Those would be just philistines picking up on a popular line. The makers of the jeans commercial know exactly what they're doing. And as a member of the '60s generation, boy am I ticked off about it!

The GenXers have grown up their whole lives listening to the myth of the '60s, how wild and free everyone was and how we resisted the war machine, man. They're tired of it. So how better to appeal to the generation now in its thirties than to diss their parents' pretentions by robbing the '60s music of all its tiresome political meaning? All the GenXers are about is a good beat anyway, that's all they've got the brains to understand. So just find a good beat and smuggle in the subliminal message that "all that stuff your parents are always squawking about is crap, anyway". What generation doesn't like to hear that? Of course, you have to be careful. You can't attack someone like Bob Dylan or Peter, Paul and Mary head on. They have too much mythic power. So you choose a less well known song from a less well known band and just trash it. That'll show those ex-hippie losers!

Friday, October 04, 2002

Camel'sback-breaking straw

Silent Running (formerly War Now) had a post about the California jury's 28 Billion dollar liability verdict against tobacco companies. So I had to reassure them with the following comment:

I wouldn't worry about it. The award will be reduced substantially, if not set aside completely and remanded. And even if it goes through, most of it will probably go to - you guessed it! - subsidies for tobacco farmers, like in North Carolina!! But this idiotic verdict may be the straw that breaks the camel's (ha!) back by letting people know that not only is it dangerous to drive tobacco companies bankrupt - which is what would happen. It's at least as dangerous to give billions of dollars to the scumbag lawyers who would litigate such a fraud. Next they'll be coming after anything you can name - obsessive TV watching - overeating (already happened) - sex compulsion ( sue the makers of Viagra!) - alcohol, of course - sugar - hey, how about reading comic books - that's addictive and rots the brain?! I even know a lot of people who are addicted to politics. Take away their midterm elections and they'll watch races for dogcatcher in Grand Forks, North Dakota. That can't be good. And - and - WATER!! yes !!! Too much of it and you can't even breathe! How many people died last year from water poisoning? Thousands. We even have a separate word for it - "drowning". People are even selling water in grocery stores, profiting from the addiction they have foisted on the people. And it's really the same water that comes out of the tap. So having "Water Companies" supplying water to everyone - you don't even have to go out on the street and look for anyone to buy it from - addicts everyone to this product that they then sell for megabucks. Priced Perrier lately??? But the thing we all crave most and MUST have and will do anything to get is ... wait for it ... AIR!! Yep, AIR ADDICTION is on us like a plague. We have to breathe every second and who knows if that's really good for us? After all, everybody who breathes air eventually dies!! SO IT'S FATAL!!! The makers of air must be brought to account, must pay for this murderous substance they have loosed on the Earth!!
The Real Reason

I knew there had to be more going on in the Torricelli mess. The national Democrats would never have insisted that he leave simply because of bribe-taking. He hadn't actually been indicted or convicted, after all. And his poll numbers weren't all THAT low. I believe Peggy Noonan, in this Wall Street Journal article, has hit upon the problem:

Why was he leaving now? Because he had concluded staying might hand the Republicans a new Senate seat. But it was immediately clear that the timing was related to new allegations that he had attempted to get a pardon from the Clinton White House for a supporter who'd given him $20,000 in illegal contributions. He asserted that withdrawal was his idea, but it quickly appeared to be more largely the result of decisions by national Democratic leaders. He suggested his mistakes were small ones when they were essential ones: the gross peddling of political influence. He suggested the people of New Jersey had been ungenerous in not forgiving him. And there were embarrassing moments such as his apology to Bill Clinton "for not having his strength." ( my bold)

The Clintons could not afford to have another hashing over of their pardon fiasco so close to a national election. And who knows? There might have been some smoking gun in the situation that would have damaged Hillary's chances for national office. If I were a Republican strategist, I'd be looking very closely at this situation. And if I were the Clintons, I'd remember that Torricelli has something on them forever. If, God forbid, a Hillary administration ever happens, look for the grant of an ambassadorship to Torricelli to some country that appreciates his talents for double-dealing, like Pakistan. I don't think we've heard the last squeal of this weasel.
Gout Chronicles

I don't usually blog about my personal experiences, but I've been living with gout for about ten years now and I was thinking today how strange a disorder it is. You never know when you wake up in the morning whether you're going to be pain-free or, if you have a pain, whether it's going to be in your knee or your ankle or your big toe or even the cartilage of your ear. Combine this with the fact that my gout medicine puts me to sleep and the syndrome poses some interesting psychological and physical challenges. I can be springing around like a young lamb one morning and by afternoon be limping with my knee feeling like it's got a nail stuck through it. Then I take a pill and in a few hours the pain is gone and I can't stay awake at six o'clock in the afternoon. The sheer randomness and intensity of the pains puts me constantly on my guard and grateful for any pain-free hours I am granted. I only wish I could make better use of them. Sometimes, however, the best use of "normal" time is to enjoy yourself to the max. That's what I want to do when I'm afflicted. It would be a betrayal of my suffering self to drone and drudge when I could be gamboling. So that's what I shall continue to do.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Deja vu

Why does this article remind me so strongly of the 2000 election? Why do I feel that the Democrats are grinning broadly at seeing the Republicans going to the US Supreme Court again after an adverse ruling from a state Supreme Court? Is it because they got so much mileage out of the last time, by claiming that the voters of Florida had been disfranchised by the "conservative" "unelected" Supreme Court? I don't know that's true, but they certainly have been whining about the election having been "stolen" for years. Now, if the USSC rules against them, and if they lose the NJ seat (probable) and if that loss means they lose control of the Senate, they'll be able to whine for more years about the "undemocratic" Court. Their party line now is that they voters in NJ "deserve" to have a "choice". Like the third parties don't offer a real choice. Or like Torricelli's name on the ballot wouldn't offer a choice. And if it doesn't, like it's anybody's fault other than the Democratic Party high muckamucks who kept him in the running and then forced him to drop off the ballot. Oh, well, there's no point in anticipating what idiocies liberals are going to be mouthing to convince themselves of their pain, as Dylan says. That way lies madness.
Daschle and Biden fade away

Why does this article seem to me to signal the end of Democratic dominance in the Senate and relevance in the national debate, at least about the war? Maybe because Daschle and Biden cancelling press conferences and hiding hardly seems like the act of politicians who have any faith at all in their ability to get their point of view out to the public. Maybe without the Torch all the fire's gone out of their knee-jerk oppositionism to whatever Bush wants. Can we now call Lieberman the party leader? And where does this leave Clintoon? He's hardly Lieberman's favorite pal.


Mark Steyn agrees with me in this column (via Andrew Sullivan) from a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Mulligan II

Former New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg is apparently going to run in place of Torricelli if the legal pretzels can be untwisted. But I just heard a sound bite or two from Lautenberg on Rush's radio show. He's incoherent. He's practically senile. I know, it's New Jersey, but what if he flames out? All Forrester has to do is challenge him to a debate. It's not impossible that the Democrat smoke-filled room boys will realize in a few days that Lautenberg has a sponge for a brain. But of course, then, by the Torricelli logic, they can just ask him to step down and appoint someone else onto the ballot. Right? It sure is easier to get things done when you don't have to worry about those stupid primary voters. Heck, the voters couldn't even figure out that Torricelli was the world's biggest sleaze and didn't have a chance. That's right. It's the voters' fault! They had their chance and they blew it. Imagine, nominating someone that unelectable! Why, you would think someone in the Democratic party gave them the impression that Torricelli was a good candidate and a splendid representative of the Democratic party by campaigning for him:
Reports are circulating that Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (who recently campaigned for Robert Torricelli in Trenton, telling voters that, "You can't possibly appreciate the job Torricelli does") and New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine (who at the same time declared that he had "never been prouder to be on a dais as I have this afternoon with the leadership you've got in the state of New Jersey") will jointly propose a novel tribute to the career-end of New Jersey's now-departing senior Senator.
Or by, for instance, having him give the Democratic response to Bush's Saturday radio address to the nation, or something!
Rand and Enron

USAToday has an article (via The Objectivist Center) about business executives returning to "Atlas Shrugged" for a philosophical boost because of the corporate scandals bringing down the wrath of government on all businessmen. It's the clearest exposition of the dangers of cooperation between business and government that I've ever seen in big media. I had to laugh at the cavilling from the advertising industry and academia (No!!! I'm shocked!):

Others see it as pie in the sky. "Ayn Rand creates a perfect capitalism, which in my mind relies too heavily on individual integrity to work," says Nicolas Boillot, president of ad agency Hart-Boillot. "There are those who are looking for a quick buck and willing to compromise their integrity for a price. Perfect capitalism is as attractive and impossible as perfect communism. The greedy and lazy will ruin either system for the rest."

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, CEO of the Leadership Institute at Yale University, said executives who take refuge in the capitalist utopia of Atlas Shrugged are "reading themselves into a trance of defensive self-delusion."

To say Ayn Rand thinks that capitalism relies on individual integrity is like saying that Ignatius Loyola figured that the spread of Catholicism should be left to individual piety. Perfect capitalism is working capitalism. If it doesn't work by depending on each man following his own self-interest, it isn't capitalism. But even such mistaken and ignorant criticism is better than the vicious unsupported insults that were the only contribution of the Yale "Leadership Institute". Such self-proclaimed "leaders" will lead all of us into oblivion.
Foiled again

Darn! So much for my plan to get a little spending money and pay off a couple of credit cards by selling a kidney. But then, if all those Hindus read this article and stop offering their kidneys on the open market, that just makes mine all the more valuable! It's an ill wind .....

This predictably snarky story from the Independent Online insists on the idiotic link between spray cans and air conditioning and the "ozone hole" but at least admits a link they may not have wanted to:

This year, mammoth weather patterns pumped ozone into the south polar region and warmed it up.
"The warm air actually shuts down ozone loss."

Oh, I see. So if global warming does occur, then we at least won't have to worry about the "ozone hole". Can we quote you on that in the debate about ratifying the Kyoto treaty? Also, the article mentions that the "ozone hole" was first observed "in the 1970s". Hmm. So, do you mean, we have no idea whether the ozone "hole" existed or not before then? We just assumed it didn't exist before Man started using CFCs so we could ban those nasty spray cans and auto air conditioners that make life far too convenient for the peasants. After all, there's no such thing as a core sample of the ozone layer. Has any actual rational being with scientific training ever looked at these claims?

I don't usually link to the Big Few bloggers, but Lileks has nailed the Torch and the NJ Democrats so solidly this time that I couldn't bear to think that any visitor to my site might miss it. Go. Read. Now. Oh, OK, I'll paste in the money quote:

After all, Toricelli didn’t quit because he discovered an eight-pound neoplasm in his small intestine, or had his brain turned into a fine red mist when a marble-sized meteorite from the Oort cloud struck him in a 7-11 parking lot. He’s not even under indictment. He resigned because there was such a bad odor coming from him and his campaign that actual wavy cartoon stink lines were coming off him, and the cameras were starting to pick it up. He was going to lose. So he quit.

And don't worry about his misspelling of Torricelli's name. Great artists get some leeway. Is there any chance at all that some grownup in the Democratic Party, if that's not a contradiction in terms, might look at this mess and see a potential for enormous damage to the national image of the party and call it off and tell the Torch to run and take his beating like a man?


Mickey Kaus appears to agree with my analysis. He doesn't seem to place any value at all, however, on the votes that the party faithful cast in the primary. To allow the machine hacks to replace faltering candidates at any time goes directly against the primary system. It's just weird to say that the primary winners can go ahead and be on the ballot unless there's actually a chance they'll lose. Say, couldn't primary voters get together and sue? That's the American way. Of course, then, Republican voters would be sure to vote in the Democratic primary so that, if a sure loser tries to back out, they can go to court to keep him in. My head hurts. Can't we just excise New Jersey from the continent and give Pennsylvania a lot more shoreline?

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Magic, Miracle or Myth?

Now that the Vatican has confirmed a miracle by Mother Teresa, James Randi must be shivering in his boots. His million-dollar prize is obviously going to be claimed by the Pope on behalf of the deceased prospective saint Teresa. I mean, how could anyone dispute the evidence that the Roman Church hierarchy must certainly have amassed in order to conclude that a miracle had occurred? And if they need further evidence from Mother Teresa, I'm sure John Edward can provide a clear channel for whatever information may be needed.


This headline mistakes "beatification" for "beautification", a Freudian slip if ever there was one! And the "beautification" of Mother Teresa would be a bigger miracle than the tumor-healing she's credited with!
Who could have imagined?

With all the articles on the Torricelli mess, I was interested to see this one from the Times of India. Looks like the Torch got on the wrong side of the Hindus as well as the Republicans. But why? The article clears up that question:

One New Jersey Indian-American Democrat said Torricelli became blatantly partisan after Pakistanis began raising money for him. The Senator’s one-sided stand on subcontinental issues also put Indian-American Democrats like New Jersey lawmaker Upendra Chivakula and party Vice-Chairman Kiran Desai in a tough position of having to ignore ethnic considerations and back him despite his antipathy towards India. At a recent meeting, some prominent Indian-American Democrats had incurred his wrath after they asked him to “at least tone down his rhetoric (against India) if he could not change his vote.”

Apparently asking the Torch not to burn people is like asking Clinton not to lie. He just can't do it, won't do it and gets insulted that you even asked. The article also called New Jersey a Democratic "pocketborough". That's cool. And who knew there was an "Indian-American" caucus in the United States Congress? Is this the greatest country in the world or what?

Update with cheese!

Guess who Cynthia McKinney is now blaming
(via Instapundit) for her defeat? The "Indian-American lobby"!! Is this my first scoop? And I suppose it's just a coincidence that all these bloggers appeared over the last year or so with names like "Instapundit", "Pejmanpundit" and "Vodkapundit". Like no one knew that "pundit" means "wise, all-knowing sage" in one of those languages from - you guessed it! - India!! Now tell me Cynthia McKinney's paranoid!

Monday, September 30, 2002

Hollywood and Viet Nam

What is it about Hollywood people, even Mel Gibson, that makes it impossible for them to realize that Communist governments aren't interested in the truth? I opposed the Viet Nam war in my youth but never was under any misapprehension about the nature of the North Vietnamese Communist regime. I just thought anything Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were in favor of I had to be opposed to. Any illusions I might have had were destroyed by Viet Nam's 1979 war with China, the first full-fledged war between two Communist powers. Then the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Did Hollywood miss that one? How about the fall of the Berlin Wall? Did that slip by unnoticed? The state of Cuba's economy and laughable pretensions to "social justice" have been exposed effectively and often. It takes willful blindness to think that Viet Nam is any different. But, as with Iraq, the constant preoccupation in Hollywood is "Give them another chance. They're really nice people." Perhaps the problem is that if they start thinking any other way, they would have to stop thinking that America is always to blame.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

It's a legal matter, baby

Why are so many of the alpha bloggers lawyers, even law professors? It's the nature of blogging. Every few words, you've got to have a reference, even if the point you're making is perfectly obvious. Maybe someone can come up with a way to Shepardize the web so when a story has been totally destroyed by everyone in blogdom, it acquires a notation stating that it is no longer to be used for anything but mockery. That way, future bloggers, especially our European brethren, can have some warning that bringing up anything with, say, Robert Fisk's name on it is an open invitation to immediate decortication, not to mention terminal blushing. In the not-too-distant future, lawyers looking for points to fill out a "Brandeis brief" may be rummaging around on line. We owe them a system of guideposts to help them navigate around the sunken wrecks of collectivist idiocy, such as the Independent, the Guardian and the Arab News.
All veggies, all the time!

I knew vegetarians were getting more aggressive and touchy:
The tenants had offended their landlord by insisting on cooking non-vegetarian food. The landlord had put up a to-let sign and had wanted the `Hindus' to vacate the house by October 1.

And perhaps it was wrong for them to pretend to a religious affiliation they did not practice:

Police had learned that the group was living in the neighbourhood as tonsured Hindus. Posing as vegetable vendors, they identified the house. The next day, a `couple' visited the house as prospective tenants and ascertained the group's identity. Two days later, police raided the house.

But this:
Ali and his four companions were killed on the spot when the police began firing at their rented house at 2 am.

seems a little over the top.

I'm so glad we live in a country where we can eat what we want without being cut down in a hail of gunfire at 2AM. For now. Oh, OK, they were really Islamic terrorists and the whole story doesn't justify my paranoia. But I'm going to be careful from now on just who smells my cooking.
Fisking Fisk Fisking Kinzer

I was watching Stephen Kinzer on BookTV on Cspan2 earlier today talking about his book, "The Crescent and the Star", about Turkey. It sounds pretty good. I googled Kinzer to see what else he had written and came across this article in a Pakistani newspaper accusing him of writing an article for the New York Times that was "offensive" and a "suppression of historical truth", because it denied the Turkish attempt at genocide against the Armenians in 1915. It sounded unlikely to me that the NY Times would be getting into that. They love genocide and victimization. I looked at the byline, and whose name should I see but Robert Fisk's. Now I really had to check out the story.

This Turkish woman gives Kinzer mega-accolades on his work with and for Turkey. The original Kinzer article is, unfortunately, available only from the New York Times archive, for a price. The abstract, though, makes it clear that Kinzer was just giving both sides of the story. The article itself states that the "genocide" is still a matter of "intense debate". The article quotes from Turks and Armenians and doesn't really take sides. The point of the article is not at all "historical revision" as Fisk implies. The standard figures and stories are given full credit. He is a reporter, merely trying to use the opening of a new museum to make the humdrum but hardly controversial point that museums are often used to make partisan political statements. Keeping an open mind on this point seems to be utterly foreign to Fisk's way of thinking about things. And he's not even Armenian. What is his dog in this fight? Fisk goes on to tie this article to, hey, guess what, the Arab-Israeli unpleasantness. What a surprise! He cites the Holocaust museum in Washington and the "Jewish lobby", now to be joined in his pandemonium by the "Turkish lobby", presumably outfitted with better carpets. Fisk sees the fine Zionist hand at the bottom of every threat to his world of pathetic but noble victims and dastardly oppressors. His one virtue is consistency. He's consistently sloppy, vicious and wrong.