Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The best story on bestiality you'll ever read.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Shiny Quarter

If you can pick out the meanest insult:
In theory, it still dates Jake Gyllenhall and Bloom still dates Kate Bosworth. And that's where the mystery deepens. Why Orlando pretends to date girls to begin with is confusing, but the thought of him banging Dunst just makes my skin crawl. Despite erotic urban legends to the contrary, sex with a baby-toothed ghost yields surprisingly little satisfaction.

Good Morning!

Who knew the September issue of In Style would feature the interview of the century. I am talking about the special "Top Secrets" section in which celebrities "fess up to all sorts of naughtiness." The historic interview I am referring to involves a Galley favorite, Ms. Jessica Alba:

Sexiest Moment: "When a man looks at you like he can't get enough of you. When you can tell he wants to take a bite out of you because you're so yummy. When he kisses you and you know what it feels like to be desired. When no one else matters."

(I need to catch my breath between typing.)

Boxers or Buff? "In the buff. There's no such thing as an ideal body; that's just silliness. It just has to be a body I want. I've never been into guys who work out three hours a day. It looks ridiculous, and they're usually lacking upstairs."

I limit my workout routine to 40 minutes.

First thing in the morning or last thing at night? "First thing in the morning, which for me is around 11. There's something nice about starting the day with a little loving from your man. And I especially love Asian men in their 30s who write for conservative magazines."

(Okay, I made up that last line.)


Some parting thoughts on Vienna.

If you are interested in "relics," this place has a few. Inside Peterskirche are the remains of one martyr I believe to be St. Benedict the Martyr (R.C. Galley readers may know better). He is encased in glass on a side altar wearing his vestments but you can see through the gaps his rib cage and his leg bones. His face is covered by a mask, which I am not certain helps his appearance as you are now looking at a skeleton with a face (and eyes looking right back at you). Inside Mariahülf, right on Mariahilferstraße, lies the body of a female martyr bearing no name. She is actually sitting upright behind the glass altar, wearing a crown that sits atop a wig of long, dark, brown, curly hair. She has on a white mask and is clad in robes. Again, was this to make her look better or creep out parishioners (if there were any parishioners)? Meanwhile, in a side chapel inside Karlskirche dangles a finger in glass. I assume this too belongs to a saint or martyr but alas there is no indication whose finger it was. Besides the relics (speaking of which, an excellent site clarifying what defines a relic can be found here), over at St. Augustine's Loreto chapel you will find more than 50 urns containing the hearts of Habsburgs long gone. (Near the entrance are amazing sculptures of mourners on their way to the vault.)

On a much lighter note, we went to a trendy restaurant, Fabios, around the corner from Stephansdom. On the chalkboard behind the bar are printed all the drinks they serve, including Caipirinhas and Mojitos. They also make Cosmopolitans--I asked the bartender who drinks them: "Mostly married women," he told me. "Ever since that show Sex in the City came here, that's all they want to drink."

Top 10 Dot-Com Flops

Uncle Grambo returns from the dead to give us this link to C-Net's best disasters.

I'm particularly fond of, the creators of which were even more obnoxious than the geniuses who thought up (which clearly should have made the list).

Flirting with .400

This is why baseball is the greatest sport on earth.

Dust-Bowl Days, Con't.

Continuing yesterday's discussion of the housing bubble, Galley Reader and Redskins Super-Fan P.G. writes:
Ok, so Vegas leads the list and it’s got nothing but space to build on. But you’ve missed one component: zoning restrictions. Take CA for example, quite a few cities on your list are in CA, but do you realize how hard it is to build a development in CA? I don’t know what the rules in NV are, but I’m guessing they probably aren’t developer-friendly. Vegas is the fastest growing city in the US, so there is a huge demand for housing and probably a supply that doesn’t match that demand. I live in Loudoun County, VA, and if you drive through it you’d think that there was nothing but space to build. But zoning restrictions limit land use to one home for every 7-10 acres in western Loudoun. Kinda hard to build homes to meet the demand of America’s fastest growing county when you’re limited to building a home on 10 acres. . . . the market is overpriced in many areas around the country. Where wage increases cannot sustain increased home costs you’ll see a correction. But the doom and gloom housing bubble collapse that we’ve been told to expect hasn’t happened and probably won’t happen. Mind you, 2 years ago we were told the rate of increase in home values could not continue and yet in continued for 2 years.

As for Greenspan’s prediction of a bubble burst, he warned of a stock market collapse in 1996, a full 4 years before it actually happened. In economic terms a prediction that comes 4 years early is not excellent foresight, it’s just plain dumb.

The dot-com bubble may have burst later than expected, but the point is, it still popped. We did not have Dow 36,000, as some very smart people predicted. We did not have unlimited growth in the stock market because a new economy changed the principles of market physics. And I suspect (hope/dream/etc.) that this housing market is a bubble that must burst, too.

Yes, there is growth in demand and surely in some places prices may be upped by zoning problems, but there are too many non-dense, non-populous, non-"hot" markets that are out of control for zoning regulations to account for everything.

Today I point to posts from suburban Minneapolis and Boise (Boise!) about sky-rocketing house prices. What is at work here is tulip-mania, fueled by low interest rates, lending malpractice, a weak stock market, and a national psychosis about home ownership.

I understand more than you'll . . . never-know.

My favorite blogger, Brendon Donnelly has a post which is totally pointless except that it furthers a personal feud between him and his former partner at The Superficial. Since I regard Brendon as a genius and The Superficial as a collective of hacks who coasted for too long on Donnelly's accomplishments, I present the following.

From Donnelly, on August 26:
"where ladies are tied to train tracks by guys in tophats with monocles and handlebar mustaches as they cackle manically"

From The Superficial, on August 29:
"your next step in life is to tie somebody to some train tracks and laugh maniacally as you twirl your mustache"

Update, 10:52 a.m.: An alert commenter notes that "Jenny" wrote that post, not Brendon. I don't know who "Jenny" is, and I refuse to answer.

"Loser" vs. "Growth"

Two companies in the same business with similarly terrible stock prices--Design Within Reach and Pier One Imports. One stock is a dog, the other might have growth potential. The Wershovenist Pig has the answers.

Bonus: Why ATI's misfortune could be your gain.

Double Bonus: Just a thought, but as the real estate bubble bursts, won't some of that money flow back into the stock market, making this a good time to look seriously at stocks?

(More on that housing bubble later.)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Despite the cataclysm about to befall Fat City, allow me to add a few more thoughts on my now not-so-recent trip to Vienna:

Here's one European innovation that Americans can use: Traffic signals that turn yellow before turning green. How often have we sat in traffic, three or four cars behind the slow driver who, when the light turns green, sits there for a good five seconds before sliding his foot from the brake pedal to the gas, then slowly steps on the gas, which means by the time you move, the light has probably switched to red again? The preemptive yellow light, I am betting, would do much to reduce congestion.

Of course this assumes cars in the other direction will not ever run reds. If they did...

Vienna now has its own "walk of fame," consisting of stars along the sidewalks with names of famous composers, conductors, and the like. There's Franz Schubert and Frederic Chopin and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. (It is interesting and quaint, but why must the Japanese tourist contribute to the stereotype and take a photo of the star belonging Yehudi Menuhin? It sadly brought to mind the words of the great Al Czervik who once said: "Wang, it's a parking lot!")

Not everyone can get a star on streets like Kärnter and am Graben. Some end up near the subway. I remember spotting the stars for Debussy and Saint-Saëns in the Karlsplatz station. Not too far from them someone (most likely in a drunken stupor) left a ... present. It is an image I will not soon forget. I call it the Karlsplatz Schokorolle.

Yearning for Dust-Bowl Days--Updated!

Well, not quite. But even though I'm into the real estate market up to my eyeballs, articles such as this one make me long to see the housing bubble burst--suddenly and mercilessly:
Such thriftiness has gone out of fashion. What was once considered undesirable — taking on large debt — is now seen as smart. And what used to be smart — becoming debt-free — is described as imprudent.

"If you paid your mortgage off, it means you probably did not manage your funds efficiently over the years," said David Lereah, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors and author of "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?" "It's as if you had 500,000 dollar bills stuffed in your mattress."

He called it "very unsophisticated."

Anthony Hsieh, chief executive of LendingTree Loans, an Internet-based mortgage company, used a more disparaging term. "If you own your own home free and clear, people will often refer to you as a fool. All that money sitting there, doing nothing."

Really, whatever financial harm comes my way when the bubble bursts will be totally out-balanced by the satisfaction of seeing prats like these two get beached.

Galley Friend C.L. adds:
Because in the New Economy, the laws of supply and demand are irrelevant!

Honestly, in five years these guys are going to be looking at the same kind of jail time that Merrill equity analysts are doing today.


Update, 1:15 p.m.: A commenter says:
No offense, but the laws of supply and demand are very much at the source of the real-estate boom. Look at the areas that are experiencing the biggest booms: dense urban areas and the surrounding suburbs. The supply of homes is in limited quantities due to strict zoning regulations that keep builders from erecting more homes. At the same time those areas are seeing huge influxes of immigration. Increased demand, capped supply, higher costs. It's the same reason why you can check out real estate in Raleigh, NC and notice that it's barely moved over the past 5 years. There is basically an unlimited supply of land to build on and homes are going up incredibly fast. Same with Salt Lake City, UT. The market is overpriced, but it's hardly a bubble that will lead to any sort of serious crash.

If only that was true! Look down the list of red-hot, out-of-control markets and you'll see cities such as Phoenix, and Bakersfield, and Naples--medium-sized, diffuse metropolitan and suburban areas with no space constraints.

And at the top of the list of percentage price increases over the last several years is . . . Nevada, lead by the insane market in Las Vegas. You know what they've got in Las Vegas? Land! They're not bumping up against rivers or oceans or 200-year-old suburbs in Sin City.

Look at this list of the top markets for 2004: Las Vegas real estate increased by 47.3 percent in one year. 47.3 percent! And it isn't because there's not enough sand to build on.

Look down the complete list and you'll find only 6 markets that could even charitably be described as dense and urban in the top 30. San Francisco and New York City--the archetypes of the incredibly expensive, densely-packed urban market--don't even make the top 40!

You tell me how any of this makes sense.

Hitchens on Iraq

In a piece that GOP types will both love and hate, Hitchens sounds a number of important notes:
LET ME BEGIN WITH A simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad."

I could undertake to defend that statement against any member of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, and I know in advance that none of them could challenge it, let alone negate it. Before March 2003, Abu Ghraib was an abattoir, a torture chamber, and a concentration camp. Now, and not without reason, it is an international byword for Yankee imperialism and sadism. Yet the improvement is still, unarguably, the difference between night and day. How is it possible that the advocates of a post-Saddam Iraq have been placed on the defensive in this manner?

His defense of the war in Iraq is fairly convincing, as is his indictment of President Bush:
I have a ready answer to those who accuse me of being an agent and tool of the Bush-Cheney administration . . . Attempting a little levity, I respond that I could stay at home if the authorities could bother to make their own case, but that I meanwhile am a prisoner of what I actually do know about the permanent hell, and the permanent threat, of the Saddam regime. However, having debated almost all of the spokespeople for the antiwar faction, both the sane and the deranged, I was recently asked a question that I was temporarily unable to answer. "If what you claim is true," the honest citizen at this meeting politely asked me, "how come the White House hasn't told us?"

I do in fact know the answer to this question.

And later, this:
Two pieces of good fortune still attend those of us who go out on the road for this urgent and worthy cause. The first is contingent: There are an astounding number of plain frauds and charlatans (to phrase it at its highest) in charge of the propaganda of the other side. Just to tell off the names is to frighten children more than Saki ever could: Michael Moore, George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, Tim Robbins, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson . . . a roster of gargoyles that would send Ripley himself into early retirement. Some of these characters are flippant, and make heavy jokes about Halliburton, and some disdain to conceal their sympathy for the opposite side. So that's easy enough.

The second bit of luck is a certain fiber displayed by a huge number of anonymous Americans. Faced with a constant drizzle of bad news and purposely demoralizing commentary, millions of people stick out their jaws and hang tight. I am no fan of populism, but I surmise that these citizens are clear on the main point: It is out of the question--plainly and absolutely out of the question--that we should surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to a rotten, murderous alliance between Baathists and bin Ladenists. When they hear the fatuous insinuation that this alliance has only been created by the resistance to it, voters know in their intestines that those who say so are soft on crime and soft on fascism. The more temperate anti-warriors, such as Mark Danner and Harold Meyerson, like to employ the term "a war of choice." One should have no problem in accepting this concept. As they cannot and do not deny, there was going to be another round with Saddam Hussein no matter what. To whom, then, should the "choice" of time and place have fallen? The clear implication of the antichoice faction--if I may so dub them--is that this decision should have been left up to Saddam Hussein. As so often before . . .

DOES THE PRESIDENT deserve the benefit of the reserve of fortitude that I just mentioned? Only just, if at all.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Britain's Answer to A.N.S.W.E.R.

David Adesnik has an excellent post giving context to a disturbing picture from the Washington Post.

Hugh Hewitt: In Defense of the Old Media?!?

Seriously! Hugh has a long and devastating post comparing the work of Nick Lemann (of the New Yorker) and Tim Rutten (of the Los Angeles Times). Here's Hewitt on Lemann:
I have been asked by many why did I "chance" such a piece? Answer: Before I agreed I read everything Nicholas Lemann had produced for the magazine over the previous four years, and found all of them to be rigourously fair and of course spectacularly well written. Lemann really does practice "the craft" that so many in old media claim to follow in the way that 2,000,000 Angelenos claim to have been at Chavez Ravine when Gibson hit his home run.

We've got a convert!

To be polite, Mr. Rutten does not compare favorably.

Bonus: Be sure to read this post for a pre-war Lemann excerpt which accurately describes the Bush administration's multi-pronged rationale. It's a tonic to the "no WMDS" refrain.

John Paul II

Referring to the certified miracle which is required for sainthood, Dziwisz said: "The Holy Father didn't want to hear talk of such things. He would say `If by chance something should happen, God makes miracles, not me. I pray. These are mysteries. Let's not talk of these things.'"

Porn and Sexual Harrassment

I'll just give you the first paragraph of the story:
AUGUSTA -- The Maine Human Rights Commission has agreed that a former Skowhegan man was subjected to sexual harassment during visits to an adult book and video store.

I lied. Here's more:
"I was a regular customer at FABV," Clark said. "I was subjected to constant sexual harassment and sexual advances by one of the gay male clerks at the store, Carlton Larrabee. I found his actions to be totally unwelcome and offensive."

Clark said he complained to Larrabee, and threatened to go to his supervisor.

Shortly thereafter, Clark said, he was banned from 1st Amendment Book and Video.

In his response, Stuart noted that Clark was protesting in front of his store.

It does get better, though.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Lesson for the Left

Courtesy of George Will:
In the 1960s, just as conservatism was beginning to grow from a fringe tendency into what it has become -- the nation's most potent persuasion -- it was threatened by a boarding party of people not much, if any, loonier than Sheehan. The John Birch Society, whose catechism included the novel tenet that Dwight Eisenhower was an agent of the Kremlin, was not numerous -- its membership probably never numbered more than 100,000 -- but its power to taint all of conservatism was huge, particularly given the media's eagerness to abet the tainting. Responsible conservatives, especially William F. Buckley and his National Review, repelled the boarders, driving them into the dark cave where, today, they ferociously guard the secret of their size from a nation no longer curious about it., which claims 3.3 million members and is becoming a tone-setting tail that wags the Democratic Party dog that is mostly such tails, adopted Sheehan during her Crawford demonstration, organizing 1,627 vigils around the country to express solidarity with her. But the Democratic Party, whose democratically elected chairman is Howard (``I Hate the Republicans and Everything They Stand For'') Dean, is not ripe for lessons in temperate rhetoric, which may be why the Republican Party has far fewer worries than it deserves.

Inside the Sheehan PR Machine

From a local ABC affiliate:
There is real reluctance to talk about whose paying. And the PR machine that's promoting Cindy Sheehan. But not everyone here is completely comfortable with it.

Gold Star mother Karen Meredith went to Crawford from Mt. View. Her son Ken Ballard died last year.

Karen Meredith: "Sometimes things don't feel quite right to me. They don't feel wrong but maybe that's how they do it in the marketing business."

ABC7's Mark Matthew: "You feel you're part of a marketing business?"

Karen Meredith: "Possibly. Yeah I think so."

Hugh Hewitt, Trojan Killer

I love to bash USC, and find reasons to do so even when they are the middle of a pretty good run on the gridiron.

And ouch again:
the Trojans still have the easiest schedule in the Top 20. I am surprized they didn't find room to take on Oberlin.

When you're throwing out the Obies, that's rough.

Get Your Fresh CulturePulp!

Really, where does he find this stuff? This week Mike Russell interviews an artist who works entirely in View-Master reels.


Chris Wershoven has been my best friend since we were in the second grade together at Haddonfield Friends School and now he's started a very interesting blog, WershovenistPig.

The idea behind WershovenistPig is that Chris is about to try his hand at the stock market and the blog will be a laboratory and notebook where he explains his research, plots out his moves, and looks for readers to poke holes in his plans before he executes them.

Chris is a naturally genius guy--really, what product of Quaker education isn't?--and his blog is an excellent read, particularly if you're interested in the market and/or business.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Perhaps one of the more shocking discoveries I made on my return visit to Vienna (I lived there as a student between 1993-1994) was the seemingly ubiquitous Starbucks Coffee bars. I counted at least four in the city and they were always crowded. But why? Vienna, after all, is the cafe capital (at least after taking the beans from the invading Turks in 1683) of Central Europe. In fact, I had a luscious Wachauer Torte at Cafe Central, where Trotsky had spent many hours plotting. How could a mocha latte ever compete with a Wiener Melange?

Some observations: The Austrians (and other Europeans) love the comfortable couches found at any Starbucks. They're big and PoMo and it probably reminds them of Friends. Coffee-to-go is still a relatively novel idea. Normally one sits at a cafe and a waiter brings you a metal tray with a melange on a saucer, some sugar cubes, and a glass of water with a teaspoon balanced on top of it. Then you read the newspaper, one page at a time, using one of those wood-framed newspaper holders. But as Europeans begin copying American habits like coffee on the run, Starbucks has filled in that niche (as did McDonald's for many years). And according to Bernadette, a student waitress working at the Starbucks on Kärntner Strasse, everyone loves the Frappuccino.

Vienna Waits For You

The first of several vignettes from my recent trip to Vienna:

Vienna is such a lovely city, especially in late summer when for a brief spell the sun comes out for than a few hours each day. And during my visit there a couple of weeks ago, it actually got a little warm. So to cool down I recommended to the Mrs. that we hang out in the Kaisergruft. Little did she know I was taking her to the Habsburg crypt where some 146 members of the royal family are entombed--not exactly the most popular tourist attraction. Beneath a Capuchin church (no surprise), a staircase leads you to a dark and dank cellar. And then it begins. (You almost want to roam around with a torchlight.)

Besides Maria Theresia and Franz Josef, you can find the final resting places of the beloved Empress Elisabeth ("Sissi"), who was stabbed by an anarchist in 1898, and Maximilian, the ill-fated "emperor" of Mexico who was executed by revolutionaries. If ever you find yourself in the city with time to ... kill, I highly recommend the Kaisergruft. If ... you ... dare!

You Know You're In a Bruckheimer Movie If . . .

Galley Friend J.V. sends along this link to Peter Suderman's hysterical Guide to Determine If You Are in a Jerry Bruckheimer Movie:
1. Your girlfriend is a waitress, but could be a model.
2. A bus explodes. . . .
6. Despite a total lack of training, you are able to shoot and fight with the accuracy and ability of a special-forces soldier.
7. You are a cop or scientist, but could be a model.
8. A building explodes. . . .
10. The light always hits your face in just the right way.
11. You are in a shootout on the streets of a major city ...
12. ... and it involves helicopters and rocket launchers.
13. Everyone around you is a model.

There's more.

More from Camp Cindy

Eric Pfeiffer has more color than you're likely to see in mainstream accounts of Cindy Sheehan's return to Texas:
Sheehan’s handlers said she was refusing to give any media interviews last night and I respected their request. After having a bite to eat, Sheehan joked with her supporters, mocking the Bush supporters standing outside “Camp Casey II.” A few of the protesters walked outside the campsite to engage in hostile “dialogue” with the Bush supporters. In an unintentional moment of irony, one of the protesters screamed in a bit of self-righteous rage, “What are they doing here? They can’t protest!”

Despite the press handlers’ claims that Sheehan was physically exhausted, she appeared in good spirits. Most of the photos I have seen in the media today reflect the moment where Sheehan was crying. I do think this is somewhat misleading. While she is certainly entitled to her grief, most of the scene was quite jovial, which is not reflected in the mainstream media’s coverage. I’m not denying Ms. Sheehan her right to a cathartic moment, merely bringing you the full story and facts from the ground.

Meanwhile, Patterico notes that Sheehan recently referred to the terrorist in Iraq as "freedom fighters."


In response to my quibble about perhaps placing too much confidence in the ability of regional trial lawyers, Beldar answers with what, to me, is a argument ender:
I must confess to a certain amount of regional bias, but it's not so much in favor of Texas trial lawyers as against lawyers from New York.

Hard to argue with that. Full Point: Beldar.


On Cameron Diaz:
Its obviously awesome that Cameron's dumb little show Trippin was about rolling around in the mud in third world nightmares where alien like diseases are the number one export and "ham" on a menu is simply a space saving way to write "hamster". And then the cameras shut down and Cameron runs back to her palatial resort and racks up million dollar tabs for personal trainers, hairdressers, and make up artists before doing her voice over to lecture the rest of us about how we should live like raccoons. Because she saw a pygmy wearing a gorilla head as a hat . . . on her vacation. Her vacation from sitting courtside at Lakers games, surfing in Malibu and banging a beautiful boy bander.

Sheehan and the AP

John Hinderaker has a devastating post on AP reporter Angela Brown's latest story on Cindy Sheehan. This strikes me as the sort of reportorial misconduct that should cost someone their career. Brown reports:
Sheehan and other grieving families met with Bush about two months after her son died last year, before reports of faulty prewar intelligence surfaced and caused her to become a vocal opponent of the war.

This isn't reporting, it's apologetics. From Hinderaker:
. . . this claim is utterly false. Sheehan has always been a "vocal opponent of the war;" her opposition had nothing to do with "reports of faulty prewar intelligence." By her own account, as we noted here, Sheehan was bitterly opposed to the war before her son Casey re-enlisted in August 2003 . . .

It gets worse from there.

Politics Over Policy: The Democrats and Daily Kos

This is the first time I can remember seeing someone admit unabashedly that they want to put politics over policy when it comes to American foreign policy. The implications for Demorats are thoroughly chilling.

Here's the story: At lefty blog site MyDD, Jerome Armstrong took Kos superblogger Armando to task over his calls for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Armstrong wrote:
It's easy to say "It Is Time" for the complete withdrawal of Iraq (something that neither Feingold or Hagel would agree with), but it's not easy to understand the political ramifications of that action.

Armando then response to another liberal blogger who has demanded at Daily Kos with stunning candor:
Well, my short answer is it is time to pummel Bush on his failures in Iraq. Well, it is past time. And you can't pummel him if you say "stay the course." . . . And this is what I am talking about when I say the politics comes before the policy . . .

But I want to leave this part on the front -- it is because Bush won't listen that the politics comes first -- because the only way to change our disastrous Iraq policy is to change the political dynamics and the political power situation we currently are in. That means Dems winning in 2006.

There it is: On a subject involving life and death, the most important liberal blog openly admits that it isn't concerned with determining what the right course of action is in Iraq--they're only concerned with "pummeling" Bush.

Remember this the next time you hear them criticize the Bush administration--they've now admitted that their criticisms may not have anything to do with reality.

But even more important, remember this the next time a member of the Democratic establishment hunkers down to pay homage to Daily Kos.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Great News!

He renewed his driver's license! All hail the New Media! Suck on that, Paul Krugman!

(Bonus points if you guess the "he" before the jump.)

Is It Wrong to Call Kos Sexy?

Because he's like a blogging James Dean:
I AM a guy with a blog. One that has built a platform that allows lots and lots and lots of people to have their say and organize and advocate for their causes. People want to equate that with "leadership" and assign me "responsibilities".

Well, what happens when i say "fuck that"? Because I'm not being falsely modest when I say I don't want that responsibility nor power and I won't take it. I'm simply not interested.

This site became popular because of my style, because of my voice, because of my refusal to compromise what I believe in order to appease anyone. . . . And I won't stop doing it. As I've said many times before to wails of outrage -- you don't like it, it's a huge blogosphere. Nothing is forcing anyone to read this site. . . .

I will not be the be-all end-all of the progressive blogosphere. I'm not interested. If someone pisses me off or annoys me, I'll say so. And if I hurt some feelings, so be it. I'm not going to pussy-foot my way around the various progressive constituencies for fear of offending. Feel free to disagree with me, but don't try to muzzle me. No one censors me. . . .

You can keep trying and build me up into something bigger and more important. It's a wasted effort, but it's a free country. Me, I'll keep doing what I've been doing for the past three years.

Yeah, baby! That's called Truth to Power! What's Markos rebelling against? Whadya got?

He is like the cock of the walk, no?

Just Asking . . .

If Bush can't carry the offices of National Review, how do we think Republicans are going to do in the midterm elections?

I'm only half-serious, of course.

But Bush has largely had a Mr. Magoo presidency--every time he was about to step off the ledge, a crane lifting an I-beam appeared to catch him and lift him even higher. One would think that luck has to run out eventually, no?

It may be apostasy, but recall that pre-9/11 Bush looked like an odd-on one-termer. Remember the downed plane in China fiasco? The punting on affirmative action? The cutting of the military budget to the point of scrapping the two-war maxim? Remember how lost he looked at times?

It could be that Bush is just now regressing to the mean--settling in where he would have been had Osama bin Laden not massacred 3,000 Americans.

Or alternatively, it could be that Bush's anti-intellectualism (a Frum reader puts this more delicately: "Rather than press his subordinates to make up for his shortcomings, the president seems inclined to think that because he's right and/or winning elections and wars that rhetoric is empty or unimportant, when it's often of primary importance.") is finally exacting a price.

There's a reason some of us went ga-ga listening to Tony Blair talk about the war on terror. Go back and read this speech. If only Bush could talk this way:
11 September was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it's over.

There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood, or when, except in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction for our present day. . . .

The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together.

And when people say, "That risk is fanciful," I say we know the Taleban supported al-Qaeda.

We know Iraq under Saddam gave haven to and supported terrorists.

We know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people, who regard it as God's will in the act of suicide to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God's judgment.

Some of these states are desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

We know that companies and individuals with expertise sell it to the highest bidder, and we know that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad.

This isn't fantasy, it is 21st-Century reality, and it confronts us now.

Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together?

Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering.

That is something I am confident history will forgive.

But if our critics are wrong, if we are right, as I believe with every fibre of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership.

That is something history will not forgive.

Over the last three years I've had a number of Bush supporters chastise me for my Blairophilia and their complaint is always the same: Wouldn't you rather have a leader, like Bush, who takes the right actions but can't speak, instead of a Blair, who can speechify, but doesn't always go the right way?

And my answer is always the same: This is America. It's a big country. Is it really too much to ask for a president who can do both?

Regional Pride

I love Beldar and everything, but his regional pride seems a little overweening here:
But I hope that attorney Bicks wasn't just trying to make sure that the NYT spelled his name right for his and his firm's marketing purposes. And I guarantee you that Ms. Lowry and her partners at Fulbright & Jaworski don't need lawyers from New York City, nor the New York Times, to come to Texas to teach them how to try jury cases.

The last time I heard someone vouch so solidly for the genius of regional trail attorneys, it was a lawyer calling in to C-SPAN to lecture me about how John Edwards who, this lawyer insisted, was such a brilliant, Nawhth Car-o-lina trial attorney that he was going to slice and dice Dick Cheney in the VP debate.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Baez on the Buzz

My main man Eric Pfeiffer has been down reporting from Crawford and just did an interview with Joan Baez. Interesting excerpts:
There’s no way to ensure a peaceful transition. There’s already been so much chaos and unnecessary violence. Much of that has been created by us. But there was already this disgusting level of chaos and violence with Saddam Hussein.

We’ve just made ourselves so loathsome that whatever happens I think will be better. We have antagonized the world so much. I mean, I travel a lot. When I’m in places like Italy I memorize the Italian translation and I say, ‘I ask for your forgiveness for what my president is doing to the world. And they stand, they get up and give a standing ovation, because someone finally does get it. That’s how they see it. Granted, that is my public. But that public is pretty broad.

Sadly, Baez doesn't finger PNAC. Maybe she should lock it up!

A Fantasy Three-Way

This report on the fretting about Atom Egoyan's new movie's potential NC-17 rating is hysterically funny in its duplicity. To wit:
An explicit sex scene involving two men and a woman in Canadian director Atom Egoyan's latest movie is expected to earn the film a prohibitive rating in the U.S. that, if sustained, will "severely limit" its box office there, Mr. Egoyan predicted yesterday. . . .

. . . given what Mr. Egoyan calls "the very conservative climate in America," he and the film's North American distributor, Toronto-based ThinkFilm Inc., "strongly suspect" it will be rated NC-17. This means no one 17 years of age or under in the U.S. will be allowed admission, even if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

While "Where the Truth Lies" has some tough violence, nudity, lesbian encounters and drug-taking, it is a sex scene involving stars Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon and the film's female lead, 29-year-old Rachel Blanchard, that seems to be giving U.S. adjudicators trouble -- something U.S. observers told Mr. Egoyan he might expect after the movie's world premiere in May at the Cannes film festival.

"I guess I'm naive; I really had no idea it would be a problem," the director said at that time. . . .

But besides restricting the audience, an NC-17 classification likely would limit the marketing potential of the movie in the United States. . . . As a result, "that severely limits the commercial opportunities of the film," Mr. Egoyan said.

Break me a fucking give. This is Atom Egoyan we're talking about here, not Rob Cohen. An NC-17 rating is not going to hamper his box office performance because his movies never make any money!

Egoyan's last four full-length feature films have done the following business:

Ararat - $1.5 million
Felicia's Journey - $820,000
The Sweet Hereafter - $4.3 million
Exotica - $5.1 million

That's not opening weekend, that's total domestic gross. In real, constant dollars, the economic impact to Egoyan of an NC-17 versus an R will be about $3.75. If he's really broken up about it, I'll treat him to a Venti Frappuccino and we'll call it even.

Pile on top of this Egoyan's theatrical fretting that an NC-17 will keep the lucrative teenage demographic away from his movie, as if the crowd that goes to see Bad Boys II was really looking forward to Egoyan's precious art film.

And let's not even touch Egoyan's ludicrous worry that it's the "very conservative climate" in George Bush's fascist police state that's contributing to the MPAA's rating. (We all know that the MPAA is just another one of Karl Rove's puppet organizations.) I'll just say that, without having seen Mr. Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies, movies with tough violence, nudity, drug-taking, and graphic sex are precisely why the NC-17 rating was invented.

Of course Egoyan must know all of this. But how could he be expected to pass up a chance to preen and play the martyr.


Here's a great example of why I love Hugh Hewitt:
The Post's Amy Goldstein called the office again yesterday, seeking an interview about John Roberts. I again offered her as much time as she needed, but conditioned the offer on the interview being conducted on air. She once again cited the desire not to lose control of her story, and the fact that her editors would react negatively to my approach. Fine, I relayed back through Radioblogger, my producer. No harm, no foul. No interview.

Forget the off-angles he's playing with the Post here (which is pretty hysterical), and check out what a happy warrior he is. And here's the thing: That's not schtick. Hugh really is one of the most genial guys you'll ever meet.

If only my New Yorker would get here soon so I could read the Nic Lehmann profile of him. Unlike Hugh's friend, I won't be at all surprised if the piece turns out to be pretty great and very fair.

I'll say it again: The New Yorker is (still) the great magazine of our day.

Jack Abramoff: Email Demon?

Michael Crowley has a post about evil GOPer Jack Abramoff based on this U.S. News story:
I've followed the Abramoff story closely, and this installment is a pretty familiar rehash of the basic narrative. But a couple of things in it struck me. One is that the Justice Department has been poring through fully 500,000 of Abramoff's emails. That's a reminder of just how much of the conservative lobbyist's enthralling secret world remains unrevealed, despite all the national coverage to date.

500,000 emails? Does that figure sound right to you?

If we assume that DoJ is interested in the period beginning with the 1994 Republican take-over of the house, that means that Abramoff sent out and/or received 500,000 emails in 10 years, or 137 emails a day, every day for an entire decade, including the mid-'90s, when email was hardly a household convenience.

None of this is meant as a defense of Abramoff or the enthralling secret world of conservatism, of course, but that number does seem awful fishy.

Bonus: Funniest J.A. joke yet, courtesy of Uncle Grambo, "Jack Abramoff? But I hardly even know him!"

If You Never Loved Chris Wallace Before . . .

. . . you will now. From the summary of his appearance on The Daily Show:
Wallace asks if Stewart's claim to fame is going to be discovering Steve Carell. Oh snap, yo! Man, Wallace, I know you didn't just step over that line. Hell no. The audience erupts in playground "OHH"s. Stewart chuckles at the response and asks Wallace, "Do you realize that you're surrounded by my audience?"

That's right: Lock it up.

GOP Straw Poll

Patrick Ruffini is running the most comprehensive and interesting online straw poll I've ever seen. It's well worth taking a look at and casting a vote if you're a GOP voter (or a troublemaking Dem looking to pump up Chuck Hagel).

Barnett Rubs It In

With a counter-intuitive post declaring that Bill Weld will defeat Elliot Spitzer in the NY Gov. race. Remember, this is the guy who called the Red Sox 0 games to 3 victory over the Yankees--ingore him at your own peril.
New Yorkers, please be cognizant that this is what things have come to: Not only do the Red Sox now dominate the Yankees, soon you’ll be electing our hand-me-down as Governor. What greater proof could there be of Boston’s primacy?

No, you lock it up!

The Wedding Stingers

How awesome is this story?
The guests thought they were headed to an early afternoon wedding on a yacht docked near Atlantic City in the United States.

They ended up in jail instead, courtesy of an elaborate ruse by U.S. federal authorities hoping to bust up an international smuggling ring. . . .

The affair was seven months in the making, and the bride and groom were actually undercover FBI agents who worked with the accused smugglers for several years, said Christopher J. Christie, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

"Invitations were sent out, a date was given and RSVPs were received from different points around the world," Christie said at a Justice Department news conference.

"One guest even brought a pair of gold Presidential Rolex watches," New Jersey FBI Special Agent in Charge, Leslie G. Wiser Jr., told reporters in Newark.

They were assured transportation would be provided to the yacht. They were taken into custody instead.

Lock it up!

Monday, August 22, 2005


Not that you care, but for now I've added word verification to comments in an attempt to disuade comment spam. This spam started as a trickle over the last couple weeks but went a little crazy today. So now if you want to leave a comment, you'll have to type in a word. It's annoying. Sorry.

Eagles Help

Does anyone out there know where I could get my hands on the discontinued 4th-and-26: Believe T-shirt?

Spambots are clogging up the comments section, so if you know something, drop me an email at galleyslaves-at-gmail-dot-com.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The trailer looks pretty excellent.

Edward Jay Epstein

Notices this little tidbit in his piece on Blu-Ray technology:
In addition, the Blu-Ray will allow Sony to reissue its movie titles in high definition. In fact, part of the stated justification for acquiring MGM was the profits to be realized from reissuing the 4,100 films in MGM's library in the Blu-Ray format.

In the coming hi-def DVD format war, I've been banking on Toshiba's HD-DVD over Sony's Blu-Ray, but Epstein figures differently:
I predict that the Blu-Ray will prevail for three reasons. First, Sony has a critical mass of movies that it can release on Blu-Ray. Aside from its own titles, Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Lions Gate have agreed to release their titles on Blu-Ray. Next, almost all of the leading computer manufacturers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple, are committed to using Blu-Ray. So, if a studio wants its high-definition DVDs to be playable on personal computers—or for that matter on PlayStation 3—it will have to issue them in the Blu-Ray format. Finally, the situations of Sony and Toshiba are not symmetrical. For Sony, the Blu-Ray is an integral part of its overall strategy. For Toshiba, the HD-DVD is just another product they manufacture. If the company reached an accommodating deal on licensing fees, it could also make money by manufacturing the Blu-Ray DVDs.

I'm convinced.

Matt Labash, Hottest Off-Air

Second place? It feels like first.

An Open letter to Terrell Owens

From Galley Friend B.W., a letter to TO from a "little boy" named Jeremy:
All I want is for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. Before you came, the Eagles couldn’t even get to the Super Bowl. Then you came, and we were the best Eagles team I had ever seen. We got to the Super Bowl and almost won. You were awesome! I decided that with just a little more practice this year, we could win it all.

But then my dad told me that you might not be on the team anymore. I was really upset and cried. Then I watched the news and saw that you were crying too! This made me cry even more! You said you needed to feed your family. I asked my mom if maybe we could help feed your family so that you would stop crying and help us win the Super Bowl. My mom told me that the Eagles gave you over 9 million dollars last year and that you can afford to buy your own food. I told her that you were crying and maybe you had spent it all already. She told me you were going to get 3 million more dollars this year. I asked her how much a hot dog costs. That’s my favorite food! She told me they were 25 cents unless you buy them from the Eagles in which case they cost 5 dollars. I asked if she thought you could afford to buy enough hot dogs to feed your family . . . I asked her how many hot dogs you could buy and she told me to figure it out myself. I had to get my calculator to do it and the answer was 12 million hot dogs! That’s a lot of hot dogs! But then I was thinking maybe you buy your hot dogs from the Eagles in which case they cost 5 dollars. So then I was thinking maybe you had more than 12 million people in your family. Do you? We have 4. 5 if you count my turtle. His name is Donovan McTurtle.

Then I saw you doing sit-ups in front of a mall. My dad told me that it was your house. So I asked my dad if 12 million people could fit in that house and he said “probably”.

Yeah, we start them young in Philly.

Those Drunken, Whoring Saudis

This exploration of Saudi Arabia's position vis-a-vis women is profance and will no doubt offend many people. It's also terribly funny:
Around the 1950s, about the time oil was being discovered in the Gulf, many Muslim nations were relatively liberal by today's standards. Alcohol flowed freely, women went uncovered and there was lively public debate about "Ataturk's way", the separation of Islam and state, modernisation, and dialogue with the West. The Middle East seemed to be going in the right direction.

Saudi oil changed all that. Why oh why, critics ask, was oil found there? Why not somewhere more conducive to global progress, like Taiwan or Holland? But no, Saudi it was – the home of Wahhabi Islam, the most fiercely anti-Western, autocratic, intolerant and warlike of all Islamic cults. The combined possession of oil and Mecca quickly gave Saudis, previously an insignificant mob of goat-herders and woman-beaters, delusions of grandeur. Having no education other than what the mullahs told them, they didn't understand the world beyond the campfire, and they didn't like it.

Oil meant that the Saudis now had the means to change the world to more resemble them. The mountain would come to Mohammed. Their mission, their warped religion told them, was to change the world to be like them, except that they had Mecca and would thus be the most important women-beating goat-herders in the world.

Dail Kos and the DLC

There's no real way to put a nice gloss on this:
Ultimately, this is the modern DLC -- an aider and abettor of Right-wing smear attacks against Democrats. They make the same arguments, use the same language, and revel in their attacks on those elements of the Democratic Party that seem to cause them no small embarrassment.

Two more weeks, folks, before we take them on, head on.

No calls for a truce will be brooked. The DLC has used those pauses in the past to bide their time between offensives. Appeals to party unity will fall on deaf ears (it's summer of a non-election year, the perfect time to sort out internal disagreements).

We need to make the DLC radioactive. And we will. With everyone's help, we really can. Stay tuned.

Of course, with everyone's help, Markos Moulitsas was going to make Howard Dean president.

Bonus: I notice that the New York Times seems to be intermittently running this ad at the bottom of the Daily Kos RSS feed. They sure know their target demographic!

From the Blog-Crush

Too good:
The internet is world of magical possibilities where all your dreams come true, and for some of you, another one of those gets crossed off the list today. Cause here's a video of Eva Longoria kissing another girl, from a movie called Carlitas Secret. And just to illustrate how weird Hollywood is, it's from 2004. So Eva was doing movies with the production value of a snuff film 30 seconds before becoming one of the most recognized women in the world.

Lost Technologies

How great is this list of C-Net's favorite lost technologies? Hint: #2 is

Labash in Mexico

If you haven't already, check out Matt Labash's immensely good piece on immigration, North of the Border. It's a work of quiet, serious genius. The best thing Labash has written in a couple years. And that's saying something.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Media Alert

I just got the following email alert from one of Washington's foremost conservative women's organizations, the Independent Women's Forum:
Barbara Comstock will be a guest this morning on WDAY radio's "Hot Talk with Scott Hennen." Barbara will be discussing the looming battle in the Senate over the president's nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the United States Supreme Court.

Network: WDAY (Fargo, ND)

Show: Hot Talk with Scott Hennen

Time: 11:45 a.m. ET

Date: August 19

IWF Personality: Barbara Comstock

To listen live this morning please click here.

Just thought I'd pass it on; if you hurry, you can probably still catch the end of the interview.

Get Your Fresh CulturePulp!

Mike Russell goes to the Drive-In.

Coming Soon to Law & Order

Excellent story about Judge Joseph Force Crater, who's been missing for 75 years:
Crater —who vanished mysteriously 75 years ago—was killed by a city cop and his cab-driver brother and buried under the boardwalk in Coney Island, according to a handwritten letter left behind by a Queens woman who died earlier this year.

"Good Time Joe" Crater was a dapper, 41-year-old judge known for his dalliances with showgirls and his ties to corruption-ridden Tammany Hall—until he got into a cab in Midtown Manhattan one evening in 1930 and disappeared . . .

Read the rest of the article for the amazing story of the days leading up to his disappearance and this very sweet tidbit about Crater's wife:
Crater's wife remembered his disappearance every year for the rest of her life by visiting a bar in Greenwich Village on Aug. 6.

She'd sit by herself, order two drinks and down one—after saying, "Good luck Joe, wherever you are."

Hope on the Democratic Side

At a moment where Markos Moulitsas is coyloy suggesting that Joe Scarborough might be a murderer (a real murderer, mind you, not a metaphorical murderer, the way all Republicans are), it is reassuring to read Ed Kilgore's smart thoughts on why America should not have a fixed date of withdrawal from Iraq and ideas on what a good withdrawal should look like:
1) Publicly announce the United States is abandoning any plans for permanent military bases in Iraq to make it absolutely clear our presence is temporary.

2) Publicly announce benchmarks that will trigger withdrawal of American troops, including approval of a constitution and election of a permanent government; specific levels of trained Iraqi troops and other security forces; and renunciation of demands by major Iraqi communities that are incompatible with a stable and pluralistic regime (e.g., Kurdish right to secede, Sunni Arab privileges in a strong central government, Iranian-style Islamic Republic).

3) Initiate direct negotiations with insurgents.

4) Renounce any public or private-sector U.S. designs for control of Iraqi natural resources

5) Launch an internationalized reconstruction effort which explicitly renounces U.S. exclusive privileges, with special attention to assistance from Sunni Arab countries

The goal would be to leave Iraq with a half-decent chance of maintaining a sustainable government without civil war, foreign domination, or a permament base of operations and recruitment for al Qaeda. The main strategy would be to convince, through carrots and sticks, the Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shi'a to step back from their maximalist demands, while creating trans-communal political and security institutions. The philosophy would be to dramatically invest Iraqis with complete responsibility for their common future. And while they would not provide a guaranteed, fixed date for final U.S. withdrawal, the benchmarks would immediately create tests for Iraqis that would either lead to greater stability in the country . . .

If only Kilgore got as much attention as Kos.

Dogtown, Maryland

Is this going too far?
Guests of DogTown each stay in a heated and air conditioned private house with a bed or cot. Each house has paneled walls, a padded tile floor, and two windows that look out to the common exercise area. Music is provided, and TV is available for an additional fee. Some of the houses even have skylights!

Don't miss the pictures. Courtesy of Galley Friend A.L.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Steyn on Sheehan

He's very, very good:
Ever since America’s all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterise them as ‘children’. If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that’s her decision and her parents shouldn’t get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the Oval Office shagpile and chow down on Bill Clinton, she’s a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year old is serving his country overseas, he’s a wee ‘child’ who isn’t really old enough to know what he’s doing.

His next line is the really, really mean part:
I get many emails from soldiers in Iraq, and they sound a lot more grown-up than most Ivy League professors and certainly than Maureen Dowd, who writes as if she’s auditioning for a minor supporting role in Sex and the City. The infantilisation of the military promoted by the Left is deeply insulting to America’s warriors but it suits the anti-war crowd’s purposes. It enables them to drone ceaselessly that ‘of course’ they ‘support our troops’, because they want to stop these poor confused moppets from being exploited by the Bush war machine.
For the last year or so, I had been under the impression, thanks to a tip from a former colleague usually well-versed in such matters, that in the great divide over Irish whiskeys, Catholics supposedly drink Bushmills while Protestants prefer Jameson. But as of yesterday, it was pointed out to me that I have it reversed, since Jameson is distilled in Cork while Bushmills comes from the north. No doubt Galley readers, drinking connoisseurs all of you, can confirm this. But if true, it will be hard to switch labels.

For as the saying goes, Once you go Black Bush, you never go...

No Joke

I just turned on The Golden Girls and found a baby-faced Don Cheadle guest-starring.

Who knew.

Update: With Cheech Marin! In the same episode!

Fatwa Frenzy

Joe Loconte has the line of the day on the subject of recent anti-terrorist fatwas:
Others complain that the rulings don't come from the centers of gravity of the Islamic world--from authorities in Mecca or legal scholars at al-Azhar University in Cairo. Mamoun Fandy, a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, puts it dryly: "A fatwa from Brooklyn or the National Press Club--that's not where Muslims go to get their fatwas."

I imagine a sign over a mosque in The Simpsons proclaiming "Where Muslims go to get their fatwas."

Kos on Scarborough

More from the most powerful blogger in America:
As a reminder, Scarborough was a Florida congressman who cheated on his wife and ultimately led to his divorce (and unexpected resignation in 2001). That part is just typical hypocrisy from a "family values" Republican. This part isn't:

Around the time of the Condit/Levi craziness, another congressional intern/aide died under mysterious circumstances -- Lori Klausutis. The press generally ignored it for obvious reasons -- her boss was a Republican. Congressman Scarborough, to be exact. This summary is from a Wikipedia entry Scarborough successfully got deleted:

Nearly two months after announcing his resignation, on July 10, 2001, one of Scarborough's aides, Lori Klausutis, was found dead in the congressman's office in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The official cause of death was a heart failure, although her initial autopsy suggested severe fractures in the skull. The investigation was never pursued further, and Scarborough was never implicated in Klausutis' death. Two suspects, Theopholis and Steve Salmon were initially questioned by police. Both men have been released, but are still considered "persons of interest".

My bet is that there's nothing libelous here, but surely this goes far, far beyond the bounds of any conceivable notion of propriety, no? I mean, do elected Democratic officials really want to associate themselves with this?

Separated at Birth?

I'm sure others have noticed this, but don't they look an awful lot alike?

Entertainment or News?

TVNewser catched Katie Couric in a small, but telling faux pas. Puffing a guest on the Today Show, Couric introduced Donny Deutsch as being the host of a "highly-rated" CNBC show. I'm sure she didn't mean anything by this--it's like Jay Leno introducing Ben Affleck as a "big star."

But the facts are a little inconvenient. As TVNewswer points out, the previous night Deutsch's show grabbed 54,000 total viewers. That's a pretty low rating, even by garbage cable standards.

If Couric were Jay Leno, no one would care, but isn't Today supposed to be run out of the news, not the entertainment, division?
Hugh Hewitt points us to this James Lileks piece, which is incredibly funny, even by his own standards:
According to the hard left's script, Israel was created when some Europeans (hisssss) invaded the sovereign nation of Palestine, even though we all know the Jewish homeland is somewhere outside Passaic, N.J. Then for no reason Israel invaded the West Bank and Gaza -- which for some reason had not been set up as New Palestine by the Egyptians and the Jordanians, but never mind -- and made everyone stand in line and get frisked. Those who joined the line in '67 are just getting through now. Evil Zionists. . . .

The companies the church wishes to pressure include Caterpillar, which makes bulldozers purchased by the Israelis for the sole purpose of knocking down innocent homes of gentle lamb herders, and Motorola, which among other things sells night-vision goggles that give the Israeli Defense Forces an unfair advantage over people who want to smuggle in bombs to encourage the social-justice dialogue.

Lost Predictions

If you're a Lost junkie (I'm not), you might get a charge out of these theories about the show from the cast.

Beldar's Big Loss

Beldar apparently hasn't gotten the memo yet: In a trial you can't judge success by how the jury votes--you need to judge success every day.

And it sounds to me that, since the expert witnesses were stacked against him, he totally beat the spread.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I just finished Karl Zinsmeister's Combat Zone, his real-life stories of troops in Iraq. Zinsmeister is the editor of The American Enterprise, so there's no real shock that he would have reported and written a story like this. The twist is, it's a comic book..

Penciled by Dan Jurgens, it's a pretty gorgeous graphic novel--imagine CulturePulp, sent abroad, and done up big and glossy.

I can't recommend Combat Zone enough.

Super-Secret Obsessions

This entertainment story contains so many plots and subjects that it could be an Altman film. Although ostensibly just a puff about Fiona Apple's new album, Extraordinary Machine, it's also about:

* The intersection of the internet and art

* The bizarre ego economics of the recording industry

* A Deep-Throat-style whodunnit

Also, it touches on legal semantics. While Apple's album is just now in stores, 11 of the songs from it surfaced online nearly a year ago:
Many of them posted links to the MP3s songs on their personal web pages. Others released the entire album -- including some homespun album cover art -- over the Bittorrent file-sharing network.

Nadja Dee Tanaka of Seattle posted all 11 of the "Extraordinary Machine" MP3s on her Web site. . . .

Tanaka begrudgingly took the links down after receiving a notice from the Recording Industry Association of America.

"I was scared. I was angry," Tanaka said.

She might have been a bit confused as well. At the time it was made, no one would confirm Apple had even made the recordings, much less delivered them to the label.

If no new Apple material existed, what were downloaders being asked to stop downloading?

And it remains unclear if the RIAA went after the original album leaker with the same vigor it went after Tanaka and other Apple fans . . .

Bonus Obsessive Angle: Since the 11 tracks appeared online a year ago, Apple has split with her long-time producer, Jon Brion. Brion used to produce Aimee Mann. Mann's husband is Michael Penn and both of them have worked closely in the past with movie director Paul Thomas Anderson. Who was once (and may still be, for all I know) Fiona Apple's quite serious beau.

What could this all mean for future collaborations between Mann, Penn, and Anderson? If only there was a high-brow version of Us Weekly.

Lefty-Blogs and Big Papi

A commenter on yesterday's Electoral-Based Community post has a very perceptive point:
The point spread comment is telling in another way: political partisanship has become as fundamentally irrational as rooting for your team in sports. One of the joys of sports rooting is saying "Ortiz stinks!" when clearly as a rational matter he does the opposite of stink. But the localizing of all problems in this country with the rival political party is equivalent to actually believing Ortiz stinks just because he is on the other team. The Dem blogger litmus test which focuses so much on hating the Pres and the Republican party is about as constructive for the country as beginning a sports discussion with a red Sox fan by asseting that Ortiz stinks; it contains not only a false premise, it precludes anything approaching dialogue, compromise or consensus. that's no harm when sports are the issue, but the ascendence of this type of thinking/strategy in politics means that we are in danger of having a society being run by the "face-painters" among us. That's not good for anybody.

Update: It is "Papi," of course, not "Poppy." What am I, John F. Kerry?
Sports Editor, INQ. is a blog run by Jim Jenks, the sports editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer. For those interested in such things.

Following the Bloggers Off the Cliff?

Over at the Swing State Project we learn that Bob Brigham--the fellow who wants Democrats to "stop judging success on Election Day"--just had dinner with John Podesta and a Democratic governor (Brian Schweitzer).

And you can guess who was giving advice to whom.

Kos Kuotes

This smart blogger has kept a running list of quotes from Daily Kos that should be instructive to any mainstream Democrat wanting to know about the site.

Harry Potter Update

Galley Friend C.M.O. has this interesting theory about the vile Professor Umbridge:
She's not that competent, true--but look at who she targeted to kick out of the castle: Trelawney. What is Voledemort trying to do in Book 5? Get the prophecy. He can get it through Trelawney if he can get her out of the castle, where she has been protected by Dumbledore for 15 years. I don't think that's a coincidence. And notice what a fit Umbridge throws when she is stopped from kicking Trelawney out of the castle--Dumbledore says she may be able to sack Trelawney but Trelawney can stay in the castle and Dolores is NOT HAPPY about that one. Why? I think because she's just been thwarted in her effort to help Voldemort get the prophecy. (She also targets Hagrid, who is one of Dumbledore's most faithful people. Of course, he's also a half-breed, so that could explain it as well.) Note also that the first time he had detention, Harry's scar burned when he looked at Umbridge, and we never hear any explanation for why that is. And, Umbridge is a big fan of the Slytherins, especially Malfoy, and she hates half-breeds. Definitely Voldemort-like. I think she is his highest-placed spy at the Ministry.

Pretty convincing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I think I was one of five Republicans troubled by President Bush's landing on the Lincoln back in 2003, but this story positively creeps me out.

Is there any conceivable reason for a Russian head of state to be on a bomber which is firing test missiles? I mean, any reason that isn't very, very worrisome?

Ripped from the Headlines

The Smoking Gun has a wild picture up. An inmate in Florida hired what he thought was a contract killer to off his wife. It was actually a police sting. They staged photos of his wife's "execution."

Wasn't this an SVU episode?

The Electoral-Based Community

Responding to Dean Barnett's piece on lefty-blogs' new litmus test, lefty blogger Bob Brigham contributes this bit of perfection. First, Brigham quotes Barnett's piece as saying:
In the aftermath of a shocking election night, one that was widely described by left-wing bloggers as "colossal" and "tidal," Bill Schneider bestowed his "Play of the Week" award on Brigham and his peers. The only downside from the Democrat party's perspective is the inconvenient fact that Hackett lost.

Brigham then responds:
No, we won. It was a 70-30 district, we beat the spread by a healthy margin. Democrats need to stop judging success on Election Day, we need to judge success every day.

Get that? Politics now has a handicap, like golf or bowling. Stop judging success by how many votes you get! Start judging it by, uh, other stuff! (Preferably non-falsifiable stuff, please.)

I'd make more fun of this, but I'm a Philadelphia sports fan and I understand this psychosis all too well. In my heart I know that the Sixers shellacked the Lakers in the 2001 Finals, even if they didn't--technically--"win" the "championship."

Iron Mike, Porn, Jenna Jameson

Oh just click this link already. Nothing I can tell you about the story could possibly make it sound more interesting, could it?

Fine, I'll give you a tidbit from Brian Moore's excellent piece:
Tyson told a correspondent for Britain’s Zoo magazine that he’d chatted with “a gentleman called Jimmy who’s involved with Jenna Jameson. They (sic) said they were interested in getting me involved in the adult film industry.” . . .

Tyson’s sexual appetite is gargantuan--he’s like King Henry VIII at a Shoney’s – so working in porn would be a sort of reverse busman’s holiday for him.

Hollywood on 9/11

A further indication that Hollywood may not be as in love with terrorism as some would suggest: we now have word that Paul Greengrass is going to direct a film based on Flight 93.

This seems, to me, an incredibly seductive, but risky project. While I hope that Greengrass does well with this picture, the event itself is so big and frought with dramatic tension that it's difficult to imagine a movie which, at this point, could do it justice.

If I were a filmmaker looking to do a 9/11 movie, I might examine this amazing story from USA Today about how the FAA landed 4,500 planes in 4 hours on September 11.

It's not nearly as sexy as Flight 93--in many ways it's a story about the dog who didn't bark. But it's a relatively unknown corner of 9/11, it's packed with its own, very real, tension, and it would allow you to come at an event which is not yet wholly digested at an off-angle.

(Mind you, all of these factors would also argue for the Oliver Stone project about the rescue at Ground Zero--if you had, say David Lynch directing, instead of Stone.)
You know you want it: The latest Snakes on a Plane update.

Liberal Courage

Repeat after me: The Daily Kos is Democratic, but Democrats are not the Daily Kos. The Bull Moose has a courageous post on Israel and Cindy Sheehan which, I suspect, represents the broad mainstream of Democratic sentiment. Not that you would ever know it from reading the left-wing blogs or watching the media coverage.

No, the only time you ever see proof that the majority of Democrats are more like the Moose than the Kos is when you look at election results.

Mick's Signals

Much to my disappointment, the upcoming Rolling Stones album A Bigger Bang does include the track "Sweet Neo Con." And despite earlier reports that it wasn't specifically targeted towards Bush, the Austrian newspaper Die Presse makes clear that it's hard to miss the message:

You call yourself a Christian / I call you a hypocrite / You call yourself a patriot / I think you're full of shit... / It's liberty for all / democracy's our style / unless you are against us / then it's prison without a trial.

But who knows, maybe the rest of the album is nice.
If you hate blogs as much as I do--and I promise that you don't--it's good to acknowledge when they do things well. This exchange between Patterico and Rick Hasen began over an op-ed Hasen wrote for the Los Angeles Times and then migrated over to their respective blogs. It's high-toned, smart, civil, and, I would argue, vastly superior to any sort of analogue one might find in other media formats. Advantage: Blogosphere.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Props to British Airways

I narrowly escaped the chaos that ensued over the weekend with the British Airways strike. Our plane actually left Heathrow on Sunday and was still on time. The flight crew apologized for what they called an "industrial action." And to make amends for the lack of food on board (the caterers are the ones on strike), we each received £10 vouchers. We could use them anywhere in the airport. And so, like the winners in a supermarket shopping spree, the Mrs. and I pillaged the nearby Pret a Manger. I hear the ones in New York are pathetic. But the Pret at London Heathrow was exquisite--there was nothing (at least at that time) that hit the spot better than my bacon-lettuce-tomato-egg sandwich.

It was the flight going to Europe that proved more challenging: A heavy-set woman in her sixties boarded our plane and from the get-go expressed her anxiety about flying. She was also loud. And she wanted to talk to the pilot. And she told the flight attendants she took half-a-valium.

Little did we know how nervous she would be. As soon as the plane hit a bump in the air, she started howling like a dog:

Ohhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhh!

And with the next little skips in turbulence:

Whoa! and What's happening!

This occurred every time the plane hit even a minor bump for the entire flight.

She had questions too. Such as "How can the pilot fly through the clouds if he can't see?"

But it was that howling that will haunt me forever. My compliments to the flight crew of BA 216 for not letting the panic spread, for holding this woman's hand, for explaining that turbulence is normal and having to explain what turbulence is, over and over. Her husband, meanwhile, just sat there and ignored her the entire time.
Perhaps the toughest part about returning from a week's vacation is catching up on emails. Namely, more than 1,100 of them. But only now, at 3 in the afternoon, do I finally get to "Dating site for sexaholics."

(More on my trip to Vienna, Austria, later.)

A Grieving President

This Newsweek story is probably the most sympathetic snapshot of Bush that I've ever seen.


I note this error in the New Yorker not out of any sense of superiority, but out of admiration for how rare it is to ever find an error--or even a typo--in America's greatest magazine. So here's Galley Friend C.L. noting a big mistake in Peter Schjeldahl's piece on Winslow Homer:
Schjeldahl writes: "In the second-one of Homer's last works-two foreground ducks taking off from turbulent waters are hit by a distant hunter's double-barrelled buckshot; one has flipped upside down, and the other is transfixed with neck straining and wings spread, startled by death."

Anybody who's ever hunted ducks knows that you would never, ever, ever use the word BUCKSHOT. Buckshot (like the name pretty much says) is intended for big game; birdshot (like the name pretty much says) is intended for birds. If you hit a duck with buckshot--that's a huge if, by the way, since putting a single slug on a flying mallard at normal range would
challenge even a fantastic shooter--the thing would evaporate. You might as well shove a stick of dynamite up its ass. More to the point, a bird hit with buckshot wouldn't look like the birds in Homer's "Left and Right." It would look like a puff, and a few floating feathers.

There it is. We probably won't see a mistake in the New Yorker again until March 2007.

New Republic Archives

Unless you deal with these things on a day-to-day basis, it's difficult to understand exactly how impressive the New Republic's new comprehensive archives are. Ninety years of content, all online and searchable.

Hats off to TNR.

A Germany Divided

Paul Belien has a long, interesting post about the coming German election. Belien believes that we could be heading for a German crack-up--and that that's a good thing. I'll be interested to hear Vic's thoughts on the situation when he returns from Vienna.

Power Line News

My home-boys at Power Line have re-vamped Power Line News and it's now working quite nicely, even on Firefox. It's a great idea--a blog that is its own RSS aggregator--and I think it'll be a model that lots of big media companies attempt in the future.

How great is Power Line News? I recommend it even though it doesn't link to Galley Slaves!
Josh Chafetz has left the building.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Via the Blog-Cruch

It seems Rachel Nichols, almost formerly of The Inside, may replace Beniffer 2.0 on Alias.

Seriously, everyone Tim Minear touches turns to gold.

On a totally non-related note, did you catch the snippet during the commentary track on Arrested Development where it was made clear that Bateman, Hurwitz, and Arnett are TV Without Pity readers? Pretty excellent, no?

C. Rosen on Videogames

Christine Rosen's high-minded and engaging indictment of videogames in the New Atlantis is, as usual, great reading. In addition to being a wonderful writer, Rosen may also be the premier techno-scold of our time. Now, if I could only convince her to write about blogging . . .

In defense of videogames, however, I will say that the aspect I most enjoy about them is what Rosen sees as their biggest problem: It's a playground of the self. For example, had I been born in slightly different circumstances (ie someplace where I was surrounded at an early age by car people), I could easily have fallen into the tuner culture. As it is, I'm fascinated by it--just not fascinated enough to spend thousands of hours and dollars pimping out my own ride. But a game such as Need for Speed: Underground gives me enough of that world to sate my appetite.

That can't always be a bad thing. Unless you're over 30 and have a real job and real responsiblities. Oh. Wait.

Never mind.

The New Litmus Test

Don't miss Dean Barnett's truly excellent piece on the new relationship between left-wing blogs and Democratic candidates. Fantastic stuff.

Discrimination at Work

This earnest story about the Denver Fire Department's quest to hire people who reflect the diversity of the area is pretty chilling. Leading this charge--amazingly--is the chief of the Department, Larry Trujillo.

Trujillo recently demanded that the area's Civil Service Commission stop its testing of candidates because he believes that the current regime of testing is racially biased. Also, he wants to do away with the Department's current policy of disqualifying candidates with felony or drug convictions. His reasoning: "It sickens me that they're penalizing people for what they did in their past."

It's an amazing example of the utter and complete victory of the diversity movement in American culture.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

On Mischa Barton:
She would probably be considered really hot as just another sorority girl at a college somewhere, but she's on the OC with girls like Olivia Wilde, and that has to be pretty humbling. It's like how being Aqua-Man would be pretty cool. Unless you're hanging out with Superman. And then you just kind of feel like a dork in his underwear.

Hollywood Loves Terrorists?

It's time for a visit with an old friend. You may recall Jason Apuzzo from our previous encounter with him--he's the big-C Conservative "filmmaker" who has trouble reading bylines accurately and correcting his mistakes honestly.

Yesterday Apuzzo published a column at decrying the rise of "terrorism chic" in Hollywood. Apuzzo warned readers that "Hollywood has finally come around to contributing what it can in the War on Terror: namely, glossy, star-studded movies that sympathize with the enemy."

Apuzzo then went on to list 10 films in various stages of production which he asserts are part of Hollywood's attempt to, well, sympathize with the enemy.

Normally it's not worth talking back to places like, one might as well shout at the sea--but Apuzzo's cri du coeur seems to have taken in my good friend John Hinderaker. You see, Apuzzo, never one to let facts get in the way of a good Conservative argument, may be overstating matters a bit. Here are some of the films he warns readers about:
"V For Vendetta." From Warner Brothers and the creators of "The Matrix" comes this film about a futuristic Great Britain that's become a 'fascist state.' A masked 'freedom fighter' named V uses terror tactics (including bombing the London Underground) to undermine the government - leading to a climax in which the British Parliament is blown up. Natalie Portman stars as a skinhead who turns to 'the revolution' after doing time as a Guantanamo-style prisoner.

"Munich." Steven Spielberg directs this film about the aftermath of the 1972 Olympic terror attacks that killed eleven Israeli athletes. "Munich"'s screenplay is written by playwrite
[sic -JVL] Tony Kushner ("Angels in America"), who has been quoted as saying: "I think the founding of the state of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, political calamity ... I wish modern Israel hadn't been born." The film focuses on the crisis of conscience undergone by Israeli commandos tasked with killing PLO terrorists - rather than on the barbarity of the terrorists themselves.

"Syriana." Starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, this Warner Brothers film - set during the first Bush administration - features a plot by American oil companies and the U.S. government to redraw Middle East borders for greater oil profiteering. The film even depicts a handsome, 'tragic' suicide bomber driven to jihad after being fired by an American oil company! The film's climax comes with the jihadist launching an explosive device into an oil tanker as American oil barons and Saudi officials look on.

Sounds pretty dreadful, doesn't it? And it would be, if Apuzzo's descriptions were on the level. But it isn't clear that they are.

V for Vendetta, for instance, is based on a 1980s comic book by Alan Moore. The project was set up at Warner Bros.--with Joel Silver producing--by 1994. The Wachowski brothers were, as Variety reported "hot" to adapt Moore's book, "but then set it aside as they were consumed by their massive Matrix trilogy." Whatever liberal paranoia V for Vendetta may hold, it long predates the GWOT.

As for Spielberg's Munich, Tony Kushner is only one of the three writers listed on the project, and based on the credits of the other two (Eric Roth and Charles Randolph), and the leanings of Spielberg that we've seen regarding Israel and the plight of Jewry, I'll be very surprised if this is an anti-Israel movie. Look, for instance, at the long list of Holocaust and WWII projects that he's produced in recent years. Or consider his ongoing work with the Shoah Foundation. Does this sound like the background of a man who's been planning to make a movie that sympathizes with terrorists who killed innocent Jews?

And then there's Syriana. The plot summary Apuzzo gives is radically different from what's listed on IMDB, which says:
Robert Baer (Clooney), a 21-year veteran of the CIA, spent his entire career investigating terrorists around the globe. As the dangers of terrorism increased, Baer watched as the CIA's funding was cut, politics overtook judgment, and warning signs were ignored. But the struggle becomes personal when an oil executive (Damon) and his wife (Peet) are faced with a family tragedy…

Again, I haven't seen a script, but given that the writer/director is Stephen Gaghan (most notable for Traffic), I'd be surprised if what makes it to the screen is closer to Apuzzo's summary than what's on IMDB. Don't forget, Gaghan adapted James Webb's Rules of Engagement, the closest thing we've seen to a Hollywood apologia for America and the military in recent years.

Who knows about the rest of Apuzzo's list--an Oliver Stone-helmed 9/11 movie sounds like trouble. But surely this is enough to raise questions about Apuzzo's overarching premise.

There is no doubt some truth to the worry about the sympathies of Hollywood filmmakers--I'm the guy who wrote the story two years ago about their unwillingness to do movies based on the war on terrorism. But Jason Apuzzo isn't a particularly reliable guide to the industry and his alarmism about a fleet of movies specifically designed to "sympathize" with our enemies seems, at best, overwrought.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Peter Jennings and the Last Anchorman

It's no surprise that people have rushed to declare the "end of an era" in the wake of Peter Jennings's passing, but in at least one important way, it's true: We have reached the end of the era of the network anchorman.

For two generations Americans have grown accustomed to having their network news anchors act in loco deus--they may have just been newsreaders, but they functioned as the Voice of God: solid, grave, assuring, authoritative.

People who've never been on television have a tendency to dismiss the talents required to be a news anchor. On the one hand, yes, anchors are talking heads. They do not, as a rule, possess much reportorial skill. They are, if you can imagine, more pompous than they appear to the naked eye.

But they are not just heads. Reading the evening news on a day-to-day basis may not take much, but anchoring an event--like a presidential election night, or the crashing of a space shuttle, or even a State of the Union night--requires an enormous reserve of charm, stamina, quick-thinking, and above all, gravitas.

Whatever else there is to be said about the recently departed generation of anchors--Brokaw, Rather, and Jennings--they were archetypes of the network anchor.

And they may have been the last of their breed. The same syndrome that David Ansen noticed in our current crop of leading men is true for our news anchors:
There's a fundamental difference between the big American male stars of Gen X and their predecessors. The icons of the past were men. Paul Newman, Robert Red-ford and Warren Beatty were young and beautiful at the start of their careers, but they were never "boys." Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Will Smith and Cruise, not to mention Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, are defined by their boyishness. They began their careers as kids and, even as they move into their 30s and 40s, have never fully lost their dew.

Think, then, about the next generation of anchormen: Matt Lauer, Bill Hemmer, Shep Smith, Brian Williams, John Roberts. Without passing any judgment on their skills as journalists, as anchors they're of a completely different species--pretty, fluffy, pleasant, boyish. They might do fine reading the news Monday to Friday, but if I were a network executive, I wouldn't have wanted any of them in the chair on September 11.

As it happens, there are only two thoroughbred anchormen working today--Aaron Brown and Brit Hume. They each evoke, in their own way, the solidity, the seriousness, the manliness that we came to expect from the succession of Cronkite, Brinkley, Rather, Jennings, and the other anchors who made the nightly national news broadcast part of American life. But both of them are confined to cable, where they ply their trade away from the eyes of the diminished, but still significant, crowds who make up the audience for the evening news.

This is neither good nor bad and the change probably carries no larger meaning for the culture. But it is change, nonetheless. And for that reason alone, it's fitting that we pause for a moment to note what really is the passing of an era.