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Friday, September 30, 2005

9-11: Maybe It Was A Coincidence

Imam Intikab Habib was supposed to become chaplain in the FDNY. He has resigned after it was reported he questioned whether 19 hijackers were responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and suggested a broader conspiracy may have brought down the Twin Towers and killed more than 2,700 people.

One anonymous contibutor to this blog wrote:

These 19 guys just all happened to be on planes that went down that day.

Ethical Iceberg

It is reported that Harry Reid donated money he received from a convicted fraud to pastors just indicted for embezzling money intended for halfway houses for prison inmates in Southern Nevada.. He is denying knowing anything about anything. Sounds like Air America should rescue him.

To congressmen of all persuasions:

This blogosphere iceberg is quite large and the ship you are on, The Titanic Free-Ride, is heading right towards it. MSM’s lifeboats can’t save you.

Bush's "Kick Me" Sign

Tony Snow provides a round-up of GW Bush's successes and failures grading his handling of domestic policy an "incomplete". Bush's failure to veto anything including campaign finance reform laws, massive pork expenditures such as the transportation bill and his current overtures to spend (what is it up to now?) $250 billion for New Orleans rebuilding shows he has a "'kick me' sign on his backside".

Yet, after 9-11 he was resolute in pursuing the active military solution that he saw was necessary. Ironically, on that particular issue, the American citizens hold high opinions (even Democrats in Congress supported his actions).

Snow describes how on all other issues we see GW's backbone only after he is attacked by political opponents. Snow writes:

It is almost as if the president were playing rope-a-dope, waiting for his political opponents to render themselves permanently ridiculous. But all good things come to an end, and the tactic of waiting for Democrats to choke on their bile may have run its course.

That is a strategy that can only work if the opposition reaction is more inept. For the sake of Republicans, the Democrats have yet to vocally provide proposals that look to Americans as anything but reactive hysterics.

Bush's approval ratings have sunk largely because libertarian-leaning Americans of both parties see little of the small government campaigner in front of them. Ultimately, a smart Democrat will recognize this is the road to the White House. GW should recast his myopic view of politics, where spending money and offering people what they want decides policy, and move towards the free market principles he speaks about often. It is about time he acts on these principles and allows the market (and family and charity) to repair New Orleans and its refugees lives and provide for other "needs" of the people.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Patriotic Father Of A Dead Soldier- There Are Some?

Larry Elder reprinted an e-mail from a father of a son who died in Iraq. The father writes about his anger at Cindy Sheehan:

Why is this woman receiving the attention she is getting? Why is the media giving this woman the opportunity to profligately disseminate an obviously radical left-wing platform when there are those of us who are experiencing the same loss of a child killed in Iraq, and yet we don't get the opportunity to appear before thousands of people to share our thoughts and platforms? Is it because they support her and yet can't express the same views without losing credibility?

Uh, yuh.

Or as Scrappleface reports in Poll: Most Americans Not In Iraq:

Hours after a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll revealed that fewer than half of respondents believe the U.S. can win the war in Iraq, a second survey showed that more than 99 percent of Americans are not in Iraq, and almost as many form opinions about the war based exclusively on what they learn from CNN, USA Today and other news organizations.

Of the 818 Americans telephoned by pollsters, according to an unnamed Gallup spokesman, roughly zero percent are currently stationed in Iraq, where about 150,000 U.S. troops spend their days providing security, hunting down terrorists, training Iraqi police and soldiers and rebuilding schools, water systems and other infrastructure elements.

Almost 97 percent of those surveyed answered "strongly agree" to the statement: "Every single thing I know about U.S. efforts in Iraq, I learned from news reports in the mainstream media."

The Nanny State Is Here

Wayne Alder sends us this comment and link to Peggy Noonan's latest piece in WSJ called: "The Scofflaw Swimmer- Government takes too much authority and not enough responsibility".

Writes Wayne:

We see the fruits of our "nanny society". No smoking laws. Control of what you can drink and eat. Seat belt laws. The welfare state. This, with the 24 news cycle giving every person with a problem a platform has come home to roost. It greatly worries me. Peggy Noonan gets it right.

Writes Noonan:

Last week I quoted Gerald Ford: "The government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." I was talking about money. But it applies also to personal freedom, to the rights of the individual, including his right to do something stupid as long as it's legal, like swimming.

Government has real duties in disaster. Maintaining the peace is a primary one. But if we demand that our government protect us from all the weather all the time, if we demand that it protect us from rain and hail, if we make government and politicians pay a terrible price for not getting us out of every flood zone and rescuing us from every wave, we're going to lose a lot more than we gain.

If we give government all authority then we are giving them all power. And we will not only lose the right to be crazy, we'll lose the right to be sane.

Wayne, I too am worried. But we hear about those who save nothing throughout their lives and then after 40 years are too old and feeble to work. We have to help them. We hear about people not regulating their food intake and now they are too overweight to live healthy lives. We have to stop them from eating. Too much off-color television shows and children may be watching. We have to remove them from television.

In every personal decision, a law with the coercive powers of government backing them up can change all of our behavior. Only the crazies will flout the rules, enjoy some freedom until the government sends them to jail. This is what we want?

The concept of the "Nanny State" is that the government serves as our mothers and nurtures and protects us. Is that why we move away from home as fast as we can when we become adults?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Idiot Wind- More On Dylan

I have to recant a point I made yesterday about Dylan. I watched the documentary and was exposed to more film of his live performances than I had ever seen, snippets though they were. I found his singing far from "horrible". Because rock and roll singing is a strange admixture of voice and performance, Dylan showed me he carried the tune admirably. Though nasal, the magnificence of the words being "sung" made the performance breathtaking. I mean that.

Add to that the awe of hearing the songwriter actually interpreting the words for you and you have a rare virtuoso. I also loved the sight of the guitar and attached harmonica.

Using a baseball comparison, while his voice (assuming Paul McCartney, Billy Joel or Freddy Mercury are high .300 hitters) is only batting .230, he makes up more than enough with his delivery (Ks), his lyrics (ERA) and his overall message (Wins).

Nobody expected Sandy Koufax to bat that well either.

To paraphrase Dylan:

[I'm] an idiot, babe.It's a wonder that [I] still know how to breathe.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dylan And A Fan Just A Little Too Young

With many books, interviews and now a documentary directed by Martin Scorsese called No Direction Home (discussed in Slate), Bob Dylan is the talk of the media. Dylan is a rock and roll icon in the stratosphere with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and, well, that’s it. He is the poet of the 60’s and represents the fusion of folk music with rock and roll. To ever criticize him on any level is anathema to any person over the age of 50.

I do not plan on criticizing him much here.

I have many of his CDs (and even have “Blood on the Tracks” in one of the boxes of records in my basement). I was only 7 or so when he took over the folk world that mattered so much to beatnik-hippies. Like all kids at that age, my preference in music was bubble-gum and pop. Then upon hitting my adolescent period, the Beatles and the psychedelic era was upon us. Thus, my Hall of Fame contains most of the English bands that followed the Beatles. Eventually, the California groups like CSN&Y, Airplane and the Dead took over my musical tastes.

Let’s face it; he has a horrible singing voice. I have had more The Band albums than Dylan albums and they were his back-up band in his early rock days. As I age I have begun to appreciate him as a brilliant lyricist who tells stories with wit and insight into what real people think and talk about. And I recognize that most of my favorite groups or individual singers were influenced by Dylan who made music a platform to express issues beyond the latest crush or romantic break-up.

Per interviews I have read, Dylan comes off less haughty than one at such a high mantle and more like a person one may actually know. He has been stung by media enough over the years that he is skeptical of their veracity and finds them often off-base in their artistic analyses. No doubt he wrote some of his best lyrics while merely searching for a word to rhyme with the final word of a prior line. His greatness is that wisdom flowed without labor.

These days I am still a push-over for tunes with a catchy melody sung by great voices. I was infected enough by Hendrix to always crave the guitar solo that mesmerizes. But just like one “must have” certain possessions just “because”, Dylan’s music is one of those rare “must haves”. Put on the headphones and lie down on the couch, turn off the lights and sip some wine and listen to “Blood” or any of his other CDs. He is always worth the time.

BTW: a title of a movie or book must use an obscure quote written by the subject. My title for a Dylan book would be "You Look Like The Silent Type". Any other suggestions?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Every Picture Tells A Story, Don't It?

Mike Taylor provides these observations:

CSPAN is fascinating at times. I was flipping between The President’s Cup matches and CSPAN’s coverage of the Anti-Iraq War Rally in Washington DC this past Saturday. CSPAN trained its cameras on the lectern where a parade of people pontificated on the evil being done around the world by the “corrupt Bush administration”.

In addition to the “Raging Grannies”, an a capella group of senior women who ranted about Dick Cheney and George W in off-key harmony, an august group of Leftists took to the microphones to denounce most everything happening in the world today:

* Cindy Sheehan – In between coughing into the microphones she told the crowd to congratulate themselves on “being part of history”. I guess she believes she’s the re-incarnation of MLK. No lack of humility from Mother Sheehan.
* Rep. Cynthia McKinney – The Democrat from Atlanta whose sole raison d’etre is to claim that blacks are being held down by “the man” and that blacks are targeted for death by their white masters and didn’t the Superdome “look like a slave ship of old, where black people were being held in bondage and suffering”?
* The “Reverrrund” Jackson – Standard speech from Jesse, comparing Mother Sheehan with Rosa Parks. He made sure to stand right behind Mother Sheehan when the cameras clicked.

It seemed to me that at least half of the speeches were made by pro-Arab speakers advocating one or more of the following:

* Anti-anything Israeli
* Pro-anything Palestinian or
* “End the Occupation of Palestinian Homelands”

A few other speakers were Socialist or Communist or anti-Capitalism. Quite a few wanted to free the Philippines from some form of oppression, I just couldn’t figure out what. But it was certainly clear that George W. Bush was behind it!

This was more of a rally in support of murderers than of peacemakers.

Of course, the claims of “hundreds of thousands of you are here in the streets, joined by one hundred thousand more protesting this immoral war in London today” were greatly exaggerated. Protest organizers blamed low turnout on a George W. Bush scheme to shut down Amtrak trains loaded with “thousands” of additional protesters.

CSPAN just lets the video and audio stream, they don’t edit. That’s the beauty of it.

As I was watching (in between golf shots) I had two observations:

* These people are not going to start any grass roots movement. This protest was an excuse for Communist, Socialist and anti-Capitalists to get on CSPAN and rush through impassioned speeches hand-written on ruled notebook paper. Pathetic moonbats and tin foil hat conspiracy theorists all.
* How come the MSM doesn’t tell us that the vast majority of the crowd are moonbats like these? It was apparent to me that these people are stark raving mad… and they support Mother Sheehan NOT because they also question the origin of the Iraq war… but simply because Mother Sheehan is Anti-American… and that makes her a bedfellow.

Here are pictures from the rally, they tell the story of who organizes these things… and why they’ll never catch on.


Friedman's Flat Economics

Tim Russert interviewed 3 superstar NYT editorialists yesterday, 2 “liberals” and a “conservative”: Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman and David Brooks. Near the end of the interview, alleged free marketer Friedman, author of the book “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century” joined the other 2 in suggesting tax increases are needed to defray the costs that hurricanes Katrina and Rita will impose on the government's budget.

From the on-line transcript:

Mr. Friedman: I just want to say one thing in response to market forces--letting market forces send the signal for you to go buy a hybrid. When market--when you leave that to market forces, what you do basically is take all that money that we could be galvanize--that we could be gathering with a gas tax, and you transfer it to Saudi Arabia. We are funding, Tim, both sides in the war on terrorism. And we had a gas tax on the morning of 9/12, 2001, a $1 a gallon gas tax--that money would have gone to our deficits, our schools, our budgets, our infrastructure. Instead it has gone to the infrastructure of Saudi Arabia, some of the worst regimes in the world, who are using that money to kill our soldiers on the ground. We are funding both sides in the war on terrorism. That's what happens when you leave it to the market.

I do not take issue with Friedman's suspicion that Saudi Arabia spends part of its oil revenue in support of terrorism against the US. But, does Friedman think Saudi Arabia would not have sold its oil for exactly the same price (known as market prices) to another willing buyer? I would think that he is aware that with a “flat world” there are fuel buyers in places besides the US.

And I wonder how this earlier enacted $1 per gallon gas tax would harm Saudi income while paying for “our deficits, our schools, our budgets, our infrastructure”. Besides impoverishing Americans (including those middle-class Americans that politicians and the NYT claim to care so much about), the reduced demand caused by such an artificially high price would net very little additional tax revenues to pay for “our deficits, our schools, our budgets, our infrastructure”. I think we know that such a $1 tax on gas would likely have reduced government revenue due to lower growth and exacerbated the deficit and hamstrung locals dealing with the 2 natural disasters.

You can write a whole book on world economics and have learned very little.

What If Mosques Were Burned?

Jonathan Tobin asks :What if mosques were burned? Countless Jewish cemetaries and synagogues have been destroyed by Muslims for many years with nary a protest. Meanwhile Muslim terrorists rush to mosques for refuge during gun battles recognizing that neither Israeli nor American forces will ever enter to finish the fight.

Writes Tobin:

How is it, we must ask ourselves, that Jewish sensibilities can be bruised with impunity while Muslim feelings must be not merely respected (as they should), but catered to, so as not to "provoke" more terrorism? Indeed, the U.S. State Department now has a section devoted to soothing bruised Muslim sensibilities headed by President George W. Bush's former communications guru Karen Hughes. Jews who feel bad about the Gaza shuls must content themselves with sternly worded letters to the editor.

The acceptance of jihad's tenets to destroy an enemy that refuses to convert to Islam allows Westerners to look away from acts that would not be accepted from troops of America or our allies.

Thanks to Neal Meyerson for the article and the link.

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