Thursday, May 26, 2005

Delayed Reaction To the Deal

Well, I'm no longer choking down bile regarding the Senate filibuster compromise.

I still think it is a horrible deal. There was no reason for the Senate to avoid the nuclear option. I don't see horrendous relations between the Republicans and Democrats as any sort of negative for the country.

The terms of the deal represent a total abandonment of any sense of duty, loyalty or discipline by the 14 Senators beyond their own twisted sense of power. It is unconstitutional to insist the President consult losers, or winners, in the Senate before suggesting names. I would have thought they were too busy to sift the literally hundreds of names up for consideration, anyhow.

And the memorandum is so badly written, that you can't firmly define the terms with regard to any nominee--even the nominees named in the memo.

But what is becoming more clear, as the days go on, is that both left and right hate this compromise, precisely because it resolves nothing. It simply sets out the result of the next three judicial nominations, casts serious doubt on two more. Neither party leader promises to abide by the terms.

This contemptible demarche has given the GOP three judges, and once they are fixed, it is up to all of us to stoke the fires again so that a final resolution does develop.

I'm agreeing with the Not-One-Dime crowd--except they're too narrowly focused. No more soft money to any GOP group until we win on judicial appointments.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Et Tu, AP?

Senate Careens Towards Filibuster Showdown:
Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), D-Del., who was present and voting at President Clinton's impeachment trial in 1999, called the looming filibuster clash "the single most important" issue to be decided in his 32 years in the Senate.

Seems I Was Right

about the low value of Newsweek's Periscope feature.

Ben Bradlee, former Newsweek DC chief-editor, in Editor & Publisher:
As someone who had written Periscope stories in the past, Bradlee said he was skeptical about the weekly feature, which offers short items in the magazine's front pages. "I'm not a great fan of that art form," he told E&P. "It's a little gimmicky, it's a packaging tool." He said when he was at the magazine, in the early to mid-1960s, writers who submitted Periscope briefs were paid $5 per item, "or a bottle of booze."

"The cry would go out on Saturday, 'We need Periscopes! We need Periscopes!'" he recalled. "If it was really good, it was worth more than a Periscope. If you couldn't prove it, it was worth a Periscope."

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Sith Is Bananas

The Daily Blitz warned me, but I went ahead and saw the Revenge of the Sith with my friends.

We agreed that it could have been an hour shorter, and better, by dropping every scene with Padme and Anakin.

I'll agree with Jheka, that it wasn't anywhere near as bad as Episode One, but it wasn't that good, either.

There was a lot crammed into the plot, a great deal of traveling from planet to planet and battle to battle. I wonder how the new trilogy would have been if Lucas had made all three films explore the period of Anakin's adulthood and conversion to the Dark Side. It seemed too rushed.

Still, I had a good afternoon with my friends, and a B movie is a lot better after a quart of cold beer and two pounds of steak.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Deeper Reflections on Newsweek

The press is now trying to circle the wagons and blame the Bush Administration for the Newsweek debacle.

Q and O apparently wants to join them. The logic: since the Bush Administration is clearly guilty of all kinds of abuse, its response to any allegation of abuse ought to be shameful silence rather than a self-righteous denial of the specific allegation.

Which to me, seems like arguing that the male gender collectively is sexually violent, and therefore no individual man can really complain when he's falsely accused of rape.

Ideology shapes the countercharges the press is making, but I think the root cause is embarrassment.

They all know what happened to Isikoff could happen to any of them.

Everybody in the DC press corps is rushing out to defend Isikoff as a bulldog reporter who won't stop digging. So why didn't he?

This was supposed to be a fluff piece of filler. This was supposed to be a paragraph blurb. Nobody was supposed to remember this one item as the main item from this week's Newsweek.

So Newsweek didn't push the way it pushes for its headline stories. It didn't flesh out the details such as who flushed the Koran, or who witnessed the event, or where, or when.

And then, it accepted a negative standard of confirmation. Since none of their backchannel sources would anonymously deny the allegation, it was deemed worthy of publication.

So what's Newsweek to do? Stop running the Periscope feature? Print nothing unless it gets the same vetting as the cover story? That would take a lot more work than they, and their competition, is willing to do.

But don't hold your breath waiting for that admission. They'd rather assume that professional journalism is running fine, it must be the subjects of the stories that are being difficult.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hey Newsweek!

Do you take anonymous subscription orders?

Why not?

Next time, maybe you should remember that when your sources demand anonymity?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

El Pie Es En La Boca

President Vincente Fox of Mexico is trying furiously to backpedal from outrageous statements that illegal immigrants will do work "that even blacks don't want to do".

His office says now, that he was misunderstood. He was merely trying to demonstrate that (illegal) immigrants play a vital role in the US economy.

I think he could make that argument without reference to blacks. I think he looked on a roomful of whites and Hispanics, and shoved his foot in his mouth.

Of course illegal immigrants will illegally work for illegally low wages and illegally unsafe conditions in a manner that no citizen would consider for a moment. That is certainly true; but if that illegal labor pool were not a short drive away, employers would have to offer minimum wage and regular hours, which citizens--of all ethnicities--would consider taking on.

I'm surprised to see the Left taking this on. Rev. Jesse Jackson has condemned Fox's remarks, instead of pretending they were never uttered. CNN ran audience polls on these remarks, instead of dropping them down the memory hole.

I think the traditional Left--the union, blue-collar worker--realizes that illegal immigration is anything but unskilled labor, and permitting a few dozen million more violators will sink all manner of union trades.

Rush Limbaugh has been saying for some time that smart Democrats are positioning themselves against illegal immigration, even as the GOP leadership tries to legitimize it. I think he's onto something, which the GOP leadership had better take note.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

True Confession

I must confess to a lie.

I told one of my friends that I'd see Revenge of the Sith. I won't.

Miller's Time has a rave review, but I found Episode One and Two to be so bad I've never been able to sit through them.

The original trilogy involved two giant talents that are not available to the second production. The absence of Lawrence Kasdan has been commented on widely, but I think Sir Alec Guinness must also have added a great deal to the developing direction. For whatever reason, from the little of the first two episodes I've seen, the dialogue was stilted and the delivery did not make up for it.

Lord of the Rings demonstrated that CGI cannot be everything. The main problem with CGI is focus. You cannot put CGI-objects onto a filmed scene and have them properly blurred. They are impossibly and distractingly crisp. The original trilogy, like LOTR, employed scale models for background. This produces realistically blurry landscapes. This is a big reason why the attack on the first Death Star was so impressive. The camera looks past, or swung through, a scale model, producing a landscape properly out of focus, the way a city looks from your car window. ILM apparently is improperly committed to a technique, instead of being appropriately committed to an effect, like the LOTR was.

And the galaxy appears to have shrunk, illogically. Having all stormtroopers be clones of Boba Fett is cheesy. Having the son of Skywalker hidden on a obscure backwater made sense; having him hide--under the name Skywalker!--on the family homeland is ludicrous. And why was it 'Threepio never told you what happened to your father?' Might have bought him a li'l respect aboard the Millenium Falcon...unless he liked being told to shut up all the time.

But it is part of the same fallacy as the religious subtexts--trying to siphon the emotional content of a proven institution. See, Anakin grew up on Tatooine, so that must evoke the powerful feelings of the audience from the first movies! And, his dad was the Force itself, that must evoke the audience's emotions from Sunday school! When in fact, like all purely secular attempts at sacred myth, it fails to inspire, and invites contempt.

Perhaps I still can't get over my resentment of Lucas' destruction of the original trilogy through his "remastered" editions, which revealed him as the biggest Orwellian control-freak since Nicolae Ceaucescu. (The worst example is exploited here, fully as good as MAD magazine ever was.) But I don't think it's all me, I think this second trilogy is fully awful, and I will not pay to see it.

...But, I did promise to go...

But I didn't promise to buy my own ticket!

Keep On Truckin'

Insomnia is like tripping while running. You don't collapse immediately, you stagger a while first.

After four days of Minnesota Spring here in Southern California, I came down with a bad sinus infection. I've finally beat it, but it kept me from getting any sleep on Monday. Tuesday, I was able to catch about five hours of sleep in short stretches, and today I was down for about ten hours.

So I've just had snippets of contact with the outside world. Some passing thoughts:
Is it just me, or is the attempted assassination of an American President with military explosives already merely the answer to a trivia question? I think more attention was paid to the onions thrown at Vice-President Nixon when he went to Panama in the 1950s.

Robert A. Heinlein once wrote that an author should always let an editor have a chance to piss in the submission, as he'll like the flavor better. It seems to apply to the United States Senate as well. Simply exercising the nuclear option is apparently too crude to accept. We've got the Broder compromise, the Reid compromise, the Frist compromise, the alleged McCain compromise, and probably another five or six proposals before something concrete is contemplated. Senate Republicans apparently agree with Senate Democrats that good government means everybody has fun. If the Republicans actually did have fun during the years of Democrat majority, it is a further indictment of them.

From what I've seen in Iraq, none of the networks has any teams in the field for Operation Matador. All the correspondents are reporting from downtown Baghdad. Is that the military's policy, or the press'?

Thankfully I will have all day tomorrow to rest up.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Just Who Is Putin Talking To?

In the past couple of weeks, Vladimir Putin has made a series of public statements bemoaning the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of Moscow's authority over its former provinces.

Most recently, and ridiculously, Putin argued that the Soviet presence in the Baltic states was completely cooperative and in no way coercive, a view angrily repudiated by the leadership of the newly independent Baltic states.

I can't believe that Putin expected any other response from the Baltic states, where the Red Army was killing separatists as late as 1989.

I have to think he's preaching to the choir, in the same manner that Al Gore rants to leftist college students, or Hugo Chavez calling for leftist revolution within the United States.

What strikes me about this: it's a tactic of desperation. It's acknowledging you haven't a prayer of expanding your base of supporters, so you might as well ramp up the energy of your minority.

Until this week, I hadn't considered Putin's situation in Russia as being desperate. He apparently thinks so, if the best use of his bully pulpit is to invite derision on the international stage.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stars and Stripes Forever

California Conservatives for Truth has updates on those lousy Channel 62 billboards.

The ad, depicting Los Angeles' skyline with a Mexico D.F. monument and placing it in Mexico instead of the state of California, is a visualization of Aztlan. Aztlan is the focus of a racial-political cult as sinister as the neofascist Meiji Shinto-emperor cult, a perverted ethnic history that preaches la raza can share no political loyalties outside its own mythical glories. And that definitely includes loyalty to the United States.

Read more about it here, from La Voz de Aztlan himself.

Sadly for the health of the United States, the Democratic Party is being coopted by supporters of this separatist screed-- supporters like CA Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamente and state Senator Gil Cedillo. Other Democrats may not know what is being shouted in Spanish at the MeCha rallies. These men know, and are wholly supportive. Shame on them.

Once more, the Republican Party becomes the party of Union against the forces of secession and racial polity.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Enough Already

Having fought down a horrible fever and chest cold, I spy news on Hugh Hewitt's site that has me all naseous again.

Something called "United Americans for Separation of Church and State" is after the Air Force Academy. Seems the Academy is guilty of the horrendous crimes of: encouraging prayer to specific deities, encouraging prayer in the locker room, encouraging prayer for cadets who choose to be absent from religious services, and encouraging cadets to imagine God as supportive of their tenure in the Academy.

The group has a laundry list of court cases decrying all these practices as highly illegal.

I think it's time, way past time actually, for Congress to declare the federal courts have no jurisdiction in cases involving voluntary prayer services. Judges apparently don't dare ban public prayer outright, but instead impose a thousand split-hair definitions and decisions in the attempt to create fair, impartial, non-offensive prayer. Well, it can't be done.

Let's stop pretending that there's a fair, neutral way for most people in a room to acknowledge submission to an ultimate deity that won't offend the few others who don't share in the wording or forms of that submission, or submit themselves to another deity, or who hold no submission to any deity at all. You can't stop that grumbling, but we can save government time and money by keeping the debate purely private.