Monday, January 31, 2005

Oh, yeah...

Correction from The New York Times, the Gray Lady, the Newspaper of Record:

An article on Jan. 16 about the way presidents fare in their second terms misstated the reason Bill Clinton was impeached. He was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice, not of having an affair with an intern.

After reading their editorials for so long, I guess the news staff got confused...

Lileks on the election

For all the times I have been accused by many of my friends of living in a dream-world and swallowing whole the 'propaganda' of the Bush 'regime', Lileks offers the perfect response:
"I’m just glad I’m stupid enough to be hopeful. I’m glad I’m naive enough to suspect Iraqis actually wanted to vote. I’m very glad I’m not so aslosh with solipsistic hatred that any success in Iraq makes me trot out a cynical riposte so the rest of my buddies on Olympus will nod in wry assent. I’m glad that a picture of a mother holding her daughter to cast the ballot reminds me that this is number two in a series. [re: Afghanistan] All other things aside – which is a difficult thing to posit, I know – I’m glad to be on the side of holding elections. In the end I’m glad to be glad. And now I will go skip through the daisies and sing happy songs about bunnies, because I am obviously a fool. What was the cover story of the Village Voice I saw in the library today? “Bush’s plan to destroy the world.” Destroy it some more, George."

Life is much more pleasant when you actually hope for good things to happen... and believe in them when they do.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Spread-eagled, fine! But don't read my emails."

Apparently Paris Hilton's blackberry was "hacked."

Key quote indicating the dawning of the apocalypse:

“She was pretty upset about it. It’s one thing to have people looking at your sex tapes, but having people reading your personal e-mails is a real invasion of privacy.”


Sigh.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Michael Chertoff quiz

As I mentioned earlier, Judge Chertoff, the new nominee to head up the Department of Homeland Security, is my ex-boss.

Underneath Their Robes, the frequently amusing blog about Federal judges, has a Michael Chertoff quiz up which is terrifically interesting and funny.

Moore: "Guns are bad! Except for my protection."

Michael Moore's bodyguard was arrested last Thursday for carrying an unlicensed firearm.

One would have expected Moore to require his bodyguards to be unarmed, no?


ALMOST INSTANT UPDATE:

Apparently it's overstating it to say that "Michael Moore's bodyguard" was arrested. The bodyguard is a former Marine who works for Gavin De Becker's agency and has been assigned to Michael Moore in the past. Moorewatch has a lengthy post reviewing the facts of the arrest.

But still, why is Moore hiring armed guards at all?

Remembering the Wannsee Conference and the Liberation of Auschwitz

This article is posted by participants of the January 27, 2005, BlogBurst (see list at end of article), to remember the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, sixty years ago, on January 27, 1945.

On January 20th, we marked the anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee Conference. In the course of that Conference, the Nazi hierarchy formalized the plan to annihilate the Jewish people. Understanding the horrors of Auschwitz requires that one be aware of the premeditated mass-murder that was presented at Wannsee.

Highlighting these events now has become particularly important, even as the press reports that '45% of Britons have never heard of Auschwitz' (Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2004).



The Holocaust, symbolized by Auschwitz, the worst of the death camps, occurred in the wake of consistent, systematic, unrelenting anti-Jewish propaganda campaign. As a result, the elimination of the Jews from German society was accepted as axiomatic, leaving open only two questions: when and how.

As Germany expanded its domination and occupation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, the Low Countries, Yugoslavia, Poland, parts of the USSR, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Italy and others countries, the way was open for Hitler to realize his well-publicized plan of destroying the Jewish people.

After experimentation, the use of Zyklon B on unsuspecting victim was adopted by the Nazis as the means of choice, and Auschwitz was selected as the main factory of death (more accurately, one should refer to the “Auschwitz-Birkenau complex”). The green light for mass annihilation was given at the Wannsee Conference, January 20, 1942, and the mass gassings took place in Auschwitz between 1942 and the end of 1944, when the Nazis retreated before the advancing Red Army. Jews were transported to Auschwitz from all over Nazi-occupied or Nazi-dominated Europe and most were slaughtered in Auschwitz upon arrival, sometimes as many as 12,000 in one day. Some victims were selected for slave labour or “medical” experimentation. All were subject to brutal treatment.

In all, between three and four million people, mostly Jews, but also Poles and Red Army POWs, were slaughtered in Auschwitz alone (though some authors put the number at 1.3 million). Other death camps were located at Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec (Belzek), Majdanek and Treblinka.

Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on 27 January 1945, sixty years ago, after most of the prisoners were forced into a Death March westwards. The Red Army found in Auschwitz about 7,600 survivors, but not all could be saved.

For a long time, the Allies were well aware of the mass murder, but deliberately refused to bomb the camp or the railways leading to it. Ironically, during the Polish uprising, the Allies had no hesitation in flying aid to Warsaw, sometimes flying right over Auschwitz.

There are troubling parallels between the systematic vilification of Jews before the Holocaust and the current vilification of the Jewish people and Israel. Suffice it to note the annual flood of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN; or the public opinion polls taken in Europe, which single out Israel as a danger to world peace; or the divestment campaigns being waged in the US against Israel; or the attempts to delegitimize Israel’s very existence. The complicity of the Allies in WW II is mirrored by the support the PLO has been receiving from Europe, China and Russia to this very day.

If remembering Auschwitz should teach us anything, it is that we must all support Israel and the Jewish people against the vilification and the complicity we are witnessing, knowing where it inevitably leads.

The full list of participating blogs can be found here.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Blogburst

This blog will be participating in the January 27 Blogburst, "Remembering the Wannsee Conference and the Liberation of Auschwitz."

A blogburst is a coordinated cross-posting of material across blogs. There are currently over 140 blogs participating in the January blogburst. The full list of participating blogs can be found here.


[Listening to: Solace (Orchestra Version) - Marvin Hamlisch - The Sting (3:37)]

What's Left?

What's left of the Left? A couple of notable articles that popped up this week following the inauguration. First and foremost, the ever delightful Mark Steyn weighs in with a terrific piece on some of the more inane carping by those who stand for nothing more than being anti-Bush. In particular, is the latest catch phrase of 'exit strategy', as it relates to our leaving Iraq.
"The Democrats' big phrase is "exit strategy." Time and again, their senators demanded that Rice tell 'em what the "exit strategy" for Iraq was. The correct answer is: There isn't one, and there shouldn't be one, and it's a dumb expression."

Steyn notices something eerily retro about todays Democratic leadership. In particular, he found the tactics by Robert Byrd against Condi Rice to be startling:
"Whatever the reason, the sight of an old Klansman blocking a little colored girl from Birmingham from getting into her office contributed to the general retro vibe that hangs around the Democratic Party these days."
I love that quote. It hadn't occured to me before, but it is oh-so-true.

Then, John Powers in the LA Weekly has this to say to his comrades:
"What the left lacks is not a galvanizing messenger but a positive message, a set of energizing ideas and values. It’s not enough to oppose the invasion of Iraq or Bush’s plans for Social Security. That’s merely to react against someone else’s agenda. We must reverse the great (and startling) historical flip-flop in our political iconography. Forty years ago, the left represented the future — it crackled with pleasurable possibility — while the right symbolized the repressive past, clinging to dead traditions like shards of a wrecked ship. Change means movement, said the great organizer Saul Alinsky, and during the ’60s, the political counterculture had the passion to get things moving.
These days, all that has been stood on its head: In the wake of September 11, the right claims it wants to free oppressed people — why, democracy is on the march! — while the left is too often caught saying "I told you so" about the mess in Iraq, even as that country speeds toward an election that any decent human being should hope goes well. In 1968, who would have believed it possible that the left would be home to the dreary old "realists" while the right would be full of utopians? ....

But when it comes to foreign policy these days, the left appears lost. I get depressed hearing friends sound like paleocon isolationists or watching them reflexively assume that there’s something inherently tyrannical about the use of American power. It’s not enough to mock Norman Podhoretz’s insistence that the battle with Islamic terrorism is World War IV. Just as the left lacked a coherent position on what to do with murderous despots such as Milosevic and Saddam — it won’t do to say, "They’re bad, but . . ." The left now needs a position on how best to battle a Muslim ideology that, at bottom, despises all the freedoms we should be defending. America should be actively promoting the freedom of everyone on the planet, and the key question is, how would the left do it differently from the Bush administration?"


Then, William Shawcross in the Guardian (of all papers) writes:
"Tony Blair said in Baghdad in December: "On the one side you have people who desperately want to make the democratic process work, and want the same type of democratic freedoms other parts of the world enjoy, and on the other side people who are killing and intimidating and trying to destroy a better future for Iraq. Our response should be to stand alongside the democrats."

Blair is absolutely right. It is shocking that so few democratic governments support the Iraqi people. Where are French and German and Spanish protests against the terror being inflicted on voters in Iraq? And it is shocking that around the world there is not wider admiration of, assistance to and moral support (and more) for the Iraqi people. The choice is clear: movement towards democracy in Iraq or a new nihilism akin to fascism - Islamist fascism."


Finally, Tom Frank of the New Republic writes a doozy....he is a Kerry voter yet had his full of some of the anti-Bush insanity (this article is subscription only, so I will copy much of it). He was covering an anti-inaugural ball, and had this to say:
"To begin with, there were the posters on the wall: MONEY FOR JOBS AND EDUCATION, NOT FOR WAR AND OCCUPATION. Let's leave aside that the meter is somehow dissatisfying (nine syllables followed by eight--no flow at all). The main point is, if the shallowness of this statement bothers you, to what party do you look for comfort? To the Democrats, many of whom condemn building firehouses in Baghdad and closing firehouses at home? Or do you say to yourself, in that moment, "I don't much care for Newt Gingrich--nor does anyone else--but I bet he hates that goddamn poster as much as I do"? I know where I was leaning.

Then there was the pooh-poohing of elections--any elections. Former soldier Stan Goff (supposedly of the Delta Force, Rangers, and Special Forces) spoke at length about the evils of capitalism and declared, "We ain't never resolved nothing through an election." This drew loud, sustained applause. Nothing to get worked up about, I thought; just a leftist speaker spouting lunacy. But today it seemed particularly bad. It wasn't just that I was missing what might be lovely canapés (or perhaps spring rolls being brought about on trays with delectable dipping sauce); rather, it was the thought that the speaker was dismissing something that Afghanis of all ages had recently risked their lives to participate in, something Iraq's insurgents view as so transformative that they are murdering scores of Iraqis to prevent it. No, what I needed to counter this speaker was not a Democrat like me who might argue that elections were, in fact, important. What I needed was a Republican like Arnold who would walk up to him and punch him in the face.

But the worst came with the final speaker, a woman by the name of Sherry Wolf, who is supposedly on the "editorial board of International Socialist Review." She talked, and talked, and talked; terms like "architects of the slaughter," "war criminal," and "Noam Chomsky" wafted about the room; and my eyes grew so bleary that I ceased taking notes. But then she brought up the insurgents in Iraq. Sure they were bad, she admitted: "No one cheers the beheading of journalists." But, she continued, they had a "right" to rebel against occupation. Then she read from a speech by the activist Arundhati Roy: "Of course, [the Iraqi resistance] is riddled with opportunism, local rivalry, demagoguery, and criminality. But if we were to only support pristine movements, then no resistance will be worthy of our purity." In sum, Wolf said, the choice boiled down to supporting occupation or resistance, and we had to support resistance.

So there it was. I even forgot about the Constitution Ball for a minute. Apparently, we were to view the people who set off bombs killing over 150 peaceful Shia worshippers in Baghdad and Karbala as "resistance" fighters. And the audience seemed entirely fine with this. These weren't harmless lefties. I didn't want Nancy Pelosi talking sense to them; I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation."


Enjoy.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

My friends Melissa and Dan on TV!!!!

I meant to blog about this earlier, but I, well, forgot.

Anyway, my friend Melissa was the subject of tonight's Queer Eye for the Straight Girl on Bravo.

She was preparing to propose to her boyfriend, Dan.

I was kvelling the whole show. If you get a chance to see a repeat, watch it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

America's Stupidest Senators...

I found it...

Washingtonian Magazine asked Capitol Hill staffers to pick the Best and Worst of Congress.

Boxer came in second.


NO ROCKET SCIENTIST

1. Tie: Rick Santorum (R-PA), Patty Murray (D-WA)
2. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
3. Tie: George Allen (R-VA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK)

A crowded field—more than a third of the Senate got votes.


Incidentally, Patty Murray is easily stupider than Boxer. I note that when I was working on the Hill, then-Senator Carol Mosely-Braun would have topped this list in a landslide.

Barbara Boxer

I remember reading somewhere that Barbara Boxer was voted one of the dumbest members of Congress by Capitol Hill aides. Does anyone out there have a citation to that?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Mike Chertoff

My ex-boss when I interned on the Senate Whitewater Committee, Michael Chertoff was nominated to be the new Secretary of Homeland Security today. Wonkette's take:

This is what Bush said when nominating U.S. federal appeals court judge Michael Chertoff and former Whitewater counselor as his latest nominee for secretary of homeland security: "Mike has shown a deep commitment to the cause of justice and an unwavering determination to protect the American people."

This is what Bush meant: "Fuck you, Hillary."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Best Ikea product name ever.

Heh, heh, heh.

Update: The guys at Ikea must have heard the ridicule, because they've taken it off the site. Anyway, so that you get the joke, the product was called the Fartfull. (Heh.)