Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sauce for the Goose?

From the NYT:
House Republicans blocked consideration of the bill that passed the Senate this year, saying it amounted to an amnesty for lawbreakers and voicing confidence that a tough stance would touch off a groundswell of support in the Congressional elections. The strategy largely failed.

Hispanic voters, a swing constituency that Republicans covet, abandoned the party in large numbers. Several Republican hardliners, including Representatives John Hostettler of Indiana and J. D. Hayworth of Arizona, lost their seats. After the dismal showing, House Republicans denied F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the departing chairman of the Judiciary Committee and an architect of the House immigration approach, a senior position on any major committee in the new Congress.
OK, but then further on
The prospects for a bill that contains such a proposal remain particularly uncertain in the House, where many prominent Democrats want to ensure broad bipartisan backing as part of their efforts to maintain their majority in 2008, Congressional aides said.

The House Democrats are concerned about protecting newly elected moderate and conservative Democrats, some of whom had campaigned against legalizing illegal immigrants.
Immigration Enforcement: the political kiss of Death that built a majority...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Chicken or the Egg?

Headlines on Drudge today...

Simon Cowell becomes highestpaid British TV star of all time...


POLL: Most Britons believe religion does more harm than good...

From that last story btw:
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said Christians faced being chased out of the Middle East because of the hostility created by the Iraq war, leading their countrymen to see them as "supporters of the crusading West."

Williams wrote in The Times that the "short-sighted" and "ignorant" policy on Iraq of Britain and its allies had endangered the lives and futures of thousands of Christians in the region.
As if they had blue skies and fair sailing before Chimpler! This makes about as much sense as blaming Armenian peasants for pissing off the Turks.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Raging RINOs

I say it, though, as a conservative, I may well be the RINO.

Hugh Hewitt today, explaining why Mitt Romney's views on abortion are irrelevant:
The simple fact is that the first post-9/11 contested primary season on the GOP side will be dominated by national security, not social issues, and understanding of the war against jihadism, whether from Sunni or Shia extremists, will be the key to capturing the Republican nomination.

Generals have often been accused of fighting the last war. Journalists these days seem intent on fighting the last campaign. The serious party is looking for serious debate on the war and the country's defenses...A handful of extreme pro-life activists allied with an even smaller number of radical bloggers aren't going to define the terms of the campaign of 2008 for the GOP. Not only are they immunizing Romney on the old issues, they are underscoring just how tone-deaf the MSM has become about the GOP grassroots.
Seems to me we just ran an election where the GOP snubbed the pro-life movement, declared everything but National Security was a waste of thought, and then offered mainly negative arguments on that topic.

I guess we know how well that worked for the center-right.

Browsing today I came across these comments by former Secretary of State Colin Powell:
The former secretary of state Colin Powell said Sunday that badly overstretched U.S. forces in Iraq were losing the war there and that a temporary U.S. troop surge probably would not help...Powell was deeply skeptical about increasing troop levels, an idea that appears to be gaining ground as President George W. Bush weighs U.S. strategy options.

"There really are no additional troops" to send, Powell said, adding that he agreed with those who say that the U.S. Army is "about broken."

...Powell endorsed another study group idea: opening talks with Syria and Iran.

...A troop increase, he said Sunday, "cannot be sustained." The thousands of additional U.S. soldiers sent into Baghdad since the summer had been unable to stabilize the city and more probably could not tip the balance, Powell said. The deployment of further troops would, moreover, impose long-term costs on a badly stretched military.
(BTW: I seem to recall, before the Clinton Administration, that a former Cabinet official was identified by the Presidential Administration in which they served. The media seems to have dropped that convention, I suspect because nobody seemed eager to accept Carter and Clinton appointees as Experts. Is it just my faulty memory?)

Back in the Cold War era, an assessment like Powell's would have been part of a crusade to expand the size of the American military. Not anymore; it is now part of a crusade to limit the scope of American foriegn policy. (I believe Powell has emerged to remind everybody, and the next Administration, that he's still out there ready to sit at the tables of Power.)

I don't think anybody can argue our position in the Middle East would be strengthened if we reversed two decades of cutbacks and closures, and took our military back to what it was in 1989. But that's not on anybody's agenda right now.

We have more wealth, more population, and better technology than at any point in our history, yet I would say we're weaker than any time since the immediate post-Vietnam era. And nobody who matters, gives a damn.

So long as that's the case, spare me the horse manure about being the "serious" party on national security.

And without that prop, what's holding up the "Permanent Majority"?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Brits End "War On Terror"

'It's about time,' said Garry Hindle, terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London. 'Military terminology is completely counter-productive, merely contributing to isolating communities. This is a very positive move.'
It's a second-best choice, we know. But calling for a passionate, nonviolent, political movement against terrorism based on idealistic altruism--an Antiterrorist Crusade--would be no PR improvement at all.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the government wanted to 'avoid reinforcing and giving succour to the terrorists' narrative by using language that, taken out of context, could be counter-productive'. The same message has been sent to British diplomats and official spokespeople around the world.
Outstanding. Here's some other terms to avoid as they could be taken out of context counter-productively:

God Save The Queen. Alienates everybody who doesn't share your God, your Queen, or your opinion that God and Queen are working on the same side.

I love the Lakes District. A bit suggestive.

Yes. Could be taken to mean No.

Oh wait-- there isn't any language that would remain productive when taken out of context!

'We tend to emphasise upholding shared values as a means to counter terrorists,' he added.
Apart from general agreement the Duchess of York should wear a burqa...what is there?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not. Good.

Robert Gates thinks we are not winning in Iraq.

President Bush disagrees. And I'd have thought that was an appreciable difference of opinion, that might shape whether either of them works as Sec of Defense for the other.

Guess I'm a political noob.

Gates apparently played the Senate and will direct the war he doesn't think we're winning. I hope he can stop focusing on broad foriegn policy and develop enthusiasm for that duty.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Casino Royale

I've been mulling it over...Third.

Third best Bond flick.

Goldfingerhas to reign for style, Thunderball for a realistic plot and action, but Casino Royale trumps all the others.

Stop here if you haven't seen it. Go see it.


The great weakness in the Ian Fleming novels was the unchanging Voice of the Villain declaiming unto the captive Bond. Dr. No, Mr. Big, Goldfinger, Blofeld, they all sounded fairly alike. Goldfinger used some verbatim exposition as a sign of Auric's obvious insanity, it was that wierd ("Man has climbed Everest..."). But they dropped the torture-room banter for immortal lines like "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!"

Ian Fleming also had Le Chiffre speak with the Voice. But in the film writers Paul Haggis and Neal Purvis and Robert Wade do something really extraordinary. They keep the torture of the Seatless Chair, but they almost totally drop the Voice. Instead, Le Chiffre and Bond have an awesome conversation together.

Bond has the password Le Chiffre needs to get his money back and buy his way out from between the CIA and his depositors. The description of the ball-busting torture is straight Fleming. Beyond that is something totally new.

Le Chiffre hurts Bond, not gentle like before, but baaaaad. And Bond laughs at him. And Le Chiffre laughs back. Give me the password, I'll even spare the girl, he offers. And Bond laughs. And Le Chiffre chuckles. Yeah, that was pretty lame, wasn't it? Bond threatens the undying Wrath of the Service, and it's Le Chiffre's turn to mock. He's got the info, and he'll be cosseted so long as he's useful, no matter whose blood is on his hands. And it's Bond's turn to laugh ruefully. They're both on the same wavelength.

Because they're both in the same situation: trapped, kept alive just so long as they retain some useful information, and doomed if they ever give it. And they're both going to destroy themselves rather than cooperate, out of sheer stubborn pride. Bond just gets lucky.

It's that sort of enhancement of the characters beyond their 'assigned' roles in a "Bond film", into real humans, that makes Casino Royale so outstanding. And so often it's nonverbal, just great actors given the space to interact.

With this kind of writing and acting, I'd even forgive an invisible car in the sequel. Just to see Craig handle being given one.