Monday, January 31, 2005

No More Passing Out?

"Have some beer. It'll wake you up." Now I am certain no one has ever said this to you. But that may change in the near future. According to Peter Carlson in today's Washington Post, Anheuser-Busch is rolling out its latest beer, one that contains 54 milligrams of caffeine. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? (It technically isn't a new thing since people have imbibed in Red Bull/vodkas for years and smaller brands of caffeinated beer have appeared in a few local markets.) But as Carlson sums up, "Until now, beer guzzling was a self-regulating activity. Sure, drinking too much made you do stupid things. But drinking too much also tended to make you fall asleep before you got into trouble. Passing out is nature's way of saying you drank too much, and it has saved many a beer drinker from acute embarrassment. But with caffeine keeping beer drinkers cranked up, there's no end to the fun. Which could get ugly."

Literature Blegging

Kathy Nelson is looking for some book suggestions for a friend who's a French translator. The call is out for: "Books by North American authors (recent enough to not have been translated yet, and not too famous). The general field is 'man in politics and society, with family or sentimental background' and he was told to look for something along the lines of Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen, with strong viewpoints and a good style."

I'm out of ammo on this one, but if you have ideas, drop by Kathy's excellent blog with them. Come to think of it, Skinner probably has ten novels which will come to mind instantly. He's smart like that. David?

Jeb for King

Was socializing this weekend with some political friends and the subject turned to ‘08. I brought down a storm of no friggin ways by mentioning my favorite American governor, Jeb Bush, about whom, truth be told, I feel much stronger than I did about Bush pre-2000. When I tired of insisting that I’m no monarchist, I shifted the debate to John McCain’s health. In this incredibly self-selected neocon-to-moderate-left room, the Arizona senator was the consensus candidate, though the first thing we talked about was his age and health. And as Bob Dole knows, it’s not a good thing when voters are fixated by your relative frailty. (McCain will be 72 in 2008; Ronald Reagan was 73 when he ran for reelection.) The liberals in the room were concerned that McCain's not vicious enough to win (though this may have had something to do with their idiosyncratic view that he basically surrendered to Bush dirty tactics in the South Carolina primary.) After McCain, Rudy was the talk, though with warning signs given his recent weird behavior in the Bernard Kerik-nomination fiasco. A bum nomination is one thing; gloating in your failure afterwards is just bizarre. Hamminess in general, though a good character trait in New York City politics (see Ed Koch), is decidedly unpresidential—though it’s certainly preferable to the all-around lame-O-ness of Governor Pataki, who brings all the liberal politics of, but none of the successes of, none of the character of, and none of the matrimonial difficulty of Giuliani. Actually, Jeb’s looking better all the time.

Islamic Site Tracking Christians

Charles Johnson has a post about this shocking story.

Free DVD Hoax

Okay, so it's not really a hoax. There really is a class action lawsuit against MGM and you really can get free DVDs. But according to The Digital Bits, the plaintiffs are the ones running the scam on MGM--and they won.

Let the Eagles Soar II

Just a note of caution: A lot of Eagles stuff this week. Twenty-four years worth, actually. You've been warned.

Bill Lyon today talks about the last Eagles team to win it all:
The last Eagles team to win the championship of professional football might have been the loosest team in sports history. The Super Bowl was still seven years away from being born when the 1960 Birds defeated the Green Bay Packers, 17-13, the day after Christmas in the Gothic bleakness of snow-shrouded Franklin Field.

Concrete Charlie, a.k.a Chuck Bednarik, the last of the 60-minute men, tackled the Packers' Jim Taylor and sat on the squirming, fuming fullback for the last nine seconds.

Two nights before that game, quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, whose word was law, who routinely convened team "vespers" at local watering holes, was host at a loosen-your-chin-straps-boys gala that ended with several sleeping in flower beds. It didn't seem to affect the team's performance.

That was the only playoff game Vince Lombardi ever lost.

He then concludes:
These Birds can win. These Eagles can beat the Patriots. It will take something along the lines of Villanova's practically perfect game against Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA basketball final, but it is possible.

No turnovers. Every scoring chance cashed. No injuries forcing players out of the game. And no making out the opponents to be larger than life.

Yo' Adrian, I'm with him.

Extremism in Opposition to the GOP Is a Virtue

Howard Dean now says, "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for."

Wow. Not a lot of wiggle room, is there?

More on the Dutch and Islam

The New York Times carries an interesting report on the Ducth art world and Muslim intimidation. This seems like another important moment in Europe's struggle with reconciling their culture of tolerance with the advent of Islamist aggression.

A report from R. Scott Rogers would be helpful.

The Iraq Election

I don't mean to be a wet blanket--yesterday's election in Iraq is really nothing but wonderful news. The turnout and relatively low level of violence marks a real victory for the people of Iraq, for the American, British, and other coalition military people who have midwifed the rebirth of a nation, and for President Bush and his administration which has persevered, often in the face of harsh criticism and even sometimes of contradictory evidence.

Here's the wet blanket part: Over the weekend, a number of happy television analysts decried the foolishness of those who worry that certain cultures may not be 100 percent compatible with democracy. This election, they contended, is proof of democracy's universal appeal.

But what concerns me isn't that an Arab Muslim country can't hold democratic elections--it's that their democratically expressed choices may not, over time, tend to advance the causes of freedom and liberty. I would point to Susan Glasser's important February 2003 article in the Washington Post about Kuwait's semi-abortive attempt at democracy. As I summed up the Glasser article at the time:
Kuwait is among the wealthiest and most liberal Middle Eastern states, with a free press and what Glasser calls a "thriving civil society." When the United States liberated Kuwait in 1991, the ruling family promised to revive the National Assembly and give women the right to vote.

Twelve years later, women still can't vote and the parliament has limited influence over the emir--but this last might be a good thing, since the elected parliament is dominated by Islamic fundamentalists with sympathies for Yasser Arafat and Osama bin Laden. And, as Abdul Razak Shuyji, one of the Islamic fundamentalist leaders, observes, "Whenever there is true democracy, the Islamists will prevail."

Important, if true. In "liberal" Kuwait, women cannot go to college with men and are not welcome in the political salons. Only Muslims can be citizens (even non-Muslims born there are denied citizenship). The democratically elected Islamic fundamentalists would like to deepen this segregation and put more distance between Kuwait and the West. Saud Nasir Sabah, the Kuwaiti oil minister, says that the fundamentalists "do not welcome any further U.S. or Western investment in the country."

We should all rejoice in the success of the new Iraq's first Election Day. But on the issue of whether or not Islam, as practiced in the Middle East, is compatible with democracy, the jury is still out.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Free DVDs

If you sign up to be part of this class action lawsuit against MGM. Galley Brother B.J. will laugh, yea and verily.

David Janollari, the Geek's Jon Klein

This will only be funny to those of you interested in either (a) Joss Whedon programming, or (b) network entertainment executive follies. But if you fall into one of those groups, it's gold.

Beldar's Back

A quick welcome back to Beldar. I've missed him.
While others are noting how some of the left are being sour-pusses today, I'd like to point out this hearty, celebratory post from the Bull Moose. It's important to remember that not all Democrats are Juan Cole.

Kaus-Sullivan (con't.)

Mickey Kaus fires back at Andrew Sullivan. It's pretty rough stuff--and he doesn't even call him any names! Of course, Sullivan will get the last laugh--I mean, it's not like Kaus is going to be in a Gap ad or anything. Plus, I hear someone is looking for a new celebrity spokesperson. Cha-ching!

Housekeeping: Our previous post about the outbreak of open hostilities between Kaus and Sullivan garned some criticism that needs a response:

(1) Andrew Sullivan linked to Galley Slaves and asked "is there any conservative blog out there that can criticize my work without some poster eventually imputing it to AIDS dementia?"

I'm afraid Andrew is wrong on both counts. I certainly wasn't criticizing him for his part in the Kaus-Sullivan war. Galley Slaves takes no side in this fight. But, just to prove a point, here's a bit of genuine criticism of Sullivan from a previous G.S. post. At least as of this writing, there's no AIDS demetia comment. I look forward to Andrew's correction.

(2) A nice blogger named Eric Deamer is bothered by Galley Slaves' continuing coverage of Kaus vs. Sullivan: Caged Heat. He thinks Galley Slaves is supposed to be a "wonky" blog. Sorry to disappoint you, Eric, but this blog is for fun, not wonk. If you want more serious writing from the Slaves, I suggest you look here.

Update, 5:03 p.m.: Now Sullivan comes up swinging with . . . more personal insults! Also, still no correction to Item #1 above. Are you getting tired of all of this nasty back-and-forth? Yeah, me neither.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Bull Moose has some thoughts on the Iraqi election. The Principles Project should be sure to reach out to him.

You'll Be Working for Him Some Day

Tom Maguire beats up on the brilliant Noam Scheiber.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Andrew Sullivan Finds a War He Can Get Behind (finally!)

Earlier this morning I noted the most serious salvo yet lobbed at Andrew Sullivan by Mickey Kaus. Now, the battle has been well and truly joined.

You really must read the entire post, but I'll give you this tease:
Besides, for Mickey to talk about unsteady judgment strikes me as a little rich. Hands up who can now recall whether Mickey was for the war or against it? Was he for Kerry or did he loathe him? Is he for gay marriage or against it? This is a man who cannot write a sentence without fifteen parentheses for qualifications, internal rebuttals, self-questioning, meta-meta-spin, obscure references to people he might once have dissed or who might have dissed him, and even an imaginary editor to subvert his own points even as he makes them.

This isn't just towel-snapping anymore. This time, it's personal.

Kaus's baiting has been so demonically successful that he has even succeeded in prompting Sullivan to pop off against Glenn Reynolds, Power Line, and the Belmont Club. (And the ease with which Sullivan does so suggests that he's been spoiling to to claw at these other blogs for some time now. Either that or he's just very facile at tossing off casual, personal insults. I report. You decide.)

Update, 11:13 p.m.: A commenter notes that Sullivan used to refer to Instapundit (his "blog hero") as "Glenn." Now that he's a partisan dupe, he's "Reynolds." I wonder when Andrew disavowed him.

And the Winner Is...

According to sources, with just ten minutes to go before an official announcement is made, the Pentagon's Defense Acquisition Board will award the $1.6 billion Marine One contract to Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland. The decision is a major blow to Sikorsky Aircraft of Stratford, Connecticut, and its 9,000 employees. For the reasons for and against each side and further analysis, stay tuned.

Moore and Orwell

Wretchard notices that Michael Moore's quoting of George Orwell was more of a sloppy paraphrasing. How did that get past Moore's vaunted fact-checkers?

D-Day for Sikorsky

So maybe it isn't Sikorsky's best week for a decision to be made over which helicopter the president will fly in, considering the recent crash of a Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion in Iraq, claiming the lives of 31 Americans. While investigators figure out how the chopper went down in the sandstorm, members of the Pentagon's Defense Acquisition Board are set to announce in less than three hours the next maker of presidential helicopters. So who will it be? The Hartford Courant is reporting that an Italian newspaper, Finanza Mercati, has unnamed sources telling them the bid will go to Sikorsky. From a security standpoint, this would make sense: Does the Pentagon really have confidence that the spindles and gearboxes made in Europe by AgustaWestland will be free of terrorist tampering? As the folks at Sikorsky like to point, only they have Yankee White Clearance--access to only the most classified personnel.

That said, Sikorsky will have its work cut out for them, having to do their own system integration (something Lockheed excels at) and roll out an aircraft that is largely untested. Politically, Bush has to offer both Blair and Berlusconi a viable alternative to this lucrative (at least $1.5 billion) program, such as participation in the Joint Strike Fighter.

But should the Pentagon announce in favor of Lockheed, it will be because the US101 is considered battle-proven (a version of it is used by the Royal Marines), a known quantity based not on a commercial but military design. Sikorsky would also be in big trouble, especially if a future helicopter contract such as the PRV goes Lockheed's way. "Do you think the president is going to kill Sikorsky?" one defense analyst asked me. In short, even if they lose the Marine One bid, the Stratford-based company will get some consolation contract in return.

To be continued...

How Not to Run a Major City

While the DC Police Department surrenders an important law enforcement tool—the right to arrest protesters without permits—the City Council takes another step to ensure that the district is available as a plaything for Seattle-style anarchists. The Washington Times editorial page has the story.

The Principles Project

One of my best and oldest friends, Rob Arena, has been involved in a new venture called The Principles Project. The idea is to create a coherent, forward-looking liberalism.

It's an important project, since much of today's liberalism has gone off the rails. A vigorous, intelligent liberalism--think Peter Beinart, not Michael Moore--is essential to the American experiment and I wish Rob and his associates all the best. It'll be interesting to watch in the coming weeks and see what they come up with.

Hate Mail from Hollywood

Anklebiting Pundits have a piece of hate mail from someone claiming to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Simply horrifying.
Philadelphia sports fans often get branded as thugs and cranks. This is unfair. Today's Phil Sheridan column in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Bill Belichek's genius is about par for the course in Philly fandom: They have total, complete respect for greatness, particularly when it's exemplified by visiting teams not from Dallas.

Whatever else you want to say about Philly fans: They know the score. And they care. That makes them some of the best sports fans in the country in my book.

Kaus-Sullivan Update

The Kaus-Sullivan death-match is continuing over at Kausfiles now. After hinting that Sullivan may have some unspecified "virtues," Mickey says, "This isn't a man you want to follow into battle. Unfortunately, many Americans did."

[Why do you obsess about these stupid, manufactured "feuds"? --ed You don't want me on that wall, you need me on that wall!]

Kaplan in Iraq

It is not overstating things to say we should laud Lawrence Kaplan for having the physical courage to simply go to Iraq to report on it in the days leading up the election. But he should be double lauded for this excellent piece over at the New Republic.

obesity overreach

New York Poston the New York Times's bogus Brazilian fat photos.

Spider-Man: India

David Adesnik, of OxBlog fame, has a wonderful piece on the Indian re-imagining of Spider-Man and what it says about the universality of American values.

Hmmmm. I wonder what an Arab Spider-Man would be like?
Start your Friday by reading about a hero.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Now On WIP: Joy

If you're from Philadelphia and you're a sports fan, this story will warm your heart. Everyone else, please ignore.
More from the porning of America.
Captain Ed takes on Jack Shafer's surprisingly counterintuitive analysis of bloggery. Both of them make good points.

Inside payoff: Read Shafer's list of blogs he likes and find which one is missing. It'll make you glad to know that the rift must be real. If you know what I'm talking about, it'll make you smile.
Paul Mirengoff says that we should take Islamists at their word. I agree.


Soxblog asks, What's gotten into Peggy Noonan? And then he answers the question quite plausibly.

Hollywood and Democrats

The New Donkey weighs in on what Democratic politicians should do about Hollywood celebrity endorsements. His answer: "Democrats have an easy solution to this particular problem: just stop inviting movie and television stars to share their platforms, particularly if they are unwilling to accept a script that keeps them from saying stupid or offensive things."

Sounds pretty smart to me.

God on the Quad

I picked up a copy of Naomi Schaefer Riley's new book, God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America. I've only paged through it a bit so far, but it's very, very interesting, and full of good reporting. Worth a look.

Port McClellan

Had a chance to meet blogger Michael McClellan yesterday. His blog, Port McClellan, is worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Get Your Evan On

Evan Coyne Maloney came to D.C. for the inauguration protests and the video is priceless.

Maloney is getting scary good at these productions. His manner on camera is so perfectly pitched that it doesn't even scare you when one protestor tells him, "We'll have to come out and kill somebody, I guess."

Cheers to Children's Verse

Last night I attended a family-style poetry reading at the American Enterprise Institute. Joseph Bottum, parting books editor at the Standard, organized and hosted the event, which featured several works from a lovely manuscript of children’s verse he is writing. The panel included poet, critic, NEA biggie Dana Gioia, Standard editor Bill Kristol, Mary Eberstadt (professional troublemaker and author of an excellent new book on day care and other ways parents escape their obligations), Tim Kelleher*, actor and poet, and Christopher Hitchens. I left after a very entertaining half hour (work called), missing the best part.

According to two eye-witnesses, during the second or third go-around in which panelists read favorite examples of children’s verse, Ole Hitch pulled out a flask, right there on the AEI dais in front of a roomful of children and a pair of television cameras (C-Span was recording), and took a pull before placing his flask on the table, in full view of the audience, for continued access.

Cool, profane, get-to-a-meeting-please: It's hard to know how to view such behavior.

*correction: not Thomas Kelleher as I originally wrote. Tim played Ted Sorenson in Thirteen Days and has many other showbiz credits.

Armstrong's "Mistake"

From this morning's presidential press briefing:
Q: Mr. President, do you think it's a proper use of government funds to pay commentators to promote your policies?


Q: Are you going to order that--

THE PRESIDENT: Therefore, I will not pay you to--[laughter.]

Q: Fair enough. Are you ordering that there be an end to that practice?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I am. I expect my Cabinet Secretaries to make sure that that practice doesn't go forward. There needs to be independence. And Mr. Armstrong Williams admitted he made a mistake. And we didn't know about this in the White House, and there needs to be a nice, independent relationship between the White House and the press, the administration and the press. So, no, we shouldn't be going for it.

Did you catch that? Armstrong is the one who made the mistake. All by himself. Those people who work for the president who stuffed $240,000 of your money down Armstrong's pants? Well they didn't make him take it, now did they?

To be fair, a couple questions later, the president acknowledged that "the Department of Education," too, made a mistake. You know the old saying: The buck stops . . . over there. Somewhere.

Caesar's Palace

Buried, so to speak, by news of the tsunami and the inauguration was a fascinating story in the Washington Post about the recent discovery of the ruins of Nero's palace in Rome. According to correspondent Daniel Williams, frescoes of "naked men harvesting grapes and making wine" were found on a giant arch marking an entrance to Nero's infamous Domus Aurea, the "Golden House." The Romans themselves actually hid the palace from view after Nero's suicide so as to wipe away any trace of the tyrant's rule. (It is located forty feet below the Trajan Baths while Nero's artificial lake was paved over by the Colosseum.) Archaelogists are unsure what the newly uncovered halls and grottoes will lead to but one Abner Ravenwood was certain he would at last find the Well of Souls.

The Other Shoes Begin Dropping

Editor & Publisher is reporting that document expert Marcel Matley is now going after CBS and Thornburgh-Boccardi, demanding corrections in the report and setting up a possible defamation suit.

Slate Is Right! (and wrong)

Stephen Rodrick writes in Slate that television has killed the sports columnist. He's right! As Exhibit A he offers up Stephen A. Smith, the annoying, untalented ESPN head and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist. (Smith's boss at the Inquirer disputes Rodrick's thesis, saying that the "multi-tasking" hasn't affected Smith's newspaper work. He's right, too--Smith was always a terrible writer.)

But while Rodrick has diagnosed the disease correctly, he's mistaken on some of the symptoms. Most notably, he bashes the Washington Post's Tony Kornheiser. But in reality, Kornheiser is one of the few working sports columnists who still pays attention to the actual craft of writing. His columns are very solid stuff, despite his TV stardom.

Even so, reading Rodrick will probably get you shaking your head and saying, Amen.

J-Log Online

If you haven't already, you should check out J-Log Online. They've been nice enough to advertise on Galley Slaves, but don't hold that against them! A site this interesting deserves a look.

More Chavez and Terrorism

Hugo Chavez may be the most under-reported story in the world today and Thor Halvorssen has an excellent piece on the strong-man's latest ties to terrorism. Sooner or later, Bush is going to have to get serious about Chavez. Particularly if he's serious about all of that stuff from his inaugural address.

Halvorssen has written an important piece it deserves to be widely read.

40 Days and 40 Nights

Hugh Hewitt has a fairly persuasive piece which argues that the blogosphere is to news today what television was in 1950--a force which is going to completely remake all of our information institutions.

I still disagree with the blog evangelists in many of the particulars: For instance, Hugh argues against the importance of traditional Big Media saying, "Sure, the Washington Post can 'break' the news that the Pentagon is revamping its intelligence operations, but the moment it is in print it has traveled the globe and a thousand or ten thousand commentaries are registering. The Post no more gets to define the significance of that reorganization than I do."

As I've said before, this is a pretty important difference, no? Without the news that the Post breaks, the blogosphere would have nothing to talk about except for its sleep apnea disorder.

But Hugh is undoubtedly right about the market for news analysis--which the blogosphere may stand to completely obliterate. It's not crazy to think that 20 years from now op-ed pages and opinion magazine might be a thing of the past, leaving Big Media to do only news gathering. Does that sound like a bad thing?

Google vs. Microsoft

You've probably already seen this, but I hadn't.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Five Votes

WARNING: The following item is yet another appraisal of the newly reborn Georgetown Hoyas.

It might not seem like a big deal, but the fact that the Georgetown men's basketball team has received five votes in the Associated Press poll and four in the ESPN Coaches' poll is nothing to laugh at. Fine, laugh at it. But it still marks an incredible comeback for a team that went 13-15 last season--and losing 15 of its last 18 games. The Hoyas are currently 12-5 (4-2 in the Big East). The five votes received for this week are the first such votes in almost two years. ESPN currently predicts the Hoyas not only to make it to the Big Dance but to be seeded 7th against a 10-seed (Maryland). The Washington Post last week put us in an 8-9 matchup.

Tonight the Hoyas face off against St. John's--a team that will not make it to the postseason due to NCAA infractions. But a conference win is a conference win, which they will need before they head to Boston and face the undefeated Eagles.

To fully grasp the turnaround under coach John Thompson III, see my previous lament in The Daily Standardfrom two years ago, followed by the sacking of former coach Craig Esherick a year later.

Second Coming of The Goat

Galley Friend B.W. sends along this amazing video clip of a young baller named Henry Bekkering. It's pretty amazing and reminds me of the legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault. The Goat was a playground fixture in New York back in the day:
In the 1960s, the New York playground scene was dominated by Earl "The Goat" Manigault. In the ten years he played basketball, from age twelve to twenty-two, Manigault created a powerful legend. Just over six feet tall, he once dunked over Lew Alcindor (the legendary seven-foot center from a New York high-school who led UCLA to three national collegiate championships and, after changing his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, had one of the longest, most productive careers in the history of the NBA). Manigault is the only person ever to perform a double-dunk, and his greatest regret was never being able to perfect sitting on the rim after a dunk, something he decided to try because he noticed that during dunks, "my waist would be hovering near the rim."

Unfortunately, The Goat dropped out of college, got hooked on heroin, and after age 22 never played seriously again. We'll never know how great he could have been.

In 1998 The Goat died at the age of 53. I hope that he's looking down on young Henry Bekkering and smiling.

Remembering Carson

Larry Miller has one of the most wonderful remembrances of Johnny Carson.

Blogging Alert

Blogging has been light the last few days because (1) the Slaves have been busy packing and unpacking as they move to new office space in their day jobs, and (2) there's no news. How light a news week is it: Newsweek is a slim and slippery 60 pages. Drudge has virtually no headlines of note.

The only story happening--aside from the impending fall of the Patriot dynasty--is the Oscar nominations which prove that, once again, this is the worst year in the history of Hollywood.

How bad is it? I dare you to name one movie from the crop of Best Picture nominees that, even if you saw it for $12.99 at Blockbuster, you would watch more than twice. It is, I say sadly, a scandal.
Salon can be amusing, for certain, and even intentionally now that El Sid is gone from the premises. This article's from an old friend of mine, who's (in a sort of half-mad fashion) promoting the secession movement for people and states who no longer want to live under the imperialist thumb of George W. Bush. Chris, my friend the author, has also sent me an invitation to a seccession party in New York City. In case you want to go, it's at 7pm Wednesday at Junno's in the West Village. No cover, it's "free to the people." (Of course I don't think you want to go.)

In Protest

From WashPost. The D.C. Police department has settled a wrongful arrest lawsuit relating to the World Bank/IMF protests in 2002. The vulnerability in the District’s defense seems to have been that a crowd of protesters was not ordered to disperse before the police began arresting individuals. For 24 hours of inconvenience, each plaintiff will be paid approx $50,000. Fine, whatever. The bad part is that the District has agreed, as part of the settlement, that protesting without a permit is no longer grounds for arrest. Clearly this is one of the only law-enforcement tools available to cities living through the assault and disruption of major protests. Conceding this point strikes me as a serious error.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Let the Eagles Soar

Finally. As expected, Bill Lyon has it best.

I'll just say this: I have not been a believer. And I still don't believe all the way. The New England Patriots are better than the Eagles. If they played five times, the Patriots would win four of them.

But they only have to play once. And in two weeks, in the Supre Bowl, I'm going to watch the Philadelphia Eagles. Watch them win.

Friday, January 21, 2005

All-World Answer

Allen Iverson may be the best athlete on the planet not named Jordan. You know what he can do as a basketball player, but look at these gaudy numbers as a high-school quarterback:
During a phenomenal junior year, in 1992, at Bethel High School in Hampton, Va., Iverson accounted for a total of 34 touchdowns. He passed for 1,423 yards and 14 touchdowns. He ran for 781 yards and 15 TDs. He intercepted eight passes as a defensive back, returning one for a score. And he returned four punts all the way to the house. . . . After leading Bethel's football team to the 1992 Division 5 state championship, Iverson sparked his school to the Virginia Group AAA state basketball championship a few months later, averaging 31.6 points.

He's a god.
Not for the faint of heart, but Uncle Grambo has a typically bizah pizzle on the Bush twins.

West and the Washington Times

Has anyone else noticed what a tear the Washington Times has been on lately? They've been publishing a ton of really good stuff. The latest is Diana West's column today about the clarity of our enemy:
Which takes me back to the original idea of what there is to achieve by writing about those central, retrograde aspects of Islam that clash with Western society--namely, the precepts of jihad and dhimmitude, and the dictates of sharia law. Clarity is the goal. We are unlikely to witness a security-lite inauguration four years--or eight or 12 years--hence if we remain confused about the ideology that animates our foes. And we are unlikely to ward off the spread of jihad, dhimmitude and sharia law the world over--including the U.S.A.--if we know nothing about it, or, worse, know only apologetics about it. Infinitely more pleasant, they are also misleading.

But apologetics are what we get. Take the reading list that Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, our new commander in Iraq, has given senior staff. It whitewashes jihad, dhimmitude and sharia law with the works of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito. No Bat Ye'or; no Ibn Warraq; no Robert Spencer; no Daniel Pipes; no Paul Fregosi; no Oriana Fallaci; not even any Bernard Lewis. Ignorance before September 11 was bad enough; perpetuating that ignorance is inexcusable.

This is progress. But until our president can speak in such open language, we still have a long, long way to go.

A Shameless Plug

Because it is never too late to celebrate the inauguration, let me recommend to our local readers stopping by for a drink at the Oval Room Restaurant just one block north of the White House. Thanks to the generosity of Chris Swonger and his friends at Allied Domecq (they own Stolichnaya and Maker's Mark, among others), I had the honor of imbibing in a few of the "inaugural drinks," strictly for reporting purposes on behalf of Galley Slaves:

The most popular of these libations was the Stoli Oath of Office Martini, a blend of Stoli Ohranj Vodka, Hiram Walker Triple Sec, fresh lime juice, blood orange juice, and a splash of cranberry juice. "The Stoli Oath of Office makes me want to run for office," exclaimed Nicole Chardavoyne, a resident of the District.

Charissa Benjamin, a native of the beautiful and exotic island of Antigua, preferred the Inaugural Mango Melon Ball "because of the Caribbean flavor of it." She's not alone--a fellow named Craig who flew up from Texas described it as "a healthy drink with a kick." (Quite simply, mix some Malibu Mango Rum, Midori Melon liqueur, pineapple juice, and enjoy.)

But there was also the Black Tie and Boots Martini, a combination of Stoli Vanil, Kahlua Especial, and just a splash of dark roast coffee. It tasted more of a dessert than a drink.

The Oval Room is also serving Texas Kahlua Coffee, which includes Kahlua, Amaretto, Creme de Cocoa, Sauza Hornitos, and heavy cream.

If you can't make it out there today, make them at home and drink in honor of the president. (After all, he won't be having any to drink himself.)

Special thanks to Matt J. Lauer and bartender extraordinaire Matthew Mota for their hospitality to Galley Slaves.

Where's Protest Warrior When You Need Them?

There's a small anti-neocon protest going on outside of my office right now. I ducked downstairs to see what it was all about. The usual: Signs saying "Bombing for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity"; "Here's a new policy: Fuck You"; "U.S. Out of the Middle East"; that sort of thing. A fellow carrying a guitar had a sticker saying "Republicans are Nazis."

One clever duo were dressed up as Bush and Cheney. Bush was wearing a crown with "666" on it, had bloody hands, and was carrying a bottle of motor oil which he mimed drinking from. Also, he had strings attached to his arms and shoulders which were connected to a wooden cross which Cheny was holding. Get it! The president is just Dick Cheney's marionette! I mean, where do they come up with this stuff? It's gold, Jerry!

The building is in lockdown. One of the protestors, trying the doors, became frustrated. "How are the other fascists going to get into the building?" he asked our nice security guard.

So goes the lefty fringe. Or at least I think they were the fringe. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

There Shall Come a Cowboy

Galley Friend L.B. has composed a magnum opus response to Soxblog. If you are interested in reading an in-the-weeds discussion of the relative merits of NFL dynasties, read on. If not go watch the VW terrorism commercial:
Soxblog makes some good points. In particular, I'd forgotten about the Pats beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh the week after that infamous Raiders game. That certainly was an impressive win. And I should reiterate that I really admire what the Pats have done, they are a great team, Belichick *is* a genius coach, Brady is terrific, etc. No quibbles there. I just think it's a bit much to start calling this group the greatest team ever--even better than the '70s Steelers, '80s/early '90s 49ers, or early '90s Cowboys. (Even the normally sensible Chris Mortensen of ESPN is peddling this line now.)

The commenters on Soxblog's reply did a nice job calling him out on his overrating the Rams and Colts as competition (one more note--that Ram team was coached by that bozo Martz, not Vermeil, which made a difference)--and on pointing out that those 80s teams (49ers, Bears, Skins, Giants) were all at their peaks at more or less the same time. (Speaking of beating premiere teams "under the most inauspicious conditions possible," I recall that one of those 49er Super Bowl-winning teams (1988-89) dominated the Bears 28-3 *at Soldiers' Field* in the NFC title game, in typical January Chicago weather, against a nasty Bears defense which gave up an average of 9.8 points per game at home that year. So much for those '80s Niner squads being "finesse" West Coast teams . . . And I hate admitting that, b/c as a Cowboy fan, I detest SF!)

As Soxblog mentions, the Pats' 32-4 record of the past two years is a remarkable achievement. But again, consider the competition and the state of the league as a whole (meaning, lack of other truly *great* teams).

First, let's take last year's Super Bowl champion Pats (2003-04). 14-2 record. #12 in scoring offense, #1 in scoring defense. Avg. margin of victory in regular season: 10.3 points. Playoff wins were squeakers except for beating the weenie Colts in Foxboro: 17-14 over the Titans, 24-14 vs. the Colts, and 32-29 in the Super Bowl vs. Carolina (a team that was pretty good but not "great" in any sense--QB? Jake Delhomme. Not exactly John Elway or Jim Kelly or Dan Marino). Still, a very, very good team.

How about this year's Pats? A better team, thanks to Corey Dillon. 14-2 again, #4 in scoring offense, #2 in scoring defense. Avg. margin of victory in regular season: 13.7. Awfully good, I'll admit, given the injuries, etc.

And finally, the 2001 Pats, their first Super Bowl team. 11-5. #6 scoring offense, #6 scoring defense Avg. margin of victory: 13.6 (padded by 31- and 21-points romps over the lame Colts "defense," and a 32-point blowout over the 1-15 Carolina Panthers in the last game of the season.) Playoff wins: the infamous "Tuck Rule" game against the Raiders, 16-13; the admirable win against the Steelers, 24-17 (in overtime, I believe)--made more impressive by the fact that Brady got knocked out of that game w/a knee injurie (but Drew Bledsoe isn't exactly chopped liver as a back-up QB). And then the squeaker 20-17 win over the Rams in the Super Bowl.

But now, let's look back, starting with the 1989-90 49ers--the successor to the team I mentioned above that romped over the Bears in Chicago in the NFC title game. With a new coach (this was the year Seifert took over, after Bill Walsh retired), they went 14-2. #1 scoring offense, #3 scoring defense in the league. Avg. margin of victory: 13.9 points (two touchdowns). And that margin-of-victory stat doesn't include their playoff wins, which were all thrashings: 41-13 vs. the Vikings, 30-3 vs. the LA Rams (who were pretty darn good back then - great offense w/Jim Everett, Henry Ellard, and Co.), and 55-10 against the Broncos in the Super Bowl.

And what about the next year, the 1990-91 Niners? They almost won it all *again*. 14-2, again. They barely lost the NFC title game to the Giants 15-13 (Montana was knocked out of that game). The Giants went on, of course, to beat the Bills in the infamous Scott Norwood Super Bowl.

Now, take the 1992-93 Cowboys, the first of Jimmy Johnson's two Super Bowl champs. 13-3 record. #2 scoring offense, #5 scoring defense. Avg. margin of victory: 15.2 points (over two touchdowns). Of their three losses, one was by 4 points, another by 3, and the third was a 31-7 drubbing against a very good Eagles team (11-5 that year) at the Vet, which the Cowboys avenged by spanking the Eagles 34-10 in the playoffs. Other playoff victories: 30-20 *at* SanFran (who were *14-2* that year and #1 in scoring offense, #3 in scoring defense), and 52-17 over the Bills in the Super Bowl.

What about the 1993-4 Cowboys, the 2nd Super Bowl for Johnson & Co.? 12-4 record (they lost the first two games of the season when Emmitt Smith was in a contract holdout, and I believe the other two losses came when Aikman was out hurt for 2 games). #2 scoring offense, #2 scoring defense. Avg. margin of victory in reg. season: 15.3 points. Playoff wins: 27-17 vs. Green Bay, 38-21 vs. another Seifert/Young/Rice/Watters 49er team, and 30-13 over the Bills in the Super Bowl.

The 1994 Cowboys, meanwhile, under that idiot Barry Switzer, went 12-4, #2 in offense, #3 in defense. Avg. margin of victory: 15.5 points. Beat the Holmgren-Farve-Reggie White Packers 35-9 before losing the NFC title game to San Fran 38-28 at Candlestick, after digging a 21-point hole for themselves in the first half b/c of some stupid turnovers. The Niners were just a little bit better that year (they had Deion): they beat the Cowboys by a touchdown in the regular season (also in Candlestick), which got them the crucial home-field for that NFC title game. 13-3 record. An offensive juggernaut, #1 in scoring offense (32 points per game), #6 in scoring defense. Avg. margin of victory: *18.8* points per game. Playoff wins: 44-15 vs. the Bears, 38-28 over the Cowboys, and 49-26 over San Diego in the Super Bowl.

And finally, the 1995 Cowboys--again under the buffoon Switzer, who was an awful NFL coach but managed to coast along on the talent Jimmy Johnson had assembled: 12-4, with three of those losses coming by 4, 3, and 7 points. (Damn Switzer and his crappy game management!) Avg. margin of victory in reg. season: 14.7 points. Playoff wins: 30-11 over Philly, 38-27 over Green Bay (who'd beaten the 49ers the week before, thus preventing the Cowboys from avenging their only bad loss of the season, 38-20 against the Niners), and 27-17 vs. the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

I haven't even bothered yet to look at the '70s Steelers... But just look at the Niners from 87-94, and the Cowboys from about 1991-1996. All those great seasons and Super Bowls, and those teams were slugging it out against *each other* for many of those years -- as well as (at various points) Parcells's Giants, Gibbs's Redskins, Ditka's Bears, and the emerging Packers under Holmgren.

One more crucial point: Let's assume the Pats win the Super Bowl this year, and join those early '90s Cowboys as the only squads to win 3 out of 4. What about the one year each team didn't win the Super Bowl? The 1994 Cowboys went 12-4 and lost in the NFC title game to the eventual Super Bowl champs. The 2002 Patriots went 9-7 and *didn't even make the playoffs!*

Given all this, I still think (as great as they certainly are) that it's a stretch to call this current group of Pats the "greatest team ever." Among the greatest 4 or 5? Sure. But not THE greatest, or even one of the top 2, in my (admittedly biased) opinion.

Summers End

Tom Maguire has a good post on the sad end to Larry Summers's attempt to open a discussion.

FDR in War

The Blog from the Core has a great post about another president and behavior the left will most certainly find outrageous.


Galley Friend Katherine Mangu-Ward sends in this report from the festivities yesterday:
Overheard: Condi Rice, heading the wrong way from the Rotunda to Statuary Hall on her way to the official Inaugural luncheon: "I'm frankly lost in the Capitol."

Michael Cialdella CD Debuts

Michael Ciadella is an old friend of mine and his self-titled debut album is now available. Michael may be the best-educated pop singer on the planet--Johns Hopkins undergrad; UVA law school--but if you like bubble-gum pop, or have a 14-year-old daughter or niece who does, this is the CD for you. I hope you'll give him a try; artists like Ciadella deserve to succeed.

China and the New Bush

Rachel DiCarlo has an excellent piece on pro-democracy activist Yang Jianli, who has now been sitting in a Chinese jail for over 1,000 days.

Remember, Bush said yesterday that "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you."

It will be interesting to watch how Bush's policy towards China now shifts. Or doesn't.
What does it mean if Peggy Noonan is terrified by Bush's inaugural address?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Soxblog Speaks!

Upset by Galley Friend L.B.'s earlier disparaging of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Soxblog emails:
(1) 32-4. That's the Pat's record the last two years. I don't see how one could logically dismiss that as anything less than an incredible accomplishment, one of the greatest in league history.

(2) Level of Competition--In their first Super Bowl Victory, the Patriots defeated the Rams, the Greatest Show on Turf, a team considered to be on the verge of dynasty at the time. Few remember that the Rams were a two touchdown favorite. It also should be added that Super Bowl XXXVI was played in a Dome, on turf. In other words, the Patriots defeated the premiere team of the era under the most inauspicious conditions possible.

In addition to the Rams, the Patriots beat the Colts last year and this year. Although it's hard to recall, only five days ago the Colts were considered unstoppable, the greatest offense ever.

(3) The teams from one's youth almost always seem greater than they actually were. None of LB's listed teams were at their peaks simultaneously.

(4) The Snow Game against the Raiders was not settled by a bad call. It was settled by an undeniably correct call that was predicated on a stupid rule. Walt Coleman is no Don Denkinger or Larry Barnett. It's not his fault he had to enforce the Tuck Rule.

(5) The Esiason-Marino thing was hilarious. Dan was upset because Boomer was so on the money with the Manning/Marino observation.

It had to be particularly painful for Marino because he lost two conference championships at home and one Super Bowl as well, all three of which were played in adequate weather conditions and all three of which he played poorly in. Peyton has also failed to play well in the biggest games of his career. Facts are facts.

But Manning can take comfort in the fact that five years into his career Magic Johnson was often derided as "Tragic" Johnson because of his dismal performance in the 1984 Finals. By the end of his career, that performance was almost completely forgotten.

So for Manning there's still time to write a different ending. For Marino, alas, the story is written.

The battle is well and truly joined.

Jack Kemp's Friends

The New York Post's Niles Lathem has a big story on Jack Kemp's contacts with Samir Vincent, the fellow who was helping Saddam rig the oil-for-food program.

It doesn't look like Kemp has done anything illegal. But this unsavory behavior is in line with other things we've seen from Kemp, namely his apologies for Hugo Chavez.

ABC's Inauguration Plans

The blogosphere has derailed another Big Media plan to sand-bag Bush. Read about it here.

Bush's Second Inaugural

I'm certainly no Bush partisan, but objectively speaking, that was the best speech of his presidency and one of the best speeches I've heard from a president in modern times. Simply beautifully crafted, elegantly written-- hat's off to the team who put that piece of prose together. The lines which stand out most to me:

* You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs.

* In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the week. Liberty does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love.

*We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as he wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul.

That's really something, isn't it?

It's also an incredibly ambitious speech. Bush said, for instance, that "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you." If you live in Sudan or China or Saudi Arabia, this signals an important change in U.S. policy, no?

Bush also came closer to naming radical Islamism as the ultimate enemy than he has in the past, alluding to it, and the Arab world as a place "prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder." He's not there yet, but it's a start.

If the speech had a deficiency, it came in the passage about spreading freedom to other societies: "Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen . . . and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. . . . America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice . . ."

The president is right in all of this, but I can't help wondering, What if, given the freedom to choose, people in Iraq or other Middle Eastern states, choose Islamism and to turn further away from the West? We've seen this in Kuwait, where democratic reforms produced a parliament more hostile to women's rights and to Western nations than the monarchy was. We all hope that liberty, tolerance, and a yearning for the rule of law (and not sharia) are universal values, but isn't there some evidence to the contrary?

This is a big question, and one which will be settled by events, so let's not dwell on it here. Instead, it's important to give credit where it is due. President Bush gave a stirring, ennobling speech at his second inauguration. This is a moment during which all Americans can be proud.

QB History Repeats Itself

During a conversation with Galley Friend L.B. the other day I mentioned how eerie it is that today's crop of great quarterbacks resemble the last great crop. Think about it:

Manning = Marino

Brady = Montana

Vick = Cunningham

McNabb = Elway

Culpepper = Moon

L.B. had much deeper thoughts on the subject, which you may find interesting:
Your QB comparisons are pretty apt. Manning is definitely going to get stuck with the Marino tag. (Dan Fouts would also be a good comparison, too--all great AFC QBs with gaudy stats who had the misfortune of playing on teams with shitty defenses.) Btw, did you see the post-game show on CBS after Colts-Pats, when Boomer Esaison said Manning was becoming the "Marino of his generation"? Boomer must've forgotten that Marino was sitting just down the table from him--Marino shot him a glare that said "If we weren't on national TV right now, you would be a dead man, blondie." Anyway, that team just needs some more guts and toughness, mostly on the defensive side of the ball and also on the O-line. Marvin Harrison is also a big X-factor in their losses--you never saw Rice or Michael Irvin disappear in big games the way he has. (But I suppose you could pin that on Manning too--Rice and Irvin never disappeared b/c Montana and Aikman weren't weenies in big games.)

Vick/Cunningham is also a good analogy, but I think Cunningham was a better passer early in his career than Vick is at the same point now. Why the hell are they shackling Vick in the damn West Coast offense? He's clearly not comfortable with it yet. He shouldn't be throwing little 5-yard dump offs to fullbacks and slants all day to his wideouts; he needs to be in a system where he can air it out.

Brady/Montana--it's also a good comparison, even though I'm sick of it. Both guys from big-time college programs (Michigan, Notre Dame) who got drafted low because they didn't fit the 6'5"/rocket arm QB/God mold. All they do is win. Where the comparison falls apart for me, at least now, is that while Brady is matching Montana in Super Bowls, Montana was a more complete passer--threw a better deep ball, I think, and put up marginally better passing numbers. (Of course, Jerry Rice might've had a little to do with that--it'd be interesting to see what Brady could do with a top-flight receiver instead of all the small guys he's got right now).

And I like the Pats a lot, too--I guess I'm just tired of hearing how great they are. If they win the Super Bowl this year, people are going to start talking about them being a dynasty in the league of the '70s Steelers, '80s 49ers, and especially the early-'90s Cowboys (the only team to win 3 rings in 4 years)--which is bunk. The Pats win because they play great team football in a league made mediocre by parity--by which I mean, they haven't had to beat as many really great teams to win their titles. The '70s Steelers had to deal with the great Madden Raider teams, the Griese-Csonka-Shula Dolphins, etc. The '80s Niners always had to get through Parcells' Giants, Gibbs' Skins, or Ditka's mid-'80s Bears teams. And the early '90s Cowboys had those epic NFC title games (the real Super Bowl in those years) against the Young/Rice/Watters 49ers, and also had to get past the excellent Packers teams of Farve's early years (with Reggie White, Sterling Sharpe et al). Meanwhile, these Pats are two late-4th quarter field goals away from losing both of their Super Bowls (and to who--Carolina?), and if not for that ridiculous non-fumble call in Foxboro when the Raiders' Charles Woodson sacked his former U-M teammate Brady, the Pats don't even get to the 2002 Super Bowl.

I guess I'm just an obnoxious Cowboy fun stuck back in the glory days, but I think either of Jimmy Johnson's two Cowboy Super Bowl teams would dismantle the Pats--simply a matter of having more talent and depth.

McNabb-Elway is another pretty good analogy, though Elway scares me more as a passer, McNabb more as a runner.

Culpepper-Moon is interesting but Dante still has his work cut out for him. Moon is one of the great overlooked QBs of all time. Don't forget all the yards he racked up in the CFL before coming to the NFL, because no one in the NFL wanted to draft a black QB when he came out of U-Washington--even though he was a Rose Bowl MVP. Over his entire pro career, the guy threw for **70,533** yards! (far more than anyone else) And if it hadn't been for the Oilers' craptacular collapse against Buffalo in the playoffs one year (remember--35-3 before the Bills came back?), and a 2-point nailbiter loss in Mile High to the Broncos in another year, he would've been in at least one Super Bowl. For my money, Moon had the most amazing arm I've ever seen on a QB (along with Marino, I guess). I say this with all due respect to Favre, Elway etc.--the difference was that Moon threw rockets while always making it look effortless. Farve and Elway look like gunslingers--when they threw hard, you could tell they were putting every ounce into it.

Does anyone else have thoughts on the matter?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

English Cooks and French Wives

"I used to think ... that the English cook the way they do because, through sheer technical deficiency, they had not been able to master the art of cooking. I have discovered to my stupefaction that the English cook that way because that is the way they like it."

--Waverley Root, author of The Food of France, as quoted by A.J. Liebling

"When the [French] government pulled out, Root invited me to accompany him in pursuit of it in a small French automobile. 'Maybe we can find some good regional food on the way,' he said. I left France for the United States eleven days later; Root, with his French wife of the epoch and their infant daughter, followed in a month. He returned to France and spent most of his time there. The Food of France is a monument to his affection for a country as well as for its art. He has another French wife now."

--A.J. Liebling on Waverley Root in Between Meals

Thomas Joscelyn Blog

Thomas Joscelyn is both a friend and a writer I greatly admire, so it's excellent news that he's started his own blog, the Venona Project. He's well worth adding to your bookmark list.

Update, 1/24/06: Tom has moved is blog address here.

The CBS Three

Charles Johnson has an interesting post about the three CBS executives who were "asked to resign." Evidently, it was not a rhetorical request.

Nobile v. Sullivan

For those of you waiting with baited breath for Andew Sullivan's response to Philip Nobile's devastating counter-response, I belive this is it. In its entirety:
Speaking of which, Philip Nobile will be on O'Reilly tonight. Can you imagine the derision of Tripp's thesis that will ensue? Let's just see if Nobile says what he once wrote: that he believes that most Lincoln historians have been homophobes and that Lincoln was certainly bisexual. And let's see whether he discloses - as he didn't in the Standard - that after he quit the Tripp project, he tried to sell a rival book making the same case.

Is that a surrender?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

On Friday, January 28, at 5pm, just after the markets close, the Pentagon's Defense Acquisition Board will announce the next maker of the president's helicopter, Marine One. Some see this as good news for Lockheed Martin, whose US101 is up against the incumbent contractor Sikorsky. Why is this good for them? Because 35 percent of the helicopter is contracted out to the United Kingdom and Italy. Next month President Bush is scheduled to meet up with both Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi. Both prime ministers have leaned on Bush to go with their product. Would Bush visit these members of the Coalition of the Willing after snubbing their helicopter? The contract may be for only 23 helicopters, but the R&D value of it comes to about $1.5 billion. Stay tuned...

Rathergate and Mother's Day

In the Washington Times William Campenni make a point I haven't seen before: That the Killian memo ordering Bush to report for a physical, May 13-14, 1972, the Ellington Air Guard Base was closed because it was Mother's Day weekend (evidently National Guard bases routinely close on Mother's Day).

Interesting, no? But here's the more interesting part: Campenni sent this information, along with a witness list, to Thornburgh and Boccardi while they were conducting their investigation. They ignored it.

The Housing Bubble

In the Wall Street Journal Greg Ip wonders if the housing bubble will soon burst. It's about time. While the popping will not do me any financial good, I will derive an enormous psychological payoff from it.

Marjorie Williams (1958-2005)

I never met Marjorie Williams, but I did admire her work from afar. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband, Tim Noah, her children, and the rest of her family.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I just spent this past weekend in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. The group decided to go old-school and spent the entire time downtown--what had been for many years downtrodden. But Fremont Street has undergone a massive renovation (such as the Fremont Street Experience light show) and the casino hotel where we stayed, the Golden Nugget, was the best on the block. (If it's good enough to host Regis Philbin and Tony Bennett, it's good enough to host me.) The great advantage of staying at the Nugget are the cheap tables (such as $5 craps and blackjack). The lowest bet at the Sports Book is also $5 and you get a free drink coupon to boot. Of course this does attract a more colorful crowd but it's also all the more entertaining.

And speaking of the Sports Book, there was nothing worse than getting burned by the Steelers who failed miserably to cover the spread (9.5 at the time). By overtime I was rooting for the Jets (along with a lot of angry bettors). My money would have been better waged on the Georgetown-Villanova game. Despite playing on Villanova's campus in front of a packed crowd commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Wildcats's victory over the Hoyas in the NCAA final, the Hoyas managed to squeak out another win. By sheer coincidence, the final score was 66-64, the same score for the 1985 game. Even 20 years late, revenge is sweet.

Kos and Payola

I still think that on most counts, Kos is on higher moral ground than either Armstrong William or Jon Lauck and Jason Van Beek. But Zephyr Teachout's latest post is a serious, serious problem for Kos.

If what Zephyr is saying is true, Kos wasn't on the take for opinions he actually believed in--instead, he went on the take and then changed his public advocation. In Armstrong terms, he wasn't doing it because it's something he believes in.

The problem with payola is that it makes it difficult to tell whether someone is telling you something because they believe it, or because they're being paid. I believe Armstrong when he says he supported Bush's education policy before he went on the payroll.

That doesn't mitigate Armstrong's sins, but it does make Kos's much, much worse: His payola wasn't just icing on the cake. The Dean campaign literally bought his opinion, and stole him away from the Clark campaign. I don't know how anyone could read his site for anything other than entertainment value now.
Done right, gloating can be an art form. For my part, I'll be happy to buy Steve Hayes lunch this week.

Correcting the New York Times

The Scrapbook notes a correction in the January 6 New York Times:
An obituary of the innovative comic-page illustrator Will Eisner yesterday included an imprecise comparison in some copies between his character the Spirit and others, including Batman. Unlike Superman and some other heroes of the comics, Batman relied on intelligence and skill, not supernatural powers.

Wrong again! Superman's powers were not "supernatural." They were completely "natural"--he's just an alien from another planet who reacts differently to our sun. Duh!

Crumple Zone II

Galley Hero Charles Johnson has written in with his thoughts on the mysterious uncrumpled version of the CBS memos:
All I can say is that the crumpling was almost certainly done to make the document appear more aged. Apart from that, it's hard to draw conclusions about when or why it was done. But it does seem that at one time CBS must have had more than one version of this document.

He also adds that the crumpled version has an address blacked out. Who did that, and when?

Again, I'm sure this is innocuous, but still . . .

Friday, January 14, 2005

"Klein is my Brad and Jen."

I take back everything I've ever said about Mickey Kaus, he rocks very, very hard.

The CBS Whitewash

My longer story on the CBS Report is up now.

Kos on Kos

I don't see anyone linking to the source of the Blogging-for-Buck story about Daily Kos (I like to think of him as the leftist Tony Little). So here's his defense of himself, which is, I think, quite instructive. Try this quote:

So what's going on? Zephyr is obsessed with imposing journalistic standards on the blogosphere. We can debate the merits of this issue, and good points can be made on both sides (I think it's a dumb idea). But what Zephyr did, and which I find unconscionable, is that she took the Armstrong Williams issue, and made up shit about our involvement with the Dean campaign to score points.

I'm not sure how he gets to Armstrong Williams--Armstrong was getting funneled tax-payer money he never should have gotten in the first place and never disclosed anything; Kos was getting private money and he did make a fig-leaf disclosure (albeit only for one of his clients). But read Kos's post and see what sort of strokes he's working in.

(Bonus Kos note: In this post Kos writes, "it's not every day that I link to the so-called-liberal New Republic, but I like Ryan Lizza (he should write for TAP!)." I'm sure Lizza loves that endorsement.

Crumple Zone

Galley Reader John Schulien sends in a long email with a link to this page. The short version: Last September, the CBS memos appeared to have been Xeroxes of crumpled paper. (See Charles Johnson here.) The version of the memos reproduced in the CBS report seem to be "uncrumpled." What gives?

Here's the long version from Schulien:

Back in September Charles Johnson documented something interesting--that the memos appeared to have been crumpled out and uncrumpled prior to scanning. . . . This evidence shows up when you drop the PDFs into Photoshop, turn the
contrast way up, and the brightness down.

When the final report came out, I took the time to compare the versions of the documents in the appendix with the documents as they were originally released by CBS. I found something very interesting. If you carefully compare, the evidence of the crumpling and uncrumpling is gone in the version released in the final report. (2B.pdf) Not only are the residual crumple marks gone, but the distortion caused by the crumpling is gone from the letters and words as well.

In the spirit of Charles Johnson's animated GIF, I prepared a flashing GIF that goes back and forth between one of the original documents as released by CBS (with the address blacked over), and the new version just released (lower resolution but less distorted.)

If you look at the two images as they cycle, it is easy to pick out areas where the crumpling distorted the text in the original document, and how the newly released document is undistorted.

This raises the question--what is CBS doing with both versions of the document?

There’s probably a simple explanation to all of this, but I’d be interested in hearing it nonetheless. After all, these are the guys who changed the cut-copy permissions on their report’s PDF. Charles, anyone, thoughts?

Newcomer Is Back!

Dr. Joseph Newcomer, the typesetting expert who provided the first definitive debunking of the fake CBS documents, has come out with a devastating response to the Columbia Journalism Review.

Not to be missed.

(He also responds in great detail to David Hailey. Just as devastating; not as much fun.)

Update, 5:09 p.m.: Those links are fixed now, sorry about that. Also, CJR's Corey Pein has his own blog, will he respond to Newcomer's dismantling?
National Review has an excellent interview with Andrew Breitbart, whose book, Hollywoood, Interrupted, is flat-out fantastic.

The interview gives you a good idea of what funny, smart guy Breitbart is.
As promised to Jonathan Last, a few anecdotes from my review of Predators at War that were omitted:

In one of the more disturbing moments of the documentary, a lioness follows a leopard up a tree where the leopard is trying to eat his kill (an antelope) alone. The lioness successfully pulls the carcass away while the leopard is left to sulk. But the lioness can't seem to figure how to get back down. One fatal slip later, the lioness is dangling from the tree, lifeless, her back broken. Another lioness climbs halfway up, pushes the hanging body to the ground, and proceeds to cannibalize it.

A clan of hyenas, regarded to have "steel-trap minds," is joined by a nomad hyena. The viewer can't tell the difference but the clan can by scent. They surround and harass him until he is a bloody mess. Amazingly, they let him go, apparently finding something else better to do.

Lions and hyenas are perceived as archenemies on the plain, probably because they compete most often for the same sources of food. In one instance, a lion comes upon a young hyena, abandoned and injured. The lion, having finished his own meal, decides nevertheless to kill the cub. But he doesn't eat it. Instead he leaves it there and marks it as his territory before leaving.
Who would you pick in a caged death match? The lion, hyena, cheetah, leopard, or African wild dog? On Predators at War (airing this Sunday at 9pm on the National Geographic Channel), these ferocious carnivores face off, not in the ring but on a drought-stricken South African game reserve. And the winners are nowhere near obvious, as I mention in my review for The Daily Standard.

Look At Me! Look At Me! I Get Hate Mail, Too!

Andrew on Michelle Malkin.

Banning The Passion

This story about a Florida college banning The Passion of the Christ doesn't look very good.

Particularly since the school allowed "F**cking for Jesus," a live production which "described simulated sex with 'the risen Christ.'"

FIRE is on the case.

And a Klein Shall Bring Us Together

Kaus keeps going:

CNN's Jonathan Klein shows off his crackling, Web-savvy intelligence:

I don't think that blogging, which is, you know, glorified Web-site hosting—that's what it is.

P.S.: He added, "Sometimes you leave people behind." Oh wait. That was Chris Bangle, not Klein. Sorry. I get my arrogant-know-it-alls-in-the-middle-of-degrading-large-institutions all mixed up. ... Mash-up blogging--it's the latest thing.

Dean for DNC Chair and Trusting Kos

Patrick Hynes has an interesting piece in the American Spectator about the Kos-Dean bucks-for-blog arrangement. I've thought that this says more about Dean than Kos. Hynes agrees.

But Galley Reader J.W. asks an interesting question:

Here's something I haven't seen any blogger address yet. Kos fessed up about taking cash from Dean. But at the same time he admitted he had taken money from other politicians (apparently) but refused to disclose their identities. He said he had a nondisclosure agreement with them. So it is certain that Kos took cash from people his readers never knew about, and probably shilled for them on his blog. Is he still doing this? The nondisclosure agreements seem to create a real ethical conundrum--we will never know which opinions on his site Kos is being paid for, and which are gratis. How can his readers trust the guy?

Good point. What's the use of disclosure about being paid if you won't say who's paying you? Doesn't that make a blog kind of like an infomercial? (Amazing Discoveries!--Hosted by Kos) I say this without judgment. There are plenty of people who get up early on Saturday morning to watch the infomercials because there's entertainment value in them. Speaking only for myself, I can't get enough of Tony Little, the ADD body-builder who hawks the Gazelle. So if Daily Kos is an infomercial, and not really feature programming, that shouldn't necessarily eat into his audience any. It just means that other bloggers need to consider him differently.

The Best CBS Synopsis

Just another shout-out to Captain Ed for having the most comprehensive analysis of the CBS Report that I've seen yet. If you read just one piece about the Thornburgh-Boccardi report, this should be it.

More Gallagher

Can't get enough Gallagher-freude? The new CulturePulp is out, and Mike Russell actually got to swing the Smash-O-Matic.

You had no idea cartoons could be so mean.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Honest, Abe? (cont.)

Philip Nobile answers Andrew Sullivan. Looks like Andrew may have picked a fight with the wrong guy.

High Steaks

The other night marked my second trip to a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and once again I was greeted with excellent service. The waiter knew me by name even though I'm not a regular (he knew it simply by looking at the clipboard before coming to our table). When I called for reservations, they asked if there's a special occasion--I told them I needed to get done in under an hour-and-a-half so I could make the basketball game. Two different managers introduced themselves to our table and thanked us for our patronage. (This made me worry that business might be slow.) As for the steak, as some of you know, it is cooked in butter. Not that there's anything wrong with it. But for purists like myself, it can be a little unnerving. Still, my tiny 12-ounce ribeye was just fine. There are other steakhouses whose meats I prefer more, but when it comes to service, I will say Ruth's Chris was by far superior.

Compare this with my experience at the District Chophouse last year. The Chophouse is owned by Rock Bottom Restaurants in Louisville, Colorado. I had made reservations for a party of 11 at 5:30 on a Saturday. But earlier in the week, I decided to move it back by an hour. I called the Monday before and they said it wasn't a problem. Come Saturday around 6:30, the entire group walks in and I am told we were late by more than an hour and will have to wait another two hours before a table opens. "But I changed the reservations," I told them. It wasn't marked down. A manager comes over and asks me if I got the employee's name who changed my reservations. "You didn't get his name?" he asked me, as if it was the common thing to do. When I told him I changed it on Monday, he said "It is unlikely since we've been booked for more than a week." As one of my friends asked him, "Are you calling [me] a liar?" The manager's reply: "I'm not saying he's lying. I'm saying it is unlikely the call was ever made." (We stormed out and found better service and a better meal at the Capital Grille.)

I don't care if they're serving Wagyu at half price at the Chophouse, I'll take a buttered steak over that any day.
Kos was on the Dean payroll. Here's the bigger news: However unseemly that is--and it's plenty unseemly--Kos's lone fig-leaf disclosure post is still better than Jon Lauck and Jason Van Beek, the South Dakota bloggers on Thune's payroll.

But here's the big question: Why was the Dean campaign wasting its money on Kos? Presumably Kos would have given them all the fawning coverage in the world anyway, right? Wouldn't Kos have wanted to do this because it's something he believes in?

What you have here is another example of Dean, who ran a campaign based in part on promises of fiscal responsibility, being wasteful with his money.

All Things Dunkin' Donuts

I think I'm in love.
If you go to White you'll find the sketches for all of the important inaugural ball dresses. The one pictured here is for young Barbara Bush:


It's a lovely gown, of course, but the model in the sketch looks eerily like Jessica Rabbit.

Coke Cans and Indians

As if the new Indian museum on the National Mall isn’t already a joke.

When I visited recently, I was impressed only by the architecture, and the lobby especially, in which you enter a vertiginous central cavern that goes all the way to the building’s ceiling. The "collection," if you can call it that, is scattered about on floors extending outward in a circular fashion, not unlike the Guggenheim’s setup.

But what they have on display is pathetic. In one window case, there were some everyday crafts by a Canadian tribe (speaking of which, there is absolutely no uniformity or even thoughtfulness behind the museum’s use of terms like tribe, nation, people, etc.), including, on one shelf, a coke can and an ordinary hot beverage thermos. Whether these had been left behind by construction workers or were deemed, somehow, illustrative of Indian culture I cannot say. The signage for the display ignored most of its contents. In fact, the museum’s collection properly speaking receives only a fraction of the attention that is lavished on the subject of living Indians of North and South America. Head-dresses, weapons, totem polls, all the beautiful, intricate ceremonial pieces one associates with this massive indigenous civilization are little in evidence.

It was an example of curating, not by committee, but by a committee of committees. And the committee of committees took as their goal making visitors aware of present-day Indian culture. So, what is essentially a dead culture is treated as if it were vibrant by emphasizing the current activist aspect of the Indian American experience. Funny, French culture, just to take an example, because it is living, can be treated as if it is dead. You can have a show of 17th century French art in which contemporary France is not even mentioned. But Indian culture, because it is a shell of its former greatness, cannot be treated that way. And as a result Indian culture actually seems less great.

Yesterday on CNN, Howard Dean told Bill Hemmer the Democrats lagged behind the Republicans by about 20 years "in terms of organization and in terms of message." He spoke frankly about the need to catch up and "reach out into the grassroots." So far so good for a man running for DNC chair. But when Hemmer asks him to elaborate, Dean reveals the true nature of the struggle:

[The Republicans] have a deep infrastructure into the grassroots of all the states. They get involved in lower ballot races, secretary of states races, things like that. Those matter because unfortunately the Republicans believe that it's more important to make sure the Republicans are in power than it is to let democracy flourish. And they're, even their election officials now are, as we saw in Ohio, beginning to suppress votes and things like that.

So you see it's not just happening in the Ukraine.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

More Ashleeeeee

Because I just can't get enough:

"I go from having a #1 album and things going great and all of a sudden something like 'SNL' happens and boom! You're faced with how mean people can be and criticizing you and stuff."

There's more, about the Orange Bowl and whatnot. Read at your own risk.
Galley Reader J.B. sends in this email pointing out a stunning quote Howard Kurtz's story:

"There was a rush because Mary felt it was a great story and she was going to get scooped on it by USA Today," Mason said. "I think she would have done that with any story. I firmly believe if they found something about Kerry and his past, they'd be rushing to get that on the air, too."

Obviously, Linda Mason was in Bhutan when the Swift Boat Vets were getting started.

Good point, J.B.
If you haven't seen this "jaw-dropping" ad from Hardee's for their latest Monster Thickburger (two-thirds of a pound of Angus beef), you ought to view it online at Slate. As Seth Stevenson notes, "I guess if the Thickburger qualifies as food porn, the Monster Thickburger is XXX hard-core food porn, with cheese bondage and underage buns and deviant bacon orgies. I suppose it's only natural there are porntastic ads to match."

Not that any of this is new. An ice cream brand in Germany called Langnese has long marketed a popsicle variety called Magnum. I remember seeing an ad for it on the side of a bus--it involved a woman in a pose suggestive of an Ohio Players album cover. Nevertheless, the latest Langnese ice cream bar is the Magnum Intense Stick. Well, that's one way to put it.
John Ellis thinks it's absurd to be bloviating about the CBS Report being a whitewash.

Ellis also calls the "no political bias" conclusion "the only major short-coming of The Panel's report."
At least two big-paper media writers are still on the case. Read Howard Kurtz and Jennifer Harper, both of whom have good pieces today.

Blankley on the Spot

Tony Blankley has a very fine op-ed on the role of Thornburgh's law firm:

So the lawyers hired to independently investigate CBS have a lawyer/client relationship with CBS. Presumably, as a senior member of that firm, Independent Review Panel Member Richard Thornburgh also has CBS as a fiduciary client. Thus, unlike similarly named government independent investigations--this one is paid for by, and carried out on behalf of, the target of the investigation.

It's more complicated than that, but Blankley has all the nuances.
That Jon Klein guy keeps looking better and better the more we learn about him.

Thornburgh's Karl Rove History

Galley Friend J.E. sends along a link to this Professor Bainbridge post:

In my Agency and Partnership class today, I'm teaching Karl Rove & Co. v. Thornburgh, 39 F.3d 1273 (5th Cir.1994). Back when Richard Thornburgh ran for the U.S. Senate, and lost, Thornburgh left behind an unpaid bill of almost $170,000 owed to Karl Rove & Co. for services in conducting a direct mail campaign. It is clear that the authorized campaign committee—the "Thornburgh for Senate Committee"—had hired Rove & Co. and that it was liable. Unfortunately, the committee was broke. So Rove sued Thornburgh personally, seeking to hold Thornburg personally liable on the debt. . . .

There's more. I'm sure this had nothing to do with Thornburgh's performance on the panel, but even so, it's an interesting footnote to all of this.

The Michael Bane Blog

Welcome to Michael Bane, whose new blog should be a hoot. Michael is an extreme sports journalist, a shooting afficianado, and one of the craziest and funniest guys I've ever met. I expect great things from his blog.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


The more you read, the worse it gets. Curious how the Thornburg-Boccardi panel decided that the Killian memos might be real? Read here for the startling answer.

Captain Ed, working overtime

In case you missed it, Captain Ed has a monstrous, well-written essay on the the CBS Report which is really required reading. A word of advice: Don't be intimidated by the length, it reads like a breeze.

The New Atlantis

It's always a happy day when the new New Atlantis arrives. You should subscribe right away, but barring that, turn to Christine Rosen's article The Age of Egocasting. It's about TiVo, the iPod, and modern life. Like everything else Christine has written lately, this is a homerun.

Real Men

This guy's my hero. Practically every major thinker of modernity bemoans the small-souledness of bourgeois man, then you come upon these incredible examples (like the heroes of Flight 93) in which ordinary guys prove themselves capable of true bravery and selflessness.

Last Year's Team Player

The 2004 edition of the conventional wisdom column got Colin wrong. Here's the entry in its entirety: "The Good Soldier loses West Wing fights and never goes public about his doubts. From future prez to sad footnote." Never goes public? How bout when he said, in retrospect, he would have opposed going into Iraq? And on several other occasions, in Europe and the Middle East, Powell worked at cross-purposes with the administration, knowing always that his entire cachet depended on not being perceived as one of Bush's yes men. Puh-leezza.

Also, a chip in my brain sends a signal whenever a phrase like The Good Soldier has the wrong literary ring, in this case to Ford Maddox Ford's 1915 classic of adultery and declining morals.

Inaugural Pissing Contest

I'm sympathetic to the view that it's a dubious move by the White House to ask the District to draw funds from their homeland security budget to pay for the extra security required by the inaugural festivities. WashPost gets it right. Put it this way: Why should the residents and many professionals working in and around DC be any less safe in order to pay for a second-term inauguration? Especially when the nation's at war.
John Podhoretz has a very good piece about the details of political bias in the CBS report.

Half Moon Over Lambeau

Michael Wilbon provides some context on the Randy Moss mooning that I wasn't aware of:

By the way, most folks outside the NFC Central, as it used to be called, probably don't know there's a little tradition of Packers fans actually mooning opposing players on the bus ride away from Lambeau after a Packers victory. Tony Dungy, who spent all those years with Tampa Bay when the Bucs were in that division, recalled seven such mass moonings in Green Bay.

See this way, Moss's faux mooning is actually pretty clever and harmless. Mooning isn't giving someone the finger or riding the pony--it's something 10-year-olds do. All things considered now, I think Moss's antics are pretty funny and he should be left alone on this one. (He should not be left alone for walking off the field with time left against the Redskins; that's pretty unforgivable.)

Monday, January 10, 2005


My piece on the report, its conclusions, Mapes, Rather, and the blogosphere is up now.

Fortunate Son?

Lucy Ramirez isn't the only thing missing from the CBS Report. Thomas Joscelyn emails:

I searched the report and could not find any mention of the DNC advertising campaign that began (I think) within one day of the CBS news story. It seems unlikely that the "Fortunate Son" campaign could have been conceived so quickly by the DNC. There is no mention of the campaign or how it was that the DNC had a slick advertising campaign all ready to go right after the CBS story.

Like I said, I can't even find any mention of the campaign in the report.

I just thought that was interesting.

Yes, it is. Surely that could have gone in the political agenda section at the report's end, no?

Not his Forte

Does anyone remember Joseph Forte, the former Tar Heel who some called the greatest freshman to play at UNC since Michael Jordan? He left his sophomore year and became a first-round draft pick by the Celtics. So where is he now? Playing for the Asheville Altitude in the National Basketball Developmental League. In yet another cautionary tale for NBA aspirants, the Washington Post's Eli Saslow follows the former DeMatha/McDonald's All-American from his rise under coach Bill Guthridge to his downward spiral at Boston and Seattle, picking up an arrest record along the way--all because he "just couldn't handle it."

In truth, the drugs and weapons possession charges are incidental to the story. What made Forte a liability was a rotten attitude. How rotten? This anecdote by Saslow should suffice:

Before a game against the Michael Jordan-led Washington Wizards on March 26, 2003, Forte walked into Seattle's locker room wearing a Jordan jersey. When a teammate asked him why he was wearing an opponent's jersey, Forte responded, "Man, I love the Wizards."

An entire locker room glared.

Forte did not play and the Sonics lost the game, 80-74. Afterward, in a shower filled with downtrodden teammates, Forte sang gleefully until 7-foot-1 center Jerome James attacked him.

Maybe it's just me, but getting attacked by a 7-foot-1 center in a shower would make me stop singing pretty quickly.


The new searchable PDFs (they're new to me!) are a God-send and make the "index" a relic of the past. Browsing through the report, I'm shocked to find almost no reporting on whether or not the mysterious "Lucy Ramirez" exists.

You'll remember that Burkett claims he was contacted by a Lucy Ramirez, who arranged to give the documents to him. One would have hoped that the Thornburgh-Boccardi panel would have investigated the existence and/or whereabout of this woman.

Didn't happen. So far as I can tell, "Lucy Ramirez" is references just seven times (on three pages). Is she real? A figment of Burkett's imagination? Here's what the report says: "First, [CBS News, after the story aired] sent personnel into the field to attempt to find Ramirez and thus possibly to confirm the new account. This effort proved unsuccessful."

That's it. Exit Lucy Ramirez, stage left. If the panel did any investigation of their own on Ramirez, I can't find it. She's a major component of the story, and if she doesn't exist it's important information, no?
The New Donkey has a very thoughtful post on Clinton, triangulation, and the Democratic party. This passage is particularly striking:

"In this context, 'Clintonism' can at worst be described as a less-than-successful, last-minute holding action against a Republican Majority, but not as its cause."

Worth reading.


Some preliminary thoughts on the report's section on political agenda are up now.