Archive for May, 2005

podcasting is about to happen

Monday, May 30th, 2005

There’s a brilliant article by Rex Hammock over at rexblog.com entitled How Apple will change everything about Podcasting, #2 — How much could Howard Stern make podcasting via iTunes vs. broadcasting via Sirius?. The world of podcasting is about to leap out of the its small pond and into the ocean, or at least the Great Lakes, via Apple’s imminent integration of podcasting into the Apple iTunes Music Store. Disclosure: Rex uses my wife Candace’s podcast, The Nashville Nobody Knows, throughout the article, which only adds to the brilliance of the piece.

Bashing Newsweek?

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Well, I agree with David Brooks that the real enemy is not Newsweek, but rather Islam (Uh, I mean bad Islam, not good Islam), but the problem is, the main weapon in our enemy’s arsenal is precisely the kind of reporting that Newsweek, NYT, CBS, etc. are doing about Iraq, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib. They are pursuing a policy of get the president, no matter what the consequences, oblivious to the fact that we are at war, and that it is as much a propaganda war as it is a shooting war. The American, European, and British MSM can be relied upon to provide our enemies with a steady stream of anti-American propaganda, much of it completely false, the rest heavily spun in one direction. Of course they are not, for the most part, doing this on purpose. They are just biased, incompetent, and addicted to Watergate.

(really) stupid white people

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Posted by Harcamone

Pretending you’re a smart cop — instead of whatever you actually are — is a good way to read the news. A smart cop would never have bought Newsweek’s explanation for WHY interrogators flushed a Koran down the toilet: to get prisoners to talk.

But why would anyone believe such a ridiculous thing? Well, to a person who lacks a spiritual dimension (like most leftwingers and certainly the average Newsweek editor), I suppose the explanation makes perfect sense. Do you have a surly Moslem prisoner who refuses to answer questions? Threaten to flush a Koran down the toilet. He laughs in your face? OK, fine. Now actually go and do it — flush one — so your man knows you’re serious. Boy, then you’ve got him! So great is his fear that another Koran will be flushed down the toilet that the prisoner will tell you what you want to know. ANYTHING … he is pleading … I will tell you ANYTHING … just PLEASE don’t flush another Koran down the toilet.

If you’re not a smart cop with a trained nose, if you’re just an unliterary Ward Churchillian leftwing atheist with no sense of play, no experience of literature and drama, no understanding of deep religious belief and committment, and little knowledge of street-level human nature — plus, bien sûr, you have strong anti-American predispositions — it’s easy to believe such a shit-story.

Anyone who believed it, who took it at face value, ought to be ashamed of himself.

Mind you, it is not impossible that some American interrogator or guard had such contempt and disrespect for his prisoners, or for Islam, that he threw a Koran in the toilet. But doing it as a tactic to get prisoners to talk? Only a moron could believe that.

Bomber Pilot

Saturday, May 14th, 2005

In commemoration of V-E Day, I am posting a poem my father, a B-24 pilot, wrote during WWII. I think it is a great example of the innocence, idealism, and toughness of the young people who made the sacrifices that allow Americans and Europeans to have the freedom that we enjoy today. Tomorrow this poem will be 61 years old, same as me.

BOMBER PILOT

John H. Seward
England
15 May 1944

The constant, mighty engines pull us on,
Obliterating other sounds that press
Too feebly for attention: The waist guns,
top turret swinging just behind my head,
The rattling bomb bay doors, hydraulic pump.
“Pilot to gunner: Are your fifties charged?”
“Fighters at six o’clock and coming in!”
“Oxygen three two five, I’m all okay.”
“On course, on time, briefed altitude plus three.”

Why am I on my way with these nine men,
Brought from so many miles across the sea,
The farmer setting up his Norden sight,
The salesman plotting lines to strange locales,
And boys not out of school who fix their stare
Through ring sights for an also winged foe?
“Today we hit an air field north of Rheims,
Where ME one oh nines are fitted out.
These railroad tracks lead in from west and south.
A wood is to the right; you’ll cross two lakes.
There is some flak reported over here;
Keep to your course and you’ll get back all right.”

The lead ship tilts its wing. More throttle now
To keep us in position. Steady. Cut!
The planes bob up and down like heavy logs
In a mild stream, but smooth and graceful too,
As locomotives throbbing round a hill.

We normally would never choose to throw
Our load of high explosives on some town.
We did not want to spend our days at work
Destroying men and buildings, or our nights
In tossing, fitful slumber marred by dreams
Of spitting guns, dead engines, wings on fire.
Our thoughts are home, where now the lights are on.
Mother is reading, dad has his cigar,
And we are working on that model plane
That soon will leap and soar and grace the sky,
Not rain huge terror on a crouching foe.

We know why all of us must fight, risk death.
Democracy is threatened, Freedom cries
For champions to hurl back this cockeyed host
That talks of “Fuehrer”, “Discipline”, and “State”.

But what if I, myself, should feel the sting
Of some swift bullet, or a jagged piece
Of fragment that has burst too near the ship?
No more Democracy for me. No loving eyes.
No chance to see my heritage passed on.
No more of evening drives, of work well done.
No twilight years when children call me sire.
Must I give all to death, so some foul slime
Can profit from his politics or greed?
Am I to die so men may throw away
The chance I gave them for a decent life?

Some of us talk of fate and numbers up.
“You’ll get it when it comes and not before.
Perchance at Berlin, Osnabruck or Rheims.
Or Kansas City, Minneapolis.”
But in our hearts we know the chance we take,
Men do not crash in flames on our Main Street.
No rapid firing guns and bursting shells
Dispute our progress to the theater.

There is a spark in each of us that burns
More brightly when we do our level best
Without a thought of fate or consequences,
But rather of our courage and our faith.
To be a man one must have principles
For which his life is not too much to pay,
A part of us belonging to the race,
Which drives us where no lonely man would go.
Can he stand up again who cares not fight
When truth and justice scream from injury,
When children huddle cold behind a wall
And women beg for bread that they have baked?
Does manhood live with men who eat their slop
Without uneasiness while all the world
About them deals in lies, brutality?

Some men count life in years and mourn each eve
That sees the sun drag down another day.
too much exertion may bring death too soon.
Avoid all wrangle, rest the nerves, take pills.
Plan carefully and watch the doctor’s face.
“What do you have to boast of, senile one?”
“I’ve lived for eighty years, through strife and change,
By keeping clear of all unsettling things
And watching close my diet and my aches.”

“And how long have you lived, my dying youth?”
“I’ve seen three years of war, sir, shot and shell.
I was at Tarawa and Mandalay.
I’ve seen my buddies charge to victory.
I took a pill box once, with three GI’s.
A wounded Joe held off the Japs for us.
They got him, but we can’t forget the guy.
They fed us dog biscuits that day for lunch.
I’ve watched our flag go up at Kwajalein.
I felt our ship go down one hideous day.
I’ve seen our bombers fly majestically.
I’ve shouted as the fighters buzzed the camp.
I’ve heard the Long Toms roar and watched the trees
Shudder and bend as the projectile flew.
I’m twenty-one years old come Friday, sir.”

The Banality of Evil

Friday, May 13th, 2005

Posted by Harcamone

When the Pope died I tended to be on the softer side of the critical scale. But others were not. Some, like Christopher Hitchens, were vicious in their loathing of him, and much of their reason was his innattention to the matter of sexual abuse of children by priests. I can certainly understand their position.

Like spawning salmon, a million memos try to fight their way up an organizational pyramid. It is shocking that the ones having to do with child sexual abuse did not make it to the top of the Roman Catholic pyramid. Or, if they did, the man at the top — the Pope — didn’t think they were worthy of his attention.

This LA Times articleor here — is explicit about an aspect of the story that is usually handled more delicately or evasively — the actual mind, personality and predator-style of a particular offending priest, Oliver O’Grady. It’s chilling to read about a videotape on which this priest described these things in his own words; even more chilling to watch actual pieces of the videotape, where you can see the face out of which the words are coming, and the weird affect that accompanies the confession. My computer loaded this a bit slowly, and stalled few times along the way. If you have a cable modem and more RAM than I do this probably won’t be a problem for you.

Father Oliver O’Grady, was, during his days as an abuser of children, under the authority of now-Cardinal of LA Archdiocese Mahoney, who was then Bishop of Stockton. Mahoney, as you will see, does not come out clean in this story.

Having, just above, written the word “father,” I am struck by the fact that the word doesn’t appear in the story, even though that was Oliver O’Grady’s title — he would have been called “Father O’Grady” by all who knew him. That omission — in no way deliberate, I am sure — is sort of creepy, I think.

Maybe the most horrifying sentence in the story is the last one: “After a molestation, O’Grady testified, he always went to a priest and confessed his sin.”

Of course, the man hearing Oliver O’Grady’s confession was bound by his oath and office — and more than a thousand years of tradition — to keep it private. Might he have been bound by more personal constraint, as well?

In New York, Scrappy Local Newspaper Struggles For Survival

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

This guy is so funny I can hardly stand it. System Requirements to appreciate his humor, however, are rather severe. One must be some kind of obsessive blogosphere political junkie, and a conservative one at that, to dig this stuff. I am constantly amazed at Iowahawk’s ability (and motivation) to crank out such a vast quantity of terminally hilarious prose that can only possibly appeal to 5 or 6 people. OK, it’s more than that. I don’t want to be elitist here, but really, this is not a broad demographic.

Is the Left a Threat?

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

Very interesting debate going on over at frontpagemag.com, between David Horowitz and Jacob Heilbrunn, about how much of a threat the left is to American security.

Couple of excerpts:

JH: The surprising thing might be how little opposition there has been to Bush. Unlike Vietnam, the universities are not filled with protests and Iraq has stirred little controversy. Compare Britain to the U.S. Where’s the American George Galloway? The hardened leftist culture that exists in Europe has never taken root in the U.S, has never enjoyed the respectability it continues to command abroad. Even the anti-globalization movement, which was as good as it got for the contemporary left, has largely fizzled out. Anyway, I suspect most members of your generation are now consulting their stock portfolios more carefully than revolutionary primers.

DH: The claim that there is “little opposition” to Bush and that “the universities are not filled with protests and Iraq has stirred little controversy” is incomprehensible to me. Never in American history has the opposition to a good war that liberated 30 million people, established an ally on the borders of two enemy countries (Syrian and Iran), and has been ratified by 70% of the population it was intended to liberate — been so vicious and so popular. Never in American history have the leaders of one America’s two great national parties attacked a sitting commander-in-chief as a liar, a traitor, and a mental misfit. Never in the midst of a war.

The Religious Right

Saturday, May 7th, 2005

Posted by Andy

If the maniacs are getting a stranglehold on the Grand Old Party, our Maximum Leader doesn’t seem to have gotten the message: Bush went out of his way, at his last news conference (and not for the first time), to emphasize that religion is a private matter, that people have a right to believe or not believe as they see fit, without having their good will or patriotism impugned on those grounds. He has explicitly dissociated himself from the pernicious notion that opposition to some of his judicial nominees is “an assault on people of faith.” Also interesting to note, in passing, that the high-octane Christian pro-lifer Rick Santorum strongly endorsed pro-choice liberal Arlen Specter in last fall’s Republican primary (as did the White House), over an ideologically pure conservative challenger. Political expediency, no doubt, but still…

Hitchens is an engaging writer and a talented polemicist; I share his religious views. But he hyperventilates. I was about to note Taranto’s counter-argument, only to find that both Nick and Harcamone had already read it and, like me, largely agreed with it. Taranto is correct: the religious right (not by the way exclusively Christian) is anything but monolithic, and talk of an incipient theocracy is “either utterly cynical or staggeringly naive.” Today’s religious activism is largely defensive; the militant secularists, the ACLU types and their allies in the judiciary, have done much to provoke the culture clash, not least by their arrogant attempt to expunge all traces of our religious history and cultural traditions from public life. No more Christmas carols in the public schools of Sioux Falls, South Dakota! Religious people meanwhile see their moral values under siege, find it impossible to shield their children from what they regard, rightly or wrongly, as a culture that has lost its compass.

Hitchens is right, of course, about a certain disjunction between Jesus and his latter-day disciples. But that’s one of the neat tricks of Western Christendom: Selective double-think that permits genuinely pious believers to reconcile the idealistic proto-Marxism of the New Testament with the realities of the human condition. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

I concede that my sympathy for the religious right was somewhat challenged by the Schiavo case, and the grandstanding by Bush and Congress (though not only Republicans). But for whatever the polls are worth, about a third of the people who describe themselves as evangelicals thought the congressional intervention was wrong, and a smaller though still sizable percentage said such decisions should be left to the spouse. Many of the judges who stood their ground were church-affiliated conservatives and/or Republicans. Again, hardly a benighted monolith. The Democrats are so conventional and moderate? No doubt many of them are. But the Michael Moore/Tom Hayden fringe has been granted as much respectability on the moderate left as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell on the mainstream right (and not a few of the evangelicals in general vote Democratic).

If the U.S. were about to consign women to purdah, persecute homosexuals and install a contemporary version of the Spanish Inquisition, Hitchens’ point about a conflict with our attempts to promote democratic secularization in the Islamic world would be valid. The fact is that he’s constructing a straw man: American democracy, tolerance and church-state separation remain demonstrably real, and the secular state is not in any realistic danger of being chucked overboard. Insofar as American moral authority in the world is undermined, the reason is not our domestic arrangements but our hegemonic tendencies abroad, real and perceived, and double standards in foreign policy, notably regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In any case, those who agree with Maureen Dowd that we’re on the verge of a repressive theocracy here at home make Chicken Little look like an optimist.

more Hitchens vs. Taranto

Friday, May 6th, 2005

I have to agree with Harcamone about the Hitchens-Taranto duel. I read the Hitchens piece and thought it was great cuz it’s more or less where I’m at. Then later I saw the Taranto piece and read it, and it forced me to re-think the whole thing. I couldn’t disagree with any of his points, especially what I see as his main point, that the religious right does not have undue influence, and is not being pandered to. But rather they are receiving the influence due them in a democracy, or maybe even a little less than is due them. And that it is the secular left that is being overly aggressive and high-handed and undemocratic, not the other way around.

Hitchens vs. Taranto on the Religious Right

Friday, May 6th, 2005

Posted by Harcamone

Here are the links to Hitch’s and Taranto’s dueling essays. Hitch’s is thoroughly predictable, and gives no new or interesting slant on anything. He could have phoned his ideas in. He has said the same thing a thousand times, and so has everyone else on that “side” of the issue.

But Taranto is interesting. Far more interesting. Taranto has stretched his neck till he got his eyes in back of his subject. Hitchens can’t do that, smart as he is — especially on the subject of religion, where he turns tendentious, one-dimensional and very boring. It is the one area where I’m forced to see Hitchens as mediocre, and lacking in imagination.

Forget Hitchens in this matter, about which he has no more to say than a pot-head college student. He is not a serous contender for our attention — or ought not to be. Taranto has the ideas.

****

Forget all this social crap. Conservatively religious Americans (who are not only Christians, as Taranto points out) cannot hold their line forever, whether it is against cultural acceptance of homosexuality or abortion, or whatever. Social progress is moving against them. Too many people have queers in their families. The right to abortion is like the right to vote, it can NEVER be taken away … not in the real world. We are NOT about to be plunged into the darkness of Theocracy, for too many people are online with NO restrictions on what they may read. You don’t even need a library card anymore.

And as Taranto asks in effect — who the hell is going to define, let alone impose, a Theocracy in this fractious spiritual chaos that is America?

And so what if not everybody — including queers — can get EVERYTHING they want? This is a bad thing?