Are we seeing a theme here?
Yes, the same theme I've seen for the past five weeks!
When did I sign on for Florida?
The design for the New Jersey tribute to 9/11 has been chosen. It's a lovely tribute, and very evocative. A description:
Mr. Schwartz's memorial, "Empty Sky," is reminiscent of Maya Lin's Vietnam War memorial in Washington. It has two facing walls of brushed stainless steel with the names of each New Jersey victim engraved on them. As Mr. Schwartz's firm put it: "Individuals' names are within easy reach and engraved deep enough for hand rubbing. The lettering size is three and three-quarter inches high, in Times New Roman, a familiar and easy-to-read typeface."
Each wall will be 30 feet high and 200 feet long, as long as each World Trade Center tower was wide. The walls' proportions will be the same as those of the twin towers if they were lying on their sides. And the surfaces of the steel walls will reflect the changing light of day, as the towers once did. At night the memorial will be illuminated so beams of light shoot into the sky.
Between the walls will be a walkway of bluestone. And at the base of each wall will be a space for visitors to leave tributes to the dead. The plan calls for the wall to cut across a grassy knoll in Liberty State Park, tracing a sightline that looks directly across the river to where the towers once stood.
But you should really go see the photo.
I'm not quite sure what "grassy knoll" they're going to put the tribute on. Liberty Park, the site of the memorial, is in Jersey City, is actually a few hundred feet down from Exchange Place, which is directly across the Hudson from the WTC site. I went there many times, pre- and post-9/11. As the design shows, any design that frames the WTC site from the park will have to be at an angle. There are, practically speaking, three sections of the park. The largest and best known is the northernmost section where the old train station is. A small marina lies just north of it, then the train station, then a large grassy area with trees and a play area. There are no "knolls". Boats leave the docks at the train station - the place where in the early 1900s new arrivals to the US docked, then caught a train to anywhere in the rest of the US - to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. A wide walkway (these 1998 photos show at least one view of the WTC) runs from the train station down past a marshy area fenced off from visitors. The walkway edges right on the river, and ends at the third section, which actually contains the visitor's center and the state park office. There are some rolling areas there, and it's where the memorial for 9/11 was held the week after. However, Ellis Island is between Manhattan and that section of the park, so I would think there would be difficulties finding a good place. I could be wrong; I wasn't in that section often. The second section is where Liberty Science Centeris located, back away from the shore, so it's not in the running.
Interesting. We shall see.
FYI, this is what it looked like for a few days after 9/11. I could see the smoke from 7 miles away, in the town where I lived. And I saw this view from Exchange Place, which is due west of the arched glass building on the left side of the photo. The ferry from Jersey City goes from just south of Exchange Place to that site. On 9/11, that was the primary route for all non-military supplies and assistance into - and rescues out of - Manhattan, until the area could be secured.
It's fitting to have a tribute framing the view.
I have some sense of what post traumatic stress syndrome is, although I don't think I have it. If I stop and think with any focus about 9/11, the actual day, how it felt, how it looked, and the days following, I tear up. If I don't distract myself, I cry, and not prettily. It's better, but I don't know that I will ever be in a place where I have to consciously disconnect my emotions to be able to talk about it with any equanimity. And I didn't work there before, didn't lose anyone during, didn't work on the site after. It gives me insight into the courage of people who've lived through the center of it, and those people who've over the course of history lived through similar devastation and made some peace with it.
Recently I saw a Law & Order episode where a Holocaust survivor was murdered. As a part of the story line, they showed a video of the woman telling her story for the Holocaust Museum. She sobbed telling of events from 60 years before. And that puts me in mind of still another tale, in a book by Peg Bracken, where she tells of her aunt who was happily married and the mother of a precious little girl, living in Manhattan. One terrible night her husband took their daughter to the theater, where a fire broke out and both of them died. The aunt moved back to the Midwest of her girlhood, and some time later heard two old gossips sitting on the front porch chatting about how well she seemed to be handling it, that she must have "gotten over it". She calmly came out to the porch and said, "You don't get over it. You learn to live around it the best way you can."
I think that's right. 9/11 is more than a scar, it's a painful bruise on the soul that gradually becomes quiescent - but never goes away. A touch and the pain comes back, maybe less sharp, but still more than you want to think about all at once.
When I was in my teens, someone gave my father a gift subscription to Car & Driver. We were never quite sure who, since my father has never been one to care particularly about cars as a hobby. He takes good care of his, and likes them looking nice, but he's too pragmatic to see them as treasures to labor over. Besides, spending money on cars takes away too much from his hunting.
So, for a year, when the Car & Driver showed up in the mailbox, I snagged it. Yes, me. Because, you see, I do love cars. Not as machines that I want to build or fix or necessarily even own. But I love the history, the aesthetics, the sentimentality and just the sheer joy of driving them. I like them enough to enjoy hanging around them, to maybe go to a car show once in a while, to think that visiting the car museum in Deerborn, Michigan, is a good stop on a vacation. In fact, our family did stop once, on our way to Canada, and that was when I fell in love with this car, which even comes with a great American story attached.
With that history, it's not surprising that I've grown attached to the new TLC show Overhaulin'. It has everything I like - drama, precision craftsmanship, high stakes and sentimentality. They take away the car of the victim of the week, leaving them with some tale of why it's gone - it's been stolen, or there are tickets against it, something. Of course it requires collusion of the person's relatives and often the local law enforcement (or at least their full knowledge). Then, while the victim moans and mourns and stews, a crack team of car people - specialists with engines, body work, interior, everything - go to work, sometimes 24 or more hours straight, to turn it into an amazing work of art. It's always exciting, and the reveal at the end of the show always emotional.
My favorite show so far featured the disreputable '77 El Camino of California surfer boy Mylan Hayes, who we see freaking out as a towing company hauls off his car ostensibly for unpaid parking tickets. He's something of a local hero for saving someone from drowning several years earlier, and it's obvious that he's a pretty good kid. His leopard-skin clad mom with assisted-blonde hair plays him well as the week drags by with no success in springing his car. And then, when he finally sees the car in its blue and white surf motif, finally fully understands it's his... he cries. In a boy-into-man, I'm-overcome kind of way.
Naturally I got all teary-eyed too.
If you find yourself at a loose end sometime, check it out. Mylan's episode is "Surfer Kid", if you can catch it on a rerun.
According to this quiz, I'm a political realist:
- Are guided more by practical considerations than ideological vision
- Believe US power is crucial to successful diplomacy - and vice versa
- Don't want US policy options unduly limited by world opinion or ethical considerations
- Believe strong alliances are important to US interests
- Weigh the political costs of foreign action
- Believe foreign intervention must be dictated by compelling national interest
Historical realist: President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Modern realist: Secretary of State Colin Powell
Is this the political equivalent of a moderate? Perish the thought. And yet... well, it describes me fairly well. I do have areas of almost rabid ideological fervor, things I would die for without wavering. At the same time, I think there aren't a lot of issues in this world that rise to that threshold. I'm more of a diplomat than a right-in-your-face person. I will work quietly in the background until I have an overwhelming case for my point. Honesty is important, and you can lie through omission as well as commission. But, there again, you don't have to tell everything you know just because you know it. A realist.
Actually, I know I'm not a moderate. In fact, if someone were to quiz me on the 100 most partisan issues facing America today, I'd score solidly conservative. That doesn't mean Republican, though. I only vote Republican because they do the least political harm to my beliefs. And yet, still, realist works. I recognize that while I would take the world in a solidly conservative direction, other people live here too, and I don't want to get in the business of making everyone be Susanna clones. How boring. And frequently wrong, as I am prone to mistakes. Not in ideology, generally, but in action certainly.
Reading a couple of links from Instapundit this morning got me to thinking about my position regarding politics, my attitude about this Iraq war, US actions, the presidential election and the direction of our country generally. It's all tangled up with my religious beliefs, my worldview, my sense of living in a country on a precipice. I'm still thinking. I want to write it out, and will try to get to that tonight. Meantime, why not go take the quiz and tell me what you are?
Oh, my brother Alan is an isolationist. But you knew that already.
A new billboard campaign in Cleveland is making some people upset:
An edgy new advertising campaign to promote organ donation hints that police officers should cut speeders who are organ donors some slack.
"Hey policeman," a Cleveland billboard calls out, an arrow pointing to a donor insignia on a young man's license, "give this guy a break."
The advertisements by LifeBanc (search), the Cleveland-based organ procurement agency for 20 counties in northeast Ohio, are meant to attract attention, a spokeswoman said.
"We wanted to get people thinking," said the agency's Monica Heath, noting that 1,300 people in northeast Ohio are waiting for organs.
Councilman Matthew Zone wasn't laughing. "I think it sends the wrong message to the average Joe citizen," said Zone.
"Just because you participate in a unique program as precious as donating an organ doesn't mean [you] should be given preferential treatment," he said.
Lt. Wayne Drummond, a Cleveland police spokesman, said he had no problem with the billboard, but people shouldn't get the wrong idea.
While patrol officers have discretion in ticket writing, "in my experience, it's not typical to give someone a break because they're an organ donor," he said.
That's the entire section about this, by the way.
This campaign would distress me, but not in the way these people seem to be reacting. Perhaps my mind immediately goes to sinister things (what a shock), but I didn't think of this as incitement to give organ donors a benefit by letting them off the hook for speeding (although that's apparently what they meant - or so they say). My first thought was, "Yikes! They're wanting police officers to encourage organ donors to speed more frequently by giving them breaks on tickets. More speeding = more deaths. More deaths = more organs donated! And wouldn't they love that!" It's just... spooky.
Speaking of organ donations, I watched one of those "amazing medical stories!" types of shows last night. In one segment, a young man learned in his late 20s that he had a liver condition that caused a buildup of proteins in his body and it had reached a life-threatening stage. He had to have a liver transplant or die. However, he was thousands down the list to get one. As it turns out (and I didn't know this until last night), you can actually lose half your liver and it will regenerate, at least to a degree. So they sought a voluntary living donor, and they found one. That's a whole story in itself. Then a third person came into the equation - a woman in her late 30s whose liver was nearly useless because of cancer. It hadn't metastisized, but it wouldn't be long, so she needed a liver transplant right away too. Same situation - way down on the list. However, the liver disease the young man had was a slow one, a condition that takes years to cause a life-threatening condition. His liver was essential okay except for that one malfunction, it was just that the accummulated result of that malfunction had caught up with him. The doctors said it had taken "decades" to get to that point. So, they thought, why not give his liver to this woman, because it would give her at least 15-20 years before causing serious problems, and maybe by then there'd be treatments or greater possibility of another donation?
So they did. In one day, they took half the healthy liver of the donor, transplanted it into the sick young man, then took his liver and put it in the woman with cancer. At the end of the segment, they said that within a month of the surgery, the donor's remaining liver had regenerated to 75% of its previous capacity, the other half had regenerated to the same degree in the formerly sick young man, and the woman with cancer was now cancer free and living a life with a future.
Isn't medicine incredible. It's just astounding what they do.
But I'd still be hinky about signing my donor card in Cleveland.
William F. Buckley has handed over his shares in National Review, setting up a board of directors to run the magazine that was his brainchild, a magazine that played an important role in returning conservative thought to the mainstream of America. While I wasn't a reader of the magazine until my brother Alan introduced it to me a few years ago, and not a regular reader until it came online, I can and do admire Mr. Buckley for his courage and hard work in a difficult time. He is one of those men who through strength of intellect and force of will make their mark on society in ways that are beneficial and not soon forgotten.
Alan was always more overtly political than I, well-read and deeply thoughtful about not just the partisan politics of the day but the philosophical forebearers of today's policies. At one time he wanted to go into politics, thought of becoming a lawyer and possibly running for office. During that time, he developed an interest in and appreciation for the writings of Russell Kirk and William Buckley, two men who are in the vanguard of conservative thought. Not being one to sit back and admire from a distance, he interviewed both men personally as part of the research for his senior undergraduate thesis. I was living in New Jersey at the time, and when he came to interview Buckley he allowed me to tag along. It was an honor and a pleasure.
Incidentally, Alan's interview with Russell Kirk led to an opportunity to work as Kirk's assistant for a year.
On theosebes today, Alan has a post about Buckley's decision to step down from the oversight of NR, including his own memories of Buckley and brief thoughts on Buckley's and Kirk's influences on conservative thought and each other.
There's a little more on Wassad Hassoun, the US Marine born and raised in Lebanon who disappeared from his base on Monday and is now apparently in the hands of Islamic terrorists threatening to behead him:
Hassoun, an American Marine of Lebanese descent, was ... shown blindfolded, with a sword brandished over his head in a videotape aired on Al-Jazeera on Sunday. The militants threatened to behead him unless all Iraqis "in occupation jails" are freed. They did not set a timeframe.
"I appeal to the kidnappers and to their conscience and faith to release my son," his father, Ali Hassoun, said in an interview with The Associated Press at his house in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.
"He is not a fighter. I hope that they will respond favorably to my appeal. May God reward them," he said.
Another of his sons, Sami, talked with worried relatives, who said contacts were under way with politicians and Muslim clerics in Lebanon and Islamist groups in Iraq to secure the Marine's release.
"We are trying to send word through all channels that he is Lebanese, Arab and a Muslim," Abdullah Hassoun, a member of the extended family and head of Al-Safira municipality, told the AP.
The kidnappers claimed to have infiltrated a Marine outpost, lured the younger Hassoun outside and abducted him.
The U.S. military said Hassoun, 24, was last seen June 19 and did not report for duty the next day.
Hassoun had gone "on an unauthorized absence," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the coalition deputy operations chief in Baghdad, giving few details.
Hassoun is originally from the northern Lebanese town of Al-Safira but lived in Tripoli until he emigrated in the early 1990s to the United States, where he gained citizenship.
He lived with his eldest brother, Mohammad, in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan and later joined the Marines.
His kidnappers identified themselves as part of "Islamic Response," the security wing of the "National Islamic Resistance - 1920 Revolution Brigades." The name refers to the uprising against the British after World War I.
The military is still being cagey about his disappearance from the military - was it or was it not voluntary? If he did leave his post on purpose, was he going for a little unauthorized play time, was he deserting, or was he offering his services to the terrorists? If he did leave the base voluntarily, was he taken by the terrorists against his will? It's a real puzzle, and things are hanging together well. I want to believe he's completely committed to the US and to his responsibilities as a Marine.
An interesting quote from Hassoun's "extended family member" in his home town of Al-Safira: "We are trying to send word through all channels that he is Lebanese, Arab and a Muslim". It seems to me that would not be a particularly shocking update to the terrorists. Hassoun doesn't look Dutch or Scottish or African. I'm sure he'd know enough information about both Lebanon and Islam to convince the kidnappers of his origins and religious beliefs. What they care about is that he's an American now, in an American uniform. Actually, though, this is the main pertinent part: "...contacts were under way with politicians and Muslim clerics in Lebanon and Islamist groups in Iraq..." That's where his best hope is, I'd say. And if he is an honest American who gave himself to his new country only to have his life on the line as a result, I hope their efforts are successful.
In my Intro to Law Enforcement class, we recently discussed the history of policing in America, including discussing the corruption that was rampant amongst police forces prior to the widespread professionalization of policing beginning in the 1930s and 1940s. I assured my students that while corruption is still an issue, as with all professions the percent of cops involved is small.
Then you see things like this:
Stealing cash from corpses and robbing drunkards were two of the crimes former West New York Police Chief Alexander Oriente admitted to under cross-examination yesterday in the federal fraud and extortion trial of North Hudson businessman and political insider Rene Abreu...
Oriente said he committed his first act of official misconduct within one month of becoming a police officer in the late 1950s, when he began accepting tips from tow truck operators that he'd call to tow cars. He said he knew it was wrong...
Oriente testified a police officer introduced him to a man who offered him $2,000 per week to let him know if things were getting "hot" at locations where he had gambling machines and $1,000 for information on where he could put additional machines. Oriente said he made similar deals with several other people.
He said he would give them tips when things got hot at a particular spot and he would warn them to put broken machines in place if a raid was planned.
"You have to hit something once in a while to make it look good," Oriente said. "They would put in old machines to get broken down or confiscated. I would sell the electronics to the gambling operator."
The former chief said he would also target gambling operations for police raids that were rivals of those he protected...
Then there was stealing from bodies.
"If there was a DOA on the job, you and the guy you were with would take his stuff and split it with the guy you were with," Oriente said, but he denied adamantly that he stole jewelry from corpses...
Oriente also outlined decades of loan-sharking, in which he used his position to ensure he was repaid at interest rates compounded weekly.
"They knew I was a cop so I knew they would come up with the money," he said.
Finally, he began extorting protection money from a madam who operated at least three brothels in town. He then oversaw the merger of several brothels into one larger prostitution ring.
During the time he collected protection money from the brothels, he also accepted sexual favors.
What I don't understand is how it could go on so long before it was stopped. Something like that, in an environment urban northern NJ, would be fairly common knowledge, especially since it was both endemic and of long standing. It's obvious that there were rings of responsibility here - the people at the center of the corruption, the people who participated on the fringes, those who worked with them but never reported it, and those who knew through other means but also kept silent. Knowing NJ politics, I'm not surprised - just very disgusted. Sometimes I think that whole place just needs to be razed and repopulated, at least the political part of it. This is nice to hear too:
He has testified that $2,000 a week from the protection rackets was funneled to Abreu and that he thinks the money was passed along to West New York Mayor Albio Sires, who is now also the state Assembly speaker.
Sires has consistently denied any involvement in corruption.
Well, duh. Of course he denies it. But has there been a major investigation? Possibly, although the article doesn't say and you'd think it would if there had been. It could say something like, "Sires has consistently denied any involvement in corruption, and a 2001 investigation failed to find any evidence supporting the allegation." That's still damning by faint support, but at least it shows someone is trying.
New Jersey, a mecca to wannabe Sopranos all over the Newark-NYC metro area. To paraphrase an old Broadway tune, if you can make it there, you're probably corrupt.
When I started this blog, I was searching for a way to make my online time more productive, and also get back into writing for general audiences. It was shortly after 9/11 - February 2002 - and I was intensely interested in politics and media bias. I scored a big hit my first week when Instapundit linked my first major post, and I was off. During the fall of 2002, I scored my highest weekday average hits, routinely topping 800. It leveled off over the winter, then peaked again during the Iraq war in Spring 2003, with an average of about 700 hits a weekday. But the strain of constant posting, and the influx of new blogs doing a lot of what I was doing, combined with my own bad attitude about my current life circumstances (i.e. living in NJ), and I slacked off for months. My hits, naturally, dropped precipitously. They revived some, in the 400s, in the fall when I posted more, then when I moved they tanked during the about four months I posted very little. Again, naturally.
Now I'm back to posting daily, and my hits are hovering in the 300/weekday range. A lot of the blogs that started well after mine are topping 1,000/weekday or more, and sometimes I get a little green-eyed about it. What are they doing that I'm not doing? And then I realize two things: They're posting a lot more, and they're spending a lot more time on it than I am or even really want to. It comes home to me then that I'm a snotty thing, thinking that just the sheer force of my being me (oh the wonders of being me) should draw readers like ants to spilled jam. Not happening in this lovely world.
And truthfully, I find that the readers who have stuck with me for all this time are the ones that I connect with the most, and enjoy the most. Well, the commenters anyway - I'm sure I would enjoy the rest of you too if you commented :D. It's always a pleasure to see familiar names in my email inbox, and I'm pleased that these people who seem very bright and interesting to me find something about my sometimes scattered approach to the blog that is worth their time. And I see people having to close their comment function as they become more popular, or spending lots of time monitoring it, because with more hits come more trolls. I don't want that to happen. I read Glenn Reynolds getting frustrated because his readers seem to think he owes them something just because he's chosen as a hobby providing material for people to read. And I realize that I don't want to close my comments, I don't want to spend a lot more time on it, and I don't want to start feeling annoyed at the people who read my blog. I'm grateful to them, delighted with their input - with your input. So then I realize that maybe 300 hits/weekday is a nice number after all. If it gusts back up to 600 or 800, well, that'd be cool too. But I shouldn't get green-eyed about it because this is definitely a case of my getting out as much or more than I'm putting into this endeavor.
So the thinking I'm referring to in the title is my dealing with this restless jealousy that is unseemly and unwarranted. When that monkey sits on my back, my pleasure in my blog seems to diminish. I feel I should be posting more about media bias, or about politics, or about Things That Matter. I should be a Voice Of Importance. How arrogant is that? Quite. And then I think about the people who I admire most, recalling that what distinguishes most of them is not their success, but their passion for what they do. The success follows the dedication that emerges from their passion. My pouting is a function of focus on success as a numbers game.
So I'm going to stop pouting.
I love this blog. And sometimes I have toyed with killing it, looking at the button on MT that says "Delete blog", and thought, yes, that's what I want to do. I'm done with it, I'm fed up. But always when I think about it more closely, what I'm fed up with is not the writing, the interaction with readers, the pleasure of seeing it and working on it. What I'm fed up with is that my stats have fallen, and it hits me square in my overweening ego. It's time to puncture it and get on with my passions.
So, I say thank you to all of you who read this blog regularly. I am so happy that you come by, and I see so many of you as friends, even those I've never met. I hope some day to meet most of you, and I also hope that, in some form, at some address, this blog will continue to be a part of my life - and yours - for years to come. I'm not going to worry any more about what other bloggers write about, how many hits they get, whether I'm a big fish or just so much plankton in a murky digital sea. I'll say what I think needs to be said, or what amuses me, or what I think you'll find interesting. I'll constantly work to be a better writer and a more keen observer. And some days, I'll just lay out and pursue other passions.
It's all good.
An Iraqi terrorist group apparently has kidnapped a US Marine and is threatening to behead him.
An Iraqi militant group issued footage on Sunday of a man it said was a captured U.S. Marine and threatened to behead him, further heightening tension ahead of the June 30 formal handover of sovereignty.
People are being torn apart in Iraqi streets by radical Islamic terrorists while their blood brothers take individuals one by one for grisly made-for-TV spectacles. This has got to stop. The anti-war types and the media are colluding in this nightmare, wallowing in some orgasmic evil delight at every evidence that there are problems with nurturing democracy in Iraq. The anti-war types are against anything that may reflect positively on Bush, even if their attacks on him translate into more Iraqi - and American - deaths. Their squalling about the deaths is rank hypocrisy - they're deliberately making it worse. The media are also not very high in Bush, but this I think is more about the excitement and intensity of a hot story that keeps on giving. There's no sense of personal responsibility in either case, just a headlong, willing rush into the darkness created by the Islamists and spread by the anti-Bushies and media.
It's pathetic and sickening.
We need to stiffen our spines, take hold and do what needs to be done to make this transformation a success.
That said, I'm torn between horror and puzzlement at this Marine that was kidnapped. Here's a little more from the NY Times article:
Video shown on Qatar-based Arabic channel Al Jazeera showed a blindfolded man in a camouflage uniform, and an apparent Marine Corps identity card that named him as Wassef Ali Hassoun.
Jazeera said the group threatened to behead Hassoun unless Iraqi prisoners are freed.
A U.S. military spokesman said a Marine by that name was missing from his unit, but could not confirm he had been taken hostage. The spokesman said the Marine, who was of Lebanese descent, belonged to the First Marine Expeditionary Force and had been missing since June 21.
How likely is it, given the composition of the US military, that the soldier they lured away would be Lebanese, if there wasn't something going on other than a straightforward grab-who-you-can-get operation? Did they target him specifically? Or wait until someone like him came out? Could it be something more sinister? A "Marine by that name" has been missing from his unit since June 21, which is six days. What was going on during that time? Is there any possibility that the Marine went over to the other side voluntarily, and is now being used by them in a way he didn't envision?
I'm reluctant to even bring that up as a possibility. Americans of Middle Eastern descent and/or are Muslim shouldn't have to constantly be under suspicion that they are in collusion with this particularly virulent set of enemies. It's not his ancestry that makes me wonder. It's that in combination with the "luring" story and the "missing for six days" factoid. How easy would it be to lure a Marine?
I will pray for Hassoun's release unharmed. And I hope the US leadership takes the harder road and squashes this new trend forcefully and soon.
UPDATE 7 a.m. CT Monday, June 28, 2004: The English version of Al Jazeera gives Hassoun's origin as Pakistani, and includes this quote from a US military officer:
US marine corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun has been missing in Iraq since last Monday, a spokesman for the US Marine Corps confirmed in Baghdad late on Sunday.
"Although we can't confirm that he has been taken hostage, we can confirm that that he has been absent from his unit since June 21," Major Douglas Powell said.
I find that odd wording. Don't they knew who their guy is? Can't they tell from the photos and his documentation? And this is interesting too:
The group claims to have taken Ali - of Pakistani origin - captive after "infiltrating a US military base in Iraq".
The NY Times article yesterday said the terrorists claimed Hassoun had been "lured" into capture by them, but today says something more in line with the Al Jazeera piece:
A militant Iraqi group threatened Sunday night to behead an American marine it said it had abducted from a military base...
That seems to kick up the stakes some - it's more impressive to "infiltrate" a US base than to "lure" a soldier away. I'm still skeptical about this. It just doesn't hang together properly.
WaPo still has the "lured" version at 7:18 a.m. CT:
The Arab satellite TV network al-Jazeera aired a videotape Sunday from a group threatening to kill a U.S. Marine it claimed to have captured by luring him from his post...
There could well be no posts today or tomorrow, other than this one. I'm staying with Haydon and Molly Katherine through early tomorrow evening while their parents take a well-deserved trip out of town. I'm learning how difficult it is to think, much less type or compose, while two small children are demanding your attention. It's not a bad thing, you understand, just a different thing. A good thing.
Well, well, well. Looks like Michael Moore might find his new movie unadvertisible in the near future:
Michael Moore may be prevented from advertising his controversial new movie, ‚ÄúFahrenheit 9/11,‚ÄĚ on television or radio after July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today accepts the legal advice of its general counsel.
In a draft advisory opinion placed on the FEC‚Äôs agenda for today‚Äôs meeting, the agency‚Äôs general counsel states that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.
The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election...
Since the FEC considers the Republican presidential convention scheduled to begin Aug. 30 a national political primary in which Bush is a candidate, Moore and other politically oriented filmmakers could not air any ad mentioning Bush after July 30...
After the convention, ads for political films that mention Bush or any other federal candidate would be subject to the restrictions on all corporate communications within 60 days of the Nov. 2 general election...
At issue in the FEC‚Äôs opinion is whether documentary films qualify for a ‚Äúmedia exemption,‚ÄĚ which allows members of the press to discuss political candidates freely in the days before an election.
In its opinion, the general counsel wrote, ‚ÄúIn McConnell vs. FEC ‚Ä¶ (2003) the [Supreme] Court described the media exemption as ‚Äėnarrow‚Äô and drew a distinction between ‚Äėcorporations that are part of the media industry‚Äô as opposed to ‚Äėother corporations that are not involved in the regular business of imparting news to the public.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe radio and television commercials that you describe in your request would be electioneering communications,‚ÄĚ the counsel concluded.
Fascinating. I'm not a fan of McCain-Feingold, but I'm glad they're actually considering enforcing it completely and not just selectively. We'll see if it actually happens. I'm most encouraged by the narrow definition of media to exclude such "documentaries". I think reigning in the arrogance of the media, which views itself as some kingly uncontrollable presence in the American landscape, is a good thing. Constitutionally speaking, the media has no greater power or right to information or dissemination than the average citizen. And what passes as "media" in this country is often nothing more than thinly disguised screeds. It's time that reality caught up with them.
And certainly Michael Moore is a good place to begin.
(Actually, the case before the FEC isn't about Michael Moore's movie, but another documentary. If the ruling goes against this moviemaker, it would have the ripple effect of stopping advertising for Moore and other polemic films in the run up to the election.)
[Link via Drudge]
UPDATE: The only connection this update has to the above post is that it;s about Michael Moore. In Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore makes a big deal of Bush's behavior in the classroom where he was reading children a book when he learned of the attacks on the WTC. The principal of the school, who was in the room with Bush, differs in opinion:
...Gwendolyn Tose'-Rigell, the principal at Emma E. Booker Elementary School, says Bush handled himself properly.
"I don't think anyone could have handled it better," Tose'-Rigell told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in a story published Wednesday. "What would it have served if he had jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room?"
...She said the video doesn't convey all that was going on in the classroom, but Bush's presence had a calming effect and "helped us get through a very difficult day."
Tose'-Rigell said she plans to publish her account of the morning of Sept. 11 from pages she wrote in her journal following the attack. The principal said she didn't vote for Bush. "But that day I would have voted for him."
I suppose Tose'-Rigell isn't one of the "little people" that Moore felt compelled to interview for his slice 'n dice piece.
Another reason to be glad I don't have AOL:
A 24-year-old software engineer at America Online Inc. was arrested yesterday on federal charges that he hacked into the company's computers to steal 92 million e-mail addresses that were later sold and used to bombard AOL members with spam.
And I'm sure this is a vast understatement:
"I am very, very angry about this," said Jonathan F. Miller, AOL's chief executive...
I just bet.
If you want to see how most leftists and many liberals are going to respond to Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, just read this review by Rex Reed. Just a little sample:
Mr. Moore, who has tackled corporate greed (Roger & Me) and gun control (Bowling for Columbine), now feels driven and obligated to strip the fa√ßade from a swaggering, bow-legged, grammatically challenged bully and a cabinet that is beginning to look more like the Third Reich every day.
That's the spirit, Rex! Oh, dear, you're frothing again - is that soap or insanity?
It's actually an amusing read, if you're brave enough to wade in, and can set aside for a few minutes that this man is representive of quite a few voters in this wide land of ours. Once you're done there, go back and reread Hitchens' piece on Moore in Slate (linked in this post here). I think you'll find it an interesting comparison.
Oh, and don't miss Reed's slap at the average American:
The Cannes cognoscenti and the limousine liberals have already declared Fahrenheit 9/11 the blockbuster documentary of the year. Who knows how it will play in Punkin Crick?
Of course we should all get our viewpoints approved by "Cannes cognoscenti and the limousine liberals". John Kerry, anyone?
[Link via Drudge]
FoxNews has a breaking story right now:
Saudis Gives Terrorists Month to Surrender
Here's the entire story at 10:31 a.m. CT:
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia ‚ÄĒ Saudi Arabia (search) announced an amnesty Wednesday for Muslim militants who surrender in the next month, saying they will not face the death penalty (search) and will only be prosecuted if they committed acts that hurt others.
That's all well and good, if it actually happens to get terrorists off the street. I'm very skeptical myself, because these guys are not ones to turn themselves in. What most gets me is that there's no "or else" mentioned here, although that kind of "amnesty" usually carries one. It's not enough to say "come on in out of the rain this month and we won't kill you"; they also need to say, "But if you don't, we're going to hunt you down like rabid dogs and shoot you".
The title of this post comes from my sense that the Saudis have been offering implicit amnesty to terrorists for quite a while with no "or else" attached, which is why they're now a hotbed of them. Why suspect this time around is any different?
I'm also waiting for the killing to start in France, which has such a large Muslim population languishing unpoliced and unfettered in slums outside of Paris. Just as in any downtrodden neighborhood, the bulk of the residents are likely good people in difficult circumstances. But the context gives fertile ground for all manner of gang formation and illegal activities. I think it's only a matter of time.
UPDATE: Sorry about the lack of a link. Here's the story now, at 11:55 a.m. CT, which is much longer than the original.
Christopher Hitchens takes Michael Moore to the woodshed over Moore's latest "documentary", Fahrenheit 9/11. It's a beautiful thing to see. Hitchens has impeccable leftist credentials, but appears not to be a blind ideologue. That's someone you can have a conversation with, even if you believe diametrically opposed things. At least you can trust him, to a large extent, to be intellectually honest.
Not something you can expect from Moore, as Hitchens so ably points out. I won't try to summarize his lengthy dismembering of Moore and Fahrenheit; I wouldn't want to dilute your pleasure in reading the whole thing. I'll give you an excerpt, though:
...Moore is a silly and shady man who does not recognize courage of any sort even when he sees it because he cannot summon it in himself. To him, easy applause, in front of credulous audiences, is everything.
And yes, I'm working hard to meet Hitchens' precisely correct observation on the use of ellipses (...):
...if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (‚Ä¶), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised.
Every journalist in the country should be made to swear to this pact, and suffer excommunication and banishment if they fail to live up to it.
Take the time to read Hitchens' piece. And take the time to see Moore's latest film - I intend to, much at it will grieve me to put money in his pocket. I just think I have some obligation to see it before soundly trashing it. I should take a stack of copies of Hitchens' article with me, and pass them out in the audience.
[Link via Instapundit]
UPDATE: NY Times film critic A.O. Scott wants to like Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, but can't get past its deficiencies. The review is interesting in its vacillating between concerns and praise. In speaking of various parts of it, Scott says:
His case is synthetic rather than comprehensive, and it is not always internally consistent...
...his larger point is not altogether clear...
...if parts of it seem rash, overstated or muddled, well, so has the national mood...
Each of those were taken out of context, but represent a summary of the negatives from the column. There are many positives, though:
...it should first of all be appreciated as a high-spirited and unruly exercise in democratic self-expression. Mixing sober outrage with mischievous humor and blithely trampling the boundary between documentary and demagoguery, Mr. Moore takes wholesale aim at the Bush administration, whose tenure has been distinguished, in his view, by unparalleled and unmitigated arrogance, mendacity and incompetence...
...At the same time, though, it may be that the confusions trailing Mr. Moore's narrative are what make "Fahrenheit 9/11" an authentic and indispensable document of its time...
...Mr. Moore's populist instincts have never been sharper...
And you can just hear Scott thinking, "That wacky Michael Moore! Gotta love 'em!" when he says this:
Mr. Moore is often impolite, rarely subtle and occasionally unwise. He can be obnoxious, tendentious and maddeningly self-contradictory. He can drive even his most ardent admirers crazy. He is a credit to the republic.
A credit to the republic. Huh. Well, only because we as a society are suffering him to continue his lies in the guise of truth, because we value free speech more than he values America.
It's just an odd, uneven review that can't quite settle on what to say. Maybe that's because the movie itself is odd and uneven.
UPDATE II: Jeff Jarvis has seen it, at a theater blocks from where the WTC was, and he was not impressed. Well, not with the quality of it, anyway.
I've got two exams to write today, and a lot of cleaning to do, but I hope to get more posted tonight. In the meantime, I'll prove to you just how movie-challenged I truly am. It rarely fails to amaze people.
1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444
5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) $377,019,252
7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) $370,025,697
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) $340,478,898
11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367
12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196
13. Lion King, The (1994) $328,423,001
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) $313,837,577
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059
19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) $293,501,675
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243
23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) $281,492,479
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615
31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397
32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454
34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500
38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) $229,074,524
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690
41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163
49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350
52. Exorcist, The (1973) $204,565,000
53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) $202,007,640
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000
59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112
64. Fugitive, The (1993) $183,875,760
65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123
67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) $182,618,434
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000
70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115
71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728
77. There's Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516
81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,056
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312
85. Matrix, The (1999) $171,383,253
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177
88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) $170,708,996
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960
91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) $165,500,000
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. Sound of Music, The (1965) $163,214,286
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698
98. Bug's Life, A (1998) $162,792,677
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. Waterboy, The (1998) $161,487,252
A local Alabama man is being mobilized to Afghanistan with his National Guard troop, leaving his two-man landscape architecture firm at half-staff. But it's turned out not to be a problem, but rather an opportunity:
Curtis Faulk is half of the two-man J.K. Terry & Co. landscape architecture and land planning firm. Faulk is also a major in the Alabama Army National Guard and is preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan for at least a year...
When the heads of Dungan Nequette Architects heard about J.K. Terry's predicament, they helped Terry come up with a solution.
While Faulk is away, Terry will operate out of Dungan Nequette's offices in the Dr Pepper Building. Through an alliance, the companies will operate together with Dungan Nequette giving J.K. Terry the assistance it needs to complete its work load for its clients.
Dungan Nequette isn't giving up anything, as JK Terry will bring in an expertise they currently lack in their business. But they are very obviously arranging things so that Faulk and Terry remain masters of their own company, rather than taking advantage of the situation to benefit themselves at the cost of Faulk and Terry's partnership. It's the kind of good neighbor business deal you like to see in this time of war. Dungan Nequette is to be commended, and Terry too. Of course, Terry already showed his patriotism and good character, when he began working with Faulk initially:
Terry said he always knew there was a chance Faulk would be activated. He said he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I know when Curtis was interviewing with other firms before he came to work with me, they looked at his resume and asked him how much longer he had his National Guard obligation," Terry said. "I looked at it and realized it was part of who Curtis is and I embraced it."
For eight years, Terry said the two have worked around Faulk's National Guard obligations and it has never been an inconvenience until now.
Sticking to their principles has created a partnership that, according to the article, is highly respected in the community, which is likely a large part of the reason the architectural firm is willing to make this arrangement with them. And Faulk won't have the worry many deployed military reserve personnel have:
"The day Curtis gets back, he's going to already be behind with work to do," Dungan said. "I can promise him that."
That's the way it should be. And it's good to see that sometimes, it is.
Students in the General Psychology class I'm teaching this summer like the Powerpoint presentations I'm using instead of writing on the board, but they don't like how much information I toss at them during a two-hour session. They complained that they couldn't finish writing before I moved on, and they were so busy writing they couldn't listen to my explanations. Deciding to experiment with online education, I agreed to post the lecture presentations online prior to class, so they could print them out.
When I asked the school for space, I expected to have to do a lot of work on my own webpage, with them just providing server space. I was delighted to find that they use an online program called Blackboard, which is an educational software specifically designed for online classes. I've not used most of the features, but the ones I've used are as easy as using MT. It's great. And my students have, for the most part, had no trouble retrieving and printing (although the librarians are a bit miffed at me!).
Just now I saw an article saying that the company that makes Blackboard went public this week, making millionaires of the two men who founded the company. I'm happy for them - they made an excellent product. It's just a nice story to see.
Now we'll see if having printouts of the lectures will improve test scores. Any takers that the spread I usually have won't budge by more than one or two percentage points, if that? No one can say I've not done everything but just hand everyone an A and send them home. I even gave them a practice exam which had one of each kind of question I give; they it took home, finished it, brought it back to me and received it back graded on Thursday, when I went over it to explain what I was looking for.
What a softie I am. But I'm still looking for takers.
Penn State has decided that one more Christian student organization is one more too many:
A Christian student club is suing Penn State University for rejecting it as a student organization after being told the school already has "too many" Christian clubs.
The university recognizes more than 600 different clubs, ranging from the American Helicopter Society to the Young Americans for Freedom, says the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law & Religious Freedom, which filed the lawsuit.
But when DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship applied for registered status in April 2004, a university official charged with reviewing religious student organizations refused to approve the group because there were ‚Äútoo many [Christian] groups anyway and they were beginning to compete."
Unlike secular school clubs, Penn State requires religious student organizations to undergo a separate review process, the Christian Legal Society says.
A university administrator, the director of the center for ethics and religious affairs, must decide whether or not the club is sufficiently "unique" from existing religious student clubs to warrant registration.
DiscipleMakers' tried to show how it differed from other student organizations, but Penn State officials insisted the group did not meet the university's "uniqueness requirement."
(Emphasis added.) Giving the "beginning to compete" reason for not adding a Christian club is just bizarre. Most religions compete by definition - if you believe one thing, you don't believe another. You can't hold parallel competing beliefs simultaneously. That's just ridiculous. And who is the school to decide what is and is not an appropriate belief, and when beliefs are different enough to allow for a separate club?
I know a lot of churches of Christ that use musical instruments during worship. I don't agree with the practice. But on many, if not most, basic doctrinal issues, I would agree with a lot of those groups. To an outsider, the issue of instrumental music may seen small and unimportant in the broader scope. To me it's not. And a school administrator shouldn't have the right say, "We already have a church of Christ student group" if I want to start one for people who believe a capella music is what we should do in worship. And that's especially true if he does allow any shade or stripe of other, non-religious groups to coexist.
Obviously the "beginning to compete" and "uniqueness" thing are speaking to different issues. The "uniqueness" means, your beliefs and goals aren't different enough from those of other Christian groups for me to think you need a club. And the "beginning to compete" apparently means they're going after the same people, not drawing from an untapped pool of members but seeking members from the same pool as others are. But isn't that true of all religions? You seek members from the pool of people who are spiritually concerned. And if you believe what you believe is correct, of course you are in competition with the other groups, who believe differently.
It seems to me the school here is patently and egregiously incorrect. I'll be interested to see what the courts have to say.
Ray Bradbury is not happy with Michael Moore:
Ray Bradbury (search) is demanding an apology from filmmaker Michael Moore (search) for lifting the title from his classic science-fiction novel "Fahrenheit 451" (search) without permission and wants the new documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" to be renamed.
"He didn't ask my permission," Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press on Friday. "That's not his novel, that's not his title, so he shouldn't have done it."
Moore has made no effort to say his title and idea came from somewhere else, essentially admitting his unfair use:
"Fahrenheit 451" takes its title from the temperature at which books burn. Moore has called "Fahrenheit 9/11" the "temperature at which freedom burns."
...Joanne Doroshow, a spokeswoman for "Fahrenheit 9/11," said the film's makers have "the utmost respect for Ray Bradbury."
"Mr. Bradbury's work has been an inspiration to all of us involved in this film, but when you watch this film you will see the fact that the title reflects the facts that the movie explores, the very real life events before, around and after 9-11," she said.
So, in other words, Doroshow is defending the use of Bradbury's ideas by claiming how closely the movie fits the general meme of Bradbury's book. All the more reason for Moore to be solicitous of Bradbury, right? We aren't surprised that he isn't:
Bradbury, who hadn't seen the movie, said he called Moore's company six months ago to protest and was promised Moore would call back.
He finally got that call last Saturday, Bradbury said, adding Moore told him he was "embarrassed."
"He suddenly realized he's let too much time go by," the author said by phone from his home in Los Angeles' Cheviot Hills section.
I'd say so. Let's recap events here: Moore decided to lift Bradbury's title and general idea as framing for his movie, using Bradbury's fame and success as a foundation for his own work. He does this without contacting Bradbury at all, or in any way seeking his permission or even really informing him. Then when Bradbury, for whom Moore is alleged to have "utmost respect" and "admiration", calls Moore about Moore's unauthorized use, Moore blows him off. For six months, during which time his movie is feted all over the leftist countryside, including a kingly reception at Cannes. Now Moore is "embarrassed" (is Bradbury supposed to feel better about that?).
It's another evidence of Moore's absolute lack of integrity. That isn't to say every word that comes out of his mouth is a lie, but obviously if the truth or doing the right thing gets in the way of his agenda, well, forget it! He's the great MICHAEL MOORE! If he does it, then it is, by definition, the correct thing.
Charming. But then, isn't he always?
All I can say is, get 'em, Ray!
UPDATE: Caleb Brown disagrees with my take on Ray Bradbury, and at the same time slams the entire arena of intellectual property. He also takes a couple of juvenile, ugly jabs at me personally. A fine debater of great integrity, is our Caleb.
And once upon a time I thought we were blogfriends, or at least friendly blogacquaintances of a sort. I stand corrected.
UPDATE II: Caleb says the "smut" and "slut" comments were aimed at himself, not me, and he apologizes for the misunderstanding. Apology accepted. He's still wrong about Moore, but I'm happy to know he didn't intend to jab at me. It did make me sad when I thought he had. Case closed.
Two men have been arrested and charged with three counts of capital murder in the deaths of three Birmingham police officers. The suspected shooter has apparently confessed:
The suspected shooter, Spencer, confessed to the crime late Thursday night in a statement officers described as "gloating." Witnesses told police the men had talked about killing officers who they felt were putting too much heat on them.
These men have got to be so stupid that if their brains fell out of their heads you'd see no difference in intellectual functioning. What could they possibly think the followup would be of killing cops at all? A brief moment's reflection would have to tell them that if they killed a cop, they'd be hunted down like rabid dogs, even if they did it from ambush and left few clues. But to do it as they did it, blasting them to death during the day, when they were known to be coming to that house to arrest one of the two men, when witnesses were all around, in a heavily populated area, during the day shift when the most cops are on duty... It boggles the mind. If those two men had a shred of smarts between them, those police officers would be alive right now. Their deaths were just so senseless, so devoid of any modicum of reasoning on the part of the shooter. Did they think they could shoot up officers and then the next day just go to McDonald's like usual, smoke crack like usual, deal drugs like usual? That somehow their killing the cops would make other cops stay away?
At least we know they won't do anything like that again. Those two are toast.
One heartening thing is the outpouring of sadness in the community that these officers policed - all three officers were white, the community is primarily black. There've been church memorials in the area, community members getting together to make plans to get rid of crime in the area, and generally highly positive comments made about the officers. Not a single person had a good thing to say about the suspects.
The services for two of the officers are Monday. The third officer will be buried on Tuesday. A memorial for them will be held Wednesday. I can assure you the town will be awash in cops from all over the first part of next week.
Say a prayer for the families of those officers.
If this is true:
...Saudi security forces tracked down and killed the leader of the [al Qaida] terrorist group [cell in Saudi Arabia] in a shoot-out Friday
then why didn't they do it before this?
An al-Qaida cell beheaded American engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr.
After all, it was supposedly:
...a swift retaliation ...
If they could retaliate so swiftly, why didn't they know before? Or did they?
This also raises some additional questions:
What part of "they won't be deterred by mealy mouthed appeasement" don't the anti-(Bush)war folks get? What part of "stop supporting terrorism" doesn't the Saudi government get? What part of "slap them into next week" doesn't GWB get?
I'm getting really impatient with all of them. And the dead keep piling up.
Bryan Preston over at JunkYardBlog is on a roll, but then he usually is. He points out a very interesting fact from an article in the LA Times:
Pollster Scott Rasmussen recently reported that 62% of Americans agreed that the world would be a better place if other countries became more like the United States, while only 14% believed it would be a worse place. But there is a big difference between Republicans and Democrats. Fully 81% of Bush voters but only 48% of Kerry voters agreed with the statement.
And his conclusion is great:
...heaven forbid anyone question their patriotism.
Exactly. How can you claim to be patriotic about a country when you don't think it's worth emulating? I tend to be a "mine, right or wrong" kind of person, not because I wink at the wrong - and there is wrong in this country and done by this country, at times - but because I believe in the essential rightness of what this country represents and what it can be. I believe that when Americans understand what's wrong, they will always as a collective want to fix it and be better. I think our country is the greatest this world has ever known, but I don't think that sentiment on my part means I don't recognize the good in other countries. To me, that's patriotism - and it's not jingoism.
Bryan underscores his point with a wonderful Bush-Cheney ad that says the truth about the Dem leaders. This man needs to be on the Bush re-election team. Anybody have any strings they can pull to make it happen?
UPDATE: Missing the point, guys? Caleb links to this post and says:
The main reason an opinion on whether or not a country is "worth emulating" is relevant is because our country (remember, we're worth emulating) is sometimes engaged in the business of overthrowing governments. And if overthrowing governments is a part of a country that's worth emulating, certainly even a patriot would believe that whole "overthrowing governments" part is less than worthy of emulation, if only to protect the country that the patriot loves so dearly from ... yes, overthrow.
Caleb, two things. First, if you will carefully reread my post, because you apparently missed it the first time, I pointed out that this country both has things wrong with it and does wrong things. However, it is, on balance, the best country in the world. I didn't say perfect, and I didn't mean that. It's a long way from perfect. But you can be the best available and still need a lot of work.
Second, if all you can do is bad-mouth the US, then yes, I will question your patriotism. Repeatedly. If you don't think this country has anything worth emulating, then yes, I will question your patriotism. Repeatedly. All I see positive in that post is something I would label "damned by faint praise". However, since I make my judgments based on more than quick impressions, I won't say you're unpatriotic. Just unwise, if Kerry is your man.
Alan, Alan, Alan. Your comment is meant to raise up my Irish. I have no desire for all countries in the world to be just like the US. I do wish for them all a free-market democracy (or republic, more accurately) where freedom of the individual trumps nearly everything else. Is that such a bad thing? And no, I don't want the US to go make it happen everywhere.
But I do think going into Iraq was the right decision.
Early this afternoon three Birmingham police officers were killed in a shootout in the Ensley area of Birmingham, apparently while trying to serve a warrant. My understanding is that all three men had families; one was a 27-year veteran of the force, another had been there only three years. I'm not sure about the third - they flashed the photos up at the end of the local TV news, and it's not in the newspaper article up at 7:37 CT. NBC 13, the best local TV news in the area, identifies the officers as Carlos Owens, Harley Chisholm and Charles Robert Bennett; here's the description of how they died:
Though details are still sketchy, police officials at the scene have told NBC13 they believe that the officers were shot by SKS automatic rifles as they approached a house to serve a warrant to Nathaniel L. Woods, a resident of Fairfield.
According to officials, an SKS rifle would be powerful enough to penetrate the bulletproof vests that are a standard item issued to each Birmingham officer.
My understanding is that they've arrested five suspects, including Woods. Sad, sad, sad.
This morning, I learned another sad thing - about three weeks ago, Glenn Cunningham, the mayor of Jersey City, died suddenly of a heart attack. It's hard to take in - he was a very fit-seeming, energetic man of 60. I suppose he was not as fit as he seemed. I didn't know him well, but I spoke to him a number of times and worked on a couple of projects he was involved in. While I can't say he was the best mayor for Jersey City, he was nice to me. And it's always sad when someone dies seemingly out of their time. Not unexpectedly, his death has tossed a huge rock into the political waters of Jersey City, never calm at the best of times.
I learned of his death when I called my friend Dory, who yesterday had to put to sleep her dog and companion of over a decade, Harry. They were very close - Dory is a dog person, and those of you with pets you love dearly know exactly what she's going through. For years, he shared her joys, absorbed her tears into his thick coat, and was always there when she got home, with a happy bark and a welcoming lick. Although I'm not really a pet person, I loved Harry too - he was so very sweet, and even though he was quite a large dog - a mix labrador and Rhodesian Ridgeback - I never felt wary around him. Just a gentle, kind animal. He had diabetes, and yesterday afternoon just became unable to walk. It was time. But that doesn't make it easier.
My own difficulties are vanishingly small compared to what others are dealing with, but it's been a bit of a strain today for me too. I've had a low-grade headache since Tuesday afternoon, that gets better and then worse, and is resistant to ibuprofen. It migrates from my forehead to my temples to around my eyes, and then back again. Not horrible, but enough to take the edge off my day. Finally, as I stepped off the sidewalk to get into my car after teaching today, I slipped in some mud, turning my ankle enough for it to swell, fell down and strained a few other muscles here and there. Again, not horrible. But I'm just not feeling great tonight.
So that's why generally no posts. I was racing to get my lectures ready this morning, and talking to Dory on the phone. And the rest of the day - well, you know already. I'm going to ice my ankle, eat some pizza, and stare vacantly at the TV for a few hours.
Back tomorrow with something of moment to say.
As a child, I attended church in a wooden frame building constructed in the 1940s by people in the community where I lived. When I started going there, at the age of 5, the interior walls and floor were unfinished, bare wood, the blackboard was made of real slate, and the heat came from a potbellied stove in the middle of the building. The restrooms were his and her outhouses some 40 feet away from the main building. The cemetery beside the church is where my great-grandparents and other Cornett relatives are buried. And the members were mostly people who had been born, raised, and lived their adult lives all in the same community.
By the time I was approaching an age with double digits, the building had been painted inside, the floors varnished, and electric heating installed. We didn't have a regular preacher, so visiting preachers came often, frequently carrying with them a suitcase of sheet sermons - a sheet pressed into service as a display "board", with the main points of the lesson written on it in marker, and often highly graphic drawings as well. I can still see the bright flames waiting to consume sinners that made repeated appearance on sheet sermons in that church.
Singing was not something we did particularly well, technically speaking, but some members had good voices and nearly everyone sang with enthusiasm and heart. We began having singing services one Wednesday night a month some time after the building was renovated. We learned new songs, and tried to improve our technical expertise with mixed success. As I tend to say now, we knew 10 songs and five tunes - but I can see in my mind's eye the emotion on the faces of the members singing. For some reason the phrase that sticks in my mind is from the song "At The Cross", still one of my favorite songs although not one we sing very often now. I can hear Vestie Brigman singing it in her distinctive high voice: "Would He devote that sacred head, for such a worm as I?" I think the imagery of myself, and everyone there, as a worm was what caught my attention. It marked my maturity as a thinker that I went from seeing the physical imagery to understanding the point hymn writer Isaac Watts was making in 1707; it's a song that still moves me to tears. And it has always bothered me that new versions of the song soften the point by replacing the phrase with, "For sinners such as I?" or "For such a one as I?"
My Dad's parents attended church with us there, and my grandfather would take his turn during the Wednesday night singings. But, as he was wont to say, he "couldn't carry a tune in a bucket", so his effort was not to actually sing, but to teach us how to sing better. So he would explain how you tell how long to hold each kind of note based on the lines on the staff and whether the note is hollow or solid. He talked about what 4/4 time meant, and what phrasing was. Sometimes he would actually lead a section of a song to show us how, but it was difficult to follow with his voice.
One thing he told us about was his own musical education as a child. When he was young, shaped notes singing was popular in the hills of eastern Kentucky. He attended singings where the young learned from the old; the songbooks we use at church today still have the shaped notes left from those days. It's a venerable tradition:
Solfege is a method of ear-training which uses the assignment of syllables to degrees of the scale to assist a singer's memory of pitch. The European hexachord (six note) system of Ut - Re - Mi - Fa - Sol - La was codified by Guido d'Arezzo (990 - 1055) and used for hundreds of years...
The continental six-note Ut-Re-Mi was simplified in England to the four-note system which you can see above by following the scale from C to C as Fa - Sol - La - Fa - Sol - La - Mi - Fa. This is what the English colonists brought with them when they set sail for the New World, and upon which the early New England singing masters based their lessons...
The Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter was first printed in England in 1562 with melodies for 46 tunes. The printer John Windet thought that solmization was a useful enough aid in sight-singing that the tunes in his 1594 edition of the Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter had initials for the syllables (U R M F S L) printed beneath the notes. In the forward it was explained:...I have caused a new print of note to be made with letter to be joined to every note: whereby thou mayest know how to call every note by his right name, so that with a very little diligence thou mayest more easilie by the viewing of these letters, come to the knowledge of perfect solfeying... the letters be these U for Ut, R for Re, M for My, F for Fa, S for Sol, L for La. Thus where you see any letter joyned by the notes you may easilie call him by his right name, ...
Across the ocean and a century later at Boston in 1698 the ninth edition of the Bay Psalme Book (printed since 1640 with texts only) featured the addition of 13 two-part tunes, with four-note syllables indicated by letters printed beneath the staff. This is thought to be the first music printed in the New World.
And singing schools became common here very early:
A singing school is a brief course of musical instruction devoted to the rudiments of note-reading and sight-singing, with a focus on sacred music. Singing schools, established as early as 1700, were the first American musical institution; they fostered musical skills, notational innovations like shape notes, the composition of psalmody, and the publication of tunebooks like The Sacred Harp. Early singing schools often lasted two or three months, usually during a season of slack agricultural work (the winter months, or midsummer "laying-by" of crops).
That was kind of singing school my grandfather attended, with roots going back to the 1500s, and ultimately to the 1000s. That was what he tried to pass on to us, with mixed success. But the concept of shaped note singing has always stuck in my mind, and appealed to me. The singing is without instruments, which is how we sing at church too, and I thought it would be a way to improve my own singing. I looked up a shaped note group when I was in New Jersey, but never connected with them. I wish I had.
And now shaped note singing, going by the name Sacred Harp singing, has come into the consciousness of mainstream America through the movie Cold Mountain. The movie featured that form of singing, and the sound track includes Sacred Harp cuts recorded in Henagar, Alabama, in the northeastern corner of the state. This weekend is the National Sacred Harp Singing Convention, held Thursday through Sunday at a church just south of Birmingham, in Homewood, AL. The website for the sponsors is here.
I'm going to go. I want to learn to sing using shaped notes. I want to sing in groups who gather for both the love of the music and the message the music carries. I want to sing with people who find words written in 1707 just fine for today. And I want to sing the way my grandfather sang, or tried to sing, when he was just a boy.
At The Cross
Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sov'reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross
Where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
2. Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree!
3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When Christ the mighty Maker died
For man, the creature's sin.
4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
While Calvary's cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.
5. But drops of grief can ne'er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do.
The US Supreme Court has decided that Michael Newdow, the atheist who objects to his daughter saying "under God" in the US pledge of allegiance, does not have standing to challenge the phrase because he doesn't have custody of his daughter. Three justices also offered opinions that the pledge is Constitutional, while five refrained from additional comments. Justice Antonin Scalia recused himself from the case last fall.
In the recitation of the facts, there's no evidence that the justices as a group were trying to avoid the case or throw up a roadblock. But you wouldn't know it to read the NYT headline:
8 Justices Block Effort to Excise Phrase in Pledge
That's only true if you see any refusal to answer the question - even with clearly stated grounds for the refusal - as "blocking" it. In actuality, the justices are staying within the law and preserving an important part of the legal process, which is, only people with legal standing can bring a case forward. That's very sensible. It's legal precedent. It's not blocking to cite it.
But obviously the NY Times wanted a decision. And it's also obvious that they also have a little admiration for Newdow. Look at how they describe his presentation of the case before the Court:
Dr. Newdow argued his own case before the Supreme Court with passion and flair. Asked in the interview whether that was the experience of a lifetime, he answered by expressing great frustration with the California family law. "The experience of a lifetime is to love your kid and be with her," he replied.
"Passion and flair". Judgment calls. As for being with his kid, he never even married her mother. How's that for concern?
And as usual, the NY Times engaged in flagrant editorializing in a news article. I have no problem with their doing so in something clearly labeled "news analysis", but phrases like this don't belong in straight news:
The competing opinions on Monday were portraits in irony, some probably intentional and some, perhaps, not.
I understand the writerly need for some type of transition that frames the information that follows, gives it some structure and explains why it's important. But that is precisely what news analysis is for. That sentence introduces opinion and bias. Why is it ironic? Would everyone see the irony? Or just someone like the writer? Here are a couple more little jabs that are opinion, scattered through this "hard news" article:
Justice Stevens is a consummate craftsman, and the sly reference was clearly intentional...
Whether the chief justice intended it, that remark mirrored almost exactly the criticism of the majority opinion he joined four years ago in Bush v. Gore, the case that decided the 2000 election through an unusual application of equal protection principles and with instructions that the decision not be cited as precedent for any other case...
The criticism from whom? The NY Times? They don't say. But we're given to understand that it's reasonable criticism, and what a wash of irony flows over this decision as a result. Nudge nudge, wink wink.
This type of writing is more interesting, more fun to read, more informative in some ways than straight news. But it is not straight news, no matter what the NYT calls it. It's opinion. It's analysis. And it's wrong to allow it out there without saying so.
But then, it's the NYT - what they do is correct by definition, as the gold standard for journalism internationally. Right?
I've never quite gotten why stripping down to bare skin must be seen as some type of political statement. The stated reason is that it's showing your vulnerability, it's showing how much you're willing to risk to make a point, etc. Why doesn't anyone, oh, fart for a good cause? Imagine the party - huge buckets of beans followed by a burst of methane gas guaranteed to make eyes water all the way to Washington. The only concern would be that someone would unthinkingly light up a cigarette. But I'm sure none of them smoke. What makes you more vulnerable and humiliated, what can put you at greater risk of social ostracization, than letting rip with a huge loud rank one right in the midst of a group?
Sorry. I just don't get the point of the nudity. There's something going on besides risk and vulnerability. Anyway, what made me think of that was this:
You could almost say that the Los Angeles leg of the World Naked Bike Ride went off as planned Saturday, if you disregarded all the cops and clothes...
The idea was for cyclists, from Brazil to the Netherlands, to protest global dependence on oil by biking nude along predetermined routes in their respective countries.
By pedaling, the protesters would demonstrate an alternative mode of travel. By cycling in the buff, they would demonstrate their free-spiritedness and their willingness to chafe for the cause.
Public nudity isn't "free-spirited", it's a public eyesore. I just don't need to see it. I'm not horribly shocked, although I am offended; I do think it's indecent. How can this not be indecent, even to those who aren't too concerned about morality?
"I think it's indecent that the idea of nudity has been made indecent," said Jim Dufourd, 52, an architect clad in a sombrero, cutoff T-shirt, wristwatch and codpiece fashioned from a plush toy.
I can't imagine hiring someone for anything who would ever wear a plush toy as a codpiece.
But morality aside, offensive use of plush toys aside, even the mental imagery of a bunch of old flabby men whipping past in the all-together aside, protesting nude is less about protesting and more about exhibitionism. I'm also not moved by those "empowered women" who formed the word "Peace" with their naked bodies. None of them made true sacrifices, at least not the kind that actually move forward a cause. It is, ultimately, all about self and self-actualization.
Now, what did I do with those beans...
I'm a bit bemused by this trend:
[The Rev. George] Malkmus's diet is one of a batch of Bible-based eating plans flooding bookstores and health food stores.
I think that's just ... odd. As someone who's read the Bible quite a bit, and has an interest in things dietary, I can honestly say that I would be hard pressed to put together a diet based on the Bible unless I went with the dietary laws in the Old Testament. The only thing I can think of that would be germane is the general adjuration to moderation and not letting anything have control over your body (even Pepsi). It's about seeing your body as "the temple of God", belonging to God, so you don't mistreat it. Can't say I'm good about that, generally, but I can say that's scriptural.
And then there's this:
Malkmus's diet ‚ÄĒ which draws, he says, from Genesis 1:29 (search) ‚ÄĒ bans all animal products except for honey and promotes an 80 percent raw diet...
Malkmus, who said he is not currently affiliated with a specific church, has no formal scientific training. But he does employ a researcher who determined that the Hallelujah diet was deficient in vitamin B-12.
"This shocked me, that God's perfect eating plan could have a flaw," Malkmus said. "But we realized that fruits and vegetables back then were more nutritious because of the topsoil."
Amazing, how he manages to miss many instances in both the Old and New Testaments where the patriarchs, the apostles, even Jesus himself, ate meat. And cooked it. He's by no means alone in his conceit - the article lists at least three others, and I'm sure there are more. But hey! Don't let reality stand in the way of a profitable means of exploiting God's Word:
[Jordan S.] Rubin also recently launched a line of "advanced hygiene" soaps and argues that The Maker's Diet is about more than just eating ‚ÄĒ it's a whole way of life.
"When God gave me this health message I knew it would have a major impact on the world," he said. "Just as the Bible is the best selling book in history, I see no reason why 'The Maker's Diet' can't be the best selling health book in history."
My only hope is that I never have occasion to invite Rubin and Malkmus to the same dinner:
Drawn from the book of Leviticus, Rubin's diet encourages eating certain meat and dairy products and warns against an all-raw, vegan regimen.
It's enough to turn a woman to cheeseburgers. And a cold Pepsi.
I got this button during the second Reagan campaign. I voted for him twice, and I loved and admired him. I put the black fabric on it as my mourning band, and I've worn it constantly all week, taking it off only at night. It's my way of honoring him and who he was, what he did. And saying thank you.
More efforts to undermine the US - now in the name of God.
TrueMajority.com is working with a "new" online group called FaithfulAmerica.org, which is (surprisingly enough) supported by... TrueMajority.com. It's an opportunity for progressive religious types to make inroads into the landscape of voters who are religious and have stood against the leftist agenda promoted by TrueMajority and MoveOn.org. They're softening the edge, coating their leftist goals in misrepresentations of God*, hoping, I'd say, that people don't dig deeper.
Here's the ad they've made. And here's what was in the letters they sent out to the TrueMajority faithful, sent in the same email.
Every great social justice movement in American history - abolition, labor rights, civil rights - has had progressive people of faith right up front. That‚Äôs why we‚Äôve been working with the faith community to help launch a new online group called Faithful America. Their first major project is a great way for the people of America to speak directly to the people of the Middle East. I‚Äôve endorsed the ad discussed below and hope you will too. Please share this with your friends.
And then from FaithfulAmerica:
Dear Faithful American,
The torture scandal continues to grow, and with it the outrage of the Arab world. As our leaders continue to blame a few rogue soldiers, a cycle of mutual suspicion and dehumanization between the Arab world and the United States deepens.
We need to send a message directly from the people of the United States , to the people of Iraq and the Arab world, telling them that, as Americans, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in demanding justice for these sinful abuses committed in our name.
To do this, we‚Äôve filmed a television ad with Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders to be broadcast on Arabic-language television in the Middle East. You can view the ad using the link below. If you feel the message expresses what is in your heart, let the world know by endorsing the ad. You can even donate to help put it on the air.
As the number of endorsers grows, we will add that figure to the end of the ad. The more people who endorse the message, the more effective it will be. Please send this e-mail to anyone you think might want to get involved.
The FaithfulAmerica.org Team
I don't know which emotion I'm feeling the most strongly: offense at their co-opting of faith (or, in their case, "faith"), or just plain nausea.
really ironic, having heard all the previous attacks on the "Religious Right" from these same people, that this faithful democracy is exactly what religious conservatives have been doing in America for a long time now.
I'm put in mind of the greeting Jesus used to the Pharisees, another faux-religious group in his time - he called them "Hypocrites".
* I say "misrepresentations" because I'd say anyone who sticks to even a relatively literal understanding of the Bible, the Torah or the Quran would not recognize the religious philosophy of the people in the ad they've made.
** When I say "faux-religious", I do mean to say that I don't think they're truly religious in the way I mean religious. To me, and I think I can support this scripturally, "religious" means that you are seeking and worshipping God, and trying to fit your life and attitudes to His. These people are trying to shape God's word to fit their political ideology and preferred world view. It's not about God, it's about them. God is just one of the tools they use to further their goals. And that's ... well, to be very blunt, it's blasphemy.
(And while I don't think the Torah or the Quran speak for God, I know a lot of people do, so I mean all of those here. I do think there are millions of people who are sincerely religious who follow those texts.)
My parents, sister and niece are here from Kentucky. I'll probably be posting each day, but just so you know, if I disappear.
Thank goodness for DSL (she says, as her niece roams around the house with the phone, talking to the boyfriend. And talking. And talking...)
Obviously I'm not a liberal, and thus likely to be interested in discovering useful tactics to keep them out of office. And I am, but I think there need to be rules of engagement. So even when it's to the advantage of the conservative cause for Democrats to mistreat each other politically, I still hate to see it happen.
Such is the case with US Representative James P. Moran, a congressman from Northern Virginia who is facing a Democratic opponent in the primary this summer. From this article, it sounds like he's someone I would definitely not like. However, it also sounds like he's not getting fair treatment. Here's the issue:
On Tuesday, for the first time in his Congressional career, Mr. Moran, a Democrat, is facing competition in a primary. The fortunes of his challenger, Andrew M. Rosenberg, an Alexandria lobbyist and former policy advisor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, are riding, in part, on a controversy involving Mr. Moran's campaign pollster and strategist for 20 years, Alan Secrest. Mr. Secrest charged that Mr. Moran uttered an anti-Semitic remark in a private meeting with his campaign staff three months ago.
And here is the problem:
Mr. Secrest has refused to say exactly what Mr. Moran's words were, and Mr. Moran has denied saying anything that could be construed as anti-Semitic.
Others at the same meeting have said they didn't hear anything objectionable. But then, since they're still working with Moran, would you expect them to admit it if they did? Probably not.
The whole brouhaha around Moran in this election - and the direct reason that he has a Democratic opponent by the name of "Rosenberg" - is the accusation that he's anti-Semitic. Maybe he is. But we don't know because Secrest won't reveal what he said, or the context of it. I think that's unfair and dirty politics.
There are a number of things Moran could have said that could be construed as anti-Semitic without his even thinking jokingly about Jewish stereotypes generally, much less derogatory ones. It's also possible that he could have been making a joke, with no malicious intent, and it just came out badly (or was misunderstood). And it's even quite possible that he said something pointed and ugly about Jews, out of anger or crudeness or outright anti-Semitism. But we don't know. And the man is being politically harmed without his constituency being able to judge for themselves what his culpability is.
Essentially, Secrest is playing the victim and race cards simultaneously, and is expecting his credibility to be enhanced by plugging into a well-documented history of anti-Semitism in the world. What other credibility does he have? None that I can see. If I were a liberal in northern Virginia, I'd have to take the position that until Secrest explains what was said, in what context, I couldn't take him seriously. How do I know he's not attacking Moran for his own reasons?
The article also doesn't say that the opponent, Rosenberg, is Jewish, but that is a common Jewish surname. That's what gives me the impression that the reason for his candidacy is Secrest's accusation against Moran. I hope Rosenberg has heard the story of the alleged remark privately, and concluded from it that he had to take a principled stand against Moran. Otherwise, he's the worst kind of political opportunist, using the history of hate against Jews as a tool to advance his political fortunes, knowing the accusation is at best unproven and at worst a lie.
I believe Secrest has a moral obligation to reveal the whole story if he is going to reveal the story at all. Otherwise, he too is playing unfair political games.
Sometimes you just can't help but mock newspapers a little for obvious grammatical errors, especially when you suspect they aren't just typos.
Today I found two that amused me. First is a caption for a photo of a man in uniform circa WWII, standing with a woman about his age. The caption says:
Ralph Scott, who survived the Normandy invasion with his wife
So what's wrong with that? You tell me.
And then there's this, from the first paragraph of an article on FoxNews:
Three Italian and one Polish hostages who have been held captive in Iraq were freed, officials or media in Italy and Poland reported Tuesday.
Besides the awkward construction of "officials or media...reported" (I think "sources in" would have been smoother), what's wrong with that sentence?
Yes, I know I make mistakes. But I don't have 14 editors fine-combing everything I write. It's not horrible, but it's just funny.
Lt. Smash has a great post about an LA high school history teacher who not only beats the drum about socialism out in public, but takes it into the classroom:
I thanked Gillian for the flyer. ‚ÄúSo, do you try to get your students involved in activism?‚ÄĚ
"Oh, definitely! I teach the required World History course, but I also teach an elective course on Revolutionary History. Those students are really receptive to new ideas. We cover the Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution, French Revolution, Mexican Revolution‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWhat about the American Revolution?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúOh, they cover that in US History,‚ÄĚ she replied, dismissively.
Hmmm... I wonder if they would let me teach a class on Social Revolution - and focus on the march of leftist activists subverting the people's will in the name of the people.
Rush Limbaugh is talking about the liberal media, and saying he thinks it's a "seminal" moment in the history of media. He said there is increasingly a red and blue media, like red and blue states. He mentioned the increase in conservative talk radio, Internet magazines, other things - and bloggers. Yes, he mentioned bloggers in his list, and favorably. It's a switch - I was quite annoyed with him when he said, I think last fall, that bloggers were a bunch of wannabes talking to themselves, and of no importance. Not in those words, but that was his meaning. So it would appear it's also a seminal moment for blogs.
UPDATE: Just to make it clear, it was today, June 7, that I heard Rush's comment including blogs as among the new red state media.
Ronald Reagan was a great American, in so many ways. I'm still thinking about his death, and what his life meant to me. I've not written much specifically about that because I'm still soaking it all in. It feels intensely personal, and I'm not sure how much I can share, or whether in the sharing I can express adequately how I feel.
I was moved by this photo on FoxNews right now, noticing that one of the officers carrying Reagan's casket is a sailor, which led me to think they have representatives of all the military branches as casket bearers. The hats all look different. What an honor that would be - to be one of the ones chosen to carry one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century to his final resting place.
He was the first presidential candidate I voted for, and I voted for him twice. I would have three times. I wish Bush II was more like him.
Words still fail me. Maybe by Friday. Maybe not. Not everything needs to be shared.
How's this for taking care of #1:
On May 25, Bob Barr, former U.S. attorney and ex-congressman from Georgia, filed an ethics complaint in Frankfort, capital of Kentucky, against Kentucky Bar Association member John O. Morgan, Jr., of Lexington.
Mr. Morgan is accused of charging unreasonable fees in a series of lawsuits against check-cashing businesses in Kentucky...
In the cases he settled, Mr. Morgan gained a total of $1.32 million in fees while 49 of 52 clients he represented received nothing. Not penny one for nearly all of the plaintiffs, and more than a million for the lawyer.
The three clients that were paid received a total of $2,206.66. Eight were promised "some unknown amount in the future." (emphasis in the original)
Well, not directly. But close. At the end of his Bleat today - a must read - where he speaks of his shift from a disdainful liberal at the beginning of Reagan's first term, to someone who sees Reagan's greatness and in many ways agrees with his politics, now 20 years later, Lileks says:
What you don‚Äôt know when you‚Äôre 22 could fill a book. If you write that book when you‚Äôre 44, you haven‚Äôt learned a thing.
And now the split-personality NY Times editorial that gracefully compliments Reagan in spurts between lunging, frothy-mouthed denunciations of his policies:
When Ronald Reagan was elected, the institution of the presidency and the nation itself seemed to be laboring under a large dark cloud. Into the middle of this malaise came a most improbable chief executive ‚ÄĒ a former baseball announcer, pitchman for General Electric, Hollywood bon vivant and two-term California governor with one uncomplicated message: There was no problem that could not be solved if Americans would only believe in themselves. At the time, it was something the nation needed to hear. Today, we live in an era defined by that particular kind of simplicity, which expresses itself in semi-detached leadership and a black-and-white view of the world. Gray is beginning to look a lot more attractive.
The NY Times sees everything in shades of gray, except for anything conservative, which is seen in unremitting black. They obviously are in the same place they were in 1980, with just enough veneer of maturity to concede some of Reagan's greatness. But they can't let it stand uncriticized, and they also can't hold back from attacking Bush in what should be an honoring memorial. It would have been fine to do another editorial exploring his political legacy to today's administration. But it's low class, in my judgment, to have this uneven, ugly editorial that shows flickers of hate behind the veil of praise.
The NY Times coverage in general is both predictable and annoying. This is a good example - headline:
Europe Recalls Reagan Fondly; Arabs Don't
Everyone, check your response - shock anywhere? Yes? Oh, because it says "Europe recalls Reagan fondly". Not that "Arabs Don't". Especially these Arabs:
The Reagan years marked the beginning of what Lebanon's culture minister, Ghazi Aridi, called a ``bad era'' of American Mideast policy that he said continues to this day.
Then there's this:
Political analyst and former Syrian ambassador to the United Nations Haitham al-Kilani agreed.
``Reagan's role was bad for the Arab-Israeli conflict and was specifically against Syria. He was the victim of the Israeli right wing that was, and still is, dominating the White House,'' al-Kilani said.
But wait, there's more:
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said he was sorry that Reagan died without standing trial for 1986 air strikes he ordered that killed Gadhafi's adopted daughter and 36 other people.
EVIL Reagan! Bombing Gadhafi's home, killing all those Libyans, and for nothing of importance! Only "the 1986 bombing of a disco - an attack which the United States and German prosecutors have blamed on Libya.
The West Berlin disco, La Belle, was popular with US soldiers when it was attacked. The bomb killed three people - including two US servicemen - and injured about 250."
Libya today reached agreement with the United States and Britain to accept civil responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and compensate victims' relatives, a source close to the talks said...
Under the arrangement, Libya would compensate families of the 259 passengers and crew killed in the mid-air explosion of the Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 and the 11 people killed on the ground.
Yes, I think the leaders of Lebanon, Syria and Libya are good proxies for the entire Middle East, and all the Arabs therein. At least, they're good enough for the NY Times.
Their other coverage of Reagan is just as responsible and reasonable.
I hadn't seen this, but it's cool. There's a new chat/photo/photo-posting software free on line called "Hello". I just downloaded it this morning, and my brother and I sent several photos back and forth while chatting about them. It's a nice enhancement. Although I've not used it yet, it also claims to post photos to Blogger while hosting them free. That's great for blogger blogs - hosting for photos is a major headache when you use a free blog service.
If you're interested, here's where to go. And no, don't tell me you've been using this for weeks. I prefer to think I discovered it fresh.
A museum dedicated to the Los Angeles Police Department opened last year, and this article in the NY Times tells about several of its exhibits:
The sight of two life-sized mannequins toting machine guns and wearing bloodstained body armor has brought gasps from kids and tears from tough cops.
The figures at the Los Angeles Police Department Museum depict the two heavily armed bank robbers who fired thousands of shots before being killed by officers during a North Hollywood shootout in 1997...
In one corner is an ax used by Fred Stroble to kill 6-year-old Linda Joyce Glucoft in 1949 -- a case that made headlines in its day. Stroble was later convicted and executed.
In another spot is the original script of the show ``Dragnet'' and the badge of fictional LAPD Sgt. Joe Friday, played by actor-director Jack Webb. The show ran from 1951 to 1959 and then was reincarnated in 1967-1970...
The museum's most ambitious exhibit is the North Hollywood shooting. With red police lights spinning overhead, visitors can compare the large arsenal of weapons used by the gunmen to the small cache of service revolvers carried by police officers.
It sounds like a great museum, and one I'd like to visit. They also have a memorial to the 200 LAPD officers who have died in the line of duty, including information on the lives of each. I like that idea - it's important for people to realize the humanity of the men and women who wear police uniforms.
It's nice that they also have a sense of humor:
Future exhibits will include...a Krispy Kreme kiosk and gift store to play off the stereotype of doughnut-loving cops.
(Cross posted on The Crime Resource Room)
Pro-American bloggers crashed a leftist anti-Bush rally in Paris this weekend - the 60th anniversary of D-Day, don't forget - and they are the ones the police haul off and send away.
Pathetic. But it's nice to know there are pro-American folks around Europe, and I suspect more than we realize.
In some odd way it reminds me of Abraham negotiating with God for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God told Abraham things were looking bad, and the cities had to go. Abraham, knowing Lot and his family were there, said, well, you wouldn't destroy the cities if there were 50 righteous people there, would you? And God said, no, if you show me 50 righteous people, I'll hold off. Abraham couldn't, and knew it, so he backed the numbers down until he was at 10, and God agreed not to destroy them even if Abraham could find 10. Despite the fact that Lot had married daughters in the city, so even his extended family could have numbered 10, in the end only 4 got out alive (and we won't even discuss Lot's wife, a salty woman). I sometimes feel that way about Europe -are there 50 people over there who don't hate democracy and America? I wonder. And I ponder the beauties of turning them loose, pulling out our troops, and letting them burn in fires of their own making. (Genesis 18:20-19:27)
I think another of my favorite terms would apply then: Hoist by their own petard.*
And if you read the definition, you'll see why it's particularly appropriate in light of their gaseous bloviations.
John Hatcher at Poynter Online tells a little tale of student journalism - his own - which is his strongest memory of J-school:
The article that created a weeklong series of protests had been published, by me, without much thought. A student had brought in a column challenging the notion of a society consumed with political correctness. The column questioned the need for events like Black History Month and suggested that history was being revised by people too cowardly to stand up to the pressures of activists.
As the opinion editor of the student newspaper, I looked the article over, talked with the editor-in-chief and concluded that the piece was insulting, mean-spirited, and poorly written. I published it, in the middle of Black History Month, no less, because ‚Ä¶ well, I'd ask myself why I ran it many times in the weeks to follow.
I'm pretty sure that I told myself I ran it because it was the job of the press to publish thoughts and opinions ‚ÄĒ even ones that were distasteful and contrary to my own ideals. To be honest, I think I just mostly wanted to see if anyone was paying attention.
It's very possible that the article was poorly written, mean-spirited and insulting; not having seen it, I can't say. Many are - after all, Maureen Dowd is published consistently by the NY Times. However, the impression I get from this is that Hatcher's judgment is based on where it fit in comparison with his own views instead of any kind of objective assessment of the article's argumentation and viewpoint. That's what I think the "even ones that were distasteful and contrary to my own ideals" comment means. Else why say that? Of course it's important to have diverse views on an editorial page - just ask any newspaper that makes sure there are blacks and women represented.
The article is about recognizing the impact a journalist's words can have on a community. As a veteran of several small newspapers myself, I can attest to that. But what I find curious is his characterization of that article. I wish I could read it. I can't get over the impression that he found it "mean-spirited" because he disagreed with it. And he's someone who goes out as a consultant and "works with reporters and editors striving for excellence in their profession". What is he telling them?
One of the goals of good journalism, in my judgment, is to learn to assess good argumentation and valid points from any legitimate position, no matter how different from your own. There are some positions that are mean-spirited, and we as a society typically identify those collectively. At the same time, just because one approach to an issue is wrong doesn't mean all are wrong. For example, anti-Semitism is wrong. That's accepted by most Americans. Not all, most. I think it is completely reasonable and moral for a newspaper to refuse to print something that denounces all Jews and wishes some ill on them. However, viewpoints expressed reasonably on either side of the Israel issue aren't the same thing. You can be anti-supporting-Israel-as-a-nation and not be anti-Semitic (although there are those who don't think that's true). There's a world of difference between saying "We shouldn't be giving Israel so much money" and saying "Death to Jews!" Journalists should be able to make that distinction. Unfortunately, not enough do - in fact, they seem to think that "Death to Jews!" is somehow reasoned debate (hint: It's not) just because it is an opposing viewpoint to another group.
And the same is true of the issue covered in the disputed article Hatcher printed. You can be against political correctness and the kind of numbers game played in many communities and organizations in regards to diversity, and not be racist or prejudiced in the least. It's reasonable to say, "Why are we spending so much money on Black History Month when we don't have an Irish History Month, and there are more people in the US descended from the Irish than from Africans?" It's also reasonable to answer, "Because the Irish haven't been left out so pointedly in the past." Then you have the makings of civil debate. As soon as either side accuses the other of racism, or prejudice, the debate goes out the window and it degenerates into name calling.
I think newspapers need to take the responsibility to judge the argumentation and reasonableness of an article or column without judging its message based on the measuring stick of the editorial page editor's political beliefs. I am not a rabid environmentalist, nor a pro-choice proponent, but I can distinguish between reasonable and irrational, frothing-at-the-mouth argumentations for each position. I don't have to agree with it to recognize it's quality as an argument. That's the problem I have with Hatcher's presentation of the issue. He doesn't wait to find an article with similar views that is well-written and not mean-spirited - you get the impression he doesn't think it's possible, or at least not likely. And he feels guilt for publishing it. He probably should, if it was that bad. Then he should feel guilty because he didn't create an atmosphere at the newspaper where good writers with "alternative" views felt they had some chance of publishing there.
Today was mostly spent with Haydon and Molly Katherine while their parents and their uncle and aunt (Mom's brother and sister in law) went to see the new Harry Potter movie. It'd be a toss up whether they had more fun, or I did. The girls were a delight. Molly Katherine is improving her speech on a daily basis, so even more of her personality is shining through. And it's a great one.
That's the reason for no posts. The only time I had some down time to do it was when MK was napping - and she's sleeping in the computer room while her aunt and uncle are visiting. I can't say I'm distressed about it. Haydon and I had a good time while she was asleep.
I hope your day was good.
E Magazine, an environmentalist publication, isn't jumping wholeheartedly on the hype surrounding "The Day After Tomorrow", and in this article actually seems to take little potshots at groups that are. This is a good thing. However, that's negated to a degree by the framing mechanism used by the author to create a sense of the seriousness of global warming - the war on terror:
Here's the headline:
The Climate‚Äôs Shock and Awe
And here are the pertinent parts of the article:
Maybe you‚Äôve already seen the movie, with its shock-and-awe images of Manhattan hit by a deep freeze, and tornadoes bearing down on Los Angeles...
Moveon.org recently held a town meeting in New York (ground zero, apparently) to coincide with the movie opening...
As American news consumers we‚Äôre fixated with reports from Iraq and the latest on the war on terrorism. But as UN weapons inspector Hans Blix points out, ‚ÄúThe question of the environment is more ominous than that of peace and war...I‚Äôm more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict.‚ÄĚ No less an authority than the Pentagon came to the same conclusion in its recent report on the possibilities of abrupt climate change. The report featured several dangerous security scenarios resulting from the droughts, heat waves, crop loss and severe storms that will--and already are--accompanying climate change.
The war imagery is very clear; I found the reference to NYC as "ground zero" especially egregious, as they were referring to the film but are doubtless fully aware of the other imagery that term would create in that context. It's saying, "You think the war in Iraq is bad? Ah, but this, this could destroy us all!" And they say it to sell a book.
I'm not completely against using war imagery in other contexts; sometimes it works. But in this instance the usage has the net effect of diminishing the war's impact and importance. Of course, using Hans Blix as an expert quote is not precisely enhancing their credibility. He said what they wanted to hear, though. I think this framing is irresponsible and inappropriate.
Of course, there are a lot of issues about global climate change that they don't address, such as whether any changes are just a result of the cycling that the earth does on a regular, albeit attenuated, basis. That's not a result of bias here, though - that's because it's basically a blurb for their new book. I'm sure there they deal with all the science honestly and thoughtfully.
Really. I'm sure of it.
Oh, those wacky meat lovers! Sabotaging vegetable soup:
[Carla]Patterson was eating at the Newport News restaurant, across from Patrick Henry Mall on Jefferson Avenue, on May 8 when she said she discovered the mouse in a bowl of vegetable soup. Her screams prompted other patrons to leave the restaurant, and the incident caused Cracker Barrel to stop serving vegetable soup at all of its 497 stores nationwide.
But wait! It appears she brought her own supplies:
A woman who said she found a mouse in her soup at a Cracker Barrel restaurant last month made up the hoax, the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said Tuesday.
Carla Patterson, 36, and her son, Ricky Patterson, 20, both of the 100 block of Westview Drive in Hampton, were charged Tuesday with attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit a felony after they tried to get Cracker Barrel to give them money in the hoax, said Howard Gwynn, Newport News' commonwealth's attorney.
Ahhhh... Clever of Cracker Barrel to smell a rat. At least now all the employees in Newport News will have a tail to tell.
Farm Accident Digest trapped this one too.
I've complained endlessly about comment spam here, but it's just getting worse. This week one spammer alone has posted nearly 50 comment spams, each in different posts. It takes a long time to delete, since I also go in to each post to see if any other spam is there, and then after deleting I close the comments. Just today a pre-teen pron spammer left a slew of comments, again in individual posts, so I had to clean that up right away. I'm not going to allow my blog to contribute to his success.
I remember someone mentioning that there's a program to close comments, without my having to do it by hand. Please give me the information again. I desperately need to install that. I find that the time I normally would spend posting is spent deleting comment spam, and that leaves me with three choices: A program that automatically closes comments after a period of time; close comments completely; or just stop blogging. The first of those looks best to me.
I wish MT had thought to set up their interface so that there's a way to delete just comments like you can posts. Not very foresighted of them.
Here's a new wrinkle in the Kobe Bryant case:
The woman who accuses Kobe Bryant of rape cannot be called a ``victim'' in court proceedings as the prosecution wants, the judge in the Los Angeles Lakers guard's sexual assault case ruled on Tuesday.
``The common understanding of the term 'victim' certainly implies that a person has been the subject of a particular wrong or crime and its use under these circumstances could improperly suggest that a crime has been committed,'' Eagle County District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said, adding:
``The Court therefore concludes that the term 'victim' at trial would be inappropriate under the alleged facts.''
My first reaction to this was that Kobe's defense team scored on this one. It hardly seems fair to this young woman not to call her "victim" if she was sexually assaulted. But then, that's the crux of the matter, isn't it? In many, probably most, assault cases, the question the jury has to determine is whether the defendant on trial was the person who assaulted the victim - or "complaining witness". However, in this case, the question is not whether they had sex - he admitted that - but whether the sex was consensual. So the case really is about whether a crime occurred at all. If it did not, then she is not a victim. To call her one introduces a subtle bias into the case, because the jury will come to see her as a victim, which legitimates her claim of assault, and they will have to be talked out of that position before they can be urged by the evidence into the other direction. Not directly, none of this is front burner stuff, but definitely important enough to deserve this motion and, I think, this ruling.
I found this quote in the NY Times curious:
Former Denver prosecutor and legal analyst Craig Silverman said the ruling is unprecedented. ``I cannot recall a Colorado court making this type of ruling, but I can't remember that a motion like this has ever been filed,'' Silverman said.
Curious because of this in the ruling itself:
See Jackson v. State, 600 A.2d 21 (Del. 1991); Allen v. State, 644 A.2d 982 (Del. 1994); Veteto v. State, 8 S.W.3d 805 (Tex.Ct. pp. 2000); Mason v. State 692 A.2d 413 (Del. 1996); Talkington v. State, 682 S.W.2d 674 (Tex. Ct. App. 1985); State v. Wright, No. 02CA008179, 2003 WL 21509033 (Ohio Ct. App. 2003). Although these cases are from other jurisdictions and are not binding precedent, the Court finds the reasoning in these cases to be sound. None of the opponents have been able to effectively rebut the legal principles established in these cases.
So yes, the quote is correct in that Colorado court has not made a similar finding previously; it's not correct to say the ruling is unprecedented. The NY Times narrative is incorrect, the analyst's quote is correct. But even in Colorado there has to be a first time, and certainly it's not unprecedented for the Court to go to cases in other jurisdictions for their reasoning and findings. In fact, the media seem happy enough for the US Supreme Court to consider European cases as acceptable case law for review when approaching their own cases. Texas is way closer to Colorado than France is to Washington, DC.
But it's apparent that the NY Times already thinks Kobe's going to be taking a hike on this one. Just look at this little Freudian slip from the article:
...a trail date has yet to be set
Yes, yes, I know, it's a typo. But such a delicious one.