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When Hollywood Yells "Leftward Ho!"

Last week, there was an amusing piece in Slate on the alleged conservatism of John Hughes, the man who launched a thousand brat-pack actors in the 1980s:

It should have come as no surprise, then, that a faint smirk of family-values-friendly subversion stamped itself on all of late Hughes, which is to say his even more establishment period as a filmmaker. From The Great Outdoors (in-laws sure are difficult) to Home Alone (towheaded McMansion latchkey kid foils robbery, saves Christmas) to Dennis the Menace (overall-wearing scamp of the manicured lawns sling-shoots his way straight into your heart)—these were comedies for the Dan Quayle in all of us.

Gen X nostalgia is as interesting for what it remembers as for what it chooses to ignore. Every so often, you'll turn on TBS and be forced to take inventory of the popular culture of your youth. Trading Places delivered its comeuppance with a switcheroo act of commodities fraud;* the true nemesis of Ghost Busters wasn't Gozer but the EPA; Stripes is all about making a kind of screwball peace with the military-industrial complex … Sure enough, there's Harold Ramis—another Lampoon alum, who directed Hughes' screenplay for Vacation—reflecting on the Chicago Seven hearings in a recent interview with the Believer: "They ran up and down the street, smashing car windows and stuff. My first reaction was, 'Yeah, right on!' But then I thought, 'Wait, I'm parked out there.' " The polite term for this gentle rightward shift when it happens to artists and intellectuals is embourgeoisement. What a shame the philosopher of puberty never warned kids about that.

Actually, this is entirely bass-ackwards. The Hollywood of the 1980s was a return to a political middle-ground designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible after the Young Turks drove the industry leftward in the 1970s, nearly bankrupting it in the process, until two guys named Lucas and Spielberg began to make films that appealed to mass audiences again. That Hughes also followed this trend to box office success in the 1980s is hardly surprising.

With a massive collective case of BDS, Hollywood has made another turn leftward this decade and--surprise!--revenues are once again down. Who wants to spend nearly $10 a pop on tickets, and nearly the same amount for each person's snacks for two hours of P.C. agitprop politics?

Mind The Gap

Olbermann Watch ponders video Dowdification via the dreaded 18-second gap.

The Folly Fiasco Fallout

I haven't blogged on the cretinous Mark Foley (R-FL) or the fallout from his resignation, but Pajamas is your one stop source for blog linkage.

Elsewhere, Betsy Newmark writes that there's Florida precedent to replace his name on the ballot even later than Foley's resignation yesterday, adding, "How ironic that the Democrats were so thoughtful to explore this law and pave the way for the Florida GOP to find a way to perhaps salvage this election".

Does this mean that Florida could influence yet another contentious election year?

Youthquake Update

Found via Tammy Bruce, the bloggers at The Brussels Journal post that it's "Third Night of Ramadan Rioting in Capital of Europe"--with memories of last year's Paris Riots fresh in everyone's minds. Except the media's of course.

MSM In The Headlights

Peggy Noonan praises the freedom of choice that demassifying mass media has brought us, while simultaneously exploring its downside:

Forty and 50 years ago, mainstream liberal media executives--middle-aged men who fought in Tarawa or Chosin, went to Cornell, and sat next to the man in the gray flannel suit on the train to the city, who hoisted a few in the bar car, and got off at Greenwich or Cos Cob, Conn.--those great old liberals had some great things in them.

One was a high-minded interest in imposing certain standards of culture on the American people. They actually took it as part of their mission to elevate the country. And from this came..."Omnibus."

When I was a child of 8 or so I looked up at the TV one day and saw a man cry, "My horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse!" He was on a field of battle, surrounded by mud and loss. I was riveted. Later a man came on the screen and said, "Thank you for watching Shakespeare's 'Richard III.' " And I thought, as a little American child: That was something, I gotta find out what a Shakespeare is.

I got that from "Omnibus."

Those old men on the train--they were strangers, but in the age of media a stranger can change your life.

And because the men on the train had one boss, who shared their vision--he didn't want to be embarrassed that his legacy was "My Mother the Car"--and because the networks had limited competition, the pressure to live or die by ratings was not so intense as today. The competition for ad dollars wasn't so killer. They could afford an indulgence. The result was a real public service.

Now the man on the train is a relic, and no one is saying, "As the lucky holders of a broadcast license we have a responsibility to pass on the jewels of our culture to the young." In a competitive environment that would be a ticket to corporate oblivion at every network, including Fox.

TV is still great, in some ways better than ever. Freedom works.

And yet. When we deposed the old guy on the train, it wasn't all gain. No longer would the old liberals get to impose their vision. But what took its place was programming for the lowest common denominator. Things that don't make you reach. Things you don't want to teach. Eating worms on air-crash island with "Jackass."

I spoke with a network producer a few weeks ago, an old warhorse who was trying to explain his frustration at the current ratings race. He wrestled around the subject, and I cut with rude words to what I thought he was saying. "You mean it's gone from the dictatorship of a liberal elite to the dictatorship of the retarded."
Yes, he said. And it's not progress.

When liberals miss something in the media, that's what they should be missing. Not a unity that never existed but standards that were high. When conservatives say there's nothing to miss, they're wrong. We lost some bias, but we lost some standards, too.

Betsy Newmark asks, "Why be angry at Fox News"?
But even if you grant that Fox is unequivocably conservative, they're a small, small part of the overall viewership of nightly news. And, I suspect that Noonan is quite correct - the people who are watching Fox regularly are the ones who are already going to vote Republican. So, why should liberals in New York City be so outraged by their watching a conservative news channel? Could Peggy be right that they just resent having had to give up their monopoly on news dispersal to talk radio, Fox, and the internet? They're just ticked off that the mainstream media's barricades have been breached.
In the previous post, I noted the elite media's derision when Matt Drudge arrived on the scene as the first journalistic star created solely via Internet popularity. But I've always found their astonishment at the time so strange. Or as I wrote a year ago:
It's weirdly ironic--despite the fact that they're in the news business, the media are often the last to spot a realignment of their own industry. Witness how the Big Three networks never expected cable TV's rise in the early to mid-1980s, the first in a series of (to borrow Alvin Toffler's word), demassifications. The next was Rush Limbaugh and talk radio's rise during the same period the following decade, equally unexpected. Witness how Matt Drudge took newspaper journalists all by surprise, even though he shouldn't have: the Internet had existed since 1969, the World Wide Web, which runs on it, since the early-1990s, and it was due for a media celebrity of its own. And others were destined to follow, as Weblogs make self-publishing a breeze.
Liberals have had a commercial television medium that suited their biases for 50 years--a medium which titled further and further to the left beginning in the late 1960s as they did, and whose on-air representatives derided President Reagan's election in 1980 as they did, and the Republican Congress' Contract With America in 1994, as they did. Why on earth should they be so surprised that (a) conservatives would want at least one channel that reflected their worldview as well, and (b) someone was finally willing to give them one in the 1990s, once he saw an opportunity to make a profit?

Hanging Stone

A few years before the Blogosphere took off, Matt Drudge arrived on the scene as its harbinger. He was of course, instantly reviled by elite liberal journalists, who were feeling--at least subliminally--the ground shifting under their feet. But there was even earlier one-man news gatherer whom they did respect, immensely. As Jonah Goldberg wrote in January of 2000:

I’m thinking of a journalist who works alone, without editors, accountable to no one. Many feel he has an ax to grind, but he is read furtively by government workers and journalists. Often, he levels wild accusations against public officials of broad conspiracies he cannot prove. He lifts much of his material from other publications and adds his own interpretation. He calls the mainstream press "collaborationists" with the President.

Can you guess? Most people today would say Matt Drudge, the Internet columnist. But Drudge evokes nothing but scorn from the establishment press, while the guy I’m thinking of was called a "journalist’s journalist" by ABC’s Peter Jennings. The Los Angeles Times hailed him as "the conscience of investigative journalism." The New York Times’ Anthony Lewis praised him as "the reporter who taught us to penetrate the squid-ink of official truth."

His name was I.F. Stone (1907-1989), and he won fame editing, writing, and publishing I.F. Stone’s Weekly. Unlike Drudge, Stone was a man of the Left, labeling himself a "Jeffersonian Marxist."

A new biography of Stone by Myra MacPherson, reviewed in the New York Times weekend, labels Stone as a willing dupe of the KGB. Or as John Podhoretz writes:
A dozen years ago Stone's reputation was rocked when a retired KGB officer seemed to finger Stone as a paid agent of the Soviet Union. MacPherson evidently went to great pains to disprove this charge, and in her book she triumphantly claims to have done so. But, as Paul Berman explains in a fascinating review of her book (and a new collection of Stone's writing), MacPherson "seems not to notice that in her ardor to rescue Stone from his enemies, she has yanked the rope a little too firmly and has accidentally hanged the man."

* * *

So Stone didn't work for the totalitarian government in Moscow. He merely "performed tasks" for the Soviet Union for free, out of conviction. I confess that in the past, I have described Stone as a paid agent. That wasn't true. What he was, though, was every bit as despicable.

Read the rest.

Update: A Cornerite comes to Izzy's defense.

Another Update: "Of course, everyone is allowed to change his mind. What was missing from Stone during his lifetime was some candor about what made him swerve so radically from one view of Israel to another. But when we think back on Stone's Soviet boosterism, even during the worst of Stalin's crimes, we are reminded that candor was not always his strong suit."

It Looks Like An Ed Sullivan Rerun To Me

This Daily Mail article that Drudge links to is headlined, "China's 'cruelty olympics' causes international outrage", and yet its photos--a monkey lifting weights, a bear balancing himself on the high bars, don't look all that horrible to me. Instead, it looks like the sort of stuff Americans watched every Sunday night on the Ed Sullivan show, and later, pretty regularly on Johnny Carson for literally decades. (But I'm willing to parachute in Lancelot Link, Secret Squirrel, and Morocco Mole to investigate the situtation further, if you'd like.)

I linked to Julia Gorin's essay on global warming yesterday, which began thusly:

It's a peculiar thing that as the threat of global terrorism reaches a crescendo, so apparently does the threat of global warming - at least that's what some would have us believe.

Tough language is borrowed from the war on terror and applied to the war on weather. "I really consider this a national security issue," says celebrity activist and "An Inconvenient Truth" producer Laurie David. "Truth" star Al Gore calls global warming a "planetary emergency." Bill Clinton's first worry is climate change: "It's the only thing that I believe has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it."

Freud called it displacement. People fixate on the environment when they can't deal with real threats. Combating the climate gives nonhawks a chance to look tough. They can flex their muscle for Mother Nature, take a preemptive strike at an SUV. Forget the Patriot Act, it's Kyoto that'll save you.

Substitute "animal 'rights'" for environmentalism, and those points apply equally well with China's "animal olympics".

And it's worth noting that the International Olympic Committee didn't lose much sleep over China's human rights record, when awarding them the real Olympics in 2008, of course. (It's probably not a coincidence whom China then immediately hired to iron out the architectural details...)

Update: HehTM.

"I'm Glad I Didn't Have To Wear Pajamas"

Senator Joseph Lieberman sits down to a video (and audio) podcast with maximum Pajamahadeen Roger L. Simon.

The Four Ages Of Media Climate Hype

Senator James Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Environment And Public Works Committee explores what Pajamas' Seattle editor dubs, "The Four Ages Of Media Climate Hype":

I am going to speak today about the most media-hyped environmental issue of all time, global warming. I have spoken more about global warming than any other politician in Washington today. My speech will be a bit different from the previous seven floor speeches, as I focus not only on the science, but on the media’s coverage of climate change.

Global Warming -- just that term evokes many members in this chamber, the media, Hollywood elites and our pop culture to nod their heads and fret about an impending climate disaster. As the senator who has spent more time speaking about the facts regarding global warming, I want to address some of the recent media coverage of global warming and Hollywood’s involvement in the issue. And of course I will also discuss former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Since 1895, the media has alternated between global cooling and warming scares during four separate and sometimes overlapping time periods. From 1895 until the 1930’s the media peddled a coming ice age.

From the late 1920’s until the 1960’s they warned of global warming. From the 1950’s until the 1970’s they warned us again of a coming ice age. This makes modern global warming the fourth estate’s fourth attempt to promote opposing climate change fears during the last 100 years.

Recently, advocates of alarmism have grown increasingly desperate to try to convince the public that global warming is the greatest moral issue of our generation. Just last week, the vice president of London’s Royal Society sent a chilling letter to the media encouraging them to stifle the voices of scientists skeptical of climate alarmism.

During the past year, the American people have been served up an unprecedented parade of environmental alarmism by the media and entertainment industry, which link every possible weather event to global warming. The year 2006 saw many major organs of the media dismiss any pretense of balance and objectivity on climate change coverage and instead crossed squarely into global warming advocacy.

Julia Gorin's thoughts on why this issue has heated up (so to speak) recently are also well worth reading.

Capt. Jack, We Hardly Knew Ye

The International World Global Planetary Zionist Conspiracy rolls on, adding Pirates of the Caribbean and both Tom and Jerry to its list.

First Pepsi, now cheesy Disney movies and dopey Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Can't we move the conspiracy a bit more upscale, people?

Update: A different kind of paranoia strikes deep in the Bay Area. Maybe it's just the killer squirrel sightings that have everyone on edge.

From America's Team...To America's Team

Many NFL analysts posit that this is Bill Parcell's last year as a head coach. When he leaves the Dallas Cowboys, Hugh Hewitt has an excellent suggestion for his next career move.

(Hey, if Parcells can handle Jerry Jones and Terrell Owens, Helen Thomas would be a snap.)

One Venti Decaf Deneuve, To Go, Please

I'm not sure where Tammy Bruce is going in this post, but any post that's able to combine Tammy, Starbucks and a breathtaking photo of Catherine Deneuve is well worth your time.

More Fallout From Greenhouse Admissions

Earlier this week, we mentioned Linda Greenhouse, the New York Times reporter who finally, much like the Times itself did in 2004, came clean about her bias. Betsy Newmark writes:

What is funny is how Jack Nelson, former Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, reacts to this question. He's just peachy happy to have a reporter be so open with her opinions precisely because he agrees with those opinions. If her views were the opposite, he'd have problems with it. It's not the openness that he would draw the line at, but the opinions themselves. And he's willing to admit that!
Jack Nelson, former Washington bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times, blanches at hearing of Greenhouse's remarks, but agrees with her tough critique of the White House.

"If I was the Washington bureau chief and she was my Supreme Court reporter, I might have to answer to the editors in L.A. for that," Nelson says. "But I would do my best to support her."

Asked if he would defend Greenhouse had she said something he disagreed with, however, Nelson laughed -- and said he would take issue if she had backed Bush policy.

This is a totally consistent worldview within the elite portions of the legacy media. Back in April, Michael Barone wrote a piece that ends with an anecdote that dovetails nicely with Nelson's quote:
Let's say you were part of a group designing the news media from scratch. Someone says that it would be a good idea to have competing news media -- daily newspapers and weekly magazines, radio and television news programs. Sounds like a good start.

Someone else says that it would be a good idea to staff these news media with people who are literate and well-educated. Check. Then someone says let's have 90 percent of the people who work for these organizations be from one of the nation's two competitive political parties and 10 percent from the other.

Uh, you might find yourself saying, especially if you weren't sure that your party would get the 90 percent, maybe that's not such a good idea. But that's the news media we have today.

Surveys galore have shown that somewhere around 90 percent of the writers, editors and other personnel in the news media are Democrats and only about 10 percent are Republicans. We depend on the news media for information about government and politics, foreign affairs and war, public policy and demographic trends -- for a picture of the world around us. But the news comes from people 90 percent of whom are on one side of the political divide. Doesn't sound like an ideal situation.

Of course, a lot of people in the news business say it doesn't make any difference. I remember a conversation I had with a broadcast news executive many years ago.

"Doesn't the fact that 90 percent of your people are Democrats affect your work product?" I asked.

"Oh, no, no," he said. "Our people are professional. They have standards of objectivity and professionalism, so that their own views don't affect the news."

"So what you're saying," I said, "is that your work product would be identical if 90 percent of your people were Republicans."

He quickly replied, "No, then it would be biased."

And a few years ago, when Hollywood's Lionel Chetwynd was holding a press conference for his Showtime docudrama, DC 9/11, he was asked by a reporter:
Question: "You did contribute to [Bush's] campaign?"

Chetwynd: "Yeah, the limit was $1,000... Would it make a better film if I'd given $1,000 to Gore?"

Question: "Yes."

Chetwynd: "Why?"

Question: "Because it would show less potential bias."

Regarding Jack Nelson's comments about Greenhouse, Betsy wrote:
This is how conservatives always suspected things were at the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. It's nice to have them admit it overtly. That's all I've ever wanted them to do - stop hiding behind the pretense of being totally objective without any agenda and let the readers and viewers of the media take that into account just as we do when we hear politicians praising or criticizing someone or some policy.
As I wrote yesterday, confirming an anecdote by James Taranto of Opinion Journal, the media have been much more willing since 9/11 and the rise of the Blogosphere, to let it all hang out. (These guys really let it all hang out a few months ago, incidentally.) And I'm happy for them to do so. At this point, the stragglers who still hold a viewpoint that their profession is completely objective and without bias seem like those stories of soldiers rescued after decades on a desert island, who haven't heard that WWII is over. (A couple of years ago, Stefan Sharkansky had some thoughts about a completely neutral press would be covering. And it wouldn't be pretty.)

Or as I wrote back in April, Michael Kinsley's right: this is the Twilight of Objectivity, but it was a surprisingly brief era to begin with.

The War On Christmas Opens Up A New Front

Hey, at least he's finally come clean on the subject--and on The Tonight Show to boot. I have to give him points for that...

(Via Hot Air.)

The Illustrated Krauthammer

Way back in 2002, Charles Krauthammer famously wrote:

To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
Four years later, both halves of his law have finally been illustrated, via a single photograph.

(Which was found via James Lileks and Tim Blair.)

"From Checklist To Checkmate"

In TCS Daily, Josh Manchester writes that "Air travel today is an increasingly dehumanizing experience":

One is forced to pack one's belongings in a certain way; possibly not bring some key necessities, unless willing to risk losing to the baggage jungle; be treated as a number, while waiting in line at a security checkpoint; and then have to partially undress while finally entering the metal detector, sometimes barefoot on a tile floor that no one has thought to cover with even a used throw rug, even though we've been doing this now for five years.

But the most dehumanizing aspect of it all is the gnawing suspicion that thousands of people are merely performing a sort of ritualized security kabuki, and that none of it is doing any good when it comes to preventing attacks.

Sure, those who wish us harm now know that they can't get aboard planes with boxcutters, or scissors, or explosives disguised as vials of Vidal Sassoon. But our checklist mentality in attempting to thwart them is largely a reactive measure, and only tells our enemies what their parameters are -- inviting workarounds, deceit, and cleverness, rather than truly inspiring fear of detection.

The problem is that our bureaucrats focus on the composition of checklists of banned items instead of focusing on the mindset of an enemy. In combat, checklists are used regularly, but with different ends in mind: a platoon of Marines leaving a firm base in Iraq would go through numerous checklists of their equipment, weapons, communications, and so forth. But all of this is meant to put these potential problems to sleep -- to reduce friction such that the platoon is then free to focus on the enemy it is about to encounter, or the population it is about to engage. In airport security though, the checklist is the goal, rather than the actions that it enables security personnel to then take. Checklists become a sort of static defense, rather than the fluid, mobile defense that would be more amenable to both deterring and catching terrorists.

Two of the more interesting scenes in ABC's "The Path to 9/11" involved incidents where checklists weren't involved. A female Filipino police captain is suspicious of one man standing around the scene of a fire that is consuming Ramzi Yousef's apartment in Manila. Her suspicion is rewarded when the man is arrested and Yousef's laptop is recovered. Later, Diana Dean, a US Customs Agent, succeeds in picking Ahmed Ressam out of the crowd of motorists entering the United States from Canada. It turns out his trunk is filled with explosives. In neither of these incidents were the arresting officers working from a checklist or a profile. They just trusted their instincts. The next time you fly, ask yourself if the same can be said for those screening the rest of the passengers around you.

Afterwards, Manchester writes, "How can we create a more robust airport security system? The principles to rely upon are those of unpredictability, adaptability, and decentralization".

His ideas make perfect sense, thus ensuring that they'll never come to fruition.

God And Terrell At Dupont University

Every year brings a raft of articles on the stars of the NFL and other professional leagues run amok; Terrell Owens and his did-he-or-didn't-he-suicide attempt is merely the latest and most high-profile. How much is college to blame for not preparing young men by infusing them with sufficient character to survive the high-pressure world of professional sports? Probably quite a bit, if the fictitious campus of Tom Wolfe's Dupont University is anything like reality:

Charlotte’s experiences at the fictional Dupont University shed light on these questions, as the ambitious girl from backwater North Carolina is transformed by her sophisticated and salacious surroundings. Far from being the path to higher civilization and refinement of character, Dupont is a toxic impediment to the yearning for higher things, built on a dogmatic denial that higher civilization and refinement of character are even possible. Where, in a former age, the impressionable young student might have aspired to religious salvation or genuine wisdom, today’s typical college student lives more for entertainment, sensation, and release, all the while demanding and largely getting immediate gratification. The individual still seeks status and recognition. But the marks of distinction are all too often inebriation, “hooking up,” expertise at sarcasm (“sarc one,” “sarc two,” and “sarc three”), and insouciance toward matters intellectual and moral. As students learn about and fall into this new ethic, the university not only fails to stand in opposition, it accelerates the process. Dupont, that composite of Duke, Stanford, Yale, and the University of Michigan, corrupts the promising young Charlotte. For revealing this disturbing truth, the author has been reviled by those who are thereby revealed.

More importantly, the teaching of Dupont University is precisely that the soul and the moral dimension of being are illusions. In the past, the university (at its best and in principle) sought to cultivate the human soul toward completion or excellence. The modern university, as Wolfe portrays it, denies that there are truthful distinctions between higher and lower; it teaches that the soul is not real, and that perfection of the soul is thus a thing of the past.

The setting of I Am Charlotte Simmons is truly “postmodern”—a world dominated by Nietzsche and neuroscience, a world which has jettisoned the moral imagination of the past. Not only is God dead, but so is reason, once understood as the characteristic that distinguishes man from the rest of nature. We now understand ourselves by studying the behavior of other animals, rather than understanding the behavior of other animals in light of human reason and human difference. We learn that it is embarrassing for any educated person to be considered religious or even moral. Darwin’s key insight that man is just another animal, now updated with the tools and discoveries of modern biology, has liberated us from two Kingdoms of Darkness. Post-faith and post-reason, we can now turn to neuroscience to understand the human condition, a path that leads to or simply ratifies the governing nihilism of the students, both the ambitious and apathetic alike.

* * *

I Am Charlotte Simmons is an indictment of the primary centers of higher education in America today. These institutions do not well serve the real longings and earnest ambitions of the young people who flock to them, at great cost and with great expectations, year after year. Instead of pointing students to a world that is higher than where they came from, the university reinforces and expands the nihilism and political correctness that they are taught in public schools, imbibe from popular culture, and bring with them as routine common sense when they arrive on campus. Of course, these two ideologies are largely incompatible: nihilism celebrates strength (or apathy) without illusion; political correctness promulgates illusions in the name of sensitivity. But both ideologies are the result of collapsing and rejecting any distinction between higher and lower, between nobility and ignobility, between the higher learning and the flight from reason.

Read the rest. Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman has a column today about the problems of superstar athletes such as Owens, and bipolar former NFL players Barret Robbins, Dimitrius Underwood and Alonzo Spellman. While Zimmerman is clearly saddened by the self-inflicted tortures of these high-profile athletes, his prescription for preventing them in future players is as clinical as the white labcoat world that Wolfe depicted in his earlier "Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died" essay on neuroscience. He seems to think that if only the right medicine were available, troubled athletes would enjoy perfect living through chemistry. But it seems a safe bet that substantive preparation for the emotional rigors of their chosen professions from their alma maters would help as well.

Is it really any wonder that institutions that combine nihilism and narcissism produce athletes that exhibit the exact same traits when put under pressure?

Advantage: Ed!

Back in May of 2004, I wrote in Tech Central Station:

Another strange thing has started happening as well -- in the past, media elites denounced any claims of a liberal bias in the news with a shrug and a "who, us? We're not liberals. We're not leftwing. We're objective and neutral. No biases here!" More and more, as we'll shortly see, the media are going on the record (Brock, Gore and Franken, notwithstanding) that it leans pretty heavily towards the left.
I started a collection of examples right around that time, as well.

Today, James Taranto writes, "Something odd is afoot in America's elite media--increasingly, journalists are unabashed about admitting their liberal bias. "

You don't say...

Vacuums Fill

Last year, Mark Steyn wrote that Europe isn't multicultural, it's bicultural. And while you can witness the clash of its two cultures more or less nightly on the continent, you can see its future in Britain. On the one hand, there's a Europe that, beginning with Nietzsche's famous 1882 aphorism that "God is Dead", has spent the better part of the 20th century eliminating religion from the public square.

In the past, European efforts to eliminate some religions have been rather more aggressive, of course. But these days, it's merely a mopping up operation: last year, the EU issued an edict declaring that the words "Christ" and "Jew" be spelled in all lower-case letters. And of course, European (and American) universities are busy eliminating the millennia-old meanings of the initials B.C. and A.D.

But meanwhile, another culture, Europe's largest group of immigrants, relatively recent arrivals to the continent, takes its religion much more seriously than the postmodern old fogeys in Cambridge and Brussels. And to prove it, they're building the continent's the largest place of worship able to hold up to 70,000 worshippers; to be opened in time for London's 2012 Olympics:

It will be called the London Markaz and it is intended to be a significant Islamic landmark whose prominence and stature will be enhanced by its proximity to the Olympic site. When television viewers around the world see aerial views of the stadium during the opening ceremony in six years’ time, the most prominent religious building in the camera shot will not be one of the city’s iconic churches that have shaped the nation’s history, such as St Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, but the mega-mosque. ...

The first mosque was opened in Britain more than 80 years ago and there are now well over 1,000 – many converted from Anglican churches. London now has more mosques than any other western city. The biggest in western Europe is just a couple of miles from where I live in south London, on a five-acre site. It can hold up to 5,000 worshippers and, while hardly a Timurid masterpiece, its dome and minarets do not detract from what is a rather gloomy bit of suburban Surrey. Funded entirely by voluntary donations from its congregation, it was erected by the Ahmadi Muslims, who also contructed the first London mosque in Putney in 1924. The Ahmadis, who have lived harmoniously in this country for many years, condemn any form of extremism. Tellingly, perhaps, the Ahmadis are considered heretics by the rest of the Islamic world.

Now consider the east London mosque. Its backers are the Tablighi Jamaat, a missionary organisation that says it is non-political and peaceful. Yet a senior FBI anti-terrorism official has called it a recruiting ground for al-Qa’eda, and the French secret services described it as “an antechamber for fundamentalism”. Its current European headquarters are in Dewsbury, home town of Mohammed Siddique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, who attended the local mosque. Much of the funding for the Markaz, which will cost about £100 million, is expected to come from Saudi Arabia. ...

It is suggested that the Markaz complex will become the “Muslim quarter” for the Olympics, acting as a hub for Islamic competitors and spectators, something that is surely contrary to the spirit of the Games, which are meant to bring people together, not keep them apart. Futhermore, in an irony not lost on Mr Craig, just a mile or so from where the mosque is due to go up, the Kingsway International Christian Centre, the biggest evangelical church in Europe with 12,000 worshippers on a Sunday, is coming down to make way for the Olympic stadium.

That last paragraph defines Europe's future rather nicely. More nicely than its future actually portends, of course.

Dogs And Cats Blogging Together

Hugh Hewitt and Ed Morrissey are defending Keith Olbermann--and I agree with them.

The Anchoress's recent thoughts on civility are well worth re-reading; maybe someone should email a link to them to The New York Post.

Update: The Post's comments are even more despicable than at first glance: Ed Morrissey updates his blog with a reminder that the Post itself was victim of an anthrax mailing in September of 2001; one of the paper's mailroom employees required treatment in a nearby hospital.

Another Update: In another example of dogs and cats blogging together, the Pajamas motherblog is praising Olbermann's network for its recent series of advertisements honoring our soldiers in Iraq.

Cocooning Clarified By Pajamas-Clad Panelist

INDC Journal highlights the Pajamas Media panel at DC's National Press Club:

A blogger from the New York Times shot the panelists some skeptical questions, one asking if blogging increased partisanship because people could "choose news" that fit a worldview. Best counter-argument**:

"Like the people who read the New York Times?" -- Val Prieto.

Heh, as the panel's precision-opticalled antennae-less moderator is wont to say.

"The Pen, The Sword And The Pontiff"

Madeleine Bunting, writing in England's Guardian believes that the Pope should not have spoken out about Islam because he knew it would lead to violence--in fact, she dubbed it, "papal stupidty". In an exceptional TCS column, Lee Harris writes:

"Papal stupidity" is strong language. But a few paragraphs before this harsh phrase, Madeleine Bunting has prepared us for it by arguing that "even the most cursory knowledge of dialogue with Islam teaches...that reverence for the Prophet is non-negotiable. What unites all Muslims is a passionate devotion and commitment to protecting the honor of Mohammed." A Pope who did not know that "reverence for the Prophet is non-negotiable" must, therefore, be guilty of egregious stupidity.
Harris writes, "This leads me to the question that I would like to pose to Madeleine Bunting and all those who have attacked Benedict for his lack of moral responsibility in making the Regensburg address":
Suppose that the eminent English biologist Richard Dawkins delivered a speech at the University of Regensburg in which he attacked supporters of Creationism and Intelligent Design theory as "ignorant boobs" -- words that he has already applied in them in a written article. Now, let us imagine that Christian fundamentalists all over the United States, outraged by this inflammatory language, went on a violent rampage. Suppose that they lynched an elderly professor of biology, and attacked biology departments at several universities. Suppose that teachers of high school biology went about in fear of their lives, while many simply quit their jobs.

What kind of article would Madeleine Bunting write about such a hypothetical incident? Do you think she would violently condemn Richard Dawkins, writing something along the lines of:

"Even the most cursory knowledge of dialogue with Creationists teaches...that reverence for the Biblical account of man's creation is non-negotiable. What unites all Christian fundamentalists is a passionate devotion and commitment to the inerrancy of the Holy Bible."
Would Madeleine Bunting refer to Dawkins' speech as illustrating professorial stupidity? Would she imply that he was personally responsible for the death of the elderly American professor of biology, and describe the brutal murder as having been done "in retaliation" for Dawkins' remarks?

What fools the American Creationists have been to write books, give speeches, and attend the tedious meetings of School Boards, when by rioting, murdering, and running amok, they could have earned the sympathy and respect of enlightened intellectuals like Madeleine Bunting. Instead of being ridiculed as "ignorant boobs," even such prestigious left-leaning papers as The Guardian would rally to their defense reminding us all that for Christian fundamentalists the teaching of creationism is "non-negotiable."

Of course, it was only a year ago, that the Guardian was running columns written by an Islamic journalist trainee who praised the 7/7 London bombers as "sassy". And only a year before that, when the Guardian gave another budding trainee journalist a crack at the op-ed page...

September 10th Time

The Professor, safely home from his trip to Washington notes the confluence of non-news-news:

DICK MORRIS promising new Clinton scandals.

Janet Jackson in the news.

The Dow approaching record territory.

It's like the 1990s all over again.

And yeah, this was a rather September 10th kind of story as well.

What time is Babylon 5 on tonight?

Thou Shall Not!

Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt "sum up our list of artistic must-nots, based on recent history". James Lileks adds:

If you mock Islam with a drawing or a novel, you get riots and dead people. News of mishandled holy books yields riots and dead people. Insufficiently reverent short films by a Dutchman yields a dead person, specifically the Dutchman.

Now we add this detail: Quoting medieval religious colloquies is a reasonable justification for burning churches, shooting a nun and holding up signs demanding that the pope convert to Islam or saw off his own head. (There have been reports of carpal tunnel syndrome among radical Islam's enforcers, and they have requested we all help out.)

This is a new twist: Now history itself cannot be discussed. Since it's difficult to predict what else will enflame the devout, Islam has to be treated with unusual deference, like a 3-year-old child with anger management problems.

But it's not what we say that truly offends. It's what we are. The West's lack of interest in joining the Ummah is an affront in itself, and we broadcast our sins in High Infidelity. If you believed that the West's apostasy was an affront to God, you'd spend your leisure hours torching straw popes, too.

Progressives at home and abroad seem oddly unconcerned. "Islamophobia," after all, is just a product of the BushCo junta's relentless fearmongering, and Benedict is the Nazi pope who personally swipes the condoms from people's bedroom drawers.

But it's an inconvenient truth, to coin a phrase, when the ranters show up with vibrating uvulas demanding the pope's assassination. (Would they be satisfied with a docudrama version? It would go over big at Cannes.)

Lileks concludes that "As the grim cliche has it: If you say Islam isn't always a religion of peace, the Islamicists will kill you. This doesn't make them hypocrites, of course. The grave is a very peaceful place."

Update: Related thoughts from Ed Morrissey.

Another Update: Allah (of course!) spots tomorrow's seething today, adding, "Remember when the only thing you had to worry about in a Harvey Keitel movie was whether he’d take out his schwanz?"

Warren Christopher's Priorities

Armed Liberal is angry: "I'm back from the Warren Christopher lecture, and I'm seriously having trouble understanding the strength of my own reaction":

I doubt that I'll get to the bottom of it in this post alone, and there will be a longer discussion to follow.

But here's what pissed me off - a close paraphrase of one of Christopher's comments:

Why didn't the Americans attack Iran - maybe we should have. Based on Valentine's Day thought Iranian govt would solve it. He, Vance, Carter thought keeping the hostages alive would be the priority.

Maybe if forceful action had been used Reagan wouldn't have been President.
[emphasis added]

Not "maybe we wouldn't be looking down the barrel of a major confrontation with state-supported Islamist radicals." Not "maybe 9/11 wouldn't have happened, and tens of thousands of people wouldn't have died." Not any number of other things involving the United States and our relations with the rest of the world. Ronald effing Reagan's election is as bad a thing as he can imagine.

I can't imagine a more insular view of things. And I'm terrified that one of the actual people who shaped events can't see past the mirrored window of his political party.

He adds:
This is a bipartisan issue. This isn't remotely a Democratic issue, although I hammer the Democrats about it a lot because they're my party and I want them to change so they can win. And I push them hard on the issue of foreign policy because we need a real set of debates.

This is an issue involving all the 'insiders' who have forgotten why power is worth having.

Isn't power for its own sake precisely what drove the second administration that Christopher served in the 1990s?

More here.

The Billion Dollar Brain

When I saw the news reports on My.Yahoo page last night that Terrell Owens, the Dallas Cowboys' awesomely talented and awesomely troubled wide receiver was rushed to the hospital last night and had his stomach pumped, I thought, nahh...it can't be a suicide attempt, can it?

According to AP, it is. Or it isn't. Or it was, but now it isn't. Confused? Be glad you're not as confused as T.O. himself, who once again turns a team quietly preparing for its next opponent (the hapless 0-3 Tennessee Titans this Sunday) into The All T.O. All The Time Show.

In any case, so much for those fearless NFL prognosticators who wrote, "Terrell Owens will be on his best behavior this coming season", back in March...

Update (12:40 PM PDT): At a televised press conference, T.O., dressed in sweats, a blue Cowboys T-shirt, and earrings says "there was no suicide attempt--the rumor of me taking 35 pills is absurd". Claims that stories of his stomach being pumped are false. He certainly looks and sounds fine--he says that he was working out and catching passes from QB Drew Bledsoe before his press conference.

A reporter asked him if he was depressed: "I'm not depressed by any means. I'm happy to be here--I came here to help this team get on a roll and win playoff games", adding "It's absurd for [press] reports to go from an allergic reaction to a suicide attempt".

Update: Less snark, more substance, here.

CNN's Captive Audience

Linking to Glenn Reynolds and John Hinderaker, I posted my thoughts on CNN's airport hegemony on Monday. Matthew Sheffield of Newsbusters chimes in today with a lengthy post, here.

Of course, another question worth pondering is why, in a world where so many of us carry around iPods, Blackberries, and/or laptops, so many public spaces, from supermarkets, to doctor's office waiting rooms, feel obliged to install multiple TVs in the first place.

Civility Defined

And not surprisingly, it's The Anchoress who defines it:

There is a deep and ugly chasm between left and right in this nation, like a sabre slice that is going untreated and infecting the whole body of the nation, and weakening it. As long as we have folks on the right referring to Democrats as “Demoncraps” and former presidents as “BlowJob”, as long as we have folks on the left referring to Republicans as “extra chromosome people,” (nice and compassionate toward the impaired, btw) and to the president as “Bushitler” the body is going to continue to weaken.

I know there are plenty of sites, both left and right, which engage in the ugliness of name-calling. But there are many on the right and some on the left, who do not. I simply prefer to be one that does not. If one blogger shrieks into his or her echo chamber, there really is no need to shriek back.

Hear, hear.

Read the whole thing.

"Of Course It Is"

John Podhoretz writes, "Mainstream Media Biased? Noooo"!

Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times — the paper of record's beat reporter on the Supreme Court — just gave a talk at Harvard in which she basically said, "Hello. My name is Linda, and I make The Nation look like the John Birch Society." Every single time anyone tells you the New York Times isn't a left-wing organ from its news columns to its wedding pages, just send him this link.
Or just send him to the Times itself.

Update: In a post titled, "MSM: The Mask Is Off", Hugh Hewitt links to the Greenhouse admissions, and combines them with recent quotes by Thomas Edsall, who recently retired from the Washington Post, and Jonathan Alter of Newsweek.

As I wrote a few years ago in Tech Central Station, as far as I'm concerned, the mask started coming off with HBO (nee-CBS) insider Bernard Goldberg's Bias and Arrogance books, along with the simultaneous rise of the Blogosphere and its fact-checking skills. But Daniel Okrent's NYT op-ed (linked to above), RatherGate, the clampdown on the Swift Vets, Evan Thomas of Newsweek's 15-point spread, and a dozen other examples wrapped up the case definitively by the end of the 2004 election, which is why I don't post quite as many "See? See!" sorts of media bias posts as I did a few years ago. That case has been made, and those few liberal journalists who still claim that their profession is overwhelmingly "objective" are the ones with huge blinders on, still living in the pre-Blogosphere era of monopoly media. Or as Newsweek's Howard Fineman wrote in January of 2005:

A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don't mean the Democrats. I'm talking about the "mainstream media," which is being destroyed by the opposition (or worse, the casual disdain) of George Bush's Republican Party; by competition from other news outlets (led by the internet and Fox's canny Roger Ailes); and by its own fraying journalistic standards.
But I'm always happy to see further proof admitted by those liberals within the elite media as well.

POTUS Orders DNI To Post NIE

In the Washington Post, Robert Kagen writes:

It's too bad we won't get to see the full National Intelligence Estimate on "Trends in Global Terrorism" selectively leaked to The Post and the New York Times last week. The Times headline read "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat." But there were no quotations from the NIE itself, so all we have are journalists' characterizations of anonymous comments by government officials, whose motives and reliability we can't judge, about intelligence assessments whose logic and argument, as well as factual basis, we have no way of knowing or gauging. Based on the press coverage alone, the NIE's judgment seems both impressionistic and imprecise. On such an important topic, it would be nice to have answers to a few questions.

For instance, what specifically does it mean to say that the Iraq war has worsened the "terrorism threat"? Presumably, the NIE's authors would admit that this is speculation rather than a statement of fact, since the facts suggest otherwise. Before the Iraq war, the United States suffered a series of terrorist attacks: the bombing and destruction of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998, the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since the Iraq war started, there have not been any successful terrorist attacks against the United States. That doesn't mean the threat has diminished because of the Iraq war, but it does place the burden of proof on those who argue that it has increased.

Ed Morrissey concurs, writing, "Obviously, the Times has not played this straight. They have taken selected quotes from the NIE to build a political case against the war":
The only solution to the problem is to declassify the NIE after redacting information about sources and methodology. We need to know the full context of all these remarks in order to know and understand the real conclusions of the intelligence community, not just a handful of disgruntled bureaucrats with Bill Keller on their speed-dial. Let's see the entire report and then debate its contents. Democrats and Republicans should both call for that kind of openness.
President Bush did, ordering the NIE released. John Hinderaker notes:
Earlier this morning, Democrats tried to force the House of Representatives into a secret session to talk about the NIE report. This grandstanding would have generated more leaks and more headlines, but it was voted down. Now, with the report itself being declassified, the Democrats won't be able to pull this kind of stunt.
Click here to read it.

Calvin And Hobbes Wag The Long Tail

Great cartoon illustrating the meme of the Long Tail in action.

Incidentally, the week before last, in Pajamas' "Blog Week In Review" podcast, Glenn Reynolds, Austin Bay and David Corn discussed MySpace and its acquisition by Rupert Murdoch for $580 big ones. Over at Blogcritics, I explore how MySpace is vulnerable to the Long Tail as well, as a competitor called Nextcat sets up shop.

Nickel, Nickel, Nickel, Nickel...

Tim Blair shakes up the eeeevil secret behind Pepsi-Cola, and other International World Global Planetary Zionist Conspiracies.

The Slurs We Kept To Ourselves

John Podhoretz writes:

Greg Pollowitz, NRO's rookie of the year, blows the lid off Larry Sabato's unacceptably vague confirmation of the "George Allen used the N-word" story over at Sixers. Bottom line: Sabato says he's known about this for years. So why didn't Sabato bring it up in 2000 when he moderated a candidate debate between Allen and Chuck Robb?
Pollowitz's lengthy post can be found here. Video of Sabato with Chris Matthews, here.

Update: More here.

What's Spanish For Deja Vu?

Advice Goddess Amy Alkon demolishes an article in Salon by Mike Davis that tut-tuts American investment in Mexico. Amy writes:

American money pouring into Mexico? How tragic! This must be stopped, so Mexico can be maintained as a giant slum teeming with poor brown people! (Oh, the romance!) Hint, Mike: Maybe if they had infusions of dollars at home, they...wouldn't be endangering their lives crawling across the border?
Last year, Matt Welch described a similar sentiment amongst equally leftwing and reactionary tourists to Cuba:
this common sentiment has always irritated the hell out of me. Oh, the crumbling, no-longer-beautiful houses! Ah, the lovely two-feet-deep potholes, and rickety Chinese bicycles (because the 50-year-old Chevys and 30-year-old Ladas don't work, and at any rate there's no gas). How people can derive pleasure from evidence of the suffering of innocents is beyond me, and few sights are more unseemly to my eyes than seeing a Lonely Planet-waving travel snob whine about how some current or formerly misgoverned hellhole has been "ruined" by all that yucky reconstruction, material success, and (worst of all!) tourism. Oh how pretty! The baseball players make $20 a month, and they live on a prison, but at least there's no annoying electronic scoreboard!
Val Prieto, who frequently blogs on Cuban issues at his own Babalu Blog dubs it "Omnipotent Tourist Syndrome".

Sort of like the propagation of SARS, it appears to be spreading beyond travelers to one nation, into a global meme. And it's worth noting that a variation of it was the dominant theme of the 2002 U.N. Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, where numerous Gulfstream Transnationalists such as California's own Jerry Brown urged--for the sake of the global environment, if not local civilizational ruins--that the Third World remain as backward and shackled as possible.

The State Of The Union Of Two Media

The Anchoress has a brilliant idea for a post: using President Clinton's appearance on Fox this weekend as a metric for assessing the power of two mediums: the legacy media and its successor:

Blogs have made inroads, but not enough, and all of their fact-checking amounts (in the eyes of the MSM) to little more than soundwaves in the echo chamber. “One side” of the partisan chasm has the whole story and sits nearly impotent with it, while the other has the “preferred story,” accredited and promoted by the “mediating intelligences,” who still (and will for the foreseeable future) hold the largest sway over public opinion, by sheer dint of their control of public knowledge.

The blogs did an incredible job of fact-checking Clinton - they were quick and accurate - they found files of articles from the NY Times and the WaPo utterly dismantling Clinton’s assertions. They floated the video from NBC News (not a known right-wing establishment) suggesting we had OBL more than “in our sites.” But it will be to little effect, I fear. In subsequent news reports, the “mediating intelligences” have not picked up a bit of the analysis, have not used any of the facts easily available on hundreds of blogs.

Not the right story, you see. Clinton is not the right president to prove a “liar.” The press wants desperately to bring down a president, but Clinton is not the one. And so, facts-schmacts, the only facts that matter are the ones the master can pull out of thin air.

And if that doesn’t demonstrate, more than anything, that we are living in an age of diabolical disorientation, where up is down (the excellent economic news is bad) and right is wrong (men who served with John Kerry know nothing about him) and truths are lies, (US policy from 1998 on was regime change in Iraq, but only until we did it) I don’t know what can.

I feel no great thrill here to see Clinton in a purple rage, nor to see how brilliantly some parts of the blogosphere responded, because in the end our limited audience is still been trumped by the vast and attention-span-challenged audience of the MSM, who click on, absorb a thirty second “Clinton good, others bad” sound bite and click out, certain they’ve got the information they need.

The blogosphere is growing in effectiveness. Blog commentary is increasingly dependable, professional and penetrating, and the fact-checking is above reproach, but our effectiveness is still limited.

I think that's exactly right, and the Achoress's denouement dovetails nicely with some thoughts Peggy Noonan had this past summer, when she compared the strength of Democrats currently in office to the infinitely more powerful strength of Democrats permanently manning newspaper op-ed pages.

Update: Here's another metric for the health of the Blogosphere: the Senate Majority Leader praises "the bipartisan citizen journalism of the blogosphere" for its role in passing the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act--a.k.a., the Porkbusters Act.

Man And Olbermann

"One may wonder what will happen to people with BDS when President Bush leaves office. Well, let’s consider what would happen to the solar system if the sun suddenly disappeared"...

Information Monopoly Ripe For Dissolution

Riffing off of one of Glenn Reynolds' comments, John Hinderaker explores what is also one of my pet peeves while flying: there's no escaping CNN:

The airports of America--as far as I can tell, there aren't any exceptions--have entered into a contract with CNN whereby CNN's outrageously one-sided coverage blares non-stop at every airline gate in the U.S. Talk about a captive audience! You really don't have any choice but to sit at the gate, waiting for your plane to load, and the volume is turned up so loud that you can't miss a single snarky attack on the Bush administration. Frankly, I think I'd rather be waterboarded. Do you suppose John McCain can do something about this?

This is just one of many manifestations of the fact that the Democratic Party is the "home team" of American politics. CNN is the "official" news network, viewed by corporate America as neutral and unobjectionable even though, in fact, it is relentlessly liberal. If anyone proposed that they shift the contract over to Fox, for the sake of more competent news coverage if nothing else, the reaction would be: we can't do that, Fox is conservative! It isn't, actually, for the most part. But occasional moments of conservatism will drive a network more or less underground, while constant liberalism is considered middle of the road, and suitable for infliction--like it or not--on the air travelers of America.

Ironically, in American Airlines' Admirals' Clubs, where I often chill out before taking off, and presumably, other airport locales where people are given a choice of what to view, much more often than not, Fox News is on. But at the gates, there is no escape from CNN.

(Insert obligatory 1984 telescreen reference here.)

Update: Is there hope for air travelers? S.T. Karnick is seeing "strong signs of a reversal of the media consolidation of recent decades". Hopefully that trend will begin to occur inside America's airports as well.

Fascism Then And Now

Victor Davis Hanson meets the new (wanna be) boss--and finds it very much like the old (wanna be) boss:

Make no apologies for the use of “Islamic fascism.” It is the perfect nomenclature for the agenda of radical Islam, for a variety of historical and scholarly reasons. That such usage also causes extreme embarrassment to both the Islamists themselves and their leftist “anti-fascist” appeasers in the West is just too bad.

First, the general idea of “fascism” — the creation of a centralized authoritarian state to enforce blanket obedience to a reactionary, all-encompassing ideology — fits well the aims of contemporary Islamism that openly demands implementation of sharia law and the return to a Pan-Islamic and theocratic caliphate.

In addition, Islamists, as is true of all fascists, privilege their own particular creed of true believers by harkening back to a lost, pristine past, in which the devout were once uncorrupted by modernism.

True, bin Laden’s mythical Volk doesn’t bath in the clear icy waters of the Rhine untouched by the filth of the Tiber; but rather they ride horses and slice the wind with their scimitars in service of a soon to be reborn majestic world of caliphs and mullahs. Osama bin Laden sashaying in his flowing robes is not all that different from the obese Herman Goering in reindeer horns plodding around his Karinhall castle with suspenders and alpine shorts.

Don't miss the rest.

"Repeat The Lie Enough Times"

An inconvenient truth seems to have slipped by the editors of The Washington Post. Fortunately, a strange woman lying in a pond is on the case to remind them.

Bipartisan Body Language Debated

Matt Drudge advises President Clinton, "You do not touch the interviewer".

Meanwhile, Time magazine plays dollar-book Freud with President Bush's body language.

Update: Speaking of Freud, Sigmund, Carl and Alfred (found via The Anchoress) have some related thoughts on Clinton.

In Search Of The Highly Elusive Moral High Ground, Part Deux

Paul Mirengoff writes:

McCain defended his tireless and effective advocacy for terrorist rights by stating, "we have to have the high moral ground." It is revealing, I think, that McCain believes our nation lacked the moral high moral ground in the war on terrorism until he rode to our rescue.
A counter-opinion on McCain's efforts is offered, here.

Encyclopedia Conservatum

Over at Tech Central Station, my latest podcast interview is with Bruce Frohnen, the co-editor of American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, a huge volume charting the history and major players involved with just that, especially in its post-World War II, William F. Buckley-inspired form.

Hail To The Coif!

The Manolo ponders the important questions of the time of ours:

The Manolo has often wondered, is it the egg or the chicken: do the important men of the South obtain the important hair only after they become prominent, or does the important hair precede and perhaps aid in the rise to power? Only God and the Mr. Christophe know the answer to this.
Read the whole of the thing.

Dangerous Feedback Loop Discovered

Victor Davis Hanson spots an ugly international feedback loop. He writes, "The Left sees it as McCarthy-like to even suggest that our own are the ideological godheads of the enemy. But it is true":

There is a hot-house plant feel to this shrillness, in which authors sell books, and filmmakers rake in profits, but their invective supposedly doesn’t really weaken the system enough to imperil them and their children. But for a terrorist to read from these American intellectuals that the United States is the greatest source of terror in the world is not to begin a “conversation,” but to embolden them even further to try ending American altogether.

Second, the hysteria of the hate Bush’s America industry has moved the entire critique of the United States far to the left—and now over the edge. Hugo Chavez’s performance trumped Khrushchev’s shoe-thumping, and was right up there with Hitler at Nuremberg. The Council on Foreign Relations welcomed in Ahmadinejad, who once again denied the Holocaust to their faces: would they have invited Pinochet to lecture them about the “lies” that any Chileans were killed, or a P.W. Botha to assure them apartheid was a vast exaggeration? We live in an age not merely of award-winning films and mainstream novels depicting the assassination of President Bush, but of Venezuelan, Cuban, Iranian, and North Korean thugs relying on just this domestic industry of self-hate for their very message.

Read the rest.

Update: Related thoughts from The Anchoress.

Broder Versus Broder

Betsy Newmark compares David Broder today with Broder in 1971 and sounds like she much prefers the '71 model.

On the other hand, it least his views have changed since then (if not necessarily for the better). That's more than some on the left can say.

Play It Again, George

As a fan (and for a time, a serious student) of classic movies, I'd like to think that I knew, on some level, Humphrey Bogart. Spiritually speaking, Bogie was a friend of mine. And it's safe to say--on, oh so many levels--that George Clooney is no Humphrey Bogart.

Update: This is a rather tenuous segue, but the payoff is worth it: Prior to Bogart's death, Sinatra's Rat Pack of the 1960s was originally Bogie's Rat Pack of the 1950s. Sheila O'Malley looks back fondly at one of its key constituents.

This Week's Wild Tales Of Osama

Dead? Seriously injured? You make the call!

The fact that he didn't speak out to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11 is certainly suspicious, but necessarily of a full-on dirt nap.

From AllahPundit to "Ali Bubba", who vists the intersection of OBL and BDS, which is as bad a neighborhood as it sounds. (Oliver Stone, Ward Churchill and Michael Moore reside there, amongst many others.)

Elsewhere, Tim Blair notes that the reports of the death of another icon of the far left are, in this case, definitely exaggerated.

New Blog Week In Review Up!

All sorts of doings on this week's Blog Week In Review show; we apparently were Mark Steyn's first-ever podcast; he discussed his new book America Alone as special guest this week.

The book itself is exceptional, and I've been devouring my review copy. As Hugh Hewitt suggests, it's one of a handful of essential books for understanding the War On Terror, why we're fighting it in such a polite, reserved-style when compared with previous wars, and, as the title suggests, why America--along with, currently, a handful of staunch allies--is increasingly on its own in an ever-more appeasement-crazed world.

The other big news is that Blog Week In Review is now sponsored by Volvo. But does this mean we risk being named in Bill Lockyer's lawsuit against seemingly every automobile manufacturer on the planet...?

Update: Bumped to top of the page.

Saving "The Worst For Last"

In City Journal, Nicole Gelinas has an update on "The latest round of painful negotiations between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center site, and Larry Silverstein, who owns the right to re-develop it":

Under that earlier agreement, Silverstein retained the right and responsibility to build three office towers at Ground Zero, but the Port Authority took over the financial responsibility for building a fourth building—the Freedom Tower—and finding tenants for it.
She describes the latest developments as essentially an addendum to that earlier agreement, and as "good news". Because, "the faster Silverstein can build his three towers, the better for the fate of Ground Zero, and New York City":
Silverstein’s three towers, unlike the Freedom Tower, are likely to be commercially viable. Despite a few trendy design elements, they’re really just going to be normal office buildings, and their most gimmicky features may well disappear as they move from the drawing board to real life. Plus, the three towers will arise closest to Lower Manhattan’s major thoroughfares and to its transportation hubs, making them attractive to corporate tenants.

Unlike the Freedom Tower, moreover, Silverstein’s three towers aren’t supposed to be “skyline icons,” so they won’t have to bear the burden of the symbolic 1,776-foot height that Governor Pataki has forced the Freedom Tower to bear even before it’s built.

While the success of the Freedom Tower depends on tenants’ overcoming their fear about working in “that building,” the success of Silverstein’s three towers depends only on New York’s economy—that is, will it be strong enough in 2012 (when construction should finish) to support their 6.2 million square feet of new office space? That’s the risk Silverstein, like any developer, takes.

Real progress on Silverstein’s three towers is important for another reason: the Freedom Tower’s fate remains far from certain. Earlier this week, PA chairman Anthony Coscia made headlines when he confirmed that he would rather resign than force Port Authority employees to work in the tower after having experienced the horror of 9/11.

His assertion didn’t do much for the tower’s prospects—and though the PA’s proposal is to line up lease agreements from state and federal agencies instead, it’s not clear that their employees want to work in the tower either. Plus, too large a government presence will scare away the private-sector tenants that downtown really needs, as corporate execs who rent Class-A space don’t want to work in what’s perceived as a government office building.

The best thing for the Freedom Tower would be for New York, and the Port Authority, to just leave it alone for awhile. Perhaps after another three years, say, when visible development is taking place on Silverstein’s three towers, rationality will at last prevail at Ground Zero, and the new governor and the Port Authority will let the private sector start from scratch on a commercially viable office building, not a skyline landmark designed by committee.

I hope she's right, but I wouldn't bet on it.

In Search Of The Highly Elusive Moral High Ground

Betsy Newmark writes:

There still are many people who regard the UN as some sort of moral arbiter of a nation's behavior. Those who have paid attention to scandals such as the oil-for-food program or UN peacekeeping forces raping women and girls already know how little moral authority the institution has. Anyone who still thinks that there is some sort of higher ethical foundation at the United Nations will perhaps notice the bitter irony of having Ahmadinejad address the institution which he has played so skillfully while pursuing all the while the very goal that the UN supposedly has resolved Iran should not achieve.
Betsy adds, "I think the American people would be happy for the UN to leave, but few politicians would seriously support such a position. And that's a shame."


In related news, Tim Blair notes that International Committee of the Red Cross is also in search of the elusive--very elusive--"moral high ground", which they hope to reach by removing at least one incriminating photograph of their "attacked" ambulances from their Website.

The New Anti-Semitism

Ed Lasky of The American Thinker connects the dots.

Just Click

We don't normally have a cartoon of the day, (even our "Quote of the Day" is awfully sporadic), but if we did, this would be today's entry. As Allah writes:

The irony of what Rangel said yesterday isn’t that Democrats demonize Bush too, it’s that they demonize him in ways much worse than Chavez did. You can laugh at being called “the devil,” especially if the guy saying it is a fat dictator from a banana republic. You can’t laugh at being compared to Bull Connor. The two posters in Shelton’s cartoon do a nice job of bringing that contrast out. The one on the left’s sort of funny and “quaint,” the one on the right … isn’t.
And loads more examples of similar slurs can be found amongst the archives by scrolling through here.

"To A Certain Degree, I Agree With That"

Add The Washington Post's Thomas Edsall to the list of more-or-less elder statesmen (retiring as Edsall is, or otherwise), secure enough in their careers to discuss the elite media's biases. In Edsall's case, he opened up to Hugh Hewitt, who's a master at grilling reporters on this topic, though unless they're very secure in their jobs, most will dodge Hewitt's more direct questions.

Hugh writes:

What is unusual about this interview is that Edsall, having closed his career as the WaPo's top dog political reporter is finally free to admit just how far to the left he and his colleagues are. And though he is that far from the center, he still sees the fever swamp of the left side of the blogosphere as "pretty fruitball."

My favorite exchange:

HH: A proposition. The reason talk radio exploded, followed by Fox News, followed by the center-right blogosphere, is that because folks like you have been the dominant voice in American media for a long time, and you’re a pretty thoroughgoing, Democratic favoring, agenda journalist for the left, and you’ve been the senior political reporter of the Washington Post for a very long time. And people didn’t trust your news product…not you, personally, but the accumulation of you, throughout the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and they got sick and tired of being spoon fed liberal dross, and they went to the radio when an alternative product came along.

TE: To a certain degree, I agree with that.

Honesty from a MSM reporter: Who'd have ever imagined it?
Like I said, if they're outgoing, or have the journalistic equivalent of tenure, they'll sometimes discuss this stuff. But it's still all-too-rare.


Tim Blair writes that in Paris, "It’s those pesky youths again".

Bias By Omission

A post yesterday featuring quotes from Austin Bay and Tom Wolfe explored the staging of protests and marches for advocacy and ratings. But if a protest occurs and the MSM doesn't cover it, does it make a sound?

Update: Related thoughts from Ed Morrissey, and Pamela of Atlas Shrugs has photos and video. Or as the Professor puts it, "Once again, scooping the Big Media on their very doorstep". (One in which they can send 20 reporters to cover this, but not a 35,000-person protest against Iraq's Ahmadinejad.)

You Want Some Control, You've Got To Keep It Small

In his latest column, James Pinkerton explores "The Importance of DIY Movies":

As a movie critic for TCS Daily, I sometimes feel like a bicyclist at a Harley-Davidson convention: My presence is tolerated, people are friendly enough, but I'm not exactly necessary. I know that most TCSers want to get their brain-motors running, reading-wise, on heavy-metal issues of technology and society. And any techster today knows that movies are just a small part of the show -- a legacy medium, shrinking relative to the endlessly proliferating content to be found online.
This is something I spotted back in March, when I wrote:
Hollywood is rapidly becoming just another niche entertainment product. And as it rewards films that are aimed at coastal niche audiences, and critically shuns the movies that reached the widest viewers, it has only itself to blame.

At this point, I’m sure I risk coming across like my parents, wondering why so few people are making entertainment these days that interests me. But then, as Mark Steyn recently noted, Tinseltown's sounding even more antediluvian at the moment, trapped mining controversies that are no long controversial; both ignoring today's issues, and half its potential domestic audience.

On the other hand, my parents' generation had to rely almost exclusively on Hollywood for their entertainment: only the stars themselves could afford their own in-home recording studio--and video production at home was strictly science fiction.

But yesterday's science fiction has a way of becoming reality. And these days, reality is often much more enjoyable than Hollywood.

For Pinkerton, the manifestation of this new reality in action is "the trend toward do-it-yourself -- or at least do-it-without-Hollywood -- moviemaking and distributing.":
One such samizdat film is a documentary, "Border War," produced by David Bossie, president of Citizens United, a DC-based activist group. Bossie, a veteran conservative activist, told me that about five years ago he decided to "do something different" to promote his beliefs. And so he traveled out to Hollywood, got turned on to documentaries, and started making them -- nobody told him he couldn't.
Libertas has written on numerous occasions that documentaries are indeed often the best place for a budding filmmaker to start. Just ask seminal DIYer Stanley Kubrick, who was shooting cheapie newsreels for RKO 17 years before MGM handed him $10.5 million to shoot 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Back in 1968, believe it or not youngsters, $10.5 mil was serious money in Hollywood, funding an entire big-budget Cinerama movie, from cast to catering. Now it's half of one movie's B+ level star's salary.)

But I digress. Back to Pinkerton's look at David Bossie:

The best known of his documentaries so far is "Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain... Begins to Die," a response, of course, to Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911." And while Bossie didn't win any Oscars, he did make a splash, even turning a profit for his group.

As for "Border War," it's going to appeal to conservative immigration hawks a lot more than libertarian immigration doves. So be it. Those with other points of view should be making their own movies, and it's never been easier.

Bossie's insight is the realization that today movie-making talent is widely distributed. All those high schools and colleges and garages are cranking out kids who know their way around a videocam -- and also know how to upload to Youtube. Moreover, not all these talented kids are liberals and left-wingers, not by a long shot; an up-and-coming cineaste doesn't need to pass through the ideological strainer of NYU or UCLA anymore. And it's rich beds of talent nationwide that make "alt.conservative" movies possible.

Only a few days before the niche-solidifying Oscars, I interviewed conservative documentarian Evan Coyne Maloney. His filmmaking advice is well-worth re-reading. And as Kubrick himself once said:
The best education in film is to make one. I would advise any neophyte director to try to make a film by himself. A three-minute short will teach him a lot. I know that all the things I did at the beginning were, in microcosm, the things I'm doing now as a director and producer. There are a lot of noncreative aspects to filmmaking which have to be overcome, and you will experience them all when you make even the simplest film: business, organization, taxes, etc., etc. It is rare to be able to have an uncluttered, artistic environment when you make a film, and being able to accept this is essential.

The point to stress is that anyone seriously interested in making a film should find as much money as he can as quickly as he can and go out and do it. And this is no longer as difficult as it once was. When I began making movies as an independent in the early 1950s I received a fair amount of publicity because I was something of a freak in an industry dominated by a handful of huge studios. Everyone was amazed that it could be done at all. But anyone can make a movie who has a little knowledge of cameras and tape recorders, a lot of ambition and -- hopefully -- talent. It's gotten down to the pencil and paper level. We're really on the threshold of a revolutionary new era in film.

That was from 37 years ago. And if anything, "the pencil and paper level" is infinitely--infinitely--easier today than it was in 1969.

Graying Audiences Getting Grayer

In the latest dead tree issue of National Review (also available online, but subscription required), Jonah Goldberg observes Katie Couric's CBS debut with a yawn and a shrug:

The Big Three anchor system is a nostalgic cargo cult in a profession which can’t bring itself to accept that the era when these broadcasters were “the voice of God” (in the words of one CBS exec) is long gone. All this chatter about how Couric is a “pioneer” fails to grasp that the frontier is closed. It’s like hailing the first woman steamship captain long after the rise of the locomotive and the automobile. Yeah, it’s an accomplishment. But it’s an accomplishment on a sharply sliding scale — something like holding the best Oktoberfest in Orlando.

First of all, being an anchor just isn’t that hard. Broadcast journalism is one of the few fields in American life where the work gets demonstrably easier the higher you go. Or, to be fairer, the parts of the job that have to do with what everyone thinks of as “journalism” get easier and easier, and in some cases the journalism simply vanishes altogether. Andrew Tyndall, the respected TV analyst, defines the job of news anchor as being able to read the news and “sitting behind the desk when there’s a crisis.”

Second, and more to the point, nobody’s watching. The average viewer of a Big Three broadcast is 60 years old. Only about 10 percent of viewers are under 35. The dream is that by having Katie on the air, CBS will attract an audience slightly less interested in Viagra, Flomax, Depends, and other products aimed at the geriatric set. But the truth is that younger people will never return to the Big Three networks, for the simple reason that they don’t have to. News-anchor festishists forget that Cronkite & Co. commanded so much authority mainly because they had no competition. CBS is betting that, by trading avuncular for peppy, it will be able to turn back the clock. It’s just not going to happen.

Katie is at least an extremely youthful-looking (dare I say, perky?) 49. Found via Maggie's Farm, Alex Beam writes that NPR has, if anything, an even worse aging issue with both its audience and its anchors:
The once-incisive Daniel Schorr, now 90, triggers a Pavlovian station-changing reflex. One of NPR's top talk show hosts is the ancient, politically connected, unlistenable Diane Rehm , who has been suffering from a speech disorder for years. (She's on in New Hampshire.) It's the retirement community of the air!

So, if you pumped $225 million into the public radio system -- the Kroc endowment spins off about $10 million a year -- listenership would go up, right? Um, no. At a big NPR confab in Philadelphia last week, programmers learned that ``the public radio audience is starting to decline after long, steady growth," according to Lydon's blog. NPR executive Stern prefers to characterize the decline as ``drift, flatness or maybe a plateau after a period of unstoppable growth . . . We're facing the same challenges everyone is," he explains, primarily from the Internet.

Here is the problem. What was once an insurgent radio movement now sounds like Chet Huntley reading the evening news. Call it NPR Classic. But NPR management won't put the old warhorses like Cokie and Linda out to pasture for fear of alienating the loyal listeners who answer the bell during pledge drives.

And for reasons that combine technology and demographics, it's an extremely safe bet that both networks' audiences will only get grayer--and smaller--moving forward.

Update: Rand Simberg has a succinct capsule summary of Katie Couric...blogger.

The Gray Lady Has Accuracy Filters


“There are spam filters. And there are content filters. At The Times, reporters and editors have built-in accuracy filters.”
And just as a good spam filter blocks 99 percent or so of unwanted ads, the "built-in accuracy filters" of the Timesmen seem to be doing an exceptional job of keeping as much accuracy out of the cocoon as possible.

And remember, at the margins, the Times is always hard left, right ragged!

Light Kept Him Company

Sven Nykvist, the legendary Oscar-winning cinematographer to directors Ingmar Bergman and (later) Woody Allen, died today at age 83.

Media Ricochet: Manufacturing Dissent

When Tom Wolfe was promoting The Bonfire of the Vanities in 1988, he was asked by Bill Moyers of PBS, "You’ve been around a long time, been around this city a long time, but there’s a sense of wonderment in your reporting which becomes the fiction of Bonfire of the Vanities. What surprised you most?" Wolfe responded:

Well, one of the things is what I would call “media ricochet”, which is the way real life and life as portrayed by television, by journalists like myself and others, begin ricocheting off of one another. That’s why to me, in Bonfire of the Vanities, it was so important to show exactly how this occurs when television and newspaper coverage become a factor in something like racial politics. And a good bit of the book has to do with this curious phenomenon of how demonstrations, which are a great part of racial and ethnic politics, exist only for the media. In the last days when I was working on The New York Herald-Tribune, I’ll never forget the number of demonstrations I went to and announced that to all the people with the placards, “I’m from The New York Herald-Tribune,” and the attitude was really a yawn, and then, “Get lost”. They were waiting for Channel 2 and Channel 4 and Channel 5, and suddenly the truck would appear and these people would become galvanized. On one occasion I even saw a group of demonstrators down in Union Square, marching across the Square, and Channel 2 arrived, a couple of vans, and the head of the demonstration walked up to what looked like the head man of the TV crew and said, “What do you want us to do?” He says, “Golly, I don’t know. What were you going to do?” He says, “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. You tell us.”
Austin Bay explores how media-fueled dissent works on a global scale:
Remember the "Arab street," that riot-in-the-road featuring flammable Israeli flags, Saddam Hussein posters, clenched fists and chants threatening "Death to America"? The street may have lacked pavement and a fire hydrant, but it had beaucoup television cameras.

Flames, clenched fists and death threats -- a heart-pounding collage of sensational imagery and rhetoric. What more could a TV exec need to attract audience eyeballs?

Recall the talking heads who told us in 1990, after Saddam invaded Kuwait, that "the Arab street" was going to rise en masse, as an ur-proletariat, which would support Saddam against the West. If you need documentation, check out a few old PBS "NewsHour" transcripts.

But the mass rising didn't happen. Why? Because the Arab street was, to a great extent, the creation of television cameras. Political operatives -- no doubt many on Saddam's payroll -- knew they could attract the sensation-hungry camera crews and use the media to project the operatives' preferred "image of anger."

Twenty-first century Islamo-fascist terrorists, however, have refined the model and moved beyond an image of anger to a new form of prepared global ambush that integrates murder, terror and instant media.

The ambush technique coordinates blood-spilling violence with sensational imagery and rhetoric using a dispersed network of media operatives, guerrillas and terrorists. Networked, Coordinated Blood-spilling plus Sensationalism -- hence the technique's acronym: the CBS ambush.

Since May 2005, we've seen the CBS ambush employed effectively on three notable occasions, the latest being Pope Benedict's remarks at Regensburg University.

In May 2005, Newsweek ran its phony Guantanamo Bay prison "Koran flushing" story. Violent riots broke out in several predominantly Muslim countries. The riots in Afghanistan attracted particular attention. Indian military analyst Bahukutumbi Raman wrote that those riots were incited by "well-organized agents of the Hizb ut-Tahrir terror gang."

The Newsweek story gave the terrorists an emotion-laden "grievance trigger." The ambush consisted of violent riots and a prepared deluge of anti-American propaganda. The vicious riots not only attracted further global media coverage, but also intimidated Muslims who oppose terrorist organizations and their violent interpretation of Islam.

In September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of editorial cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons attracted political protests and several violent threats, but the cartoons were no international cause celebre. In fact, an Egyptian newspaper published several of the cartoons in an article condemning the Jyllands-Posten.

But in January 2006, waves of orchestrated, coordinated violence broke out in predominantly Muslim nations and in Muslim neighborhoods. The terrorists and political operatives promoted a "clash of civilizations" propaganda line, with the cartoons as the "grievance trigger."

As with the New York media covering protests on a local scale, international television networks also know they're being used--in this case, by the so-called "Arab Street". And as long as there's a cigarette to enjoy afterwards, they don't mind a bit.

It's Not Just A Good Idea, It's Muggeridge's Law

Once again, there's no way that a satirist can improve on real life for its sheer absurdity. In other words, I'm pretty sure that this isn't a Scrappleface-style parody. If it is, the satirist's ability to get the New York Observer in on the gag is sheer brilliance.

This bit is a classic, though:

As of Sept. 20—this morning, if you’re reading a brand-new copy of The Observer—The Times has instituted a sweeping but subtle redesign, to emphasize the difference between objective and subjective journalism. Straight news will remain, well, straight: laid out in justified columns, with even margins on the left and right. Stories that have been colored by analysis, commentary or authorial whimsy will all receive the layout previously reserved for columns: a straight left margin and a ragged right one.

“It sort of grew out the concern that we hear from some readers that feel that our coverage isn’t necessarily objective,” said Times design director Tom Bodkin. “Our sense is that they may get confused as to what stories are meant to have an individual voice, and which ones are straight news stories.”
Former ombudsman Daniel Okrent could not be reached for comment.

(Via Mary Katharine Ham.)

Update: Betsy Newmark prints a letter that the Times wouldn't, not matter how its type is formatted.

"Vaudeville, Revolutionary Style"

Hugo Chavez visits the UN, chats about his favorite author, and then uses the Arabic term “insh’allah”, for "God willing".

Just another day at Turtle Bay.

Update: John Bolton, not surprisingly, gets the last word, however:

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Wednesday that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's speech at the U.N. calling President George W. Bush "the devil" doesn't deserve a response.
"We're not going to address that kind of comic strip approach to international affairs," Bolton said during a televised press conference.

Quote of the Day

Via his Pajamas banner ad in the sidebar to the right:

This is an age in which we in the West make smug snuff movies about killing an American President, while the Taliban and the Islamists boast of assassinating the Pope.
--Victor Davis Hanson.

Don't Blame Me, I Just Live Here

If the sticker price of your next car seem astronomical, it's partially because auto manufacturers will need to hire a fresh army of lawyers to defend themselves against this:

California sued six of the world's largest automakers over global warming on Wednesday, charging that greenhouse gases from their vehicles have caused billions of dollars in damages.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind to seek to hold manufacturers liable for the damages caused by their vehicles' emissions, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.

Lockyer of course, is a man who was driven mad last year with one of the more virulent cases of BDS; no wonder Nissan is decamping to saner ground.

Update: Ian Murray writes:

The shakedown of the industries that have done the most to contribute to American freedom and prosperity is beginning. This'll make the tobacco suits look like Judge Judy.

Another Update: Environmental Republican has some thoughts as well.

Tales Of The Reactionary Left

To many on the left, the UN remains the perfect utopian world governing body, free of corruption whose benign nature exists in sharp contrast to the US. And the Geneva Convention is observed worldwide on all battlefields by all combatants.

Update: Related thoughts from Jonah Goldberg:

The best book for illuminating what's going on in the Muslim "street" isn't some weighty treatise on Islam; it's a short little tract called "White Guilt" by Shelby Steele. The book isn't even about Islam. Steele focuses on white liberals and the black radicals who've been gaming them ever since the 1960s. Whites, he argues, have internalized their own demonization. Deep down they fear that maybe they are imperialistic, racist bastards, and they are desperate to prove otherwise. In America, black radicals figured this out a while ago and have been dunning liberal whites ever since.

The West is caught in a similarly dysfunctional cycle of extortion and intimidation with Islam, but on a grander and far more violent scale. Whether it's the pope's comments or some Danish cartoons, self-appointed spokesmen for the Islamic street say, "You have offended a billion Muslims," which really means, "There are so many of us, you should watch out." And if you didn't get the message, just look around for the burning embassies and murdered infidels. They're not hard to find.

In response, the West apologizes and apologizes. Radical Muslims, who are not stupid, take note and become emboldened by these displays of weakness and capitulation. And the next time, they demand two pounds of flesh. Meanwhile, the entire global conversation starts from the assumption that the West is doing something wrong by tolerating freedom of speech, among other things.

This week, French President Jacques Chirac explained that everyone in the West must avoid everything that sparks tensions. In other words, we must forever be held hostage by the tactical outrage of a global mob..

Or, just to tie this post in with the last one, we must forever be held hostage by images explicitly manufactured for network minicams.

Ambush Journalism

A meme is born: Austin Bay has some thoughts on "The CBS Ambush"

Update: More on this topic, here.

New Breakthough In Fauxtography Technology

In the old days (i.e., last month), a photo editing program such as Photoshop was needed for journalists to dabble in fauxtography. But nowadays, all it takes is a simple word processing program, and you're good to go!

For those who tuned in late, Mr. Hoepker's photograph depicts five young white New Yorkers on the Brooklyn waterfront engaged in conversation while smoke from the World Trade Towers billows above and behind them. The scene includes a park bench and a bicycle, blue sky and water. The quintet seem to be concentrating on each other on a gorgeous day with the disaster purely as background.

As reported by David Friend in his new book "Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11," Mr. Hoepker saw the people in his photograph as "totally relaxed like any normal afternoon. They were just chatting away. It's possible they lost people and cared, but they were not stirred by it. . . .I can only speculate [but they] didn't seem to care."

That was enough for Mr. Rich to declare in his column this Sept. 10 that "from the perspective of 9/11's fifth anniversary, Mr. Hoepker's photo is prescient as well as important--a snapshot of history soon to come. What he caught was this: Traumatic as the attack on America was, 9/11 would recede quickly for many. This is a country that likes to move on, and fast. The young people in Mr. Hoepker's photo aren't necessarily callous. They're just American."

The next day the journalist David Plotz wrote a piece on Slate that disputed Mr. Rich, calling his reading of the image a "cheap shot." In Mr. Plotz's view the five have not ignored or moved beyond 9/11 but have "turned toward each other for solace and for debate." He asked any of the people in the photograph to contact Slate and describe the event from their side of the lens.

First to respond was Walter Sipser, a Brooklyn artist. "A snapshot can make mourners attending a funeral look like they're having a party," he wrote. "Had Hoepker walked fifty feet over to introduce himself he would have discovered a bunch of New Yorkers in the middle of an animated discussion about what had just happened." Another figure in the picture who wrote in was Chris Schiavo, a professional photographer. She bitterly chastised both Mr. Rich and Mr. Hoepker for their "cynical expression of an assumed reality." As a "third-generation native New Yorker, who knows and loves every square inch of this city," whose "mother even worked for Minoru Yamasaki, the World Trade Center architect," she stated that "it was genetically impossible for me to be unaffected by this event."

It can't be fun to have your public moment of emotional confusion hijacked by a Magnum photographer and turned into a national symbol of moral disgrace by a New York Times columnist.

Mr. Hoepker and Mr. Rich interpreted the picture for their own purposes, claiming to know from the relaxed gestures of the group and the context of the event what the five were talking about and thinking.

But their simplistic reading of the image, however mistaken in the view of those in it, is more naïve than malicious. Their translation is not absurd and can be supported by elements in the image. The meanings of photographs are inherently unstable. Without captions to nail down who, what, why, where, when, they tend to drift away into the inscrutable oblivion--one reason the medium was so beloved by the surrealists. The poignancy (or hilarity) of many found photographs is that they have lost their original context, the storyline that made them necessary at the time.

I remember a journalism professor from college who philosophically was from the Lou Grant school of journalism, even if he looked (and sounded) much more like Bum Phillips. But I vividly remember him telling us not to assign meanings in photo captions based on how someone looked in his photo. In other words, don't assume you know what someone is thinking when writing a photo caption, based upon his expression.

Evidently, that advice is either no longer taught in J-schools, or no longer followed at the postmodern Times.


Tim Blair writes:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad explains things to Time magazine:
TIME: Why do your supporters chant “Death to America”?

Ahmadinejad: When they chanted that slogan, it means they hate aggression ...

And the Time reporter just mindlessly takes it all down, like a stenographer, even down to Ahmadinejad's tacit praise of incarcerated Holocaust denier David Irving.

This Just In!

Republican candidates for election or re-election support a Republican president!

Or as Jim Geraghty (whom we recently interviewed) writes:

One of the more intriguing comments I've run across lately came in Peggy Noonan's column, quoting another NRO blogger, Kellyanne Conway.
"The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times," says pollster Kellyanne Conway. " 'What is your vision on Iraq?' 'Bush lied us into war.' 'Health care? 'Bush hasn't a clue.' They're so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own."
That seems accurate. I realize that I'm not the target demographic for Democratic messages, but I wonder how many voters out there feel like, "Okay, fine! We get it! You hate Bush! You really, really hate him! Got it! Now, tell me what you're going to do to solve our country's problems, because if you don't have a better idea, there's no point in me showing up to vote you into office."
Maybe BDS alone will be the left's ticket to victory in 2006--but it wasn't in 2002 and 2004.

(Incidentally, sorry if you couldn't access the site earlier today. Apparently my Web host is having server issues of some sort. Fortunately, they seem to be subsiding, if not yet 100 percent resolved.)

Grace Under Pressure

Mickey Kaus writes:

Andrew Sullivan has decided to give out a Nancy Grace Award. Criteria (suggested by Sullivan's readers) include "a nauseating level of absolutist self-righteousness," an "unflappable self-assurance that [the nominee's] outrage represents the true moral high ground on any issue" despite a propensity to "flip flop"--and a habit of "excessive personal attacks." [Emphasis added]... You mean like righteously bullying anyone who fails to support a war in Iraq, then turning around and righteously attacking the people who are prosecuting it? ... Can you think of any nominees? I'm stumped.
Me too. Don't rush me, I'm still thinking it over...

The Great Pig In The Sky

...Has the wrong date printed on it. Chalk up another magic moment to the Pat Buchanan of rock.

Violating The Gentleman's Agreement

Howard Mortman writes:

9News Now reporter Peggy Fox probably wouldn’t have been booed at Nuremberg. But that’s the treatment she got inside the Hilton McLean Ballroom this afternoon when she asked Sen. George Allen — onstage with Jim Webb in front of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce — whether his veins coursed with Jewish blood because his mother’s father Felix was reportedly Jewish. Allen’s middle name is – as Fox noted in her prosecution – Felix. J’accuse!

The crowd hissed and booed the question. Jews (full disclosure: I’ve been Jewish since birth. Both sets of parents? Yup, Jews) might liken the reaction to Purim, when every time Haman is mentioned during the reading of the Megillah he is given a vigorous vocal thumbs-down.

”I’d like to ask you, why is that relevant,” Allen said as the merchants continued to boo. “Why do you think they’re booing?” He did allow, “My mother’s French-Italian.”

Couldn't she have simply accused him of being a neocon? Is that no longer the acceptable post-9/11 media code for the J-word?

New Podcast: Voting To Kill

Purely coincidentally, I interviewed Jim Geraghty of National Review Online's TKS blog about his new book, Voting to Kill: How 9/11 Launched the Era of Republican Leadership last Monday, which was the fifth anniversary of September 11th. In a new podcast online today at TCS Daily, we discussed the thesis of Jim's book.

Jim believes (and we'll see how accurate he is this November, and the November two years hence) that the terrorism of September 11th 2001 has created a wide new swatch of one issue voters. They'll vote for those, as Dick Cheney said last year, who witnessed the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war, and punish those officials who merely want to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding to our attackers.

Update (9/18/06): It's Geraghty A-Go-Go! He has a new podcast up this week with Glenn Reynolds and Dr. Helen. And just about every other destination in the Vast More-Or-Less Right Wing New Media Conspiracy.

Good Night And Good Luck

The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal site features an op-ed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, the writer of the ABC's recent The Path To 9/11, which so whipped the left into a froth:

In July a reporter asked if I had ever been ethnically profiled. I happily replied, "No." I can no longer say that. The L.A. Times, for one, characterized me by race, religion, ethnicity, country-of-origin and political leanings--wrongly on four of five counts. To them I was an Iranian-American politically conservative Muslim. It is perhaps irrelevant in our brave new world of journalism that I was born in Boulder, Colo. I am not a Muslim or practitioner of any religion, nor am I a political conservative. What am I? I am, most devoutly, an American. I asked the reporter if this kind of labeling was a new policy for the paper. He had no response.

The hysteria engendered by the series found more than one target. In addition to the death threats and hate mail directed at me, and my grotesque portrayal as a maddened right-winger, there developed an impassioned search for incriminating evidence on everyone else connected to the film. And in director David Cunningham, the searchers found paydirt! His father had founded a Christian youth outreach mission. The whiff of the younger Mr. Cunningham's possible connection to this enterprise was enough to set the hounds of suspicion baying. A religious mission! A New York Times reporter wrote, without irony or explanation, that an issue that raised questions about the director was his involvement in his father's outreach work. In the era of McCarthyism, the merest hint of a connection to communism sufficed to inspire dark accusations, the certainty that the accused was part of a malign conspiracy. Today, apparently, you can get something of that effect by charging a connection with a Christian mission.

Barack Obama knows of whence he speaks, it seems.

If the ultra-secular Times has the chutzpah to lecture the Pope, what's to stop them from figuratively attempting to blacklist a mere director for having the gall to film while Christian? (My favorite was the article in England's Guardian, which essentially hysterically accused Cunningham of being a religious zealot. Not that the Guardian itself doesn't have direct experience with zealots of both an extremely pious and secular nature.)

Televised Tennessee Evangelism

Compare and contrast. This AP article is headlined, "IRS Investigating Liberal Calif. Church":

The Internal Revenue Service has ordered a prominent liberal church to turn over documents and e-mails it produced during the 2004 election year that contain references to political candidates.

The IRS is investigating whether All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena violated the federal tax code when its former rector, Rev. George F. Regas, delivered an anti-war sermon on the eve of the last presidential election.

Tax-exempt organizations are barred from intervening in political campaigns and elections, and the church could lose its tax-exempt status.

Meanwhile, Harold Ford, running for the Senate in Tennessee, doesn't seem to mind breaking down the wall between the so-called separation of church and state:
With a stained-glass window behind him, candidate Harold Ford Jr. strolls through the Memphis church where he was baptized to tell voters this is the place where he learned right from wrong.

Using a church sanctuary as the backdrop in his newest campaign commercial, the Democrat running for the U.S. Senate has picked an unusual setting. One expert on religion and politics said it was the first political ad he’d heard of actually filmed inside a sanctuary. …

“Most Americans are religious people, and finding out about a candidate’s faith and finding where his values came from would be appreciated,” said John Green, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. He couldn’t recall another campaign ad filmed in a church.

Donald Sensing, himself an elder in the Methodist church, has some thoughts on what happens next.

It's The Demography, Stupid

Betsy Newmark has some thoughts on a recent San Francisco Chronicle piece which looks at the rapidly shifting demographics of America's two major parties and its future implications.

Of course, for the article on the topic from a global perspective, click here.

Update: Related thoughts from Orrin Judd, in a lengthy review of NPR correspondent Brian Mann's new book, Welcome to the Homeland: A Journey to the Rural Heart of America's Conservative Revolution.

Snuff Films, Then And Now, Revisited

Back on April 10th, 2005, we compared this infamous photograph with a similiar image, one that's gone down in history as one of the iconic photos of Vietnam: Eddie Adams' horrific photo of South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting his prisoner point blank into his temple. Decades after taking that photo, Adams, an Associated Press photographer, had serious regrets about it, leading to an mea culpa in Time magazine, in which he wrote:

The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?'
Bilal Hussein, the Associated Press photographer present for the execution on Baghdad's Haifa Street has plenty time to think things through as well: he's been imprisoned by the US military for five months after being captured in Iraq with two terrorists, including an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Adnan Hajj of Reuters could not be reached for comment.

Update: Curious and curiouser: AP is now claiming that Hussein isn't the photographer who took the Haifa Street photo. This 2005 AP page crows about their photographers winning the Pulitzer Prize. Clicking on the link at the bottom of the page to a flash presentation titled, "PHOTO GALLERY: Breaking News Photography" highlights 20 powerful images from Iraq. All of them have the photographer's name listed, with the exception of the photo from Haifa Street, which simply says "AP Photo/AP Stringer". I wonder why AP doesn't want that photographer's name released--apparently, even now.

And in addition to its photographers (known and unknown), AP editors also appear to be having headline challenges as well.

Another Update: Power Line's John Hinderaker explores the photos that Bilal Hussein is credited by AP as taking and notes:

Now, the Associated Press wants us to believe that the man who took these photographs showed "extraordinary courage" because they were "taken at great personal risk" to the photographer. But I don't buy it. It appears obvious that the person who took these photos knew that the terrorists wanted the pictures taken. If the terrorists hadn't wanted the pictures taken, they would have shot the photographer. And what was the photographer doing within a few yards of the terrorists in the first place? Are we supposed to believe that he just stumbled across them while they were in the act of committing murder or firing a mortar? Of course not. The photographer was present at the invitation of the terrorists, who wanted the pictures taken for propaganda purposes.

All of these suspicions were confirmed today when the AP announced that the United States military has been holding Bilal Hussein for the past five months for "imperative reasons of security."

As Hinderaker adds, "In recent months, we have learned a great deal about the deep corruption that pervades the use of Middle Eastern stringers by the international news services. The Bilal Hussein story adds another piece to the puzzle."

"Candor Can Get One Killed, Exiled, Or Ostracized"

Victor Davis Hanson on Oriana Fallaci:

But so far, with very few exceptions other than the lion, Christopher Hitchens, the courageous William Shawcross, and a few others, the Left has either been neutral or anti-American in this struggle. And few Christians in positions of influence and respect have publicly defended their faith and the civilization that birthed it.

Candor, after all, can get one killed, exiled, or ostracized—whether a Danish cartoonist, a Dutch filmmaker, a Wall Street Journal reporter, or a British-Indian novelist. So here, ill and in her seventies, returned Ms. Fallaci one last time to take up the hammer and tongs against radical Islam—a diminutive woman of the Left and self-proclaimed atheist who wrote more bravely on behalf of her civilization than have most who are hale, males, conservatives, or Christians.

Her fiery message was as timely as it was caricatured and slandered: Muslims who leave the Middle East to live under the free aegis of the West have a moral duty to support and protect the civilization that has welcomed them, rather than romanticize about what they have forsaken; Christianity is more than a religion, but also a powerful emblem of the force of reason, in that it seeks to spread belief by rational thought as well as faith; and that affluent and leisured Westerners, bargaining away their honor and traditions out of fear and for illusory security, have only emboldened radical Islam that seeks to liquidate them.

I wish she were still alive to scoff at the politically correct, the appeaser, and the triangulator, but alas she is gone, defiant to the last.

Read the rest.

New Podcast: The Incredible Shrinking Critic

A few years ago, Jami Bernard, who until very recently, was a film critic at The New York Daily News, decided to use her very public platform as a means of helping herself lose weight. She shared her weight loss--ultimately 75 pounds worth--with her readers, writing regular updates, and posting photographs of her progress.

The result of all of this is her new book, The Incredible Shrinking Critic: 75 Pounds and Counting: My Excellent Adventure in Weight-Loss, which is as much of a witty autobiography of her days growing up in Queens, as it is a serious look at diet, fitness and weight loss. With all of the recent podcasts and blogs about fitness and nutrition, I thought Jami's story would make for a great podcast, which you can hear by clicking here, or via Apple's iTunes site. (No iPod required, of course; virtually any PC can download and play an MP3 file.)

And after you're done listening, stop by Jami's own blog, by clicking here.

(Also on Blogcritics.)

Great Moments In Classified Advertising

I'm really late to this one, but it's a classic.

Strike A Pose, There's Nothing To It

Glenn Reynolds explores the state of modern feminism:

One might almost think that feminism has become nothing more than a subset of the Democratic Party's activist base. Actually, that has become so obvious that even Maureen Dowd managed to figure it out when she famously commented: ""Feminism died in 1998 when Hillary allowed henchlings and Democrats to demonize Monica as an unbalanced stalker, and when Gloria Steinem defended Mr. Clinton against Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones."

It's all about supporting the right people politically, even if it turns you into a groper's support group.

Or as one rather prominent Democrat recently wrote:
In his new book, dedicated to his mother and maternal grandmother -- the women "who raised me" -- Sen. Barack Obama accuses fellow Democrats of being "confused" as the Democratic Party "has become the party of reaction."
Equal parts reaction and confusion is usually a dangerous combination.

Update: And speaking of which, here's the 7,322,923 violation of Godwin's Law by a prominent member of the left, and the 2,387,457 Oreo reference in regards to a competitive black Republican candidate.

Another Update: Related thoughts on the dangers of making the personal political, from the aptly-named Only Republican In San Francisco.

Uplifting, Warm Feelings Emanate From Film Community

Libertas goes in search of the latest cinematic delights on display at the Toronto Film Festival, the same location where Sean Penn faces criminal repercussions for being caught partaking of a dangerous, narcotic substance:

Variety is reporting that The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair just got picked up for distribution, the second high profile acquisition at the festival after The Death of a President. So basically the first two big film deals out of Toronto involve killing Bush and Blair! Really gives you an uplifting, warm feeling about the film community, doesn’t it?
Remember when Altman's M*A*S*H began with "Suicide Is Painless"? At least 35 years ago, the Hollywood left aimed its murderous rage a bit more inward.

Get It While It's Hot

I'm always sorry when James Lileks uses up his Apple-allotted bandwidth. because ordinarily, his weekly Diner podcast appears late Thursday night/early Friday morning, and it's the perfect way for me to relax after finishing editing and mixing and mastering and uploading the Pajamas Blog Week In Review podcast. (The differences between the two podcasts illustrate just how endlessly versatile the podcasting format can be, incidentally.)

But Apple has deigned to give James a fresh set of bandwidth, which means his latest Diner is finally accessible. Stop in today!

Update: I didn't have a chance to see Lileks' powerful video clip of images from 9/11 before his bandwidth was quickly exhausted on Monday. If you didn't see it either, click here. Keep a handkerchief or ten nearby, though.

The Very Definition Of Chutzpah

The New York Times, a newspaper that within the space of a year hired the photographer who created the infamous "Piss Christ" monstrosity andcompared a Christmas movie to Triumph of the Will feels that it can tell the Pope what to say. And as Allahpundit writes:

From the miserable bastards who not only wouldn’t publish the Mohammed cartoons, but had the titanium balls to illustrate an article about the ensuing jihad with Chris Ofili’s manure Mary.
What is it with the Times and bodily functions, anyhow?

Last year, Glenn Reynolds wrote, "it's surprising the extent to which people who routinely make the Halliburton and chickenhawk slurs seem to require much greater delicacy from others". The Times is the paper of record for what Barack Obama recently dubbed "the party of reaction". So I guess its not surprising the amount of delicacy they demand from the Pope.

But why would a leftwing newspaper written largely by atheists and agnostics want to lecture two of the world's dominant religions, in the first place?

Last year during Newsweek's "Koran In The Can" invention, I wrote:

So how 'bout it, MSM? We now know how ardently you'll defend a religion which is practiced by about three million Americans according to Daniel Pipes, and roughly double that from other sources. Ready to start defending the Judeo-Christian faiths practiced by--or at a bare minimum, respected by--the other 290 million people in this country?
To paraphrase the Times' editorial, the world listens carefully to the words of any newspaper. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. It needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology for trampling Christianty, demonstrating that words can also heal.

But needless to say, the world isn't holding its breath.

The Alpha And The Omega

The Anchoress compares and contrasts two internationally famous women of the left:

Please make your case, Ms. O’ Donnell. We’ll wait. While we wait, we’ll raise a glass to Oriana Fallaci, a leftist woman whose shoes you are not fit to shine. She embodied all that leftism was, and you are all it has become.
Read the whole thing.

Port Security Podcasted

Gateway Pundit and Austin Bay asked me to produce and upload this podcast to Pajamas' Politics Central site with Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on port security, something which was very much in the news not too long ago.

Is Satellite TV A Lead Zeppelin?

In the latest Blog Week In Review, Austin Bay and Glenn Reynolds discuss Rupert Murdoch's recent acquisition of MySpace for $580 million. Is Murdoch shifting his attention primarily to the Web? Variety writes that he's seriously considering dumping his holdings in DirecTV:

In a splattering blow to the satellite biz, Rupert Murdoch supposedly dubbed DirecTV a "turd bird" and is considering selling News Corp.'s controlling stake to Liberty Media.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin on Thursday shot down another possible outcome for the satcaster. He indicated regulators still would be reluctant to greenlight a merger between DirecTV and smaller rival EchoStar.

News Corp. owns 38% of DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite provider. But Murdoch's been down on the business lately. Cablers are successfully rolling out a triple play of video, Internet and telephone -- service that satcasters can't easily match.

DirecTV stock fell 3.23% Thursday to close at $19.19 after a Morgan Stanley analyst downgraded the shares.

A person close to the conglom said a DirecTV sale is being discussed as one of several possible ways to unwind Liberty's large stake in News Corp.

CNBC reported that Murdoch had made the "turd bird" remark.

The current architecture of satellite TV does make it vulnerable to end-runs by both digital cable TV (which offers video-on-demand, something currently difficult, if not impossible with satellite architecture), and especially, the phone companies' IPTV format, which, if all of its proponents' forecasts pan out, could be a remarkable advance in television technology.

DirecTV better do everything it can to hold onto its NFL Sunday Ticket monopoly. It could very well be the only thing keeping millions of viewers attached to the format, if new technologies continue to pass it by.

A Hell Of A Lady Who Was A Hell Of A Writer

Michael Ledeen on Oriana Fallaci:

Orianna was one of those bigger-than-life personalities who dwarf everyone around them, and there wasn’t much grey in her world, things were always sharply defined. This made friendship a challenge, since at any given moment you were either dearly beloved or this week’s dolt. But it didn’t really matter, since she prized friendship, and last week’s idiot was invariably destined to return as tomorrow’s beloved; you had to accept that it would happen, and it would pass, and we were fortunate to know her and be provoked, stimulated, embraced and insulted. She was a hell of a lady.

She was a hell of a writer, too, one of the greatest of our generation. Her tirades against Islamic Nazi-fascism appeared in thirty different languages and sold more than three million books. In hard cover. And her earlier books, especially the incredible interviews in which she managed to provoke powerful, brilliant, and evil people to totally expose themselves, are still must-reads. You just can’t comprehend the history of the past thirty years without Orianna’s guidance.

And she was a hell of a woman. I only knew her when she was older, and marked with the deep lines of her long fight against the “alien,” but she was still a vivacious and flirtatious gal who delighted in the flow of her powerful pheremones and very much enjoyed being around men who appreciated her considerable charms. Just look at some of those photos from her younger days. Wow.

Later, Ledeen adds:

Lots of people were surprised to learn that she lived as a virtual recluse in New York City, rather than Florence, but America was a big part of her soul. A real freedom fighter has to love America, and she did, just as she hated America when it failed to meet her high standards. Her writings on America were extraordinary; the words she wrote right after 9/11 deserve to be remembered for a very long time:
The fact is that America is a special country, my dear friend. A country to envy, of which to be jealous…and it is that way because it is born of a spiritual necessity…and of the most sublime human idea: the idea of liberty, or better, of liberty married to the idea of equality…
She HAD to live here, you see. Just as she had to die in Florence, where she will be buried in the Evangelical cemetery alongside her parents.
Read the rest.
Putting The Bourgeois Back Into Bobo

Sean Penn, whose DeNiro-inspired turn in 2004's The Assassination of Richard Nixon anticipated this year's Death of a President, let his own BDS-flag fly high with Larry King last night:

Later, Penn fulminated about how “party clowns like Don Rumsfeld could be described as, as far as I'm concerned, except for the enormous damage he's done this country and mankind -- and our President -- and saw that they're getting out there and they're beating this drum, to drown out, as they did in 2002, to drown out other -- in that case it was Enron. Now we have another situation, so it's this war on terror, boom, boom, boom. Drown out the reality of what's really happening.” Penn also argued: “No Democrat that doesn't have a plan to get our troops out of Iraq should be voted for.”
Mankind? How sexist for a good leftwing Hollywood stalwart like Penn! Like George Clooney not being able to escape his 1950s-era Good Night And Good Luck character while referring to "Miss Huffington", it's amazing how bourgeois and conservative the language (both onscreen and off) reactionary Hollywood "progressives" employ in public when they get a full head of steam going.

Update: More putting of the bourgeois into the bobo, here.

Elsewhere, it's certainly tough to argue with this source:

In his new book, dedicated to his mother and maternal grandmother -- the women "who raised me" -- Sen. Barack Obama accuses fellow Democrats of being "confused" as the Democratic Party "has become the party of reaction."
You don't say.

Another Update: Obviously, we're having a bit of fun with Penn. But the actor's recidivistic habits actually have caused him to run afoul of the real P.C. curmudgeons in the Big Blue Nanny State up north.

Adjust Bookmarks Accordingly

Darren Copeland, formerly of Colorado Conservative, whom I met a couple of years ago at a Denver Blogger Bash, has a new URL. Update bookmarks accordingly.

Felony Stupidity Committed

It's important to be nonjudgmental when confronted with, what at first, seems like a ridiculous news item. My motto, upon deeper reflection: Let the person amongst us who hasn't done this with a convenience store microwave cast the first stone here.

Felony Stupidity Avoided

Well, here's a rare moment of common sense in the Garden State: on her Bizlawblog, my wife looks at an incredibly silly lawsuit that a New Jersey appellate court somehow was smart enough to dismiss.

Torch Time In New Jersey?

Are New Jersey Democrats about to employ--yet again--the Torricelli Gambit, and replace tainted US Senator Robert Menendez at the last minute? As the Professor writes, "You'd think that the Jersey Democrats might try nominating people who aren't crooks". And it's worth heeding the words of Michael Graham, back in 2004:

"Don't assume you know who's on the Democratic ticket until Election Day."
But then, we are dealing with The Mob That Whacked Jersey, here.

The Thrilla In Pajamas!

The new Blog Week In Review is online. Like Ali and Frazier, special guest David Corn and Glenn Reynolds slug it out over PlameGate!

Oriana Fallaci Dead At Age 76

As Tim Blair writes, "the Italian writer and voice for freedom" died in Florence at age 76.

Update: Roger L. Simon: "One of my personal heroes is dead". Links to many more condolences, here.

Black Hawk Down: Post 9/11, Pre-BDS

Mark Steyn reprints his review of 2002's Black Hawk Down, which I considerably liked at the time as well. Back then, Steyn wrote:

In one of the film's few departures from reality, Scott put name tags on the Ranger helmets because otherwise they'd be hard to tell apart in the battle scenes. But that's okay: the cast understands that the film's real star is the operation and that confusion about who's who is part of the story. A 16-hour all-night battle compressed into two and a half hours, Black Hawk Down does a brilliant job of placing you inside the heart of the event and plugging you into the rhythm of battle. Scott pulls off an extraordinary technical achievement: as the operation starts to unravel, the film becomes more vivid, unrelenting, intense, adversity heightening the reality. There's none of those Private Ryan interludes with the ennobling sentiment and uplifting rhetoric. The nobility and inspiration are in the action. It is in that sense a film very much in tune with America's mood: practical, resolute, fierce.
Remember when films such as Black Hawk Down and Mel Gibson's We Were Soldiers seemed to signal a muscular post-9/11 pro-US change in Hollywood's politics, and hence filmmaking? As Steyn writes in the new introduction to his review, dream on, dream on...

Iraqi Official Testifies to Links Between Saddam and Al Qaeda

The New York Sun reports:

A deputy prime minister of Iraq yesterday offered a sharp contradiction of the conventional wisdom here that Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Al Qaeda had no connection before the 2003 war, flatly contradicting a recent report from the Senate's intelligence committee.

In a speech in which he challenged the belief of war critics that Iraqis' lives are now worse than under Saddam Hussein, Barham Salih said, "The alliance between the Baathists and jihadists which sustains Al Qaeda in Iraq is not new, contrary to what you may have been told." He went on to say, "I know this at first hand. Some of my friends were murdered by jihadists, by Al Qaeda-affiliated operatives who had been sheltered and assisted by Saddam's regime."

Given Saddam's intimate relationship with Abu Nidal, that certainly sounds logical.

Espousing Exponential Arafatisms At Harvard

Amir Taheri writes that when Iran's former president, Muhammad Khatami, spoke at Harvard he employed not just doublethink, but maybe triple or quadruple-think:

He used a vocabulary carefully designed to hoodwink the Americans without angering his fellow Khomeinists back home. The trick was reinforced by the fact that he often said one thing in Persian, while the interpreter said something else in English for the benefit of the Harvard audience.
Read the rest. Yasser Arafat always had the ability to say one thing to western audiences, and another to the folks back home--but I don't believe he ever did so simultaneously.

Snakes On A Focal Plane

Avoiding the sophmore slump is always a challenge. Fortunately, James Pinkerton has a can't-miss (in more ways than one) suggestion for an equally controversial follow-up movie for the makers of Death of a President:

So for the next number, I suppose that Finch and his close colleague, director Gabriel Range, will make an even more vivid and lurid movie. How 'bout, say, a movie featuring the Prophet Mohammed doing something, well, unspeakable? Or maybe just showing him as an ordinary human, doing ordinary things? Such a picture would get some buzz, stir up some controversy -- wouldn't it?

But I won't hold my breath waiting for that hypothetical Islam-bashing, or even Islam-historicizing, film to be made or shown. As we have seen, there's plenty of evidence that the "Death"-men, Finch and Range, are cine-provocateurs, happy enough to see Bush endangered. But there's no evidence that either man wishes to see his own life endangered.

Finch and Range know that vast majority of Americans won't like this film; even as they hope that a small minority of Americans will make it profitable for them. To make money, and to make a splash, they are willing to hurt American feelings. But hurting the feelings of Muslims who might kill them in retaliation? That's a different story. That's a movie that will never be made, at least not by these two. These blokes might be cool with murder, but they are definitely against suicide.

No wonder their box office is down: like the art world, Hollywood really is astonishingly conservative and reactionary these days.

Speaking Of Media Suicides

Is Air America about to declare bankruptcy and/or go on the auction block?

It's not like predictions for their success were glowing at the start, of course.

Update: Fortunately though, a successor emerges...

Bringing New Meaning To Media Suicide

This sounds like it's taking that whole "Drive-By Media" meme a bit too far:

Two weeks after telling police that her son had been snatched from his crib, Melinda Duckett found herself reeling in an interview with TV's famously prosecutorial Nancy Grace. Before it was over, Grace was pounding her desk and loudly demanding to know: "Where were you? Why aren't you telling us where you were that day?"

A day after the taping, Duckett, 21, shot herself to death, deepening the mystery of what happened to the boy.

Grace's reply? "I do not feel our show is to blame for what happened to Melinda Duckett."

I don't have a take on whether Duckett was guilty or not, but I do know that the media are never to blame for what happens. Just ask Reuters, CNN, and Newsweek.

Or these guys.

This Is The End Of The Innocence

Pajamas' Man In Sydney links to this Sydney Morning Herald article and writes:

More than 100 teachers, psychologists and children’s authors have called on the British Government to act to prevent the “death of childhood” which they claim is being caused by junk food, marketing, over-competitive schooling and electronic entertainment.
Are they kidding? My childhood in southern New Jersey was defined by junk food, marketing, over-competitive schooling and electronic entertainment.

"Keep Your Grubby Mitts Off My Hard Drive"

Over at TCS, Glenn Reynolds has harsh words for Amazon's new online video service:

So, in summary, to be allowed the privilege of purchasing a video that I can't burn to DVD and can't watch on my iPod, I have to allow a program to hijack my start-up and force me to login to uninstall it? No way. Sorry, Amazon.

[CNET reviewer Tom Merritt's] advice to Amazon: "Try again."

Talk about Not Ready For Primetime Players.

Update: Jeff Jarvis has equally harsh words for "The National Broadband (ugh) Company", NBC's foray into, well, broadband:

* “If we really want to compete with big aggregators like Yahoo and Google, we need our video in as many places as possible,” Mr. Falco said.

No, if you wanted it as many places as possible you would follow the YouTube model and let us distribute it for you. But you don’t trust us. Odd not to trust the people who make you money.

* And my favorite: “When ‘Saturday Night Live’ had a great clip of Lazy Sunday, YouTube made a lot of money off it,” Randy Falco, the president of the NBC Universal television group, said at a news conference yesterday. “In the future, when we have a Lazy Sunday clip, NBBC will make a lot of money on it.”
No, fool, you made a lot of money from YouTube because your long-dead stinker of a show, SNL, got new audience because your public — the ones you don’t trust — put the video up and got it seen … until you foolishly made them cease and desist.

The Times says lots of companies are trying out NBC’s service because it’s nonexclusive (including About.com, where I consult, but where I was not involved in this). It’s a what-the-heck. But I’d sure as hell have a strategy for YouTube, Revver, Veoh, et al. If NBC had any brains, it would, too.

Just think of it as the Supertrain of the Internet.

The Sports News We Kept To Ourselves

Any post that combines references to both Saddam Hussein and the '85 New England Patriots is a rare and unusual beast. But that's where Dean Barnett explores sports, politics and the art of readership triangulation, in an intriguing post on the media.

Cracking Kaus-ian Conspiracies

Mickey Kaus has a great theory on Katie Couric's hiring by CBS:

As Katie Couric's newscast sinks back into third place, here's a thought: Maybe CBS isn't disappointed. Maybe the hiring of Couric had nothing to do with boosting the ratings for the CBS Evening News, attracting new demographics, blah, blah, blah. Maybe Couric was hired by CBS solely to screw NBC's highly-profitable Today Show! After all, CBS's Les Moonves could somehow get his network back into the lucrative morning-show game--by depriving the dominant competitor of its star--wouldn't that mean a lot more to CBS' bottom line than whether it gets an extra point or two in the shrinking evening news market? ... Wait and see how the Couric-less Today does before you decide whether she was worth $15 million to CBS.
In an earlier Kaus File, Mickey suggested that Oliver Stone was a dreadful choice by Paramount to direct World Trade Center, due to his endless conspiratorial utterings--some of which have actually been about 9/11. While Paramount was able to keep a lid on Stone for a time, he's back to doing what he does best:
Stone, who surprised many with the patriotic flavour of his new film World Trade Center, hinted in Moscow yesterday that he is considering a more controversial follow-up investigating the “conspiracy” around 9/11.

“There is a great story in a movie, a conspiracy by a group of people in the American administration who have an agenda and who used 9/11 to further that agenda,” he told journalists in Russia. There could be a “fascinating project [on] what happened after Sept. 11,” the director said at his packed press conference on the fifth anniversary of the attacks.

Stone accused U.S. President George W. Bush of mishandling the fight against Osama bin Laden’s militants and using the crisis to stoke fear and bolster his own power at home in a way that was “right out of George Orwell.”

But given Stone's unbankable post-JFK track record, why would any studio fund the project?

(And incidentally, Bjørn Stærk's theory on those who only quote from Orwell's fiction versus his non-fiction remains intact.)

Update: Be sure to scroll to the end of the Libertas post on Stone, to see a textbook example of the sort of photo that newspaper photographers live to compose.

AT&T To Offer 20 TV Channels For PC Viewing

While this could be a decent service for the right person, I'm happy to stick with my Slingbox when I want to view TV on my computer. But it certainly sounds like AT&T is trying to maximize its investment in IPTV.

US Embassy In Syria "Under Attack"

Found via Pajamas HQ, Sky News has early details.

Hot Interstellar Millionaire Iranian Babes In Space!

No, that isn't spam for Internet pr0n or some '50s sci-fi B-movie. Glenn Reynolds links to photos of Anousheh Ansari, set to become "the first female Muslim in space, first Iranian-born person in space, and the first female space tourist on September 18, 2006", according to her Wikipedia profile.

As the Professor writes, "Bin Laden wouldn't like this". But I bet P.J. O'Rourke does.

The Return Of The Primitive--To Ground Zero

These guys are in desperate need to listen to this. But like Oliver Stone and JFK, there's probably nothing that will dissuade their loony conspiracies.

Update: Related thoughts from Mary Katharine Ham. After driving past the Pentagon today, she writes, "Beware the Truthers. Don't Ignore Them".

Historical Cherry-Picking

Jonah Goldberg writes that "there are two problems with all this historical cherry-picking":

The first is our own collective ignorance about history. As a culture, we have a tendency to look for our car keys where the light is good. Our usable past is the past that is illuminated to us. One of the main reasons we leap to analogies about World War II and the Cold War is that it’s the only history most of us know. It’s telling that military histories about World War II (the “good war”) vastly outnumber all others. People don’t call the History Channel the Hitler network for nothing. Meanwhile, Vietnam (the “bad war”) feels like only yesterday to baby boomer liberals, so they have a tendency to see LBJ, Nixon, Robert McNamara, or other ghosts of “quagmires” past haunting the Bush White House.

Proponents of each paradigm have a specific response in mind. If Iraq is Vietnam, we allegedly have no choice but to accept the futility of our presence there and depart. If the war on terror is like the Nazi menace, it’s time to wax Churchillian.

But what if there are historical parallels lurking in the shadows of our ignorance?

Read the rest.

Google Redux

As with Memorial Day, there's nothing at all commemorating 9/11 on Google's splash page. Meanwhile, the Dogpile search engine does have an illustration, as Jonah Goldberg spotted.

As I wrote this past May:

Dogpile's illustration looks like it was knocked off by a Web artist in a couple of hours at most and looks perfectly appropriate to me; why couldn't Google do the same? (And yes, I know the answer.)
Update: Even the liberal, multiculti Internet Movie Database had the daily quote on their homepage from this movie today. Kudos to them for doing so.

The Big One-Off

James Taranto, writing from "Ground One", the Dow-Jones building that neighbors the remains of the World Trade Center notes that our success in the War On Terror is what, seemingly paradoxically, emboldens its critics:

It was often said at the time that 9/11 changed everything. That turns out to have been an exaggeration. One thing it did not change is elite liberal opinion--as represented by the press, academia and the Democratic Party--which has fallen back on the adversarial attitudes it developed in the late Cold War era, which is to say the era of Vietnam, Watergate and their aftermath.

Partly, we suppose, this is a matter of intellectual laziness. But partly it is because of an illusory similarity between the Cold War and the war on terror. If you assume 9/11 was a one-off, then the terrorist threat is a distant, abstract one, easy to move to the back of your mind while arguing about such trivia as the infringement of terrorists' civil liberties.

Thus Los Angeles Times TV critic Samantha Bonar can sneer, in reviewing ABC's flawed Miniseries "The Path to 9/11," that "according to 'The Path,' the Clinton administration was too concerned with such trifles as respecting international laws and treaties, protecting civil liberties, following diplomatic protocol, displaying cultural sensitivity and pursuing larger goals (like Mideast peace) to bring down the bad guys." Which is an entirely accurate description of the Clinton administration, even if the picture takes liberties with the facts.

The italicized clause in the paragraph before the preceding one [bolded in this excerpt--Ed] is what the experts call "a big if." Our enemies, of course, did not intend 9/11 to be a one-off; if it is, it is only because the government--that is to say, the Bush administration--has thus far succeeded in preventing another attack on U.S. soil. Liberals' blasé approach to the terror threat will be wholly unsustainable in the event of another attack. Thus, paradoxically, opposition to the antiterror effort remains alive only because of that effort's success.

In his segment of a National Review Online symposium on 9/11, James Lileks writes:
If 9/11 had been followed by 10/17, 11/02, 12/24, the Smallpox Epidemic of ’02, the EMP blackouts of ’03, and so much promiscuous anthrax distribution that mailmen tottered around in Hazmat suits on the hottest day of July, America would look quite different. But the other shoe didn’t drop — or rather, Richard Reid was KO’d before he could light it — and consequently we don’t look at the paper for news about the latest attack. We look at the ads in the paper for news about plasma-TV sales.
That sort of world would render 9/10-style statements such as this even more superfluous than they actually are today.

Update: Bryan at Hot Air writes:

Five years on, the most striking change I see having taken place is the stridence and apparent insanity of war critics. We were attacked on by a brutal enemy on 9-11, a fact they either dismiss or refuse to acknowledge and understand. The actual changes to civil liberties have been marginal and don’t compare to what Lincoln or FDR did to civil liberties in the course of war. But in this war a coalition of Stalinists, mainstream lefties, some on the right, jihadis, moderate Muslims, cranks and kooks has blown its irrational fears of our own leadership out of all proportion and made 9-11 denial acceptable. They have made it more acceptable to hate Bush and Cheney than bin Laden and Zawahiri. On Fox News, Alan Colmes can say that he is agnostic about what happened on 9-11 and be back the next day to criticize Bush, as though what he had said he night before didn’t qualify him for the looney bin.

Five years on, a psychosis has gripped millions who can’t and won’t fathom the true nature of the war we are in. For many of them, having been born and raised in an essentially post-Christian West, they can’t imagine that anyone might be motivated to kill and die because of something a warlord wrote down centuries ago. They cannot imagine any religion other than the one they believe they have outgrown being violent or causing violence. They cannot imagine anyone fighting for a cause that offers no material gains and therefore cannot be negotiated away. In our essentially materialist West, millions lack the imagination to believe that bin Laden’s pining for the return of Andalusia to Muslim rule is in his mind a legitimate reason to wage war on America now. They can imagine their own countrymen being so motivated, though, and I think that’s key to understanding their state of mind. They can imagine the Rotary Club member down the street plotting mayhem because he goes to church and votes Republican, but they can’t imagine that the Muslim in Karachi is a real, live enemy who is actually plotting an attack.

Fortunately, they can escape into "the most serious crisis ever confronting human civilisation", as the ultimate 9/10 man recently boasted.

Wired News: "9/11: Birth of the Blog"

Found via the Professor, Wired News writes:

When the world changed on Sept. 11, 2001, the web changed with it.

While phone networks and big news sites struggled to cope with heavy traffic, many survivors and spectators turned to online journals to share feelings, get information or detail their whereabouts. It was raw, emotional and new -- and many commentators now remember it as a key moment in the birth of the blog.

I agree--and in true Blogosphere style (Advantage: Ed!), I'll simply mention that I made many of the same points as this Wired story myself.

In an article I wrote four and a half years ago.

VDH, SDB, On 9/11

Victor Davis Hanson (now blogging at Pajamas) and Steven Den Beste at the Chicago Boyz group blog, have thoughts on 9/11 and its aftermath.

Has Hollywood Lost The Language Of Modern Heroism?

OK, last Hollywood post--hopefully--for a while: Libertas explores the language of heroism in Hollywood's two recent 9/11-themed (big screen) movies and finds them more than a little wanting. A couple of posts ago, I conjured up the memory of Bogie in Casablanca. I think any World War II-era filmmaker would agree with that Hollywood has lost much of its impact as its cinematic language has been criminally eroded.

Meanwhile, over at Opinion Journal, John Fund writes that "'Docudramas' are the worst draft of history". But if by docudrama he simply means a retelling of a historical event with actors instead of raw newsreel or documentary footage, this used to be what Hollywood routinely churned out day and night. A very brief glance at my far from complete movie library shows the following titles on the shelf:

  • The Longest Day

  • Lawrence of Arabia

  • The Great Escape

  • Dr. Zhivago

  • Patton

  • All The President's Men

  • A Bridge Too Far

  • The Right Stuff

  • Apollo 13
  • And down the line to more recent movies such as Tom Selleck's portrayal of Ike, Conspiracy (about the Wannsee Conference) and Downfall.

    Aren't these all docudramas? If, as Fund suggests, docudramas are indeed now the worst draft of history, the reason may be that Hollywood is now too far to the left to represent a centrist point of view. But, and this is very much related to the town's politics, it may also be that, as Libertas suggests about the two recent 9/11-movies, Hollywood finds it difficult to find the cinematic language necessary to take an actual modern event and embew it with the proper drama these days. Or as Lionel Chetwyd, the writer of that Eisenhower docudrama put it when, a few years earlier, he tried to pitch a recreation of another real-life WWII story to a television network head:

    "So I went in," Chetwynd told me, "and someone there said, 'So these bloodthirsty generals sent these men to a certain death?'

    "And I said, 'Well, they weren't bloodthirsty; they wept. But how else were we to know how Hitler could be toppled from Europe?' And she said, 'Well, who's the enemy?' I said, 'Hitler. The Nazis.' And she said, 'Oh, no, no, no. I mean, who's the real enemy?'"

    "It was the first time I realized," Chetwynd continued, "that for many people evil such as Nazism can only be understood as a cipher for evil within ourselves. They've become so persuaded of the essential ugliness of our society and its military, that to tell a war story is to tell the story of evil people."

    If Nazism "can only be understood as a cipher for evil within ourselves", what does that do for Islamofascism and the fight against it?

    The Vast Right Wing Hollywood Conspiracy

    With a flourish of his usual sprezzatura, Mickey Kaus goes deep into the Vast Right Wing Hollywood Conspiracy:

    Are you worried about an "emerging network of right-wing people burrowing into the film industry with ulterior sectarian politican and religious agendas"? Maybe I'm complacent about the threat, but isn't that a little like worrying about the growing anti-Zionist foothold at The New Republic? If you put Hollywoods's entire network of right wing people in David Horowitz's living room, you wouldn't have much trouble getting to the hors d'oeuvre tray. If you tried to put Hollywood's network of left wing people in the Los Angeles Convention Center, the fire marshal would close it down.
    That should help Billy Crystal to sleep a bit more soundly at nights.

    Analyze This

    Over at Whizbang, Jay Tea writes that, "the open hatred (for whatever reasons) for Bush is greater than any president I can remember, and might even surpass that of Nixon at the height of Watergate or Johnson during Viet Nam."

    It's apparently captured the mind of one of the most otherwise lovable personalities to emerge in the last 30 or so years of Hollywood--and now that Johnny Carson and Bob Hope have each shuffled off to the Great Gig In The Sky, he's the modern benchmark for Oscar hosts. But the Anchoress notes that, like Garrison Keillor, Linda Ronstadt, and numerous other celebrities, there are limits to Billy Crystal's sense of tolerance and diversity.

    Last March, after another post-Crystal Oscar ceremony sunk under the weight of its agitprop politics, Libertas explained that Hollywood has devised a marketing strategy that junks the Red States. Which means that remarks such as Crystal's will only increase exponentially--and apparently with impunity.

    Lest We Forget

    Here's what I wrote last year at this time:

    "Turn On The TV!" "What Channel?" "Any Channel."

    Four years ago, at about 6:45 AM PST, that's how the day began for my wife and I--and quite possibly, you too. In a Blogosphere retrospective, Lorie Byrd of PoliPundit was kind enough to include this post from the year after, which collects a bunch of items I wrote about 9/11. (When I saw her link, I updated it with a couple of more items, and replaced a couple of previously expired hyperlinks.)

    If a writer as great as Virginia Postrel can look back on March 11, 2002 and conclude, "Much of what I wrote on this site six months ago, now seems banal or confused, although I can't say I'd take anything back", then keep similar thoughts in mind when reading my work about that day.

    PoliPundit also has a look back on what has changed since that terrible day, and Orrin Judd links to what has become one of the most important and iconic photographs of the day, entirely because of the Blogosphere and other grass roots Websites--and equally entirely despite the best efforts of the legacy media to block it. (The Pajamas Media homepage has a retrospective slideshow of many additional photos. The simple fact that the Blogosphere exists is itself a testiment to 9/11, of course.)

    Not everything has changed though. In his speech about the event nine days later, President Bush said, "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists". On October 1st, Rudy Giuliani added:

    On one side is democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human life; on the other is tyranny, arbitrary executions, and mass murder.

    We're right and they're wrong. It's as simple as that.

    And by that I mean that America and its allies are right about democracy, about religious, political, and economic freedom.

    The terrorists are wrong, and in fact evil, in their mass destruction of human life in the name of addressing alleged injustices.

    For many Americans, 9/11 was the end of much moral equivalency when it comes to dealing with evil--but as Roger L. Simon notes, sadly, there's still a fair amount of what Paul Johnson, in Modern Times called moral relativism left in many who should know better.

    Update: Speaking of moral relativism, events such as this and this, happening so closely to the anniversary of 9/11, help to define exactly what the term means.

    Sharply contrasting the meaning is a decision by Alex Tabarrok.

    Much more later; in the interim, Michael Ledeen and Michelle Malkin remember two of the people murdered by Islamofascist terrorists that day.

    Elsewhere, James Lileks writes:

    I’ll tell you this: if I ran Time magazine, I wouldn’t have run a cover story titled “What We’ve Lost.”

    What We’ve Done, perhaps. Who We Are. Why We Fight. What They Want. But “What We’ve Lost”?

    I expected many things five years ago, but an epitaph in the face of survival wasn’t among them. Of course, when you recall the post 9 /11 cover "Why They Hate Us," you do have a nice set of bookends. Forgive me if I've little time to reread the tomes bracketed between those sentiments. Today is what it is. Tomorrow, however, requires our attention.

    Are we up to the task? In his Chicago Sun-Times column, Mark Steyn adds:
    Five years on, half America has retreated to the laziest old tropes, filtering the new struggle through the most drearily cobwebbed prisms: All dramatic national events are JFK-type conspiracies, all wars are Vietnam quagmires. Meanwhile, Ramzi Yousef's successors make their ambitions as plain as he did: They want to acquire nuclear technology in order to kill even more of us. And, given that free societies tend naturally toward a Katrina mentality of doing nothing until it happens, one morning we will wake up to another day like the "day that changed everything." Sept. 11 was less "a failure of imagination" than an ability to see that America's enemies were hiding in plain sight.

    They still are.

    At the risk of sounding like a pretentious update of a cynical saloon owner on the eve of an earlier titanic struggle, hopefully we're not slumbering like the Victorian-era heroine in his Lileks' latest banner art.

    Combating Terrorism With Public Relations

    Betsy Newmark writes, "It's about time that people remember Sandy Berger":

    One benefit of the controversy surrounding Path to 9/11 is that people are beginning to remember that there was once a National Security Adviser named Sandy Berger who later stole Top Secret documents from the National Archives.
    In her lengthy post, Betsy looks at what documents Berger stole. And Jim Geraghty's PR rep sent me a copy of his new book, Voting To Kill, which includes this extremely prescient quote from a 2001 New Yorker article on the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing:
    Almost before Freeh could finish, Berger demanded, "Who else knows about this?" Did the press know? This was the last question that Freeh expected from a national-security adviser. Not many people knew, Freeh replied. The information was very closely held. Berger also questioned some of the statements linking the bombing to the Iranian government.

    "That's just hearsay," Berger said.

    "No, Sandy," Freeh replied. "It's testimony of a co-conspirator in furtherance of a conspiracy." Berger, Freeh later thought, was not a national-security adviser; he was a public-relations hack, interested in how something would play in the press. After more than two years, Freeh had concluded that the Administration did not really want to resolve the Khobar bombing.

    And that cycle of being more interested in how something would play in the media rather than actually killing terrorists very much appears to be repeating itself with Berger and the rest of the Clintonistas' reaction to The Path To 9/11.

    (Watch this space for more on Geraghty's new book in the coming weeks.)

    "Murder in the Cathedral"

    Pajamas has an exceptional video produced by Andrew Marcus and featuring Richard Miniter, on Iranian President Khatami’s visit to the Washington National Cathedral. In addition to its important subject matter, the quality of the production is first rate, and could easily air as a segment on CNN or Fox.

    As of course, could Michelle Malkin's Hot Air video blog. When I wrote my TCS Daily piece earlier this year on the merger of the 'Net and TV, I speculated that television networks might want to co-opt this rapidly emerging talent pool. But another scenario is emerging: downloadable TV, which is just around the corner. And it will be very interesting to see how the availability of videos such as these to anyone with the right kind of set-top box (such as this early example) will change viewing dynamics in much the same way that Fox News has left CNN in the ratings dust.

    The Path To The Path To 9/11

    Hugh Hewitt writes:

    A full page ad, brightly colored, depicting malevolent eyes peering threw a tear in the American flag the terrorust has torn, is on p. A-9 of the Los Angeles Times this morning. The copy below the title "The Path to 9/11": "The years that led up to it. Everything that might have prevented it." Part 1 airs tonight at 8 PM.

    ABC has refused the left, and the fury on the left is extreme. If they'd spend less time caviling and more time watching the program and then reading Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" they'd at least appear less incompetent to the American mainstream.

    In addition to the ad in The L.A. Times (and presumably, other papers), as of early this morning, it's still listed in the DirecTV on-screen guide, and part one at least has already run in New Zealand.

    Cry havoc and let loose the Googlebombs, but this commentor on Ann Althouse's site is spot-on:

    "This firestorm is a lose-lose for Dems. Any rational voter can compare the Bush reaction to Farenheit 911 and the current Clinton reaction, and draw appriopriate conclusions."
    Indeed, as the man who highlighted it is apt to say.

    Update: Has the show's running time been cut?

    Originally, TV listings showed Path to 9/11 as being commercial free for three hours tonight and two hours tomorrow night.
    Now ABC's web site shows tonight's episode as only 2.5 hours, followed by a special 30 minute Nightline (no doubt with many Democratic guests.)

    Likewise, tomorrow's episode is only 90 minutes, having been edited for President Bush's speech.

    That makes an hour of originally scheduled content now gone…

    As has already started, watch for numerous posts next week from assorted blogs featuring The Scenes ABC Didn't Want You To See!

    More: TigerHawk writes, "The Left is virtually begging people to see 'Path to 9/11'":

    First, a great many people are going to watch this show only because of the controversy coming from the left. I can say with absolute certainty that I will watch it only because John Aravosis and his ilk think that I should not be allowed to see it and judge for myself. I am sure that there are millions more just like me, and several times our number who simply want to see what all the fuss is about.
    You could argue that this is a huge rope-a-dope being set-up by the left, but their past history in regards to blocking content they don't approve of doesn't seem to lend much credence to that level of conspiracy theory. And as TigerHawk goes on to write:
    The bizarre efforts of Richard Clarke notwithstanding, it is obvious that every administration from Carter's through Bush 43 failed to appreciate the purposeful lethality of unconstrained Islamic radicalism. Clinton's was no different.
    As the Professor wrote on Friday:
    By making a big noise over this film, the Clinton people are implicitly disavowing the "pass" they've enjoyed, and in the process inviting more, rather than less, scrutiny of that Administration's antiterror record, which strikes me as very unwise, politically.
    In any case, we'll see how this all plays out, starting tonight.

    The Associated Press Takes A Ba'ath

    Saddam had a source within the Associated Press? After Eason Jordan's "The News We Kept To Ourselves" admission, and Reuters' cozy relationship with assorted freedom fighters terrorists, I'm not at all surprised.

    Amongst numerous media other scandals, add to the list CBS's RatherGate, ABC's eagerness to be censored, Newsweek's Koran in the Can fabrication, and of course, all of the New York Times' woes, and you've got an Elite Media whose credibility across the board is crumbling. At this point, it seems safe to ask: how many of their attacks on the credibilty of the Blogosphere are simply cases of projection?

    Update (9/10/06): Mark Tapscott has some thoughts:

    So if Hussein had a credible source working for him within AP, was it a stringer in a Middle Eastern nation, an Iraqi "dissident" who had become a full-time employee or consultant to AP or a regular AP employee whose decades of agreement with the "Blame America First" school of foreign policy led to a decision to aid one of America's enemies?

    Is this individual still employed by AP? Has this individual gone on to work for another U.S. media organization like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, etc.?

    Everything AP reported about Iraq prior to and likely afterwards about everything connected with Hussein and Iraq is now subject to doubt as to its credibility. AP owes its customers in the news industry and its readers in the American public a complete explanation of what it will or already has done about the spy within its ranks.

    Maybe CNN and Reuters can team up to investigate!

    Well, That Didn't Take Long!

    On Thursday, I wrote:

    Quick thought: If the report about the cut scene involving Sandy Berger is accurate, given how many review copies of the [Path To 9/11] miniseries have already been sent out on DVD, how long before a clip of the scene in question ends up on YouTube? (And/or Hot Air?)
    The Websites I predicted didn't pan out, but here's the clip, on Red State and Traditional Values.org.

    Update: "Democrats Have Captured Their Greatest Threat and Placed Him in Gitmo!"

    Naked Pigskin

    Well, here's something you don't read about every day:

    A burger joint drive-thru worker called police after Lions assistant coach Joe Cullen allegedly pulled his SUV up to the window and placed an order in the nude.

    The worker, who took down Cullen's license plate number, told Dearborn officers after the late-night incident on Aug. 24 that "the suspect did nothing obscene, other than being naked at the drive-thru."

    Cullen, a first-year defensive line coach, was arrested and charged with indecent and obscene conduct in the incident. On Sept. 1, a little more than a week later, he was arrested again and charged with drunken driving, also in Dearborn.

    On Thursday, the Lions suspended Cullen for Sunday's season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, the Free Press has learned. Cullen, however, is expected to continue to coach the defensive line during practices.

    All he'd have to do is claim that he's dabbling in performance art as a hobby, and he could probably arrange for NEA funding...

    Naming The Enemy

    James Taranto makes a key distinction. (The bolding replaces italics in the original):

    We aren't at war with Islam, and declaring war on a religion whose adherents number about one-fifth of the world's population would be boneheaded in the extreme. (Ralph Peters eloquently answers anti-Muslim bigots in today's New York Post.)

    At the same time, there is a reason that the illegal combatants at Guantanamo are provided with Korans and arrows pointing to Mecca rather than with Bibles or tzitzit. Islam is not our enemy, but our enemies are Muslim; and Islam as they understand it is the ideology that drives them to make war on us.

    Indulge us in a little experiment: Try not to think of a giraffe. Didn't work, did it? Likewise, strained efforts to avoid characterizing the enemy as Muslim only reinforce the misconception that our war is against Islam.

    Before the Gonzales meeting, we attended a Hudson Institute lunch for former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (the New York Sun was there as well), who put the matter very clearly. The enemy, he said, is "militant Islam," which is at war not only with Christians and Jews but with other Muslims whom the militants deem insufficiently pious.

    In Netanyahu's formulation, then, the civilized world, including much of the Muslim world, is defending itself against an aggressor that is Muslim but does not represent all Muslims. And as he noted, although we are not waging a religious war, the enemy is.

    Whereas the Israelis have been engaged with this problem for decades, we Americans were not nearly so focused on it until half a decade ago. Thus it isn't surprising that leaders in Jerusalem would have a more sophisticated outlook than their counterparts in Washington. But the latter clearly could stand to learn from the former.

    Speaking of Netanyahu, here's a video clip of his speech at New York University Thursday.

    "The Free Speech Crowd"

    Found via Hugh Hewitt, Doug Ross has a tale of two controversial 9/11-themed movies.

    Even at this late hour, the airing of one them is still in doubt.

    That's The FAQs, Jack

    The latest of Dean Barnett's patented FAQs lists is devoted to The Path To 9/11. Here are just a couple of great observations that Dean makes:

    6) What about this Democratic stunt making a veiled threat to look into Disney’s broadcast license if ABC shows the film?

    Shameless. Pathetic. And hilarious. Really, do you think the Democrats in Congress want to have hearings to determine just what the Clinton administration did and did not do to fight terror? How many news cycles would that take? The Senate Democrats go through multiple contortions very day pretending that they’re just as angry as their blogging base. This letter represents just another despicable day at the office for them. More’s the pity.

    7) Why are the bloggers in such a lather about this movie?

    You got me with that one. It’s not because they love Clinton, and lord knows they didn’t show the same appetite for accuracy where the Rathergate documents were concerned.

    Their passion is especially odd since lately, the Daily Kos and the other lefty blogs have shown good message discipline and known when to starve a story of oxygen. For instance, when Paul Hackett called the son of a Holocaust survivor an Unterfuhrer, the Daily Kos didn’t make a peep to defend its heartthrob. But today, the Daily Kos front page is enflamed with rage at the Mouse. If the Democrats could have kept quiet, this movie would have come and gone with all the fanfare of a typical weekly movie. But having become a political football, a lot more people are talking about it than otherwise would be the case. And therefore, a lot more people are talking about the Democrats’ record on terrorism, which isn’t a very good thing for the Democrats.

    I made a similar observation early--very, very early this morning--after finishing editing BWIR:
    In any case, given that the beginning of September is traditionally when people start paying attention to politics again, this is not an auspicious start to the left's campaign season. And it all could have been avoided by simply letting the show air quietly--or at least not going to the mattresses over it.
    And as Glenn Reynolds writes, this could have further implications for the left:
    By making a big noise over this film, the Clinton people are implicitly disavowing the "pass" they've enjoyed, and in the process inviting more, rather than less, scrutiny of that Administration's antiterror record, which strikes me as very unwise, politically.
    Allah drops a flashlight down the Memory Hole, here.

    Update: More from Allah:

    if I had to guess, I’d guess that the only point of this browbeating at this point is as a demonstration of raw political power. Either that, or it’s an exercise in Lakoffian “branding,” whereby they’re finally going to show America that they too can demand unconditional surrender from an enemy. Just like Harry Truman. Except with Mickey Mouse in place of Hirohito.
    As I wrote (not coincidentally) back in the fall of 2004, for a party of pacifists, "Democrats can fight long, hard, and dirty when they want to. If they actually chose to defend America itself against its enemies with as much force as they deploy during election-time, they would never have to rely on such tactics in the first place."

    The Lore Of Korg's Software Synthesizers

    I probably haven't posted much home recording stuff lately, but I have a review of Korg's Digital Legacy Collection, which contains software versions of Korg's M1, the best selling digital synthesizer in history, and its successor, the Wavestation over at Blogcritics. You can click through to hear samples of the M1 in action.

    Explosions Kill 31 In India

    Charles Johnson has the few early details.

    Last Man On Moon Happy To Lose Title

    As Curmudgeons Corner notes, Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon, is happy to write about the program "that will finally deprive him of that dubious honor":

    With a single announcement from NASA last week, the nation took a giant leap forward in realizing its plans to return humans to the Moon by 2020 and then press on to Mars and destinations beyond — known in space policy circles as the Vision for Space Exploration.

    The announcement proclaimed that Lockheed Martin will build the replacement for the space shuttle, a cone-shaped crew exploration vehicle designed to take astronauts into and out of Earth orbit, as a prelude to voyaging once again to the moon.

    NASA has dubbed the new spacecraft project Orion, following in the tradition of projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo of the 1960s and 1970s. Orion will borrow the best from our country's nearly 50 years of space experience and combine it with 21st century technology for this new and challenging venture.

    The result is expected to be a new vehicle that is more robust than Apollo, less expensive to operate than the space shuttle and safer to fly than any other capsule or winged space plane flown so far. First flight of Orion with a crew on board is targeted for 2014, but NASA hopes to find a way to move that up to as early as 2012.

    Yes, the thought of modern-day NASA actually meeting deadlines, let alone pushing them up puts a wry grin on my face as well. And for better or worse, it's a stageringly safe bet that this Project Orion won't be using the same propulsion system as the original Project Orion.

    The Solution Here Is Obvious

    The Professor writes:

    DANIEL DREZNER LOOKS AT THE LATEST SALVO in The New York Times' jihad against Wal-Mart, and is deeply unimpressed: "This leads to a fundamental question -- what on earth motivated the New York Times to put this article on the front page of its Business section? Properly headlined, an article that blares, 'Little Money Flowing Between Wal-Mart and Washington Think Tanks' wouldn't even have run, much less on the front page."
    Wal-Mart should buy the ground that the Augusta National Golf Club sits on, build a new "big box", hire plenty of women to work there--and maybe an otherwise currently unemployed Howell Raines to manage the store.

    And watch the good vibes start to flow from the Mean Ole Gray Lady!

    Update: Stephen Spruiell hits the road towards The Path To Sam Walton:

    I don't get it. In the run-up to what might be the most important election in their party's history, the Democrats are campaigning against... Wal-Mart and Walt Disney? What's next? Kittens? Grandma?
    That's for 2008.

    New Blog Week In Review Up!

    Along with Gerard Van der Leun, Roger Simon sits in, and explains the reason he went into blogging.

    But then, it's the reason we all went into blogging, isn't it...?

    A Pox On Everybody

    Jonah Goldberg writes:

    My basic view is, a pox on everybody. The Democratic Party embraced Michael Moore's movie at the highest levels. Daschle hugged Moore at the premiere. Carter invited him to sit with him at the convention. Etc Etc. Are they claiming that F9/11 is more accurate than the ABC miniseries? If so, I'd like to hear them say it. At the same time, when, CBS tried to come out with that Reagan biopic, conservatives howled in outrage and got CBS to drop it. Why shouldn't liberals have a go at the same thing? Of course, during the Reagan brouhaha liberals got their panties in a knot about how it was "censorship" and a horrifying example of conservative bullying when the Right succeeded. Now, it seems many of the same liberals are cheering as the former President of the United States is trying to bully ABC into dropping the miniseries. Nobody looks good in this one.
    Well, to be fair, the Reagan biopic was moved from CBS to Showtime. It's probably too late now to move The Path To 9/11 to a pay cable channel, but I wonder if ABC explored that possibility as well when things began to heat up.

    Late Update (9/8/06): Here's something I don't remember Republicans threatening during the brouhaha over either The Reagans or RatherGate: yanking a television network's license. Or as Allah puts it, channelling Dino and Luigi Vercotti, "Wonderful network you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it".

    More: Libertas, who've really owned the The Path To 9/11 story from day one, makes a similar point to mine:

    Fahrenheit 9/11 was later broadcast on the DISH Network on November 1st, 2004, right before the Presidential elections. The DISH Network is owned by EchoStar, which receives its DBS license from the Federal Communications Commission. I’m not aware that Republicans ever threatened EchoStar with losing its license as a result of broadcasting that film.
    Question: is this the Wellstone funeral redux, or will it all be forgotten come November? In any case, given that the beginning of September is traditionally when people start paying attention to politics again, this is not an auspicious start to the left's campaign season. And it all could have been avoided by simply letting the show air quietly--or at least not going to the mattresses over it. As the Anchoress writes:
    This is what is called “overplaying your hand,” and the Democrats do it all the time. Not content with letter writing, registering complaints and the edits ABC has already agreed to, not content with Clinton’s own work to protest a made-for-tv docudrama…they threaten to pull a broadcast license if the show is not canned. Incredible.
    But it's not the first time such a threat has been made.

    How's That One Size Fits-All Media Playing Out These Days?

    Apparently, ABC has knuckled under to pressure from veterans of the Clinton administration to edit a key scene in The Path To 9/11 involving Sandy Berger:

    ABC toned down a scene that involved Clinton’s national security adviser, Samuel “Sandy” Berger, declining to give the order to kill bin Laden, according to a person involved with the film who declined to be identified. “That sequence has been the focus of attention,” the source said.

    The network also decided that the credits would say the film is based “in part” on the 9/11 panel report, rather than “based on” the report, as the producers originally intended.

    Hugh Hewitt quotes an email regarding The Path To 9/11, "apparently from someone close to the situation at ABC", according to Libertas:
    The story here is the backlash that the Disney/ABC execs experienced was completely unexpected and is what caused them to question themselves and make these changes at all. Had this been the Bush Admin pressuring, they wouldn't have even taken the call. The execs and studio bosses are dyed in the wool liberals and huge supporters of Clinton and the Democratic Party in general. They had no idea any of this could happen. As I understand this, the lawyers and production team spent literally months corroborating every story point down to the sentence. The fact that they were the attacked and vilified by their "own team" took them completely by surprise; this is the first time they've been labeled right-wing, conservative conspiracists.
    A couple of times this year, I looked at how stung newspapers felt, as they've suffered the first attacks they've apparently ever received from once sympathetic leftwing readers:
    Back in January, I looked at the pincer movement the Washington Post has found itself stuck in lately. While the Post expects to be attacked from the right (because, to only slightly modify a recent Jonah Goldberg riff, "birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and conservative columnists gotta indulge their schadenfreude" about the sorry plight of the media. It's what we do), lately it's come under even more vociferous pressure from the left. That's something that Post columnist Richard Cohen recently discovered himself, much to his horror.

    The L.A. Times, while far inferior in overall quality to the Post, is beginning to see similar bipartisan contempt emerge. Conservatives such as Hugh Hewitt, Patterico, Cathy Seipp, and umm, me, have long been pecking at it. But lately, Susan Estrich, best known as Michael Dukakis' campaign manager back in 1988, is none-too-thrilled with the Times' coverage of Anthony Pellicano, the wiretapping Hollywood detective. Estrich writes:

    Maybe it’s just a coincidence, just a bookkeeping change, a drop in hotel distribution, as the publisher explains. Or maybe the market really works. In either case, to borrow from Abrams, some law professors I know have told me that the way the media has been hyping scandals lately has the potential to turn every newspaper into a suspected liar.
    Call it the Spinal Tap media (to coin a phrase): all Marshall amps on 11, all the time.

    Or as I wrote back in January:

    The contempt that the MSM now finds from both sides of the aisle is quite a unique development--and it will be fascinating to watch how it all plays out.

    In any case, seventy years after its creation, how's that one-size fits all mass media concept playing out these days?

    The emailer that Hugh quotes regarding ABC's ozone layer of management says:
    The fact that they were the attacked and vilified by their "own team" took them completely by surprise; this is the first time they've been labeled right-wing, conservative conspiracists.
    They shouldn't have been that surprised. And chances are, in an era where BDS trumps all amongst the left--it won't be the last time it happens, either.

    Update: Quick thought: If the report about the cut scene involving Sandy Berger is accurate, given how many review copies of the miniseries have already been sent out on DVD, how long before a clip of the scene in question ends up on YouTube? (And/or Hot Air?)

    Another Update: Blue Crab Boulevard does a compare and contrast about two recent hot potato productions involving 9/11:

    I think this is both interesting and revealing. Back when Fahrenheit 911 was the talk of the blogosphere, all the criticism I read was about its accuracy. There were quite a lot of bloggers that were tearing it apart for its twisting of fact. A lot of bloggers wanted to set the record straight, but to my knowledge not one of those people I was reading at that time before I started blogging myself was calling for it to be silenced. They only wanted the record straight.

    Now we have a new "docudrama" about 9/11 coming out. And the left side of the blogosphere and mainstream Democratic politicians are calling for it to be radically changed or silenced. Some are gloating that they think they have silenced some voices.

    Have you noticed the difference here?

    One group decries the accuracy, the other decries the existence. Who is in favor of silencing the opposition again? Who is in favor of curtailing the free speech of others?

    Have you noticed?

    Michael Moore got to sit alongside Jimmy Carter in Carter's box seats at the Democratic National Convention in August of 2004. But it looks like the only seat George Mitchell will be getting from Bill Clinton will be in his outhouse.

    More: A reader of Stephen Spruiell's "MediaBlog" spots a related example of airbrushing.

    Elsewhere, Hugh Hewitt's latest column asks,"Why Does the Left Hate 'The Path to 9/11'?":

    The Clinton operatives are also bringing a useful attention to the program and especially any last minute edits ABC might make. The network risks outrage from center and right if it airbrushes the narrative, and even from those in Hollywood who stand by the idea that a good faith piece of work should be unmolested by the PC police.

    No matter your opinions of Presidents Clinton and Bush, be sure to watch (or set your TiVo) to ABC Sunday night at 8. You be the judge. Hopefully ABC will give you that chance.

    Regarding Brokeback Mountain, Michael Medved has written that the Christian Right has finally wised up that Hollywood expects their outrage when releasing a controversial movie, and builds it into their marketing plans. So rather than play into Hollywood's hands, they no longer go full-bore apoplectic everytime a film like Brokeback or The Last Temptation of Christ is released. Or as Mark Steyn wrote:
    The more artful leftie websites have taken to complaining that the religious right deliberately killed Brokeback at the box-office by declining to get mad about it.
    So why didn't the Clintonistas and the DU crowd remember that lesson for themselves?

    Update (9/8/06): Click here for more.

    Neville Chamberlain Demands 1930s Miniseries Be Rewritten

    Imagine the howls from the left--not to mention the laughter on the other end of the phone line--if Karl Rove called up the president of ABC and asked him to censor a television show critical of the Bush administration. But that's exactly what Bill Clinton and the Democratic party feels they're entitled to when it comes an upcoming miniseries critical of his administration's handling of terrorism during the 1990s.

    (And considering whom the chairman of ABC's parent company is, it should be very interesting to watch how much of their way they get.)

    The Anchoress writes:

    One of the things we all used to say about President Clinton was that he never learned that the cover-up was always worse than the scandal. Had he come out straight on Monica Lewinsky and said, “yes, I did it, it’s between me and my wife and it’s none of your business,” the whole story would have disappeared quickly. Same with about ten other scandals surrounding him or his administration.

    When it comes to this film, The Path to 9/11, it seems to me Clinton and his pals would be wiser to simply let the thing play, than to do the freak. People will watch the movie, shrug and say, “well, that’s pretty much what we always thought,” and they’d forget about it the next day. By panicking and demanding revisions to the film, and by sending out his usual minions to talk the thing down, Clinton is just making the whole thing a much bigger story. He is creating red headlines on Drudge and turning this film into a national incident! A stupid move. For such a smart man he’s never understood Gertrude’s economy of language in Hamlet when she said, “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

    He also never seems to understand that it’s not all about him, all the time.

    Hey, he may be out of office, but it's Bill's world--he just deigns to allow us to live in it.

    Update: Welcome Hot Air readers; click here for much more on this topic.

    Radical Cheap

    "Wherein our Special Pajamas Correspondent … that scion of the superfabulous, that crosschecker of chic … The Manolo (He of “The Manolo Loves The Shoes”) deigns to glance at the wardrobe Iran’s Man of the Moment… and finds it is not to die for."

    Which The Manolo finds is true of most brutal dictators, with one exception--who comes complete with vicious killer fembots!

    The Perfect Jurisdiction

    Mark Steyn dines with Australia's Jana Wendt:

    "It’s never that one society knows everything about how to live. There are always trade-offs … If I could devise a perfect jurisdiction, it would have New Hampshire gun laws – and French restaurants.”
    I'll second that emotion--and urge you to read the rest.

    Booty Call!

    "TSA Booty Up For Grabs on eBay"

    [Admit it--you only linked to that post as an excuse to run that headline--Ed. Well, yeah!]

    This One Goes To 11!

    Jonah Goldberg compares and contrasts two of the legacy media's most-hyped (and ultimately silliest) Stories Of The Century--Joseph Wilson and John Mark Karr:

    As it turned out, Wilson’s accusation that President Bush lied in his State of the Union speech about Iraq seeking “yellowcake uranium” was debunked by the Senate Intelligence Committee. As was Wilson’s repeated denial that his wife didn’t help him get the Niger assignment. His suggestion that Dick Cheney sent him to Africa and that Cheney deliberately ignored Wilson’s shoddy report was pure Wilsonian conjecture. And, of course, his self-lionizing speculation that the White House launched a vengeful campaign against his wife never had any basis in fact. Indeed, there’s good reason to believe Wilson himself leaked the information that Plame was an undercover agent.

    But that didn’t stop the press from going hog wild. The New York Times led the clamor for an independent prosecutor (who, once appointed, put the Times’ own reporter, Judith Miller, in jail). And unlike the journalists who insisted that John Mark Karr was innocent until proven guilty, the Times’ mob of liberal pundits worked from the opposite assumption when it came to Karl Rove et al. Paul Krugman suggested Rove should be in a jail cell when he receives his medal for ruining America. Maureen Dowd insisted, “The issue is the administration’s credibility, not Joe Wilson’s.” And, of course, the left-wing blogs spewed bile about “treason” all day long.

    Now, I’m not saying the press shouldn’t have investigated Wilson’s allegations. Even if we now know he isn’t a serious man, the charges surely were. But I don’t think it was wrong for the press to cover Karr exhaustively (as opposed to excessively) either. The press has been in the true-crime business for centuries. The JonBenet Ramsey murder was a huge story, and a man with a reported record of interest in underage girls confessed to the crime in Bangkok — a Mecca for perverts. The Karr story was unfolding in real time, and the news is supposed to cover, you know, news. Most important, unlike Wilson, Karr was in a position to know the truth of the matter.

    Kurtz wrote this about the Karr story: “Facts don’t matter in frenzies; what matters is camera-ready speculation, where opposing lawyers and ex-prosecutors can argue on one talk show after another.” Just replace lawyers and ex-prosecutors with spinners, pundits, and consultants, and the same holds true.

    I don’t know if the Wilson fraud will instantly go down with the greatest media embarrassments in modern history. However, the press doesn’t seem to mind beating itself up when it overindulges the public’s passions. When its own self-indulgence is the issue, there’s never any need to feel embarrassed. Indeed, there’s no need to say anything at all.

    In the past, the media could simply bury its mistakes whenever a narrative failed to pan out, either by running corrections on page D-36, or, as the evening news does, by just breathlessly moving on to the next Big Story. But the nature of the Internet in general--and the Blogosphere in particular--makes it a lot harder to quietly let stories that don't pan out to be forgotten, especially when they've been as relentlessly hyped by "The Spinal Tap Media" (This one goes to 11!) as the Karr and Wilson stories were.

    Update: I'm not quite certain based on this post's title, but Tom Maguire seems to be hinting that The New York Times is suffering from post-Plameout depression.

    "The Most Embarrassing Gig In The Blogosphere"

    Having a blog is such a personal, individual thing. It's probably the purest form of self-expression short of improvising on a musical instrument (and it's no coincidence that a number of prominent bloggers are also musicians of one sort or another). That is, unless it's purely a paid gig churning out posts for an enormous corporation as a "peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels" clatter in the background.

    Dean Barnett looks at "a fellow named Greg Kandra, who can lay claim to the most embarrassing gig in the entire blogosphere"--although, to be fair, this fellow laid much of the initial groundwork last year.

    Tangentially-Related Update: Speaking of the purest form of self-expression short of musical improvisation, "Dan Rather Lays Down Rhymes Over Dope Beats!"

    It's Not Just A Good Idea, It's Muggeridge's Law

    There is no way that a satirist can beat real life for its pure, unadulterated absurdity.

    Here are but two examples; the complete list is, of course, utterly endless--and growing.

    Google News Adds Newspaper Archives

    This makes a lot of sense, though I would have been much more gung-ho before Google seemed to go out of its way to wreck its image:

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google News is getting a sense of the past to balance out its relentless focus on the present.

    Google Inc. has added the ability to search through more than 200 years of historical newspaper archives alongside the latest contemporary information now available on Google News, the market-leading Web search firm said on Tuesday.

    "The goal of the service is to allow users to explore history as it unfolded," said Anurag Acharya, a top Google engineer who helped develop the news archive search.

    "Users can see how viewpoints changed over time for events, for ideas and for people," said Acharya, who also built the Google Scholar service for academic researchers and once was a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

    Archive Search instantly generates a timeline of stories on a particular subject over the years, allowing Web surfers to target particular dates, or to observe how coverage of an issue has evolved over time.

    As examples, he cited the 1969 Apollo moon landing or events with long histories such as the Palestinian conflict.

    Curious reference that last item is for Reuters to make, huh?

    In any case, the push to 2014 marches forward. And it will be fun to watch bloggers checking to see what (if anything) vanishes down whatever Memory Hole Google News installs, and checking it against, say, the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for years-later airbrushing.

    Condi Versus The Copperheads

    On the second anniversary of 9/11, James Taranto wrote:

    "Everything may have changed on Sept. 11 two years ago, but not necessarily in the ways one would have expected. American politics is the most striking case in point. Given the bipartisan unity that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on America, one had reason to hope for a revival of the early Cold War adage that 'politics stops at the water's edge.' And indeed, except for the lunatic fringes of the Democratic left, this seemed to be the case for better than a year after the attack.

    The turning point seems to have been the 2002 election. Having lost control of the Senate, the Democrats lost control of themselves. The party is now dominated by 21st-century Copperheads who exult in every setback and refuse to acknowledge any success--all because they have convinced themselves that it is the 'Bush administration,' rather than their country, that is fighting the war."

    Three years after Taranto wrote of the Copperheads, and on the eve of 9/11's fifth anniversary, Condoleezza Rice is evoking their memory as well:
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is drawing a parallel between the Iraq war and the Civil War. Both had their critics but both were justified, she says.

    In both cases, it was the right decision to fight and see the wars through, Rice, a southern-born African-American, said in an interview with Essence Magazine.

    Asked if she still thought the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was right, considering the cost in lives and treasure, Rice said, "Absolutely."

    Rice then offered a parallel between critics of the administration's Iraq policies and "people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War (in this country) to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold."

    "I'm sure that there were people who said, "why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves."

    Tammy Bruce, fresh off her appearance on C-Span, agrees with Rice--and her whole post is well worth reading.

    Fastest Shark Jump On TV Since Cop Rock

    Taking one for the Blogosphere, Ann Althouse liveblogs Katie Couric's CBS debut. Just to add to the craptacularity, it comes complete with a cameo appearance by Morgan Spurlock(!)--who seems an odd choice for Katie's first show--but right at home on a CBS news show.

    Update: Mary Katharine Ham makes several infinitely less snarky points about Katie's debut:

    The irony is that the same women who talk about how Katie's debut is of paramount societal import due to her gender are the exact same women who complain that she's coming under extra scrutiny due to her gender.

    I prefer to see Katie Couric's rise to the anchor chair as just another accomplishment of the thousands of high-profile, amazing accomplishments American women make every single day. Couric's promotion to Rather's seat was not all that surprising except, it seems, to a couple of women writers. The fact that it was not that surprising is testament to the fact that we are not oppressed.

    Katie is not a symbol for all womankind. She's a woman with a big, big job to do, and the chance to do it well. We will watch and we will judge her performance, but my career hopes do not hang on it. The glass ceiling is not reinstalled if Katie fails to pull CBS out of third place in the ratings.

    The women writers who tout Katie as a symbol complain that she will be judged on her hair, her suit, her earrings. This is trivializing, they say, and scrutiny a male anchor wouldn't have to face. I would argue that treating Katie's ascendance to head talking head as a milestone for women's rights is a bit trivializing as well, to the relative frequency of major accomplishments by women in American society.

    So, I won't be watching Katie. If you're worried about women's oppression, your time might be better spent reading this or this or this.

    It's a safe bet that Katie's biggest cheerleaders won't, of course. What Julia Gorin recently wrote about the strange interplay between global warming and global terrorism...
    Freud called it displacement. People fixate on the environment when they can't deal with real threats. Combating the climate gives nonhawks a chance to look tough. They can flex their muscle for Mother Nature, take a preemptive strike at an SUV. Forget the Patriot Act, it's Kyoto that'll save you.
    ...Applies equally well to those who champion Couric's debut on the evening news as The Most Important Event In The History Of Women, Ever, while simultaneously turning a blind eye to a harsh reality that actually does grind down the quality of millions of women's lives. (Jonah Goldberg's thoughts on "Hypcrophobia" are also worth re-reading.)

    Uber-Geeky Update: Witness a glass ceiling of an entirely different sort (though created by a patriarchal show business mogul!) get blasted through with--more or less--actual blasters!

    "New Anchor. Same Titanic."

    Cathy Seipp, in-between reminiscing about a childhood Brush With Greatness with--even then--The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Tom Snyder, has some thoughts on the future of television news, or as she calls it, "New Anchor. Same Titanic":

    CBS has long been known as the geriatric network, and I sometimes wonder why they don’t just embrace that demographic instead of trying to fight it. Older viewers, being older, have more money to spend on whatever advertisers might care to sell them. So I sometimes wonder about all this chasing after that elusive (and poorer) youth demographic.

    One strange, counterintuitive fact about TV is that even though younger viewers have less to spend, they’re willing to spend what they have. Maybe not on mini-vans - but certainly on fast food, beer, acne treatments, cheap clothes and whatever idiotic new movie (“Accepted,” “Snakes On a Plane” etc.) the test marketers have dreamed up.

    Viewers 50 and older, the thinking goes, are going to stay in and watch TV anyway. “They also read, listen to the radio, watch CNN,” TV writer-producer Rob Long once told me. “Older people tend to be interested in the world around them. Young people spend most of their time listening to music and masturbating.” In other words, they’re hard to reach and easy to alienate.

    In another CBS-related development, now orbiting just outside the Tiffany Network's increasingly-ironic sphere of influence, former CBS producer Mary Mapes is apparently the victim of something she's best qualified to generate herself: fake news.

    The Sharks And The Blogs: The Officer Krupke School Of Root Causes

    Looking for root causes, James Taranto quotes from an article on the first Muslim Miss England:

    "The first Muslim to be crowned Miss England has warned that stereotyping members of her community is leading some towards extremism," reports London's Daily Mail:
    Hammasa Kohistani made history last year when she was chosen to represent England in the Miss World pageant. . . .

    She said: "The attitude towards Muslims has got worse over the year. Also the Muslims' attitude to British people has got worse.

    "Even moderate Muslims are turning to terrorism to prove themselves. They think they might as well support it because they are stereotyped anyway. It will take a long time for communities to start mixing in more. . . ."

    So let's see if we follow this argument. According to Kohistani, Muslims are so thin-skinned and so violent that they respond to prejudice with terrorism.

    Um, isn't that an invidious stereotype?

    Well, yeah. Of course, she could have simply blamed the blogs, as the Washington Post just did:
    [A]lthough Salafi Muslims are more isolated now, some scholars say their approach to Islam could become more appealing in response to increasingly negative views of Muslims among Americans and vitriolic Islam-bashing on the Internet.

    “Salafi teachings begin to be more attractive to more Muslims as a defensive response,” said Peter Mandaville, an assistant professor in George Mason University’s Public and International Affairs Department. “In the face of this new global war on Islam, they are saying, we will hold fast and emphasize anew the fundamental tenets of our faith.”

    Allah himself writes, "The next time they foil a terror plot here, remember who’s really to blame: Charles Johnson."

    Heh--as another prominent warblogger is apt to say in-between sips of his favorite drink.

    So what were the root causes, five years ago, right around this time? Oh right: sharks! (With or without frickin' laser beams.)

    This Is Your Captain Speaking: Thank You For Smoking

    I don't smoke, but I've never been anti-smoking; and in era where our freedoms are being dramatically curtailed in the skies, this seems like an exceptional idea:

    PARIS If Alexander Schoppmann is right, then where there's smoke, there's a flier.

    As more countries ban smoking in public places, his idea might seem malapropos. But Schoppmann, a German entrepreneur, is hoping to turn smokers' umbrage at ever-expanding efforts to stub out their habit into a highflying business proposal: Smoker's International Airways.

    As the name suggests, the airline, known as Smintair for short, will probably not be for the faint of lung. The carrier, expected to begin luxury service with only business and first-class seats early next year, plans daily flights between Schoppmann's hometown of Düsseldorf and Tokyo - a 12-hour journey that, for some inveterate smokers, is simply not worth the nicotine-withdrawal headache.

    "Many people simply don't travel long distances anymore because they can't smoke," said Schoppmann, 55, who admits to a 30-a-day cigarette habit as well as the occasional cigar. "That has to be why they invented videoconferencing."
    Ironically though, as the author of article suggests, Schoppmann's airline is far more likely to be permitted by regulators in Europe, the bluest blue state of them all, than in America.

    Are You Ready For Some...Pink?

    Debbie Schlussel is none too thrilled with NBC's choice of singer to get the party started on its new flagship primetime NFL Sunday night show:

    Hank Williams, Jr.'s (a/k/a "Bocephus") rendition of "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight (Are You Ready for Some Football?)" was so popular that the one season ABC tried to replace it with popular acts like Aerosmith and KISS, it didn't work.

    But now, ABC's Monday Night Football is gone (to ESPN). So the premiere prime-time football event on broadcast TV is NBC's new Sunday Night Football. You'd think that NBC would pick something on the level of Hank, Jr.'s legendary theme song. But you would be wrong.

    Instead, NBC--in a bad attempt to attract more female fans (and a good attempt to turn off the majority male fans)--has recruited pop star Pink to sing the Sunday Night Football theme. Worse, Pink is remaking '80s has-been Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You" in to "Waiting All Day for Sunday Night." (Memo to NBC: Actually, real football fans are not waiting all day. They're watching games all Sunday afternoon on FOX and CBS.)

    And you won't just have to hear Pink every Sunday Night, you'll have to watch her, too. Says a press release:

    As Pink's voice serves as the signature welcome to viewers each Sunday Night, the accompanying video features Pink.
    Pink as the new Hank Williams, Jr.? What's next: frosted-hair Ryan Secrest as drooling NFL sideline reporter-babe?

    We predict her theme song fails and only lasts the season . . . if she's lucky. A better choice would have been someone male and masculine, like Toby Keith or Sammy Hagar, to sing some sort of football theme updated from "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight (Are You Ready For Some Football?)"

    Thank God TiVO has a fast-forward button.

    It's Not Just A Good Idea, It's Blair's Law

    Check out the seemingly endless roster of leftwing special interest groups involved in a 9/11 anniversary-timed gathering titled "Why Can’t America Have Human Rights?":

    Read More �

    It's All About The Narrative

    In his latest "Citizen Journalist" video blog for Hot Air Jeff Goldstein asked Linda Seebach of The Rocky Mountain News her thoughts on this piece by Jeff Jarvis from last September. It was written at the height of what we now know to be the media's painfully botched coverage of Hurricane Katrina:

    If we nitpick the facts and follow some rules some committee wrote up, we’ll be safe; we’re doing our jobs. No, sir, our job is to get more than the facts. Anybody can get facts. Facts are the commodity. The truth is harder to find. Justice is harder to fight for. Lessons are what we’re after.

    Tim Russert lost sight of the story because he was embarrassed that bloggers caught a guest on his show with facts that were wrong. Russert’s proper response should have been to fix those facts quickly and clear but still pursue the real story. Instead, he chose to shoot the messenger who embarrassed him with the bloggers. He lost sight of his real mission.

    The media was more than willing to jettison facts while covering Katrina, because it had a larger purpose in mind. Echoing something that Mickey Kaus spotted almost immediately last year in Big Media's Katrina coverage, Jonah Goldberg writes, "The anti-Bush chorus, including enormous segments of the mainstream media, sees Katrina as nothing more than a good stick for beating on Piñata Bush’s 'competence'":
    The hypocrisy is astounding because the media did such an abysmal job covering the reality of New Orleans (contrary to reports, there were no bands of rapists, no disproportionate deaths of poor blacks, nothing close to 10,000 dead, etc.). It seems indisputable that Katrina highlighted the tragedy of New Orleans rather than created it. Long before Katrina, New Orleans was a dysfunctional city in a state with famously corrupt and incompetent leadership, many of whose residents think that it is the job of the federal government to make everyone whole.

    The Mississippi coast was hit harder by Katrina than New Orleans was. And although New Orleans’ levee failure was a unique problem — one the local leadership ignored for decades — the devastation in Mississippi was in many respects more severe. And you know what? Mississippi has the same federal government as Louisiana, and reconstruction there is going gangbusters while, after more than $120 billion in federal spending, New Orleans remains a basket case. Here’s a wacky idea: Maybe it’s not all Bush’s fault.

    And, as we now know, it also wasn't Bush's fault (or Cheney's, or "some star-chamber neocon", as Jonah writes) that Valerie Plame was outed. Fred Barnes writes:
    It's as if a giant hoax were perpetrated on the country--by the media, by partisan opponents of the Bush administration, even by several Bush subordinates who betrayed the president and their White House colleagues. The hoax lingered for three years and is only now being fully exposed for what it was.
    Last week, the Washington Post declared--three years after much of the starboard side of the Blogosphere--the Plame story a non-starter. Roger L. Simon has a detailed, thoughtful post on the implications of the Post's admission, and reading it, you can understand how these two seemingly disparate stories intersect, along with several other examples of the media's post-9/11 obsessions:

    Read More �

    Star Trek Boldly Goes Where Lucas Has Gone Before

    Life really does imitate South Park:

    Voiceover: Coming, this summer! It's the digitally enhanced re-release of the very first pilot episode of South Park! Yes, the classic, rough, hand-made first episode is getting a make-over for 2002! The simple, funny aliens are now super badass and cool! Flying saucer? No longer cheap construction paper, but a 4.0 megapixel constructed through a masterpiece of technology! Everything's new! New is better!

    Trey Parker: When we first made South Park, we didn't wanna use construction paper. We just had to because it was cheap.

    Matt Stone: And now with new technology we can finally remaster South Park, make it look sharp, clean and focused.

    Trey Parker: Expensive.

    Voiceover: Yes, all the charm of a simple little cartoon will melt before your eyes as it is replaced by newer and more standardized animation!

    Trey Parker: For instance, in the scene at the bus stop, we always meant to have Imperial walkers and giant dewback lizards in the background, but simply couldn't afford it.

    Voiceover: Get this special enhanced version quick, because another enhanced version will likely be coming out for 2003!

    Paramount has decided to jump into what is sure to become an endless George Lucas-style retrofitting of their own sci-fi mega-franchise:
    CBS has just informed TV Guide's Insider that all 79 episodes of Gene Roddenberry's classic Star Trek: The Original Series are being given a special effects upgrade with new CG effects. Longtime Trek veterans Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda and David Rossi are apparently involved in the process to ensure that this is a class effort, as opposed to some kind of 'Where's Jar-Jar' operation. Says Mike in the Insider report: "We're taking great pains to respect the integrity and style of the original. Our goal is to always ask ourselves: What would Roddenberry have done with today's technology?" The ships will now have more detail, backgrounds will be more lively with people and activity, landscapes will now feature moving clouds, etc. The show's opening will be overhauled too, and the theme music has been re-recorded with a larger orchestra. What's more, technical goofs in the original production will apparently be fixed.
    I realize that a prime way that studios make money these days is by churning their archives as much as possible, but how often do you go back to the same well? I'm afraid that we're witnessing the birth of a Hollywood equivalent of Andy & Bill's Law. Every time new chips and software are designed that allow more powerful special effects, both Lucas and Paramount will now feel obligated to airbrush their franchises. Sadly, the dilution of mass culture seems to compel Hollywood to mine its best-known commodities as frequently as possible, as no equivalent cash cows are on the immediate horizon.

    Meeting Across The River

    Speaking Of FDR, the tram that helps to connect Roosevelt Island with just-over-the-East-River-Manhattan reopened at 6:00 AM on Friday after being closed five months for repairs. Purely through synchronicity (not the least of which was an invitation from a friend who was covering it for a local newspaper), I happened to be on it. It was a classic New York-style media event: based on my very, very rough estimate, I'd say the first car across had three "civilians" being interviewed as they crossed the river by about 18 journalists, cameramen, and a television reporter from the local Fox affiliate in a very sharp navy pinstripe suit.

    (I have no idea if I appeared in the background of any of the coverage, sort of Zelig-like.)

    Target Tells FDR To Go Fly A Kite

    On Sesame Street, Roosevelt Franklin was a Muppet who was one of the first casualties of political correctness. Betsy Newmark spots a page on Target's Website that needs to be killed ASAP as well:

    Poor Target--they really need some remedial history lessons. Take a look at their Franklin Roosevelt doll. Franklin's out of his wheelchair and wearing the bifocals that he invented right after he responded to the day of infamy. Probably ready to charm the ladies and the French while he's at it.
    Colonial Benjamin Franklin Roosevelt's Webpage is still up for now; as Betsy writes, "Enjoy the comments at the Target site. Their customers are having some good fun. Their catalog programmer is obviously not a history major."

    A year ago, David Gelernter wrote:

    knowing history is worse than ignorance of math, literature or almost anything else. Ignorance of history is undermining Western society's ability to talk straight and think straight.
    Or write advertising copy, it seems.

    Colbert, The Long Tail And 9/11 Conspiracy Cranks

    Chris Anderson puts up a fun YouTube clip starring Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert and writes:

    The Colbert Report last week had a great riff on the fragmentation of media and culture. Starting with a scrapbook of 1970s advertisements that once lodged in our collective consciousness ("plop, plop, fizz, fizz.."), Colbert laments the end of the water-cooler era.

    "It's not just advertising where the center cannot hold. It's all across our pop cultural landscape. There's no one band we all love. There's no one newsman we can all trust/believe is a subversive....Where is America's cultural cohesiveness? Where is the common experience? "

    So he decides to anoint a commercial to once again unify us: Kraft's "Crumbelieveable"

    "That's not just a commercial for cheese, it's also a perfect metaphor for the state of our pop culture: crumbled into little pieces."

    And then he launches into a Colbert Special Report that could have been a chapter in my book.

    In his clip, Colbert asks where is the shared cultural experience that unifies us the same way that previous generations shared a collective culture. And sadly, 9/11 is one of the few events large enough to reach all corners of a increasingly demassified society.

    Allah looks at the downside of the Long Tail--a glut of DIY "We Had It Coming/ It's All Bush's Fault" conspiracy/ appeasement/ equivalence videos that will be popping up on YouTube between now and a week from now. As Allah writes, "They’ve been itching for a new terror attack to blame on Bush, but no dice. With the fifth anniversary approaching, they might as well empty out the inventory."

    Labor Day Stats--Stat!

    Found via Instapundit, the National Association of Manufacturers (which has a blog--but then, doesn't everyone?) has some statistics worth perusing today:

    This Labor Day, workers actually have something to celebrate, though you'll detect precious little of it in the mainstream media coverage today:
    -- 1.7 million new jobs have been created over the past year;

    -- Employment has increased in 48 of the 50 states;

    -- Manufacturing output is at an all-time high and production employment in manufacturing has increased by 117,000 over the past year -- the largest annual increase in over 8 years;

    -- The economy has grown at 3.5% over the past year, while productivity has grown at 2.4%;

    -- Real per capita disposable income has risen 9.2% since 2001;

    -- Real compensation has risen 1.7%.

    Labor for its part laments the state of the US economy -- again -- and points in its new study to how great things are in Europe. This is almost comical, considering the per capita US Gross Domestic Product (also known as the standard of living) is almost 50% higher than Europe's. The 3.5% GDP growth noted above is 35% faster than the EU's. The current 4.6% unemployment rate is half Europe's rate. US workers unemployed for over a year account for just 12% of the total, while in Europe, some 43% of all unemployed have been so for over a year. Finally, the percent of people starting new businesses is five times higher in the US than in France. Ask yourself this question: If you open the borders, which way will people flow -- toward Europe or toward the good ol' US of A? We think we know the answer.

    So today, as you read all the wistful comparisons with Europe and read all the grim news about the US economy, just remember that this economy has come up off the economic mat from September 11 with a vengeance. We remain the largest economy in the world and the economic envy of the world.

    And that gives us all something to celebrate this Labor Day.

    Unless you're The New York Times of course--though even there, the gray mood isn't entirely universal.

    Update: One more stat: Betsy Newmark writes that "A new poll shows that labor unions are at their lowest approval rating since 1981", adding:

    Perhaps if unions addressed some of this negative image rather than spending their members' high-priced dues in partisan activities, they'd recover some some respect.

    Actually, it's a great success for labor that unions are regarded so negatively. It's an indication that the major battles that led to the formation of unions in the 19th century have been won. For example, they have safety standards, a living wage with benefits, and the ability to complain without losing their jobs. If workers were still feeling the same tyranny that they used to feel, workers would still be looking to unions for support. But those battles have largely been won and unions now are perceived as selfishly doing everything they can for workers without concern of the effect they have on businesses. Teacher unions and their stranglehold on public schools are not helping that public image.

    Pipe Bomb Explodes In Suburban Chicago Train Station

    Pamela of Atlas Shrugs notes that a pipe bomb exploded in a suburban Chicago train station Friday. She links to a news article that states:

    A pipe bomb constructed with a timing device exploded at the Metra train station in Hinsdale, a western suburb of Chicago during Friday morning’s commute just minutes before a train was scheduled to arrive at the stop. The blast sent metal fragments and shrapnel flying and caused minimal property damage but no injuries, according to police.
    Apparently a suspect was questioned and then released--though others are being sought for questioning. Pamela adds:
    Have you heard about this one? Nah, I didn't think so. A story like this and no one touches it? But every dukes of hazzard car chase is given ample air time (except, of course, cars driven by Muslims mowing down pedestrians in front of Synagogues.) I am telling you folks, we are fighting for the soul of America. Oh and BTW, heads up in Grand Central Station.
    Indeed.TM I was actually on the east coast last week, and as part of my trip, arrived in New York on Thursday afternoon for an overnight visit to the Big Apple. I didn't go through Grand Central, but in Amtrak's Penn Station, I saw numerous uniformed cops, along with several soldiers in camouflaged fatigues--though no inspections, that I could see, were being carried out of anyone's luggage there, or in the two other stations I stopped at, even after all of the other railroad-related weirdness of the past couple of years.

    A Mystery Wrapped In A Riddle Inside An Ambulance

    Tim Blair explores the story that has everything.

    No, strike that--add a cameo appearance by these two, and then it would indeed be the story that has everything.

    Labor Day, Then And Now

    Mark Steyn writes, "If you want to see what 'the masses' are meant to look like, buy a DVD of Metropolis, Fritz Lang's 1926 'expressionist masterpiece':

    As futuristic nightmares go, it's hilarious: The workers are slaves, living underground, chained to the levers, wheels, cranks and cogs of a vast machine, dehumanized by the crushing anonymity of their servitude, etc., etc.

    Alas, nothing dates faster than a futuristic vision: Today, the nightmare that beckons is quite the opposite. Instead of a world in which the workers are forced to operate huge, clanking machines below the Earth all day long, the machines are small and silent and so computerized no manpower is required and the masses have to be sedated by shallow distractions like supersized shakes and Wal-Mart and 24-hour lesbian wrestling channels on Premium Cable.

    It took the workers' tribunes a while to catch on: Even today, when your average union leader issues his annual Labour Day address, you can tell at heart he still thinks it's 1926 and Metropolis is just around the corner. But the intellectual left has been scrambling for decades to come up with explanations as to why, if everything's so bad, everything's so good: Noam Chomsky's theory of media manipulation - "manufactured consent" - can stand for an entire school of philosophers who believe a subtler breed of capitalist overlords are maintaining the workers in some sort of fools' illusion of content.

    But, inevitably, this was only going to be an intermediate stage, given that the shimmering mirage seems to be holding up pretty well. The new received wisdom - forcefully articulated by, among others, Maude Barlow's Council of Canadians at the laugh-a-minute Johannesburg "Earth Summit" - is that the masses themselves are the problem. The oppressed masses refuse to stay oppressed. If they were down in the basement chained to the great turbines, all would be well. But, instead, they insist on moving out of their tenements, getting homes with non-communal bathrooms, giving up the trolley car, putting a deposit down on a Honda Civic and driving to the mall. When it was just medieval dukes swanking about like that, things were fine: That was "sustainable" prosperity. But now, everyone wants in. And, once you do that, there goes the global neighbourhood.

    Thus, Simon Fairlie, in his new pamphlet The Prospect Of Cornutopia, ponders the consequence of a 3% "sustainable" growth rate and immediately spots the catch: by the year 2100 we'll be 18 times wealthier than we are today.

    That's the problem? Of course!

    Just ask Jerry Brown.

    Muscular Democrats

    This is a long, long overdue press release:

    Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), flanked by former Senator Zell Miller (D-GA), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and other Democratic leaders announced today that the long awaited Democrat plan for victory in the 2006 Congressional elections had been completed.

    Holding aloft a thick binder entitled Muscular Democrats -- A Comprehensive Plan for Something Other Than Moral Victory, Lieberman said, "this plan pulls Democrats back from the precipice of treason onto the solid ground of loyalty that America's opposition parties have always occupied during times of war."

    "Just as Republicans united behind Democrats in the world wars and Democrats and Republicans united together to defeat Communism in the Cold War, we will join Republicans to defeat Islamo-fascism and help ensure the security of Americans," said Lieberman.

    Kerry added: "Our plan will assure every American that this election will be decided almost exclusively or at least primarily on domestic issues and to a lesser, but still significant extent, on the tactical elements of America's foreign and security policy. These are areas where we Democrats have historically said -- and may, during this important election season, potentially, or at least theoretically, and at the very worst hypothetically, have something important or perhaps new or different or possibly unusual or thought-provoking or influential or even exciting, and always in a very pro-American and patriotic way, and also, let me assure you as strongly as possible on this point, in a brawny, manly and certainly non-flip-floppy way, notwithstanding the attempts of our political opponents to say otherwise -- to say."

    Sadly though, as with this speech by Senator Kerry in 2004, it is, indeed, a work of fiction.

    The 700 Club

    Pajamas' Man In Seattle writes:

    For those keeping score, this most recent discovery raises the total number of chemical weapons found in Iraq since 2003 to more than 700.
    But remember--no matter how many there actually are--there were no WMDs in Iraq!

    Quote of the Day

    The Alabama Liberation Front sums up the credo of the Blogosphere perfectly:

    I think every guy in the blogosphere will agree: We don't judge women by their race, nationality or religion. We judge them by how hot they are. In America, we have a word for this: "Kumbayah."
    I think there's a message here for all us. Not to mention seven or eight smoking hot photos to boot.

    (Via Allah, who writes, "I prefer Egypt to Israel--And that’s the first, last, and only time you’ll ever hear me say that".)

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