Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dumb and Dumber

At one point, so I am told, the Washington press corps was held in such esteem by the public, that if it appeared bewildered or confused by a politician's actions, it signified a diabolical coverup. Only careful, sinister planning could subdue those guys!

So I am told.

I haven't seen it myself, since for most of my life they've been held in growing contempt.

This astounding drivel over the Vice-President's shooting accident is going to send their reputation into freefall. We've got to admit, most Americans hear conservatives complain of the MSM's liberal bias, and either don't care who wins, share the liberal worldview, or stand with KPacifica against all capitalist pigs.
But that same majority can fully appreciate how lazy, ignorant, and stupid the press is acting here.

Lazy, because they expect and demand politicians to call the press and out their own carelessness.

Ignorant, of firearms facts known to 13-year-old Boy Scouts.

Stupid, because they make their ignorant sloth the top story.

Hugh Hewitt spotlighted David Gregory's thoughts on his own performance:
[Vice-President Cheney] also chose to allow a witness to this accident and the White House press secretary to spend three days portraying this as the fault of the shooting victim...Wednesday, Mr. Cheney changed course and took the blame.
Weak! Cheney issued statements of regret which the press ignored in their rush to condemn his "silence". Anybody not totally ignorant of firearm safety knew Cheney, as the shooter, was responsible for the discharge of his weapon. Mr. Gregory is suggesting here that the Vice-President had an obligation to halt the media stampede off the cliff.
If you believe an accidental shooting by Vice-President Al Gore would not be met with the same press scrutiny, I think you are not being honest with yourself.
I remember the Bitburg SS-cemetary scandal, the Iran-Contra scandal and its offshoots, the Keating Five scandal, the Weinberger pardon hoopla, the House Bank scandal, the House post office outrage, the Speaker Wright book deal imbroglio, Kimba Wood's Nannygate tiff, Waco, Ruby Ridge, Vince Foster, the midnight seizure of Elian Gonzalez, the Cisneros FBI perjury scandal, Whitewater and its sideshows, the Chinese donations scandal, the Lewinsky eruption, the Marc Rich pardon scandal, etc. I never before now heard the mainstream press push the notion that a principal actor was drunk, or ask him to prove he wasn't, or ask his doctor on live TV what his blood-alcohol level had been at the time of admission.

But maybe I'm not being honest with myself?

On Hugh's show, Lawrence O'Donnell bragged of starting the furor over the alleged presence of alcohol on the shoot, but insisted that pushing the probability of drunkeness wasn't the same as suggesting it. He actually got sillier than that:
There's no criminal investigation whatsoever. None. There is... no criminal investigation has been initiated. If there was one, that man's wounds would be being examined by forensic scientists who would determine for you, was that gun six inches from his face? Was that gun six feet from his face? Was that gun sixty feet from his face? We don't know.
Well...since Mr. Whittington was admitted with a head on his shoulders, you could consider the question of his being six inches from the barrel of a discharging shotgun as settled...Fellow BFL member Cobb has the word: reconstruction of the event by media-hired experts says Cheney's story is consistent with the spread pattern. Cobb calls that level of skepticism "hate"; I dunno, but at least these guys did something beyond stand in the briefing room and whine that they got scooped.

At first the DC Press Corps reminded me of the Maytag repairman, idle until somebody phoned in a job for him. But that's inapt, because if you called the Maytag repairman, he'd know what to do beyond arguing "What kept you?"

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Modem's Out!

The home network's out! Should be repaired Friday.

Have a fun weekend!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ironing Out Bin Laden's Truce

Bin Laden:
Here we are. I hear the veal is the best in New York.

Rudy Giuliani:
Sure.

Bin Laden:
Now George, I'm going to talk King's English to Rudy. I don't mean to be disrespectful or suggest that I don't trust you. I just express myself better that way.

George Galloway:
Och dinnae fash yeself laddie! I'll jes savor ma cream sauce!
Bin Laden:
Your President has my respect. He is a great man. However I am a man of respect. Your President says to me, go ahead, conduct your fatwas, I will not intrude. Yet he denies me the total autocracies that are essential to my enterprise. I need the political controls more than I need the money, even. Your President is denying me my livelihood. That, as a man of respect, I cannot tolerate.

So maybe I wasn't good enough to finish things with the first strike. That was my mistake. But pursuing me will only provoke a fargin' war. I must tell you that I have the moonbats of five continents behind me, promising active support.

What is between us can be left to another time. For now, let us have truce instead of an open war that hurts everybody.

Rudy Giuliani:
First I must have assurances there will be no more attacks on my country.

Bin Laden:
What assurances can I give? I'm the hunted one here. You overestimate me, kid.

Rudy Giuliani:
Excuse me, I gotta go wash my hands...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yes, and Yes

Are we at war with Islam? Do you want a war with Islam?


Ask silly questions...

Are we at war with Islam? To avoid a charge of cheesy evading...Yes.

I can't imagine anybody seriously asking "Are we at war with Scientology?". Dafydd at Big Lizards has the sense to balk up front at a monolithic view of Islam. While Hugh talks about a jihadist/moderate split in the Muslim population, at the base of his concern is the realization that we can't test who's which.

From Hugh's site today:
In neighboring Pakistan, 5,000 people chanting ''Hang the man who insulted the prophet'' burned effigies of one cartoonist and Denmark's prime minister. And a prominent Iranian newspaper said it was going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust in reaction to European newspapers publishing the prophet drawings.


Hugh's comment:
The cartoons have become exactly the sort of propaganda bonanza that jihadists have hoped for.
Did their publication help or hinder the GWOT?

First off, regarding a 'propaganda bonanza': the guys who spread the lie about all Jews bailing out of the World Trade Center before the planes hit, won't hold their hands for a lack of real news.

I part views with Hugh Hewitt, in that I see a serious problem with 5000 Pakistanis calling for the murder of an innocent head of state for the lawful acts of his countrymen--whether they're holding lynch rallies this week, or not.

I'm aware that many Muslims, probably most Muslims, certainly most Muslims living in Western countries, think submission to the will of God doesn't require random violence against nonbelievers. I've never met any Muslim who thought otherwise.

On the other hand, I have met many people who agree with me that the 2002 World Series, between two wild card teams, was illegitimate. Good baseball, but not kosher.

However, the transgressors who run Major League Baseball didn't bother to ask us. They went ahead and carried out their scheme. Their self-righteous determination rendered the bulk of contrary opinion irrelevant.

The innocents slaughtered blasphemously in the name of Allah contrary to the true doctrines of the Religion of Peace, as we're assured by our friends, would fill the empty space left by the World Trade Center and then some.

Are we at war with Islam? Too many Muslims think so, and say so, and act so. I suppose you could adopt a worldview in which someone attacks you in the name of an ideology, but you refuse to defend against that ideology, and then claim that "you are not at war" with that ideology. That's not how I think.

Do you want a war with Islam? Again, to avoid a charge of evasion...Yes.

Take a trip back in time to Henderson Field, Guadacanal, 1942. Ask that gaunt, bloody Marine in the slit trench if he wants a war with Japan.

I'm sure that malnourished, ammo-depleted, shell-shocked, sleep-deprived Marine would list a thousand places he'd rather have been and a million things he'd rather have been doing than dodging naval shellfire and bullets in the Solomons.

But he must have wanted that war. He stayed put and fought it.

A few days ago I pointed out that beating our breasts about these cartoons resembled the Democrat reaction to Reagan's "evil empire" speech.

Quite a few well-educated people pointed out that you can't really cooperate with something you consider evil. That people don't appreciate being told they're evil. That such an attitude chills cooperation, freezes attitudes, forces confrontation. That by forcing a posture of hostility without gaining anything, Reagan had acted stupidly.

But Reagan's real reason for saying the USSR was an evil empire, was that it was true. And all the arguments against making that statement ignore that truth. Those manuevers require us to deny our essential nature, to put on a masque, and then proceed to cooperate with what we know to be wrong.

Dafydd at Big Lizards puts a lengthy post about what he imagines to be the costs of "war with Islam". I think it's one possible outcome.

But like our Marine in the slit trench--he really existed, remember--you gotta ask, what's the price of "peace"?

When we determined to purge the human race of the blasphemy that God requires murdering Americans, we made numerous concessions to the moderate silent majority of Muslims, which we were told were essential to retaining goodwill.

Don't name an operation "Infinite Justice". Well that's a nothing; many of us preferred meaningless ops names like "Torch" or "Overlord".

Don't use "crusade", ever, in any context. The secular sense is now the primary definition--nobody thought Ike referred to a Muslim pogrom in Europe--but we could see the point and responded.

Don't bomb a mosque, ever. Well that got some angry shouts. After all, by our rules, if you stack arms in Notre Dame Cathedral, Notre Dame Cathedral becomes a legitimate, a necessary target of military operations. It meant a lot more effort and surveillance, possibly cost some lives, but most of us accepted it--though I see some movement towards the back doors by some angry vets.

Don't violate the sharia regarding the Prophet amongst yourselves; adhere to the censor codes of Jordan and Iran; condemn angrily any such violation beyond your borders and remain silent over the righteous wrath of true believers. Why do I see some of us bobbing our heads over that one? Say it ain't so!

At what point do we draw the line and demand freedom of action regardless of "impressions"? I'm already there.

Do I want war with Islam? I want confrontation with Islam. I want world Islam told, in no uncertain terms,
"You guys are nuts. We made a conscious adult choice not to be Muslim. We're not going to uphold your rules, in fact we're not going to learn your rules. You're going to see us break quite a lot of your rules. Just as, by living up to your rules, you break some of ours.
Complain all you want, we expect that, but if a bunch of infidels talking to each other arouses a red fury among you, you're going to live dark unhappy lives. By our rules of compassion, we should point out: Stress kills.
Oh, and regarding violence--if you think attacks on the nearest infidel is somehow satisfactory justice, we happen to think it's just cause for retaliation, and we'll retaliate."
How would that go over? I'm sure they wouldn't like it; I'm also certain they aren't expecting outright defiance.

Would that cost us the moderates? The success of the postwar reconstruction of Japan proves the overwhelming majority of Japanese were not interested in a suicidal war with the West in the name of imperial glory--but they were even less interested in sparking a civil war with the minority that did burn for open war. FDR tried to play it "smart" by ignoring the USS Panay and other provocations by the "jihadists"--it was a sucker play then and not any smarter now.

Dafydd imagines we'd have to enslave the planet to defeat Islam, destroying traditional allies, and disfiguring our own souls. (A nerdy voice of my subconscious objects that the fanatic banzai warriors of Nippon quit after "only" 3% of their nation died.) The broader objection is--avoiding a world war has to be a joint effort. If only one party would rather fight, there can be no peace.

Declaring open season on Danes for the creative work of one man, isn't part of that struggle for peace.

I think Islam is headed down the same road as the Axis--they don't worry about provoking us into a fight, because they're sure we won't fight. Because we keep talking about not fighting. Perhaps it's time we lit a small sense of doubt in the back of their minds.

Standing up for our own separate identity, challenging the call for violence in the name of God, may be "provocative". But refusing to do so is to lose the peace.

If I am not free to say, "I won't do that because I don't agree with you about the Prophet. I am not a Muslim" then something is very wrong, and ignoring it won't help fix it.

The best way to avoid a world war is to pray the rosary...though in this case, it's probably "uhelpful" to say so...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Lighter Notes--Shaving Truth

The landlord (Da Laird) and I had to sneer at the Gillette "Fusion" ad during the game. FIVE damn blades. And the back has a trimming blade! So there's a facial shaving blade and then a trimmer on the top--just like great-granddad's razor! A good idea if you're going to sport whiskers--but "revolutionary"??

Da Laird can't grasp why it's got a battery-powered version. As Sir Robin asked of the maneating rabbit--what's it do, nibble your bum?

I remember about 20 years ago Saturday Night Live had a fake ad for a supersmooth razor with nine blades. A cartoon showed how the successive blades cut your head off.

I give us another 12 months before the Perfect Shave requires a half-dozen blades. Or perhaps a microrobot with razors on a caterpillar tread. Or something equally dumb.

Should you stay at a five-star resort and hit their barber for a $50 shave, he'll give you the best shave of your life--with a single-edged razor, plenty of prep with hot water, and foam from a metal tube. Same basic tech as 1850, for 1000 times the price.

But it will take more than 2 minutes, which is apparently what the current manly man wants to spend scraping his face.

About four years ago I stumbled across a vintage-style double-edged safety razor at a Minnesota drugstore. Two halves of the chrome steel head lever open as the central screw is spun, allowing a razor-sharp double-edged blade to be inserted. Then the screw locks the top together over the blade.

This was the most convoluted, overdesigned piece of machinery for a daily chore I'd ever seen, and I already owned three different models of safety razor. So of course I bought it.

To my surprise, this Rube Goldberg contraption gave me the best, least bloody shave of my collection. The half-dome curve kept me from too acute an angle, unlike my Trac II razor. It was just as pleasantly heavy as my full-steel Atra razor, suprisingly just as nimble as my swivel-headed Atra Plus razor. When I found I can get top-quality blades at 5/$1 I was hooked.

My only complaint is that the plastic handle is about as sturdy as a Bic pen. Ebarbershop.com has one for $25 that supposedly has an all-metal handle, and retains that nifty hanger-door mechanism--unlike the Merkur razors. I'll probably snap that one up.

I've cut myself maybe three times in four years with this baby, and always because I was trying for that elusive 2-minute shave. Shame on me.

So for those of you with the Mach3 or Quattro razors who suddenly woke up obsolete today...embrace it. Run with it! Quick packing more blades than a kung-fu flick, step back into the 1950s, and throw away a generation of false gimmickry with attendant inflation. Shave smoothly for a dime a day--but give yourself six minutes.

And trim the sideburns all the way off. There's a war on, hippie.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

"Evil Empire" II

I'm tired of hearing how unreasonable those cartoons were;
or how much damage they've done to all our progress in relations with the Muslim street;
or how outrageous it is to lump all Muslims into the jihadist category;
or how we all need to watch what we say to avoid giving fuel to jihadist propoganda.

Yeah, I know, not all Muslims out there approve the fatwa against entire nations over these cartoons. I also know there's no practical test to separate out 'jihadists' from the flock. Many of these rioters were considered "moderate" a couple of weeks ago.

Anybody who insists we work on maintaining excellent relations with these yahoos--go out there and relate with them. Before insisting I remain calm about raging mobs, so I'm in the right frame of mind to dialogue with them-- why don't you go soothe them out of embassy-burning and all those 9/11-7/7 threats?

The entire nation of Denmark is a target of a huge segment of a world religion, because a few individuals who rejected Islam suggested to other nonMuslims, that Muslims practice violence in the name of religion.

That discussion, heard third or fourth-hand, is so intolerable that violence is the result.

Why should we accept that extremism as a yardstick of our own behavior?

I'm one of those people who remember fondly when Reagan called the USSR an "evil empire". It's a lot more popular with people since we won the Cold War without WWIII breaking out. But I applauded it even in the dark days when confronting the USSR carried extreme risks. And back then, I heard a lot of whining about Reagan's speech--how reactionary, how simplex, how unpragmatic, how stupid.

But sometimes you don't get to choose your enemies. Sometimes your only choice is whether or not to acknowledge them.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wowsa

My jaw dropped reading this Little Green Footballs entry.

I know the State Department spokesman took about a hundred times as long to give Voltaire's "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" speech...but that indeed was his point.

How is it possible that all of them miss it?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Slow Bloggin'

It's been hectic this past month!

Apart from the usual rush of holiday chores at the hotel, we had a staff shakeup. That meant I worked longer weeks and for a while there had to train somebody to fill in a couple nights a week as my relief--all shift long I was training, no time to blog.

Then I got the recurrent sore throat-fever I've had for about eight years. I don't know what it is, ever since I worked as a solicitor in 1998 and caught it walking through a December rainstorm, when I go out into 40-50 degree dank--POW the tickle in my sinus lets me know I've got another week of misery ahead.

The week ahead should be slow enough to permit steady posting. Thanks for stopping by.