May 31, 2003
Go To RWN
Today, in SE Wisconsin, the weather was cold. You'd think since I've lived here most of my life, I'd be used to it, but even us tundra tribemen know that warmth should arrive by the end of May. No such luck yet. It was the kind of day where you just want to cozy up on a couch and waste the time away. Along with a strained back, that was my excuse. But here's a post just to let you know I wasn't too lazy.
In that spirit of lazy weblogging, here's an interview of uber-weblogger, Glenn Reynolds over at Right Wing News. It's old, but it's a look into the mind of a very smart, interesting guy. If only he'd put TAM on his blogroll. Maybe if a some people e-mailed him about the TAM (*hint* *hint*).
May 30, 2003
Go to RWN
Still No Weapons Found
It's not encouraging to hear a general in Iraq calling the threat of chemical attack by Saddam to have been "simply wrong." Tony Blair may tell me to have patience, but something, some evidence of chemical or biological materials should have been found by now.
Steven is right that "there are intellectually honest reason[s] to say that the war was worthwhile sans WMDs (and I remain unconvinced that there are none whatsoever)." But the reason the administration used to convince the public that war was needed were the WMDs and Iraq's ties to terrorism. The latter has been shown to be true to me, but I'm still waiting on the former.
As I've written previously freeing Iraqis was nice but going to war war predicated on Iraq being a threat to the U.S. In hindsight, it isn't looking like as much of a threat as I first believed.
"US Intel 'Simply Wrong' on Chemical Attack-General"
"Angry Blair Says UK Did Not Invent WMD Evidence"
May 29, 2003
Clinton Wants to Run Again
Since I just want Bill Clinton to go away, I won't yap much about his call to change the term limit amendment of the constitution. All I will write is that you know damn well he wants to run again. Bubba can say all he wants how happy he is out of office, but we all know his life has no meaning unless he's running for office. As much as he's addicted to women, he's addicted to politics. I'd like to know the exact words Clinton said about such a change probably not affecting him, because I know if the constitution was amended he'd jump into the Presidential race for the Democrats' gain or loss.
"Clinton Wants Change in Presidential Term Limits"
Hope Turns 100
Today's Bob Hope's birthday. Many thanks should go to a very funny man who devoted so much time to entertaining our soldiers here and abroad. One World War II veteran wrote to him, "We are grateful we had someone who cared enough to come to the danger zones. You deserve to be an honorary veteran."
One complaint about Hope was that he didn't write his own jokes. But writing jokes isn't enough for great comedy. All of us think of funny things to say, but few of us can find that right moment with just that bit of timing needed to get others laughing. Hope had that. If we should complain about Hope not writing jokes, we should complain about Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O'Brian, and every cast member of Saturday Night Live. All of them use lines written by others, yet we still consider them comedians.
But the worst I've found said about Hope is that his comedy supported the status quo. John Lahr, who wrote a profile in The New Yorker a few years ago told The Boston Globe, "Anyone worthy of the title `comedian' thinks against the culture. Comedy is not about sniffing the hem of power, yet Hope used laughter to reinforce the forces of power." For Lahr, comedy--even culture in general--should only be used as a bulwark against the mainstream. It's only purpose is to challenge authority.
But that's not the case. People don't seek out funny people because comedians are rebels. They seek out comedy because they want to be entertained; they seek an escape from the tedium of their regular lives. Many comedians do use satire and sarcasm to point out the obsurdities of the world around us. Through that, they are making social statements, but that's not the reason we like them. We like them because they're funny, and Bob Hope was one of the funniest even if he was part of the status quo.
Unlike celebrities today, you would never, ever catch Bob bashing the military or his country. Happy birthday to a real patriot.
"Hope's Birthday Brings Veterans' Thanks"
"Bob Hope Marks 100th Birthday"
"Bob Hope Turns 100"
"Bob Hope's Century"
Dems Defend Daschle
When Democrats have to make an concerted effort to protect the political viability of their number one Congressional leader, you know they're in trouble. Only 17% of Americans have a positive view of Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD). With that number, he's the Newt Gingrich of the Dems.
"Democrats Rally Behind Embattled Senate Leader"
May 28, 2003
Winning the Islamist War
U.S. News has a good article on the unseen counter-terrorism war against al-Qaeda. Since September 11 the good guys have been winning:
Al Qaeda's wounds run deep. Over half of its key operational leaders are out of action, officials tell U.S. News. Its top leaders are increasingly isolated and on the run. Al Qaeda's Afghan sanctuary is largely gone. Its military commander is dead. Its chief of operations sits in prison, as do some 3,000 associates around the world. In the field, every attempt at communication now puts operatives at risk. The organization's once bountiful finances, meanwhile, have become precarious. One recent intercept revealed a terrorist pleading for $80, sources say.
Cofer Black, former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center (CTC) had plans before September 11 to kill bin Laden--Osama went after him in the 90s--but those plans were squashed "on the order of higher-ups." After the attacks on Washington and New York City, Black created a Matrix more deadly than anything Keau Reeves could dream up:
Within days, Black's team came up with its answer to al Qaeda. They called it the Worldwide Attack Matrix. It was an operational war plan, a no-holds-barred leap back to the agency's heyday of covert action. As detailed in Bob Woodward's book Bush at War, the Matrix called for a worldwide campaign to root out its cells in 80 countries. Intelligence officials confirmed to U.S. News the dramatic scope of the Matrix and related proposals. The new plans authorized the use of deadly force, break-ins, and psychological warfare. They allowed the CIA to pour millions of dollars into friendly Arab intelligence services and permitted the once gun-shy agency to work with any government--no matter how unsavory--as long as it got results. On September 17, six days after the attack, President Bush signed an executive order approving virtually everything the CIA had asked for.
Even with the CTC's success, there's information they haven't been able to get through since they measure the incoming data in terabytes. What secrets are waiting to be discovered? Will this info glut prevent us from stopping another September 11-type attack?
The story describes two al-Qaedas. One is a group of international "franchises" who are ideologically connected to bin Laden. Then there is the inner sanctum, the "real" al-Qaeda, a "Mafia-like grouping with its own rules, finances, and 'made' members."
To no surprise to those who have been following the Islamist War, this article shows Saudi Arabia to be the venture capitalist for al-Qaeda. While many thought bin Laden personally funded his terrorist cause, the CIA learned money was actually provided "through a network of Islamic charities, most of them based in Saudi Arabia and tied to influential Saudis." To use Glenn Reynolds' words, "The Saudis are not our friends."
Kudos have to go out to the Bosnians. Because of them the CIA discovered a computer in Sarajevo filled with al-Qaeda's history. Kudos also go to Jordan for interrogating prisoners and to Pakistan for helping capture key al-Qaeda leaders.
To understand the Islamist's mind, there's this about a captured Arab sitting in Guantanamo Bay:
The Arab fighter had come to Gitmo, as the base is called, weighing a bare 66 pounds last year. He had shrapnel wounds, suffered from tuberculosis, and had lost a lung. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey vividly remembers his first encounter with "Bob." Dunlavey ran interrogations at the base until November of last year. By the time they met, Bob was making a rapid recovery. He had put on 50 pounds and, sitting across a table from Dunlavey, he thanked him for the food and medical treatment. "General, you are probably a good Christian," Dunlavey recalls him saying. "And you are probably a good man. But if I ever get free, I will kill you."
Dunlavey went on to say, "These people are implacably committed to apocalyptic terrorism." Their goal is the absolute destruction of America as we know it."
There's no reason to negotiate with Islamists. Since they want to die so badly, the best thing we can do is oblige them.
Read the whole thing. There's lots more in it for us to chew on.
NY Times Wants Your Money
A nice thing about the NY Times (maybe the only thing since you can't trust their reporting, and their columnists are shrill, knee-jerk anti-Bushies) is their News Tracker service. Say, you want to keep up with all the Times stories on taxes. Just sign up for News Tracker (located on the side of every story) and the paper will e-mail you links to new stories as they are put up on the web. I don't make it a habit to visit the Times website daily and don't know how many times I've read and written on stories just because of News Tracker. So, for me, News Tracker got me to read more Times content (and see their advertising) than I would have without it.
Unfortunately, the free ride is over and the Times will be turning News Tracker into a subscriber service as of June 13. Will I be signing up for $19.95/year? No. Would I sign up for a lower price? Probably not. Will the Times lose out on traffic coming from me and my website? Definitely. Will the Times care? Not at all.
To follow the trend of more web content ceasing to be free there is the aptly named End of Free weblog.
May 27, 2003
Shake It Baby
It's time to groove with ScrappleFace's entry into the dance music scene. Give it up for the "Axis of Weasels Dance Mix."
Kate's Name Sure Fits
For its sheer veracity, Venomous Kate gets my vote for The Bear's "Microbes on Parade."
"20 Warnings About My Blog (a.k.a. 'A Blogger's Manifesto')"
Win One for the Gipper--I Mean Me
John Hawkins over at Right Wing News will be drawing names for free advertising on his weblog. All you have to do to give TAM a shot at winning is to go there through here. Simple enough. If you're a serious TAM reader you already read RWN for its look at non-right wing ridiculousness and great interviews. For a few days, all I ask is to go there through TAM. 'Nuff said. End of blegging.
"The Link RWN and Win Contest"
Are Tax Cuts Already Boosting Market?
It's been a long time since I did any statistical regression analysis, but today's stock market closing makes me wonder if there's a correlation between price changes and dividend yields of Dow Jones components. If someone would like a crack at it, they would get plenty of TAM exposure. Along with that, the rest of us would have an idea if last week's tax cut played a role in today's market.
And the Winner Is...
Attention TAM readers: You are now reading the words of an award-winning writer. Sure, it may only be a James Joyner caption contest (no offence James), but nevertheless, yours truly tied for first.
I'd like to thank my family, friends, the Lord above, and especially...ME! For without me, me winning this contest would have never been possible. Thank you and good night.
Led Zeppelin's live CD and DVD sets came out today. I don't have them, so no review yet. But Tom Johnson has one posted at Blogcritics.
And then there's news Jones, Page, and Plant might reunite.
"Led Zeppelin--Winning the West Again"
Dems on the Web
Martin Devon grades Democratic Presidential candidate websites so you don't have to.
Rumsfeld's Rules in Iraq
Secretary Rumsfeld gives us a progress report on post-war Iraq and shows us what the Allies will do to grow a liberal democracy there. For those who are worried that the U.S. will leave before rebuilding Iraq, Rumsfeld writes:
The Coalition will maintain as many security forces in Iraq as necessary, for as long as necessary, to accomplish the stated goals--and no longer. Already 39 nations have offered stabilization forces or other needed assistance for the postwar effort, and that number is growing. Together, coalition countries will seek to provide a secure environment, so that over time Iraqis will be able to take charge of their country.
Remnants of the Baath Party will not be allowed to exert power. "De-Baathification" and the promotion of liberal Iraqis will take place.
For countries that opposed the war, a price will be paid:
Whenever possible, contracts for work in Iraq will go to those who will use Iraqi workers and to countries that supported the Iraqi people's liberation so as to contribute to greater regional economic activity and to accelerate Iraq's and the region's economic recovery.
In other words, French companies are screwed.
Then Rumsfeld warns Iran that Iraq won't become another part of their Islamic Revolution:
Assistance from Iraq's neighbors will be welcomed. Conversely, interference in Iraq by its neighbors or their proxies--including those whose objective is to remake Iraq in Iran's image--will not be accepted or permitted.
What is needed the most in Iraq is patience. Rumsfled points out that it took eight years for our Founding Fathers to write our Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. It's only been seven weeks since the ouster of Saddam. Much needs to be done to build a modern, stable, and free Iraq.
al-Qaeda in Iran
And I thought there were no al-Qaeda in Iran. In the same story there's evidence that the State Department is lacking ideas:
Flynt Leverett, a former National Security Council official now with the Saban Center on Middle East Policy, said the Pentagon wants a harder line on Iran, including cutting off all contacts and overthrow the Iranian government.
You can only win an argument with an argument. That's why the Pentagon has been winning the big foreign policy debates. For the State Department it's always the status quo. I'd love Powell to shake things up intellectually there, but from his history, that probably won't happen. Unless he has definitive force and an exit strategy, don't look for decisive action.
"U.S. Says Iran's Al Qaeda Arrests Fall Short"
May 25, 2003
Home from Festivities
This isn't much of a post (kind of like Kate's 100 things about herself list), since I did have a good a time at my cousin's wedding. I'll be working tomorrow so no posting until Monday night. But since holidays are slow traffic times I won't feel bad. I do want to thank John at Right Wing News for the weekend link. That was a nice traffic boost on a slow weekend. If you've discovered TAM through RWN, read the archives and come back again. If you're bored on a Sunday night, check out Jay Solo who's been weblogging up a storm. I think he's posting faster than InstaPundit.
May 23, 2003
Have a Good Weekend
No more posting on TAM for a few days. I'm going to my cousin's wedding and will have little time to contemplate further on the political economics of the tax cut or the cultural ramifications should Annika Sorenstam make the cut. Have a good, safe, fun weekend. I hope to be back posting Sunday night, but that depends on how much fun I have at the wedding.
Thanks go to radio host, Cam Edwards for linking to TAM.
Ho Hum on Tax Cuts
A tax cut was passed. It's $330-350 billion depending on how it's calculated. Even though President Bush is happy with it, by his definition it's "itty bitty." The President wanted about $750 billion in cuts but got only half that. And this is coming off a victorious war, high popularity, and his party in control of both houses of Congress. The center of his original plan was the ending of the dividend tax. That didn't make the final bill. Instead of ending the unfair double taxation of dividends, that unfairness is reduced to 15% where it will be aligned with capital gains. Failure to end the dividend tax means companies won't have as much of an incentive to pay out dividends to its shareholders. Congress and the President missed a golden opportunity to inject some market incentives for companies not to lie about their earnings.
The biggest losers from this bill are the Democrats who opposed a bill that might just revive the economy. If that happens it will be hard for Presidential and Congressional candidates to stand up before the public and explain why they opposed tax cuts. Also by opposing tax cuts, the Dems reinforced their apperance as tax increasers. They can say all they want how they wanted to give lower and middle income people a holiday from payroll taxes, but they never advanced a serious plan. All they did was carp on "the rich getting richer."
Another loser was President Bush, but he's a minor loser. He didn't get the tax cut he wanted. He didn't even kill the dividend tax. The tax cut is much smaller and will not be as simulative as his original plan. This may hurt him next year if the economy is still very sluggish. Politically Bush couldn't use his war victory and popularity to bull the tax cut through. If I were the Dems, I'd be breathing a sigh of relief, and realization that President Bush isn't politically all-powerful.
The Dems have a key advantage in every battle in the Senate that Bush couldn't counter, which brings me to my final loser: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). This was his first big test as majority leader to get an important bill through the Senate. On this, he failed, and that's because he couldn't keep GOP moderates like Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) in line. Their objections along with sometime-conservative Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) forced the tax cut to be halved. Even then, Snowe wasn't happy, calling the cuts "a trillion-dollar tax cut masquerading as $350 billion."
The winners from these tax cuts are families with children. USA Today offered this example:
Accounting giant Deloitte & Touche estimated that a married couple earning $63,000 a year with two children would get a break of $1,100 this year. A childless couple with the same income would save $300.
In order to make the numbers work, the many of the cuts expire in a few years. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) called it "one big yo-yo." Unless Congress comes back later to make these cuts permanent, it could create some weird economic activities just to avoid the increased rates. Fixing these problems later isn't assured because Bush could lose next year and/or the Senate could go to the Democrats. If either of these happened, it would be really tough to get tax cut bill through a class warfare-obsessed Democratic Senate.
With the fast-forwarding of rate decreased and the deductions on business equipment purchases, this tax cut could pick up the economy. There will be greater incentives for people to do things that could make more money. The key to a bigger economy is producing more goods and services that people want. Letting people keep a little more of their income could induce some entrepreneurial energy. I just wish the Republicans would have used their political power for greater effect.
"Tax Cuts Likely to Come by Summer"
"Congress Approves $330B in Tax Cuts"
"Fiscal Conservatives Say Hurray for Tax Cut"
Blogcritics on NBC
It might have been "Must See TV" if I saw it. Oh, well. I'm just glad Blogcritics got some attention, and that I'm a part of it.
Even if Texas authorities didn't do anything wrong, destroying records only makes the Democratic legislators who ran off to Oklahoma look like victims instead of the gutless, political children they really are.
"Texas Agency Destroyed Records Related to Search for Democrats"
I'm a Liberal
In Radley Balko's lastest Fox News article, he wants to reclaim the lable "liberal" from the "progressive" socialists who soiled it in the 20th Century. It sounds like a good idea to me. I've been a follower of the ideas of the great liberals John Locke, Adam Smith, F. A. Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises, so I've been exposed to the old definition of liberalism. In fact, I may have been a little ahead of Balko. Back in college, I sent an e-mail to a bunch of College Republican friends where I declared I was a liberal. The reply I got from one person was they would never let me forget it. It was tongue-in-cheek, but I had no shame writing it then and have none now.
So, here I declare to the world, "I am a liberal!"
[For what it's worth, Balko made a mistake in the essay. No Jayson Blair incident here. Just a brain fart. He posted a correction on his weblog.]
May 22, 2003
Virginia Postrel points out the difference between price competition and deflation. Many industries are experiencing the former, but a falling dollar and rising budget deficits should prevent the latter.
"Demon Deflation: Not Here, Now"
Cost of War
Rought numbers from the Pentagon put the cost of the Iraq War at $917,744,361.55. So, for 46 minutes of U.S. economic production in 2001, we toppled a dictator and liberated a people. Yet, we can only afford a $350 billion tax cut?
"Congress Near Passing $350 Billion Tax-Cut Plan"
Here's a reason not to go to grad school if you're a conservative. From Stanley Kurtz:
The National Association of Scholars--the most prominent organization of traditionalist scholars opposed to campus political correctness--has started a blog. Notice that a couple of the entries are signed, while one is anonymous. When I was a grad student, I was afraid to join the NAS for fear that if my membership were discovered, it would destroy my career. So I subscribed to Academic Questions, the NAS journal, but without formally joining. Eventually, I joined the NAS, but made sure it mailings came to me at home, rather than at school. Turns out the local NAS understood all this, and sent its information in envelopes with no organizational identification on the outside. If memory serves, one of the early notorious incidents of political correctness was Stanley Fish’s suggestion that NAS members at Duke be barred from committees deciding on tenure. A blog is an ideal way for isolated and persecuted traditionalist professors to communicate.
And Lefties like the Dixie Chicks and Tim Robbins complain about censorship. Kurtz and NAS members are practically blacklisted.
Trust Bust Big Media?
Will anyone besides me question Glenn Reynolds' libertarian streak when he advocates the use of antitrust laws against Big Media? From reading him for so long, I have learned that he is no ideologue (he calls himself an "anti-idiotarian," whatever that means).
[find some criticism of antitrust laws; Cato?]
Annika at the Colonial
Annika Sorenstam made history today by not only playing in a PGA event, but doing all right. She shot one over par and would have been even if she didn't bogey the final hole. She played better than I expected, because I figured the added length of the course from the men's tees would have hurt her game more. It didn't, and she might even make the cut.
Unfortunately, ESPN has gone ga-ga over her performance. Announcers and commentators on SportCenter said she played amazingly well and was outstanding. No, she played one shot over par and is seven strokes behind the leader. She is beating Sergio Garcia and Tom Lehman, but for ESPN to fawn over Annika is to seriously insult the play of Rory Sabbatini and Mark Calcavecchia. Where their rounds god-like if Annika's was outstanding?
One example of ESPN's fawning was the mention that Annika out drove her partners on a hole. Sounds impressive. It sounds like she can hit the ball as well as a PGA man. What wasn't mention was what clubs they were using. According to the AP, Annika did out drive Dean Wilson and Aaron Barber on the 10th tee. But while Wilson and Barber used irons, Annika used a wood.
I admit that's a bit of knit-picking on my part, because what it all comes down to is the final score. Who cares what club Annika uses to get the ball in the cup. The question is if she can do it in fewer strokes than her competitors. After one round, she's beating 25 others.
"Annika Sorenstam Finishes Day 1-Over Par"
UPDATE: The NY Times' Dave Anderson determines what Annika must do to make the cut.
"Sorenstam Can Prove She Belongs"
May 21, 2003
Today must just be the day for observations-turned-social -science-laws. Jane Galt has come up with this one:
The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.
I've never voted for a Democrat--I did vote for Ross Perot in 1992 (I'm sorry)--and Newt Gingrich was my first political hero (too young for Reagan), so I'm happy that Bush beat Gore in 2000. Yet I don't think I've been smug and arrogant about it. I'll have to come back to this after work.
[via Outside the Beltway]
Greg Ransom looks at recent media falsities through the lense of a philosphy professor and posts:
[T]he nearer you are to a news story, the falser it is, the farther you are from a story, the truer the story seems.
Ransom calls this Blogic 101, but in the post's comments, Shannon Love declared this "Random's Law of Media Truth."
May 20, 2003
Blair: Racial Victim?
The Jayson Blair story is only a few weeks old, and the guy's already peddling proposals for movie and book deals. Drudge has posted some excerpts from an upcoming New York Observer interview with Blair. I'm not surprised that Blair's claiming to be a racial victim. When hearing drivel from race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton your whole life, one sees racism in every nook and cranny. He tells a NYO reporter, "Anyone who tells you that my race didn't play a role in my career at The New York Times is lying to you. Both racial preferences and racism played a role. And I would argue that they didn't balance each other out. Racism had much more of an impact." Yeah, Blair was forced by The Man to plagerize stories and make up facts and quotes. The Man drove Blair to have suicidal thoughts. Blair is an affirmative action baby who refuses to take responsibility for his deceit. Instead, he's trying to make money by claiming victim status. Let's get something straight: Jayson Blair is the bad guy here. Not the only bad guy, just the baddest.
All right, we're at the first orange alert since the end of the Iraq War. The decision seems to be based on intelligence "al-Qaida has entered an operational period worldwide" to use Sec. Tom Ridge's words. Effective bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco make the term "operational period" quite the understatement. Bush's critics will use this a "proof" that invading Iraq was wrong. Blowback, blowback, blowback. All I would say is that there still hasn't been an organized terrorist attack on the homeland since September 11, and it wouldn't take much organizing to scare a metro region. The D.C. snipers did a great job with only two people. The recent bombings suggest to me al-Qaeda is attacking to remain "relevant" (like Bill Clinton after the 1994 elections?). They might be using the last of their resources on the attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. It may be a last gasp, but al-Qaeda is a fluid group with cells and affiliates worldwide biding their time. Even if al-Qaeda was dismantled, another organization could rise up in their place. My point is that until the U.S. mainland gets hit again, Bush's critics have little evidence to make their case. One wonders if critics actually want an attack to hammer Bush with.
I wanted to get these thoughts down before I watch the final hour of 24. Fake terrorism may be more spectacular, but it isn't as scary as the real thing.
"Terror Alert in U.S. Raised to'High'"
May 19, 2003
Glenn Reynolds posts:
Finally, if you’re interested in game theory — or just in getting ahead at the office, or getting a date — James Miller’s Game Theory at Work: How to Use Game Theory to Outthink and Outmaneuver Your Competition is worth your attention. I’ve been interested in game theory since junior high (and it actually helped me get a few dates over the years), and Miller does a good job of taking sophisticated academic concepts and translating them to ordinary life.
Is Glenn serious about using game theory to get dates or is he fooling us by stealing a scene from A Beautiful Mind? If he's not joking, I want details (names can be deleted to protect the innocent).
Many Matrix Reviews
Eric at Blogcritics has compiled a bunch of Matrix Reloaded reviews posted on that weblog. If you're Matrix-ed out like I am (for now) you won't wade through them, but if you want more perspective on Hollywood/kung-fu/philosophy 101 then have at it.
May 18, 2003
Galen on 2004
Rich Galen, posing as a Democratic double agent (I hope), comes to this conclusion about the 2004 Presidential race:
I believe we have a great opportunity to be victorious in the Presidential election of 2004. We just have to find a different country to run in.
"Memo to Demos"
Sunday Afternoon at the Movies
The Matrix Reloaded is like good lasangna: it's better a few days later. The first time I watched it Thursday, I was taking in the whole visual experience. And quite an experience it was with amazing fight and action scenes. This evening I watched it again and focused on the part of Neo actually being the one who could destroy Zion in order to save Humanity. This evil choice was given to him by a program that created the myth of "The One" in the first place. I got that bit of the plot pretty well down. However, Morpheus is even more contradictory. Throughout the movie he can't decide whether he believes in free will or destiny so he believes in both. Will he square the circle in Revolutions? I doubt it. That would be too much to hope from this Hollywood version of a introductory philosophy class.
Since I watched the movie to a 75% filled theater late yesterday afternoon, I'm surprised Reloaded didn't break Spiderman's record. Competition from other films as well as the R-rating probably had something to do with that.
"Matrix Reloaded Hits Mark at Box Office"
May 17, 2003
I've been acquainted with Greg Ransom since college. On an economics listserv, I made the mistake of challenging Leftist economists while not having the depth and breadth of knowledge they did. I ended up looking like a fool. Greg was kind enough to e-mail me about what an effective argument would require. To take on Leftist PhDs requires knowing their arguments. That way you're talking to each other instead of talking past each other.
Along with offering good advice, Greg runs the Hayek-L listserv. If you want to follow academic discussion on F. A. Hayek, you have to sign up. This month, Greg has also jumped into the weblogging world with PrestoPundit.com. Wow, is he linking up a storm.
There are two reasons to link to Michelle Malkin's latest column: 1.) She's gorgeous; and 2.) she quotes from F. A. Hayek to explain why Sen. Hillary Clinton's idea of a national 211 information line is dumb.
"Big Nanny Hotline"
People in the wine business aren't sure if there will be a prolonged boycott of French wine. A wine store owner said the boycott has amounted to a "10 [percent] to 20 percent" decrease in sales. It appears the boycott is mostly in the market of wine selling for less than $20--people like me who can't afford a really nice and expensive Bordeaux.
These people are worried about a long-term boycott. New marketing efforts are being made and some trade groups sent a letter to President Bush asking him to publically oppose consumer boycotts. So, some people are scared. Hopefully, French politicans will remember that.
The boycott may not last long. We Americans have a short memory, and if the French government starts working to stop Islamist terrorism instead of blocking American "hyperpower" then all will be forgiven.
"Boycott of French Wine Losing Fizzle with Public"
Texas Dems Back Home
Now that the Texas Democrats ended their chicken run to Oklahoma, Governor Rick Perry said, "Quite frankly, this thing's over with as far as I'm concerned. We've got work to do." It may be over for now, but when the legislature starts up another session, we all know the GOP will try to finally let representatives vote on a redistricting bill. Will Democrats run again?
What yesterday's Casablanca attacks show is al-Qaeda isn't washed up and done for. Recently, President Bush said he thought about half the leadership has been captured or killed, but with it being such an amorphous, loose network, al-Qaeda can disperse and reform with deadly results. We can't ease our pursuit of them. To do so would be deadly.
Interestingly, even with these two attacks the homeland security alert hasn't been raised from yellow. While critics like Sen. Russ Feingold and Paul Krugman can claim President Bush is losing the war on terrorism, I see it as a sign that Bush's decisions have made the U.S. safer.
Maybe al-Qaeda thinks they had to do something spectacular to show the world that they were still in business after the U.S. clobbered the Taliban and Saddam's Baathist regime. Two well-planned and deadly attacks within a few days of each other prove the Islamist War is far from over.
"Dozens Killed in Morocco Suicide Blasts"
UPDATE: Steven Taylor comments on these latest attacks and notes, "the surprise should be that there have been so few major attacks world-wide since 911."
June Carter Cash, R.I.P.
We live in a strange world where things happen that don't make sense. Somehow, Johnny Cash outlived his wife June. If you've seen the video for Johnny's cover of "Hurt" you know how old and sickly he looks. June was also in the video, but she looked vibrant. As the cliche goes: looks can be deceiving. Godspeed, June.
"Singer, Songwriter June Carter Cash Dies"
May 16, 2003
(WARNING: Post contains spoilers.)
The Matrix Reloaded was fun. The fight scenes were the best I've ever seen. They were choreographed superbly even if the Neo versus 100 Agent Smiths looked more like a video game than movie. That was a case where computers got in the way of the scene (although it probably couldn't have been created without them).
With all the whiz-bang special effects I was concerned that the story would suffer. It didn't too much. A problem with The Matrix is the whole determinism/free will argument ingrained in the plot with a heavy seasoning of Eastern philosophy. Even though a book has been published on the philosophical questions surrounding the movie, I found discussion more suited to late night bull sessions in freshman college dorm rooms. Morpheus always talks about prophesy and destiny while every once in a while throwing in the concept of choice. Hard determinism and choice aren't compatible. At one point in the movie Neo learns that while he is "The One," his destiny isn't the destruction of the Matrix, it's to maintain it. Yet in order for Man to beat the machines Neo will have to go against his destiny. Choice and free will do reign supreme. But how then can Morpheus and other characters talk about their purpose as being in a certain place at a certain time doing a certain action? This isn't so much philosophy as a logical conundrum.
While not moving steadily to a climax as in the first movie, you can see how the story goes forward to the final battle against the machines that will take place in The Matrix Revolutions later this year. So, as a part two of a trilogy, Reloaded isn't The Empire Strikes Back.
On the acting front, Keanu Reeves actually acted. I didn't notice a single "whoa" out of him, and he played the role of the reluctant messiah well. Lawrence Fishburne remained his preachy self as Morpheus who faces a question of faith at the end of the movie. Carrie-Anne Moss seemed colder, less emotional as Trinity.
Realoaded had the biggest hype of the summer movies, but it didn't blow me away. Fun, yes, but I would put it on the same level as X2 which is the best comic book movie since the first Batman.
"Matrix: Not Much Neo to Report"
May 15, 2003
Five Years for Baby's Death
A child's life is worth only five years in jail. That's what Delilah Lark got for shaking her two month old to death. And if she would have had the baby killed two months earlier by abortion she wouldn't have gotten anything. Chalk up another win for the Culture of Death.
"Milwaukee Woman Sentenced For Killing Baby"
Feingold Bashs Bush
Tuesday, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) ripped President Bush for losing focus on the war on terrorism. "Our mission has become obscured, and our approach unfocused," he said on the Senate floor. He also said in an interview the Saudi bombings were a result of that lack of focus.
Feingold is a man who has been very critical of Bush's war against the Islamist terrorists. He's complained about the loss of civil liberties because of anti-terrorism legislation and Justice Department actions, and he opposed invading Iraq. But if he wanted to be honest about the facts he would mention that since September 11, 2001 there hasn't been an al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. mainland. When they have struck it's been in far-away places like Bali and Saudi Arabia. It seems to me we're winning the war. Regularly we read stories about another captured terrorist. While still potent, we're not sitting back waiting to get attacked. What would Feingold expect a proper war on terrorism to be, no attacks on Americans anywhere? That doesn't seem realistic.
What also galls me about Feingold and his fellow Democratic war critics is they offer no alternatives. I have not seen a Democratic leader (other than Sen. Lieberman) say how he would fight terrorism. Feingold only complains about American unilaterism, but that isn't a strategy; that's a detail. Critics like Feingold only reinforce Lieberman's belief that a Democrat won't stand a chance at defeating President Bush in 2004 unless they are dedicated to defending America.
"Feingold Critical of War on Terror"
May 14, 2003
Public Display of Lutheranism
A controversy from a post-September 11 prayer service has finally been resolved. At the Oprah-led service at Yankee Stadium, a representative of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Rev. David Benke said a short, 10-word prayer. A few members of the synod complained about him praying with those of other faiths, and Benke was suspended. He appealed and the decision from the appeal panel is in: Benke's suspension was reversed and he's been reinstated as president of the Atlantic District of the church.
When the issue first came up, I didn't think Benke did anything wrong.
Those opposing Benke may have thought they were protecting the synod from theological relativism. It's a legitimate concern when mainline Protestant churches are moving away from Biblical teaching when it contrasts with social liberalism. However, September 11 was such a traumatic event. Such a time is when public display of Christian faith is needed. Benke said,
I think the other thing that is important here is that this is a way for our church at large to reaffirm the fact that when the people in the country and the people in the world need consolation, encouragement, hope that we believe can only be provided through Jesus Christ - who we believe is savior of the world and Lord of the universe - our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is going to be there.
"Lutheran Panel Reinstates Official"
The Ludwig von Mises Institute now has a weblog. Good for them. The more the merrier. It will be another outlet for Anarchy Lew Rockwell and his gang of Paleolibertarians to spout off useful material for Paleowatch. I want more criticism of government actions without useful alternatives. I want more Confederate sympathizing. I want more rabid Bush bashing.
This is not to say I'll disagree with everything they write. I won't. I'll be very sympathetic to their economic posts (Mises is my second favorite economist next to Hayek). It's just that I've never been able to determine what Anarchy Lew would want government to do. His criticism is endless, but even the namesake of his think tank didn't reject government in its entirety.
May 13, 2003
One benefit of working in a bookstore is getting to meet writers. At the store I work at when authors are in the area (usually they'll be speaking at competing bookstore that night) they'll come in briefly to sign whatever stock is available. Those that usually come in are fiction writers promoting their latest novel or mystery. Not my cup of tea. However, today, Pulitzer Prize winner, Iris Chang, came in to sign copies of her new book, The Chinese in America. Chang won her Pulitzer for her last book, The Rape of Nanking.
Since I've talked up Gulag (here and here), you might think I'd want to read Rape. I'm not so sure. While knowing as a child about that horrible event, when she went to a conference on it, she got sick from seeing pictures of the atrocities. I asked her how the reasearch for her latest book differed from Rape. She told me that the research and writing about Nanking made her physicially ill, and she had to recuperate after finishing the book. If a writing project made me sick, that would be a sign to stop, but she perservered.
Booknotes Transcript of Iris Chang
If You Can't Win, Run
Democrats do seem to find ways of blocking legislatures from doing their business. In the U.S. Senate, Democrats have been fillibustering the nominations of judicial appointments. Now, in Texas, Democrats have abandoned their state, bunkered down across the border in Oklahoma (their Alamo), and are playing a game of chicken with state Republicans over a redistricting bill. In both cases, the Democrats don't have the votes to stop the Republicans. Instead, they obstruct.
It's funny that of all the issues important to Texas Democrats (health care, education, the environment) they decided to revolt against their very government over redistricting. Redistricting happens every ten years and the party in power usually gets its way (unless the state uses some kind of independent board). In order to get your legislation passed you need more of your party elected. That didn't happen. The Democrats could have accepted their political fate and prepared for new political battles leading up to the next round of elections. They didn't do that and decided the best strategy is to shut down the Texas legislature. Real smart. I'm sure the average Texan will understand the Democrats' principle of "proper" redistricting as a swell reason to stop the political process.
I could respect these Democrats if their chicken run was for something more than preventing their political power from slipping further in a growing conservative state. These people look like spoiled children who when losing a game of checkers tosses the board in the air and pouts. And it makes those Dems who stayed look like statemen.
Bill Hobbs has declared Texas Democrats AWOL and says they're thwarting democracy. Ironic, since it's the Democrats who are doing the thwarting. Then there's thorswitch who is defending the Dems (here, here, and here
Since this game of chicken will be over in a few weeks at the most it doesn't pay to ask how long those legislators could stay in Oklahoma before they would be considered official Okies. But it's out there if anyone knows.
"Texas Democrats Flee State, Paralyze Legislature"
Gift from the Gods
Kieran Healy just had his first Krispy Kreme experience. Kieran, here's a warning: once you give into those golden, glazed, goodies--the crack cocaine of the junk food world--you'll never be the same. Now, I'm hungry.
May 12, 2003
Steven at PoliBlog questions Michael Moore's sanity or, at least, his rudimentary logic skills. It's been said that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous thing. A little bit of a conspiracy theory may be even more dangerous.
Terrorist Attacks in Saudi Arabia
At least 50 people have been injured in gun and bombing attack in Saudi Arabia. Collin Powell will be visting the kingdom today. Signs point to al-Qaeda. If that's the case, it's their first major since the Bali bombings. Al-Qaeda might have thought that with the easy victory in Iraq our guard might have been down. They may have been right, but with al-Qaeda being a Wahabbi terrorist group and Saudi Arabia being the birthplace of Wahabbism, you know there were plenty of sympathetic Saudis willing to help with the attacks. The Islamist War is far from over.
Follow the story at The Command Post.
"Four Blasts Shake Saudi Capital, Dozens Reported Injured in Attacks on American Targets"
"Bombs Rock Riyadh"
The Journal Sentinel still hasn't run anything on State Sen. Frank Boyle's "bullshit" comments. No other state media source has mentioned it either. Instead of covering Boyle's obscene comments the Superior, WI newspaper has a story on Boyle's attempt to ban Indian names and logos for high schools. To use Boyle's own words, his bill is "nothing bullshit; totally unequivocal bullshit."
"Boyle Pushes Bill to Eliminate Indian Nicknames, Logos"
May 11, 2003
Enter Stage Right interviews Mark Steyn. While not a "must read" for me, he may be the most popular columnist in the blogosphere. He covers Iraq, and North Korea, and Canada, and admits to loving Condoleeza Rice's "erotic braininess."
"The One-Man Global Content Provider"
Mobile Bio Lab
A weapons team has concluded that an Iraqi trailer was a bioweapons lab. This is progress, but I'm waiting (patiently) for the discovery caches of biological and chemical weapons. Freeing Iraq from Saddam was a wonderful by-product for the war, but my support was firmly based on Saddam possessing ABC weapons or technology and passing them on to terrorists.
The Road to Freedom
If you haven't been able to tell, I think Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom is an important book. If the ideas and the writing in the book are as good as I've gleened from reviews, then it will easily make the TAM Book Award list.
In the lastest review I've found, Timothy Noah emphasizes Zakaria's argument that freedom must precede democracy. He writes:
The problem with democratic governance, Zakaria argues, isn't merely that it won't automatically protect the freedom of its citizens. It's also that it may well undermine freedom unless freedom has already been guaranteed through the prior establishment of an independent judiciary, a free press and other components of what Zakaria calls "constitutional liberalism." (He uses the term "liberal" in its 19th-century sense, "tending to enhance the freedom of individuals and limit the power of government.") Echoing James Madison and Alexis de Tocqueville, Zakaria writes that a majority will incline toward tyranny unless forced to accommodate certain individual and minority rights. It may also degenerate quickly into autocracy and dictatorship, a process that he notes is well under way in Russia and has played out many times in sub-Saharan Africa.
Another book that recently came out, Amy Chua's World on Fire examines what happens when democracy is imposed on a people that don't have the political and cultural institutions that can make it function. You can read what Chua told Brian Lamb on Booknotes a few months back.
Both books could be described as studies in political economic development. Zakaria writes about how to achieve a successful political economy, while Chua examines what happens when things go wrong and why. Such a subject is hard for model builders and number crunchers at the IMF and the World Bank to comprehend. Leave it to the non-mathematically obsessed to examine the human condition.
"Liberty and Justice for All"
More on Gulag
Arnold Beichman reviews Gulag. This book is even more important because Russia, especially President Putin, has turned a blind eye to the atrocities. There are no memorials to the Gulags victims. The upper house of the Duma did pass a bill granting a tiny bit of money to victims but at the same time "KGB hierarchs have kept their apartments, their dachas and their large pensions." Beichman sums up the importance of the book:
It is also a forcible reminder to the Russian people that if they and their leaders are determined to bury the Gulag, the West will remember. Perhaps, a new generation of Russians will someday reopen those archives and thus recover their lost history.
"Russian Amnesia" [via Reductio]
Roll the Virtual Bones
Gambling isn't going away. In fact, with many state governments having budget problems, gambling is seen as a way of avoiding spending cuts and tax increases. Here in Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle (D) negotiated new gambling compacts with Indian tribes. In exchange for deals without expiration and being allowed to offer more games, the tribes agreed to pay the state more money.
Since legal gambling is here to stay making Internet gambling legal would be a logical extension, right? Not with Congressmen on Capitol Hill. Last week a House subcommittee approved a bill that would ban credit cards, checks and electronic fund transfers as payment for online gaming. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Net gambling must be stopped because, "[t]hese facilities are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all available in a person's home." But casinos are all over the country, most with no closing time. 24-hour convience stores are also all over where people can get their lottery fix anytime. A new law wouldn't stop problem gamblers from gambling. It would just force them to get into their cars and burn some gas.
In January, when Rep. Jim Leach reintroduced his Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act he tied it into the Islamist War. A press release from his office read,
Recent studies have found that Internet gaming sites which utilize credit transactions are a potentially "powerful vehicle" for criminals to launder funds and evade taxes, and provide a direct pipeline of dollars into terrorist hands.
Whether there have been any instances of terrorists getting money through online casinos doesn't matter. For Rep. Leach it's a possible loophole that must be closed even if law-abiding people only want to play some blackjack in their home away from the lights, sounds, and smoke of brick-and-mortar casinos.
Democrats oppose the bill but want to regulate and tax online operations. I oppose that because the government doesn't need new sources of revenue. Government already spends way too much. Feeding Leviathan certainly won't stop it from growing.
"Lawmakers Fight Online Gambling"
May 10, 2003
Go To Sleep Night Owl
There won't be any late night TAM posting this evening. Nasty storms are blowing through the area (just got through the fastest tornado warning of my life) so I'm shutting down TAM HQ. See you tomorrow, and to all the mothers reading this: Happy Mother's Day. You deserve (at least) one day for putting up with kids like me.
NYTBR Reviews Gulag
The NY Times Book Review reviews Anne Applebaum's Gulag. It's a gut-wrenching, but important, book displaying the horrors employed to create a workers' paradise in the Soviet Union.
The Gulag was an intrinsic organ in the Communist body politic. Steven Merritt Miner writes:
The cancer of police terror was embedded in the original DNA of Lenin's creation, ''an integral part of the Soviet system,'' in Applebaum's words. Under Lenin, the first concentration camps were created; the first mass executions were carried out. He bequeathed to his successor a well-functioning police state.
Before the Russian Revolution 28,600 people were in Czarist prison camps. Under Lenin and Stalin millions were worked to death. The product of that slave labor was shoddy even if revisionist historians tried their best to justify it under the excuse of economic modernization.
May 08, 2003
The William Morris Agency must have stopped bugging B-H because I haven't heard about any more threatening legal letters. On a technical front, B-H will be moving to a new domain, boycott-hollywood.net. Then B-H will continue to torment the Hollywood Left while protecting contributors' privacy.
NewsMax.com reported on Lisa's and her gang's trouble.
Boyle's Big Mouth
When will any media pick up on State Senator Frank Boyle's comment on a resolution honoring soldiers in the Middle East and their families? During discussion, Boyle said, "[SJR 24] is a stupid, memorializing piece of nothing bullshit; totally unequivocal bullshit." Charlie Sykes has a few questions about this:
Question (1): Will this be reported anywhere?
On question (1), other than Sykes' weblog and a Wisconsin GOP e-mail (and now on TAM) Boyle's spew hasn't been mentioned. After doing a Google News search and a search of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I still turned up nothing. The other two questions become mute because why comment on something that isn't "news?"
May 07, 2003
chutney at MyIrony.com thinks "the Green party is the Bizarro World version of the Christian Coalition." No, not Bizarro World, just bizarre. I really love how they place Saddam and President Bush on the same moral plane. Do these people not see the distinctions between a brutal tyrant and a duly elected leader? (And for you anti-Bush types, get over it.)
"Will I Still Need My Nader Fix?"
May 06, 2003
No Hart in 2004
Gary Hart won't run. Glenn Reynolds must be bummed. Too bad he won't be the first weblogging Presidential candidate. I have a feeling he would have been irritatingly interesting.
"Hart Decides Against 2004 White House Bid"
May 05, 2003
Moralizing Over Bennett
Monday brings out some big names to cover Bill Bennett's gambling. Michael Kinsley gleefully writes, "He is smug, disdainful, intolerant. He gambled on bluster, and lost." Then there is Jonah Goldberg taking Kinsley's, Green's, and Alter's arguments to their logical conclusion: "Aesop's Fables are now wrong" along with everything Bill Bennett has ever said. Using such a broad brush on a man accused of "moralizing" (like that's a bad thing) is itself moralizing. That makes Kinsley, et al. more inconsistent than Bennett.
And I can't forget Radley Balko's joyous post on the Bennett revelation. Balko is the type (usually libertarian) who has a knee-jerk response whenever someone says some type of behavior is wrong. Near the end of his post he writes, "Obviously, Bennett wasn't much of an authority on matters moral in my book before all of this happened." So when the news came out, I can imagine Balko jumping around his apartment shouting, "I knew it! Gotcha, you moralizing bastard!" Then he just had to write a few hundred words about Bennett's "hypocracy" while demonstrating no such thing.
"Bill Bennett's Bad Bet"
May 04, 2003
Too Young to Be a Neocon
Kevin Whited's tired of the term "neo-conservative." So am I. For me, the term harkens back to the late-70s/early-80s with the likes of Jean Kirkpatrick and Irving "Bill's dad" Kristol. The neos were a group of ex-Democrats (even ex-Communists) who became anti-Communist. It's a historical term that is best used when studying the history of American conservative thought, not as a pejorative.
"Why I Am Not A Neoconservative"
More on Bennett
Kathryrn Jean Lopez over at The Corner makes a keen observation of the media's coverage of Bill Bennett's "sins":
It amazes me that they can pretend they think this is a vice. They don’t think a president having an affair and lying about it under oath, and dragging the country through ugliness and waste is anything that should affect one’s professional life. “Sins” only exist if a conservative commits them.
Newsweek and The Washington Monthly resemble hypocrites more than Bennett.
UPDATE: Who put the quarter in my weblogging machine today? Anyway, Bill's wife has had enough of the publicity and her husband's gambling. "He's never going again," she told USA Today. Bill will just have to stick to his poker games with Supreme Court justices.
WWII and Iraq
There might be some historical basis for France's shunning of the U.S. over Iraq and their intent on creating something to balance U.S. "hyperpower":
Self-flagellation aside, the French after 1940 concluded they'd been fools to rely on alliances with England and America to ensure their security. (Charles de Gaulle never failed to point out that the United States had sat out the conflict for a year-and-a-half after Paris fell.) That's why French leaders set a course of resolute independence, pursuing nuclear weapons, dropping out of the military side of NATO, tilting toward Germany instead of England.
"Why France Fell"
Poliblog went over the McCain-Feingold Free Speech Restriction ruling here, here, and here. The end result won't be what Senators McCain and Feingold want: a decrease in campaign spending. Instead, Steven writes, "I guarantee that no matter what the outcome is, the aggregate amount of money spent on political campaigning will continue to skyrocket."
RIAA Settles with Student
"I don't believe that I did anything wrong. I am glad that the case has been settled amicably, and I hope that for the sake of artists, the larger issues can soon be resolved." That's what Daniel Peng, a Princeton University student, said in a statement after settling with the RIAA over offering copyrighted music on the campus network.
Peng just doesn't get it. First, he does have a right to listen to music he's purchased, use it based on idea of "fair use," and to legitimately share it with friends, but he doesn't have the right to give songs away willy-nilly to anyone who plugs his computer into Princeton's networks. Peng can't play innocent because on the back of just about every album is the warning against unauthorized reproduction. If he didn't like that, then he didn't have to buy it.
Second, Peng cares about the artists but forgets there's a record company also involved, and they have every much a right to try and make a profit. That doesn't mean Big Music has a right to stop or mold technological progress so they're assured of making money. That's why, at first glance, the ruling preventing the shutdown of some file-trading services is the correct decision. A piece of software can't violate rights any more than a gun sitting on a table can kill someone. Behind every tool Man creates is a person responsible for using it in a moral and ethical manner. Peng decided that since it was really easy to offer lots of music to Princeton students it was okay to do so. He could have learned an expensive lesson if he actually thought through what he was doing.
"Students Fork It Over to RIAA"
UPDATE: What I don't condone are anti-piracy measures that amount to breaking and entering a suspected computer. There are legitimate ways to defend copyrights. Breaking computers and clogging up Internet connections aren't some of them.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Orin Kerr goes into the deep, dark crevices of federal law to demonstrate that Big Music would be in big trouble if they attacked computers and Net connections.
Baghdad on the East River
The U.N. has been so spoiled living off the graciousness of the U.S. and other donor nations that when they had the chance they turned their building's resturants into little Baghdads. These are the same types who rack up millions in NYC parking tickets and never pay them, yet constantly complain the U.S. hasn't paid their fair share in dues. Does Kofi Annan really believe the Allies will let his group run Iraq after this chaos?
May 03, 2003
Bill Bennett's Gambling
Bill Bennett is a gambler. Wow. Big news. Skip the Scott Peterson trial so the cable news networks can dig up the dirt on possible conservative hypocrisy. The Washington Monthly got their hands on casino records that show Bennett's gambling isn't confined to nickle slots. He relaxes in front of slot and video poker machines that cost $500 a play. The magazine put his losses at $8 million. While embarassing to Bennett, this revelation shows only a tiny bit of hypocrisy. Bennett, as the nation's "morals czar," has been outspoken on social cancers like teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and toleration of wrongdoing (Clinton's scandals), but he's has rarely spoken out on gambling. The worst The Washington Monthly could find on this is a preface from an Empower America report where Bennett mentioned some people as being "problem" or "pathological" gamblers. At the most, you can say he's being mildly inconsistent. What this hit piece will do is entice some reporters to dig around and put Bennett on the defensive for no good reason.
Andrew Sullivan defends Bennett and worries that the logical conclusion of TWM's nit-picking is a public life filled with only saints. That is a public life completely empty.
"The Bookie of Virtue"
Goldberg and Zakaria on Democracy
I don't remember the last time I linked to a Jonah Goldberg piece. His latest is a good one where he points out that it's important for Iraq to have a democratic government, but it's not THE most important element. "Without law, order and civil society, democracy is mobocracy." That idea ties in with Fareed Zakaria's new book, "The Future of Freedom. About the book, Willaim McGurn writes,
Mr. Zakaria flies his colors bright and bold. That is to say, the editor of Newsweek's international edition sails comfortably within a classical liberal tradition recognizing that the limitations on government are more important to the freedom and prosperity of any given people than how or whether its government is elected. At the moment that's a timely message, with Donald Rumsfeld's blitzkrieg having just cleared the path for Iraqis to build something the Arab peoples do not yet have: a free society.
"Delay Democracy in Iraq"
"The Future of Freedom"
UPDATE: Sen. Gary Hart reviews the book. It's straight forward with little comment on Zakaria's ideas.
The attack on Boycott Hollywood has already gotten some media attention. CNSNews.com has a story. They didn't add much since neither the William Morris Agency nor their lawyers were willing to talk.
As for the B-H website, it's still up and running. Since Lisa hasn't been able to get any response from Dotster, she doesn't know what the status of the domain is. Maybe somebody at WMA got the hint that this is one hornet's nest they should upset.
"Website Critical of Anti-War Celebrities to Be Shut Down"
Kerry's War... and It Isn't Vietnam
In Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) world, we've won the Islamist War. The West is safe from terrorists who want to slam jets into buildings and get a hold of ABC weapons. Kerry must think the defeat of Saddam was even more effective than the White House thinks. We no longer have to fear that Islamists are hell-bent on killing lots of "infidels" to get into Paradise. In Kerry's world, we're now safe.
I write this because Kerry thinks global warming is the biggest threat to the U.S. since the Cold War, and he wants to put lots of government resources into fighting it. (Would Kerry call it the "Hot War," or the "Warming War?") Of course how seriously should we take any of Kerry's campaign statements? His declaration of war might be just like his recent call for regime change, a lighthearted remark or an "election quip" to use the words of a RNC spokeman.
I wonder how Kerry will pay for this new war while paying for prescription drugs for old people, health insurance for the uninsured, aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, and whatever else he'll think up. Oh, wait, I know. He'll just tax the rich.
"Kerry Calls 'Global Warming' Biggest Threat Since Cold War"
May 02, 2003
Boycott Hollywood Update
Some other weblogs have posted the letter from WMA's lawyers complaining about B-H (which is still humming along), but if you haven't read it yet just click below. I like the threat about B-H's comments on WMA clients to be potentially liabel. Other than getting a lots of negative (even nasty) e-mail, what harm was done by opposing the political stances of WMA clients?
Lisa, one of B-H's publishers, has a new e-mail account up and running. If you want to send her a message of support or some good advice, e-mail her at boycott_hollywood at hotmail dot com.
The best we can do to help B-H is to shine as much light on this incident as we can. That means contacting the press (national and local), talk radio shows, and sympathetic websites. With enough sunshine, WMA's lawyers might go scurrying back from where they came from.
Our Cool President
Work kept me from hearing President Bush's speech last night. Here's the speech for you and me.
Unlike Clinton, who hasn't seemed to find a post-President activity that suits him expect for criticizing the current President, Bush has Hollywood to prepare for.
Page, Plant, Bonham, and Jones
Attention Led Zeppelin lovers. We are less than a month away from the release of live DVD and CD sets. Oh the anticipation. I can never get enough of the greatest rock band ever.
"New Led Zeppelin Live DVDs and CDs Coming in May!"
May 01, 2003
Anti-War Celebs Strike Back
Some in Hollywood can't take spirited criticism. That's why the Willaim Morris Agency got namesdirect.com to take away Boycott Hollywood's domain from its owners. It sounds like some of WMA's clients didn't like average Joes and Janes pointing out the dumb things they've said and holding them accountable. To those celebs, only they should be able to speak on the war; only they should have the final and definitive word on their views. BH's motto is (was) "You do not speak for us!" But with the WMA lawyers letter those celebs sternly said, "NO! We will speak for you, and if you don't like it, TOUGH! Shut up and accept it." Ironically this comes from a group that hangs on the notion of free expression for their work. Hypocrisy, yes, but this is more insedious because they're using the coersive power of the law to ballbust a few opinionated people.