Tuesday, January 31, 2006

He's ba - ack!

And he may be coming to your town next to belittle you and your community. Remember that hit piece David Finkel did on Texas last year? I do, though I can't find it right now (update later). It profiled a guy and his family and his love for his truck, Jesus and Hooters. Something like that. You know what Texans are like.

Anyway, this time he's gone to Utah to profile a town of Randolph, population 480, in which 95.6% of the town voted for Bush. Randolph fails the the tests of political correctness by their lack of diversity:
Terrorist threats? That's anywhere but here. Iraq? That's somewhere over there. Hurricane Katrina? That was somewhere down there. Illegal immigrants? Not here, where everyone is fond of Ramon, who came long ago from Mexico and is married to the Catholic woman, who is the one non-Mormon everyone mentions when the conversation turns to religious diversity. As for racial diversity, everyone says there are three African Americans in the county, including the twins on the high school cheerleading squad, which also includes a Hispanic, according to the superintendent of schools, Dale Lamborn, which means "we've probably got the most diverse cheerleading squad in the state."

What else is here?

One main road that is 1.3 miles long from the county building on the north end to the fence on the south end with the faded yellow ribbon on it in honor of the only child of Randolph so far to have gone to Iraq.

One church, where everyone gathered to welcome the young man home from Iraq with ice cream.

One post office, with one full-time employee, Postmaster Gage Slusser Jr., who, as everyone knows, was one of the 17 to vote for John Kerry in 2004. "The village pseudo-intellectual," Slusser calls himself. "Don't get me wrong," he adds. "These are good people."

Well, Randolph, meet David Finkel, The Washington Post's pseudo-reporter, writing like an alien from the planet Omicron-Persei 8, or like Americans are the aliens. It's understandable, though, because I'm sure he doesn't know anybody who voted for Bush.

I'll echo what one resident said, "Don't be wise, bubble eyes, or I'll knock you down to peanut size."

More: If WaPo wants to be a national paper, then why don't they treat the rest of America like it's in the same nation as Washington? I'm just sayin'.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Make up your mind!

Assuming every move she makes is a political calculation to put her in the White House, why is Hillary swinging back to the left?
Freedom of idiocy

Columbia University softens its stance on campus hate speech directed at minority students in favor of freedom of speech, at least, when the minority is in the military.

Update: You can probably see I'm mad at my old school. In truth, I don't know much about their policy on hate speech, and I don't have a well-defined opinion of it on college campuses , but this article makes Columbia's administration look like they have a double standard when it comes to protecting minorities from hate speech. Minorities in the military have to suck it up. My guess is they're tough enough, anyway.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Perot factor

Ross Perot and his followers were credited with putting Bill Clinton in office. Will the liberal wing of the Democratic party put a Republican in office after Bush's term?

Democrats are getting an early glimpse of an intraparty rift that could complicate efforts to win back the White House: fiery liberals raising their voices on Web sites and in interest groups vs. elected officials trying to appeal to a much broader audience.

These activists -- spearheaded by battle-ready bloggers and making their influence felt through relentless e-mail campaigns -- have denounced what they regard as a flaccid Democratic response to the Supreme Court fight, President Bush's upcoming State of the Union address and the Iraq war. In every case, they have portrayed party leaders as gutless sellouts.

I'll have no doubt forgotten this post by election '08, so please remind me of it then. Especially if my concerns prove correct!

Update: Just One Minute has more, noting that:

the DLC was formed twenty years ago in an attempt to drag the party to the center. How's it going? I would guess that blogs and the internet have made the unelectable left even better organized and harder to work around; the days when a candidate could tell Barbra Streisand what she wanted to hear, pocket her check, then tell the public something that made sense are long over.
We'll see.

Stick to the medium!

Sigh. Blogginheadstv, various podcasts by my favorite bloggers--I can't stop to watch or listen. That's why I go online to read, and I'm a slow reader! If I had the time to watch or listen, I'd be watching tv or listening to the radio.

I do think that Kaus is funny on bloggingheads though, and he seems as painfully fair as he is on his blog. Wright is charming too when he's not being caustically dismissive, which was too many times for me, so I clicked off.
"I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War..."

Well, I'm glad we cleared that up! From the Republic of Joel Stein: "I don't support the troops." Off with his head? No, says Cathy Seipp. "I think Stein can be very funny when writing about Hollywood. Sure, like Maureen Dowd, he's a puff-head when it comes to understanding foreign policy. But unlike her, he seems at least vaguely aware of this, and has so far refrained from writing about his outfits."

But she suggests taking him off the op-ed page, which I definitely agree with. So what if he's an entertaining writer? Is he relevant? No, as Hugh Hewitt, shows in this deposition-like interview that not only does Stein not have any knowledge of the military, he doesn't seem terribly interested in the subject matter.

Hewitt also reveals that the LA Times editors aren't interested in having knowledgable columnists on their op-ed pages. This is a fundamental problem with newspapers these days. Qualifications for op-ed writers put an emphasis on writing style. It's a symptom of what Mickey Kaus once called the highly literate but uninformed classes. I would add it's a residual effect from the Phil Donahue/Oprah Winfrey "I just wanted to say" audience member with a microphone. We are all empowered with our right to have an opinion. Few among us bother--and Stein is a perfect example--to educate ourselves on the subject matter, however.

[Insert clever, witty closing remark here.]


[Insert lofty support-Stein's-right-to-free-expression vs. Stein-not-supporting-hard-working-men-and-women-
who-put-their-lives-at-risk-so-he can-keep-cushy-overpaid-
LA Times-columnist-job remark here.]

Friday, January 27, 2006

Seipp saga continues

Michael Fumento shoots back in an NRO column of his own, the link for which I found through Seipp's blog:
I suppose this is as good a place as any to note that while I have no personal animosity against Michael Fumento, he is understandably very angry with me, and yesterday responded to my "Good Riddance, Michael Fumento" post and National Review column with an NRO commentary of his own called "Seipp's Snipe." (For which I paid him twenty bucks, some newly collectible WB totebags I had lying around and a few shares of Monsanto. Kidding!)

Read the Business Week piece. It takes three whole minutes. Nowhere does it say I took money for any column or story. It says I solicited a grant from Monsanto for a biotechnology book I was working on. (It doesn't say, but should, that such solicitations from philanthropies and corporations are the general rule for writers of policy books.) It says my think-tank employer accepted the grant and paid me a salary while I worked on the book.

Using a bizarre set of rules that writer Eamon Javers made up on the spot, applied specifically to my circumstances, and then made retroactive, Javers decided — bizarre though it sound — that a book grant received in 1999 should be disclosed in columns written in 2006 — and presumably forever.

He hung his grease-lined hat totally on the issue of disclosure. Nowhere did he claim I took pay for columns, though I don't doubt his headline was meant to imply it and that he hoped many readers would stop reading at that point.

Seipp also uses my firing from Scripps Howard as evidence of guilt, but made no inquiry into the circumstances — that Scripps acted solely upon receiving a phone call from Javers. I wasn't even consulted. That's not evidence of my guilt, but of their cowardice.

He then argues that there's a liberal conspiracy to unfairly take down conservative pundits. Well, maybe. I'm not big on conspiracy theories, though. Anway, this has been your Inside Conservative Journalism report for the day.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Blogger is declining to work with me on some formatting issues. I'm thinking of calling Jack Bauer. Actually, I heard some of these lines as Chuck Norris jokes:
1) If you wake up in the morning, it’s because Jack Bauer spared your life.

2) If Jack Bauer was in a room with Hitler, Stalin, and Nina Meyers, and he had a gun with 2 bullets, he’d shoot Nina twice.

3) Upon hearing that he was played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer killed Sutherland. Jack Bauer gets played by no man.

4) Jack Bauer’s favorite color is severe terror alert red. His second favorite color is violet, but just because it sounds like violent.

5) Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys.

6) Jack Bauer got Hellen Keller to talk.

7) Jack Bauer killed 93 people in just 4 days time. Wait, that is a real fact.

8) Jack Bauer was never addicted to heroin. Heroin was addicted to Jack Bauer.

9) 1.6 billion Chinese are angry with Jack Bauer. Sounds like a fair fight.

10) Superman wears Jack Bauer pajamas.
And I don't even watch that show!
Meet the Press meets Mickey Kaus

Tim Russert lost me a long time ago when I realized his show was really Meet Tim Russert! One time, I surfed over to his show an hour-long intierview with an NBA basketball player. I didn't get the political implications. And I don't like his Matalin/Carville sideshow either. One time they brought their children on. That's when I knew MTP had defintely jumped the shark. Carville never seemed to me like a very good spokesperson for the Deomocratic party, at least on television. He's probably great at the conventions. He seems more like the cheerleader type to me. And, Matalin...I'd like to see her sans the hubby more often, before I decide she's not so great a pundit either.

I would like to know how she stays so fashionably thin, though.

Oh, uh Kaus uncovered a conflict of interest in the axis of threeville:
Lukegate: ... Step 1) Tim Russert books the tired Carville-Matalin act more than 35 times on his Meet the Press talk show, boosting their bankability on the lucrative lecture circuit. Step 2) Carville--with Russert's eager prodding--also uses their most recent, conveniently-timed MTP appearance to plug his new XM Satellite radio sports show. ... That's smarmily venal enough, you say? Wrong! Step 3) Carville's co-host on the XM show is Russert's son, Luke, who is "currently a sophomore at Boston College." Russert and Carville joke about this on the air but don't quite have the balls to actually inform viewers of the key conflict

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Condi shakes up State

Ralph Peters:

In a speech at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, where students are deformed into diplomats, Condi cancelled the tea party. Her message was revolutionary and essential. As a result, she may go down in history as the SecState most hated by Foggy Bottom bureaucrats.

Here's what "Killjoy Condi" had to say:

I was going to leave it at that, but I remember registration is required and a deterrent. Here's a synopsis:
Diplomats can no longer build careers by hiding behind desks in comfy capitals. They'll have to accept dangerous assignments and serve in hardship posts; develop regional expertise in at least two areas; and speak at least two relevant foreign languages...

Ouch! Condi really put Paris and Berlin in their places — pointedly noting that "we have nearly the same number of State Department personnel in Germany, a country of 82 million people, that we have in India, a country of 1 billion people." ...

Crucially, Condi named China, India, South Africa and Brazil as countries of the future while declaring that an initial 100 diplomatic slots would migrate from Europe immediately to countries that actually matter...

Cutlass Condi intends to chop off the heads (or at least the careers) of those who wimp out on the dangerous missions and nasty assignments. ..
...and it goes on if you're interested. (Via Vodkapundit.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Email etiquette, pundit payola and a dull personal aside!

Mickey Kaus has picked up the sticky question of blogger/MSM email etiquette that prompted an email to me from David Cay Johnston Sunday. Johnston has plenty to say about why he emailed blogger/freelance writer Cathy Seipp in the comments section of Seipp's original post, notably here.

Seipp elaborates further in a new post here. I am not yet persuaded that Seipp's use of her phone call with NYT's Sharon Waxman as a lede to her NRO column was out of line. But should Seipp have written a story about her experience with the flak who offered her a pay-for-play scheme? Seipp said it's not the flaks who offer money she has a problem with but the writers who accept money from them. If it's unethical to accept money to write a column, is it unethical for a p.r. company to offer the money? They are doing their job, afterall, which is to promote their client.


(Been trying to get this post out for thirty minutes while the children get fussy. Apologies for poor writing, broken links and what have you!)

Did Senator John Kerry really leave a comment on the Daily Kos website? (Via Instapundit.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

No longer just a Bystander

In response to my post Shake down at the NYT's, David Cay Johnston sent me a very thoughtful email. He feels I misrepresented him. I don't want to misrepresent anyone, so I'm glad he wrote; my response follows his email:

Dear Nancy Catmull Matocha,
Your post creates, unintentionally, a false impression of the issues I raised with Catherine Seipp. I don't think this is deliberate on your part because, evidently, you took your cue from Seipp's own blog, whose posting is selective and misleading.
I also wrote this to Seipp --

** If Waxman has threatened you, as you seem to charge, then you ought to report that to the Public Editor and to her supervising editors. That would be improper conduct and a potential firing offense. Indeed, it would be wrong of you to fail to make the charge if it is true. **

That language ("seem to charge") was in response to an email from Seipp, whose language lacked clarity about just who was supposedly threatened.

It turns out that Seipp did NOT read my emails to her with care and assumed -- something working reporters should never do and press critics in particular ought to know not to do -- that I had seen her blog.

I had never seen her blog, only her column at National Review Online. And my initial email, and subsequent ones, clearly addressed only her column and her own responses, which were crude, rude and avoided dealing with the issue I raised.

The issue, which Seipp has been unwilling to deal with so far, is whether running off to tell the world that a reporter is working on a story does anything to improve journalism. It is about whether the traditional way information is obtained by reporters (in this case Waxman) and source (in this case Seipp the press critic) is going to change in such a way that sources will run off and tell the world what article(s) are in the works.

Quality journalism often takes time. Checking and cross checking to get the facts straight is not exactly compatible with the instantaneous of our Internet world. The evidence is that we have far to little checking and cross checking these days and I think that is bad for journalism and our democracy.

I had hoped to provoke Seipp, because she writes press criticism, to ponder what she had done, to evaluate her own conduct.

Instead I got back flippant and irrelevant responses, which I find surprising for someone who holds herself out as a press critic. But maybe press criticism is going to sink from thoughtful and penetrating observations to rants.

My clip file shows that I rarely use unnamed sources and indeed have written about their abusive use going back many years, including my 1987 Columbia Journalism Review critique of the problem with recommendations on how to get people on the record. That makes the impression created by Seipp and by your blog an issue.

While my language in seeking that we a private dialogue was awkward, you will note my use of the word "please." Seipp ignores this and mischaracterizes it as a command, which gives me pause about the care with which she approaches her role as a press critic.

Had I been contacting Seipp as a reporter working on a piece I would not have written that language. But I was not.

I hope if you write more about this at your blog that you focus on the issue that aroused my concern -- improving the quality of journalism -- and that you consider in light of the facts above whether your post ought to be amended.

Feel free to post this -- and to write back if you have a serious interest in the issues that afflict journalism.

David Cay Johnston

Here is my reply:
Mr. Johnston, thank you so much for your thoughtful email. I'm sure you're a busy man and so I appreciate the time it cost you.
I do not want to create a false impression of you or your position on my blog, and I agree, if Seipp feels threatened by Waxman then she ought to bring it up to Waxman's editors. On her blog, Seipp clipped part of an email to you saying, " When journalists go from keeping secrets about their sources to expecting sources to keep secrets about THEM -- as you, and Sharon Waxman, for some reason are now doing, which in her case involves threats and bullying..."
I took that to mean that Waxman was threatening the p.r. rep, not her, though I agree with you, it's not entirely clear.
In her comments section of that post, she later writes, "The anonymous p.r. person is no longer quite so anonymous, because yesterday he sent a signed letter to Sharon's supervising editors about her threats to him. Until he gives me the OK, though, I'm not saying his name here." http://www.haloscan.com/comments/cathyseipp/704/#288453
I'm not entirely understanding of your point that my blog creates the impression that you inappropriately or overly use anonymous sources. Perhaps you're making the case that my blog creates the impression that your correspondence with Seipp was merely to criticize her behavior when it was actually to discuss something much broader--"the issues that afflict journalism," part of which is sourcing, in which case both posts missed the point, mine unwittingly. I took Seipp's point narrowly to mean that you think sources should keep reporters and their questions anonymous.
I'm interested in why you think what Seipp did was wrong in her NRO column. She used her brief conversation with Waxman as a lede in to her opinion piece on two journos already outed for pundit payola. There was no new information there. It doesn't seem like she scooped any key information that would make or break Waxman's story. She didn't out her own brush w/ pay-for-play experiences. It would be different if she helped Waxman w/ the story, gave her the rep's name and the p.r. company and great quotes, and then wrote a column on the same before Waxman's story was published, but that's not what happened.
(If I am missing your point, I invite you to hammer me a little more. Some times it takes a brick.)
I am interested in journalism. I think traditional news sources and blogs have a symbiotic relationship that will improve both. As the relationship continues/ grows, there are sure to be many bruises, but I'm not yet persuaded that more transparency in the process of crafting a great story is harmful to the profession. I'll bet you're a very busy man, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.
Again, thank you for your email. I will post it along with my reply and add an update to my original post that links to your email.
PS I also appreciate your effort in reducing journalism's reliance on unnamed sources.
Added: Blogger pushed all his paragraphs together, so I went through and separated them, but changed nothing else.

[Update: Further reflection. There's a lot of information and angles in this particular story, which may be why I keep missing Mr. Johnston's point, I think. If my original post shows Mr. Johnston as trying to bully Seipp into secrecy, then that's not really what I was trying to convey. I find Seipp's writing amusing and I clip it. He says she was selective in clipping his email and that it was to his detriment, so I apologize for highlighting it out of proportion. Mostly, I wanted to shine light on his opinion that her NRO column was less than honorable. In this case, I haven't seen any evidence that it was.]

[Update, the second: Again, I have little professional experience, so obviously it's entirely possible that I'm wrong--I'm just not sure why, though.]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Comments closed

The Washington Post shut down their blog comments section because of too many abusive comments from people who were mad that their ombudswoman had the audacity to point out that though Republicans were the main beneficiaries of Jack Abramoff's money, Democrats also reaped a significant amount of contributions from him. Via INDC who notes in an update:
To be fair, I don't see much profanity, though there are the expected animated charges of "liar," "republican paymasters," "fire this broad," "accepting payola from the Bush Administration," "shill," "Howell should be fired," and "Howells should have a more accurate idea as to who's on the GOP slush fund gravy train. After all, she's pretty obviously on it herself," etc, among calmer criticisms.
Shake down at the NYT's Shake, rattle and write [Now with more updates!]

Get a closer look at the inner workings of professional journalism. Freelancer Cathy Seipp gets a call from Sharon Waxman of the NYT's, asking her about a p.r. rep who once offered Seipp money to write a column "slamming a lefty organization that a corporate client would enjoy seeing slammed." Seipp declined, saying in an NRO column
since I didn’t know which big p.r. firms were ultimately behind the offer, [I] was unwilling to get their factotum in trouble by giving Sharon his name. My quarrel isn’t with the spin shops that pay for op-ed space, but the journalists who accept it.
Back on her blog Seipp noted,
...Sharon complained in yet another breathless phone call to me, her editors had told her she couldn't use the anecdote about me if I didn't say who'd offered me the money.

"Well," I said, "that's your problem, not mine."

I always respond, out of professional courtesy, to another reporter's request for help (even if it's just to say I can't help). But I'd already told Sharon all I was going to tell her. I felt no obligation to betray anyone's privacy to help out the Times.
Seipp used the original phone call as the lede for a column in NRO about a couple of high profile conservative writers recently outed for "pundit-payola."

After it was published, she received an email from another NYT's writer criticizing her:
Back to David Cay Johnston. Over the years, various journalists -- such as Alex Beam of the Boston Globe and Nikki Finke of the L.A. Weekly -- have sent me emails that basically say this:

"Hello. Although you have not asked for my opinion, I would like to tell you what I think of you. But I suspect, on some level, that this makes me sound like a pompous git. So you are hereby ordered to keep my insults to you secret. If you disobey, you have violated our non-agreement and are therefore unethical."

Johnston titled his email "Gosh, Catherine," ordered me to delete it without reading if I didn't agree to keep it between us, and then said: [Added: Johnston writes me that he did not order her, but asked that she "please" delete it.]
I have never met Waxman and know nothing of her, but I can imagine how I would feel if you had done to me what you just did to Waxman or any other working reporter.

I sure hope if you are working on a story that no source of yours goes off and writes a piece like you just did before you can get into print.

Unless you had Waxman's OK (seems highly unlikely), then it strikes me your column is not honorable.
Her reply is hilarious. [Added: Johnston points out in an email to me, she was selective in clipping from his emails and that she didn't seem to read them all, at least not carefully.]

[Update: Johnston emailed to say he feels misrepresented in my post. His email, and my response to it are here, two posts up.]

[Another Update: A commenter named Soupy on Seipp's blog makes a fair point that Seipp's knowledge of the conversation between the p.r. rep and Waxman is third hand, and though I trust Seipp as a source, I'm no longer comfortable with clipping that part of her post and pasting it to my blog without Waxman's reaction. I have not yet found her contact information, so I deleted that part of my post.]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Your results:
You are Spider-Man
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
Green Lantern
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

(Via Gay Patriot.)

There's a website devoted to singling out professors at UCLA who are too political [Added: in the classroom]. They're reportedly paying students to record lectures. (Via Althouse.)
Page A16

The Washington Post gets a better picture of the missile strike in Pakistan:

A senior Pakistani intelligence official who also spoke on condition of anonymity said Pakistan had received convincing reports Wednesday confirming that at least three al Qaeda operatives were killed, including Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, who uses the alias Abu Khabab al-Masri. The United States has posted a $5 million bounty for the reputed training camp leader and expert in explosives and poisons.

The intelligence official also said Abdul Rahman Maghribi, the son-in-law of Zawahiri, was killed. Maghribi was believed to have been al Qaeda's chief of propaganda for the region. A key operative in Afghanistan's Konar province, Abu Ubayida Misri, also died, the official said.

Not quite the front page, big headline news of last Sunday in which the victims were reported as "innocent" women and children and the government had almost no response to the allegations, is it? Just sayin'.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

1978: Shatner covers Elton John' Rocket Man

Via Andrew Sullivan, the worst cover I've ever seen. So bad it's funny.
Have the Europeans kept their head in the sand?

Here's Charles Krautheimer's bleak view of the Iranian situation:
A travel ban on Iranian leaders would be a joke; they don't travel anyway. A cutoff of investment and high-tech trade from Europe would be a minor irritant to a country of 70 million people with the second-largest oil reserves in the world and with oil at $60 a barrel. North Korea tolerated 2 million dead from starvation to get its nuclear weapons. Iran will tolerate a shortage of flat-screen TVs.

The only sanctions that might conceivably have any effect would be a boycott of Iranian oil. No one is even talking about that, because no one can bear the thought of the oil shock that would follow, taking 4.2 million barrels a day off the market, from a total output of about 84 million barrels.

The threat works in reverse. It is the Iranians who have the world over a barrel. On Jan. 15, Iran's economy minister warned that Iran would retaliate for any sanctions by cutting its exports to "raise oil prices beyond levels the West expects." A full cutoff could bring $100 oil and plunge the world into economic crisis.

Which is one of the reasons the Europeans are so mortified by the very thought of a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. The problem is not just that they are spread out and hardened, making them difficult to find and to damage sufficiently to seriously set back Iran's program.

The problem that mortifies the Europeans is what Iran might do after such an attack -- not just cut off its oil exports but shut down the Strait of Hormuz by firing missiles at tankers or scuttling its vessels to make the strait impassable. It would require an international armada led by the United States to break such a blockade.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No girls allowed!

Not that I want to be a member of this high-profile, champion-of-women's rights, elected official's club, but, alas, my sex is not privy to the secret handshake:
Kennedy was outed by conservatives late last week as a current member of The Owl Club, a social club for Harvard alumni that bans women from membership.
In an interview with WHDH Channel 7’s Andy Hiller that aired last night, Kennedy said, “I joined when I . . . 52 years ago, I was a member of the Owl Club, which was basically a fraternal organization.”
Asked by Hiller whether he is still a member, Kennedy said, “I’m not a member; I continue to pay about $100.”
He then said of being a member in a club that discriminates against women, “I shouldn’t be and I’m going to get out of it as fast as I can.”
Which just illustrates the Oscar award-winning performaces that were going on in those ridiculous Alito hearings last week. (Via Jonah Goldberg.)
On that Pakistani missile strike

Four or five terrorists are now reported to have died in that Pakistani air strike. Twelve, including Zawahiri were said to have been invited, though it looks unlikely he attended. I can't tell which page this story made in WaPo, but as of now it's under the "More Headlines" section on the front page of the website.
Race card up her sleeve

I recollect that she once made references to Republican senators being racist, though refused to elaborate. So I shouldn't be surprised about this remark:
Said Clinton, “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation and you know what I'm talking about..."
No, not really. In fact, not at all. What are you talking about? (Via Drudge.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

On defense

One of my favorite episodes of Futurama is "Roswell that Ends Well" in which the cast gets pushed back in time to Roswell in the 1950's. Dr. Zoidberg is captured and interrogated by the U.S. Army. While in captivity they give him an option. I don't quite remember what it is--something like either being eviscerated right then and there or telling them the truth about his people's invasion and then being eviscerated. Dr. Zoidberg's reply: "Both good--the important thing is I'm meeting new people."

I was reminded of this last night when I told a pre-school mom at a birthday party that I have a defensive driving course tonight. At least I'm getting out of the house!

The pre-school mom--Angelina I think her name is--is moving back to the Netherlands in a week and a half. She enjoyed her time here in North Texas, she said, but it's time for a change. What, I asked her, you're not going to miss living the Generican Dream here in Flower Mound? She laughed at my joke, but declined to add a derisive comment of her own.
Asked and answered

The WSJ (subs. required) has a partial response to yesterday's WaPo question on government response to the missile strike in Pakistan that purportedly killed over a dozen civilians:
The U.S. government as of early yesterday hadn't officially acknowledged responsibility for Friday's missile attack.
Fair enough. I'll try to keep on top of this.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Press conference

An excerpt from L. Paul Bremer's book:
First on his feet was a BBC reporter who facetiously asked, “Isn’t it true that” the [Governing] Council was just a creature of the Americans, had no powers, and was essentially useless?

[Jalal] Talabani grabbed the mike and chided the reporter for representing “our former colonial masters. BBC never tells the truth about Iraq,” he continued. Warming to his subject, Talabani said, “The Council is the most representative government Iraq has ever had.” He went on to enumerate some of its powers and suggested in no uncertain terms that the reporter didn’t know what he was talking about.
Ahahahaha! Get him, Talabani!
Sago review

CNN Chief Jonathon Klein's speech to staffers after the Sago Mine disaster:
“We screwed this up, although we came out looking okay because the Governor was wrong, and we had a wrong Congress person too. Their sources were as bad as our sources.

“We’re CNN; we’re supposed to be more reliable than anyone. Our slogan isn’t ‘Wrong when the Governor’s wrong.’ Statesmen are supposed to watch us to find out what’s going on in their world.

“It is unacceptable to me that for three hours of live television, with our top talent presiding, we’ve got twelve men alive reported as truth, and we never saw those men, no ambulances for them ever moved, and we had no real confirmation. Just a bunch of people saying: yeah, that’s what we heard.

“No one from inside the rescue operation was putting his name, or his ass on the line with those facts. But we did not report that. Yet we put our ass and our name on the line, and Anderson’s, when we had almost no facts.

“Totally unccceptable…
Just kidding! But that's what Jay Rosen thinks he ought to have said. Rosen, of course, gets a "how-dare-you" letter from someone at the NYT's. Heh, heh. Indeed, how dare a journalism professor and critic critique actual journalism--he has no right!

Who did our intelligence people rely on that turned this incisive military exercise into the demise of seventeen "innocent" people?
Thousands of people took to the streets in major Pakistani cities Sunday to protest the U.S. missile strike Friday that was intended to kill al Qaeda deputy Ayman Zawahiri but missed its target and killed 17 persons [or 13--it's unclear], including six women and six children.
Bold added. Did we miss the target or did we hit the target but miss Zawahiri? In this two-page story, the government's response gets about three sentences. I wonder if the government is slow to respond to news inquiries like this or was it just not given any space in the story. Either way, we're not getting the full story.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I'm not making fun...

British MP and anti-Iraq War activist George Galloway was recently taped in a British reality TV show pretending to be a cat.
It got worse, when he started lapping up imaginary milk from the cupped hands of a wrinkly and repulsive hasbeen Rula Lenska.
[Who's Rula Lenska? -ed. I don't know.] You can find the video here.

I'm just sayin', that's all. (Via Kausfiles.)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rice diminishment watch:
Speaking with Pravda this week, ["the leader of Russia's Liberal and Democratic Party" Vladimir] Zhirinovsky chastised Rice for calling on Russia to "act responsibly" in supplying natural gas to Ukraine.

The fascistic pol attributed that "coarse anti-Russian statement" to Rice being "a single woman who has no children."

"If she has no man by her side at her age, he will never appear," Zhirinovsky ranted on. "Condoleezza Rice needs a company of soldiers. She needs to be taken to barracks where she would be satisfied.

"Condoleezza Rice is a very cruel, offended woman who lacks men's attention," he added. "Such women are very rough. … They can be happy only when they are talked and written about everywhere: 'Oh, Condoleezza, what a remarkable woman, what a charming Afro-American lady! How well she can play the piano and speak Russian!'

"Complex-prone women are especially dangerous. They are like malicious mothers-in-law, women that evoke hatred and irritation with everyone. Everybody tries to part with such women as soon as possible. A mother-in-law is better than a single and childless political persona, though."

Via Althouse, who wonders, "You can say he's simply crazy, but do you think there are not plenty of people in this country who think such things?"

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A little help

I don't have time to get through this article. Apparently the government has in its possession two million documents/cd's/hard drives, etc. , from Iraq of which only 2.5% have been read. In that 2.5% we learn that in the four years before the war, Saddam had three terrorist training camps and had trained at least 8000 of them. What don't we know from the other 97.5% of the documents and how can we get to it is the subject of the rest of the article for which I have little time. So please read and summarize starting with the interview on page two.

Off to put the kids to bed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Jonah Goldberg watching the Today Show this morning:
They have two political analysts on. Paul Begala on left. And James Carville holding down the other left.
Food: for fun or for fuel?

Back in the day (good grief) when I worked in an office, I always ate lunch at my desk. I'd rather wolf down a slice or two and get back to work instead of taking an hour off and then staying an extra thirty to sixty minutes in the evening.
In America, says University of Pennsylvania psychologist Paul Rozin, lunch is not a meal. "It's a fueling."
Thinking of food as fuel is a healthy alternative to thinking of food as pleasure, food as social activity, food as fun, food as reward. There are certainly occasions when all of those things are important--holidays, birthdays, dates--but Americans have it so good we try to have a special occasion every day, or worse yet, every meal.

The family dinner hour is a sacred, American, twentieth-century event. Working parents rush home to protect that daily event, but because so much importance is placed on it, it's often bigger than it should be. With pasta, we serve bread, with steak, we serve potatoes and bread, with bread, we serve bread.

In Paris, I was once chastised for reaching for a piece of bread while there were cous cous on my plate. You Americans eat too much bread, he said.

You can have quality family time without making dinner the reason to do it. Dinner is convenient because everyone gets hungry around that time, but it doesn't--and in my view generally shouldn't--have to be a big meal with all the trimmings, plus dessert. It should fuel you, get you through the night and maybe the next morning's events. [You're just trying to get out of cooking!-ed. Got me!]

PS It's not a terribly interesting article other than learning that 75% of office workers eat at their desk and that they should clean their desk because of all the crumbs and germs left behind. Speaking of which, I should clean this one at home, too.

PPS My husband is not one of those 75%. What, he'd ask? What do you mean not get out of the office for lunch?

[Updated for grammar and clarity.]
'Gesture politics'

Prime Minister Tony Blair is mad as heck and not going to take it anymore!
"It's about saying: 'I'm sorry, if your family is out of control and causing hell for everybody else in the local community we cannot sit there and simply say nothing's going to happen to you."
This is just odd, but perhaps he's getting tough ala Rudy Giuliani who has been credited for cleaning up New York by going after crimes like grafitti, public urination, etc.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

You should blog

Here's the bio of Stephen Kaus:
Stephen Kaus is a civil litigation attorney and formerly was a public defender.

His brother Mickey Kaus, of Kausfiles.com, suggested that Stephen blog instead of constantly sending Mickey angry e-mails.

Right said Fred

This seems hardly blogworthy, but what the hey--I know a guy named Fred:

Fredding begins when someone "baits" another person by getting him or her to say a word that rhymes with Fred.

When the target - a waitress in a diner who suggests bread when asked for an alternative to rolls, for example - falls into the trap, the Fredder calls out, "Bread! Fred! Who's Fred, ha!"

It's not science, admits Mocknick, 47.

No worries--Fred's not a scientist, anyway. (Via BOTW whose permalink is not yet available.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hit me

With 258 hits last week, you'd think I'd capitalize on the fame by posting up a storm, but nope! I got nuthin'. Well, there is this tidbit that the men in Washington D. C. are some of the unhealthiest in America. I do think the Veep looks like he's putting on weight, though his latest troubles are a side effect from a medicine he's taking.

Also, there's a history lesson in every obituary. Here's one about My Lai in Hugh Thompson's. (Via INDC Bill.)

Thursday, January 05, 2006


After finding out months ago that one of my favorite bloggers is dying of cancer, I finally got the courage to leave a comment about how much I enjoy her writing. I like her because she's so opinionated and I'd like to be more opinionated too, or at least, be able to make the fog in my head and heart take solid shape more quickly than it does.

Her comments section can be somewhat hilarious too because, though she's conservative, she has some fairly high-profile liberal friends who like to duke it out with other commenters. Conversations usually stray off topic. The whole site is a noisy cocktail party without the drinks, though I suspect some save their comments until they have drink in hand. Anyway, courage, Cathy, and thanks.
Year in review

Except, the year is 2006. How does he know?
Valerie Plame signed a six-year contract with Cover Girl.

Judge Samuel Alito was confirmed, just in time to cast the deciding vote outlawing parental notification for partial flag-burning.

Saddam was convicted and sentenced to death for crimes against humanity. While awaiting execution he published several children’s books – including “Goodnight Moon and Your Entire Accursed Family as Well” – and this resulted in a Nobel Peace Prize nomination and the solemn, creased-brow support of several Hollywood celebrities. George Clooney announced he would appear in a Saddam biopic,
Speaking of the future, Lileks also has some comments on Mark Steyn's long, long, long column in opinionjournal on the demise of Western civilization. He predicts it to happen just about the end of my lifetime. I read it and thought about blogging it, but have little to say, except that I'm more hopeful than he.
'A constructive suggestion'

Tom Maquire:
I don't want the Times deciding, in wartime, just what information I "deserve to have", thank you very much - they are not elected, they are not accountable, and frankly, I do not trust their politics. But rather than abandon my fellow citizens to the mercies or depredations of the Bush Administration, let me offer a constructive suggestion - since we have a representative democracy, complete with institutional checks and balances and two parties, how about if the purveyors of classifed info, when troubled by their consciences, take their troubles to a Congressional oversight committee rather than the NY Times?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hed hunter

Wizbang seems to have scanned about twenty front pages that got the miner story wrong. NYT's, WaPo, USA Today are included.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Keeping up with the Joneses

We watch a show called Moving Up. It's a reality show about people moving into homes, redecorating and then inviting the old owners to see their renovations. The host then tries to get the old owners to make snarky remarks about the new decor.

Invariably, each couple consists of two teachers, or a programmer and his stay-at-home wife, or an engineer and teacher--your basic middle to upper-middle-class couples. But they're always moving into half-million to million dollar plus homes.

Which makes me wonder what are we doing wrong? Today we visited one of those homes newly developed about a mile from our house. It was a 5000-square foot model home, fully loaded with media room, and office. Nice digs, if you can get it.

I like to check out model homes for design ideas and to see how the other half lives. But if the other half is essentially earning the same paychecks as we are, how are they living in such huge, new homes? Did they buy their home earlier than we did and thus have more equity to spend? Have the values of their homes (on the show the houses are usually in the mid-Atlantic or northeastern states) tripled since they bought? How do I get in on this deal?

It's always been my dream to luxuriate.
Whole Foods

Jonah Goldberg: "A six dollar bar of soap is in no way a rejection of crass consumer culture, it is the full flower of it."

True enough! Whole Foods researched my little town of Flower Mound and gave us the thumbs down last year, saying in the local paper that we weren't the "right demographic." That really ticks off a pre-school mom I know--who gets a pained expression every time I tell her I've served Teddy Grahams and apple juice to her daughter. So she called them, and she reports to me that Flower Mound lacks enough people with graduate degrees to deserve a Whole Foods.

Speaking of Texas, last night we were in Grapevine dining with one set of the children's grandparents. A fajita pan set off the fire alarm and Grapevine's Bravest showed up lickety-split! Nothing to see there, so they moved on.

We checked out a furniture store for after-meal walking, found the small area of items we can afford and didn't see anything we liked so we moved on. But as we did we smelled smoke. Kinda creepy--living this historic burning season. I really hadn't noticed it until I saw it reach national news. My bad for ignoring state and local news.

It appears our average annual rainfall should be about 35 inches, but I heard on the news the other night, we didn't quite make 19 inches in '05. My husband tells me that that puts us close to desert like conditions. At least, I think that's what he said. We're near enough to the western deserts, though by this useful map, we don't look too near.
Cat lovers take notice!

Cat calls 911 to help owner, police say

Would your cat call 911 for you?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's resolution

Dr. Helen's number-one resolution is to stop appearing so grumpy. I'm not going to put this in comments, but I might stop liking her as much as I do if a sudden cheerfulness shows up on her blog.
You've changed, man.

I'm delighted to report that I've kept most of my relationships intact despite parting ways on politics. I was seriously afraid for a few, but that's mostly due to some personal issues I have. Here's a woman who is not so lucky. She's a convert in a blue blue blue state.
A few have stopped speaking to me, and that makes me both sad and angry. Many look at me ever after with "that look" in their eyes--at least, I perceive that look, and I don't think I'm imagining things. It appears that my relationship with them has changed in some subtle way, and not for the better; they now see me as strange and somehow not quite trustworthy or kindly.

Some tease me, as though they can't quite believe it's true and are trying to test things out in a light way. A few had extremely angry and rejecting outbursts at first, but then got over it--outwardly, at least. A couple of people have decided never to speak politics to me again, in order to preserve our friendship. Still others, to my delight, can have lucid and calm discussions with me on the topic.
(Via Roger Simon) I think key here is trying to stay non-partisan and I recognize by some of my strong emotional reactions to other people's opinion, and by my reluctance to read other than like-minded writers, that that is an area where I need work. But, hey--that can change, right? It's the New Year!

Speaking of which, when my daughter asked what this holiday celebrates, I tried to explain it terms of the earth having its own birthday. When this morning she asked what Easter celebrates, I dug too deep. It's about Jesus, I said, whose birthday we just celebrated. He grew up and taught people how to live a good life, but some people didn't like him so they put him up on a cross--

I know about the cross.

--and he died up there. But three days later he came back to life and then went Heaven.

Dad, can I have a banana and peanut butter sandwich for lunch?

As I said, a little too deep for a four year old.