Monday, March 31, 2008
"Then came September 11 and the war in Afghanistan, which the U.S. continues to wage under a NATO flag. Unfortunately -- and despite the honorable exceptions of Britain, Canada and Holland -- few of America's allies in the theater are willing to commit more troops, much less put them in harm's way. Iraq is where the unilateral myth settled into media concrete. But in fact, in 2002 President Bush bucked the advice of his more hawkish advisers and agreed to take Tony Blair's advice and seek another U.N. Resolution -- was it the 16th or 17th? -- against Saddam Hussein. Resolution 1441 passed 15-0. True, the Administration failed to obtain a second resolution, not least because the French reneged on private assurances that it would agree to a second resolution if America obtained the first. But who was being unilateral there? As it was, the "coalition of the willing" that liberated Iraq included, besides the U.S. contingent, some 60,000 troops from 39 countries, who have operated under a U.N. resolution blessing their presence. The Bush Administration has since become all too multilateralist, even -- or especially -- regarding the "axis of evil." On North Korea, the Administration adhered strictly to the six party formula. Oddly, the same critics who decry "unilateralism" would prefer that the U.S. negotiate with Pyongyang directly -- which is to say, unilaterally -- and do without the help currently being offered by Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul and Moscow."
That's just an excerpt--read the whole thing.
The interesting question is why, in the face of the overwhelming evidence that the Bush presidency does NOT "go it alone", and has not done so, then why do so many in the news media continue to propagate the myth? I suppose it's because they can; the myth fits well into their ideological hatred of the Bush administration, and they know they can continue to push it in mainstream media circles almost without fear of contradiction. So they push it. I'm glad there's finally some pushback.
"Overly broad charges against him are dangerous. Republicans will make a mistake if they take to calling him "too liberal for America." He is too liberal, but they need to make the charge specific point by specific point...The Republicans must systematically make a hundred tightly argued, irrefutable critiques of very specific examples of Obama's policy being wrong for at least 60 percent of America. America may be going through one of our episodic style shifts. In 1932, FDR's conversational style trumped Hoover's old oratory. In 1960, JFK's coolness and wit caught the emerging post-World War II sophistication of our culture. Twenty years later America, tired of sophisticated cynicism, was ready to return to Reagan's old-fashioned sentiments and values. Obama is tapping into a curious alchemy of youthful idealism tempered by Internet edginess. Republicans must communicate their values and policies through that prism, or they will not communicate at all."
Yes--we're not talking here about abandoning principle. Obama is too far to the left, and Republicans and conservatives must communicate it. But not the old, clunky way, by shouting
"liberal" at him. That won't work in these changing times. Reagan understood that, and hence learned to package conservatism in his warm, sunny, optimistic manner. So must we learn to change today, too.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Davidson vs Wisconsin--pick: BADGERS. Davidson's had a great run. But Wisconsin is too fundamentally sound, and executes too well, to get tripped up here.
Stanford vs Texas:--pick: LONGHORNS. Don't forget Texas is playing pretty close to home. And as their even battles with a very good Kansas team over this season have shown, they have a lot of talent, too.
Villanova vs Kansas--pick: JAYHAWKS. They're just too good. And by all appearances, playing very well, too.
Michigan State vs Memphis--pick: SPARTANS. My big upset pick of the night. Michigan State can rebound, they have an excellent point guard and scorer in Drew Neitzel, and I am one of those who thinks Memphis' poor free throw shooting is going to come back to bite them. I suspect this will be the night.
(Not only does this help us understand cynicism, but it also makes me worry even more about John McCain. Does this guy realize how stuff like the below makes him look?):
Which gets me to the purpose of a primary.
After going at it hammer and tong, candidates would just as soon erase what was said and focus on the general election.
Implied is that, ya know, it was all sort of a show and we didn't really mean it.
Such is what John McCain would have us think about his nasty race against Mitt Romney of just a few weeks ago.
But just as when the stray blow does connect in the wrestling ring, there were some real shots taken in that race that can't easily be dismissed.
This is what McCain said on January 28th, the day before the decisive Florida primary: "The truth is, Mitt Romney was a liberal governor of Massachusetts..."
Nearly two months to the day, McCain said this yesterday while traveling with said liberal governor: "He came to a very liberal state [Massachusetts] and campaigned as a conservative and governed as a conservative."
So, which is it?
If it's the latter, should we just discount whatever is said in a primary as not meaning anything?
Now you know why reporters always like to extract a grudging pledge during the nomination battles that, whatever happens, a given candidate will ultimately endorse the the nominee.
Judge Peter Olszewski Jr. gave three criminal defendants a choice: learn English or spend 24 months in the Luzerne County, Pa., jail.
Olszewski issued the unusual sentence after four men pleaded guilty to robbery-related charges through a translator.
“Do you think we are going to supply you with a translator all of your life?” he asked during the plea hearing, according to The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
One of the defendants was already imprisoned on drug-related charges; the other three were given immediate parole. Those men, all resident aliens, are due back in court next year.
At that time, Olszewski says he’ll administer an English test. If they pass the test and prove they’ve earned GEDs and found full-time jobs, the judge says he’ll let them go about their lives.
“If they don’t pass, they’re going in for the 24 (months),” Olszewski says, according to the paper.
but I want to focus on something else--her comments on Olympic boycotts.
I agree with her that boycotting the Beijing Olympics probably isn't the way to go, as I've said in this space before. But I disagree that the boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 was "feckless", as she put it.
Did that boycott get the Soviets out of Afghanistan? No. But was it worthless? No.
There are some times, and some actions, that demand a moral statement. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was one of those. It was a moral outrage, and greatly threatened the peace of the world and of the region. The fact is that sometimes, there are more important things than engaging in physical competitions with others in the world. There are times when something is big enough and monstrous enough, that we have to make a statement. I think the Moscow Olympics were that time. I don't think what's going on now with regard to China quite rises to the level of a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and so a boycott of the Beijing games wouldn't make sense. Boycotts of this kind mustn't be used loosely. Still, sometimes they are necessary, and I wish Secretary Rice showed more understanding of that.
Clearly he's worried about how far the Clinton/Obama enmity has progressed, and about the damage it could do. But frankly I see no evidence that the clash can be stopped.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Xavier vs West Virginia--pick: WEST VIRGINIA. They're on a roll after the win over Duke.
Washington State vs North Carolina--pick: UNC. They've looked unbeatable so far, and have won 13 straight. Hard to pick against them. But look for WSU to keep the game close.
Western Kentucky vs UCLA--pick: BRUINS. Again, hard to pick against UCLA given their talent. They escaped vs Texas A&M--that could actually help them. I look forward though to seeing if the Hilltoppers can score against them as they've done so far.
Louisville vs Tennessee--pick: TENNESSEE. The trendy pick has been to go with the Cardinals. But I don't think so. Tennessee has talent, speed, the ability to press and score. They didn't play well the first weekend of the tourney. But they survived, and often that breeds confidence and better play. Look for the Vols to step up their game.
Question: why do the Cowboys want to add a player who's repeatedly been in trouble with the law, repeatedly puts himself in bad situations, in fact is still under suspension by the league? Do they really think his talent will override all? (has it worked out that way with TO???) What will Pacman added to TO do to the "America's Team" image? Suggested answer: not much good.
"Last weekend the London Times reported that France’s President Sarkozy was going to announce the deployment of 1000 French troops to Afghanistan. Today Sarkozy confirmed the offer in a speech to the British Parliament.
Perhaps we can look forward to further strengthening of an American-led Western alliance.
The election of Sarkozy has been on the whole a good thing for France, and for the U.S., too.
"[Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has launched] an attack on militias in the southern city of Basra, an operation that was designed and led by Iraqi security forces and has resulted in clashes with Shiite groups. "His bold decision -- and it was a bold decision -- to go after the evildoers in Basra shows his leadership," Bush said of the Iraqi premier...[Bush further noted] that the Iraqi legislature in recent weeks has passed a national budget, a pension law, legislation setting provincial elections and a measure allowing mid-level members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party back into government. "By any reasonable measure," he said, "the legislative achievements in Iraq over the last four months have been remarkable."
These are all valid points. Bush's policies in Iraq are succeeding, not failing. Americans must continue to give them time. Success there will mean a huge defeat for terrorists worldwide.
"The increasingly charged Democratic race for the White House appears to be hurting Hillary Clinton significantly more than Barack Obama, a just-released poll suggests. According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the New York senator's personal approval rating has dropped markedly, and those that hold a negative view of her have reached 48 percent — the highest in that poll since March 2001. Just 37 percent now have a positive view of Clinton — down from 45 percent two weeks ago."
It's going to be awfully hard for Senator Clinton to convince superdelegates that she's the "electable" one, isn't it? And there's also this:
"...despite fears by some of Obama's backers that the Wright controversy would take a toll on the Illinois senator and his presidential hopes, the new poll shows his approval rating has remained virtually unchanged at 49 percent. Only 32 percent of Americans give him a negative approval rating."
Again--conservatives who think we can hang our hat on the Jeremiah Wright controversy, and who believe that will be enough to derail the Obama express, need to think again--both because of the above pragmatic reason (it's not likely to work), and for principled reasons.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
"Most significantly, Mr. Obama asserted that race in America has become a generational story. The original sin of slavery is a fact, but the progress we have lived through the past 50 years means each generation experiences race differently. Older blacks, like Mr. Wright, remember Jim Crow and were left misshapen by it. Some rose anyway, some did not; of the latter, a "legacy of defeat" went on to misshape another generation. The result: destructive anger that is at times "exploited by politicians" and that can keep African-Americans "from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition." But "a similar anger exists within segments of the white community." He speaks of working- and middle-class whites whose "experience is the immigrant experience," who started with nothing. "As far as they're concerned, no one handed them anything, they've built it from scratch." "So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town," when they hear of someone receiving preferences they never received, and "when they're told their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced," they feel anger too. This is all, simply, true. And we are not used to political figures being frank, in this way, in public. For this Mr. Obama deserves deep credit."
Exactly. Acknowledging some of the concerns many whites have on some racial issues--how many Democrat politicians have done that recently? Would Jesse Jackson have done it? Of course not. So does Obama really sound like a radical to you? And remember, this isn't the first time Obama has shown that he recognizes the same concerns conservatives have. Obama has frequently discussed how many African-Americans have lagged behind in educational achievement. And he's pointed out that some of that is due to failings in the African-American community itself--that there are too few involved African-American fathers; that more in the community need to turn off the TV and read to their kids.
Painting Obama as Jeremiah Wright redux, then, just doesn't make sense.
I'm glad Noonan recognizes that. More of us on the right need to recognize it (and, therefore, to criticize Obama where he deserves to be criticized).
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
But I don't see it.
See, for example, RealClearPolitics' roundup of the latest Election '08 polls for Tuesday, March 25th.
For the Pennsylvania primary, Rasmussen shows Senator Clinton with a 10 point lead over Obama. That sounds significant, except for the fact that polls a week or two ago showed her with over a 20 point lead there. Once again, Obama is closing the gap (as he's done in pretty much every state since January). Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Obama lead has not shrunk--it's lengthened. He's up by 21 points. The Tar Heel state holds firm for him. In national polls tracking Democrats' preference for the nomination, Gallup shows Obama still in the lead over Clinton; Rasmussen shows Clinton still with a slight lead. That hardly suggests that, among Democrats at least, Obama has hit the skids. Meanwhile, it's too early to tell what a potential McCain/Obama matchup might look like.
Obama still appears to me to be the likely Democratic Party nominee for president.
Republicans can't, meanwhile, count on the Wright issue to be a hot topic forever, or (therefore) for it to be some kind of magic bullet to use against Obama in the fall. There's going to have to be a better campaign waged, one against the principles and ideas held by Barack Obama, not those held by Jeremiah Wright.
Her appearance on the show brought in about an additional 1 million extra viewers.
And so once again we see the fundamental: people complain about all the celeb news and the fawning over Britney or Paris or Nicole or whomever. But the fact remains, they advertise Britney, and enough people want to see it to make it worthwhile for the networks to give it to us. People say they're tired of Britney etc. But their actions speak otherwise.
Monday, March 24, 2008
"Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign said she "misspoke" last week when she said she had landed under sniper fire during a trip she took as first lady to Bosnia in March 1996. The Obama campaign suggested it was a deliberate exaggeration on Clinton's part....During a speech last Monday about Iraq, she said of the trip: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base." According to an AP story at the time, Clinton was placed under no extraordinary risks on that trip. And one of her companions on it, comedian Sinbad, told The Washington Post he has no recollection either of the threat or reality of gunfire."
Me? I don't think she "misspoke." I think her little over-dramatization of the story was deliberate. Don't you?
Clive Crook in National Journal recently outlined some of them:
"...Obama, measured by votes in the Senate, or by the policies he is advocating in the campaign, is not a centrist... he was the Senate's most liberal Democrat last year. Just before the Wisconsin primary, and with an eye on the crucial March 4 showdowns, he strengthened his appeal to beleaguered, middle-class Americans by pushing an economic plan at least as liberal as Clinton's. And he packaged it with a proposal to reward (with lower taxes) "patriot employers" that keep jobs in the United States and to punish companies that send jobs offshore. On income taxes, too, Obama has taken a notably liberal stance. Of course he favors rolling back the Bush tax cuts, due to expire in 2010. He has also drawn attention to the coming Social Security deficit -- which annoyed some liberals, in fact, because they see this as a Republican talking point. But how does he propose to bridge this fiscal gap? Not by raising the retirement age, for which there is a strong case because people are living longer. (Greater life expectancy is a main cause of the financial pressure on the system.) And not by curbing some benefits, for which there is also a respectable case because Social Security recipients as a group are pretty well off. He intends to do it by raising the cap on the payroll tax, which currently stands at an annual income of just over $100,000. In other words, he proposes to move the tax rate on higher incomes not just back to where it was pre-Bush, but much higher still."
These are the kinds of things on which Obama should be judged--his ideas, policies, and principles. As for me, I worry for example about his notion that he would, as president, meet almost without preconditions with dictators like Ahmadinejad and Chavez. That shows weakness and poor judgment.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I'll list here only the upsets I'm picking--lower seeds over higher seeds. If I don't mention the game, then I'm going with the higher seed to win. Let's see how I do.
#9 seed Arkansas over #8 Indiana--Arkansas is deep, and talented; they made a good run through the SEC tournament. Meanwhile IU is slumping and its star Eric Gordon is in a horrible shooting slump.
#13 Winthrop over #4 Washington State--Winthrop has been to the tournament several times in a row; they play a tough schedule; last year they upset Notre Dame.
#9 Kent St. over #8 UNLV--The Golden Flashes come from the consistently underrated MAC. They've been consistent all year, and they're on a good roll over their last 12 games.
#12 Villanova over #5 Clemson--Villanova comes from a tough conference; they had a good win in the Big East tournament over Connecticut. I'm further guessing that Clemson will be a little wiped out from an exhausting run in the ACC tourney. Plus, tournament history shows that almost every year, a 12 seed upsets a 5. I'm guessing this is it.
#11 Kansas St. over #6 USC--USC and O.J. Mayo have gotten lots of attention. But Michael Beasley can carry a team as well. I'm guessing Southern Cal's inconsistency catches up with it here.
#10 Davidson over #7 Gonzaga--Davidson has been impressive all year, and played a very tough non-conference schedule. They played North Carolina pretty close early in the year as well.
#10 St. Mary's over #7 Miami--Miami has done well to make it to the tourney. I wonder if they'll be happy just to be there? St. Mary's meanwhile duked it out very well with Gonzaga all year in the WCC; they're good.
#9 Texas A&M over #8 BYU--the Aggies played Kansas very well in the Big 12 tournament. They're record over the last 10 doesn't show it, but they're playing better. I'm guessing the toughness they've gained from the Big 12 will help them vs BYU.
#13 San Diego over #4 Connecticut--my biggest upset pick. UConn isn't playing that well right now (as their loss in the Big East tourney showed). Meanwhile San Diego is on a roll.
#11 Baylor over #6 Purdue--Baylor has good guard play, can shoot the 3, and can get on good rolls. I'm guessing they may get on a high, having made the tournament (finally) after a 20 year absence, and can blow past the slower, still-very-young Boilers.
Well. See what we have today. Osama BBin Laden is again threatening Europe.
Why? Over cartoons. How so?
Quote: "The al-Qaeda leader criticized European countries for joining in military campaigns in Muslim lands. Although he lamented those actions, he suggested that the Muhammad cartoons were even more immoral and that retaliation was coming. "It paled when you went overboard in your unbelief . . . and went to the extent of publishing those insulting drawings," he said. "If there is no check on your freedom of words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions."
He cannot understand that there is no "check" on the "freedom of words." He hates the fact that that some believe in free speech. We must always remember the basis for Bin Laden's hatred. He hates what the West is; he hates what it stands for.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
"I’ve got my team. That is to say, I know which outsider I’m supporting in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament — I want the 15th-seeded Belmont Bruins to give second-seeded Duke a good run on Thursday. This is why I love the first round much more than the Final Four, because of these fascinating outsiders with their unfamiliar school colors and nicknames, having their televised 15 minutes of fame in our finest national jamboree — no hanging chads, no super delegates, no sliming, just hoops."
You know, in my view, conservatives and Republicans make a mistake in making a huge, huge deal about Obama's pastor.
Yes, Wright is a radical, anti-American fool.
But the fact is, Wright said "God damn America" and all the other stuff.
Obama didn't say that stuff and I don't think he buys into any of it.
There are plenty of things on which to make principled, issue-based critiques, and serious ones, vs Obama. He's wrong on Iraq and on terrorism in general. When it comes to domestic policy, were he to actually try to implement all of his spending and programmatic promises made so far in the campaign, he'd have to increase government spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. And he's foolish to suggest that he'd meet with dictators like Chavez or Ahmadinejad with basically no preconditions.
Let's attack on him on those issue-oriented, principled grounds; not on the basis of what somebody else who, let's face it, doesn't have a huge role in Obama's campaign. Obama showed poor judgment, I suppose, in not distancing himself from Wright decisively far before this, but I hardly think this is the biggest issue facing us. A far bigger issue is what Obama would do in regard to America's enemies overseas. We should focus on that.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Here's a couple of key excerpts:
"One always wonders with Mr. McCain: What exactly does he feel passionately about, what great question? Or rather, what does he stand for, really? For he often shows passion, but he rarely speaks of meaning. The issues that summon his full engagement are issues on which he's been challenged by his party and others. McCain, to McCain, is defined by his maverickness. That's who he is. (It's the theme of his strikingly good memoir, "Worth the Fighting For.") He stands up to power. He faces them down. It's not only a self image, it's a self obsession....He has positions, but a series of separate, discrete and seemingly unconnected stands do not coherence make. Mr. McCain, in public, does not dig down to the meaning of things, to why he stands where he stands, to what understanding of life drives his political decisions. But voters hunger for coherence, for a philosophical thread that holds all the positions together."
Well said. So far, there is no such philosophical thread.
And I'd add this: Noonan notes McCain's tendency to shoot from the hip, to "pop off."
That too is important. It goes to temperament, to one's being. A conservative needs to be balanced, to think things through, to know that there are a lot of ideas and traditions out there from the past, which must inform our thinking. There aren't too many things new under the sun. There aren't too many instant answers. One must be thoughtful, contemplative, sometimes...that too is part of conservatism (see for example Russell Kirk).
I have my doubts about whether Mr. McCain can manage the homework Ms. Noonan has given him.
Here's a bracket--fill it out.
I'll be passing along my upset picks tomorrow.
It's interesting to ponder the success of the NCAA tournament.
Lord knows I've enjoyed it ever since I began following sports. Now it's success is off the charts. But why has it been such a hit for years? My guesses:
1. Everyone can play--fill out a bracket and see how you do. Or you can draw a team from a hat and see if they win. (Plus the tournament is an easy vehicle for placing friendly wagers.)
2. 65 teams get in. It's likely that a team from your area is in; you have a local, rooting interest.
3. All the games are televised; it's easy to follow.
4. Lose one game and you're out. So much tension and drama.
5. Upsets! The lower-seeded Winthrops or Sienas have a chance to shock the nation. And there are always a bunch of buzzer-beater last-second shots deciding games. And the Cinderellas can go far--see George Mason two years ago.
6. In the first two rounds of the tournament, a bunch of games are played on weekday afternoons. A good excuse to play hooky.
7. The tournament has been around long enough to become a tradition. Like the World Series.
Enjoy, hoops fans. I can't wait.
Monday, March 17, 2008
See below. Problems: why put so much onus on the governors when it comes to deciding what is a "secure" border? What if governors drag their feet on the issue? Will he step up enforcement against the millions of illegal immigrants currently in this country? I agree with cracking down on businesses who hire illegals--but then what? And what exactly does it mean, we must then address this in a "humane and compassionate" way? Does that mean we'll head eventually towards amnesty? I'm not all that encouraged by this. I doubt too many conservatives would be. See what you think.
From a recent interview on "Hannity and Colmes":
HANNITY: -- after McCain/Kennedy was defeated, you said, I hear you. I understand. People don't trust us, and they want the borders secured first.
MCCAIN: That's exactly right.
HANNITY: What does that mean in terms of practicality?
MCCAIN: It means that I, as president, I would have the border state governors certify that their borders are secure. Americans will trust the border state governors. They won't trust us in Washington. That's the message -- they want it secure.
And I'm sorry for a long answer, but in '86, as you may recall--
HANNITY: President Reagan.
MCCAIN: Yes. We said we'd give amnesty and secure the borders. We didn't secure the borders. We ended up with 12 million or more people here illegally. So there's no trust there.
So you've got to prove to the American people that your borders are secure. Then you move to temper-proof biometric documents for temporary workers.
MCCAIN: And any employer who hires someone without that, and an employer electronic verification system, then is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I mean, and then we address the issue in a humane and compassionate fashion. They are God's children, and we can be humane and compassionate about this.
HANNITY: Yes. For conservatives, I would argue that the issue is law-breaking, respecting our sovereignty, the laws of the United States --
HANNITY: And if you didn't, that there is a penalty to pay. Let me ask you --
MCCAIN: Yes. There should be. There should be.
HANNITY: -- you had said that--
MCCAIN: And no one will take priority -- if someone who either came here legally or waited to come here legally--
HANNITY: All right, we've got less than a minute. Would you sign McCain-Kennedy today or --
MCCAIN: It's not going to be there. The lesson is, they want the border secured first.
HANNITY: And that's -- that's your mission now. You are focused on securing the borders?
MCCAIN: Yes, sir.
HANNITY: Not -- you look at McCain-Kennedy, the country doesn't want it?
MCCAIN: We failed. My friend, we failed. I think you noticed, because you were one of the reasons.
Not a bad racket--that's $12 million or so for each year she was married to him.
And she says her future is now "secure"--yes, that's for sure.
Fundamental: here we have an example of getting big money one hasn't earned.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Well. You sure can't tell that from this recent event: pro-Clinton bloggers have initiated a boycott of the popular liberal blog DailyKos.
What's up? Well, a pro-Clinton blogger believes Obama supporters are nasty:
"“I’ve put up with the abuse and anger because I’ve always believed in what our online community has tried to accomplish in this world,” Alegre wrote Friday evening. “No more.”
An Obama backer retorted: "The only difference is now we’re attacking a candidate whom YOU feel strongly about. Sorry. It happens. But if you don’t understand why we dislike her, if you don’t understand that she stood opposed to the blogroots for years, that this community grew into what it is today despite her, not because of her, then you’re right, perhaps this isn’t the blog for you."
The battle will go on.
We in the U.S., and our government, see ourselves as defenders of human rights.
I think the Bush administration has been courageous in the past, when it met with the Dalai Lama despite Chinese protests (that meeting was I believe the first between a U.S. president and the DL). But I think now the Bush administration should be speaking out more forcefully against Chinese human rights policies, especially with the Beijing Olympics coming up.
I'm not right now in favor of anything like a boycott of the Olympics. A boycott should be reserved only for extraordinary situations (such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, which occasioned the American boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980). Plus we want to avoid punishing American athletes for the China's sins, if we can; they've all been training hard for years for the upcoming games. But President Bush still has the bully pulpit of the White House. Let's use it.
Friday, March 14, 2008
It's on every Friday night at 10 pm eastern.
The network's description has it right: "Joel McHale dips into the festering petri dish of celeb culture and extracts choice chunks of hilarity. Antibiotics not included..."
Thursday, March 13, 2008
...this lengthy article from The New Yorker on John McCain refers to conservatives' "anti-government ethos."
That's a falsehood. Conservatives such as Grover Norquist aren't "anti-government." Someone who was truly anti-government must logically be in favor of no government, in favor of destroying it. No conservative wants that. Conservatives believe in the police, the courts, a strong defense, in taking care of our citizens who truly through no fault of their own can't take care of themselves.
No, the Right isn't "anti-government." Rather, conservatives believe in small, limited government. Remember that when arguing with your liberal opponents.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
(Though Mr. McCain had plenty of time today to "muse" about his pick to be his vice-presidential running mate, though he won't be making that choice for months.)
I watched it tonight--its premiere episode for season 4.
It was interesting. It's fascinating to see the competition between the different chefs, and to see who will be eliminated each week (usually it's just one person).
But then that's nothing new--there are a raft of these reality/competition shows out there these days, and they all follow the "American Idol" script--take unknown persons, have them compete against each other at something, give them the chance to become famous, invent interesting and different contests for them each week, have them get slowly eliminated week by week, give a big role to a panel of usually 3 judges, have competitors with strong personalities who will clash, have judges with the same gifts who will be blunt and perhaps clash with the contestants, etc etc etc.
What's unique with this show: they have to cook, and it can be fascinating to see how they concoct various dishes, what spices and products they use, how their cooking holds up. On this first Top Chef episode, for example, one thing they all had to make was deep dish pizza. Anyway, check it out. But don't watch it when hungry.
You know what was his most important statement today? No, not the one all the mainstream news sites are quoting, about not letting his private failings interfere with the state's business. No--it was this:
"Over the course of my public life, I have insisted -- I believe correctly -- that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself."
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
"Last week's season finale of Project Runway, featuring the crowning of fierce-dropping designer Christian Siriano, helped push the show to its all-time best numbers. For the season, Bravo said, the series averaged 3.8 million viewers compared to the 3.7 million who turned out for 2006's Laura vs. Jeffrey intrigue. The Fashion Week-set finale, guest-starring celebrity judge Victoria Beckham, also recorded an all-time network high for 18- to 49-year-olds....Only a Saturday night college basketball game on ESPN delivered more prime-time viewers last week in all of cable."
I've seen it. It's an interesting show (and I know next to nothing about fashion). But I suspect people like the competition, the fact that heretofore unknown people have a chance to become known--despite the fact that the "reality" of the show came from an artificial competition made for television. But people like it.
"Meanwhile, George Fox, Spitzer's longtime friend and a hedge fund manager, sent a letter to clients of his Titan Advisors firm saying that Spitzer had "personally apologized" to him for using the name "George Fox" to check into Washington's Mayflower Hotel last month for a sexual liaison with a high-class call girl named "Kristen." "I have been a close friend of Mr. Spitzer's for more than 20 years and am extremely disappointed by these developments," he says the letter, addressed "Dear Investor." A copy was obtained by The Washington Post from one of the recipients."
Wow! Not only does Spitzer fool around with high-priced call girls, but he also in doing so tries to hide behind the name of a close friend--and thus possibly put that friend in danger of being falsely accused. What crummy behavior.
"Already on edge Monday morning while preparing to give a presentation in his media ethics class, Notre Dame junior guard Kyle McAlarney almost fell out of his chair when he learned the news. Glancing at a text message from teammate Rob Kurz just before he was to address the group, McAlarney discovered that he had been named to the All-Big East first team. Twelve months ago, he was home in Staten Island, N.Y., while serving a university-imposed suspension stemming from an arrest for marijuana possession. On Monday, word arrived that the league's 16 coaches consider McAlarney one of the top 11 players in one of the nation's most competitive college basketball conferences. "That kind of put a smile on my face," he said. "It means a lot to me. It's almost kind of a redemption kind of thing for me. I feel proud about it."
I've seen McAlarney play many times. I well remember last year's troubles. But he got himself off the mat, and came back this year focused and determined. Good for him.
Icons fall right and left--first Eliot Spitzer, now Mary Ann...
Monday, March 10, 2008
22% of Americans, according to the poll, regularly read political blogs.
And this is a huge shock to a bunch of people? It isn't to me.
Again (I've made this point before): most Americans are not all that interested in politics, and don't follow it that much. The great conservative and senior editor of National Review, James Burnham, used to emphasize this over and over again. Americans are not, and I don't think they ever will be, a hugely politicized people.
I suspect this is a good thing. An American people with a healthy disdain for politics perhaps will be more likely to see to it that their government is restrained and kept limited.
New York state Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) is linked to an upscale prostitution ring.
Concerning it, an always-alert e-mailer correctly notes:
Michael Savage noted that nearly every news story concerning the attack omits the ages of the victims. One hears "seminary" and thinks adults. Or else we read "8 people killed." Buried in the middle of yesterday's NY Times story on the burial of the 8 dead I learned that nearly all of the victims were 15 and 16, with one being 26
Sunday, March 9, 2008
He asks an important question:
"[McCain] is certainly the undisputed Republican front-runner. But how does he spend the crucial weeks and months ahead? Does he try to win over Republican conservatives who still distrust him in order to build a strong foundation within his own party? Or does he make overtures to moderate and independent voters, those people who might be the margin of victory in November against the Democratic nominee?"
Yes, good questions. Conservatives will be watching. Specifically, I think he needs to clarify his position on the question of illegal immigration. Polls have consistently shown it's one of the most important issues of the election for the Republican base. McCain's position on it is muddy and amnesty-ish, to say the least. He needs to clarify, for conservatives, EXACTLY what he plans to do on immigration if he becomes president, and to be specific. He has yet to do so. We'll keep watch on this very closely, and see what he does.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
News item: Harvard University decides to banish males from its swimming and fitness center half a dozen times a week in order to aid in "accommodating" Muslim women.
Mark Steyn: "Forty years ago, advocating separate drinking fountains made you a racist. Today, advocating separate taxi cabs or separate swimming sessions makes you a multiculturalist."More details here.
Yet, oddly enough, in watching ABC's World News Tonight on TV a bit ago, the newscast dispensed with Obama's victory in about 10 seconds, and spent more time discussing the fact that in a national poll of Democrats, Obama now led Clinton by only 1 point.
Mystifying. Who cares about national polls? What counts now is primary wins, caucus wins, and delegates. It's amazing how often mainstream media members get things wrong.
Life in these United States, where responsibility is often a dirty word...
Friday, March 7, 2008
I suppose most people will immediately see this as rebounding negatively for McCain.
And yes, it could--it could reinforce the idea out there that he's a loose cannon, that his temperament is unpresidential, etc.
On the other hand, conservatives don't like the NY Times. This kind of thing will simply bring some of them closer to him (and don't think McCain doesn't know that). And I don't think very many people in America are too sympathetic to the Times. It's seen as a representative of elite thinking unsympathetic to the average American. I suspect there are few average Americans out there too sympathetic to it. Don't think that McCain doesn't know that, either. He may have known, when he began the testy exchange with the Times' reporter, that something like this could help him.
Still, I reiterate: I just don't think John McCain will be able to rally the conservative base back to him, and I don't think he's in a good position to win in the fall. This is a "change" election; Senator McCain's age and his long tenure in Washington un-suit him for winning this time.
"A gunman infiltrated a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem and opened fire in a library Thursday night, killing at least seven people, officials said...In Gaza, the Islamic militant Hamas praised the attack but stopped short of claiming responsibility. Thousands poured into the streets to celebrate, firing rifles in the air. "We bless the (Jerusalem) operation. It will not be the last," Hamas said in a text message sent to reporters."
Thursday, March 6, 2008
"On Sen. Barack Obama's new pledge to run a more aggressive campaign against Sen. Hillary Clinton -- asking what her national security credentials are, pushing her to release her tax returns -- Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson just said on a conference call with reporters: "I for one do not find that imitating Ken Starr is a way to win a Democratic primary election for president."
Wow. The Clinton campaign went negative on Obama what--nearly two weeks ago? (if not way before that?) And now IT wants to whine about negativity? Amazing. I can't believe they'll get away with it. Indeed, in the story linked to above, ABC's Jake Tapper has a hard time hiding his own incredulity--read through to the end.
If the reports are true…
You might run into Victoria Beckham at your local mall soon.
Run the other way!
Fox has reportedly
offered Posh a fashion reality series called Fashion Nightmares.
Yes, kids…it will be the fashion version of the other Fox reality show hosted by a Brit that never smiles, Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.
And, no it's not going to be the Posh version of What Not To Wear. It's SO much more!
She's supposedly going to do bigger things like whip 'back water' boutiques and beauty pageants into 'chic' shape.
Millions of people around the country root for and vote for their favorites.
People seem to love the music, and the "who's gonna win?" suspense aspect of it.
Today even the popular celeb/Hollywood blog TMZ goes ga-ga over the most minute details of current Idol favorite David Archuleta's current doings:
He may be the one to beat on "American Idol," but David Archuleta still has a lot to learn!
The 17-year-old gets on-set tutoring for three hours a day while on "Idol," but TMZ has obtained the required reading list of lil' David's 11th grade class at Murray High School.
While David has been belting out John Lennon and Phil Collins classics, students at his Utah high school have been trudging through the classics like "Catcher in the Rye," "The Crucible," "The Great Gatsby," "MacBeth," "Much Ado About Nothing," and "Hamlet." Will he win or not win -- that is the question!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I recommend it--it's a taut thriller. Made outside the box.
George Clooney does some good acting. Question to ask yourself: will he have a love interest in the film? What will the very last scene of the film be like?
Look for the answers. They may surprise you.
"Harold Ickes, a senior adviser to Senator Clinton, said on the conference call that the Clinton campaign’s chief objective was not to sully Mr. Obama’s image or record, but to cast a spotlight on lightly examined or unknown aspects of both. “This is not a question of trying to damage somebody — this is a question of trying to fully understand all the particular aspects of each of the candidates,” Mr. Ickes said. “There’s not another shoe in her closet to drop. It is clear that too much is yet unknown about Senator Obama.”
Wow. One can only laugh at all the falsehoods embedded in that statement. Of course this is about damaging Senator Obama--Senator Clinton has criticized Obama over and over again in recent weeks. Why do that unless she were trying to damage his standing. And what does Mr. Ickes mean, there "not another shoe" in Mrs. Clinton's closet to "drop." Of course there are--if there weren't, the Clintons wouldn't be reluctant to release their tax returns, and wouldn't be dragging their feet in making public her papers as First Lady.
"No one can spend some 10 days visiting the battlefields in Iraq without seeing major progress in every area. . . . If the U.S. provides sustained support to the Iraqi government -- in security, governance, and development -- there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state."
"The Situation in Iraq: A Briefing From the Battlefield," Feb. 13, 2008
This from a man who was a severe critic of the postwar occupation of Iraq and who, as author Peter Wehner points out, is no wide-eyed optimist. In fact, in May 2006 Cordesman had written that "no one can argue that the prospects for stability in Iraq are good." Now, however, there is simply no denying the remarkable improvements in Iraq since the surge began a year ago.
[snip]We get news of the Anbar Awakening, which has now spread to other Sunni areas and Baghdad. The sectarian civil strife that the Democrats insisted was the reason for us to leave dwindles to the point of near disappearance. Much of Baghdad is returning to normal. There are 90,000 neighborhood volunteers -- ordinary citizens who act as auxiliary police and vital informants on terrorist activity -- starkly symbolizing the insurgency's loss of popular support. Captured letters of al-Qaeda leaders reveal despair as they are driven -- mostly by Iraqi Sunnis, their own Arab co-religionists -- to flight and into hiding.
This surprised me--I said in this space, 3 or 4 days ago, that I thought the momentum and movement was with Obama. I think one factor that helped change this was Obama's defensiveness in the wake of Clinton's ads touting her readiness to be president in times of crisis (I'm thinking here of her ringing telephone at 3 a.m. ad)--his almost too-eager response to it gave the ad traction.
But anyway. What's most important now is: where do the Democrats go from here? In the past several weeks, I've read several Democrats, including party chair Howard Dean, mumble that somehow he thought the Clinton/Obama contest would be settled before the convention; that there'd be some "meeting" between the two campaigns and some agreement would be reached, an agreement to I guess settle the race, arrive at a winner, and avoid a convention floor fight.
I think now that's impossible. In the contests remaining, Obama looks to be in good shape to win at least half of them---Oregon, Wyoming, Mississippi, North Carolina, etc come to mind. Clinton will win her share, too, I guess--Indiana, Kentucky, perhaps Pennsylvania (though that will be a battleground). So when all is said and done in June, Clinton will tout all the big states she won and--let's face it--the Clintons hate to lose and will not, I predict, accept defeat. But Obama, I predict, will have a lead in pledged delegates, will have won more total primaries and caucuses than Clinton, and will, when you total up every Democratic contest, have won slightly more popular votes than she did. So, what--there will be some grand meeting convened by Howard Dean and Obama will say: "Okay, I give, Hillary--the nomination is yours." Of course not.
Meanwhile, Hillary will see opportunities to win it yet by hook or by crook--by somehow grabbing superdelegate support, or gaming the system by claiming she should get a bunch of delegates from the uncounted Florida and Michigan primaries. She and her campaign won't quit, either.
So it'll go to the convention. The animosity between the campaigns will increase; Democrats will continue to be divided. It will be the only thing helping John McCain, and could be the only thing that could save his candidacy (though I still doubt it will). Stay tuned...
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
And I'm sad today. No, not because I'm a Packers fan. I'm not--my home town team has always been the Detroit Lions (and also the Indy Colts, because I lived in Indiana for a long time too). So I rooted against Favre and his team for a good chunk of his career.
But you know what? The last several years, Brett brought me around. How could you root against this guy, with his great zest for the game, his willingness to take chances, his grit and determination, how he obviously loved the game and hated to lose, no matter how old he got and how many years he played? You had to admire him. You had to respect him. His character and personality added a lot to the game. All fans of football and the NFL will miss him; but then, we'll always have the excitement and the memories he gave us for 17 years. So long, Brett...
Monday, March 3, 2008
The Post wrote: "At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach ."
Okay? Now--here's the thing. What nobody talks about is the fact that the FCC had sat on this apparently innocuous request--that it approve the sale of this Pittsburgh TV station--for over 2 YEARS. There was no good reason for such a long delay. In such a case, why NOT have someone push the FCC to get moving and do something, for goodness sake.
Of course we can't feel too sorry for McCain. He's the one who's been arguing that even the slightest "appearance of impropriety" is a bad thing, with his McCain-Feingold legislation. He brought this on himself. Yet the news media needs to give all the facts in reporting the story. And a relevant fact is the FCC's snails pace in this case of the Pittsburgh TV station.
"The New York Times...detailed a company in San Diego called You Walk Away. It helps people drop their homes into foreclosure and avoid liability. For this, you pay $995. And people are doing it -- happily, thankfully. Think about that company, that name. You Walk Away. Only in this economy, at this point in American history, are we grateful to pay somebody to lose our homes. Yes, of course, it's tragic when people are uprooted. Tears are shed. Hearts are broken. But many of these so-called homeowners should not have owned those homes in the first place. They should have walked away until they could make the reasonable down payment. They should have stayed where they were, in a smaller house, in an apartment, the way their parents and grandparents did, until they could save enough to afford it -- not afford the pyramid scheme, but the home itself. Sadly, nobody wants to wait. We have a sense of entitlement. Gimme mine now. Why shouldn't I have a house? Why shouldn't I have a bigger one? Why shouldn't I buy and flip like my friend the next town over? Look at the TV. Everyone's getting rich but me!"
Indeed. It used to be, as Albom mentions, that prospective homeowners were always told that if you can't afford to put down at least 20% of the home's cost as a down payment, then you can't afford the home. You should wait. (That's what I understood, too.) But banks were letting people buy while putting down only 10% or less. Even with no down payment. Whose fault is that? Answer--it's not just the banks' fault.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
There's precious little meat on the skeletal forms his speeches construct:
"...it seems to me that Barack Obama is the triumph of flesh, color, and despair over word — that’s to say, he offers an appealing embodiment of identity politics plus a ludicrously despairing vision of contemporary America (sample: “Trade deals like NAFTA ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wage at Wal-Mart”) that triumphs over anything so prosaic as a policy platform. Mrs. Clinton, the earthbound wonk, is reduced to fulminating that this race is about “speeches versus solutions.” But a lot of Democrats seem to have concluded that Hillary’s the problem, and Obama’s speech is the solution."