Monday, May 31, 2004
A Brief Monday Tidbit

Sorry, folks - I was just too busy today to get a full-length post off. But, before the day is over, allow me to direct you to one of the most important interviews I've read in a long time:

Marek Edelman is the last surviving military leader of the heroic Jewish Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. He recently spoke to a Polish television channel TVN24, and the interview has been re-published in a Polish weekly "Przekroj". It's not available anywhere else in English (or for that matter electronically), so I take this opportunity to translate and publish extensive excerpts from the interview. Edelman experienced evil many times in his long and distinguished life; he has also faced it and fought it bravely. What he has to say bears listening to.


Interviewer: There are more and more voices saying that Poland shouldn't work so close with the Americans and that instead we should get closer to France and Germany.

[Marek] Edelman: France used to be a great power, culturally and intellectually. And what happened to them? They didn't want to fight for their own democracy, they thought it wasn't really their war [in 1939]. And they lost everything, because when you bend over and take it - even once - then you're finished. And what's that whole talk about the difference between American politics and European politics? There is no other politics but international democratic politics. If we withdraw from Iraq now, what do we have left? Cosying up to Iran and Saudi Arabia? ...

Interviewer: Is it possible to introduce democracy by force?

Edelman: Yugoslavia showed that it's possible... [Not to mention Japan and Germany - Ed.]

Interviewer: You used your own personal history and your moral authority to appeal for the intervention then.

Edelman: Yes... Those who say that you don't have to fight for freedom, don't understand what fascism is. I do.
Boy, I'll say he does. Read The Whole Thing.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
The Saturday Morning News

Good morning, folks. I received the second of David O'Meara's two books (I'm still waiting on the first one to arrive) when I got to the house yesterday afternoon, and it's living up to my expectations. Hoo, man, is this guy a poet! You all owe it to yourselves to take a look.

On to more non-personal details:

Well that's all for today - I've got some gardening to do now, and then a workout with my Dad, then rehearsal tonight. Talk to you again on Monday!
Friday, May 28, 2004
The Friday Edition [UPDATED]

Good afternoon! For those of you who were interested, I think I did rather well on my in-class written response to My Antonia yesterday. Today's update will be short, as I have to get my stuff together for this weekend in Hamilton, but here's what I've seen so far today:

See you guys tomorrow!

Whoops! I forgot to make mention of my current running story.
Of course, there is a philosophy called liberalism. Actually there are several. One of them -- the classical variety -- is one that most conservatives adhere to or at least admire. There is also a philosophy of the modern, or "progressive" sort, which includes Rawls and Dworkin and all those cats. I was not trying to say that there's no such thing as liberal philosophy so much as that "liberals" -- i.e. the folks who pound the pavement and write regularly in favor of "social change" or other treacle -- don't have much use for it. Moreover, I've found, they don't have much use for their own history as a philosophical tradition. And by use I mean use. They do not invoke their thinkers to justify their policy positions with much regularity or conviction. They invoke men and women of action. I still stand by that and nothing I've seen has really persuaded me otherwise.

A lot of smart liberal bloggers, however, have gone to their metaphorical book shelves to quote a bunch of Rawls to prove they know their stuff -- and many do. But, in all likelihood, they won't be mentioning him again for quite some time because -- again -- that's not how liberals debate today. The conspicuousness of the name-dropping, I think, helps demonstrate that point.
There. Now I can go get ready to leave.
Lileks And Warm Milk...

...are all I need before bed. One gets me worked up, then the other calms me back down. Go read.

If anyone thinks Europe is "three or four more times as democratic as America" he is living in a dream world. A world where Russia lectures us about treatment of Muslim detainees, France is a model of nation-building, the Patriot Act muzzles the press, and China is deeply concerned about the sovereignty of conquered nations.


Hell, my four-year-old has a better grasp on reality than this man.

[Links helpfully lifted from Lileks and provided to you in-line and free of charge by me -- Ed.]
Interesting Exchange

I was walking along Harbord to get to the bus stop after my workout today when I came across two men who were arguing about international events. One, an Iranian (self-designated), was arguing with an Italian (self-designated), on the abilities of the United States Military. As I listened (they boarded the same bus as I did), things got rather loud.

The Italian was arguing (in growing volume) that the US could level Iran, ("They have bombs that can penetrate mountains, do you understand?!"), and the Iranian was responding (in equal volume) that the US couldn't and wouldn't attack Iran because they couldn't handle Iranians. That is, if the US Military attempted to invade Iran, the Iranians (he wasn't referring to the Iranian army) would hold them off. The arguing persisted, with quite a degree of vehemence, until they both left the bus together. Strangely, I got the distinct impression that the two were good friends. No personal insults traded, just a high-decibel disagreement.

During the course of the 'discussion' (read: shouting match), various points were brought to bear. From the Italian: "The number of civilian casualties in the Iraq war were lower than any other war in history! Not only can they destroy, but they can also save!" (Nice to see one of them had read up on the issue). From the Iranian: "Look at what happened during the 70s! When they captured the American hostages, the Americans could have come in and destroyed Iran according to you, but they didn't - they couldn't! They were helpless against the Iranians!"

(Seems to me he's making the same mistake Saddam did: conflating different American administrations, and assuming that one's unwillingness to act can be applied to each and every other administration.)

The Iranian, just before they moved out of earshot, said "The Iranian people are going to overthrow their government, but they don't need the Americans to do it - the Americans just mess everything up, make it worse!" Response: "They need help from somebody, who's going to help, if not America?"

An intriguing episode.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Another Delay

Given that I'm doing a lot of school reading today (and the fact that my first in-class assignment is due), I don't have time to do long posts. Visit any of the links in my BlogRoll for further reading, or try out Master Of None - a blog I enjoy reading on occasion.

As far as personal news: I've had one workout so far this week (yesterday), and will have another tonight. My housemate Art and I went shopping for 'health food' (specifically) for the first time last night, so the diet and exercise thing is really hitting its stride. In school, I've got to finish my latest novel this afternoon, in preparation for tonight's written in-class response that's worth 5%. It's not that big a deal (the Prof just wants to get a taste of our writing and get us some feedback), but it's demanding the majority of my time today.

Ah, well - I'll talk to you again later!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
The Gathering Storm

Hey folks!

Sorry I missed a post yesterday - things just got crazy. I didn't come to Toronto until yesterday morning (so no morning post), and by the time I arrived, unpacked, and got settled, I had to finish up my reading for my 6pm class (so no afternoon post). Then, as I was walking to the subway station to come home, I ran across one of my housemates from last year, and proceeded to engage in a multi-hour discussion touching on a wide variety of topics, and didn't get home until ~2am (so no evening post).

And today, there's just too much going on for a long point-by-point list. I've got to read more short stories for class tonight, coordinate a workout with my current housemate, and gather information for my upcoming response to my friend Brian and his attempts to explain why Bush shouldn't be re-elected. If you thought I was research-prone before...well, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

So, while I may come back this evening and give you a bit more, most likely the next time you hear from me will be tomorrow morning. See you then!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
The Media... untrustworthy. And here's more evidence why.

For the most part...the news outlets are committing the same sins: distorting [General Mattis'] meaning by omission, by skipping the ellipses (in the same places), and by making the same mistakes.

Essentially, it looks like they're quoting each other, or some apocryphal Q source material. They're not quoting General Mattis. They didn't even show up at the press conference, and they didn't bother to get a transcript or listen to the tape. But all these reporters are passing their crap off as if they were right from the source material.

Absolutely, completely pathetic.

If this is what passes for news coverage, then they ought to fire their reporters and hire some boy scouts to write for them. At least they'll be honest.
To get the whole story, read the whole thing (naturally). Good night!
Monday, May 24, 2004
Today's Tidbits

This 'one-day-at-a-time' method really has things going for it. It's much easier to put up, it takes a lot less time to compile, and it relieves the exact same amount of 'writer's tension' that develops after I read stuff. It's a good form - thanks for modelling it, Brian! On to today's points of interest.

See you tomorrow!
Saturday, May 22, 2004
The Daily Grist

Today is Saturday, and as such, the blogosphere is generally quiet - as happens most weekends. Tomorrow will be even more dead, and then things come back to life on Monday. As such, you can expect a shorter post today, none tomorrow (unless something crazy happens), and a return to the new 'normal' on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday up here). Without further ado, then, here are today's brief points of interest:

Have a great holiday, fellow Canadians - see you Tuesday!
Friday, May 21, 2004
The Morning Report

Good morning (barely), and welcome to today's collection of various tidbits!

Well, that's it for today, folks. Tune in tomorrow!
Hitchens On Moore

Hey, folks. You know, technically, it is "tomorrow."

Ah, who'm I kidding? I'll be honest - I just had to point you to Andrew Sullivan, because he's got Christopher Hitchens on Michael Moore, and it's just so good.

"But speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities." - Christopher Hitchens on "Scarborough Country," last night. [Wednesday, May 19th -- Ed.]
NOTE TO ANDREW SULLIVAN: Sorry for lifting the post whole, but I just had to. I hope you consider a double link from this post an acceptable sacrifice.

NOTE TO MY ADORING FANS: <crickets chirping> ...

Okay, fine -

NOTE TO THOSE WHO (sometimes) READ THIS PAGE: I'll likely have another conglomerate post for you later today (you know, after I've slept)...stay tuned!
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Pulling A Brian

Today, I'm taking a cue from a good friend of mine. As long as I'm limiting my computer time in favor of being, you know, active, it seems reasonable to jam all the stuff I get from my (shortened) morning reading into one post. This is likely the way that I'll be doing things for the next little while, so hang on tight - we're gonna go fly:

Well, that's it for today folks (unless something drastic happens) - see you tomorrow...maybe!
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Tiemann Does It Again

Just a quick note before I dash off to class (and the gym) again. Go read this examination of the 'Problem Of America' over at Peeve Farm. It's a very worthy addition to the ongoing discussion.

The world at large might look at us and see someone who's got it made: rich, powerful, self-possessed, insanely happy. But it's not them. They'd love to be in that position too; but that would mean giving up their own identity, renouncing all they hold dear. In other words, converting.

Even if someone can convince himself that converting is the only way to achieve that kind of power and confidence and happiness, he still isn't going to want to do it. He'd much rather his own position come naturally to that same level.


It's a form of "sour grapes", yes; but it's also a perfectly understandable defense mechanism. If I lived in Canada or Brazil or Greece, and I didn't particularly want to move to America to get a better life for myself and my family, certainly I wouldn't spend all my time convincing myself why I should move. I'd more likely concentrate on finding reasons to justify staying put, and beyond that, not sucking up to the Great Deceiver. "It's not so great," I'd tell myself. "Just look at how they act. Is that what you want for yourself?" The shortcomings of my own country would cease to be relevant, because they're a given; what's important is finding reasons not to be so attracted to America.
Go read the whole thing.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
It Begins

Well, folks - it's official. Today I begin my diet/exercise program (doctor prescribed, friend-enforced). This morning, I picked up the book that my doctor recommended, ate my first "health-conscious" set of meals, and began my workout routine with a warm-up cardio re-introduction (20 minutes on the eliptical trainer, along with quite a bit of ab-work and builds from there). Tomorrow I'm going to 'run' (read: walk briskly/jog) in a nearby park with my housemate (which will be a regular occurance) and hit the gym again after classes (as I did today). For the first time in my life, I actually believe this can work. I've got people holding me accountable. I've got a doctor's order to give things urgency, and I've got my own (very strong) desire to kick this weight issue.

So, all that as a preface for this: prepare for blogging to be light over this summer. I'm going to be purposely spending a lot of time away from the computer (both for my last classes and for getting out and active) to make my lifestyle a more healthy one, and that's going to cut in on my blogging. Not that I was all that proliferate to begin with, but now things are going to be less so.

Eventually, I may ease back into the blogosphere; but things will never be as hard-core as they were before. My health and well-being come first, and if the computer is cutting in on my exercise time, then it's gotta take a back seat.

So, with that, folks, I ask you to pray for me (or wish me well, if you're not inclined to religious endeavors). The goal is 100 lbs. of permanent weight loss - and I'm gonna hit it.

Monday, May 17, 2004
A Summary

There's (always) a lot going on in the world right now, on much of which I have little to no knowledge - and for those issues on which I do have information, I also have a multitude of semi-contradictory opinions. But as it happens, I don't have an insistent desire to write on any of it. I think much of it is important, and I think you should read quite a bit of it (as I have here, here, and here), but while great gobs of that information fit a series of posts I'm continuing to update, none of it can quite trip the writer's trigger.

I suppose it's because I'm getting back into 'school mode.' Or perhaps it's because I'm just feeling rather bland. Either way, I have a conundrum: there exists information of which I believe you need to be aware, and at the same time, I lack motivation to write at length about any of it. So, allow me to posit a solution: gratuitous linking!

Read about the Canadian connection to UNSCAM here, the recently discovered sarin gas in Iraq here, a damning of both sides' involvement in the Iraq war here (along with a response here), Mickey Kaus' ongoing argument for a faster handover of power to Iraqis here (and continuing below), an intriguing view of the "root causes" for the Abu Grhaib disgrace here (along with comment by Mickey Kaus - scroll down to Thursday, May 13, 2004), the response of Palestinans to their gay supporters here, and of course, the usual other sources of Blogosphere information located here.

Saturday, May 15, 2004
Iran Agrees - Saddam Had WMD

Well, now it's unanimous:

Iranian authorities plan to erect a plaque outside the German embassy on Friday denouncing Germany's contribution to Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons arsenal.
The timelimit for my taking seriously anyone who argues "Saddam had no WMD" has expired. The pre-invasion world agree(d) - Saddam had 'em. The question that we should be asking is not 'Why did Bush, et al, lie?' (newsflash - they didn't) but 'Where did those weapons go?'
Friday, May 14, 2004
The Fruits Of Saddam's Money

After noting the London Sun's prank a few weeks ago, I had all but dismissed British MP George Galloway from my mind as merely the latest incarnation of anti-Americanism in European government. Sure, he was on the list of Saddam's 'brib-ees,' but that was being investigated, and I was withholding judgement until the verdict was made clear (though, with the UN's stonewalling, it might be long in coming). It didn't occur to me that the MP might be fool enough to document his employ in the service of the dictator for all to see - much less to try and sell it as a memoir. But, it seems, that is just what the fool has done.

The early chapters are filled with clouds of hazy Lennonist idealism, with vague talk of 'justice' and (with no irony) the declaration that "My flag is red, my country is the future." This is all unconvincing. When Saddam arrives in Galloway's story, however, we begin to hear the MP's authentic voice.

The extent of totally discredited Ba'athist propaganda on display here is staggering. All those who, in the past, have denied that Galloway has mutated into a Saddamist will simply have to recant when they read this book. For example, Galloway actually refers to the Shi'ites Saddam murdered in the 1980s as "a fifth column" who actively undermined the Iraqi war effort in the interests of their country's enemy." Nobody outside Saddam's squalid regime used this terminology; it was purely a justification for the mass slaughter of the dictator's enemies. It has been extensively documented that very few Iraqis supported Iran. They were killed because they opposed Saddam, not because they backed Iran, and Galloway must know it.

How about the passage where Galloway defends Saddam's claim to Kuwait, describing the province as "clearly a part of the greater Iraqi whole stolen from the motherland by perfidious Albion"? What about the fact that Galloway repeatedly refers to Saddam's statements and actions as coming from "the Iraqis", as if Saddam was their legitimate representative rather than their oppressor?


Take a look at Galloway's statement that, "In my experience none of the Ba'ath leaders have displayed any hostility to Jews." This beggars belief: the Ba'athists had publicly hanged Jews, and the Iraqi newspapers (all Ba'ath-sanctioned) were filled with insane ranting against global Jewry. In all his many visits to Saddam's Iraq, did he not pick up a single newspaper?

Or how about Galloway's claim that Saddam's mass murder of democrats, Kurds and other anti-Saddam forces in 1991 was a "civil war" that "involved massive violence on both sides"? Again, only Ba'athists have ever used this language or narrative.


When Galloway is shown the vast scale of Saddam's palaces, he replies, "Our own head of state has a fair bit of real estate herself". Yes, but British people are not - to use Galloway's words - "dying like flies" on the streets outside. The most bizarre example of Galloway's moral relativism is when he says, "Saddam was a ruthless and cruel man who thought little of signing the death warrants of even close comrades. In this regard he was little different to the leaders of most regimes: we just don't know it in our own countries yet." As if Tony Blair is about to start gassing the SWP and the Tories. As if George Bush is going to start building mass graves in California.
And this is all in his own book! It's as if Neville Chamberlain continued to vouch for Hitler's regime even after Hitler had invaded, conquered, been rebuffed, and been defeated - 'Oh, come on, lads; he wasn't that bad! Actually, he was quite in the right, if I may say so, and shame on you for opposing him."

I'm at a loss to describe the moral depravity and the absolute gall that this elected official (!) has - until, of course, I remember the bribe.

So it seems that Galloway is going to honor that "commitment" he and many others made to Saddam a few years ago: 'Thanks for the oil, my friend - here's my apologist spiel for you.' This man cannot be locked away fast enough for me.

[HatTip to Daimnation!]
Apropos, no?

Found this quiz while I was perusing Peppermint Tea (a recent discovery that came about in an odd fashion), and it says I'm:

"God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had prescience
of his prosperity he would be careless; and understanding of his adversity he would be senseless."

You are Augustine!

You love to study tough issues and don't mind it if you lose sleep over them.
Everyone loves you and wants to talk to you and hear your views, you even get things like "nice debating
with you." Yep, you are super smart, even if you are still trying to figure it all out. You're also
very honest, something people admire, even when you do stupid things.

...who, incidentally, is actually my namesake. Austin is a shortened form of Augustine - and that's something with which I'm very pleased.

[Quiz Credits: What theologian are you? A creation of Henderson.]
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Keep The UN Out

Donald Sensing explains why we absolutely must keep the UN's fingers out of Iraq:

How about a cursory look at the UN's record?
  • Since 1999, when UN peacekeepers entered Bosnia,
    ... the number of institutions where women and girls are being [sexually] exploited has mushroomed from 18 to 200 in 2003, according to the report. Girls as young as 11 have been lured under false pretenses from places like Moldova, the Ukraine and Bulgaria to work in the sex trade.
  • More sex troubles in Eritrea, where the government accuses the UN of "destabilizing the region" and a "string of offences ... including housing criminals, paedophilia, making pornography and even using the national currency as toilet paper."

  • In Sierra Leone, site of the largest mission in the world (16,000 troops under UN command), women are so frequently raped by UN "peacekeepers" that Human Rights Watch issued a special report.
    "What is particularly shocking and appalling is that those people who ought to be there protecting the local population have actually become perpetrators," said Steve Crawshaw, the London director of Human Rights Watch. "It's also very disappointing that there seems to be a deep reluctance to investigate and prosecute these very serious crimes. To turn away from a problem like that is a terrible dereliction of duty."
And there's so much more (both at Sensing's blog and on the record). You all know my position on the UN (tear it down and, maybe, start over), but even if you dissent, surely, given the organization's track record, we can agree that the UN must have nothing at all to do with Iraqi reconstruction.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Steyn: Dems Can't Do Anything Right

Mark Steyn weighs in on the Abu Ghraib scandal, and points out that the Democrats were handed what could have been a fully-loaded armored cavalry of political weaponry, and they turned it into an air-gun:

As a political scandal, it's already over. Historians will disagree about the precise moment it turned into a damp squib. Perhaps it was when Democratic blowhard Joe Biden demanded of Don Rumsfeld: 'What did he know and when did he know it?' Or perhaps it was when the Democrats' leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle, launched into a long, whiney complaint about why he and his colleagues hadn't been kept informed by the Pentagon. 'Why were we not told in a classified briefing why this happened, and that it happened at all?' he huffed. 'That is inexcusable; it's an outrage.'

Got that? To Senator Daschle, the outrage isn't the Iraqi buttock mountain or the dog shots, but the fact that the Pentagon had had the appalling lese-majeste not to inform the Senate grandees about it before it turned up on TV.


Congratulations to the Senate Dems for making a very particular and graphic scandal sound like all the other dead horses they've been flogging for the last year.
As always with Steyn, you must Read The Whole Thing.
How About Some Real Reporting?

I point you to this article only to make a point about media perspective. Every Arab opinion listed in the piece is from a commentator who currently resides outside of Iraq. Algerians, United Arab Emirates/Jordanians, Saudis, and Moroccans...but not one Iraqi. Last I heard, there was unprecedented access to the Iraqi people available. Given that the abuse took place inside Iraq, and that the only people directly menaced by this horrid event are Iraqi citizens, would it really have been too much to ask the Reuters correspondent to interview even one Iraqi?

It's funny, you know. All day long we hear from various media outlets that generalizations across ethnicities are nothing short of evil - that stereotypes are so morally depraved that we should leave ourselves open to attack to prevent their spread - and yet, whenever it comes to the Middle East, any old Arab commentator will do. So what if he's from Iran, or Syria, or Saudi Arabia - or any other country with a vested interest in seeing Iraq's reformation fail? He's Arab, ain't he? And aren't they really all the same?

[Bonus Points to whoever can detail the delicious irony in that last statement -- Ed.]

Bush's "Stupidity"

Jason Van Steenwyk, over at Iraq Now - yet another blog you should visit daily (or at least add to your Bloglines database) - has an incredible fisking of Slate editor "extraordinaire" (rather, a writer of extraordinary arrogance) Jacob Weisberg.

...I hate to cut my own throat with a guy I might be querying to let me write articles, soon, but Weisberg is falling into a common media trap. Because Weisberg is a writer and editor, and surrounds himself with other writers and editors, he comes to have an exaggerated notion of the correlation of volcabulary size with mental acuity.

But as anyone who's worked and succeeded in other fields--and as ANY real manager can tell you, sometimes inarticulateness can mask greatness.

Yes, Bush has been prone to verbal gaffes. Some of them quite entertaining. But caught up in the narcissistic assumption that mastery or non-mastery of grammar somehow defines the man, pundits like Weisberg have been homing in on them for years, like heatseeking missiles chasing down so much chaffe.

And the President zooms away untouched, and it just leaves this guy baffled.

(Meanwhile, he can somehow ignore statements like "I was for the amendment before I voted against it," which is at once grammatically flawless as morally and politically craven. Somehow Bush's misstatements are a proxy for his Presidency, but Kerry's reflect, oh, I don't know--nuance.
It's like TMLutas pointed out several months ago - GWB is Lucy to his critics' Charlie Brown.
There was a recurring theme in Charles Schultz's long running comic Peanuts. Lucy would offer to hold a football (american) and Charlie Brown would kick it. At the last moment, Lucy would pull it away and laugh as Charlie Brown launched himself into the air and fell, in pain, flat on his back. Lucy, great psychological manipulater that she was, could always convince Charlie Brown that this time, the football would not be moved and that he could kick it but would always get her way in the end, leaving poor Charlie Brown frustrated and vowing never again.

President George W. Bush is Lucy minus the dress.

Objectively looking back at his career, you can see how time after time he carefully holds the football and perfectly times how to pull it away. Time after time, his opponents lie there, flat on their backs, struggling to overcome their political pain, and wonder how they got beat.
He sets up the ball, and every time - every time - they ravenously charge down the field to kick it; only to have the wily President smoothly move the ball out of their way. As becomes clear with each passing moment, the continual "misunderestimating" these media and cultural elitists engage in is an illness both chronic and, in the political sense, terminal; but it does present those of us who support the President with a bit of a quandary:
On the one hand, you want to crow about it. On the other, you worry that giving the game away will let the opposition adjust and win more often.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Mother's Day

A huge happy Mother's Day to my mother, who admirably puts up with all my foibles (including the tendency to rant on and on about certain subjects in which I have little to no knowledge...not that you'd know that) and is everyday an incredible example of what motherhood and womanhood should be.

Thanks Mom, for all you do and have done. Love ya!

"Setbacks, shame, and blood"

Stephen Green has a fantastic piece on the nature of war in general, and the nature of the Iraq War specifically. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: War Crimes.

Even though I'm not going to excerpt it (to do so would be a travesty, its structural integrity must remain intact), please, make sure you click through the link and read the entire thing. It is of vital import.

[HatTip to a somewhat ill InstaPundit.]

Friday, May 07, 2004
Moore Follow-Up [UPDATED]

Ah, he admits it. From the London Independent:

Less than 24 hours after accusing the Walt Disney Company of pulling the plug on his latest documentary in a blatant attempt at political censorship, the rabble-rousing film-maker Michael Moore has admitted he knew a year ago that Disney had no intention of distributing it.

The admission, during an interview with CNN, undermined Moore's claim that Disney was trying to sabotage the US release of Fahrenheit 911 just days before its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.

Instead, it lent credence to a growing suspicion that Moore was manufacturing a controversy to help publicise the film, a full-bore attack on the Bush administration and its handling of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001.


Moore told CNN that Disney had "signed a contract to distribute this [film]" but got cold feet. But Disney executives insists there was never any contract. And a source close to Miramax said that the only deal there was for financing, not for distribution.
As my mother asked when I mentioned this story: "Why does anybody listen to him?"

And, notice too, that the NYTimes, once again overeager to blast the President on any little tidbit, falls for it hook, line, and sinker:
A front-page news piece in The New York Times was followed yesterday by an editorial denouncing Disney for censorship and denial of Moore's right to free expression.
Nevermind that this is not an issue of free-speech at all, but now the 'Paper Of Record' looks bad on account of Moore's back-tracking. If people don't wake up soon, Moore may run the Left into the ground all by himself - and that's not good for anyone.

[HatTip to Jeff Jarvis, who has some good comments.]

From The Corner comes this interesting tidbit:
Note the changed headline on the Independent's Moore story:

Last night: "Moore admits Disney 'ban' was a stunt"

Today: "Moore accused of publicity stunt over Disney 'ban'"
Tag this one "Media Seeks To Help Moore Out."
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Michael Moore: Manipulator [UPDATED x2]

...but you already knew he couldn't be trusted, didn't you?

Well, in case you had any doubts, here's more proof.

[HatTip to Daimnation and Michael Totten.]

It has come to my attention that some readers are missing the point of this post. Here's Michael J. Totten (who, by the way, leans to the Left):
Some people just don't get it. When liberals criticize the wing-nuts on their own side it doesn't hurt them. It helps them. Defending liars and conspiracy theorists because they're on your own 'side' makes your side look insane.

Ask yourself - should conservatives run interference for Ann Coulter just because she's right of center? Or should they tell her to get lost? Ask yourself what would be honorable behavior from the folks on the other side of the aisle. Then follow your own advice. You'll feel better and help yourself in the bargain.
Just to clarify what the issue is here, allow me to quote the source of the information, one Marc Cooper (also a Left-leaner):
Dissecting the current dust-up, it seems clear that Disney never intended to distribute Moore's film. Maybe the Mousketeers are cowards, but at least they are consistent. And Moore is whining now only to hype the pre-Cannes buzz. Sources report that Miramax never planned to release the Moore film, that it was always slated to come out through Lions Gate, as did the earlier Dogma.
And I'll follow that by quoting from the London Independent (which is quite a bit further to the Left):
Michael Moore, the establishment-bashing film-maker, accused the Walt Disney Company of political censorship yesterday because it is refusing to distribute his latest documentary which attacks the Bush administration's handling of national security since 11 September.
Get that? He's playing the free-speech card. Nevermind the fact that he has no right to have some entity other than himself give him a contract for distribution. It is perfectly within Disney's rights (no matter what their motivation) to decide not to help Mr. Moore out here. To continue:
Last year, Mr Moore cried censorship again after his unabashedly political speech at the Oscars - he called Mr Bush a "fictitious" president who had just started the Iraq invasion for "fictitious reasons" - was greeted with jeers and boos.
So he's done this before (as if you didn't know), and, again, his definition of free speech is: getting everyone else to cease their own. Heaven forbid they actually, you know, disagree. Moving on:
There is no indication, however, that [Miramax] was counting on [Mr. Eisner changing his mind], or that Mr Eisner has somehow reneged on an earlier promise.

"The only thing that's new here is in Disney's reaffirmation of their previously stated position," one well-placed source said on condition of anonymity. "Miramax never said it was distributing the film, even if people assumed it would find a way."
Aha! So the whole thing was a lie in the first place. "Miramax never said it was distributing the film..." The 'betrayal' of Mr. Moore by Miramax itself was bogus. This, friends, is the point - that Mr. Moore has repeatedly and grossly manipulated the facts, both in his books and his films, and now he's expanded that mode of deception into 'reality,' such as it is.

The Left, if it is ever to come back to coherence, would do well to distance itself from Moore's ravings.

UPDATE The 2nd
More from Mr. Cooper [emphasis in original]:
I cannot imagine Michael Moore having that sort of transformational effect on anyone. Moore arrives before us not with a newspaper under his arm, but rather with a bullhorn and a sledgehammer. [Mort] Sahl engaged his audience in subtle, complicated dialogue, enticing his fans to think beyond the conventional wisdom. Moore's style is to bully and bluster. Sahl helped teach me how to think. Moore purports to tell us what to think.

Which wouldn’t be so objectionable if there was evidence that Moore had any depth, any nuance or at least some consistency to his own thought.

I find no trace. His books are crude pastiches, not plagiarized but, let us say, deeply dependent on the work of others. Even his Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine is but a cinematic redux of USC sociologist Barry Glassner's far superior book, The Culture of Fear.

Moore supported Nader's 2000 campaign and then at the end, called for a strategic vote for Gore. He slammed Clinton but simultaneously swooned over Hillary, describing her as his fantasy woman in his best-selling Downsize This! In Bowling for Columbine, Moore makes the phantasmagoric assertion that the Littleton killings are somehow linked to the tonnage of NATO bombs dropped on Yugoslavia that same day. Yet, he vigorously supported Wesley Clark for president — who, as former NATO Supreme Commander, oversaw that same bombing.

Moore's shtick is to deftly read the emotional contours of the liberal left and then to profitably mold and expand himself to fill the void. He's a polarizer, not a teacher. His ramped-up stage style, shouting and screaming profanities at Dubya, no doubt provides some satisfying moments for the already-converted but can only alienate and confound those still in doubt.

While touring his current book, Moore has boasted that turnouts of two, three or more thousand fans to see him in this or that venue proves something important about the existence of a majoritarian opposition in America. It does? Some Orange County cathedral services draw bigger crowds every Sunday.

Moore has had some great moments and, yes, he can be very funny. His 1989 Roger & Me deserved its unexpected success. But even that supposedly ultra-populist piece seemed oddly streaked with a scornful misanthropy, a sentiment, I suspect, that reveals something rather dark about Moore’s core views.
Like so many on the Left, Mr. Cooper has seen Michael Moore for what he is, and is wisely saying 'go away.'
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
A New Game... [UPDATED]

Given the propensity of my friends to play various trivia games (one at which I stink, and one at which I rock), I thought I might add my own 'game' to the mix. Here's the thing, and it's straight out of my high school career - remember the Kevin Bacon game? 'Six Degrees,' where you attempt to link actors to Kevin Bacon by listing various other actors they've performed with? Well, I'm taking that to another level. It's no longer limited to Kevin Bacon. The goal is to link any two actors together within six moves. Here's an example (one that I did back in 11th grade to win our group's competition): James Dean to James Earl Jones.

1) James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor in Giant
2) Elizabeth Taylor to Elizabeth Perkins in The Flintstones
3) Elizabeth Perkins to Tom Hanks in Big
4) Tom Hanks to Carrie Fisher in The 'Burbs
5) Carrie Fisher to James Earl Jones in Star Wars

James Dean to James Earl Jones in five moves.

So now, I'm going to list some actor combinations, and the challenge to you is to link 'em, if you can. Note that the only allowable moves are from movie to movie. TV and other media are not valid.

1) Christian Slater to River Phoenix
2) Joaquin Phoenix to Gabriel Byrne
3) John Malkovich to Marlon Brando
4) Ned Beatty to Liam Neeson
5) Rutger Hauer to Ethan Hawke
6) Luiz Guzman to Joseph Mazzello

There's a few for you to work on. If you want more, then figure out how I got from each 'last' actor to the next (that is, for example, from Liam Neeson to Rutger Hauer). In the event of a 'tie' (a solution provided by two people) the solution with fewer moves wins...or gets more points...or whatever.

I remembered after I posted this that the rule for being 'within six moves' is thrown out in this version of the game, as it may require a great number of moves to complete the linking. Fewer moves are always to be desired, however. And, on another note, for the purposes of this game, using IMDB is NOT considered cheating. You might feel better about yourself if you don't use it, but it's not a 'requirement.' Happy Linking!
Monday, May 03, 2004
Liberals And The Media

Granted, this article by Andrew Sullivan was written just under a month ago, so I'm late joining the party; but I stumbled across it today (as I was taking a break from studying), and found that I needed to point you to it, dear reader:

Educated liberals, after all, decry populism. A large part of their self-esteem is bound up in believing themselves better educated and more enlightened than the average person, certainly smarter than, say, George W. Bush. So actually getting on the air and engaging in irresponsible, shameless spin and ideology goes against the grain. Conservatives, in general, are happy to confess their biases. Liberals like to think their biases are actually reality. That's why they are much happier on, say, the BBC or, in America, on National Public Radio, which bores and uplifts the average listener into eventual submission to centre-left orthodoxy. And they're objective, of course. There is no bias at the BBC or NPR. Just professionalism!
Portions of this article go hand in hand with my own analysis, and others delve into wholly different aspects, but the whole thing deserves your attention.
On Fire! [UPDATED]

Well, wouldja look at this! [emphases added]

[Pedro] Martinez had his shortest outing of the season for Boston, giving up six runs in four innings, and the Texas Rangers won 8-5 to complete a sweep in the doubleheader matching division leaders.
It was the Rangers' first series sweep of Boston since August 1999. They got their 16th win, tying San Diego for most in the majors.
Oh, and by the way, if anyone asks, the title of 'Austin's favorite player in all of MLB' has become a shared honor: Michael Young is now joined by Hank Blalock. Why? Couple of reasons:
"You hear some guys say 'oh, it's not about the money,' but with Hank it's really not about the money,'' says Showalter. "There is nothing materialistic or phony about Hank.''

The Rangers say there is little risk given the talent and the character of the player. Last year, Blalock hit .300 with 29 home runs and 90 RBI. He also hit a two-run home run off Eric Gagne in the All-Star Game that gave the American League a 5-4 victory. This season, Blalock is back at it, hitting .333 and with 18 RBI through Wednesday. Defensively, he gets better every day. When Showalter offers a compliment, Blalock says, "just doing my job, dude.''
When Rangers pitcher R.A. Dickey moved his wife, two children and a third on the way into an apartment near the ballpark, Blalock heard about it, and would hear nothing of it. He offered his house to Dickey, saying that a growing family shouldn't be cramped in an apartment; Blalock and his wife would find another house in which to live.

Blalock is not in this for fame or publicity, just to win and to hit, much like one of Showalter's favorite players, Don Mattingly. Former teammate Alex Rodriguez offered Blalock the chance to fly to last year's All-Star Game on A-Rod's private jet after the Rangers' game that Sunday. Blalock respectfully declined, opting to take a 7 a.m. commercial flight the next day with his wife. Blalock said he might never get back to the All-Star Game, and he wanted he, and his wife, to savor every minute of it.
Finally, a ballplayer children really should try to emulate!

Could this be the year my dreams finally come true, and the Rangers win the Pennant (a World Series is so outta the question it isn't even in my dreams)? Ha! Not likely. But hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Ah, Randy Galloway. I've missed you, man!
Starting with the commissioner's office, and filtering down through various officialdom, club executives, and certainly the East Coast media, all of baseball's deep thinkers were united over the winter in offering one strong opinion.

For the good of the game, A-Rod must be rescued.

Rescued from the Texas wilderness.

Go to Boston, or go to New York City. But go where A-Rod's ample skills could be properly appreciated by a wiser and more educated audience. This man was a winner, so allow him to mingle with his own kind. Winners.

The best player in the game, sniffed the baseball sophisticates, should not be playing in Arlington, Texas.

So, as Alex the Great struggles at the moment in New York to keep his average above .250, I've got important news for the East Coast chapter of Baseball Einsteins Inc.

One month and two games into this season, guess what?

The best player in the game, as of May 3, continues to play in Arlington, Texas.
Man, I've got a lot of catch-up reading to do...

Not to mention catch-up listening!

A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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