Day By Day

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kissinger on Iraq

Henry Kissinger, who knows whereof he speaks, explains why Obama's insistence on a fixed timetable is a bad idea.

Establishing a deadline is the surest way to undermine the hopeful prospects [in the region]. It will encourage largely defeated internal groups to go underground until a world more congenial to their survival arises with the departure of American forces. Al-Qaeda will have a deadline against which to plan a full-scale resumption of operations. And it will give Iran an incentive to strengthen its supporters in the Shiite community for the period after the American withdrawal. Establishing a fixed deadline would also dissipate assets needed for the diplomatic endgame.

The inherent contradictions of the proposed withdrawal schedule compound the difficulties. Under the fixed withdrawal scheme, combat troops are to be withdrawn, but sufficient forces would remain to protect the U.S. Embassy, fight a resumption of al-Qaeda and contribute to defense against outside intervention. But such tasks require combat, not support, forces, and the foreseeable controversy about the elusive distinction will distract from the overall diplomatic goal. Nor is withdrawal from Iraq necessary to free forces for operations in Afghanistan.
And here Dr. Kissinger touches on a profound disagreement between liberals and conservatives. Liberals, somewhat naively, conceive of military and diplomatic efforts as opposed alternatives -- the former to be deployed only if the latter fail. Conservatives recognize that they are complementary aspects of our national policy. A successful diplomatic effort in West Asia will depend to a large extent upon the demonstrated willingness of the next administration to deploy military assets there. This is a distinction that the press seldom recognizes and which politicians are afraid to assert for fear of being branded war mongers, yet it is fundamental to any successful attempt to protect American interests anywhere they are threatened. McCain knows this -- I am not sure Obama, whose experience has been largely limited to the parochial precincts of academia and the activist community, understands.

The problem with Obama is that he might just believe the inane things he says.

Read Dr. Kissinger's article here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ruining My Appetite

"Walk with me" She Who Must Not Be Named said. I was agreeable, so we set off on a trek through downtown Baltimore. We had a dinner reservation at the Oceanaire in about an hour and a half, and spending some time walking around taking pictures seemed like a good idea. "She" wanted to show me a place she had found -- a French pastry shop north of Little Italy that had a great reputation (among her friends, at least). Here's a mural on the side of the shop.


And here's what we saw inside. It was late in the day so the selection was pretty much depleted, but it was authentic French pastry. We could tell that it was authentic because the girl behind the counter had a heavy French accent and was quite rude. We got the impression that she was doing us a great favor just by taking our orders. "She" bought a selection of the cookies, I got a couple of almond croissants, and we headed back out into the afternoon heat, carrying our purchases.



We headed south through Little Italy heading for the harbor. Lots of interesting little things to photograph but I was getting really uncomfortable. It was hot and humid and I was drenched in sweat. Little Italy is one of those neighborhoods where people like to sit on their stoops and in front of nearly every home you find a bench, but today the streets were deserted. Nobody was willing to brave the heat and humidity.


Noting my discomfort "She" suggested we stop at Vaccaro's, an Italian pastry shop just a couple of blocks away. That sounded great. We stepped into a cool, air conditioned space and saw this. More pastry. More really, really good pastry -- and gelato!

You have to understand -- I had not had anything to eat all day and had gone swimming just an hour earlier. I had an appetite -- at least when I stepped into the shop -- but I decided to forego my usual heaping bowl of ice cream. Dinner was coming up soon. We ordered iced tea, and the girl behind the counter asked if we wanted "Italian Iced Tea". "Sure" I said, "make it large." I was thirsty.

Mistake!

Vaccaro's Italian Iced Tea comes in a large container holding tea and six! scoops of lemon ice. That's right, six! It took us most of an hour to finish them, then we headed down to dinner at the Harbor East. The Oceanaire is a very good restaurant with an excellent selection of seafood, but I had no appetite left. Neither did she. The food was good, but we just poked at it, and got large doggy bags to take home.

Later that night I got out one of the croissants and took a nibble, then a bite, then wolfed the whole thing down. I may have ruined my appetite for seafood, but French pastry is another thing indeed. I'm just glad that I managed to resist buying a slice of Vaccaro's rum cake. It is one of my favorites, but that would have been too much.

Obama at Chicago Law

The New York Times ran a story on Obama's teaching experience at the University of Chicago [here]. It is revealing in a number of ways:

First of all, it was obviously a sweetheart appointment. Universities frequently do favors to politicians as a way of building support for their institutions. This has all the trappings of such a deal.

Obama was paid $60,000 for a part-time teaching assignment. That is a lot of money to throw at an instructor. Beyond the classroom he had absolutely no duties and spent his non-classroom time promoting his political career. During his time at Chicago he did no committee work, produced no scholarship, and was on campus only for his classes.

The Times notes that Obama was frequently critical of liberal positions on a number of issues. It also points out that in the past the University of Chicago has hired a number of major conservative figures. They use this to suggest that Obama has conservative or moderate tendencies. But, as Ann Althouse points out [and I can confirm from my own experience] left-wing academic ideologues voiced basically the same criticisms of liberalism as did Obama. His critique of liberalism brands him as, at that time, a hard-core lefty, not a moderate. And, as Brian Leiter points out [here] the University of Chicago has a lot of important left-wingers on its faculty and the local institution favorable to conservatives is Northwestern, not U. of C.

The Times obviously slanted the story so as to quiet fears raised by "The One's!" past radical associations. Unfortunately, for me at least, the story only strengthens those concerns.

The Presumptuous Candidate


I am so sick of this interminable election campaign that I refuse to pay attention to the day to day spin game that so obsesses the punditry, but I will note that the arrogance of the Obamination has reached a point where it has begun to annoy even left wing journalists like Dana Milbank. He writes:

Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee.

Fresh from his presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection, Obama settled down to some presidential-style business in Washington yesterday. He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president's) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing. Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally.

Along the way, he traveled in a bubble more insulating than the actual president's. Traffic was shut down for him as he zoomed about town in a long, presidential-style motorcade, while the public and most of the press were kept in the dark about his activities, which included a fundraiser at the Mayflower where donors paid $10,000 or more to have photos taken with him. His schedule for the day, announced Monday night, would have made Dick Cheney envious:

Read the whole thing here.

If even lefties like Milbank are beginning to worry about this guy he's got troubles. As they say, "pride goeth before a fall," and when the press turns it does so quickly and savagely. It will be interesting to see how "the One!" handles press criticism when it comes..., and it will come.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fight Scenes


More on movies. Slate magazine has a terrific story with excellent illustrations by Dennis Lim on the evolution of fight scenes in major movies over the past half century. The story also has links to David Bordwell's analysis which is always worth reading.

Check it out here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hercules Returns

And in more movie news Peter Berg, director of "Hancock", will be directing a remake of Hercules.

Berg will produce and will develop to direct "Hercules: The Thracian Wars," a co-production of Spyglass Entertainment, Berg’s Film 44 and Radical Pictures. Spyglass and Universal will co-finance the film.

Ryan Condal will write the script, based on a five-issue comicbook series by Steve Moore that debuted in May through Radical Publishing.

Read about it here.

Hercules, or Heracles as the Greeks called him, was the greatest hero of the classical world -- the only one elevated to the status of Olympian deity. But to modern eyes he was anything but heroic. As a youth Heracles was tutored in music by Linus, but when his mentor criticized his playing young Herc bashed his head in with a lyre. Anger management problems, perhaps?

After this he was sent off to the countryside to be a shepherd, probably to keep him away from other potential victims of his anger.

Then Heracles led a gang of youths in a slaughter of the Minyans. This pleased the King of Thebes so much that Heracles was accepted into the royal family and married to his daughter. The relationship, however, didn't work out. Heracles went mad and killed his wife and their children. This led to his exile and a commitment to undertake the famous labors, many of which involved killing something or somebody.

During the course of these labors, Herc again lost his temper and killed the King of Oechalia and all his sons except one whom he took as a lover and companion. That relationship didn't work out either. In a later fit of madness Herc killed his boyfriend. In penance for this murder Herc lived for three years as a female slave of the queen of Lydia.

Then, in another fit of anger, Herc killed the entire royal family of Troy, sparing only Priam who was an infant at the time.

And he also killed Alastor of Pylos and all his brothers.

And he killed the royal family of Sparta.

And he killed the king of Aulis and his daughter.

Do you see a pattern here?

And so it went..., and so it went.

Heracles' last living act was to throw his loyal servant, Lichas, off a cliff, killing him. At least the guy was consistent.

And this was the greatest hero of the classical world! The ancient Greeks were not like us.

My question is -- should we consider Heracles to be a serial killer or a spree killer, or perhaps a serial spree killer?

And I wonder if any of this will get into Berg's film.


London After Midnight


Has been found!!!!! Lon Chaney and Tod Browning's lost masterpiece has been rediscovered. I saw the TCM recreation using studio stills and that was impressive, but left me wanting to see the real thing. Now it looks like it might be possible.

Read about it here.

Pennsyania Pictures

Another weekend, another posting of pictures from around the glorious commonwealth.



Virginia's Shed. I had a phone call from Virginia this week. It reminded me of our last trip across the mountains to visit her. That's when I took this picture.


Main Street in Latrobe. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches and some wonderful old houses.



Pottsville, looking north toward the courthouse.

Bush as Batman

Last week "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I went to see the latest Batman flick. Before going I had browsed through the major reviews and was prepared for a dark, disjointed, extremely violent experience that explored the depths of human depravity. And, of course, I was told we would be seeing a bravura performance by Heath Ledger -- a hunky teen idol who was trying to establish himself as a serious actor before his unfortunate demise. Based on these reviews I was not very keen on seeing the films -- I had been decidedly unimpressed with director Jonathan Nolan's previous foray into Batman legend (which was also positively reviewed) and was sick and tired of superhero flicks (with one exception -- Hancock, a film that cheerfully subverted the conventions of the genre).

The early portions of the film did nothing to rouse my interest. The appearance of Cillian Murphy, reprising his "Scarecrow" role, seemed to confirm the critics' warning that the film's narrative was a mess. But as the story progressed I became more involved. I remember thinking at some point that I was watching a John Ford flick. The developing themes -- a righteous man willing to suffer and sacrifice himself, his reputation, and even those he loves for the good of the community, the need for inspirational fictions to mask the tawdriness of reality, the alienation of the hero and his mad willingness to stare unflinchingly into the abyss -- all these were hallmarks of Ford's canon. I began to enjoy the film.

Critics had emphasized the darkness of the film, but I found it to be anything but. Ledger's Joker is the face of ultimate evil -- a mad destructive force that tempts those about him to descend to his level of depravity. Ultimately the situation he develops is not unlike that presented by Ford's "Liberty Valance" and raises the question of how to confront evil. In Ford's epic, John Wayne's "Tom Doniphan" does the dirty job of ridding the town of evil and is willing to allow credit to pass to a crusading lawyer, played by Jimmy Stewart. Doniphan ultimately goes to his grave unloved and unappreciated, his heroism remembered only by a few, while Stewart's politician/lawyer rises to become governor and gets the girl to boot. This time, however, things turn out differently. While Christian Bale's "Batman" is quite willing to assume the thankless task of ridding the world of evil, Aaron Eckhart's crusading lawyer/politician, "Harvey Dent", fails. Under pressure he collapses and turns to the dark side -- and of course nobody gets the girl. It is with the emergence of "Two Face" that we leave Ford country and enter a more morally ambiguous realm.

But moral ambiguity does not mean a lack of moral compass. Nolan's heroes are all to some extent morally compromised -- you can't fight evil without getting a little dirty yourself, he seems to be saying. But (and here we really are getting really far from Ford country and the mid-twentieth century values it represents) moral righteousness ultimately resides in the common citizenry. Ford and other film-makers of his generation had been convinced by the experience of World War II that the common man was corrupt and dangerous, at best passive in the face of evil -- definitely not to be trusted. Only the righteous leader could redeem him. Hope for the future lay with the extraordinary, not the ordinary man. But in Nolan's world it is the leaders who are compromised, and the evil that they do can only be redeemed by the collective action of the common man.

It was at the ferry scene, where this point is driven home, that I realized that I was watching a very conservative, Bushian film. Whereas mid-twentieth century elite opinion saw the common man as a dangerous force that must be constrained by the institutions of government, the new conservatism, as epitomized by President Bush in both word and deed, emphasizes freeing the common man from the onerous burden of a corrupt and morally compromised government and relying upon him to ultimately make the right choice. This was emphasized at a recent press conference in which reporters asked Bush why he was not mandating guidelines for energy consumption, and the President replied that the American people were quite qualified to make decisions like that themselves.

In today's terroristic environment effective leadership requires doing things that some might find morally repugnant. Batman resorts to torture to save lives. Gary Oldman's future Commissioner Gordon resorts to deception, even visiting emotional distress on his own family. Both men are willing to compromise their integrity for the common good. In Gotham the myth of the righteous leader is shattered. In his place we find good, but fallible men doing whatever is necessary to defeat an implacable nihilistic evil. Some, like Batman [and by implication Bush] have the inner strength to handle this situation. Others, brittle moralists like Harvey Dent, are destroyed by it.

Mainstream critics missed all of this, probably because they are uniformly positioned on the left side of the political spectrum but a few conservative writers noted the parallels between Batman and Bush. Most notably, John Nolte, writing as "Dirty Harry", immediately recognized the parallels. He wrote:

The Dark Knight may well be the most conservative movie since 300. There’s just no arguing that the Joker is al-Qaeda and Batman George W. Bush. In between are the citizens of Gotham who have a choice: They can cave to terror, turn on their protector and blame his aggressive crime fighting for the rise of the Joker, or they can understand that appeasing a criminal status quo in their city doesn’t convince the Joker’s of the world to see the light and enroll at community college.

Dark Knight is neither an action or comic book film. What it is, is a stunningly realized psychological thriller brilliantly using familiar genres to comment on the battle between good and evil currently being played out in faraway deserts, but more importantly, right here at home. It’s a film that fundamentally understands that the war will either be won or lost in the souls of those who inhabit our own Gothams.

The film asks one question: Will Gothamites appease the terrorist? All they need do to satisfy the Joker is to turn on Batman, and until they do, the Joker promises wanton murder and destruction. If the people blame the Joker’s reign of terror on Batman’s refusal to appease him, the Joker wins. If the people turn on each other like animals out of fear and panic, the Joker wins. If Batman becomes the Joker to beat the Joker… Well, you get the point.

Read it here. Also his response to critics here.

This identification of Bush with Batman was confined to the nether reaches of the blogosphere until yesterday when Andrew Klaven wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society -- in which people sometimes make the wrong choices -- and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

"The Dark Knight," then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year's "300," "The Dark Knight" is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

Read it here.

As Klaven points out conservative-themed movies have been drawing huge crowds while relatively few are willing to spend money to view liberal diatribes against the Bush administration. In "The Dark Knight" the common man, when pressed to the wall, made the right choice. He seems to be making the right choice in the theaters. Let us hope that he will make the right choice this fall.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Second Coming of Barry

The American media seem incapable of making fun of the pretentious absurdity that is the Obamination, but the foreign press has no problem. Gerard Butler has a wonderful piece in today's Times.

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

Read the whole thing here.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dual Citizenship


Make of this what you want. In his Berlin address today Senator Obama introduced himself in these terms:
"Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world...."
Read the full text here.

This formulation, not unusual among today's liberal transnationalist elites, assumes a perfect correspondence between American interests and those of "the world". But of course no such convergence exists. The interests of the United States are not those of Russia, or China, or Iran, or Zimbabwe, or for that matter, Germany. When disagreements emerge, as they inevitably will, Obama will have to make a choice, and nothing in his rhetoric to date assures me that he will make the right one.

It would be good to remember that we are electing a President of the United States, not merely an American representative to the Parliament of Man!

Second Thoughts

Lanny Davis is beginning to have second thoughts about his, and his party's, opposition to the Iraq war. He writes:

I think there are a lot of anti-war Democrats who, like me,... now see a moral obligation, after all the carnage and destruction wrought by our military intervention, not just to pick up and leave without looking over our shoulders.

Surely we owe the Iraqis who helped us, whose lives are in danger, immediate immigration rights to the U.S. Yet the shameful fact is that most are still not even close to having such rights.

Surely we owe the Maliki government and the Shiiite and Sunni soldiers who put their lives on the line against Shiite and Sunni extremists and terrorists at our behest some continuing presence and support and patience as they strive to find peace, political reconciliation — and maybe even the beginnings of a stable democracy.

Read the whole thing here.

There seems to some serious rethinking going on in the not-entirely-crazy wing of the Democrat Party on the subject of Iraq. It will be interesting to see what this bodes for the fall campaign.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The WaPo Sets the Record Straight

Regarding the idea being spread through most of the MSM that the Iraqi government has endorsed Sen. Obama's call for a sixteen-month withdrawal timetable..., never mind!

The WaPo sets the record straight today on its editorial page:

THE INITIAL MEDIA coverage of Barack Obama's visit to Iraq suggested that the Democratic candidate found agreement with his plan to withdraw all U.S. combat forces on a 16-month timetable. So it seems worthwhile to point out that, by Mr. Obama's own account, neither U.S. commanders nor Iraq's principal political leaders actually support his strategy.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki... made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010. But an Iraqi government statement made clear that Mr. Maliki's timetable would extend at least seven months beyond Mr. Obama's. More significant, it would be "a timetable which Iraqis set" -- not the Washington-imposed schedule that Mr. Obama has in mind. It would also be conditioned on the readiness of Iraqi forces, the same linkage that Gen. Petraeus seeks. As Mr. Obama put it, Mr. Maliki "wants some flexibility in terms of how that's carried out."

Other Iraqi leaders were more directly critical.
Read it here.

And, regarding Obama's repeated assertion that Iraq is a distraction from the real fight in Afghanistan, the WaPo rightly labels that as "eccentric" and points out some inconvenient facts.
[T]here are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country's strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world's largest oil reserves.
On the same page Max Boot writes:

There is some irony in the fact that Democrats, after years of deriding Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a hopeless bungler and conniving Shiite sectarian, are now treating as sacrosanct his suggestion that Iraq will be ready to assume responsibility for its own security by 2010. Naturally this is because his position seems to support that of Barack Obama.

A little skepticism is in order here.
He then goes on to list the reasons to be a bit skeptical of the the MSM interpretation of Maliki's statements. Read the whole thing here.

VDH on McCain and Obama

VDH argues that McCain can't win the argument over who had better judgment on the Surge. People don't care about that -- they just want the war to be over. Instead, McCain should focus his campaign on domestic issues.
McCain should not get trapped into surge dialectics, but stay on 5-6 domestic themes: he wants to transition us to green energy through drilling, nuclear, clean coal, and all our resources; Obama has bought into Gorism and thinks we can hope and change our way magically to "wind, solar, and millions of new jobs in green energies"; McCain will close the border first and discuss the thorny issues later; Obama won't. McCain will cut federal spending and pay off debt, Obama wants a trillion dollars in new entitlements; McCain won't raise taxes; Obama's could make the top brackets pay, European-style, 65 percent in state and federal taxes, and stifle economic growth with new levies on capital gains, inheritances, payroll, and income; McCain will appoint judges who follow and interpret, not create, laws; Obama will do the opposite; McCain knows the military and what it can do to protect American interests; Obama wants to create a shadow civilian force “that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the $500 billion a year Pentagon.
Read it here.

Considered in this way Obama's domestic ambitions look a lot scarier than his obvious incompetence in foreign affairs. That shadow civilian force sure looks a lot like fascism to me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Experts Confront Reality

Germany fell hard for the environmentalists' agenda. Now they are starting to have second thoughts. Der Spiegel reports:
The price of European emission permits is rising so rapidly that German companies are threatening to leave the country. Thousands of jobs could be lost. And the environment may, in the end, be no better off.
Read the whole thing here.

My favorite part is where the technocrats -- the "experts" on environmental economics -- come face to face with people who have to live in the real world.
The businessmen's anger surprised the emissions-allowance trading experts. They had invited industry representatives to a relaxed forum at the Environment Ministry's office in Bonn. They wanted to present international developments in the carbon trading market. However, the mood in the German business world has soured -- managers no longer have the stomach for academic lectures.
Good for them!

Well, if business is hurt, and jobs are lost, then who benefits?
[A]t the moment there is only one winner: the German state. Finance Minister Peer Steinbr├╝ck can expect tax revenues from the climate protection program which will far exceed estimates from the start of the year.
And that is the nut of the situation. Cap and trade systems are, in the end, nothing more than a heavy tax burden on businesses that will hurt the economy and benefit only the bureaucrats. That's why Democrats such as Al Gore, Barry O, and Hillary!'s hubby are so enthusiastic about them.

Democrats long ago ceased to represent the common man -- they are now the party of the bureaucracy.

Cutting Through the Spin

Just what the Hell is Iraqi PM Maliki up to with his semi-ambiguous statements on American troop withdrawals? I have suggested in the past that he is simply, and quite rightly, trying to establish his nationalist credentials in Iraq and is relatively unconcerned with what effect his statements have on American opinion. Robert H. Reid of the AP has a better take. He argues that Maliki is taking advantage of the American election to pressure U. S. officials for concessions in ongoing negotiations over the nature and scope of America's continuing presence in Iraq.

AMMAN, Jordan -- The Iraqi prime minister's seeming endorsement of Barack Obama's troop withdrawal plan is part of Baghdad's strategy to play U.S. politics for the best deal possible over America's military mission.

The goal is not necessarily to push out the Americans quickly, but instead give Iraqis a major voice in how long U.S. troops stay and what they will do while still there.

It also is designed to refurbish the nationalist credentials of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who owes his political survival to the steadfast support of President Bush. Now, an increasingly confident Iraqi government seems to be undermining long-standing White House policies on Iraq.

....

A top al-Maliki adviser, Sadiq al-Rikabi, insisted the Iraqi government does not intend to be "part of the electoral campaign in the United States."

But that is precisely what the Iraqis intended to do: exploit Obama's position on the war to force the Bush administration into accepting concessions considered unthinkable a few months ago.

Read the whole thing here.

As frustrating as this must be to some in Washington, what Maliki is doing is quite proper. Iraqi national and regional interests are not necessarily congruent with those of the U. S. and as head of state Maliki is standing up for his nation's interest. This has infuriated some pundits who feel that the Iraqis should do Washington's bidding. But that is to misunderstand what the Iraq war was all about. It was never an imperial venture, no matter how strongly left-wing critics might insist it was. It was a war of liberation, and it is altogether right and proper that a liberated Iraqi government should have as its first concern Iraqi interests.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New York Times Snubs McCain


Last week the New York Times printed an editorial by Senator Obama. This week they refused to print Senator McCain's rebuttal. Here is the full text of Senator McCain's submission.
In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military's readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.
HT Drudge


An Evening at Oregon Ridge

As I have noted before, deep within the breast of "She Who Must Not Be Named" lurks a fourteen year old girl who emerges from time to time to announce that she just has to see Nancy Drew, Kit Kitteridge, Nim's Island, or some such thing. Her latest appearance was last weekend when "She" insisted we go to the BSO concert under the stars at Oregon Ridge. The program was titled "Hocus Pocus" and featured movie music from Harry Potter and other fantasy-themed kids movies. Of course there were lots and lots of children in attendance, many of them dressed as Harry, Hermione, Ron or one of their friends. There was a drawing, wands were handed out, one lucky kid [not "She" unfortunately] won a trip to London for the next Potter premier.

There were lots of amusements for the kids.


But some were attracted to simpler pleasures like a grassy slope.


Or even simpler -- the kid sitting next to me spent the entire concert trying to swat bugs with a paper fan. He wasn't even trying to keep time with the music.

As always with these things the concert ended with a fireworks display accompanied by John Williams bombast. At last, a chance to try out the "fireworks" setting on my F100 [2.000 exposure, F/9.0]. Here are some of the results.







Finally we headed back to the car in a procession of families led by kids waving light sabers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Something Good is Coming

This could be something special:

MGM has acquired and greenlit "The Cabin in the Woods", a thriller written by Joss Whedon [Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity] and Drew Goddard [Lost, Cloverfield]. Goddard will direct; Whedon will produce.

Based on their past performance this promises to be a must-see.

From Rope of Silicon

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Weekend Pictures



It was hot and humid up at Hawk Mountain this morning. A heavy mist hung over the river and haze obscured the hills. Naturally I grabbed my cameras and headed out to see what could be seen. As it turned out, not much.


I did, however, get upclose and personal with this little beauty. Of course it's just a weed. A few years ago I wouldn't have even noticed it and (in one of her gardening frenzies) "She Who Must Not Be Named" would have ripped it out without a second thought, but carrying a camera changes everything. You start to look closely, I mean really look, at your surroundings and the rewards are enormous. An artist friend of mine tells me that it has always been that way for him. I envy him and wish I had learned to look earlier.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Denying Credit Where It's Due

The MSM is falling all over itself trying to deny that President Bush has anything to do with the decline in oil prices.

[Bush] says drill. Oil prices drop immediately. The press doesn’t see the connection.

And on top of that, dropping oil prices now are a bad thing.

To recap: President Bush officially announced at a press conference a lift on the presidential ban on offshore drilling — at 10:20 a.m. on Tuesday.

At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, oil prices began a slide from about $145 a barrel to just under $130.

That’s a 10% drop.

How has the press reported this?

To see the answer go to Don Surber's column here.

The Crumbling Consensus

A growing number of physicists are coming to doubt the IPCC's global warming paradigm.

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming "incontrovertible."

In a posting to the APS forum, editor Jeffrey Marque explains,"There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution."

The APS is opening its debate with the publication of a paper by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, which concludes that climate sensitivity -- the rate of temperature change a given amount of greenhouse gas will cause -- has been grossly overstated by IPCC modeling. A low sensitivity implies additional atmospheric CO2 will have little effect on global climate.

Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chairman of the New England Section of the APS, called Monckton's paper an "expose of the IPCC that details numerous exaggerations and "extensive errors"

Read about it here.

So much for "settled science".


Etymology

Etymology:
1398, from Gk. etymologia, from etymon "true sense" (neut. of etymos "true," related to eteos "true") + logos "word." In classical times, of meanings; later, of histories. Latinized by Cicero as veriloquium.
A wonderful site for those who, like me, love words. Want to know the origins and development of the words you use? Check them out here at the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lileks Tours the Inverted World

James Lileks is at his best when he's cranky, and today he's really, really cranky as he takes us on a tour of the "inverted world" in which we increasingly live.

Read it here.

Deep In the Tank -- NBC's Blatant Bias

The International Herald Tribune [NYT] reports:

Senator John McCain's trip to Iraq last spring was a low-key affair: With his ordinary retinue of reporters following him abroad, the NBC News anchor Brian Williams reported on his arrival in Baghdad from New York, with just two sentences tacked onto the "in other political news" portion of his newscast.

But when Obama heads for Iraq and other locations overseas this summer, Williams is planning to catch up with him in person, as are the other two evening news anchors, Charles Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, who, like Williams, are far along in discussions to interview Obama on successive nights.

And while the anchors are jockeying for interviews with Obama at stops along his route, the regulars on the Obama campaign plane will have new seat mates: star political reporters from the major newspapers and magazines who are flocking to catch Obama's first overseas trip since becoming the presumptive nominee of his party.

Read it here.

I mean..., could they make it any more obvious. Still, the NYT discerns no bias here..., just a news organization fascinated by the color of Barry's skin and trying to understand him. NBC says that the reason is that this is Obama's first trip to the war zone.

Sounds a lot like the lies of lying liars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Cost Of Government Day

Tomorrow you have the bureaucracy's permission to start working for yourself.

Cost of Government Day (COGD) is the date of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state and local levels.

Cost of Government Day for 2008 is July 16. Working people must toil on average 197 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government. In other words, the cost of government consumes 53.9 percent of national income.

Read the whole thing here.

A Comfortable Retirement

Sometimes some folks just needs killing. Here's one.

The Mirror reports:
Cellar monster Josef Fritzl has asked his prison doctor for a supply of anti-ageing face cream.

The 73-year-old, who locked his daughter Elisabeth underground for 24 years and fathered seven children by her, has also been complaining about a variety of problems, ranging from chest pains to stomach ache.

Prison officials said yesterday he avidly followed TV and press reports about his case. Jail spokesman Erich Huber-Guensthofer said: "To be honest, other than the trips to the doctor and the request for face creams, Fritzl doesn't give us any trouble.

"You would hardly know that he was there.

"He has never complained about the food. If the weather is really nice, he takes a short walk in the prison courtyard."

He confirmed that Fritzl had the TV running in his cell all the time and hardly ever missed a report about himself.

When there was nothing on TV he was reading old newspaper reports about himself and his crimes.

Read the whole thing here.

The creep is actually enjoying his notoriety and seems to have a comfortable time in prison, reading his clippings.

Faugh!

Still Waiting for the Recession

The American economy just keeps chugging along despite the collapse of the housing bubble, the emergence of an energy bubble, and foreign threats.
At the June policy meeting, [Federal Reserve] officials projected that the rate of economic growth by the end of the year would be between 1% and 1.6%, up from 0.3% to 1.2% in their April estimates. The 2009 outlook was unchanged, with officials expecting growth between 2% and 2.8%. The figures are the “central tendency” of the projections, a range of estimates from 17 sitting policy makers excluding the three highest and three lowest. They were released today with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress.
Read it here.

So what this means is that we still haven't had a recession, and upcoming second quarter growth figures are very likely to show, not a recession but accelerating growth. Now market fears [which are a constant at all times] are beginning to shift to warnings about inflation, but these are not any more likely to be realized than previous fears about recession. The reason is that high gas and energy prices are absorbing money that would otherwise be available for discretionary consumer spending. This results in a soft consumer market which in turn severely limits the extent to which vendors of non-essential items can raise prices.

The Revolt of the Mandarins


This is a nice summary of what, I would argue, is the most important threat facing the American people today. It's not the economy. It's not a foreign enemy. It is the slow erosion of democracy by an emerging mandarinate.

A government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people is not a government where the employees act as if they own the place. When you get this attitude, you end up with mandarins who slowly hollow out representative government by introducing and then nurturing the idea that the bureaucrats can do as they please, training their putative political masters to no longer insist on obedience and accept that they to have become supplicants to the bureaucrats.

We're nowhere near even halfway along in the process.... But what's truly disturbing is that this is a problem that affects politicians of all stripes and nobody makes an issue of it. The DoD rebels against Clinton and the right quietly averts its gaze. State rebels against GWB and the left practically cheers them on.

It's gone on long enough that routine disobedience to political direction has become entrenched. People don't bat an eye when they talk about this or that political appointee being "captured" by their department and becoming the bureaucracies emissary to the President instead of the President's man directing the bureaucracy. It's a gathering storm, more serious than Iraq, though the slowness of the political disease's progression gives us a lot more time to ponder the problem.

Read the whole thing here.

I remember early in the Bush administration having conversations with high-ranking bureaucrats who complained about "political appointees" trying to tell them how to do their jobs. Their disdain for the elected representatives of the public was palpable. One of them routinely referred to States as "provinces". I watched over succeeding years as bureaucrats in the military, in the intelligence services, in the State Department, and elsewhere systematically (and with the support of leading Democrats who, to their eternal shame, hoped to gain political advantage from the controversies) obstructed the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq and elsewhere. The sight was both alarming and frightening.

More and more of the functions of government are being insulated from democratic pressures. More and more the permanent bureaucracy is both setting and implementing policies with casual disregard for the political process. Americans sense this disconnect and take out their frustrations on the President or on Congress, but the real problem is with the irresponsible and unresponsive federal bureaucracy.

Dubya Unleashed

With his second term of office coming to an end Dubya seems to be relaxed and energized and his recent rhetoric reflects it.

At the recent G-8 summit he made a memorable exit from a meeting:

The American leader... ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

Read it here.

What a wonderful and refreshing moment! As Tim Blair put it, George Bush Rocks! He understands the absurdity of and danger implicit in any global arrangement to combat climate change and is not afraid to acknowledge it.

At yesterday's press conference when asked why he had not put forth a comprehensive government plan to enforce energy conservation he replied:
“It would be presumptuous on my part to dictate how Americans live their lives”.... “Americans know how to balance their own checkbooks,” he said, and declining gasoline demand this summer is a sign that “the marketplace works.”
Read it here.

And that is why you gotta love the guy. He alone among the major figures in Washington has a good understanding of what the appropriate role of government should be.

Let Bush be Bush.

Victory in Iraq

Michael Yon, who in recent years has set the gold standard for war reporting, writes:

[B]arring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.
Emphasis mine.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Transhumanist Technocrats

David Brooks, over at the NYT, has a terrific column this week on the arrogance of the technocrats who plagued Western culture through the past century. He recalls the repeated and disastrous efforts to engineer the human species:
Starting in the late 19th century, eugenicists used primitive ideas about genetics to try to re-engineer the human race. In the 20th century, communists used primitive ideas about “scientific materialism” to try to re-engineer a New Soviet Man.

Today, we have access to our own genetic recipe. But we seem not to be falling into the arrogant temptation — to try to re-engineer society on the basis of what we think we know. Saying farewell to the sort of horrible social engineering projects that dominated the 20th century is a major example of human progress.

Indeed it is.

But his caution has wider application than just the folly of human engineering. In conclusion he writes:

This age of tremendous scientific achievement has underlined an ancient philosophic truth — that there are severe limits to what we know and can know; that the best political actions are incremental, respectful toward accumulated practice and more attuned to particular circumstances than universal laws.
Emphasis mine. Read the whole thing here.

Today when we are witnessing an elite and increasingly popular fascination with the "new eugenics" and "transhumanism", when environmentalism is tending ever more toward anti-human perspectives, and when militant atheists are proclaiming the absence of any moral values other than those derived from rigorous application of the scientific method, I fear that Mr. Brooks is far too sanguine regarding his example of "human progress". The scientistic impulse is alive and well and just as strong and terrible as it was in the progressive era or in the age of Marxist dominance.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What Did Maliki Really Say?

It was plastered all over the internet and has become the major talking point of the Obamination on Iraq -- the report that Iraqi PM has demanded a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Trouble is, that's not what he really said. The BBC reports:

In an audio recording of his remarks, heard by the BBC, the prime minister did not use the word "withdrawal".

What he actually said was: "The direction is towards either a memorandum of understanding on their evacuation, or a memorandum of understanding on programming their presence."

The confusion was caused by a mistranslation on the part of Iraqi interpreters. This confusion may have been deliberate.

The impression of a hardening Iraqi government line was reinforced the following day by comments from the National Security Adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie.

He was quoted as saying that Iraq would not accept any agreement which did not specify a deadline for a full withdrawal of US troops.

Significantly, Mr Rubaie was speaking immediately after a meeting with the senior Shiite clerical eminence, Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

But in subsequent remarks, Mr Rubaie rode back from a straightforward demand for a withdrawal deadline.

He said the talks were focused on agreeing on "timeline horizons, not specific dates", and said that withdrawal timings would depend on the readiness of the Iraqi security forces.

Read the whole thing here.

So in essence the position of the Iraqi government is the same as that of the Bush adminstration.

It sounds as though al Maliki's team is setting themselves up for serious negotiations while tossing a few rhetorical bones to extremist elements within their own regime. Few in the MSM noted that in the explanatory rhetoric following the PM's remarks Iraqi officials accepted a continuing American presence in their country, but insisted that they retain sovereignty over any permanent bases in which those troops would be housed. The nub of this argument would seem to be the "Green Zone" which has become something like a little piece of America in the middle of Baghdad. The Iraqis want it dismantled and their sovereignty over their own capital recognized. Not an unreasonable position when you think of it.

Not that the MSM is going to make much of this. Negotiations over a permanent US troop presence in Iraq don't fit into the Democrat narrative, and this is an election year.

Why Do They Hate?


If you are not familiar with the works of John Irving Bloom [aka Joe Bob Briggs] you should be. Journalist, TV star, humorist, and America's top expert on "drive-in movies" he is also President of the Trinity Foundation and editor of the religious satire magazine, "The Wittenburg [sic] Door".

The latest issue available online has a wonderful article by Bloom on the current state of atheism in America. Read "Joe Bob Parties With the Atheists" here.

Among the figures profiled is Philadelphia's own, Margaret Downey [pictured above]. Joe Bob finds these people amusing, but Margaret scares me. Sam Harris, on the other hand, is someone with whom I could have a rational discussion. He seems to lack the terrifying certainty of the real zealots.

Julie Tsang


That is a painting, not a photograph. The artist is Julie Tsang -- born in Hong Kong, raised in California, educated at Berkeley and in Florence, Italy, and currently living in San Francisco. She is a remarkable young talent. Check out her website here.

Culture Clash in Shreveport

Josh Brolin and a group of his fellow Hollywood liberals wandered into a bar in Shreveport and started mouthing off to the locals. Hilarity ensued.

Here's the newspaper report:

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Actors Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Wright, along with members of a crew filming an Oliver Stone movie, were arrested during a bar fight Saturday morning, police said.

Shreveport police Sgt. Willie Lewis said Brolin, Wright and five others were arrested just after 2 a.m. at a club called the Stray Cat bar.

A call to deal with a rowdy patron drew interference from other patrons, Lewis said.

The Times of Shreveport reported that Brolin was booked and posted $334 cash bond to be released. Police could not say Saturday night whether he or the others had been released. The paper said they are part of the crew on an Oliver Stone film, "W," about President George W. Bush.

Read the whole thing here.

The Military Dad, a Louisiana resident relying on local sources, tells it this way:
1. The movie stars strayed into a highly-red zone.
2. Objected to some rather patriotic C&W music.
3. Took issue with opinions re war et. al.
4. Were soundly thrashed and trashed by loyal denizens of Barksdale AFB who "restrained" the untermensch until the authorities arrived and relieved them of their burden.
Up here in Charm City we have to put up with the inanities of movie people all the time. We've gotten used to them and pretty much ignore them. They're mostly harmless and not worth the effort. One thing about celebrities -- they're attention junkies and if you ignore them, they eventually go away to seek recognition elsewhere.

More on Sarah Palin

Investors Business Daily has a long interview with Alaska's remarkable governor. The subject is the government's energy policies, about which she has many sensible things to say. Read it here.

Happy Bastille Day


In order to understand the difference between the United States and Europe one need only contemplate the difference between how our American Revolution and France's copycat effort turned out.

Standing Up, Standing Down

From the NYT:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is considering the withdrawal of additional combat forces from Iraq beginning in September, according to administration and military officials, raising the prospect of a far more ambitious plan than expected only months ago.

Such a withdrawal would be a striking reversal from the nadir of the war in 2006 and 2007.

Read it here.

Of course this is the Times, so they couch the news in the most critical terms possible. They claim that the reason for the withdrawal is that we are losing the fight in Afghanistan and need to shift forces to that theater. It is not until several paragraphs into the article that we encounter the simple statement, "security in Iraq has improved vastly, as has the confidence of Iraq’s government and military and police, raising the prospect of additional reductions that were barely conceivable a year ago."

And that, not the situation in Afghanistan, is the real reason for the proposed troop drawdown. President Bush's position has always been "as they [the Iraqi government] stand up, we will stand down". And recently the Maliki government has been standing up, securing peace with the Sunni insurgents, marginalizing Sadr, and driving al Qaeda from its strongholds. President Bush has overthrown one of the most brutal and dangerous dictatorships in modern history and, despite overwhelming opposition from Democrats and subversive bureaucrats in Washington, is seeing through to a successful conclusion the project of creating a strong and stable democratic regime in its place. This is a marvelous accomplishment and President Bush deserves both our gratitude and acclaim for it.

One Picture is Worth...


Here's the much-discussed New Yorker picture of that nice young senator from Cook County who has the audacity to think that he would be a really peachy president and his obstreperous wife.

The internet and the media high mucky-mucks are all exercised about the cover. The Obama campaign took offense at the portrayal of their messiah and Big Mac's mealymouthed minions chimed in to agree -- it was tasteless and offensive.

The picture, by Barry Blitt, was [at least the New Yorker asserts] intended as a satire on right-wing fantasies. Mebbe so -- I'll take them at their word -- but the suspicion remains that disgruntled feminists had something to do with the decision to run it. Others have speculated that the Obama people encouraged it as a means of delegitimizing future criticism from what they in their fevered imaginations think to be a ruthless and frenzied right wing attack machine. I think it's brilliant and very funny. Whatever the intentions of the New Yorker folks the cover inadvertantly speaks to some of the deep currents flowing under this campaign.

Obama's peeps know, but will never admit, that they have a problem. The candidate and his wife have both uttered and written some extremely offensive things about the United States and the American people. Such sentiments are pretty common within the cloistered halls of academe and in the wilder precincts of the entitlement industry in which the Obamas have labored, and they are well-received by the moonbats of the left wing blogosphere. But most Americans find these utterances repulsive. The suspicion remains, and justifiably so, that the Obamas really don't think much of America and are broadly contemptuous of the people they propose to govern.

Blitt's cartoon simply exaggerates this truth and pushes it to absurd extremes. The Democrat hope is that they can use this absurdity to defuse the problem of Obama's alienation. They plan to portray anyone who raises the issue of Obama's radical associations as a right wing crackpot conspiracy theorist. Recognizing this, McCain and his spokespeeps have rightly distanced themselves from the extreme sentiments expressed in the cartoon. But the issue, now brought to the fore, remains. It will not be exorcised by a New Yorker cover. What is more, the fact that a clique of Manhattan liberals saw fit to emphasize it in an urban elite organ bears witness to the fact that there is a vast gulf of perceptions and values separating Obama's most ardent supporters and the American people.

Much of the current dissatisfaction roiling the political waters in recent years is due to the fact that the elites in both parties are alienated from the people and the country they seek to govern. The nomination of Obama, and to a lesser extent McCain, only exacerbates this problem. Blitt's cartoon provides an opportunity for a serious discussion of this most important issue. I don't expect any serious discussion to come out of the MSM, but at least we bloggers can have at it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Dawn of the Atomic Age


On this day in 1945 the first atom bomb was exploded at Alamogordo New Mexico.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The UN Fails Again

Well, it appears that there won't be any sanctions against Mad Bobby Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.

The NYT reports:

An American-led effort to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe failed in the Security Council on Friday, with Russia and China exercising a rare double veto to quash a resolution that they said represented excessive interference in the country’s domestic matters.
Read the whole thing here.

More Pennsylvania Pictures

Another weekend, and time for some more pictures of our gorgeous commonwealth.


A hot summer day? Head for the ol' swimming hole.



Ripples in the Stream



Pennsylvanians know all about driving on steep inclines. Sometimes it seems that most of the State is built on hillsides.

Tony Snow is Gone!


He was a class act in a business that is seldom classy. I never heard or read anyone outside the left wing blogs have anything negative to say abut him. He was one of the best. "She Who Must Not Be Named" would demur -- to her he was quite simply, "The Best!".

Read about this remarkable man here.

Goodbye Tony..., you will be missed.

President Bush's statement:

Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of our dear friend, Tony Snow. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Jill, and their children, Kendall, Robbie, and Kristi. The Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father. And America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character.

Tony was one of our Nation’s finest writers and commentators. He earned a loyal following with incisive radio and television broadcasts. He was a gifted speechwriter who served in my father’s Administration. And I was thrilled when he agreed to return to the White House to serve as my Press Secretary. It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work. His colleagues will cherish memories of his energetic personality and relentless good humor.

All of us here at the White House will miss Tony, as will the millions of Americans he inspired with his brave struggle against cancer. One of the things that sustained Tony Snow was his faith – and Laura and I join people across our country in praying that this good man has now found comfort in the arms of his Creator.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Telling It Like It Is

I don't always agree with Ralph Peters, but this time I absolutely do. Let me quote him at length because what he writes here is the plain truth.

THE greatest lie intellectuals tell us is that "the pen is mightier than the sword." That's what cowards claim when they want to preen as heroes.
....

even our glorious Declaration of Independence and our Constitution would be no more than bizarre artifacts had they not been defended by patriots willing to fight.

Does anyone really believe that there's anything we can write or say that will persuade al Qaeda to make nice? It's on the strategic defensive today but only because our soldiers and Marines thumped the hell out of its cadres in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The point isn't that military solutions are always the best solutions - any problem that can be resolved without bloodshed should be handled peaceably. But we've got to stop playing pretend: In this hate-plagued, often merciless world, events sometimes demand action, not just talk.

Our diplomats and "distinguished commentators" see the world from the 17th floor of a luxury hotel or the office of an English-speaking Cabinet member. The insular safety of their lives has convinced them that every problem has a peaceful solution if only we can all have a good chat.

But those who rule by the sword (or the fist, or engineered famines or outright genocide) don't want to hash things out. They want to win. No elegant phrase has ever stopped a bullet in midflight.

Please, educate me: In over 5,000 years of more or less recorded history, how many tyrannies have been overthrown by noble sentiments? How many genocides have been averted by reasonable discussions? How many wars have been prevented by Quakers?

....

Pacifists mean well. But they're a dictator's best friends. The man who won't fight for justice abets the terrorist, the tyrant and the concentration-camp guard.

Read the whole thing here. It's a hard truth, but it is the truth.