Monday, February 28, 2005

"Ooo . . . you can see as well as we can that he's been ejected from the car. . . . He's cookin'."

Bubble Trouble

"In my home! Where my wife sleeps! Where my children play with their toys." That was the outrage I felt while at the MCI Center watching Georgetown get spanked by Villanova, 67-56. Similar to their previous losses, the Hoyas failed to show up in the first half, managing to score only 2 points in the first 8 minutes of the game. The second half, in contrast, showed much improvement, with Georgetown cutting a 12-point deficit in half. But that would be as close as they got as stars Brandon Bowman, Ashanti Cook, and Jeff Green all found themselves in foul trouble. Meanwhile, Wildcats Allan Ray and Curtis Sumpter scored a combined 29 points. Villanova has never lost at MCI Center.

It becomes ever more apparent at these "home" games that Georgetown is in need of a real on-campus facility. A very large Villanova contingent made itself heard throughout the game, making you wonder where exactly the game was being played. During the singing of the National Anthem, a man in the Villanova section angrily shouted out, "1985!" And when it became a forgone conclusion that 'Nova would win, their supporters taunted, "NIT! NIT!"

It was insult heaped upon injury on a depressing Sunday afternoon. And now there are two games left--at Connecticut and at home against Providence. Then the Big East Tournament. When the game finally ended, another fan yelled out, "You better be ready on Wednesday! [against UConn]" I hope they heard him.

P.S. Talk about speaking too soon--in the midst of a three-game losing streak, The Washington Post Magazine's cover story just happens to be about the new coach.

P.S.S. Special shout-outs to Galley readers Jeff and Pete, both of whom I saw at the game. And yes, guys, I know you really wish you went to Georgetown after getting a look at our robust cheerleaders.

Speaking of Cintra . . .

Cintra Wilson is out to prove that Chris Rock is a girl.
* "These are wartime Oscars, and they looked it: cheap, tense and cobbled together from graphics rations donated by the E! Channel."

* "Beyoncé, who looked like a chandelier made out of Audrey Hepburns."

* "Wayne Brave proposed that all the little, non-famous, art-and technical-award people should get half-size, mini-Oscars. I felt this would aptly illustrate the eye-rolling derision and exasperated loathing the Academy felt for the people who won these awards this year. Oscar could not bring himself to let these dirty little crew people onstage, perhaps out of some Howard Hughes-like phobia that non-celebrity is contagious. Blanchett and Scarlett Johansson presented the Lesser Awards on various handicap ramps in the auditorium; a subtle semiotic way for the Academy and PricewaterhouseCooper to say, to makeup artists and sound editors, Crawl back to Culver City and fuck yourselves for sucking precious camera time away from Renée."

* "The lowest point of the evening--which was actually the high point, because it was the only thing that sucked hard enough to be actually interesting--was Hispanic Korner, where all the Latinos were quarantined."

* "Don Cheadle was clearly bummed out. Cheadle is a beautiful actor, but he didn't have the personal charisma to out-sexy Jamie Foxx this year. Jamie was very moving, when he won, talking about his recently departed cruel grandmother. Oprah gave him the black power salute, then looked around to see if anyone else was doing it with her. Cheadle wasn't."

This isn't vintage Cintra, but we'll take what we can get. Like I said, it was the worst Oscars ever.

What If . . .

. . . the Sixers had drafted Chris Webber instead of Shawn Bradley?
Charles Johnson has the funniest line you'll read today.

Dana Milbank at Brain Terminal

After Washington Post reporter/columnist/? Dana Milbank granted a congenial interview to Daily Kos, Evan Coyne Maloney approached him about an interview for his site, Brian Terminal. Milbank agreed and the interview in now online. Milbank deserves much credit for doing the interview, even though he seems a little combative and, at times, evasive. My favorite is this line:
Q: What are your personal feelings on President Bush?

Milbank: I think he's exceptionally personable.

His answer reminds me of a line from Emma where the heroine is asked her feelings about Jane Fairfax. Emma replies, "When pressed, I say she's elegant."

Dean Democrats

The Bull Moose is "enthusiastic" about the candidacy of Bob Casey Jr. and says that it's time for his fellow Democrats to "demonstrate that they believe in cultural diversity as well as multiculutural diversity."

Perhaps he missed this quote from the current leader of the Democratic party.

Rock's Hard Place

Tom Shales really trashes Chris Rock's performance as Oscar host, which I don't agree with. The 77th Academy Awards will go down in history as the meanest Oscars ever, the one where Hollywood finally admitted that the artists who don't appear on the cover of Us Weekly don't actually matter. When I first saw that all of the nominees save the actors where pushed onto the stage together to cut their time and dignity, I had trouble believing that even Hollywood could be that cruel.

So I thought Rock's incredibly mean jokes about the stars were a good antidote. Make no mistake: Chris Rock wasn't being a towel-snapper like Steve Martin. He was being rough, like Cintra Wilson on a bad drunk.

But Shales does offer one very keen insight:
This year's Oscar show was certainly more ethnically diverse than ever, but so much attention was called to this that it made the program seem lopsided, a celebration only of films that qualify as politically correct. Actor Jamie Foxx, who won for playing the great singer Ray Charles in the film "Ray," seemed to be exploiting the racial angle by implying his victory was a victory for African Americans. He gave essentially the same speech he gave at the Golden Globes, replete with threats to break up in tears when he got to the part about his dear old grandma and her influence on little Jamie when he was a child. . . .

The Oscars are losing their status as a big national party and turning instead into de facto political conventions--and if there's anything TV and the nation don't need, it's more of those.

A new poll by John Zogby confirms this: 4 in 10 Democrats watch the Oscars while only 1 in 8 Republicans do. There's something to these numbers.

Second Term Pitfalls

Bill Whalen has an excellent piece on danger points for Bush's second term.

Post-Oscar Triumphalism

Once again, the HSX predictions for the Oscars were perfect. Every year the HSX issues options on 8 Oscar categories and every year the market predicts with near perfection who the winners are. This year the HSX was 8 for 8.

So don't forget: Before you send in your entry for next year's Oscar pool, check the HSX first.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Antonio Banderas? To sing a song from the Motorcycle Diaries? What, Benjamin Bratt and Jimmy Smits were both busy? No! Is too sexy!
You may be watching the Oscars, but I'm reading about cow-fucking.

This post brought to you by Gawker Media.

Be Honest . . .

How many of these did you own?

Confessore Award

This Boston Globe story on Mitt Romney is pretty unbelievable. It assails the governor for his out-of-state speeches and runs a bevy of quotes by Democrats who are unhappy with him. But the cherry on top is that the authors end with a bit of political analysis about whether or not Romney's strategy can work:
''Romney has put himself between a rock and a hard place because he is trying to pursue two incompatible strategies: To run for reelection in a socially progressive state, and running a national campaign appealing to right-wing social conservatives," said state Democratic Party chairman Philip W. Johnston. ''I think it's virtually impossible to do both. Only a political genius could do both, and I don't know anyone who's accused Mitt Romney of being that."

The Globe's analysis of the situation comes not from a poli-sci professor, or political expert, but from the state Democratic party chairman? Are you kidding? And they end the piece with his ad hominem attack, without giving Romney a chance to respond? Disgraceful.

TV Nation

Paul Mirengoff has discovered the soul-destroying truth about television.

I first realized this truth a few years ago. I had spent the better part of a summer working on a gigantic piece of investigative journalism about a financial scam at a ritzy Virginia country club where a bunch of high-powered D.C. personages were taken in by a small clique of Hawaiian grifters. It was a great story. When the piece finally appeared in print, it promptly disappeared. No letters to the editor, no notes from readers. Or family. Or friends.

That same week I appeared on a cable-news show for 30 seconds, debating a 20-something girl whom I had never heard of, on a topic so inane I can't recall it now. The next day, I got phone calls from everyone I've ever met: friends, family, acquaintances from college. They were all incredibly impressed, not because of anything I said, but because I had been on TV. For the first time in my professional life, I went into a deep depression.

Print journalism leads inexorably to television. There's no way around it. The real money--and the real exposure--is in front of the camera. For a while I tried to fight this gravity, but in the end I gave in because the ugly truth is: I like it when my friends and family think I’m doing something interesting with my job.

The lesson is that if you’re going to live in the world of writing, you have to understand that while television gives you all of the peripheral rewards, it is neither substance nor sustenance. Writers who confuse television with those things turn into jerks. You know who I’m talking about.

Conversely, the writers who don’t give in are better for it. The four journalists I admire most in the world (Andy Ferguson, David Grann, Matt Labash, Anthony Lane) never do TV. For this purity of heart, they deserve our admiration.

The Kos Democrats

Charles Johnson notes that the first link on the AARP's Social Security blog is to Daily Kos.

Immediately following the 2004 election, I was talking to a friend who's a Democratic activist and I told him that in order for the Dems to become competitive nationally, they'd have to jettison the Kos-Moore wing of the party. My friend insisted it was impossible because the Kos-Moore wing is the Democratic party. The ascension of Howard Dean and this AARP link to Kos now suggest that my friend was correct.

But I'm still not buying it. If you'll remember, Howard Dean was the future of the Democratic party for almost a year--until he got clocked 70 to 18 percent in the Iowa caucuses. (The 70 percent was the combined total of the two establishment candidates, Kerry and Edwards.)

In politics, you can do a whole lot with smoke and mirrors. You can puff up movements and people, making them seem bigger than they really are. But elections strip away all of the hype and reduce illusions to brutal, numerical truth.

We've already seen the Kos Democrats puff themselves up once. We've seen them looking invincible. And then the election came, and it turned out there was no there there. Now the cycle has started again. I won't be surprised if, after the next national election, we find out that the Kos Democrats are still running about 50 points behind centrist Democrats even in their own primaries.

And when that happens, Democrats will kick themselves for being suckered into the hype, again. Peter Beinart has his work cut out for him.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sick Leave Addendum

First off, thanks for the email wishes for my speedy recovery.

Secondly, I did want to mention one other movie I did watch the other night, this time in the company of my wife: Fatal Attraction. We had both seen it before but this time around, it struck me as more creepy than erotic. (I first saw it when I was in high school and what resonated the most was the sturdiness of the kitchen sink. Moen. Buy it for looks. Buy it for sex.) There was also no question (at least for me) that Anne Archer is hotter than Glenn Close. That said, Close's portrayal of Alex Forrest was terrifying. By day she was a professional (wait--wasn't she an editor?!) and by night, she was certifiable.

"Let that serve as a cautionary tale," warned the Mrs. I said the same goes for her, if, um, she decides to have an affair with a lesbian who may turn out to be psycho.

Lisa's Back

Lisa de Moraes on Quentin Tarantino's decision to direct the season-finale of CSI:
CBS actually is the last of the major broadcast networks to secure the services of Tarantino, who, by sheer coincidence, always find himself "into the whole mythology" of only the most popular shows on TV rather than, say, the really good but struggling series that might benefit enormously from his patronage -- shows like "Arrested Development" . . .

The Great Belgian Piss Off

You'll recall last week's article on Belgium's Bush urinal sticker. Now it seems that one Belgian has

filed suit against the makers of the offending sticker. He will almost certainly lose his case, but the motive is sweet. The gentleman served under a U.S. commander during his time in the military and notes of his family:
My father was a policeman during World War II, and for his activities in the resistance he received several medals. His brother survived a concentration camp but suffered severe physical problems for the rest of his life. Look at the huge number of graves of American soldiers, sometimes of age 17 or less, who gave their lives for our freedom. I am really ashamed to be a Belgian after this humiliation and insult to a friendly nation that has helped us. It was not their war, but still they gave their lives to protect our democracy.

Oscar and the HSX

Who's going to win big at the Academy Awards? The HSX knows.

The HSX (Hollywood Stock Exchange) is a market which trades in movies. Every year around Oscar time they put out options on the nominees; the market has been exceedingly good at predicting winners.

This year, the HSX predicts:

* Best picture: Million Dollar Baby

*Best director: Clint Eastwood

*Best actor: Jamie Foxx

*Best actress: Hillary Swank

*Best supporint actor: Morgan Freeman

*Best supporting actress: Cate Blanchett

*Best original screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

*Best adapted screenplay: Sideways


If you're in an Oscar pool, I wouldn't bet against these picks.

Kos Watch

On today's Daily Kos, Armando writes, "I don't use the word fascist lightly - but what else can you call this?"

I'm not familiar with Armando's ouevre, so maybe this is true. But the idea of a Kossack saying he doesn't use the word fascist lightly strikes me as being a little funny. Kind of like a Freeper beginning with "I don't like to obsess about MSM bias . . ."

Kingdom of Heaven Watch

In reference to an earlier post about Ridley Scott's upcoming Kingdom of Heaven, a reader points us to the site Dhimmi Watch, which charges that the movie's script "panders to Osama bin Laden."

That's a pretty stiff charge (made originally by the London Telegraph, which Dhimmi Watch is quoting), which is backed up by this story:
The film, which began shooting last week in Spain, is set in the time of King Baldwin IV (1161-1185), leading up to the Battle of Hattin in 1187 when Saladin conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims.

The script depicts Baldwin's brother-in-law, Guy de Lusignan, who succeeds him as King of Jerusalem, as "the arch-villain". A further group, "the Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians", is introduced, promoting an image of cross-faith kinship.

"They were working together," the film's spokesman said. "It was a strong bond until the Knights Templar cause friction between them."

The Knights Templar, the warrior monks, are portrayed as "the baddies" while Saladin, the Muslim leader, is a "a hero of the piece", Sir Ridley's spokesman said. "At the end of our picture, our heroes defend the Muslims, which was historically correct."

Scott's spokesman adds, "It's trying to be fair and we hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history."

Historians, of course, call this "rectification of history" rubbish.

But now we know why CAIR and the other Muslim grievance groups have been silent about Kingdom of Heaven.

Dean Democrats

Captain Ed has a post about Howard Dean's visit to Kansas, where the Democratic governor refused to be seen with him. If the Democratic party is to remain a viable national party, expect to see more of this type of thing.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sick Leave

These past three days I have been sick with the flu, ratcheting temperatures over 100 degrees, and coughing uncontrollably like Edward "Longshanks" from Braveheart. The good news is I've had time to catch up on some movies, namely: Ransom, An Officer and a Gentleman, Maid in Manhattan, The Comancheros, and My Bodyguard.

Just a few thoughts:

Ransom: Perhaps because I am now married and may one day be a father (not any time soon mind you), the plot of child abduction and psychological torture was more disturbing to me than the first time I saw this movie. Who knew director Ron Howard could be so dark? The film's tension, however, stems not from the actual kidnapping, but from the dilemma of what to do. Dad (Mel Gibson) is convinced paying the kidnappers won't save his son while Mom (Rene Russo) believes in the exact opposite. The outcome is nothing you would expect.

An Officer and a Gentleman: Where are the tough guys like Drill Sergeant Foley these days? Perhaps a better question is Where is Oscar-winner Lou Gossett Jr. these days? Or Debra Winger for that matter? Or David Keith?

Maid in Manhattan: I must have been delirious when I decided to watch this cute love story starring J. Lo and Ralph Fiennes. But I will say this: It isn't often that Hollywood decides to portray a New York rising politician (Fiennes) in the handsome and dashing mold of JFK Jr. as a Republican. And having been accustomed to so much GOP-bashing on film these days, I expected him to switch parties at the last minute. He doesn't. He gets the girl and becomes the next Republican senator from New York. That said, any maid who tries on a guest's clothes deserves to be fired.

The Comancheros: I must be getting really bored because I'm watching Westerns, which I rarely do. Yet this one, starring John Wayne and Stuart Whitman, isn't half-bad. And Jack Elam plays a Comanchero called Horseface. (Remember Elam as the alcoholic doctor in Cannonball Run?)

My Bodyguard: No, this is not a movie starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. This is a 1980 classic about a rich kid (Chris Makepeace) who transfers to a gritty Chicago public school, is harassed by a young ruffian (Matt Dillon) and his crew of extortionists, and seeks the employ of a large and angry-looking loner (Adam Baldwin) to serve as his bodyguard. (I wonder how much of this film, directed by Tony Bill, influenced the likes of John Hughes.) Performances across the board, as Variety would put it, are stellar, including Martin Mull as the single parent, the wonderful Ruth Gordon as the slightly senile grandmother, and a braces-wearing Joan Cusack in her film debut. The score is mostly classical and, at least for me, nostalgic. If you haven't seen this film, I highly recommend it.

Time to take my temperature.
Blogger WillyShake's Unconsidered Trifles points to an interesting column in the Philadelphia Daily News where Michael Smerconish writes about Michael Tuohey.

Tuohey is a US Air employee who worked at the ticket counter in Portland. He handled Mohamed Atta's check in on September 11. His story is worth reading.

Correction

In an otherwise interesting item about Soprano-like activities in parts of New Jersey, my fellow Galley Slave Jonathan V. Last mistook me to hail from Monmouth County. I am actually from Toms River in nearby Ocean County. That said, Monmouth is a beautifully rustic region with towns such as Colts Neck, which is not a part of the above-mentioned scandal. Monmouth is also home to the legendary Golden Bell Diner.

And while I am at it, let me reassure our readers that there are no obvious signs of corruption in Toms River--at least not that I am aware of under the sturdy leadership of Republican enforcer Carmine Inteso.
Crew Chief Quarters has a picture of the Citizens United billboard. It will make your day.

Edward Jay Epstein

I reviewed Edward Jay Epstein's The Big Picture last week and wanted to plug the book again. If you are interested in the movie industry, The Big Picture is absolutely essential reading. It's Hollywood's Moneyball.

Also, check out Epstein's excellent site and blog.

Slate's Blogwatch

Following in the proud tradition of Judy Woodruff, Slate now has a feature to follow blogs. (This new "Where the blogs are at"-style feature will be useful for about 24 months, until everyone on the planet is using RSS feeds.)

In today's installment, Slate calls Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos) "reliably Democratic." Wow. That's a pretty soft touch, no?

More Lax

It turns out that lacrosse is also being brought to Playstation. The new lax video game is being made by Activision and looks to be an indirect result of EA's purchase of exclusive rights to NFL video games. Now other studios will look to lesser-known sports. Perhaps more good news for the NLL.

"Thank you Hollywood!"

The group Citizens United has put up three billboards in Los Angeles that they hope will be seen during the Oscars. This would be gloating.

Still funny, though.

Andrew Sullivan, uncredited

In his most recent Sunday Times column, Andrew Sullivan pontificates about the spread of iPods and how they have allowed people to retreat from civil society into little personal bubbles. It's a very good piece.

The only problem is that Christine Rosen wrote a bigger, better version of this piece several weeks ago in the New Atlantis. Her essay, "The Age of Egocasting," covered the social and societal effects of the remote control, TiVo, and the iPod. It is crackerjack stuff. And it is hard to imagine that her piece was not the inspiration for Sullivan's newspaper column. Yet Sullivan does not mention Rosen's piece even once.

This is no great journalistic sin. It isn't plagiarism. In fact you could make an argument that cannibalizing the work of your betters without giving them proper credit is one of the founding precepts of journalism. Indeed, this sort of thing happens all the time.

But it is unfair and ungracious nonetheless. Andrew Sullivan, who once edited the august New Republic, should know better.

Lacrosse on Network TV!

Galley Brother (and lax phenom) B.J. emails with news that the National Lacrosse League's all-star game will be on network television for the first time. This Saturday and 2:00 p.m. est, NBC will air the all-star game and on May 14, they'll air the league championship game. It's a huge step for the sport.

This moment is brought to you by the NHL.

Madness in Philadelphia

Toni Kukoc, Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson, and now Chris Webber. The Sixers make another blockbuster deal for another aging, past-his-prime malcontent.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Kinsley-Estrich: No Way Out

The Washington Examiner has already delivered a major contribution to journalism by publishing this astonishing exchange between Michael Kinsley and Susan Estrich.

It's not clear who's the good guy in this fight (or if there is a good guy), but it's awfully satisfying to see what happens when someone refuses to be cowed by Kinsley's smug, hyper-intellectual snootyness.
Three small town mayors in Monmouth County, New Jersey have been arrested on charges of extortion, money laundering, and what have you.

Alert readers will remember that Vic "Vegas" Matus, lover of all things organized and criminal, hails from Monmouth County. Draw your own conclusions.
Like the non-heteronormative gal seeking same from yesterday, the Law Jedi found another bit of alumni fun. A notice in his alumni magazine reads:
After spending some time in Oregon & California, I finally settled in Philadelphia, PA in 1999. My wife Kathleen [name redacted] & I married under the care of our Quaker meeting in October of 2002 and are excitedly expecting the birth of our first child in early March. (I'm the one who's swelling.) Kathleen works for the National Park Service and I serve as Development Manager for Friends General Conference....

The kicker here is that Darth Liberty once took the swell gal out.

editor's notes

The fall issue of Doublethink is finally online. We're experimenting with a staggered Internet release of articles to strengthen our so-far modest efforts to sell at newsstands.

One thing I try to do in this little magazine is to get young writers to do the kind of reporting that involves talking to strangers and getting them to tell you things. Sounds elementary, I know, but it can make a writer who knows one or two things seem to know many things. Heather Wilhelm was the most intrepid in this regard, going undercover as an anti-Bush protester. In a different, more policy-oriented vain, Brooke Oberwetter also turned out a fine piece, on Social Security, an article written from and about the point of view of twentysomethings. I had only had to give these two bright writers a few pointers and they were off to the races. If only all articles came out so easily.

Lest I seem indifferent to the issue's other offerings: Peter Brownfield interviewed several moderate American Muslims to talk about Islam's anti-American problem; Tim Marchman kicked out a mean little essay on Luc Sante; and Doublethink's go-to writer Shawn Macomber (he of Amspec and such) did a really fine piece about Greg Allen, blogger, filmmaker, businessman, art guy.

Leopold Probe

I hadn't followed the Jason Leopold story, but it makes an interesting sidenote to general goings-on at Salon. The Village Voice has a good, if too gentle, catch-up profile that discusses this plagiarist-and-alleged-fabulist's forthcoming book.
Another reason to love Uncle Grambo: His mild, yet very nasty, obsession with certain Nick Denton properties.

Dean Democrats

The Bull Moose is finding that the new Dean Democratic party can be as Leninist as the Norquist GOP. He doesn't name names, but it appears he's talking about Kos.

Marshall and Peter Beinart have a long road ahead of them. I wonder what they'll do if their project to save the Democratic party fails.

Anthony Lane Goes Deep

Anthony Lane, who owns film criticism the way we all pretend Pauline Kael once did, has a snort-your-coffee review of Inside Deep Throat:
Deep Throat was a sixty-one-minute film, released in 1972. It was directed by Gerard Damiano, whom even French critics would struggle to classify as an auteur. He had been a hairdresser, before making the tediously traditional leap from blow-drying to pornography. Damiano also claims to have written the script of Deep Throat over a weekend, although I suspect that he got up late on Saturday, started writing, and was done before brunch. The star of the movie was Linda Lovelace, who plays a woman named Linda Lovelace. This Method-like combustion of performer and role was understood to have searing implications for society’s grasp of the real, although one might equally suggest that, given what Linda did best, and given the gourmandise with which she did it, it was asking too much of the poor woman that she pretend to be somebody else at the same time

If you can believe it, Lane gets better from there. "Pornography, like high-school poetry, has both a weakness for metaphor and a terror that the message might not get through," he explains.

Later: "Adolf was Lovelace’s cat, with a perfect mustache of black fur under his nose. In stills, he looks unimpressed by the whole affair. He may have been a Republican."

Still later, Lane describes Helen Gurley Brown as "a bundle of simpers and tics."

Go. Read it now. It will make the rest of your day.

Here Comes Trouble

Not really trouble, but controversy. The trailer is now out for Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. It's a movie about the crusades in which, so far as I can tell, the hero is a young Christian knight fighting to protect Jerusalem against the invading Muslim hordes.

How do you think that's going to go over?

In the past, Scott has been fairly unflinching in his depiction of certain enemies of Western civilization (see Black Hawk Down and G.I. Jane). It will be very, very interesting to see how the Kingdom of Heaven handles the crusades and how the CAIR-style backlash is manufactured leading up to the film's release (expect Time and Newsweek cover stories in April). Also of interest will be the European reaction to the movie. What happens to European anti-Americanism when Europe is cast in the role of America?

Kingdom of Heaven is a loaded proposition; keep your eye on it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I almost missed Joseph Braude's interesting piece from TNR Online about what al Qaeda's response to Bush's SOTU meant. Excellent stuff.

Also, it turns out that Bruade, who wrote The New Iraq: Rebuilding the Country for Its People, the Middle East, and the World, has his own blog. Worth watching.

Kos Watch II

Blogger Laurie Gigliotti points us to Kos's admission that he isn't much of a reader. He recently wrote, "One of my dirty little secrets--I read very few books. In fact, the only time I read books is when I'm traveling, at the airport and on a plane."

Gigliotti is pretty mean about it, noting that "Even George Bush has outread this guy."

Kos Watch

Daily Kos, the voice of the post-Kerry Democratic party, has this to say about establishment Democrats who are worried that the new Dean DNC might be a tad too strident:

"None of the 'worrying strategists' were quoted by name, clearly afraid of incurring the grassroot's wrath for being fucking idiotic."

It's important to take Markos Moulitsas (Kos) seriously.
Meryl Yourish has a good item on a picture that somehow keeps getting attached to AP stories.

Self Parody

Galley Wife S.L. sends along this roomate-wanted ad from her alma mater's alum site:
Available *now*, looking for non-smoking roommate to sign 1 year lease. Must fill by March 1st. . . .

I'm a 26 year old non-smoking, non-drug using queer Asian woman looking for the same in terms of habits and sensibilities. I am not heteronormative, do not go to happy hours, have not milked my Smith degree for all it'$ got, and my friends are the kind of people who get stared at on the subway and roughed up by police (generally at protests). I look very respectable and am very easy to live with. I spend a lot of free time volunteering, on the computer, and socializing.

I am trans and vegan friendly. I prefer living with other queer women of color, radical activists, community workers, artists, music nerds, and *happy people* in general. But being an educated person and going through 4 years of liberalisation at Smith, I'm equal opportunity. Which means everyone but straight men and smokers should answer this post and let me know why they want to move here and when.

Thanks and have a nice day!

Hunter S. Thompson, RIP

Jay Homnick has a kinder view of Thompson's legacy than Stephen Schwartz does.

Piss Bush

Paul Belien has a report from Brussels about the latest Belgian fad: A urinal sticker with a picture of George W. Bush and the American flag and a caption which reads "Go ahead. Piss on me."

It would be one thing if this was some samizdat protest, but the ubiquitous stickers were actually designed by a Laurent Winnnock, a young man who works for Belgium's vice prime minister. Not only that, but Winnock did his designing during office hours--essentially on government time. Maybe I'm naive, but I suspet that even in Howard Dean's DNC, this sort of stunt would get you fired.

Of course America alreayd has its own piss-on-Bush urinal sticker. You can find it for sale at a place called DemocracyMeansYou.com, along with other fun doo-dads (if you want to know what the far left really thinks, look at their bumper stickers), including my personal favorites: WE Are the Rogue State and the amazing Germans supported their troops too. This last sticker features a yellow ribbon with the universal "No" slash layered on top of it.

Mind you, I would never, ever question these people's patriotism.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Speak Slowly and Carry a Big Stick

At long last, the Washington Post devotes a homage to local NBC reporter Pat Collins. For those who live in the area, Collins is the unmistakable presence at the scene of the crime--in fact he's covered thousands of DC-area homicides through the years. Here is a classic Collins opening, as described by the Post's Paul Farhi:

"Doreen, she was just 15 years old," begins the Channel 4 reporter.... "She lived in Fairfax County." Pause.

"She was found murdered"--pause--"in Prince George's County. She'd been missing for about 12 days. Now, she'd been having some problems in school. But no one"--huge, hulking, super-dramatic pause--"no one expected something like this."


And it's not just murder. Viewers will find Collins in the middle of a snowstorm, carrying his yardstick, performing impromptu measurements. As Farhi notes, "He often looks, as his wife once put it, like a guy who got dressed in the dark. In winter, he'll go on live in full shambling glory--khaki cargo pants and V-neck sweater, maybe a fleece jacket, his tie loosely knotted."

Like John Johnson in New York, Collins is part of a dying breed. He might not be slick but he definitely isn't plastic. And he may not succeed Brian Williams or Katie Couric, but he doesn't mind. Collins simply enjoys what he does: good old-fashioned reporting.

Did Someone Say Meltdown?

Craig Esherick might no longer be the coach of the Georgetown men's basketball team but his spirit continues to haunt them in light of the first back-to-back losses of the season. The first was understandable, losing to Notre Dame at South Bend (notoriously difficult for visitors). But last night's loss to struggling St. John's was inexcusable. The Hoyas were outrebounded 39-23, shot a meager 19 percent from beyond the arc, and trailed at halftime, 45-29. The defeat gave the Red Storm only its third conference win of the year. Meanwhile, the Hoyas remain at 16-8, 8-5 in the Big East--just two games away from the magical 10-conference-wins threshold. Even assuming Georgetown beats Providence at home, the team will either have to beat No. 25 Villanova at home or No. 18 Connecticut away. (Georgetown already beat the Wildcats once, at Villanova.) Can it be done? In the immortal words of Rocco Lampone, "Difficult, but not impossible."

Most of the tension this late in the season stems from the Esherick legacy: Last year, under Craig Esherick's tutelage, Georgetown lost 13 of its remaining 15 games, scarring fans like myself for life. We now presume the worst. That the meltdown has begun. And come March, we'll be tuning in to ESPN +Plus for the NIT. But despite a good number of the players being Esherick recruits, the coach is not. John Thompson III has spent the bulk of his time rewiring the older players and, more important, building a solid foundation for the younger ones. (The team itself is comprised mostly of 19-year-olds.)

So despite some chatter that the season is over, that Big East rookie of the year (my prediction) Jeff Green has hit the "freshman wall," and, as one friend put it, "the Georgetown team we all know and love is back," it is far from over. The team has two weeks to prove they aren't the same head-cases from a year ago. Next Sunday against Villanova would be a good start.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Uncle Grambo, Unplugged

Don't front; you love the Grambo. Here's a hard-hitting interview with the genius behind whatevs.org:
Q: Whose nipple slip would make your year?

GRAMBO: I would authorize my closest family members to sign a DNR if I had glimpsed l'areola de Bynes.

Bovs.

Friday, February 18, 2005

New Yorker Notes

Two observations from my favorite weekly:

(1) Nicholas Lemann's piece marks what, I believe, is the New Yorker's first use of the abbreviation "M.S.M." For those geeks obsessed with house style, note that the mavens at the New Yorker have decided to include periods.

(2) Next to David Denby's fine, if slightly precious, review of Downfall is an ad for a book titled Where Willy Went. The caption reads: "Meet Willy, the Big Story of a Little Sperm." No preschool classroom should be without a copy.

Beef Wellington

Not to be lost in the midst of Social Security reform and sanctions against Syria is a lobbying effort to get a free trade agreement for New Zealand. With all the controversy over China and the WTO, this one seems like a no-brainer: New Zealand agriculture isn't government-sponsored and farmers haven't received subsidies for 15 years now (unlike, say, the French). And we're not just talking Kiwis either: New Zealand is a meat-lover's paradise. At the moment, only 3 percent of New Zealand beef makes its way to U.S. restaurants and butcheries. This could change with an FTA, providing American consumers with better choices than suspect Canadian beef and astronomically priced Wagyu from Japan. There is no quota on lamb, and a good thing at that. New Zealand lamb is arguably the best in the world (something about the diet) and may one day eclipse Kobe beef as the must-have for gourmands. I recently had the pleasure of sampling some New Zealand lamb chops at the launch party for the bipartisan Friends of New Zealand Congressional Caucus on Capitol Hill. "Succulent" and "falling-off-the-bone" are the two words that came to mind as I sank my teeth into the chops. This was followed by generous servings of New Zealand wines. Though the whites dominate the countryside, the reds, including a Seifred Malbec, were exquisite. When a free trade agreement is passed, wine lovers and carnivores alike will have much to rejoice over.

(No, I have not been paid by the government of New Zealand for this endorsement.)

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

Of course I'm talking about Elisabeth Rohm's departure from Law & Order.

Law & Order is perfect episodic television. You can tune in whenever you want; there are no continuing plot lines to keep up with. The writing is fairly smart and the acting is generally top shelf. Few episodes go by without my being dazzled by a 30-second walk-on performance by some New York stage actor playing a building superintendent or a jilted girlfriend. If you want to see quality acting on a regular basis, Law & Order has been the place to go for 15 years.

So you can imagine how difficult the last four years have been with the wooden, super-ennunciating Rohm (when you catch here on the TNT re-runs, listen to her "t"'s) riding shotgun with Sam Waterston, the finest working actor on network television. There have been moments when Rohm's inert obliviousness have been so maddening that I was sure Waterston was going to beat her to death with his eyebrows.

But then Rohm suddenly departed a few weeks ago in a blaze of sapphic idiocy. Her replacement is soapster Annie Parisse, whom I'm warming to already.

So in celebration, I invite readers (and Skinner) to send their nominations for the Law & Order All-Star Squad. I'm thinking of regular cast members, but if you have a special defense attorney or recurring guest star, nominate them, too. To get things started, here's my starting dream team:

Dianne Wiest
Sam Waterston
Angie Harmon

and

S. Epatha Merkerson
Dennis Farina
George Dzundza

Let the festivities begin. As Jar-Jar Binks would say, Weesa free!

Strange Tales

In his latest book the Pope talks about attempt on his life made by Ali Agca in 1981. This wire story has details. The Pope John Paul II has spent some time with his would-be assassin:
"During their talk, Agca grew interested in the secret of Fatima, the pope wrote.

"And a very curious thing . . . this unrest led him to the issue of religion. He asked how it really is with this Fatima mystery. What is it based on? That was his main point of his interest, this is what he most of all wanted to find out," the pope says.

The pope went on: "Ali Agca--as I believe--understood, that above his power, the power of shooting and killing there is a greater power. He began looking for it. I wish for him that he finds it."

Agca was extradited to Turkey after serving almost 20 years for the shooting and remains imprisoned for other crimes. During John Paul's 10-day hospitalization this month for breathing problems and flu, Agca wished the 84-year-old pontiff well.

It's a strange, wonderful world we live in.
I've been out of the loop for a while, but didn't Andrew Sullivan promise he was going to stop blogging? In a post from yesterday, Sullivan tells us that he's a libertarian in favor legalized recreational drug use "and what consenting adults do in private," but he "draws the line" at the use of crystal meth.

Why is that? Because crystal meth is particularly harmful to people with HIV. In other words, Sullivan's political convictions are written in stone until they bump up against an issue he personally cares about.

Ninety and change

How can a magazine be like a forgetful husband? The new issue of the New Republic celebrates its 90th anniversary. But neither this week nor this month in fact marks the opinion journal’s ninetieth year. This becomes clear as one reads, in the Notebook feature, a long quote from the first issue. Publication date: November 7, 1914. So the anniversary was actually four months ago.

Billy Cerveny

Billy Cerveny is my favorite alt-country singer and one of the best songwriters working today in any genre. If you live in the D.C. area, he's doing a show tonight in Vienna. Click here for details. If you can't make the show, you might want to check out his site. It has MP3s of his songs you can listen to for free and links to buy the CDs. He's the best.
Mike Russell's latest non-fiction comic strip is out. This week's installment is about the cycling/anarchist group Critical Mass.

Milbank and Daily Kos

In yet another sign that the Daily Kos has morphed from a lefty-fringe site into the Democratic mainstream (or vice versa), Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank has just given the site an interview in which he discusses the Gannon kerfuffle (which the grownups at the Post have decided not to cover, so far). Tom Maguire asks the important questions:
Now, as to the Milbank interview - what are the journalistic standards here? Daniel Okrent wondered about the same thing a few weeks back, in the context of NY Times reporter Judith Miller appearing on a television show, saying "you would have every reason to think she was speaking with the authority of the paper".

Well, did Dana Milbank speak with the authority of the Washington Post when he chatted with Keith Olbermann last week, or (by e-mail) with SusanG recently? If so, why has the Post not broken this story that the White House may be lying about the day pass for Gannon - I find no mention of it there, yet I see it at E&P.

Or is Dana Milbank using Olbermann and the Daily Kos as an outlet for the innuendo and speculation he can't quite slide past his editors? If this becomes an accepted practice it will make sympathetic blogs quite a helpful forum for reporters . . .

Who wants to bet that the old media will stop fretting about dangers of the blogosphere the day after reporters understand what Milbank has just done won't get you fired?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Double Secret Probation

I'd like to think the passing of the fine Canadian actor John Vernon two weeks ago would have garnered more attention had it not occurred three days before the death of Ossie Davis. Vernon was never nominated for an Oscar or a Golden Globe--he spent most of his career playing character parts in films like Dirty Harry and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. He was also a staple in cheesy '80s T&A flicks such as Fraternity Vacation. But without a doubt, Vernon will forever be remembered as the vile Dean Wormer in Animal House. With his bellowing voice and sinister eyes, Vernon played Wormer as Inspector Javert, obsessed with squashing the Delta House. Sure, he had his faults--making shady deals with town locals for one--but you couldn't help thinking that deep in his heart, Wormer only wanted the best for his school.

As the dean of Faber College would say, "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

For me the grief is still too near . . .

This will be the final Galley Slave post on the 2005 Super Bowl. Turn away, if you must.

The last time the Philadelphia Eagles went to the Super Bowl, I was 6-years-old. I watched the first half of the game, but missed the second half, since it was past my bedtime. The next time the Eagles made the Super Bowl, I was 30-years-old and on a cruise ship. I watched the first half from the ship's bar, and then missed the second half because I had to attend a dinner (for work). When I am 54 and the Eagles make the Super Bowl again, no power in this world or the next will keep me from seeing the entire game.

But, since I didn't even get to watch the whole game, I have only a few disconnected thoughts:

(1) The Eagles' loss should surprise no one from Philadelphia. Those of us who fell into thrall with the team have only ourselves to blame. The Patriots are very good.

(2) That said, if you bet money on the Pats, you lost. Expect to hear this lame retort from Philadelphians for the next 24 years.

(3) Donovan McNabb was erratic, but much better than John Elway was in his first Super Bowl. Elway's career turned out okay. McNabb's will, too.

(4) Has any city had same-season sporting heartbreaks like Philly with the Eagles and Smarty Jones? I don't think so.

(5) When I returned to dry land, I found the following voicemail from Galley Brother B.J. It was left in a rage during the fourth quarter: So if T.O. was on a team that was a six-point favorite in the Super Bowl, and he started doing celebratory dances mocking an injured player from the underdog team, when do you think the heads on ESPN would stop giving him shit?

Good question. My guess: Never.

(6) Freddy Mitchell is no longer a charming, quirky "character." Andy Reid needs to give him the King Kong Bundy splash and then cut his ass. Five years from now I fully expect to see Mitchell strutting down Broad Street, carrying his shiny gold championship belt, and begging from spare change. He'll get none from me.

(7) Even in defeat, I concede and celebrate the genius of Bill Belichek. Also, Miramax better move on Golden Eye: The Tom Brady Story, before Matt Damon gets too old for the part.

(8) Message to Joe Banner: I suggest the Eagles trade Mitchell and a player to be named later to the Sixers for Allen Iverson. Mitchell is more of an NBA personality, anyway. And Iverson would be an amazing wide receiver whose ability to run, throw, and catch would give defenses fits. Think about it.

This concludes the post mortem. See you in 2029.

Celebrity Scofflaw

Just when you thought this guy was going to receive a presidential medal for appearing in Raisin in the Sun, his literary contribution peters out.

Also, I like this super corny lede by Karen Holt in The Book Standard: "He’s answered to Puff Daddy, P. Diddy and Sean “Puffy” Combs, but to Random House he’s D. Fendant. The publishing house is suing to get back the $300,000 advance it says it paid the rapper-mogul for his autobiography."

For the rest of the story

Alien Nation

Last Sunday, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne offered his advice to incoming DNC chair Howard Dean. Among the myriad questions to be answered, Dionne passes along a "must-do list" with items such as "Defeating the Bush Social Security Plan" and "Holding fast to the party's commitment to abortion rights and tolerance."

And then there is this: "Understanding the views of NASCAR dads, security moms, country-western music fans, gun owners, Southerners, country people and others who regard the Democrats as the party of overeducated, arrogant, Volvo-driving elitists."

Country people? Why on earth would these folks ever "regard the Democrats as the party of overeducated, arrogant, Volvo-driving elitists"?

The Liberal Blogosphere

Tom Maguire has a totally interesting (and wicked long) post on how liberals can win the blog wars. Yes, it's long, but it's worth reading through.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Tom Maguire is 100 percent right about Alan Keyes. Keyes used to be a quirky, faintly quacky political character. This story suggests that he's actually a monster.

Petite Powerhouse

Of the three best weekly reads in America, one is the New Yorker, for which my fondness knows no bounds. Another is the New York Observer, which this week carries a fascinating George Gurley article on Dawn Eden.

Eden used to work at the New York Post, where she edited and wrote--brilliantly--headlines. Then she was sacked for a journalistic error by the man who declared that Dick Gephardt was John Kerry's running mate on the front page of the Post.

I met Eden once and will always be grateful for a bit of advice she gave me. I was working on a piece about Hollywood and wanted, badly, to interview one of my writing idols, a man whom I was terrified of calling. I mentioned this to her in casual conversation and she, having just met me, became very serious and insisted that if I didn't reach out to him I would regret it for the rest of my life. The next day I called him, we spoke for a long while, and we're now acquaintances. I thank her for giving me that push.

Today Dawn has a wonderful blog, the Dawn Patrol, which I hope you'll visit often. And I hope she finds much post-Post success.

(Also, read the Gurley profile, it's fantastic.)

Fast Freddie

I often wonder what a cruise ship would be like if not for the casino. On our recent Weekly Standard jaunt aboard Holland America's Westerdam, I found myself ending my nights with either a few hands of blackjack or a quick roll of the dice. Two of my colleagues, Jonathan V. Last and Stephen F. Hayes, also dropped by to check out the action. And by the second day, there was no question where that action was to be found--at the craps table. There, around midnight, as the ship rocked to and fro, a crowd gathered to watch one of the gaming industry's most colorful players: Fast Freddie.

Truth be told, I don't know if Freddie's fame was limited to the Westerdam or if he was known in Reno, Vegas, and AC. What I do know is he electrified the audience with his lob of the dice. And he was hard to miss: Freddie (last name unknown) was in his late forties or early fifties, wore tropical shirts buttoned down to about midchest, and sported gold necklaces and a rock on his finger that would have earned the gaze of Liberace. Most of all, Freddie had a permed reddish-blonde head of hair that someone described as "porno-style" (I believe it is a loving tribute to Mike Brady).

I had one good streak as a shooter and Freddie knew it. He dropped hundreds in chips on the six and eight. Maybe even a nine. And I just kept on hitting it. There is nothing better than getting an approving look from Fast Freddie. He would then stretch out his arm and point to you in knowing silence. I pointed back in acknowledgment. No words, just looks, and all while the crowd went wild. A couple of nights later, Jonathan Last became the hot shooter. Last, too, received the point and the nod. And both of us were fortunate to be tipped by Fast Freddie. Each of us received $25 chips.

According to rumor, Freddie is in the "NASCAR asphalt business." He is also, it turns out, a staunch conservative who loves Ronald Reagan. As it turned out, at the end of my run, I won Fast Freddie about $3,000. Still, as I saw him on our last day at sea, he told me he finished down. I don't know if I'll ever see Fast Freddie again, but I'll keep an eye out for him and his flashy shirts, his bling, and, yes, that unmistakable point.

Eason Jordan and the CIA?

The Law Jedi caught a claim that Eason Jordan may have leaked the names of two CIA-recruited operatives while he was in Amman.

Triumph of the Blogosphere

So you thought the Wall Street Journal was being totally ridiculous in its assessment of the blogosphere? Yeah, me too.
Example

Monday, February 14, 2005

Who Won Marine One?

Even though Lockheed/AgustaWestland are the official winners of the $1.8 billion Marine One contract, they may wish it didn't work out so well: Rival Sikorsky had already lost its multibillion dollar Comanche program. Losing a prestige contract like Marine One was even worse (they had been carrying the president since the 1950s). If Sikorsky loses the PRV (Personnel Recovery Vehicle) competition this summer, America's most famous helicopter-maker could be facing some hard times--which is why some believe it will win the PRV contract as a consolation prize. Meanwhile, the Europeans have now gotten a foothold in the U.S. military copter market and have no intention of leaving. Both sides cry politics and to some extent they are both right. For in-depth analysis, see my recent article in The Daily Standard.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I love personals humor

Someone very close to me, years ago, told me she was looking for dates in the singles section of the local paper. This I thought so funny that I whenever I called her and got her machine, I'd leave some ridiculous message from "Bob, Pisces, SMF, non-smoke, pets yes, drag queens no. Saw your ad. Loved it. We need to meet, babe." Sign of the times: This very attractive woman eventually met a true sweetheart of a guy, whom I'm now glad to call my brother-in-law. All of which has nothing to do with this terrific link from Anonymous

PS. Anonymous mentioned an old article of mine he loathed. It was about Moulin Rouge and nothing I've written has brought me so much hate mail. In case you're curious and harboring your own mixed feelings about Baz Lurhmann's musical.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I am Third

Boy, is it quiet around here. My lame-O posts are stuck like krazy glue to the top of the page. And you’re probably wondering if you’ve ever read my stuff before. My better two-thirds, Jonathan and Vic, are away this week on The Weekly Standard cruise. Jonathan, however, is posting on weeklystandard.com with daily updates on his life at sea.

Day One

Day Two

Dude . . .

Alright, before I get any awards for most pretentious blogger (Too late, you say?), let’s talk football. Or better yet, commercials and football movies. I did see the game, which I found pretty compelling the whole way through with the exception of Chris Collinsworth’s commentary (Was he always such a numbskull?), but there are far too many better-qualified football fans. And I’m barely a fan. Ever since the Jets left Shea Stadium in Queens to play in New Jersey, I haven’t really cared.

The best commercials were, without a doubt, the careerbuilder.com monkey business series. (You can see them all at ifilm) I loved this guy with the bad haircut as he braved the complete mortification of having to work with actual monkeys. Budweiser did a good job overall, but failed miserably with it’s cock-blocking comic effort, "Cuckatoo to the Rescue," in which an annoying bird walked the bar to shoo guys away from the hot girl. Pepsi did well with its P. Diddy and Ladies’ Man spots, the latter featuring a hilarious cameo from Carson of Queer Eye fame. By the way, I haven’t met the person who isn’t creeped out by Quizno’s infant spokeschild? Yuk. Overall, an okay bunch of commercials featuring way too many that aren’t brand-spanking-new.

Football movies: Saw Friday Night Lights over the weekend. Very good football movie with all the emphasis on football. But as good as the football is—and it really is quite good, less exaggerated than Any Given Sunday’s, but still derivative—the movie suffers from wanting to make the same point every five seconds, which is this: Man, they are insane about high school football in Texas. And yet, this movie is equally insane about high-school football in Texas. Character and plot are an afterthought to the rigors of game-after-game-after-game regular season and postseason football. Still, I found the action to be pretty gripping. My guess, however, is that it will age terribly since the movie bets all its money on the intimacy one can attain with new camera angles that allow the audience a player’s-eye-view of the game and the pain. Next year and the year after that, new, better camera shots will be available. While character will still fetch a high price. Translation: I would much sooner rewatch North Dallas Forty.

FNL is also the second Peter berg-directed movie I’ve seen and enjoyed this year—the other being The Rundown, as good a dumb movie as I’ve seen recently. And I’ve seen a lot.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Contra Kinsley

I admire but disagree with Michael Kinsley’s Sunday column on Bush the Thinker. His argument is this: Bush, contrary to Kinsley’s own preconceptions, has been growing intellectually, as proved by his State of the Union and inaugural addresses. In particular, Kinsley believes Bush is parting ways with his neocon tutors by blaming terrorism on tyranny, an argument Kinsley characterizes as a variation on the old “root-causes” school of crime, which said that crime was caused by poverty and other social disorders that schooled would-be good citizens in cruelty and unfairness. Kinsley quotes Bush saying: “The peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder. If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror.” Kinsley goes on to compare Bush’s insight here with one of Emma Goldman’s that, “terrorism . . . is inevitable so long as tyranny continues, for it is not the terrorists that are to be blamed, but the tyrants who are responsible.” True, Bush is looking into despair and poverty and the crutely of tyranny for the causes of terrorism, but this is not the same as arguing that the only way to address terrorism is by addressing tyranny. Which is far more like what the root-causes school of criminology, which, like Goldman, viewed the criminal as the victim and policing and other anti-crime activities as pointless or worse. Bush, as evidenced by his worldwide manhunt for Osama bin Laden and other leading terrorists, believes in going after terrorists and holding them personally responsible for their actions. Thus one expects that no hard-luck story about a tough childhood is going to save Osama once Bush gets his hands on him.

What I admire about Kinsley’s editorial is that it focuses on an important development in Bush’s thinking even if he incorrectly categorizes the idea. Bush’s insight int tyranny breeding terrorists seems to me be much more in line with classical political philosophy’s understanding that different regimes breed different human types. A regime that rules by fear (Taliban, Saddam), a regime that proceeds on the whims of one powerful individual (Saddam), a regime that teaches cruelty to its citizens by placing its own hunger for blood and feuding over the good of the people—these are regimes that people that success consists in becoming your own trader in fear and violence and treating like nothing the hopes and dreams of thousands, if not millions, of other people. Not all tyrannies breed terrorists, but all breed individuals who know little about politics or power that isn’t learned through fear, cruelty, and the casual indifference of a government that has little to do with the consent, well-being, or rights of the governed.

In understanding this, Bush is not falling for some overheated ‘60s notion about how the system's corrupt while the so-called bad guys are innocent. Rather he is absorbing a set of insights that goes back to Machievelli and Hobbes, and back to Aristotle and Plato.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Let the Eagles Soar VI: Sadism at Soxblog

One of the fun things that happen when you root, pine, and pray for a championship underdog is that all sorts of people try to scam you. For example, the Galley Father-in-Law, who is as awesome as the day is long, called the other night looking to make a Super Bowl wager. He's a long-suffering Jets fan and has no love of the Patriots, but thought he could put one over on me. As we all know, that's not hard: He succeeded. We've bet dinner on the game and I'm not even getting any points.

Enter the esteemed Soxblog, who know wants to wager a New England clambake against a weekend of indentured servitude. Will I be suckered again?

The short answer is, No. Do I believe in the Eagles? Yes. Do I think they have a good chance to win? You bet. Am I about to prance around Soxblog's Song of the South-style manor in a Jaws jersey and be his manservant. Fuggedaboudit.

I would like to know, however, what cockle of Soxblog's dark heart pushes him to tempt a poor, downtrodden Philly fan in his time of need. Aren't Boston's dozen or so NBA championships enough? How about the recent Super Bowl victories? Or the new Beantown World Series trophy? Why, amidst this embarrassment of riches must he taunt a simple South Jersey boy?

The only explanation I can think of is that as a youngun', some bullying Yankee fan goaded the Soxblog into wagering his prized Yaz rookie card on the '86 World Series. Scarred by that ill treatment, the victim now becomes the perp. It happens. I saw it on Law & Order: SVU.

So I say to Soxblog: No thanks. You keep your clams. I'll keep what's left of my dignity. And with luck, some special teams magic, and an early pass-rush, hopefully the Eagles can make a miracle happen.

Let the Eagles Soar V

Galley Friend P.C. passes on this Boston Globe piece suggesting that the Eagles really may be the Red Sox.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Stop Bitching...

...start a revolution. That is the newest bumper sticker found on my neighbors' car, which is already plastered with other stickers such as:

"Dump Dubya"

"Hail to the Thief"

"Vote Bush: Sieg Heil!"

"John Ashcroft: The Best Attorney General the NRA Can Buy"

"Question Technology!"

"Boycott Kraft"

Boycott Kraft? I prefer Hellmann's myself but isn't this a little extreme? As the presidential election neared, the sticker count reached an all-time high. There was barely enough space for "Keep Alaska Wild." And when Bush won, I feared the neighbors' pickup would simply explode. What would they do next? Two stickers subsequently appeared. One involved voter fraud in Ohio. The other one said "Stop Bitching, Start a Revolution (zendik.org)." So what is zendik.org? From what I have seen of the site, it is some sort of commune founded by the late Wulf Zendik and his wife Arol. Brave readers can learn more about the Zendik farm, the Zendik philosophy, even Zendik sexuality. (I found myself both intrigued and disturbed.)

But I am still left wondering how my neighbors plan on starting their revolution.

Update from JVL, 2:47 p.m.: On the zendik site I found this passage: "We are very much Protoneutronic--one sex cannot function healthfully without the other. And the key word here is healthfully." Umm, isn't that homophobia? What would your neighbors say, Vic?

Or has Ashcroft already infiltrated the revolution?

Super Stats

A commenter on the Jaxadelphia thread has an impressive breakdown of what the Eagles can expect from the Pats on offense. Absolutely worth reading. Final verdict: The Pats are very, very good and normally have a great start in the first 15 plays. But if you can stay with them early, take advantage of their tendency to slouch in the second quarter, and blitz Brady in 3rd and long situations, they're mortal.

Just asking: Didn't we hear all this dynasty talk a few years ago when the Rams were about to cement their claim to being one of the all-time great teams? Anyone remember how that turned out?

Power This

Power Line has a response to the Minneapolis Star Tribune's latest attack on them. It's unbelievably devastating. It will be difficult for the Star Tribune not to issue some sort of response. If they cannot offer new facts to counter Power Line, I don't see how they can let the Camille Gage column stand without a retraction and an apology.

Of course, just because I can't see it doesn't mean they can't do it.

The Future That Wasn't

If you, like me, were batty for the amazing show Wonderfalls, you can now buy the aborted first season on DVD. Having seen the entire season by the graces of someone close to the production, I can promise you that it's a very satisfying experience. The 13 episodes have an arc and a satisfying conclusion and it plays like the greatest maxi-series ever broadcast on television (apologies to the BBC's Pride and Prejudice).

But if you find yourself wondering what would have come next, now you know.

Eason on the Jordan

Captain's Quarters has been on top of the Eason Jordan story all week and he now has both Jordan's response and a response of his own.

I haven't followed this as closely as I should have. (Frankly, if a journalist doesn't have sleep apnea, I find it difficult to care about what he says. Duvs.) But Jordan's response here seems nearly nonsensical and certainly well short of being adequate.

Best SOTU React

Is probably by the NewDonkey, who has a very thoughtful and interesting evaluation of the speech as a piece of speechwriting. Worth your valuable time.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

How much for just one rib?

It was bad enough that Redskins fans were turned back from FedEx Field because they came on foot rather than pay for a shuttle bus. It was bad enough that some of the fans were given "upgrades" and discovered their new view was mostly obstructed by a wall. It's bad enough fans cannot pay for individual tickets but have to purchase an entire season's worth. But adding even more insult to injury was the recently announced policy that in the near future, Redskins fans can only purchase their tickets using the official Redskins Extra Points MasterCard (and not no other MasterCard, let alone Visa or American Express). All for a team that went 6-10 last season.

But today the Redskins announced they have reversed their decision and fans can now purchase their tickets using any MasterCard. (But what about those of us, including myself, who don't even own a MasterCard to begin with?) For owner Daniel Snyder (who Tony Kornheiser once described as the love child of Jerry Jones and George Steinbrenner), this is a battle lost, not the war. Perhaps next season he should offer tickets in return for first-born sons.
Thomas Joscelyn is blogging about The Connection.

Ross Douthat, Geek

I say this not as an accusation, but as an expression of kinship. The evidence is here.

When Muslims Convert

Scott Johnson points to an outstanding article in the new Commentary about what happens when Muslims convert:
. . . thousands of Muslims in the West embrace Christianity each year, and the courage they must muster to do so is of an entirely different order from the bravado of someone protesting against supposedly pervasive social prejudice. These converts stand accused, rather, of apostasy. . . . In the Islamic world, there is a broad consensus, both popular and scholarly, that apostates deserve to be killed.

The author, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, details much evidence to support this claim, and then comes to another important point:
Advocates of jihad, to say nothing of actual terrorists, can be found in every corner of the West. More disturbing, because of what it says about our own ideological self-defenses, is the respectability that has been granted to spokesmen for Islamic fundamentalism who have learned to promote their agenda in our own idiom, even as they argue that mere conversion out of Islam should be considered a crime.

This rote adherence to the principle of pluralism--even in the face of ideological and practical totalitarianism--is a given here in America.

But Europe may be having second thoughts about no-questions-asked multicultural acceptance. With what we've seen recently in the Netherlands, France, and elsewhere, it seems possible that the Europeans may be willing to culturally confront Islamism, even if they though they have been less willing to do so militarily.

And in truth, I'm not certain which field of battle is more important.
OxBlog points us to this report in the Sunday Times about the future of North Korea's regime.

Next: Kuwait

Captain Ed has an interesting post on Kuwait's killing and capturing of eight al Qaeda members.

Taking Kos Seriously

SoxBlog has written an excellent piece about Daily Kos.

Headline of the Week II

Pope Loses Battle With Dove--The pictures with this story are just wonderful.

Headline of the Week

So, Prehistory Looked Like New Jersey?

Let the Eagles Soar IV

Overheard this morning on ESPN radio: Jon Runyan, the Eagles standout tackle, was asked what the weirdest part of media day was. His answer (this is not an exact quote): Having to explain the game of football to National Public Radio.

How could you root against them?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Jaxadelphia

I'm jealous of Galley Reader Buder, who's making the trek to Florida to watch the Eagles shock the world. He writes:
Yo,I'm heading down to Jaxadelphia Friday afternoon. Any Galley Slave-ites heading down there shoot me an email as me and the boys explore the finer sides of Jax's evening entertainment.
buder@knology.net

Update: Egads! Buder now tells me:
Thanks for the post. Just to clarify however, (and this could be good or bad) I am travelling down to Jaxadelphia with 9 Patriots fans lmao. I have no worries that the Green Wave will be fully represented.

Join him at you're own risk; he and his crew may be unhappy after the game.
Rodger Morrow finds the hidden link between Monty Python and Howard Dean.

Jersey City

Power Line refers us to this Jihad Watch post with details of the gruesome murder in Jersey City. The blog claims it has inside information from a friend of the family about the way in which the Copt family was murdered.

Also, Jihad Watch has some interesting speculation about why the autopsy report from this high-profile murder isn't going to be realeased until March 14.

Galley Friend Makes Good

My favorite Bushie, the estimable Ed Walsh, has gotten his
first quote
in the media in his new position as a DoE spokesman:
It's not like you're asking someone to pee in a cup.

Is Ed awesome, or what?

Coffee, Tea, or Him?

I don't like litigiousness as a general rule, but this story is awesome.

The Washington Examiner, Online

Our newest D.C. paper, the Washington Examiner, is online today. With smart guys like Dave Mastio aboard, it should be a great paper. Best of luck to them.

Kaus, by TKO. Sullivan: No Mas!

In shockingly abrupt end to the Kaus-Sullivan feud, Andrew Sullivan has simply thrown in the towel and given up on blogging for the medium-term future. Oh sure, he says it's not because of recent criticism. But you can draw your own conclusions.

Kaus now stands alone on the Interweb, like a little blogging Royce Gracie.

Does this mean that now we're actually going to have to pay attention to the State of the Union address? Sigh.

Let the Eagles Soar III

Galley Friend P.C. sends along a link to this Dan Shaughnessy column. To paraphrase a certain fictional linebacker, Respect will be paid!
These Philadelphia football fans are crazy. They have a love-hate relationship with their team. They are hardened by history and disappointment. They come from a cold climate. They think they are smarter than everyone else. They will not back down. They care. And they are not going to sit there and listen politely when they hear New Englanders boasting about the genius of Belichick or the clutch kicking of Adam Vinatieri.

JVL's guy

Richard Cohen’s column today is not, by far, his worst. Disingenuous, sure: While arguing that things could still go very badly in Iraq, he tries to distinguish himself from commentators who are demeaning this important occasion by arguing that things could still go very badly in Iraq. It’s a bogus trick: Immunize yourself to criticism by criticizing the failing you’re obviously guilty of.

But when it’s bad, it’s really bad. Take this passage: "Just last week I asked one of the architects of the war what sort of day the United States would have on Sunday. He offered no prediction, but his demeanor gave him away. He was steeled for failure."

This could mean anything. That Richard Pearle blew him off in the men’s room. That some military analyst had knots in his stomach. And how is, demeanor-wise, "steeled for failure" different from "worried, but optimistic," or "hopeful, yet affected by every reported death," or a dozen other permutations of concern mixed with unknowability that could have described any number of people?

Bottom line: Cohen is so full of himself that he thinks he doesn’t need to bother with quotes. He can just say what he thinks his interviewee would have said if they had actually agreed to tell him anything.

Skinner=Weenie?

Last week, I wrote a pithy item (aren’t they all!) about Christopher Hitchens drinking openly at a soon-to-be-televised children’s poetry reading. Kinda reminded me of the trope about the clown who, after working the children’s party, with makeup still on, lights a Marlboro and opens himself a Schlitz. Except that Hitch didn’t wait till afterwards.

En passant, I mentioned who else was on the panel, which brought me to Mary Eberstadt, journalist, mom, and author of Home Alone America, a very brave book on the overlooked consequences—as the subtitle has it—"of day care, behavioral drugs, and other parent substitutes." But what I said exactly was that Eberstadt was a "professional troublemaker and author of an excellent new book on day care and other ways parents escape their obligations."

Enter Mr. Anonymous, a GS reader, who in the posting section insists "You may not insinuate that I am "escaping" from my obligations because I send my children to day care. I do not believe Ms. Eberstadt's book is stating that either. Sure if we were back in the 50's and 60's you could attack child care-acquiring parents because back then it was not necessary for both parents to work. But here in the real world, it is.. . ."

Mr. Annoyed Reader then goes on to demand an apology—though first he realizes he’s been wrongly accusing Jonathan Last of having written the item in question. Oh, he says, "apologies to JV," leaving off the L, "Skinner is the weenie I am angry with. See how easy that is David?"

Easy to apologize, he means. Now, I realize the blog is pretty much a loose-tie forum. Still it strikes me as bad manners to go around calling someone a weenie and bandying about their first name, while hiding behind the "Anonymous" handle. Also having reread Eberstadt’s chapter on day care, I am satisfied that my formulation was faithful if unnecessarily provocative, for which I most certainly do not apologize. As to the rightness or necessity of day care, I will not even consider visiting that topic until Mr. Anonymous tells me who he really is.