Thursday, February 28, 2008

Anger In Music

By Bobby

We associate rock music most with anger, if you've heard the loud bangs and the garble that these "artists" sing. But in attending the National Symphony Orchestra's concert at the Koger Center for the Arts Tuesday night, I wondered why William Schuman's Prayer in the Time of War composed an element which the program states Mr. Schuman found no element in glory, and even took a solemn theme.

But at the time it debuted in 1943, and the reason for its composition in 1942, and the other war music, I wondered the similarities and differences between then and now.

The United States was at war with a clear enemy in 1941 when our bases in Pearl Harbor were attacked by bombers of the Tojo régime dead-set on attacking us. The next day, the country, after having the defense give up a touchdown (the attack on Pearl Harbor), decided to go on the offense, where we continued until victory. In 2001, the United States, after playing a hard "peace dividend" and giving up the necessities of protecting the nation (lost many bases; military was converted for other unauthorised uses), found the lack of defense led to the attacks on September 11, with a commerce building and defense building destroyed, and the potential of a major government building being attacked by Al Qaeda homicide bombers. The offense started attacking terrorists afterwards.

Textbooks today glorify the one Congresswoman who voted not to authorise the nation to go on offense, and defeated; her peace activism is more glorified than the heroes who fought in Guadalcanal, Midway, and our victories in both Europe and Asia (the United States was forced to war when Germany, like Japan, declared war on the United States). The modern liberal thought is to glorify the one Congresswoman who refused to support the war.

When I listen to compositions composed during wartime, I expect an aggressive march to symbolise our troops in the fight of their lives against the enemy of enemies, and from the fight to a long tussle, and then to victory. Cheerful compositions reminding us of the victory ahead meant much to the troops. Think about the major rock hits that taught an anti-war message, and did not preach to America the sign that victory against Communism was a must, as it should.

While walking from the parking lot to the concert hall, I saw signs endorsing a pullout from Iraq, and they defended it by saying the Americans lost nothing and did not lose the war by pulling out of Vietnam. Unfortunately, they do not understand that the pullout led to the confidence of the Communists, who ransacked South Vietnam, and later took over the entire nation. The victory of the Communists was a major confidence-booster, which led to major takeovers by the Left in other nations, knowing the Free World would not fight. That win gave us dictatorships in Nicaragua, Granada (shot down by the US), Angola, and even dictatorships in Iran.

Who knows if the Americans pull out of Iraq what will happen. But it's clear dictatorships and terrorists would use it as a sign of our weakness, just like what happened 35 years ago after the fall of Vietnam. To modern liberalism, keeping self-esteem means more, and losing is acceptable. That is unacceptable when we are at war.

The only think that matters when we are fighting the enemy is to go for the win.

As for the music from the hall, I wonder how Leonard Slatkin altered Ravel's interpretation of Pictures at an Exhibition. Is it correct for a conductor to change it to run the real meaning of the work? I wonder why he altered it considerably from what it really is intended to be.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

End of an Era

By Drew

Just over the wire: William F. Buckley, Jr., died this morning. I know we'll be doing an obit on him this week, but I think it appropriate that we take an immediate moment to note his passing. He was truly a titan of modern conservative thought, a man who made it respectable, if not fashionable, to be an intellectual and political conservative. He was witty, erudite, and a whole bunch of other things. Most of all, he will be missed. There are many who would say that the political movement he represented for so many years had faded away long before his death, taken over by the neocons - but regardless, there can be no question that it will not be the same without him. More later. R.I.P.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Barry Morse, R.I.P.

By Mitchell

The Canadian actor Barry Morse died earlier this month and in a way it’s appropriate that we’re late getting around to writing about it, for in his most famous role Barry Morse was often arriving on the scene just a step or two behind.

Although he was an actor for over 50 years, it was as the relentless Lieutenant Philip Gerard in The Fugitive that Morse came to greatest fame. For four seasons Gerard tracked his prey, the escaped Dr. Richard Kimball, and that step or two by which he trailed Kimball would always make the difference. Gerard was a brilliant lawman, often displaying a stunning instinct for anticipating Kimball’s thinking – hardly the stereotype of the bumbling, slow-witted cop – but ultimately he would miss Kimball by just that much. With that slight advantage Kimball might form relationships with people who would then aid him in eluding Gerard, or he would slip unnoticed out of a room just as Gerard entered it, or he would snatch the last seat on a bus pulling out of town just before Gerard arrived at the station. It might be different from week to week, but it would always be something.

It may be hard to appreciate now, but The Fugitive was quite the counter-cultural program when it debuted in 1963. Sponsors and network executives alike had a real problem with the idea of the police pursuing (some might say persecuting) a man whose innocence, in the opening credits of each episode, had clearly been established. Series creator Roy Huggins recalled a programming executive at ABC who railed at “how un-American it was, how it was a slap in the face of American justice, week after week.” Indeed, the idea that an innocent man could be arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death made a great idea for a movie or dramatic special, but was a bold idea for a television series – as was the idea of having, as a series regular, a man determined to bring the innocent hero to justice, a role guaranteed to generate the ire of every viewer in America. This was the part Barry Morse played to perfection.

For, as Morse once said, the role of Lt. Gerard was "carefully designed to be disliked.” As the show increased in popularity, so did the reactions of fans. "Elderly ladies bashed me across the head with their handbags, or some hulking great man would come up to me in a bar and say: 'Don't you understand? The guy's innocent!' It was an enormous compliment -- and quite dangerous." Morse reveled in the reaction: “I was the most hated man in America, and I loved it.”

Gerard was hardly a one-dimensional villain, though. He constantly defended Kimball when other lawmen would attempt to implicate the doctor in various crimes. Gerard understood that Kimball was not a run-of-the-mill killer – the murder of wife, for which Kimball had been convicted, was presumed to have been a crime of passion. Nor was Gerard particularly surprised at the many acts of kindness and charity which Kimball would perform in the various cities and towns through which he passed. Kimball even became involved in Gerard’s own life from time to time, saving his lost son, befriending his troubled wife, and more than once saving Gerard from people who would want to kill him as a favor to Kimball.

It wasn’t that Gerard wasn’t grateful for Kimball’s actions, but it didn’t change what was for him the central fact of the matter: Kimball had received a fair trial and had been convicted by a jury of his peers. As an officer of the law, it was not Gerard’s job to determine Kimball’s guilt or innocence, but to carry out the decision of the court. Gerard was the anti-Oprah – a man determined not to let feelings or emotions get in the way of his duty. It may have been maddening, but there was a true dignity and nobility in the way in which Gerard did his job. It also made for great television.

As time went on, one could sense more and more that doubts were beginning to creep into Gerard’s mind. The one-armed man whom Kimball had seen fleeing the scene of his wife’s murder, a man whom Gerard had initially viewed as a figment of Kimball’s imagination, now began to appear with increasing regularity. It could be that Kimball had convinced himself this particular man (whom we learn is named Fred Johnson) was responsible for his wife’s death – or it could be that Kimball had been telling the truth all along. No matter how Gerard tried to remind himself that this was not his job, it was becoming harder for him to dismiss the possibility. Finally, in the climactic final episode, Kimball is able to persuade Gerard to give him a chance to trap Johnson and prove that he is the real killer. (One can almost sense Gerard thinking, “How did I let myself get talked into this?”) Kimball’s plan backfires – after admitting his guilt, Johnson tries to kill Kimball as well, and Gerard is forced to kill Johnson in order to save Kimball’s life. But even this is not enough for Gerard – since he didn’t hear Johnson’s confession, there still is no evidence of Kimball’s innocence. It’s only when a heretofore unknown witness to the murder steps forward and fingers Johnson that Kimball is truly cleared.

In the epilogue, as Gerard stands outside the courtroom and offers his hand to the now-exonerated Kimball to shake, it is clear that he is asking Kimball to see him as a cop who was just doing his job, that it wasn’t anything personal. And it wasn’t. There was no room for emotion, for personal feelings, in the job that Philip Gerard did, and that’s what made him a good cop. There was room for instinct and intuition though, and that’s what made him a great cop. It is also what made Barry Morse a great actor and the role of Philip Gerard one of the best in the history of television.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wish I'd Written That

By Mitchell

Few entertainers were smoother or could prick the balloon of Hollywood pomposity better than Johnny Carson. With this being Oscar® night tonight, here’s a sample of Johnny’s quotes from his years hosting the show:

As you all know by now, this is the 51st annual Academy Awards. Two hours of sparkling entertainment spread out over a four-hour show.

I see a lot of new faces. Especially on the old faces.

This is the night that Hollywood puts aside its petty jealousies, and brings out its major jealousies.

You people who just tuned in at home, this is the Academy Awards. Warning: contents may cause drowsiness; do not drive or operate heavy machinery.

Okay, folks, we're into our fourth hour now. Let's check the board and see how much we've raised.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Super Secret Memo

By Kristin

With Fox's recent announcement that the hit series "24" wouldn't return until January 2009, we couldn't help wondering just what Jack Bauer would be doing with all that free time. We can now report, after having obtained a copy of this confidential memo, that an ordinary day in the life of Jack Bauer isn't that much different from yours or mine.

To: Jack Bauer, Ops.
From: Clark C. Miller, Accounting
Re: Expense Report 01/20/2007

Mr. Bauer,

I am writing to clarify a few items on your expense form dated 02/20/2008. Specifically, items A, B, D, and E have been cleared: one armored tank, one keg of Heineken, two rolls of duck tape and 12 feet of electrical wiring.

However, items C and F are still waiting approval pending further explanation. As you may recall, the addendum to Budget Section 17, subsection (A), entitled "Thermonuclear Weapons," specifically requires authorization in triplicate from the chief administrative officer of Branch 6, Unit 10, in cases where a proper receipt for said weaponry has not been submitted. Since you did not include either the authorization or the receipt with your form, I am forced to deny your expense claim as stated on Page 2, Section 5, Line H. Should you wish to appeal this decision, please submit Form R28-9 (10/03), along with a narrative stating why you were not able to obtain prior authorization and were not able to provide a copy of the receipt.

To: Jack Bauer, Ops.
From: Clark C. Miller, Accounting
Re: Expense Report 06/13/2007

Mr. Bauer,

Regarding your recent request, may I remind you that Budget Memo XZ7-2, dated 12/17/2003, specifically requires that all expenses in excess of $3 (three) million dollars be subject to pre-approval by your department head. Your expense item for Twelve million Canadian Dollars is, therefore, four times the pre-approved amount allocated to field agents. Your years of dedicated service and self sacrifice noted in your request form were not sufficient explanation to justify that amount. Also, your request for lauch codes for the nuclear weapons stationed in Nebraska is highly irregular, to say the very least.

Please note that your cooperation is respectfully requested in the future when submitting your expense report. Failure to provide required information in a timely manner can result in undue delay in processing your request, as well as creating a great deal of additional work for the Accounting Department.

To: Jack Bauer, Ops.
From: Clark C. Miller, Accounting
Re: Expense Report 10/24/2007

All right Bauer, just where do you come off asking for reimbursement of expenses due to collateral damage resulting from the use of 1 (one) Sidewinder shoulder-launched ground-to-air missile. Do you think we're made of money here? $28 (twenty-eight) million doesn't just grow on trees, you know, not even for the great Jack Bauer.

Oh, that's right, you were just saving the world. Again. We just forgot. We’ll get right on that! You know Bauer, you don’t get all the tough assignments around here. Balancing budgets is no easy task, buddy. I bet you couldn’t even run a standard PT Report. If the Finance Department was run the same way your Ops Department functions, this agency would be bankrupt in 6 (six) months. Then who'd keep your precious butt afloat, huh?

On behalf of the Accounting Dept. I would like to personally wish you luck on your super secret mission to Canada. I hope you break a leg!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Did You Hear the One About St. Peter and the Senator?

By Mitchell

The following comes from a friend who knows us well enough to know we'd appreciate this story:


While walking down the street one day a US senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance. "Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem," says the senator. "Just let me in,"

"Well," St. Peter replies, "I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules." And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him. Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St Peter is waiting for him. 'Now it's time to visit heaven.'So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity." The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers, "Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hellNow the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. "I don't understand," stammers the senator. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning...... Today you voted."

(Appropriate on a primary day, don't you think?"

Washington's Rules of Life

By Drew

Speaking of Washington as we were yesterday, there was this bit from CNN on Washington's "self-help" tips. They come, of course, from Washington's Rules of Civility, a little book that everyone should have, or at least read once in their lifetime. (I'd recommend the version linked to above, with commentary by Richard Brookhiser.)

The list of 110 rules, based on a compilation from French Jesuits, was something that Washington worked on as a young man, and became the foundation on which he based his life. Some people have commented that many of them are simply common sense (don't talk with your mouth full), but common sense is something that seems to be increasingly in short supply nowadays, and at any rate it doesn't hurt to be reminded of it every once in a while.

Anyway, here are some of the rules CNN mentioned, and I think they're worth sharing in an age when civil discourse, whether in politics or the blogosphere, often seems to be lacking. Some of the language may be slightly antiquated, but the wisdom contained is timeless.

  • Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave.

  • Shew not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

  • To one that is your equal, or not much inferior, you are to give the chief place in your lodging, and he who 'tis offered ought at the first to refuse it, but at the second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.

  • Mock not nor jest at anything of importance, break no jests that are sharp, biting, and if you deliver any thing witty and pleasant, abstain from laughing thereat yourself.

  • Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for 'tis a sign of tractable and commendable nature, and in all causes of passion permit reason to govern.

  • Speak not of doleful things in a time of mirth or at the table; speak not of melancholy things as death and wounds, and if others mention them, change if you can the discourse. Tell not your dreams, but to your intimate friend.

  • Be apt not to relate news if you know not the truth thereof. In discoursing of things you have heard name not your author. Always a secret discover not.

  • In company of those of higher quality than you, speak not till you are ask'd a question, then stand upright, put off your hat, and answer in few words.

  • Speak not evil of the absent for it is unjust.

  • How many of us can say that we strive to live by even a few of these rules? The best I can say is that I try, but often fall short. You could take many of these into the confessional with you and make a pretty good confession.

    I have a feeling we'll be visiting many of these precepts again in the near future. They are wonderful food for thought - and action.

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    George Washington's Birthday

    An Our Word Flashback

    From February 20, 2006:

    In this fascinating little tidbit from The Corner, John J. Miller provides the answer, courtesy of Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation:

    The third Monday in February has come to be known - wrongly - as President's Day. ... Although it was celebrated as early as 1778, and by the early 19th century was second only to the Fourth of July as a patriotic holiday, Congress did not officially recognize Washington's Birthday as a national holiday until 1870. The Monday Holiday Law in 1968--applied to executive branch departments and agencies by Richard Nixon's Executive Order 11582 in 1971--moved the holiday from February 22 to the third Monday in February. Section 6103 of Title 5, United States Code, currently designates that legal federal holiday as "Washington's Birthday." Contrary to popular opinion, no action by Congress or order by any President has changed "Washington's Birthday" to "President's Day."

    I’ve always had a great admiration for Washington. He towers over the history of our country, even in those scenes in which he doesn’t directly appear (in the musical 1776, for example, Washington’s presence is always there through the dispatches he sends the Second Continental Congress, even though Washington himself is not a character in the story). There’s a nobility about him that made quite an impression on his contemporaries, a nobility that seems to be missing from much of our culture today, political or otherwise.

    Washington had quite a different view of the presidency (an office that was tailor-made for him, as the documents from the Constitutional Convention show) than we do today, believing that the president should be more of an impartial adjudicator of events, a man whose first priority was to represent the interests of the nation as a whole, even as Congress had their own personal constituencies to represent.

    There is much to admire in Washington, both as a man and as president. He is, in my estimation, the greatest American (which is not to denigrate men such as Franklin and Lincoln, who would stand out in any age). There are many outstanding books on Washington; two of my favorites are the multi-volume biography by James Thomas Flexner (available in this handy one-volume printing), and the brief, excellent Founding Father by Rick Brookheiser. A pity that so many schoolchildren nowadays, when they hear of Washington at all, are taught merely that he was a slave-owner.

    So, at a time when our political discourse seems to sink lower and lower into irrelevance and our "leaders" provide very little leadership other than in raising money, let us take a moment to remember with gratitude our first president, the Father of His Country, perhaps the greatest American ever: G. Washington.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    Kirk Browning, R.I.P.

    By Mitchell

    Longtime readers will recognize Kirk Browning as the director of the premiere telecast of Amahl and the Night Visitors in 1951. He was, therefore, one of the few major figures remaining from the Golden Age of Television and one of the last to still be active in television production, which he was right up until his death on Sunday at age 86.

    Kirk Browning started out as a chicken farmer and wound up as one of the icons of the technical side of the tube. His obit in the New York Times relates the wonderful story of how one of his egg customers, Samuel Chotzinoff, the director of NBC’s music division, helped get him a job with the network. He worked with everyone from Arturo Toscanini to Frank Sinatra to Arthur Godfrey in a career that ran from 1947 to 2008, and his productions won 10 Emmy Awards.

    It was for classical programming that he became most famous however, as director of the long-running PBS series Life From Lincoln Center. He directed 185 telecasts, and was in fact working on the post-production of the March telecast at the time of his death. He was known for his innovative techniques, including his use of sports technology such as the small "lipstick" camera, to generate views for the television audience that no person in the concert hall could ever see.

    And it would require an innovative mind for perhaps the single most enduring program with which Browning was involved, the 1951 telecast of Amahl. Browning often said that the opera's composer, Gian Carlo Menotti, was the decisive force in the production, but there is no question that it was Browning's skill and understanding as a director that shaped the production of television on opera. It is difficult to appreciate the complexity of putting on that live broadcast; Browning and Menotti worked closely to frame the action on the small screen, to block out the camera angles, to create an air of intimacy that would itself be an innovation in the world of opera. Singers used to broad gestures would have to contrict themselves so that their movements would not break the frame of the screen. Camera shots would have to be orchestrated in such a way that the noise generated by the lens change would not be heard on the telecast. Closed-circuit hookups would be arranged so that the orchestra, working from a separate area behind the set, would still remain in visual contact with the singers. And all this would be done, live, in an environment where union rules prohibited the television director (Browning) from communicating directly with the cameramen - all such communication would have to go through a technical director.

    Needless to say, it worked - not just with Amahl, but with the hundreds of shows on which Browning worked through a half-century of television. Working in a brand-new medium frequently results in genius born of necessity, and the work of Kirt Browning, then as now, was just that.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    What a Visitor to Earth Might Say About the American Political Process

    By Drew

    "Look on the bright side. If this is the best they've got around here, in six months we'll be running this planet."

    Rod Serling, dialogue for Planet of the Apes

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Poetry Wednesday

    By Mitchell

    Here's a poem suitable for a lead-in to St. Valentine's Day, from Lord Byron (1788-1824):

    She Walks In Beauty

    She walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that's best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
    Thus mellow'd to that tender light
    Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

    One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half impair'd the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress,
    Or softly lightens o'er her face;
    Where thoughts serenely sweet express
    How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

    And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
    But tell of days in goodness spent,
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent!

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    A Philharmonic Incident

    By Bobby

    Recently, I attended a performance of the South Carolina Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, where great young musicians begin their training with great masterpieces and sometimes even a movie selection or two. I almost wished Radio Television Luxembourg would even return "Pink Panther Theme" to The Price Is Right (from 1976-1992, the pricing game "Safe Crackers" used the theme; Mark Goodson had to pay the copyright holders, so it was dropped, despite it being a signature of the game) after hearing the youth orchestra play it.

    However, while the music showed the proficiency of the youth (in three groups), I wonder about the dress code of an orchestra today, as the attending parents and friends have even tripped over the dress codes that I have learned over the decade I have attended orchestral events.

    Female Conductors
    Is a skirt with a high slit on the front corner appropriate where as she is walking on stage, where she is baring her left leg as she walks on stage? The slit was very high from my perspective. You do not wear a slit where almost the entire body can be shown as you walk to your perch at the centre of the orchestra where the players can see your bare leg!

    The fact the bare leg showing is dangerous is ironic, considering the younger orchestra members are wearing black tops and slacks, something which has changed over the past forty years, when full black dresses were the rule (and still is for singers). But instrumentalists today have the choice of a jacket and slacks, something female vocalists do not have.

    The younger boys did not wear the formal clothing as the older ones do, but that is understood. They had to wear identical clothing. But any young music leader should understand what you wear matters! In the "senior" group of the youth orchestra, the lead violin player herself had a jacket she took off when she was the featured soloist, with the bare-shouldered look for the feature.

    General Audience
    Some of the youth who attended the concert seemed to violate the cardinal rule of concert dress. Why do kids think jeans, tee-shirts, and shorts are appropriate for these events? Now this is a youth event, and some parents followed the rules, but some parents and a slew of youth violated the cardinal rule of concert dress. Who would attend a Philharmonic event dressed as if they were going to rock concerts, or even church?

    Yes, I mean church. Today’s generation, who has attended Emergent Church services where the Bible is ignored for popular culture, or where teen dancers who jiggle to rock has replaced sacred music, is known for their rag-tag looks. One year I observed a few leaders wearing Viagra tee-shirts! In another situation, one adult had Viagra memorabilia pasted on the back of her car window and bumper sticker!

    Youth need to remember when going to a concert, please wear a suit or a dress, and ladies, make sure the hems are calf-length or below, and absolutely no cleavage. This should be a place of modesty.

    Friday, February 8, 2008

    How the Democrats Can Win It

    By Drew

    As Jim Geraghty points out at NRO, there is one thing that the Democrats can do that will improve their chances of victory in November more than anything else:

    Avoid antagonizing people.

    I mean it. A number of us have talked about this in the past, how we’re all tired of having voted against candidates instead of voting for them. And when you keep doing negatives rather than positives, it does tend to wear you down.

    This is something that liberals have often overlooked. You’ve heard the joke about comparing the Democrats to a firing squad standing in a circle with the guns pointed inward? Well, that's the Democrats in a nutshell. This party, even more than the Republicans, seems to have perfected the art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Think about what Geraghty says. How many times can you remember the in-your-face attitude of so many liberals who literally drive you to vote for someone, anyone, besides their candidate? It happened (as Geraghty reminded us) with Cameron Diaz suggested that Bush would legalize rape in his second term, with Paul Wellstone’s memorial/pep rally, after convention speeches by Ann Richards and Ted Kennedy and any number of Democratic stalwarts, after appearances by race-baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. It happens after you read the cruel, crude, relentless, conspiracy-laden, over-the-top hype from sites like the Huffington Post and, and it happens every time you see Rosie O’Donnell or Whoopi Goldberg or Barbra (I’ll move to Europe if the Republicans win) Streisand or any number of smug, self-satisfying Hollywood types. They remind good, decent people everywhere of why this culture seems to be in such lousy shape, and who's responsible for it. You might find yourself getting angry about it all over again just reading this.

    In fact, you’re probably starting to recall the number of times you weren’t planning to vote at all until someone pushed you just too far, walked into your wheelhouse and dared you to go into the booth and mark that ballot. Which is what you did, and their candidate wound up losing. You remember those times, don't you? The wonder is that the Democrats don't. At least, perhaps, until now.

    Looking back at Mitchell’s piece from earlier this week, I'm struck by a couple of things. First, that the Democrats might take his advice, look into their own echo chamber of history, and learn the lessons that come from the school of hard knocks. Second, it seems as if the most likely way that conservatives will rally around McCain (and thus give him any chance of victory) is if the Democrats make this mistake again. But if they can just play it cool, if they can keep their supporters under control and avoid what a friend of mine would call “walking into the crosshairs of a stationary cannon” (i.e. one that can hurt you only if you stand right in front of it and wave your arms), if they can just let sleeping dogs (and conservatives) lie, then they improve their chances dramatically.

    It’s always dangerous trying to predict the future, especially a future that’s nearly nine months away. (Just ask yourself how accurate your TV weather guy has been lately.) But barring the unforeseen (note to aspiring pundits: always leave yourselves wiggle room, or, as we say in the political game, "plausible deniability"), you have to think that having these liberals revert to type is just about the best chance John McCain has. If, as Geraghty suggests, they’ve actually figured this out – if, in other words, they don’t blow it – then McCain might want to forget about wooing conservatives, and start writing his concession speech instead.

    Thursday, February 7, 2008

    What a New Left Would Offer

    By Bobby

    The dangers of a Presidency of the Left is one that we must be aware as we continue the Chase to the Presidency. Sadly, too many people do not understand the point of history we are facing, and do not understand what a vote on the Left would mean:

    Energy Policy:

    A federal speed limit of 55 MPH, similar to 1974 policy misguided by a Democratic supermajority, is almost assured as one of the “save the earth” mantras that fit with the “save fuel” mantra that together, will easily be part of a liberal agenda to regulate automobiles to fit with standards in Europe.

    A federal energy policy banning drilling in ANWR, and all new drilling of oil in all areas of this country, including waters. This policy will be accompanied by new “National Monuments” imposed near areas where coal, shale, and other oil developments are found to ban energy independence. Under the Clinton administration, the Grand Staircase Escalante monument in Utah was added to prevent American clean coal from being mined, and instead force us to buy Chinese Communist coal.

    Continuing federal light bulb regulations that will ban anything that does not fit within the mantra of made-in-ChiCom, mercury-poisoning lightbulbs.

    Continuing automotive regulations to force Americans into 2-seat, 2 or 3-cylinder minicars, including bans on large automobiles.

    Continuing the purchase of Japanese hybrid small cars as federal policy.

    Mandatory alcohol fuel in cars.

    A windfall profits tax to charge 100% taxation of all profits on oil companies. All profits to government mean oil companies would have to leave the country or quit the business. The taxes would go to fund what liberals request, including numerous pork (think of “peace parks” in highway bills).

    Health Care:

    Socialised medicine that would effectively create bans on health research except for baby-killing research (which is protected by liberal mantra).

    To cut costs, clinics such as Mayo and other massive cancer centres would be closed, and their medical research will be banned. This will prevent life-saving cures from being considered, since they are considered to be a harm.

    Long lines in single-payer clinics where even basic health care will be rationed. People with even the flu will not be permitted to be treated for such.

    Federal windfall profits tax on health care. Profits to government social control.

    Federal controls of the health care system where no new doctors will be created, and no new innovations will happen because of policies designed to destroy the market.


    A 50% tax rate (or higher) will be imposed on income taxes. This not only repeals the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, but adds to the Clinton-era tax rates.

    A Capital Gains tax rate of 50% (or higher) will be imposed to discourage investing. Add the anti-investing mantra to the windfall profits tax and onerous government regulation to kill industries will create a country where investing will be discouraged and instead people will be asked to spend.

    New consumption taxes on gasoline.

    New taxes on internet usage.

    New environmental taxes to ensure everyone drives the minicars.

    More taxes for the government to take land away from people they wish to strip property (speedway owners, churches) so they can create more earth-worship parks.

    The destruction of Wall Street, especially the stock market, when Reagan-era policies encouraging investing are repealed for a New Left-era policy discouraging investing and creating more dependence on government.

    Media Regulations:

    New onerous media regulations include the re-implementation of the Fairness Doctrine. In the 1960's, the Johnson administration used the Doctrine to get their way to have laws passed when opposition rose.

    New media regulations will dictate the political slant of radio. Bans on conservative talk radio will be added with mandatory “public service” announcements to force-feed listeners to participate in rallies to support same-sex “marriage”, declaring the Bible as hate speech, and to push people to support higher taxes, government regulations, and anti-business tax codes.

    Media controls of Hugo Chávez-style proportions, similar to what he did with RCTV.

    The federal government will control the airwaves by banning anything that does not fit with the new liberal speech codes.

    A ban on Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and even Fox News, because they do not fit the agenda of the media control bureau.

    Speech codes that even Congress will regulate. My Congressman, Joe Wilson, cannot even speak in the House because of onerous regulations on who can speak.

    The Family:

    Declaring the Bible as hate speech as part of a homosexual agenda.

    The homosexual agenda will become the law; even declaring it is a sin will be a crime, and laws will be written to mandate where child molesters can work in schools will be required.

    Education standards will be rewritten to redefine family.

    Abortion on demand will become federal regulation, and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban will be voided.

    New laws will be created to allow criminals to have rights, while victims will not have any.

    Refugees of Communist nations and other despots will be forced to return to the land of the dictator they came, as the Elián Gonzáles case was one where the US under a pro-Communist leadership forced a kid who escaped the dictator back as part of a Lenin's Birthday celebration.

    Lenin's Birthday will usurp Washington's Birthday as a major celebration in the United States; currently, kids are more aware of Lenin's Birthday (through a veiled “Earth Day” celebration) than of Washington's, because the philosophy of the Soviet dictator is celebrated on Earth Day.

    Our Courts:

    The courts of the new liberal Presidency will declare laws passed in Europe usurp the laws of the United States, hereby moving the capital of the United States to Bruxelles, Belgique.

    The Law of the Sea, which surrenders sovreignity of the seas of our country, will become law and third-rate dictators control this nation's resources.

    Rogue Nations and the War on Terror:

    Usama bin Laden and his Henchmen will start invading Iraq and winning the minute the United States leaves under liberal requests.

    To conform to the Leftist World, the United States will leave Iraq, making it a more dangerous area where terrorists will use to create the next major attack. The Left has made it clear conforming to what their fellow liberals want, and not going full-on to attack terrorists is priority #1. They would rather be praised by the world for losing than to go all-in for the win, and we learn in the Bible to not be of the world, and liberals prefer to be of the dangerous world that does not believe in going for the win, but keeping their self-esteem.

    Iraq will become a more dangerous nation without support from the Free World because of the Leader's decision to leave to please the MOVEON.ORG organisation.

    The People's Republic of China will have the right to invade, and destroy, Taiwan with the blessing of the new Administration.

    Other Things of Danger:

    MOVEON.ORG will become the massive think tank that will effectively rent more space, and force the Heritage Foundation, TOWNHALL.COM, the Cato Institute, and other major organisations leaning conservative to leave town under orders that only one side of political thought would be allowed.

    Is this the type of government we want to elect? Such is the dangers of the New Left and their attempt to take back America for the sake of turning this nation into a totalitarian dictatorship of the extremists. After studying this, I know this is not the world I want to have after November 2008.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    The Echo Chamber of History

    By Mitchell

    I’ve got this whole political thing figured out.

    It’s not 2008. It’s 1964. And John McCain is Barry Goldwater.

    Think about it for a moment. The similarities are there, and they’re more than the fact that McCain and Goldwater both come from Arizona and have white hair. And if you understand these similarities, if you understand the way history repeats itself, you’ll understand what just might happen in the next four years.

    • McCain, like Goldwater, pictures himself as a “straight shooter.” (Remember Goldwater’s campaign theme, “A Choice, not an Echo.”) His opponents, as did Goldwater’s, think of him more as a “loose cannon.”
    • McCain, like Goldwater, faces enormous opposition from one wing of his party. Just as the liberals accused Goldwater of seeking to destroy the Republican Party, the conservatives now make the same claim against McCain.
    • And McCain, like Goldwater, seems determined to do everything he can to antagonize his intra-party opponents, to the point that one has to ask whether John McCain really wants to be elected president, or just wants the chance to lord it over the other side.
    How else can one explain the almost pathological urge McCain has to poke his finger in the other fellow’s eye, to speak with the most inflammatory language possible, to disregard any chance that might presently exist to make a conciliatory statement toward the conservative wing of the party? Quite frankly, I can’t come up with another rational explanation for his behavior.

    John McCain is not, dare I say, a stupid man. He’s seen the polls; he knows the GOP faces an uphill fight in November. Undoubtedly, he counts on Clinton Derangement Syndrome as a party unifier. But he has to know that Hillary’s victory in the Democratic race is no sure thing, and that the smart thing to do would be to start building those bridges just in case Barack Obama wins the nomination. Obama has, let’s face it, a lot of advantages that Hillary lacks; his lean, confident visage appearing opposite McCain’s scowling, snarling, nasty, brutish and short appearance at a debate would be like revisiting the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960. If McCain doesn’t know better than that, I’m afraid I’ve given him credit for being smarter politically than he really is.

    Barry Goldwater had also seen the polls, had known even in 1963, when he had planned to run against John F. Kennedy, that it would be an uphill fight. Following Kennedy’s death he briefly considered giving up the race altogether, knowing it was unlikely the American people would go for the idea of three presidents within 14 months. When he did jump in, it was with the fatalism of a man who knows his victory is destined to be a pyrrhic one. He ran a crusade, rather than a campaign, seeking to purge the Republican Party of its liberal elements and create a movement that was pure to its cause, welcoming those who agreed with him and inviting the rest to go to hell. You’re either with me or against me, he told Republicans. Many opted for the later. Sound familiar?

    Lyndon Johnson jumped all over Goldwater and what was left of the Republican Party after its disastrously fractious convention in San Francisco. The Daisy ad was only shown once, to devastating effect, but in the end even that might have been overkill, using a howitzer to destroy a gnat. Goldwater won only 38.5% percent of the vote, and carried but six states – five from the Deep South, rabidly against Johnson’s civil rights legislation, and his own Arizona. The Republican Party was left in an absolute shambles: Democrats controlled the Senate by 68-32, and the House 295-140 – both veto-proof margins.

    Now, while I’m not predicting this kind of disaster for the Republicans in November 2008, I don’t think you can rule it out, either. So, with this bleak outlook, where does this leave the GOP entering 2009? In the same place it was in 1965 – with work to do.

    And work, they did. In the 1966 midterm elections they staged a remarkable comeback, gaining 47 seats in the House and three in the Senate. It is true that the party in power generally loses seats in the midterms, and the increasing unpopularity of the Vietnam War also played a role. However, a large share of the credit has to go to one man who spent 1966 tirelessly campaigning for Republican candidates through the country, building up a storehouse of support and IOUs along the way: Richard Nixon.

    Nixon emerged from the 1964 debacle as the elder statesman of the GOP. He introduced Goldwater at the convention and campaigned for him that fall, earning goodwill from conservatives while maintaining respect from liberals. Although Goldwater remained the titular head of the party following the election, this was all but meaningless; he’d given up his Senate seat in Arizona, his choice for national party chairman was ousted, and the party itself was deeply divided.

    Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Into that vacuum stepped Nixon – still immensely popular with many, well-versed in the issues, tireless in his support for the party and its candidates. He remained, as he had always been, controversial, with the reputation of being a loser (having lost not only the presidency in 1960 but the gubernatorial race in California in 1962), polarizing (the liberals never did forgive him for the Alger Hiss affair), shifty (“Tricky Dick” didn’t start during Watergate, after all). Yet, despite these perceived drawbacks, the GOP coalesced around Dick Nixon. He entered the 1968 race with a base of support no other candidate could match; thanks to his efforts the South held firm for him, when they might naturally have been expected to side with his conservative rival, Ronald Reagan. He fended off the challenges of Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller and won the nomination on the first ballot, then defeated Hubert Humphrey in November.

    Can the Republicans hope for a similar turnaround in 2012? Well, as we all know, history is nothing so much as an echo chamber, and the one who looks to the past in order to glean clues about the future is often far ahead of the game. A great deal of this will depend on the Democrat in the White House, of course. Should Clinton emerge with the victory, we could see more parallels to the 60s; for all her anti-war rhetoric, she appears to be the Democrat most likely to continue prosecution of the war in Iraq, and with her cahunas (and ego) it’s hard to see her allowing the Iranians to push her around. Should things go well, she’ll be hard to beat in four years, and deservedly so. Anything less than that, however, and the anti-war liberals completely take over the Democratic Party, leaving the outlook not dissimilar to 1968.

    If Obama wins, there’s an even more recent parallel: although many compare him, in terms of youth and magnetism, to Bobby Kennedy in 1968, there are others who compare him, in potential, to a different candidate – Jimmy Carter. You’ll recall that after four years of Carter, the Republicans didn’t do too badly.

    Either way, history suggests a reason for the Republicans to remain optimistic about the future, despite the current dismal outlook. To truly have a chance in 2012, however, they desperately require one thing above all: a leader. Someone to speak for the party in the media, to energize the base and rally the troops, to campaign for Republicans nationwide and hold the administration’s feet to the fire.

    Who might this be? McCain’s running mate might fit the bill, depending on who it is and whether or not this person had come through the campaign without being tainted by defeat or antagonizing activists in either wing of the party. A tall order, but parties have traditions of looking at former running mates as potential candidates, so anything’s possible.

    Also possible is that McCain’s rivals, particularly Mitt Romney, might come to the fore. Romney is, after all, available, and a few more years of proving his bona fides to suspicious conservatives wouldn’t hurt. Mike Huckabee, having been tarred somewhat by the same brush that has gone after McCain, is less likely, although he may emerge as an evangelical leader. Rudy Guiliani, having wasted his political capital, may well be reduced to a campaigner for others – a spear-carrier, but no longer a general.

    It’s more likely, however, that we need to look elsewhere for the one who will ultimately unify the Republican Party. Following our model, we should be looking for someone who continues to maintain a large base of support, can articulate the issues important to the Republican faithful, is respected by a sizeable number of people within the party, is an effective and energetic campaigner for candidates around the nation, and is not seen as being part of a 2008 fiasco. As was the case with Nixon, the apparent drawbacks – a polarizing, occasionally brash personality, personal foibles, a retreat after embarrassing election defeat – are not necessarily the obstacles that one might think on first blush.

    And so we are left with the man to whom history would suggest the Republicans can and must turn, the man who in 2010 will emerge as the leader of the minority party and in 2012 will be their presidential nominee.

    I give you Newt Gingrich.

    This Just In

    By Kristin

    Anderson Projected to Win Local Elemtary School Election

    (WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- In a surprising development, CNN political correspondent Wolf Blitzer has projected the results of the 2008 Herbert Hoover Elementary School Class Election in the small town of Barnes, Wisconsin. “I am confident in the strategies by the campaign team surrounding sixth grader, Timmy Anderson,” said Blitzer. “Strong advertising in the hot lunch line and picketing around the tether ball poles has left a real impression on these 4th, 5th and 6th graders. And even those who are in the lower grades are getting real exposure to the complex elementary school election process”.

    Supporters of Anderson bank on his previous experience as Milk Line Officer in the fifth grade to over power his opponent, fellow 6th grader, Matt Quinby who is new to the Elementary school. Anderson is best remembered for his strict policies against line cutting and place holding, while Quinby has taken a more relaxed stance on the controversial issue, promising stability, but flexibility. “People go to the milk line for many reasons,” stated Quinby. “ I feel it would be the responsibility of the next president to create a cohesive plan of maintaining line stability while not restricting the rights of the students”.

    Milk line policies are not the only issue on the table this election season. Quinby will have an up hill struggle against Anderson who is running on a strong Anti-Weggie platform, a key issue among the 4th graders and also new students. Quinby has yet to take a stance on the extreme chafing caused by this traditional playground activity, which may hurt him in the long run.

    Coverage of this election will be broadcast on network stations beginning this Thursday at 6pm with pre-coverage starting at 2pm and pre-coverate coverage starting at 11am.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    That's Right - It Is Super Tuesday, Isn't it?

    By Mitchell

    Good grief. I’m sitting here at work, minding my own business, and my business cell phone buzzes. I look down at it – it’s a text message. Now, I don’t get that many calls on my work cell, at least not when I’m actually in the office, let alone text messages. After all, there aren't any teenagers (that I'm aware of) who have this number. At any rate, I take a look at the text:

    Ron Paul: the only Republican 4 low taxes, less spending, gun rights, no amnesty, and no UN.

    Unbelievable. Now, I have nothing against Ron Paul myself; I actually think he's got some pretty good ideas. Maybe not the guy I'd vote for, but, whatever.

    But what gets me is that this came in on my business cell. I don't make personal calls on this number, and it's not as if the company I work for is crawling with Paul supporters. Who on earth would have gotten the idea to target this number?

    Nothing sinister about it, I suppose. Just one more piece of evidence that you can't go anywhere and get away from it. Even anonymity is no refuge. There is no escape...

    Monday, February 4, 2008

    It's Why We Watch

    By Mitchell

    There is a method to the madness, the need that a cultural archaeologist has to collect old television shows and peruse vintage TV Guides. As with any other archaeologist, it is the desire to find the hidden treasure. It may be a story, a show, an offhand remark that attracts no attention at the time, that gives no indication that it will have any value in the future; in fact, it is likely forgotten as soon as it is uttered, digested and discarded immediately after it is read. They are the seemingly innocuous items that only attain their significance at a later date.

    We found one of those moments the other day, watching one of the I’ve Got a Secret reruns that GSN shows in the middle of the night. The broadcast was from September 17, 1962. An older couple comes on, looking a little uncomfortable. They identify themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Armstrong of Wapakoneta, Ohio. Their secret flashes on the screen for the audience to see: “Our son became an ASTRONAUT today.” That's right – they were the parents of Neil Armstrong. And you have to ask yourself, what are the odds of that?

    There were nine astronauts chosen in that class of September 1962, known as the “Next Nine” (having followed the more famous “Original Seven”). They could have had the parents of, say, Elliott See, who was killed in a plane crash before ever flying in space. But no – it just happened to be the parents of the first man to walk on the Moon. Who could possibly have imagined that this unknown astronaut, just one among nine, will wind up as one of the most famous men in history?

    Now, you have to figure that this alone makes the broadcast a cultural archaeologist’s dream. But wait – it gets better. In the polite chit-chat just before the Armstrongs leave (Betsy Palmer figured it out, by the way), Garry Moore says, “Now, how would you feel, Mrs. Armstrong, if it turned out – and of course, nobody knows, but it turns out – that your son is the first man to land on the Moon? How would you feel?”

    Can you believe it? It was a jaw-dropping moment for anyone watching in retrospect who wasn’t prepared for it – at least your jaw would have been dropping if you hadn’t covered it in shock. While you’re already marveling about the coincidence that this astronaut in question happens to be Neil Armstrong, and you’re thinking that nobody watching the show has any idea what the future has in store, you hear Garry ask, quite off-handedly – oh, by the way, what if your son is the first man on the Moon?

    It reminds me of John Glenn’s appearance on Name that Tune back in 1957, when he was a Marine Corps pilot known only for having set the record for the fastest transcontinental flight from California to New York. Often enough you see a star plugging a movie or show you wind up never having heard of, or seeing an appearance from someone who’s being touted as “the next big thing,” only to fade into anonymity. It’s rare that you find a moment that fulfills the hopes, let alone one that throws a double-shock they way this one does. It’s a wonderful moment, one that reminds you why you watch.

    Afterward, Judie asked me if Garry Moore was still alive at the time of the Moon landing. He was; he died in 1993. I wonder if he remembered that show of September 17, 1962, and what he said to the parents of the first man to walk on the Moon?


    As if that wasn’t enough, right after that the very next show (we record them nightly and then watch them in a batch) had a moment almost as good. It’s from September 24, 1962, and the first guest is an elderly looking Indian chief dressed in ceremonial garb, right to the headdress. He identifies himself as Chief John Big Tree, of Syracuse, New York. His secret: “I posed for the Indian Head nickel.” Again, living history. He stumps the panel, and as he turns to Garry Moore to revel his secret, the panel sees him in profile and Betsy exclaims, “You’re on the nickel!” Garry explains that federal law prohibits one man from serving as the model for currency, so the Chief was one of three who served as the model; his profile can be seen from the forehead to the top of the mouth. I mean, how often do you actually see, live in front of you, the person on a coin? (And, as it turns out, the famed sculptor James Earle Fraser, who designed the nickel, also used John Big Tree for his renowned sculpture “End of the Trail.”) John Big Tree was born in 1865, two months after Abraham Lincoln’s death. He lived until 1967, long enough to have appeared on television, and two years shy of being able to see Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon.

    Saturday, February 2, 2008

    Wish I'd Written That

    By Mitchell

    Howard Beale [Peter Finch]: "I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'

    Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. "You've got to say, 'I'm a human being, Goddamnit! My life has value!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!'

    I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: [Screaming at the top of his lungs] 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' "

    Paddy Chayefsky, dialog for Network

    Or is it Lou Dobbs? You be the judge...

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