Monday, April 26, 2004

Shhh...

It's a secret.
Friday, April 23, 2004
Q: How many Palestinians does it take to change a light bulb?

A: 2001. One to change it, 2000 to fire automatic weapons and chant Death to Israel! as they carry the old one away.

Based on a comment at Tim Blair's.

Thursday, April 22, 2004
The leaders rulers of Muslim countries are meeting for an emergency OIC summit in Malaysia. You know the drill: oppose the U.S. policy in the Middle East, condemn Israel, road map, condemnation, "international law," etc. I'm just looking forward to some fine commentary. Like this, from the BBC:
Thursday's meeting may be judged on how many of the OIC's members turn up. As the world's largest grouping of Islamic countries, if there is a poor showing, it will be far easier for Western nations to ignore it.
I don't know which Western nations the Beeb had in mind, but as far as I'm concerned, they could all show up and camp out in Malaysia for a few months, and beyond looking for entertaining quotes and hate-filled rhetoric, I wouldn't give a damn. Ignoring the OIC comes pretty naturally to me.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
This blog is supposed to be an outlet of my own thoughts and opinions (such as they are -- see the slogan). Every once in a while, however, someone lays out what I'm thinking and feeling in a way that I just can't approach. Today, that person is Dennis Prager:
I have contempt for "the world." I cherish and admire countless individuals, but I have contempt for "the world" and "world opinion." "The world" has never cared about evils inflicted on human beings. The Communist genocides meant nothing to humanity. The Holocaust meant nothing. With almost no exception, the mass atrocities since World War II have likewise absorbed humanity less than the Olympics or the Miss World Contest.
That's just a small sample. Go read the whole thing. And give thanks to LGF for the link.
Monday, April 19, 2004
So the identity of the new Hamas leader is a secret.

Does that mean that Israel will have to kill all the possible Hamas leaders? Because that'd be such a shame...

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Gimme an 'M'!

A Hamas pep rally:
GAZA CITY -- The excitement was mounting on Palestine Street as the body approached its first destination.

About 20,000 men and boys pointed their index fingers in the air. "What is your movement?" asked a rabble-rouser over van-borne loud speakers. "Hamas!" replied the crowd.

"Who was your lion?" he screamed. "Rantisi!" the crowd answered. . .

"What is your hope?" "To die a martyr," the crowd shouted.
Easy, fellas. The Israelis will accommodate you, but they can't get everyone at once. Get in line.

"Can you imagine? 425 attacks, 377 dead, over two thousand wounded, and they haven't even scratched us! Running Hamas is fun and easy!"

Reuters glamor shot by way of Allah, of course.

Saturday, April 17, 2004
You know what's weird? Supposedly "liberal" "progressives" advocating conscription.
It's time for another do-it-yourself caption party.

A near riot occurred in Ramallah today, as people crowded to see gum shaped like Yasser Arafat stuck to a local resident's shoe.

Photo by way of the merciful, the magnificent, the most glorious of pundits.

Shortly after the Israelis liquidated Sheikh Yassin, there was worry in some quarters that the "far more radical" Abdel Aziz Rantisi would take charge and make Hamas somehow more vile and murderous than it has been so far.

I am happy to say that this is no longer a problem.

Update: Reuters, apparently unable to let go, calls Rantisi critically wounded, but CBC reports that hospital officials have already toe-tagged him.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Cuba respects human rights

And if you say otherwise, they'll knock you senseless.

The latest Palestinian discovery

Unlike Israelis, donkeys don't fight back.

You have to admit, it's only slightly dumber than demonstrations with puppets.

Coffee Talk with Yasser Arafat

Sheikh Yassin - he was like buttah!

So Bush backed Sharon over me after I lied to him -- who knew? Still... I'm a little verklempt.... tawk amongst yourselves... I'll give you a topic: the Palestinian National Authority is neither Palestinian, nor national, nor has any authority -- discuss...

Turkey flies a few feet, lands with thud

I'm not very pleased with Air America driving itself off a cliff in LA and Chicago, but I guess it's fitting, given the sheer incompetence and lack of professionalism from the top down. Like their wannabe-"revolutionary" predecessors, they thought they could wing it all with good intentions and lots of righteous anger. Turns out this radio thing isn't as easy as they thought. Which is too bad, in a way, because every minute of babble on Air America was essentially free advertising for those ideologically opposed to them -- provided, of course, anyone other than their most rabid fans (whom they couldn't affect anyway) wanted to listen to their incoherent mumblings. But if you could get past that, it was strangely soothing: you turn it on, realize they are still making Limbaugh and Hannity sound like Churchill and JFK rolled into one, and be glad that the likes of George Soros are spending so much moolah just to have their own ideas discredited.

But anyway, back to the lack of professionalism and the simple ability to not walk into walls. Much has already been said on the immature tone and ultra-low-grade alleged humor of AAR's so-called Sludge Report, which parodies the original rumor by Drudge. I won't even comment on the moronic puns on "Liu" -- suffice it to say that had this been done by, say, Limbaugh, AAR would be beside itself with anger for such mockery of an Asian name. Or the "metaphor" of threatening the man's life -- hey, I'm sure someone found this funny, and maybe the orderlies let them listen to the radio just long enough to keep them still for their daily injection of anti-psychotics. Instead, I'll focus on topics much more mundane:

Insiders tell SLUDGE, that the reason the network was pulled off the air this morning in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network's second- and third-largest markets, was because, the owner of both stations, Arthur Liu of Multicultural Broadcasting, said, the network bounced a check and owes him more than $1 million!
The run-on sentence, tortured grammar and the exclamation point clearly means it’s true!!
I agree that the prose isn't the greatest (not that Air America should criticize...). But would someone point out to me how the sentence was a run-on? It's certainly complex, and has a whole sentence buried inside it as a clause, but I don't see a run-on. In the end, the sentence has exactly one subject (Insiders) and one verb (tell). Neither is what they tell a run on: stripped of the sources and background, it's that the network was pulled off the air because it bounced a check. So even in this clearly embellished quote of Drudge, the grammar is pretty good, even if the prose isn't. As for my claim of "embellished," here's what the earliest version of the story from the Drudge archive actually says:
The CHICAGO TRIBUNE is developing a story, insiders tell DRUDGE, on how the network was pulled off the air this morning in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network's second- and third-largest markets, because, the owner of both stations said, the network bounced a check and owes him more than $1 million! A charge the network strongly denies.
Perfectly lucid, provided your reading level is somewhere north of the 5th grade. Also, credit is given to the Chicago Tribune, which Air America conveniently skips.

I'd call the whole exercise sophomoric, but fear an inadvertent insult to the many 10th-graders who do much better work.

Update: Fear not, they are back, sort of.

What a real ally looks like

The BBC reports that American forces in Iraq are using tactics and equipment developed by Israelis.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Oh, great. After Condi and Ashcroft and Clinton and everyone but Richard M. Nixon (and only because he is dead), the farcical 9/11 commission interrupts its grandstanding long enough to engage in some finger pointing -- this time by scapegoating the FBI.
Commission Chairman Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said the FBI is "an agency that does not work."

"It failed and it failed and it failed and it failed," he said.

Former Attorney General Janet Reno made the dramatic charge that the FBI, an independent federal agency, "had information they didn't know they had," and what they did know, they refused to share. "The left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing," she said.
No doubt there's some truth to that, and the FBI's methods need to be reworked. But they were only a symptom of a larger problem: we, as a country, as Americans, refused to openly acknowledge or deal with terrorism and terrorists. Prior to the WTC bombing, terrorism was something that affected the Brits, the French, the Israelis -- and possibly an unfortunate American tourist. Even after the WTC bombing, and the embassy attacks, and the Cole, we looked at terrorism as a nuisance, nothing more -- something to deliver a speech about, threaten "American justice" (trials, cushy prisons, and randomly fired cruise missiles -- oooooh!), and then get back to arguments over who stained whose dress, that Elian kid, and whether a Florida voter should be trusted with that sharp ballot-poking instrument.

9/11 was supposed to have changed all that. The nation was on a war footing, and no longer would we be a bunch of passive airline hostages, waiting for the big boys to negotiate for our release or maybe come to our rescue. We were taking responsibility, acknowledging the dangers ahead, and admitting that prior to 9/11 our priorities were a bit... misplaced. We were more worried about offending the sensibilities of foreign students than protecting our own citizens, and we paid for it -- dear God, did we ever pay for it.

Well, if the 9/11 Commission is any indication, all this has been forgotten. And we're back to partisan sniping and the old, stupid Clinton Sucks/Bush Sucks "dialogue." Worse than that, we're looking for someone to carry the "fault" for 9/11, seemingly forgetting that the problems that led to 9/11 were not just procedural but societal, and that we simply can't expect terrorism to be the responsibility of the FBI and CIA, and as for the rest of us, it's not our problem. Wasn't that how we got 9/11 in the first place?

Update: More from the Gweilo.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

More sloppy reporting

The Christian Science Monitor on reactions of 9/11 families to today's Rice testimony:
After the hearing, several felt the administration was clearly lax in its response to the terrorist threat. "If [Bush and Rice] had paid attention to [the August 6th presidential briefing], my son would be alive," says Bob McIlvaine, whose son, Bobby, died in the World Trade Center attack. "I think it's a disgrace."
Once again, no mention of McIlvaine's membership in Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization of families of 9/11 victims who were against this Administration, the invasion of Iraq, and the invasion of Afghanistan. Nope: just an average 9/11 family member, expressing his views based strictly on this hearing. And needless to say, none of the members quoted were conciliatory or favorable towards the Bush Administration. Nice, balanced reporting.
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Left-wing radio: a turkey takes to the Air

I caught my first few glimpses of Air America Radio today, and as far as I can tell, the impetus behind it must have been:

They say liberal talk radio will never work. Let's prove it!

First bit was caught at lunch -- approximately 20 minutes, roughly 1:15-1:35 Eastern. The whole thing consisted of Al Franken talking about how he is "learning" this whole radio thing, and some woman (whose name escapes me) is teaching him. A lot of new concepts in radio broadcasts, see -- like if he is making a joke, and a national emergency breaks out, he'll have to -- sit down for this -- stop telling the joke. This killed about 5 minutes of broadcast time, after which there was a whole bit of Franken doing impressions of Limbaugh and Strom Thurmond. (Why Thurmond? I haven't a clue. Franken gets a microphone and a national audience, and his topic of choice is a dead senator? Sense of timing, anyone? Relevance? Hello?) Franken's impression of Limbaugh was good, actually. Bringing up Limbaugh, he wished that Rush would stay consistent with his demands that drug addicts be locked up, check himself into a jail, and end up with a black cellmate who heard his commentary on Donovan McNabb. This little teen fantasy over, Franken did some of the Stuart Smalley impressions. That was it for the 20 minutes I caught.

Garofalo, Corn, and high-class humor

Fine, I thought, maybe I just caught a bad segment, so on my way home, shortly after 9 PM Eastern, I tuned in for "The Majority Report," co-hosted by Jeneane Garofalo and some guy whose name also escapes me. Let's see: first five minutes, a remote-control fart machine. (Really. Don't ask.) The next 15-20 minutes were dedicated to outrage at the George Bush "weapons of mass destruction" joke. You might wonder: how can such a small thing be talked about for so long? Well, it can't. So they just kept repeating it over and over, how "outrageous" it was, and how wouldn't it be just awful if you lost a loved one in the war, only to hear George Bush mock his "mistake" over WMD? Garofalo channelled Ralph Nader and Indymijiots for a while -- the liberation of Iraq was nothing but a corporate invasion, civilian security guards killed in Fallujah were nothing more than "mercenaries," Iraq was "anarchy," etc. Robert Fisk was referenced. Between the static-heavy broadcast and the quality of commentary -- or rather, the total absense of it -- it felt like listening to anarchist pirate radio, only not as substantive.

To top off the whole thing, they got a call from The Nation's David Corn, still outraged that when Bush made his now-infamous WMD joke, the people around him dared to laugh. (I don't know whether it's his humorlessness or just his voice, but I get the feeling Corn is not much fun at parties, except, perhaps, as receiver of wedgies.) They chewed on this topic yet again for a while, after which they got into a discussion as to whether we were "safer" in the wake of the invasion, even as Iraq had become a "shooting gallery." (Apparently, it was much better as a shredding-and-torture gallery.) Corn made the astute observation that al-Qaeda had a history of taking years between hitting their targets, apparently ignoring the constant empty threats of fire-and-brimstone that we'd heard from them since the first bombs fell on Afghanistan. In the midst of it all, Garofalo made constant references to her remote fart machine (again, don't ask), and then self-consciously commented on the sophomoric quality of her humor -- over, and over, and over. At one point she innovated by claiming that her humor was no more sophomoric than Bush's WMD joke, but that seemed to be the upper limit of her comedic genius for the night. I got to my destination about an hour into the show, and I wasn't going to subject myself to any more, so I couldn't say how well her chat with Barney Frank went.

This is it?

Defenders of Air America will point out that this was only their second day on the air, but that's hardly a defense. For one thing, it's not like they ever let you forget that they are just starting out -- every 3-4 minutes, there's some reference to this being their first week. Frankly, I found it shocking just how poorly these professional entertainers managed to perform -- if I didn't know better, I'd swear I was listening to high school students on their first day in front of a microphone. These are professional broadcast artists? These are people with stage presence? This is the A list of liberal talk radio? How profoundly sad. They seem so interesting when others write their lines.

Say what you want about Limbaugh or Hannity, but they are professionals. Their time is not wasted on idle babble; agree with them or not (and I often don't), but at least you know their position, and they articulate it well. This isn't to say that their quality is uniformly great, but at least you get the feeling that they take pride in their work, and understand the job. They want to tell their side of the story, they have it straight in their heads, and they deliver it with clarity, even if cut by demagoguery. Again, you don't have to agree with them, but you can tell that they think about their topic of choice. By contrast, the on-air "talent" at Air America simply speaks, or rather babbles, into the microphone, with no topic, storyline, or original thought in sight. They are little -- very little -- more than Left-wing reactionaries, angered by the thought that somewhere, on a different AM wavelength, a Right-winger is speaking his mind uncensored by a progressive editor. Even the name of their flagship lunch-time program -- The O'Franken Factor -- is a reactionary, pointless, and utterly unclever mocking of The O'Reilly Factor, a program I don't hold in high regard.

It's clear that all the intelligent, original liberals worth listening to are already gainfully employed at NPR, CNN, The New York Times, and a whole lot of other places. Air America is little more than an outlet for the Left-wing Looney Bin to have their views aired publicly. Far from a threat to the Right, I think it will do on the air what IndyMedia has done on the Internet: expose the lunatic fringe of the Left, and do damage to the credibility of the entire movement.

Frankenradio is right: this whole concept was an ill-conceived, top-down, artificially constructed walking media corpse. I give this monstrosity 6-7 months, maybe until December, before the plug is pulled and its stations go back to broadcasting foreign-language programming -- or until the whole network is revamped with real talent. Until then, let the fart machines work at full steam.

Quick follow-up: This was just a personal peeve, but will someone explain to Jeneane and her pal that the word blog is derived from weblog, and therefore rhymes with log, dog, and fog? It annoyed me to no end when these supposedly oh-so-hip cutting-edge commenters pronounced it blahg -- as in, "We're getting so many new stories via our blahg." Then again, maybe the root word fits.

Bill Whittle:
Intellectualism, as it is practiced today, is a trap.

It is not a palatial hall of great minds looking for answers and then testing them in the real world; it is a basement in your parents house filled with lazy and filthy hippies eating your leftovers and drinking the last of your milk. Intellectualism is certainly not the same as intelligence, and more and more, it is becoming antithetical to intelligence. When well-off people who call themselves intellectuals drive their SUV's to march in support of Marxism, you can see the chasm between intellectualism and intelligence in full flower. When elitists who fancy themselves brighter and more compassionate than the rest of us choose to support the Taliban, with its stoning of women and execution of homosexuals in football stadiums before mandatory audiences, over a representative democracy with unparalleled structural protections of minorities and freedoms of expression, then self-styled intellectuals have abandoned intelligence altogether, as well as morality, reason, compassion and indeed sanity.

Likewise, when coffee-house intellectuals dictate their worldview according to non-existent pipelines or supposed theft of oil revenues where no evidence of such theft can be produced but deposits into Iraqi national accounts can, then one has to ask one’s self if this intellectual badge is worth the mud it’s printed on.
Pour yourself some tea, wine, or beer, and go read the whole thing.

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