Thursday, August 31, 2006

Whimper: Police have recovered stolen pieces of art by Edvard Munch, including his classic, "The Scream".

Is it just me or is "The Scream" a pretty pitiful painting? The guy doesn't even look like he's screaming. He could be yawning. The other two guys in the painting don't even turn around to look.

Take a look at a true piece of art. The cover art for Pink Floyd The Wall shows a true scream. There's agony in there.

It's pretty sad when a movie poster beats out what's considered a "masterpiece". I guess art snobs would say that, because it's commercial, it doesn't really count.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blowing in the Wind: Lt. Gen. Russel "Stuck on Stupid" Honore gives a good synopsis (scroll down to the "Katrina Hero" video) of what's going on in New Orleans. His basic point -- when a big hurricane hits, there's only so much you can do. All the resources in the world cannot save everyone all at once. There were, of course, major problems with government help on the city, state, and federal level. And red tape seems to be the biggest hang-up even now. But the government cannot fix everything, especially in a major city that was so poor to begin with.

That doesn't change the fact that the city of New Orleans is still hurting, and will be for a while. So many people have moved out indefinitely, that the city remains a shell of what it was. Much of the infrastructure is still in tatters, and there's still a whole lot of mess to clean up all along the Gulf Coast. New Orleans needs money and business pumped back into its economy. Only then will jobs return and will people go back to bring life to, what I consider, the best city on Earth.

In other news, it looks like we're still on Hurricane Hype Alert. Despite all the gloom and doom, the major storms haven't amounted to much yet. Still the news media overreacts to each tropical depression like it could be the next Katrina.

However, I'm enjoying the names of the storms this year. So far we've had Alberto and Ernesto. These aren't hurricanes, they sound like Latin lovers.

Do not fear me. I am Ernesto, a tropical storm of passion. I am strong, yet gentle. As I get closer, I will make you moist.
Okay, I'll stop.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sicko: Ann Coulter. Ted Rall. And now, John Mark Karr.

Mr. Karr, the guy who lied and claimed he killed JonBenet Ramsey, joins the ranks of people who have nothing to offer except a vain attempt to seek publicity for themselves. He only wanted media attention. Now that we know this guy is a fraud, the best course of action is to never mention this guy's name in the media again. Ever.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dead Skunks: Here's one of those episodes where moderation actually pleases nobody. Scientists have discovered a way to harvest stem cells without destroying the embryo. By removing one of the cells early in development and then multiplying that cell, the embryo remains as viable as an embryo can be -- sitting in a freezer waiting for disposal.

Other scientists who favor the traditional means of extracting stem cells say this new method is unnecessarily expensive and inefficient. Conservatives still reject it because it's not what God wants.

In other news, the morning-after pill has been approved for purchase without a prescription. The pill helps prevent pregnancy soon after intercourse, but it does nothing to stop a pregnancy that has already occurred. It has been deemed safe, so the FDA approved it, for women over 18. Girls younger than that still need a doctor's permission, because apparently the last thing we'd want is to make it easier for a teenager to avoid getting pregnant.

Sometimes the only thing that can get done is that which makes nobody happy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Hyperbole! I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, so I'll usually join in on any trashing of the San Francisco 49ers. But I can't help but laugh at Kevan Barlow, a tailback that San Francisco traded to the Jets. Barlow said of Niner coach Mike Nolan:

He walks around with a chip on his shoulder like he's a dictator, like he's Hitler.
It's true then. In the future, everyone will be Hitler for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Musical Chairs: Well, I'll keep things light today after smacking the beehive with yesterday's post. It seems that Bob Dylan doesn't think too fondly of today's music, partly attributing its downslide to modern audio technology. It's no surprise that a 65 year old would be a curmudgeon about contemporary music. But I wonder, does anybody really like today's tunes?

I ask because this is the first time that I can remember when there doesn't appear to be a dominant rock band or musician on the pop charts. Ever since Elvis, really, there have been the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees, Madonna, Van Halen, Michael Jackson, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Brittany Spears. Love them or hate them, they attracted massive followings. Who rules the airwaves today? Nickelback?

I know I'm about to hit 30, so maybe I'm just blind to what today's kids are paying attention to. But we've gone through several seasons of American Idol without creating any actual idols to worship, which tells me that people are yearning for a pop star, but we can't seem to find one.

In the mean time, I'll stick to my old Metallica, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Robert Earl Keen albums.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Language of Hate: Somebody is going to have to explain to me this hatred of Sen. George Allen. I know the Virginia Republican is running for president, which makes him open to scrutiny, but rarely is anyone raked over the coals for such insignificant garbage.

The latest drama is his use of some possibly obscure racial slur, "macaca". Hardly anyone has ever heard of this word. And when you see the junior senator from Virginia use it, it's obvious he had never heard of it as an epithet either. If you have to pull out a book on obscure African translations to be offended by an insult, then frankly it doesn't count.

Senator Allen had the misfortune of making an entertaining gaffe during the month of August -- when absolutely nothing is going on. Sen. Biden said something much worse, politically at least, with his 7-Eleven comment, but nobody cared.

And the whole "Welcome to America" remark is just an old politician's trick to say, "Where you're from doesn't count as real America." Texans say it to Californians. Californians say it to Texans. Both are wrong, because both are part of America. Inside the Beltway and out, we're all Americans, so please leave the canned political insults out of the conversation.

But the hatred of Senator Allen runs deeper than that. He is constantly being accused of racism, and for no good reason. He has actually pushed a number of bills through Congress to help minorities, including legislation to provide funding for historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, and tribal colleges so those institutions can update their technology infrastructures. There's a digital divide between mainstream colleges and minority-serving institutions. He's been trying to help alleviate that.

Regardless of his legislative record, though, the evidence Allen-haters use to prove he's racist is pathetically scant.

George Allen is a rich boy from southern California who later in life adopted the southern ways of boots, dip, and honky tonk. That's kind of sad, really, and makes him a bit of a poser. But some people believe that because he emulates southern culture, he must be a racist deep in his heart.

To be a racist because you were raised in a racist family in the Deep South is one thing, racist by choice is a bit worse.
The only evidence this guy comes up with is that Allen wishes he could live the life found in country music videos. Others back up that sentiment here.

As a Texan myself, I find such overgeneralizations of the South offensive. It's also a bit ironic. Anybody who says that all southerners are prejudiced is making an extremely prejudiced statement.

The only other thing critics have pointed out is that years ago George Allen appeared with a Confederate flag. Yeah, well, so did Billy Idol. Once upon a time not so long ago, the Confederate flag was not considered racist. I still wish it weren't, but that's another matter.

Now that Allen is the new conservative target, he's often compared to George W. Bush. In fact, George Allen is being called "Bush without the brains," which I find hilarious. The Left is finally realizing that President Bush is an intelligent guy after all, now that it's too late. I certainly cannot agree with many of Bush's policy choices, but he has been underestimated his entire political career, and that just helps him succeed. Now Allen is getting the same treatment. Just as Bush was simultaneously accused of being an incompetent and an evil mastermind, Allen was supposedly dumb enough to use a racial slur with which only a sophisticated linguist would ever be familiar.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Pardon the Inconvenience: Remember that heat wave we just had? Remember how everyone attributed it to global warming? It's the middle of August in DC, and the high temperature has stayed in the 80s.

Remember a couple big hurricanes we had last year? Remember how everyone attributed them to global warming? So far this year the hurricane season is shaping up to be pretty mild.

I don't mean to play down environmental issues -- there's a lot we should be concerned about with air pollution, energy conservation, etc. But when you harp on one datum of information and scream that the world is coming to an end, nobody will take you seriously anymore.

Now I'm going to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Birth of a Nation: Al Qaeda is forming a political group in Iraq. Is this good or bad?

I'd like to think that politics could have a mellowing effect on their extremism. If they're forced to play the political game, they may at times choose pragmatism over plastic explosives.

But, unfortunately, Al Qaeda could conceivably win. Just look at Hamas. However, even that Palestinian terrorist group has considered recognizing Israel's right to exist after gaining political power. It's not much, but it qualifies as progress.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Everyone's a Winner! President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared victory over Hezbollah after the ceasefire went into effect. Meanwhile, thousands of Lebanese, along with Hezbollah terrorists, are dancing in the streets celebrating their victory over Israel.

So goes the War on Terrorism. Battlefield tactics have given way to PR games.

Neither side accomplished much. Hezbollah is still a threat, and Israel is still stable. Israel tried to lessen Hezbollah's ability to wage terror, to little success. Hezbollah tried to kill many innocent people and survive as a group, which they accomplished. That seems to give the edge to Hezbollah, if only because their standards are so much lower.

As silly as all this seems from afar, the ability to declare victory is important, especially in the culture of the Middle East. If you recall at the end of the first Gulf War, we never made Iraq sign a surrender or admit defeat. It was simply a ceasefire. As that was going on, Saddam Hussein was declaring victory over the U.S. and our allies -- after one of the most lopsided defeats in history.

At the time, that seemed like a moot point. We won, and the fighting was over. But the decade-plus of stonewalling by Saddam Hussein can be traced in part to allowing him to claim victory, leading to our need to finish the job with a full invasion of Iraq.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Alert Level: Life in Israel takes a different perspective on terrorist threats. Residents are constantly listening to a radio station that plays nothing but silence. The station breaks the silence only when there is an impending attack, such as a rocket incoming. Residents only have about a minute to get into a protective room in their house with reinforced concrete walls and metal doors -- something every house built after 1992 is required to have.

But, aw, we in the U.S. can't carry hairspray in our carry-on luggage on the airplane anymore.

Liquid Diet: So this is what Red Alert is like.

Twenty-one people and at least ten planes. The terrorists would probably be better off sticking to smaller attacks. It's just more difficult to keep something a secret when so many people are involved. But Al Qaeda likes the big splash, so that will help us catch them.

I have to pick up a friend from the airport today. I guess I can expect her flight to be delayed. Still, I dare somebody to try to get through airport security wearing one of these beer hats.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cliffhanger: It's a compelling story, one that many people don't want to see end. Now it looks like the political drama in Connecticut is ripe for a sequel.

Sen. Lieberman's loss in the Democratic primary yesterday is going to be analyzed many times over. And for good reason, because it does have national implications.

One of the most independent souls in the U.S. Senate is now running for re-election as an independent. His party got fed up with him and his conservative views on certain important issues, namely the war in Iraq, so they abandoned him for a true liberal.

Lieberman may or may not win in November. The question is whether an independent can win a major campaign and, if yes, whether an independent can serve effectively and influentially in the Senate.

The senator has his superstar status going for him. He's a respected politician who always appears honest and speaks his mind bluntly. I suspect many Democrats respect the man, but they can no longer ignore strong disagreements they have with him.

Nationally, though, Lieberman's primary loss helps solidify the Democratic Party as the anti-war party. Personally, I believe that's a shame. While my overall political views are moderate on balance, I am a hawk when it comes to foreign policy. I would rather both parties debate which one would kick more terrorist ass than one going all out and one seeking restraint.

But there have been so many problems in Iraq that it's understandable that the anti-war efforts have gained strength politically. Now in order to win a Democratic primary, it's understood that you cannot fully support the war in Iraq.

That's too bad. That gives Republicans an avenue to push their conservative agenda simply because it comes as part of the package deal with an aggressive fight against Islamic terrorism.

Honestly, I would have voted for Lieberman for president had he been the nominee against George W. Bush. At first I didn't see the need to replace one foreign-policy hawk with another. But when President Bush began campaigning strongly for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, I was furious. I know Lieberman also doesn't support same-sex marriage, which is unfortunate. But he's far-sighted enough to know that an amendment injecting bigotry back in the Constitution is the worst way to go.

I hope Lieberman wins re-election in November. Not only do I like the guy, but I would love to see how he'd use his newfound freedom as an independent in the Senate. Unfortunately, he could end up a less effective senator. Congress relies on group support to get anything done. Senators don't trust colleagues who have no allegiance to one side or another. While I despise partisanship, there is something to be said for loyalty.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

An Army of Fun: The U.S. Army wants to build a military-themed amusement park in Northern Virginia.

"You can command the latest M-1 tank, feel the rush of a paratrooper freefall, fly a Cobra Gunship or defend your B-17 as a waist gunner," according to the proposal by Universal City Property Management III of Orlando.
One official in Fairfax County, where the proposed park would be built, was less than pleased about the idea, according to the Washington Post article.

Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) was so upset after hearing about the Universal City proposal last year that he threw company representatives out of his office. He said he had no interest in turning a military history museum into "Disney on Rolling Road." After the meeting, he said, he thought the entertainment concept for the Army museum was dead.
It's not dead. I guess it was just a matter of time.

Just Go Away: I never thought I'd see the day when liberals were celebrating that Tom DeLay will remain on an election ballot.

It's a shame really. He doesn't want to run. Nobody wants to vote for him. Yet the kind folks in Sugarland are denied a true choice for their Congressional representative come November. Conservatives can try to run a write-in candidate. But that provides an unnecessary complication in what should be a simple matter.

I understand the need for election law to prevent bait and switches that political parties would like to play. But in this instance, when something occurred after the primary election that changes the dynamics of a race, a party should be able to replace that person on the ballot.

I would criticize the Democrats for gaming the system by suing to keep DeLay on the ballot, but Republicans would have done the exact same thing were the situation reversed. And the 5th Circuit, which is the most conservative federal appeals court, and Justice Scalia, one of the most conservative on the High Court, upheld the Democrats' claim.

This is simply bad law.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Attack of the Clones: I love it when bloggers expose wrongdoings by the mass media. LGF struck again by identifying a doctored photo run by Reuters showing smoke rising from buildings in Lebanon that were bombed by the Israeli military.

Quick question though: Why bother doctoring these photos? It appears the photographer is anti-Israel and wanted to exaggerate the damage to sway public opinion. But the undoctored photo shows just as much smoke.

See for yourself. This is the doctored photo.

Notice the repeating patterns in the smoke cloud. That ain't natural.

Here's the undoctored photo.

I don't understand why the photographer created something that looked obviously doctored but conveyed the same general message as the undoctored photo -- Buildings burn. Smoke big.

Now a run through the photographer's portfolio finds many questionable images. Oh well. Reuters just ends up with another well-deserved black eye.

Update: Powerline has more. That photographer puts Jayson Blair to shame.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Q: When have economic sanctions ever worked?

A: Almost never.

Any other suggestions for getting Iran to shape up?

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