Column of the Day

Good column at the Washington Post here.



Some conservatives believe that calling into question George W. Bush’s connection with the bin Laden family and the House of Saud is an act of hate. It’s not. It’s an act of intelligence. America needs to know these things. We’re supposedly in a war against terror, yet the Saudis seem to be pretty tightly connected to anti-American sentiment. What citizen would not want to know if its leaders are intimately connected with the very people he purports to be against, enemies of our country? Unquestioning allegiance is ignorance in any form.

Fahrenheit Review of the Day

Andrew Sullivan sees it this way:

It was like the “1984” hate sessions. Cheap shots would be an inadequate description. This was tedious propaganda, using the most ancient of devices, and reflective of a pathology that can only be described as unhinged. (In that respect, eerily similar to Mel Gibson’s recent piece of hackneyed, manipulative pornography.) I’d address the arguments, if there were any. There weren’t. There was just a transparently failed attempt to construct conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory on the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence, and when the entire framework was teetering into absurdity, the occasional necessary lie.

I have not seen it yet.

Dimwitted Quote of the Day

“People join terrorist organizations because there’s no hope and there’s no chance to raise their families in a peaceful world where there is not freedom . . . so the idea is to promote freedom and at the same time protect our security.”

–George W. Bush

People join terrorist organizations because they are poor and the organizations feed them. They prey on their desire to belong. It’s like gang membership.

When Bush talks about promoting freedom, what does he actually mean? Laissez-faire economic principles perhaps? I think that’s exactly what he means. He certainly doesn’t mean civil liberties.

Bush is a great spokeman for the far right because he actually believes he’s helping things. The problem is he doesn’t understand much of what is actually going on.

Short Sighted Editorial of the Day

From the Times-Displaced…

Baseball-backers from Hampton Roads make a strong case for moving the Montreal Expos to Norfolk. The quest confronts a dilemma: Putting a team in Norfolk probably would remove permanently the Washington area as a site for an expansion team or a relocated franchise. Baltimore already serves as a serious impediment to a Washington team. Adding Norfolk to the regional mix would doom the prospects for DeeCee or Northern Virginia. The Senators twice skipped out, but it is hard to believe that Major League Baseball would write off the nation’s capital, and its booming, wealthy suburbs. Hampton Roads is an outstanding area; we like the place. But it is difficult for any jurisdiction to compete with the White House, the Capitol, the ‘Skins, the Mall, the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, and, ahem, Potomac Mills

Well, having lived in Northern Virginia when Potomac Mills was built I can only say that it’s no better than any other mall in the land. In fact, it’s so much of a sprawling monstrocity that walking it is just an onerous tasks that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. Only the most hearty shoppers need apply.

Otherwise, what does baseball have to do with all of the other things this editorial lists as supposed competing elements for the prize of a MLB team? Does anybody really think – heck, you know what – I would go to a baseball game today, but where’s the Washington Monument? Where’s Mount Vernon. Oh well. It’s not here, so I guess we’ll stay home and grill.

Put a MLB team in Hampton. Put one in D.C. They’re not mutually exclusive places. The problem, though, is really this: baseball sucks.

Journalists in Iraq

From a Washington Post column today, I found out the following:

– New York Times reporter John Burns and several colleagues were blindfolded and driven to a makeshift prison before being released after eight hours.

– Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman and his driver were abducted by gun-toting men with scarves over their faces before being released.

– Washington Post reporter Dan Williams barely escaped death when his car came under hostile fire after he traveled to Fallujah.

– CNN correspondent Michael Holmes also escaped injury when his car was blasted by AK-47s, but two of CNN’s Iraqi employees were killed.

– In another attack, hostile fire shattered the window in a car carrying Fox’s Geraldo Rivera.

Yet, these events didn’t stop Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, from saying, “Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors.”

He’s right. If only journalists would publish the truth, we could clean up this mess in Iraq a lot easier. It’s a real obstacle. Also, we’re constantly having to feed these loafers. They sit around in Saddam’s old palaces, asking for more and more expensive caviar and wine. It’s ridiculous. They should be out there helping out. I mean, whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword never saw a car bomb.

Poorest Argument of the Day

Again, from the usual…

Lawyers Leach Away Our Liberties

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Walter Williams’ column, “Tyrants Attack Our Liberties,” was right on.

Every day, I am saddened to see more and more of our liberties taken away by cunning attorneys.

We are fast becoming a nation with freedom from religion, as any reference to God in public places is being challenged and banned.

We no longer are in charge of our own health. The government regulates how we shall live. Look at all the safety laws we must obey: speed limits, seat belts, air bags, child safety seats, child safety caps, smoking banned in most public buildings, etc.

Take all the gun-control laws that the criminals love.

I’m not saying some of these things don’t make sense to follow – only that they shouldn’t be mandatory but choices we freely can make according to our Founding Fathers.

We’ve already become a nation controlled by outlandish jury awards. Barbara J. Theisen. mechanicsville.

Yeah, that terrible government is making us protect our children, those damn agents of evil. How terribly cunning those heinous bureaucrats are!

Snide comments aside, Barb has a good point. People should have the freedom to choose their own path and pursue their own dreams. They should be able to freely come and go as they see fit and not be burdened by the government interfering in their actions. However, the things she cites – safety belts, speed limits, safety caps on medicines – are trivial concerns that really don’t stop us from doing what we want to do.

Yes, it’s true that we are born free, as our Founding Fathers clearly have pointed out. However, society is about cooperating and getting along with others as well as learning from other people’s mistakes.

Plus, some folks do not understand a concept until they are forced to do it. They simply won’t put a seat belt on simply because they just don’t want to. That’s why laws are put into place. Stupid people don’t freely make the right decision to protect themselves from injury and so we have helmet laws and road regulations.

I personally don’t think the speed limit laws and other rules of the road are enforced enough. I was watching David Lynch’s ‘Lost Highway’ on DVD the other day and one of the characters, Mr. Eddy (a mob type guy) was being tailgated on a one-lane road. He’s in a high-end, very sturdy Mercedes, let’s the guy pass, who’s driving some cheap crappy car (much like the one I own yet a bit bigger) and then (after uttering the line – “This is where mechanical excellence and one-thousand four-hundred horsepower pays off” – proceeds to ram the tailgater off the road, gets out of the car and then smashes the guy’s window with something like a 1911A1 Auto Ordnance .45 ACP pistol. He drags him out of the car, and starts lecturing him on proper highway etiquette while kicking him while the guy is writhing on the ground. He says:

“Six fuckin’ car lengths. That’s a hundred and six fuckin’ feet, mister. If I had to stop suddenly, you woulda hit me. I want you to get a fuckin’ driver’s manual, and I want you to study that motherfucker. And I want you to obey the the goddamn rules. Fifty-fuckin’ thousand people were killed on the highway last year ’cause of fuckin’ assholes like you. Tell me you’re gonna get a manual.”

Then the guy, who’s Mercedes has barely a scratch, gets back in the car and then drives off, leaving the guy crying like a wounded dog on the asphault.

I have to admit: I laughed.

Alarmist Partisan Tripe of the Day

Here is a story about how people who were once incarcerated found productive jobs in society. The ‘news’ is so slanted towards the Republican angle that it hardly qualifies as news. What are the statistics on formerly incarcerated individuals (dubbed ‘felons’) in the workforce? What are the statistics on the number of minorities who are convicted of felonies?

Here’s a good article on why any of us could be a criminal.

I’m not saying that employers should be unaware of an individual’s criminal record. Any employer that doesn’t want to have a wrongful employment suit on their hands should be checking backgrounds.

However, hiring decisions should not hinge solely on a person’s having been incarcerated or not. There are plenty of incompetent people who have never been thrown in jail yet should never be hired in jobs in a variety of vocations especially those that touch upon public safety.

Finding out how to tell the difference between qualified applicants and those who aren’t is the main challenge an organization has in the hiring process. So, it’s not a clear cut matter.

Alos, if a person has served his or her sentence and the system has released the individual from jail, shouldn’t that person then have the chance at becoming a productive citizen? Do we trust the system or don’t we? If we trust it enough to throw someone in jail, do we trust it enough to release that same someone?

I won’t even go into the whole idea of wrongful imprisonment or social justice regarding minorities and those in lower socio-economic classes being incarcerated at a higher rate, etc.

In summary, the RTD article cited above is a shallow attempt at linking Democrats to criminal behavior. Meanwhile, an actual Republican, not someone very loosely tied to the party as these so-called ‘felons’ are, but someone who is an actual Republican, namely Connecticut Governor John Rowland, has had to resign due to severe ethics violations. ‘Ethics violations’ is what they call it when a politician commits a crime. Strangely enough, a search of the Times-Displaced website shows no evidence that they have reported on Governor Rowland’s resignation. Not very fair and balanced, is it?

Here’s the same story from the Washington Post.

What? Alternative Rock Is Dead? Was It Ever Alive?

This article describes how the latest redux of the alternative rock festival Lollapalooza has been cancelled due to lack of interest.

The problem is this – people like to listen to music, but they don’t want to have to camp out unless it’s truly an event. Lollapalooza comes just after such an event – the huge, non-travelling Coachella Valley Music Festival in California which featured far more music and at a higher calliber than Lollapalooza. The Coachella lineup included electronic rock founders Kraftwerk (rare to see) as well as the biggest rock band in the world (short of U2) Radiohead. Not to mention two huge bands (also personal favorites) Stereolab and The Cure (also rare to see), plus a huge reunion from The Pixies (ahhh – rare to see again), plus the somewhat lesser known bands The Flaming Lips, Crystal Method and the list goes on and on with fewer and fewer recognizable names but you get the drift. These were HUGE HEADLINERS that rarely tour the U.S. or anywhere for that matter.

Lollapalooza 2004 on the other hand basically removes all the big names and adds the return of the relatively obscure Morrissey. Sonic Youth adds credibility to the mix, but they’re not a popular enough band to draw crowds. PJ Harvey is a good addition, but she’s not that popular either. And the Pixies, which are huge, don’t even have billing over The String Cheese Incident (who’s name incidentally bears a strange similarity to the Guns N’ Roses album ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’) who are, I suppose, trying to fill the shoes Phish is leaving yet are not nearly as well known.

So, from the perspective of the average younger person with disposable income to go to one of these shows, you have some returning has-beens, some obscure, though respectable names, and some very cult-following type bands that just aren’t really going to be attractive or an all-day or multi-day event. Had it been the reunion of the Smiths with New Order on the bill and Pet Shop Boys with songs from Electronic thrown in, then you’d have a shot at a tour worth seeing. Add Radiohead and forget it – that would be a tour. Better yet – how about Billy Corgan reform The Smashing Pumpkins? One can dream. But, as it was, Lollapalooza this year was a weak, weak bill. It’s no wonder it folded.

Not to beat this dead horse to death, but the only reason the bands that toured on the original Lollapalooza were dubbed ‘alternative’ was that they weren’t baby boomer rock. But these were huge acts that sold tons of records and had successful tours on their own. The original lineup included Jane’s Addiction (when they were big), Siouxsie and the Banshees (though they missed most of the Northeast because of illness – on Siouxsie’s part), Living Color (a big band in the day), Nine Inch Nails (huge), Violent Femmes, Ice-T/Body Count, Butthole Surfers, and Rollins Band (credibility, credibility, credibility). That was something. It was an event. Big names getting together for a big festival. Worth camping out for. Exciting.

Now, everyone is thirteen years older and may not want to play in the mud to see… come on… Morrissey? He just hasn’t sold many albums lately. If that’s your headliner, you lose. He just doesn’t have the image. I mean, in 1996, The Ramones played Lollapalooza. Metallica played. I mean, there just isn’t much comparison there. Not that I dislike Morrissey, but he’s an acquired taste best learned through consumption of The Smiths fare first. No one is going to camp out for Morrissey. It’s just not happening.

A perspective on this whole Lollapalooza thing can also be found here that compares 1991 to 2003.