Monday, January 29, 2007

The Treason Card

Bill Hobbs provides a link to a column lamely debunking ten "Iraq Myths." It consists mostly of unsupported assertions but since the web address has "strategy" in it, the author must know what he is talking about. Right? I will only address the first and last "myths."

1-No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Several hundred chemical weapons were found, and Saddam had all his WMD scientists and technicians ready. . . .

Yes, a thousand times yes! As former Senator Santorum (I love that phrase!) revealed, our forces uncovered lots of aging, rusty chemical weapons shells in Iraq. Big Deal. I will personally come to Middle Tennessee and eat a pair of shoes selected by Hobbs (perhaps witnessed by A.C. and Brittney) if he can point to where the President stated that the U.S. must rush to invade Iraq because it had dozens or hundreds of aging, inoperative chemical weapons shells, instead of claiming that Iraq presented a "grave" and "gathering" threat with "clear evidence of peril." Yada, yada, yada.
10- The War in Iraq is Lost. By what measure? Saddam and his Baath party are out of power. There is a democratically elected government. . .

Fine, then why all this talk of a surge? Lets bring the troops home and give them a ticker-tape parade. Call it the Aiken plan -- declare victory and go home.

Then quoting somebody named Tigerhawk, Hobbs asserts that "
there are two groups opposed to the 'surge' . . . Who, mainly, is against it? The enemy. And Democrats."

Expect more of this. Since arguments about WMD's and such are pretty lame, the Treason card is the only arrow that rightwing Bushbots have left in their quiver (it's my blog and I'll mix metaphors if I want to). Ignore for a moment that a lot more people than Democrats appear to oppose the surge; how do Hobbs and "Tigerhawk" know that the enemy oppose it? I can easily imagine that many al Qaeda types (only one of our enemies over there) feel they benefit from putting more Americans into the line of fire. One could just as easily assert that only two groups favor the surge -- Republicans and the enemy. But I see no reason to sink so low.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hijinks Ensue!

Here are a few brief impressions of movies that I have seen recently:

Little Miss Sunshine: I second (or perhaps third) the thumbs down of Gene Healy and James Wolcott. This movie was basically a sitcom pilot with a cliched wacky family. There is a foul grandpa, a faux-existentialist brother who wants to be an Airforce pilot. The whole family goes on a trip in their VW microbus so that the young girl can enter a beauty pagent. Hijinks ensue, as they say. It's a bad joke that it has been nominated for a best picture Academy Award, but I guess it's better than Titanic.

I was sort of dissapointed after finally seeing Breakfast at Tiffany's. It has such an inflated reputation and who can resist Audrey Hepburn? It reminds me a little of Billy Wilder's The Apartment, but Wilder's picture is far better. Truman Capote suppossedly said that it made him want to throw up. It's not that bad, but then I haven't read the book.

Bombshell, starring Jean Harlow, is a gem from the Turner Classic Movies vault. This MGM classic features Lee Tracy as a studio publicity man who constantly manufactures phony scandals around the studio's sex symbol, played by Harlow, to keep her name in the headlines. Hijinks ensue in this film as well but unlike Little Miss Sunshine, they are funny and they ring true. It's hard to believe that this film is not available on DVD.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Pledge

I signed The Pledge:
If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution. (emphasis added)

I ought to add that I will not contribute to any Republican senator who votes against the resolution either. I won't contribute to any Republican senator under any circumstances; or Democratic senator for that matter.

I think it's nuts to give money to politicians or political parties.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


This is one of those things that I obsess on, but I couldn't help noticing that in a hysterically hate-filled Freerepublic comment thread, one irony-challenged Freeper opined:

He's already getting a rep as a loose cannon, to say the least. Saying he wanted to "slug" Bush. Love to see him try; Bush and/or the Secret Service, would clock him. He will hit someone, sooner, rather than later. That's why Reagan canned him. Having been a Dem, I know they have always gotten off on abuse and violence towards people they don't agree with... and eventually towards people they DO agree with. The GOP does not understand how much Dems HATE us. We do not hate Dems. We laugh at them, think they are stupid, classless, etc. The mainstream GOP cannot fathom that kind of blind hatred. But blind hatred has always been what the Democrats are about. I only wish the GOP would finally realize it. The Dems are STREETFIGHTERS, and sooner or later they turn on themselves. (emphasis added)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Boots on the Ground

Of all of the dumb comments I saw (and I saw a lot) about the Webb response to the State of the Union address, the thoughts of Wlady Pleszczynski of the American Spectator are the dumbest:
Webb continues to exude coldness. For a former military officer there seems to be little gentleman in him. Consider the opening shot of him which had him seated rather coarsely with his right leg crossed over his left knee -- was that a clumsy effort to show off the combat boot he was wearing? It was black and shiny, but I couldn't tell if it was an actual boot. If it was, he had a political purpose to being seated that way. Otherwise, he just came across as oafish.

Stop the Presses! He crossed his leg! I hadn't watched it until I read Wlady's comment, but I don't think I would have even noticed that he crossed his legs. He didn't appear to me be wearing combat boots, especially since the boots that belong to his son that he wore last year were tan, as in the pictures below.

State of the Onion

It hit me like a ton of bricks last night when President Bush resigned (in disgrace of course) last night and asked incoming President Kauffman to clean up the mess he made after the new president finished planting cabbage in the Whitehouse Rose Garden. But what really blew my mind was when Kathryn Jean Lopez and Rich Lowry announced that National Review is closing down. "After being so consistently and spectacularly wrong these last five years, we felt thate we could no longer . . . .
. . .

Sorry, I must have dozed off. Never mix bourbon and cough syrup. Maybe just one more time, I want to hear President Kauffman's front porch address to the nation . . .

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Kudos to Steve Sailer for alerting the world to Mike Judge's brilliantly stupid look at our dysgenic future, Idiocracy.

In Judge's world, set 500 years in the future; Brawndo (a Gatorade-like sports drink) flows from water fountains and is used to irrigate crops, people who use something approaching standard English are "faggy" and news magazines have titles like Hot Naked Chicks & World Report (Shit sucks! page 42).

My only problem with the film is that Judge felt the need to set it 500 years in the future when it may come true in the next twenty or fifty years. If you happen to be watching a Hardees commercial, it's here now.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bauer Power?

I finally succumbed to the hype and saw the first four hours of 24 last week. It is easy to see why the show is such an iconic, right-wing fantasy (it even has its own blog) show -- Jack Bauer doesn't let any sissy, Sullivanesque niceties get in the way of getting the truth out of the bad guys. In the first four hours, Bauer is trying to foil a plot by some Islamic (yes, Islamic) terrorists to set off a suitcase nuke in the Los Angeles area. The conventions of the detective/law enforcement tv show dictate that the plot be foiled at the last minute, but at about 9:59 a.m. (the season started at 6) a good portion of Southern California was obliterated.

The violence in 24 is over the top. At one point, Bauer escapes from some terrorists planning to torture and kill him by biting the jugular vein of a guard and taking his key. But the most implausible aspect of the show is the central importance of the main character. When the president says something like "get me Jack Bauer on the phone" it reminded me of Commisioner Gordon dialing the Batphone on the old Adam West/Batman series. When the President went against Bauer's advice, he was wrong and Bauer was right.

I may or may not continue watching. There were numerous compelling aspects of the show. Some liberal do-gooders came to the defense of young Ahmed (or was it Achmed?) only to find out that he actually was a terrorist. An Army sargeant helped a terrorist with critical knowledge escape. Bauer was forced to kill one of his own to keep him from killing a terrorist-gone-straight. All of the killing and torture that Bauer has perpetrated over the years seems to be taking its toll.

Compared to another highly praised series from the last few years -- The Sopranos -- 24 doesn't measure up. I saw LA go up in a mushroom cloud and thought I might tune in next week. On The Sopranos, I was hooked from the moment I saw Tony describing to his shrink having "coffee" with a man who owed him money (hint: they didn't really have coffee) and followed numerous story lines far more compelling that the future of the Free World: will Meadow get into Georgetown?; will Raphie get clipped?; will Paulie's mother get into the right clique at Green Grove?; will the Esplanade get built?; etc.

Lorie Byrd has a column up at Townhall making the case that the popularity of 24 and American Idol proves the viability of "conservatism" (whatever that means). 24 is "conservative" because it provides "politically incorrect terrorist-thumping entertainment" and American Idol fills the bill because some snotty Brit tells "hard truth as he sees it" and the program . . . "highlight[s] the American dream"(click the link if you think that is too dumb for Byrd to have actually written). I won't comment on American Idol because I haven't seen it; but the four hours of 24 that I have seen (along with the commercials that interrupt it) lead me to the conclusion that most of the audience of the show consists of the coveted 18-34, taco-burger-soft drink obsessed male demographic who tune it to see the explosions and killing, and for whom the subtle points about whatever Byrd et al. see in the show are lost.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Adventures in Ethnic Casting

From the website of Turner Classic Movies:
Overview for Black Hand (1950)
Brief Synopsis:
In turn-of-the-century New York, an Italian seeks vengeance on the mobsters who killed his father.

Starring : Gene Kelly

Monday, January 15, 2007


Michael (of the very good) 2Blowhards demonstrates his discerning taste:

Pearce and some co-conspirators (including the excellent Clark Stooksbury) will be blogging for a time here. Here's the Schumacher Society. Here's Schumacher's most famous piece, "Buddhist Economics." The most Schumacherian publication I know of is Orion Magazine, which regularly publishes New Urbanist (and Peak Oil) firebrand James Kunstler. Here's a recent interview with Kunstler.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I received a patently ridiculous direct mail piece from Human Events today. The envelope features the heroic image of President Reagan and says:
He made Iran cry "Uncle!"
(It took him all of . . . 20 minutes.)

This refers to the way that Iran waited until Reagan took the oath of office to release the hostages taken from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. If one desires to make President Reagan look tough against Iran that is pretty much the highpoint. Not Surprisingly, the Human Events mail piece ignores most of the other important moments in Reagan's dealings with Iran. Through out most of his adminstration, the president handled Iran by supporting the murderous dictator, Saddam Hussein in his war of agression against Iran -- HE doesn't mention that. Later he would begin a program to secretly sell weapons to the Iranian regime (in return for the release of hostages in Lebanon). This caused a crisis among conservatives when it came out. Michael Kinsley compared it to the dilemma faced by Communists after the Hitler/Stalin pact: "a sudden policy reversal put devoted ideologues to such a severe test of their devotion. A party line of stark moral simplicity -- no dealing with terrorist states -- has suddenly gone all gooey and geopolitical. . . . As in 1939, many are falling off the train as it rounds this sharp bend. But a tenacious few hold on."

It wasn't all appeasement of Iran during the Reagan years. In 1988, an American Cruiser patrolling the Persian Gulf shot down an Iranian jet killing 290 civilians -- another event that Human Events neglects to mention.

It would be a full time job to document all of the ways that rightwingers have constructed a fantasy world for themselves, this Human Events effort to reduce Reagan's record on Iran to his first hour as president is exhibit A.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Powers That Be

Chronicles has put my review of Sean Scallon's Beating the Powers that Be on line. Here is a clip:
After the New Deal and World War II, there was little room in America for the kind of movement that Scallon describes. As the federal government grew, taking over many of the functions of the states, Cold War conformity narrowed the scope of acceptable opinion. On occasion, broad discontent with the status quo bubbled up in the form of presidential campaigns by such candidates as George Wallace and Ross Perot, but Scallon notes a more interesting phenomenon occurring in political movements at lower levels of government. He focuses on three such movements—two in the New England states of Vermont and New Hampshire and a regional movement in the South, where the League of the South seeks to promote the “independence of the South ‘by all honorable means.’” I remain somewhat skeptical of the prospects for success of this last enterprise. Nothing about the quality of political leaders that the South has produced in the last few years, including our sitting president and his immediate predecessor, inspires my confidence (as a Tennessean) in a Southern regime. Decentralization of our monstrously overgrown federal government, however, remains an excellent idea, while dissolution of the Union should be a legitimate topic of discussion, not a hate crime.


Quin Hillyer, offering advice to the right:
Support President Bush's expected call for a troop "surge" in Iraq. It is impossible to be a true conservative and, at the same time, to accept defeat in a military endeavor in a key strategic area of the world. Forget the arguments about whether we were wise to topple Saddam or not in the first place. (We were right, by the way.) The fact is that we are there now, and if we don't secure the peace, we will have lost, and the loss will have horrific repercussions for stability in the Middle East and for American standing in the world. Every other option on the table (other than a troop surge) is, in effect, a strategy for managing a defeat, rather than for securing a victorious peace. Those other strategies are therefore unacceptable. Utterly unacceptable. And cowardly to boot.

Translation: Continue to ignore the reality that the policy we favored has seen tens of thousands of Americans maimed and killed, largely for the benefit of Moqtada al-Sadr; and support a "surge" that has no earthly chance of success. Continue to throw around words like "cowardly" to make ourselves sound tough and maybe people will fail to notice how consistently wrong wh have been and we will be able to keep our phony-baloney jobs.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

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