'...and the Persians'
Saddam, a Sunni, and his guards, Shiites, were spitting insults
at each other to the bitter end. ... The chilling references to Persians and Moktada al-Sadr say much about the hatred in Iraq. And we're right in the middle of it all. ...Update
1.01.07 -- So there was haste
when executing Saddam. More like a scramble. ...
'The biggest kick of his short career'
Destined for a Disney movie?
Probably not. But Steve Aponavicius got to live out the fantasy. ...
'Romney is seeing the promise of the blogosphere'
A good look
at how Mitt is courting the conservative blogosphere. This line is quite accurate:
The blogosphere is likely to have greatest influence in the primaries, because blogs appeal in large part to the political junkies and party activists who often decide primary races.
We saw the same thing happen over at BMG
during the contested Democratic gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts. The insights into individual campaigns were great. ... As for some bloggers possibly being duped by courting candidates, it happens with reporters too. Every presidential election seems to produce a candidate that media members swoon over -- usually a moderate to-the-left-of-the-pack underdog -- and then that candidate promptly loses. Anderson. Tsongas. McCain. etc. ... Maybe this coming election will produce influential blogs that strictly monitor individual blogs. That would be welcome.
'Clear constitutional duty to vote'
A busy week prevented me from posting on the biggest political story of the week: The Legislature's 'indifferene to, or definance of'
its constitutional duty to vote on the gay-marriage amendment. To which we should add its 'indifference to, or defiance of' its constitutional duty to vote on other constitutional amendments. These are our constitution-defying lawmakers. ...
Despite Susan Ryan-Vollmar's
silly admonishment that critics of the Legislature should 'grow up,' she does bring up the interesting issue of whether citizens should refuse to abide by a bad law on moral grounds. She specifically refers to Martin Luther King Jr.’s classic "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." But please note the word 'jail.' Martin Luther King Jr. was willing to pay the price for his civil disobedience. Can the same be said of lawmakers who have sworn to uphold the constitution and now hide behind parliamentary rules? Are there great moral issues at stake that justify the Legislature's refusal to constitutionally act on other amendments that have nothing to do with the gay-marriage issue? Aren't lawmakers turning the legal notion that 'we're a nation of laws and not men' on its head as it applies to those amendments? Now that the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. has been grandly invoked, let's see if lawmakers are prepared to pay the price for their convictions by stripping them of their law licenses
and taking other actions against them for their refusal to perform their proper constitutional duties on a host of amendments. I think we'd quickly find their reactions resemble less the moral certitude of MLK Jr. and more the politically expedient hackery of Billy Bulger, who first pioneered the parliamentary tricks we're now debating. ...
- 12.31.06 -- I tinkered with the original post a bit to make minor changes. I resisted the temptation to throw in the famous Stalin line about how many divisions the pope has in reference to lawmakers defying the court, saving that quip for this update. ...Update II
-- Forgot to link to John
. I too favor gay marriage. I just don't like the way it was imposed. ...
'His execution at 6:10 a.m.'
Though an opponent of capital punishment in general, I've always believed the execution of those guilty of crimes against humanity is just. Such was the case at Nuremberg
. Such was the case for Saddam last night.
But something still bothered me after learning of Saddam's hanging. At first I thought it was the haste of it all. Then I recalled how the Nuremberg defendents were dispatched far more quickly than Saddam (see Nuremberg link above). Saddam's execution continued to bother me for unknown reasons -- until I read this piece.
The Nazis were executed with the confident swiftness of victors. Saddam was executed with the unsure swiftness of the desperate. Bronwen Maddox gives one of the more succinct explanations yet of why Iraq's violence and sorrow will continue:
It is not possible to run a democracy unless all factions are convinced that they can prosper even if the other side is in power. Iraq does not begin to reach that standard. Yet the Sunni minority is too big to be dispatched by a few years of Shia threats; that is a formula for a long, bloody, civil war.
I fear Saddam's death will push some Sunnis to press for independence and a division of Iraq.
Remembering Gerald Ford, Part II
Bob Woodward adds a new wrinkle
to Gerald Ford's decision to pardon Richard Nixon: It was more personal than previously believed. But I don't think it represents a 'significant shift,' as Woodward puts it, from what Ford had previously said. Let's go right to Ford's original pardon speech
(scroll down). Ford openly referred to Nixon as his 'longtime friend' (so much for Woodward unearthing a never-before-known bond between the two). Ford also acknowledges an element of compassion toward Nixon: "But it is not the ultimate fate of Richard Nixon that most
concerns me, though surely it deeply troubles every decent and every compassionate person" (my emphasis added to show that personal compassion was clearly rattling through Ford's brain). And, yet, Ford does talk about trying to separate his personal feelings from his decision, something Woodward's interview with Ford clearly shows he didn't accomplish. Bottom line: We all knew there was an element of the personal involved in Ford's decision -- and Woodward merely nails it down. ... FYI: Woodward writes that the 'political alliance between the two men seriously influenced Ford's eventual decision.' But Ford, in his interview with Woodward, clearly frames it as 'personal.' There's a difference. Minor. But there's a difference. I know of a lot of people who have a 'political alliance' and hate each other's guts. ...
... Don't think I'm passionate about all of this. There are good arguments
for having let Richard Nixon run the legal gauntlet. Maybe it would have chastened people like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, who decades later still argue presidents have extraordinary powers that include dismissing laws when they see fit. Yet I still believe Ford made the right decision for the nation, though Richard Ben-Veniste
makes an excellent argument that the timing
of the pardon was all wrong.
Remembering Gerald Ford
was indeed a good-natured and classy guy
. Locally, I'll also remember Ford receiving the Kennedys' Profiles in Courage Award
for his pardoning of Richard Nixon -- a move that all but doomed Ford's presidential election hopes but helped heal the nation's Watergate wounds. The Kennedys themselves showed graciousness and class by acknowledging years later the courageous nature of Ford's decision.Update
-- Locally, it was also a big deal when Ford came to Massachusetts in 1975 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. I got to see him, briefly, at Concord's North Bridge.
After decorating and devouring your Donut Christmas tree
, sit back and listen to 'Christmas in Vienna'
with Placido Domingo, Diana Ross and Joses Carreras, and 'On Christmas Night'
by the Boston Boy Choir. Merry Christmas. ...
'The ranks of mere mortals'
isn't predicting doom for the Patriots. But it does rightly point out the Pats aren't playing like the Pats of old. The game today
is shaping up as a major test of the team's playoff potential. ... My fear (expressed a few weeks ago
) is that the Pats may be in dynastic decline, with a revered coach who may have peaked as other coaches have matched and adjusted to his style. ... It's happened elsewhere: Don Shula at Miami, Chuck Noll at Pittsburgh, Tom Landry at Dallas. Even mentioning Bill Belichick alongside those NFL greats says much about him. Maybe it's too early. I hope I'm wrong. ...Update
-- The mere mortals looked good
'Satisfied with appearances,' Part II
is not counting Mitt out. After reading Ramesh Ponnuru's rationale for backing Mitt in a pinch (see post below), I'd say Jon's right. ...
'As the United States debates what to do ...'
After reading this story
about brutal Sunni-Shiite fighting for control of Baghdad, President Bush is going to have to do a lot of explaining in order to convince me more troops in Iraq are necessary. Excerpt:
For the first years of the war, Sunni militants were dominant, forcing Shiites out of neighborhoods and systematically killing bakers, barbers and trash collectors, who were often Shiites. But starting in February, after the bombing of a shrine in the city of Samarra, Shiite militias began to strike back, pushing west from their strongholds and redrawing the sectarian map of the capital, home to a quarter of Iraq’s population.
What side do you take in what amounts to competing ethnic-cleansing campaigns?
'Aesthetic philistinism with a vengeance'
over at AS
is running an interesting 'old books of the year' festival, partly to counter the usual 'best books of the year' features you see at this time of year. Considering recent talk about what to do with Boston's City Hall, a reader's recommendation
of Jane Jacobs' 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities' struck me as timely. Jacobs, who died earlier this year
, was way ahead of her time when she launched the 'first liberal attack on the liberal idea' that entire neighborhoods needed to be bulldozed to make way for urban renewal. Granted, it's unfair to blame the '50s urban-renewal movement entirely on liberals. It took two to tango. There was a lot of crony capitalism involved. Archive documents show the business community in Boston was a powerful partner and advocate of taking properties by eminent domain for redevelopment purposes. The result of both sides working in tandem: City Hall Plaza, the West End etc. ... Clive flags 'Naples '44'
as another recommended book. Sounds great. ... OK, I'll nevertheless offer up my two best local books of 2006: 'Brothers Bulger'
'Satisfied with appearances'
NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru
confirms that Machiavelli was right when he said the majority of people are 'satisfied with appearances.' ... Via Adam
via Mass Eyes & Ears
, which caught the Mitt post. ... Conservatives can expect more flip-flops to come: 'Wait until they learn Mitt’s position on gun control.'
Flags of their Fathers
is eager to see 'The Good Shepherd.' I'd add to the list Clint's 'Letters from Iwo Jima,' a companion to his 'Flags of our Fathers.' CSM
says Clint's latest is superior to 'Flags.' ...
'Examples of food supply regulation'
Re the great trans-fat debate, Charles pretty much destroys
the argument that we're entering a nanny-state era by noting we've always lived in a nanny-state era. He has the historical documents to prove it.
'The apparent gulf between ...'
WaPo basically rehashes
the 'evolving' Mitt story. The interesting part is conservative Paul M. Weyrich's comments at the end. Weyrich appears to be all but ruling out support for Mitt. But he doesn't quite
rule out support. ... I'm not sure if Mitt has someone on his staff who regularly reads Machiavelli. I suspect he does. For he's employing a simple tactic outlined by Machiavelli and regularly employed by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, both of whom were/are big fans of Machiavelli, to wit: "The great majority of mankind is satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities." Translated: Just say what needs to be said -- and the perception of reality will follow. ... Other tidbits: Deval's opposition
to tearing down Pike tollbooths is not surprising. But that's the problem: He's offered no surprises so far. No surprise appointments. No surprise stands on issues. Actually, I'm surprised I'm not surprised. Maybe I allowed myself to develop hope. ... George Will
seems pretty down on bloggers, worrying about a lack of 'seriousness.' I'd resent the remark if it weren't for posts like the one below. Well, I never pretended to be Tom Paine. ...
'While Boston's gentiles are tucked away with their eggnog'
But the opposite of this
is true too. I've known many clever gentile men who have deliberately gone out on Christmas Eve knowing that Jewish girls are lonely. ... Of course I never did it. I swear to God. ... Well, OK, I did it once or twice. ... The amazing thing: It worked! ... If Hub Blog was still a factor, I'd try a Matzo Ball tactic in reverse: I'd show up on Lansdowne Street with a big gentile hound-dog look that said, 'I'm lonely.' Far superior to the proverbial and way overrated puppy-dog-at-the-beach scam. ...
'We're not winning'
He said it: "We're not winning."
OK, the president qualified it: "We're not winning, we're not losing." Still, it's news when a famously stubborn man and commander of our armed forces finally acknowledges reality. It's also sad. Everything they're now considering was proposed and rejected three long years ago. It's also too late. David Ignatius
explains why. ... Gregg Jackson, Kevin's co-host on Pundit Review
, called in last night on WRKO (see post below) to theorize it was really the media that was losing the war. I'd like to see how he squares that with the president's remarks to the Post yesterday. I've read and reread the Post article and I can't find the part about how journalists are losing the war -- or whether we should decrease or increase our MSM presence in Iraq. Just can't find it. ...
Hub Blog on air, Part II
Thanks to Kevin Whalen for having me on WRKO
last night. The show should be posted at Kevin's site
. It went well. People really wanted to talk about the proposed trans fat ban
. The big question that wasn't answered: Will donuts be donuts without trans fats? ...Update
-- Charles writes in:
I'm for the trans fat ban, or, barring that, disclosure of their use. People were able to cook without trans fats for hundreds of years in this country and they will be able to do so once again. Besides, donuts fried in lard are so much better than donuts fried in whatever trans-fatty substance they use now. Hell, they use horse or ox fat for doing pommes frites in France and those are so so good.
Good to know donuts could actually be improved. I'm on the fence on the ban, though. As I said on the show, I don't like the trendy nature of this issue. I also don't like lawmakers telling us what we can and can't eat/drink/smoke etc. Where do you draw the line? Ban alcohol? Tried it. Failed. Ban cigarettes? Prohibition taught us such a ban would fail. Still, trans fats are harmful -- though they're only harmful to the people consuming them. I can't get too worked up about the issue. ...
'Still does not have a defined mission'
No strategy, no extra troops.
That's my guiding principle on whether to send more GIs to Iraq. They still have no strategy -- and so ... Found this quote from an administration official intriguing:
"Advocates (of more troops) would say: 'Can you afford to wait? Can you afford to plan in the long term? What's the tipping point in that country? Do you have time to wait?'"
That's exactly the type of rushed, breathless, 'gathering danger' mindset that got us in this mess. It's not a strategy. It's pure impulse.
Hub Blog on air
Following M. Kennedy
, I'll be on WRKO
tonight at the invitation of Kevin Whalen, co-host of Pundit Review
. Time: 7 p.m. Place: 680 AM on the dial. Talking mostly local and national politics, I presume.
'The war will go on and on and on'
The irony is indeed thick.
I'm sure Dan
is as tired of all of this as everyone else. But good for him for pushing back
against those lecturing about adhering to standards and then not following those standards. ... I just wish I
had taken Dan's position on the Iraq war before the invasion.
'On my way to Cape Cod ...'
Great coverage by Carpundit
of a seemingly routine and tragic car accident
Time magazine's 'Person of the Year' site
looks and feels like a cross between a Nike ad and a pharmaceutical commercial -- perfect diversity of hip and elderly faces flashing before our eyes. No doubt 'you' should be recognized as a powerful and growing force that's changed the way information is distributed and analyzed (see post above). But it's really a four- or five-year-old story. Time is late to the trend again. ... Never mind 'you' is also another example of a safe choice for Time, whose decline as a media power directly corresponds to the decline in relevance of its Person of the Year covers. ... They say Time is looking to remodel itself more along the lines of the hard-news Economist
, which, unlike Time, never gave itself up to predominently trend and health-watch coverage. I just can't see Time putting a fedora-wearing and tommy-gun toting Putin on its cover. Next week for Time: probably a well-timed holiday Jesus/biblical cover. Hey, it's that time of year! ...Update
-- Adam R
: "Time's choice is stupid. Here's why
." Wussification indeed. ...
'America must be a blessed place'
The MetroWest Daily News' Liz Mineo has a terrific package
on the connection between Framingham and Valadares, Brazil, the main source of our Brazilian immigrants. Hub Blog now has an retirement option if I can't make ends meet here: buying a cattle ranch, apartment complex and mansion
in a gated community in Brazil, hanging out with the boys on weekends dreaming about Buffalo wings, pancakes and steak and gravy
from the good old days on Route 9. ... Seriously. These are great immigrants: hard workers who appreciate what America has given them. I wish more of them would stay -- but the fat life back in Valadares beckons. More here
'Wonders for my Google traffic'
discovers how easy it is to drive traffic to a site. ... I generally deplore such cheap stunts -- unless it's for a worthy cause
'Ghosts of comments past'
is going after Mitt's flip-flop record. ... Other political tidbits: Just wait until rank-and-file retired state workers start filing for pension adjustments
based on car allowances. Do you have any idea how many state workers have such perks? Hint: It's a lot. The ghost of Billy Bulger's 'principles' will outlast us all. ... Of course, Trav is upset with Deval's mere hint that savings might be found within the pension system and other nooks and crannies of the state budget. Message to Trav: When Eileen
starts referring to you as 'Trav,' you know the post-health-care-plan honeymoon is officially over. ... I'm kind of surprised so many architects
favor abandoning City Hall -- if a new City Hall is better designed or if a way is found to preserve the current City Hall after a move. Those are very big 'ifs' if you ask me. ...
'Our long national nightmare has ended'
No so fast, Charlie
. You've been challenged to a duel.
... The war will go on and on and on. ... An interesting point: What type of local MSM-blogger conflict are we now in?
To the point, Adam G
is now referring to grave tensions within the local blogosphere as a possible 'civil war.' Really? We're in Iraq-terminology territory here. A 'civil war' is generally defined
as two factions within a country waging war against each other. There are indeed two factions at work here (or maybe three, if you include online orcs). But was there really a previous overarching connection (i.e. a country-like status) that once put everyone on the same side? I'm not sure about that. We have to resolve this before we proceed with a proper war. Maybe Charles
, our resident local blogosphere historian, can resolve this issue. ... And let's not get into what exactly constitutes an online orc
Going for the title, Part II
UMass lost twice last night: to Appalachian State
. The students managed to resurrect an old stereotype that the school has long struggled to shed. But don't worry: the team has turned me into a fan -- and the school need not worry about a tarnished image due to the post-game antics. A Nobel Prize
still trumps 900 drunks. ... The game last night was only so-so. Appalachian State just slowly wore down the Minutemen.
Trav: 'I misspoke'
Going for the title
Don't forget that the Minutemen are going for the title
Trav's deal-with-us-or-else remarks
about Deval almost made me want to march over to Blue Mass Group to ask how I can sign up for the coming crusade. Then I read how Deval thinks it would be 'crazy'
not to consider for transportation chief the very man, Jim Aloisi, who personifies the Big Dig culture that Deval has so decried. Then a more thorough reading of the Trav story indicates Aloisi is a big pal of Trav's and Aloisi's consideration is an obvious we'll-try-to-deal-with-you sop to Trav and the boys. ... I'm leaning toward Deval in this coming one-party-state-mess showdown. The Legislature has always been the problem. Trav's remarks are all about pushing Deval away from budgets, pork and patronage. The hacks want Deval to skip right from Duke 1 to Duke III
in terms of dealing with them -- i.e., restoring the governing Hack Progressive Alliance of the late '80s. No Duke II in between, thank you, as Deval appears to be offering. ... Forget about my withholding judgment on Deval until he unveils his new budget. If he appoints Aloisi, we'll know the Hack Progressive Alliance has been officially resurrected. ... BTW: Deval has talked about cutting the budget. What has he specifically mentioned? Pensions. Think about Trav's remarks in that context too. ...Update
This is why you don't want a Democrat in the corner office. Because the rest of the statehouse is dominated by the corrupt, entrenched, political hackfest that is the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and there's a danger that they might actually work together, which would result in a daily feast at the graft trough.
Reader Bert on Dice-K:
The $102m over 6 years (if you include the posting fee) isn’t really that much in today’s market.
And that’s before you consider all the other benefits, such as:
--Red Sox massive exposure in Japan, which makes them a more attractive future landing spot for Japanese players. (merchandise $$ here and abroad gets split among all MLB teams, so nothing there.)
--Advertising coming in from Japan. (drives up overall ad rates in the park, in programs, in yearbooks, on NESN etc., none of which I think is shared)
--Increased demand for tickets (benefits scalpers) that may bring with it increased in-park concession prices.
--Estimated $75m increase in Japanese tourism in Boston (no $$ benefit to Sox, but you’re welcome, Mayor Menino and Boston hotels, restaurants, etc.)
I don’t think anyone can argue that the owners have been able to parlay the Sox popularity into increased revenues. Someone more knowledgeable could detail how. But if this guy makes the team more popular here and in Japan, it stands to reason they will capitalize (pun intended) on it. Me? I’m excited they’ve landed a pitcher that can help them win.
I'm not as down on the deal as I was when they were talking about two- or three-year deals. I still think it's a big gamble for a guy who has never pitched in America or MLB.
'Kerry's successor as a candidate from Massachusetts'
NRO has an interview with Mitt
in which he openly acknowledges he's flip-flopped on gay rights and abortion. We always knew he had. But he's no longer ducking between details or saying someone misinterpreted some fine point blah, blah, blah. Via Andrew
, who's right to compare him to JFK II. ... So Mitt changed his mind on abortion after he and Beth Myers were briefed at the State House during the stem-cell research debate? If you believe that, then, listen up conservative types, I have this City Hall I'd like to sell you. ...
BMG Watch, Day 86 PDP **
I had the same reaction to this
as the first commentator: "This post is satire, right? Because if it isn't, the self-righteousness and self-importance of this post is beyond belief." ... Maybe my satirical-detection gene is also failing me. If so, the post still represents a form of harping to the extreme. BtP has admitted mistakes. David will be on the show. You guys have won and made your point. Now stop harping on it. ... I'm tempted to render a verdict as posed in my original BMG Watch, Day 2 PDP **
post. But then Charlie posted criticism
of Deval's inaugural plans. So I'll hold off. Maybe they just need to get through inauguration festivities and see Deval actually sworn in before they settle down. ... P.S. -- Agree with John
that it's too early to get worked up over party plans. I'm generally withholding judgment until I see Deval's first budget proposal. That should tell all. ...
**: Post Dem Primary
'I've designed the new city hall'
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill: "Here's my proposal for a mixed-use city hall. Someone send this to Mayor Menino, I'm a shoe-in to get the design contract." ... It brings tears to my eyes. It's anti-Brutalist Modern Realism, embracing, and not denying, the true nature and function of itself, accepting that post modern man is still modern man, insisting that nickels and tokens, symbolically, still have value in the age of digital debit and Charlie cards, and humanizes the plight of the dehumanized, specific and metalic, bespeaking world-class city status, not by shouting, but by simply being, unabashed in purpose and might. Thank you, Armchair Gen. Savin Hill. ... P.S. -- Click here
for a more detailed look at the wonder. Note also the scale reference to the Hancock tower at left.
The New City Hall vs. New New City Hall, Part II
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill pulls punches on City Hall:
Level the monstrosity. Simply put, Boston City Hall is the single worst large-scale city government building ever conceived. It's an abortion without form or function, and comes from an era of architecture that defined itself by what things are NOT. Exposed concrete and an inverted zigurat is a statement that screams "See? It's not really what you think it is!" -- which is oh so clever, nope, never heard that before in the 20th century, gosh, give that artist a blue ribbon and a government grant. Architecturally, that building is a loud fart at an early morning mass. The only statement it makes is boorish and inappropriate. City government is not a place to make a statement about disconnected-ness of modern life. As a sick, darkly humorous joke, it works. A building that says to every visitor "enter and be puzzled" is the antithesis of common sense. Dibs on the first chunk of exposed concrete leveled by the wrecking ball.
Tell us what you really think, Armchair Gen. Savin Hill. ... I did like the fart joke. I've always liked fart jokes. They're the high art of potty humor, if you ask me. ... Charles
agrees with high-brow moi on City Hall. So it's settled. City Hall shall remain City Hall. ...
Who are these guys? Part II
By God, President Bush really did go to Foggy Bottom
to talk about Iraq -- and there's a photo to prove it! So bold of him. Too bad he wasn't listening back in '03 to some of the warnings coming out of State. ... Perhaps it's a sign of the times that the article ponders whether all the meetings are 'just for show.' But this administration has brought on such cynicism. We'll see if the president truly comes up with a new approach in Iraq -- or if he's just going through the motions of listening to others. Note: Cheney apparently accompanied him on his Foggy Bottom field trip. ...
New City Hall vs. New New City Hall
tend to agree: There is indeed something striking about City Hall's iconic exterior that's worth preserving. As we all know, it's the plaza and dreadful interior that have long needed addressing -- and city government has utterly failed to tackle the problems. ... Another major issue that I hadn't appreciated: The inaccessability
of a City Hall in Southie. Silver Line, anyone? ... The last time we debated the fate of City Hall Plaza was about four years ago. I'm no longer
in favor of keeping the building but turning it over to private developers for housing. Instead, keep it as City Hall, overhaul the damn interior and completely redesign the plaza. ... Always remember this: Mayor Menino once backed tearing down Fenway Park. Of course, City Hall isn't anywhere near as popular as Fenway Park. How could it be? But it does show the mayor has a pattern of going first for the tear-down/scram option, rather than seeing a solution in what's already there. ...Update
asks how my plan differs from the attempt four years ago to revamp the plaza. Good question. The feds don't have veto-power per se over the plaza. They merely objected (and vehemently so, for security reasons) to the city's plan to build a new hotel right next to the JFK annex. They have never objected to overhauling the plaza in general. The problem is that the mayor doesn't want to spend city money on the plaza. He has always pushed to sell off portions of the plaza -- or all of it, this time around -- to raise funds. There's always a developer involved -- and always a reluctance by the city to take financial responsibility for enhancing its own property. ...
Can't we all just get along?
One of the greatest local blog wars
of all time -- and I missed it! Damn. More here
, etc. Just as well I missed it. I'm a MSM reporter turned blogger before the Great Blogger MSM Symbiotic Age -- i.e. an online orc
: "Orcs are said to be the result of the corruption of Elves. They do not like the light and prefer dark places like caves such as Moria. They enjoy destruction and serve evil in Middle Earth such as Sauron and Saruman." ... So no one would have wanted me on their side anyway.
'What’s alarming is ...'
Well put about the Pats' loss
yesterday in Miami
: "What’s alarming is the sheer volume of mistakes." Brady thinks the good and the bad add up to the team being "very average." Hard to disagree. Inconsistency is the hallmark of average teams. ... Here's something we're not supposed to say: The Pats just looked and felt tired -- like a former dynastic team in clear decline.
Who are these guys?
At the suggestion of a friend, Hub Blog has started reading Kevin Phillips' "American Dynasty."
I was given the book after I recently experiened a Butch Cassidy-Sundance Kid
moment, i.e. when Butch realizes the outlaw duo are being relentlessly tracked by Pinkerton-like goons and Butch asks, 'Who are these guys?' Lately, I've been asking the same question about those in the Bush administration who have so mangled things in Iraq: Who are these guys? Thus Phillips' book, thrust into my hands by someone who heard me ask the question one too many times. ... Though I still have a few more chapters to read in "American Dynasty," I think I can render my verdict: Lukewarm thumbs up. Lukewarm because Phillips just pounds his Bush dynasty point into the ground, repeatedly comparing Bush I and II to the English Stuart and French Bourbon restorations. You know he's overdoing it when Phillips has to add lines like these: "The following is a very simplified portrait of the basic parallels" or "Needless to say, the motivations and convulsions of a twentieth-century republic cannot precisely, or even very closely, match those of kingdoms in earlier centuries" -- and then he proceeds to make the comparisons. ...
BUT the book excels when it describes the political and cultural mindset of those running the administration. Phillips' belief, and I agree with it, is that the Bush crowd (George W., Cheney, Rumsfeld, now even Gates) mostly come from the old and largely privileged class within the military-industrial complex (which includes energy and security intelligence types) that sees the world differently than, say, John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan (both of whom were born to or obtained privilege but not via the MI-complex). I'll leave it to Christopher Lydon, who blogged about the same issue
in 2004, to explain, using his own Nelson Rockefeller comparison:
In real life we got to know Ronald Reagan as rather a gentle and available Main St. cowboy, a populist for the well-to-do, a phlegmatic character with quasi-isolationist "fortress America" instincts. He was open and clear about his anti-Communist foreign policy. Yes, he was a sneaky bully in Central America, but he was extremely cautious in action otherwise.
It's the Rockefeller instincts I never stop worrying about. Drawing on the power of oil and Wall Street with the personal entitlement that comes of almost infinite inherited wealth, the Rockefeller instincts are compounded with secrecy, overfamiliarity with nuclear weapons and the CIA, and a possessive outlook on the whole world.
It's the Rockefeller instincts, I argue, that led the bungling Bush administration into Iraq and fed the fantasy of an easy police action in a far outpost of empire. It's the old Rockefeller instincts that are still trying to euphemize and legitimize aggressive blunders that Ronald Reagan would never have committed.
In their world, the Bush people think they've grasped how the real world really worked -- and acted upon it based on their own mental outlook. They commanded; they didn't listen. They were aggressive; they belittled caution. They were the true realists; they held others in contempt. For the life of me, I can't see this administration swallowing its pride and charting a different course in Iraq. I see no bold overture like Nixon going to China, Reagan meeting with Gorbo, JFK reaching out to Krushchev after gently shoving aside the table-banging advice from U.S. hardliners during the Cuban Missile Crisis etc. Maybe I'm wrong. President Bush is reportedly now seeking advice far and wide on how to proceed in Iraq. By God, I think I read somewhere he actually might go to Foggy Bottom to get opinions. Foggy Bottom!
Now there's an overture. Not bold. But it's a start. ...
If you have a chance to catch this Friday's Division 1-AA championship game, do so. The UMass victory
last night was fun to watch
. It was a crisp, hard-hitting game that came as a pleasant shock. I had never watched a Division 1-AA game from beginning to end before. I'll be watching my second on Friday, as UMass goes for the title. ...
'Once a Hub of Strife ...'
on how Boston is reaching out to black tourists across the country. ... Like the comments of Ted Landsmark, the victim of the infamous flag attack caught on film during the busing crisis of the '70s, and Darius McCroey, founder of Boston's Downtimeonline.net
. Deval Patrick's election as governor is probably also going to enhance the city's image, the article rightly notes. ... Glad to see that Roxbury's architectural gems wow tourists. They should. ... As for complaints about lack of nightclubs in Boston, well, it is
Boston after all. ...
A tabloid masterpiece. Exquisite. Post-modern brutalism at its best. But the question is: Surrender what? The denialist 'stay-the-course' policy that has brought us to where we are today? It's utterly fascinating to watch staunch pro-war types -- who haven't even acknowledged the harsh realities in Iraq, as outlined by the ISG or others -- leap immediately to the solutions part of the ISG report. The image of see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil monkeys jumps to my mind. ...Update
-- Reader T writes in:
They're trying to resurrect the "axis of weasels" meme. It was funny then. But it's no longer funny, knowing what we know now.
It all comes back. Axis of Weasels. Pax Americana. Alliance of English-speaking nations. Andrew Jackson. Unilateralism. Old Europe. 'Botched' German occupation.
'He could have been ...'
on Mitt (via BMG
). Favorite line:
He could have been an exceptional, ideologically independent governor, just as he could have been the real-deal conservative he now appears to be. It’s just a pity that he didn’t pick one face and stick with it.
'Still the One'
Now I know who is responsible for this song. Americans are a forgiving people.
'Pie in the sky'
The Baker commission had indeed provided a public service
: It has correctly diagnosed the grave conditions in Iraq. But its proposed cures are indeed open to debate
. I fear Iraq is so far gone, nothing can help now, not even much desired bipartisanship
or increased military advisors.
... FYI: George Will's take.
'Pearl Harbor revisited'
Don't forget it's the anniversary
of the Pearl Harbor attack. The NYT has a multimedia package
that includes decades-old unpublished articles about the rebuilding of the Pacific fleet. Sorry to sound gloomy, but one can't help ponder how well that generation responded to an attack. What are we doing? Bickering, back-stabbing, pointing fingers and settling scores as we try to figure out how to get out of a monumental mess of our own making. ...Update
-- Great Pearl Harbor photos here
'The language is not the point'
France is launching
its own international version of CNN, France 24. They say it's not about the language, but rather about the French point of view. Perhaps. But French is no longer a dominant language and I find it hard to believe, the French being French, preservation of the language isn't a huge motivating factor for France 24. ...Update
-- From Brighton Reader:
I just started reading "The Story of French," a history of the French language. It's by two Canadians, one anglophone and the other a francophone. One interesting note so far: a "language law" was instituted first not by the French, but the English! The "Statute of Pleadings" forbade the use of Anglo-Norman, the tongue that had developed after the Norman conquest, and made English the legal language of the kingdom.
FYI: The book blurb from the link above indicates it's pretty hard to separate the French language from the French view of things.
'The Departed,' Part II
Reader No. 1 sends in his own review of 'The Departed' and comments on other vital issues:
1- Stahtled that you hadn't seen The Depahted yet. We loved it on a rare Saturday night out. Definitely no GoodFellas but I was mightily impressed by how West Roxbury-bred screenwriter William Monaghan captured the cadence of our local vernacular (not to mention our profanity and warped humor... obviously to say nothing of the wicked creative reimagining of the Whitey story, duh.) My sister had a huge problem with the story setup which I pledged her not to tell me until after I saw it and in retrospect... she's right. But it's still awesome.
2- Since not many of us read conservative, er, Right-Wing, journals of opinion, check out this outsider perspective on our soon-to-be-former Governor. My own view? "No Comment."
3- Theo, don't trade Manny! If being a pain in the ass to management was a career-killer, there'd be no United States of America. See the Bill James Handbook 2007 for further details.
The Madden NFL video
sounds cool. Never underestimate the mysterious gene in all of us that makes Little Orphan Annie Decoder Rings so fun and intriguing. ... I remember the first time I learned about the intricacies of football. Fifth grade. Pop Warner. Playbooks. Codes. Audibles. Passing routes. Blocking assignments. Blitzes. I can still recall going into one of our first huddles, hearing the quarterback call a play in almost secret code ("I 32 Sweep on Three") and thinking, 'This is GREAT!' ... Hub Blog thinks it's time to create Pop Warner leagues for girls. OK, maybe it could be just flag football, as a sop to worried soccer moms and dads. But the girls could learn the rules and secrets of the game -- and then probably outplay and outthink the boys. At the least it would close the worrisome gender gap in knowledge about the game. ...Update
-- Armchair Gen. Savin Hill writes:
FYI, Madden NFL is one of the most successful video game franchises in history. Based on Wikipedia info, its sales can be estimated at roughly $2.5 BILLION dollars. And that's just one of many of the top 20 video game franchises.
Which begs the question: Why exactly is so much news print and TV air time devoted to covering what the puny movie industry does? Oooh - a movie grossed over $100 million in sales worldwide -- oooh. Or, exactly what Madden NFL did in one week when the '06 version came out.
'So can the blogosphere do better?'
Glad to see staunch pro-war bloggers finally weighing in
with constructive criticism and suggestions on what to do in Iraq, rather than wasting storage space with the latest lame media bashing and critiques. Better late than never. An unintended consequence of the Baker commission could be a flood of solid ideas to counter what likely will be policy mush recommendations from the Baker commission. ... As for ideas, I'd suggest the following: Listen more to Anthony C. Zinni
. He was right about the war at the start. He's right now to warn about pulling out too early. For what it's worth, I'm hesitant about committing more troops until I see a more coherent counter-insurgency strategy in place. Putting additional Americans in Iraqi units
is smart. But there's still too much talk of 'fire bases' and psychobabble mutterings about punishing 'bad behavior,' etc. Our strategy and tactics still appear muddled. The old "bring 'em on" mindset, so counterproductive in the early stages of the war, hasn't completely gone away, I suspect. ...Update
-- That was fast. Literally the next post after a refreshing call for new ideas on Iraq -- and it's back to media bashing
. Let the record show that the media that largely got it right in Iraq continues to be vilified by those who largely got it wrong in Iraq. ... George Will
has a good column that appears to support McCain's call for more troops. I'm not there yet. I need more convincing. ...
Finally saw 'The Departed.'
Not as good as Martin Scorsese's 'GoodFellas' and certainly not near 'Raging Bull.' But it was good. I'd agree with viewers' reviews in the link above: Solid B+. ... The Boston accents weren't bad. Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon, both native Hubsters, obviously got it largely right. But, oddly, they laid the Boston accent on too thick. Bottom line: The quest continues for a flick with authentic Boston accents that don't sound forced. ...
I doubt Donald Rumsfeld's call for a 'major adjustment'
in Iraq will ever rank up there with classic understatements such as 'major malfunction,' etc. But his final belated acknowledgement of failure will be remembered. ... I also liked his 'go minimalist' remark when it comes to lowering expectations about Iraq. Isn't that what the Baker commission is all about? ... Final note: Notice how there's no grand macro-strategy outlined by Rumsfeld. It's all micro-tactical suggestions. The guy was a disaster. ...
'The 10 Best Books of 2006'
Nantucket writer Nathaniel Philbrick's 'Mayflower'
rightly makes the top 10 list
. Not sure the book is really a 'model of revisionism.' There comes a point when 'revisionism' is actually mainstream. Historians long ago demolished most of the myths surrounding the Pilgrims. Hell, James Fenimore Cooper
was already slashing away at settler-Indian stereotypes as far back as 1826. But I guess it serves the vanity of contemporary reviewers to show they have alleged counterintuitive intellects that the rest of us don't possess, so they trumpet 'revisionism' that really isn't 'revisionism' anymore. ... FYI: Philbrick's book is great because it's so thorough and engrossing. ...
'His usual state of denial'
Charles is once again blaming the Iraqis
for the mess in Iraq. The column fits nicely with Josh's observation
that staunch backers of the war are now fingering the American people and Iraqis for the disaster. He forgot to mention the media. The American people, Iraqis and the media. Hmmmm. Does anyone else share responsibility for Iraq? Can't think of anyone. Nope. Not really. I'm still scratching my head.
... I liked this graf from Josh:
I know there are a lot of people who either think that Iraq was a doable proposition that was botched or a project destined for failure no matter how it was handled. There are, needless to say, fewer and fewer in the former category. And I'd basically class myself in the latter one, if pushed. But both strike me as needlessly dogmatic viewpoints which make it harder to learn from the myriad mistakes that were made while telling us little about how we extricate ourselves from the mess.
I'd now class myself in the latter category too, if pushed. ... FYI: I backed the war, reluctantly so, due to the now discredited WMD argument. There are days I feel like putting a paper bag over my head for doing so. But paper bags, denials and blame-game arguments won't help at this point. ...
'Unburdened of the glitter and tinsel'
Mary Jane Wilkie makes an intriguing argument
that Christmas shouldn't be a legal holiday in America. She's not approaching it from a separation-of-church-and-state angle. But rather from a Christmas-as-celebrated-sucks angle. Can't really disagree with that sentiment. But she's a little daffy when she suggests merely eliminating the legal status of Christmas will lead to better schools, happier work places, fewer drunken X-Mas parties and more devout believers etc. Not even Santa can deliver on those promises. ...
'Residents of a gang-terrorized Boston,' Part II
Someone else has indeed determined the validity of at least one of the individual complaints: The Herald was wrong.
Who am I to argue? As I was saying, John
is one of the most astute and considerate observers about these matters and ... Stand by my comments, though, about keeping the focus on the overarching tragedy unfolding -- and on those actually pulling the triggers in these gang killings. ... (This is a climb down for you, isn't it?
-ed. More like an intricate tap dance.)