Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat Revealed

Former FBI assistant director W. Mark Felt reveals himself to be Deep Throat of Watergate fame. Several months ago, Bob Woodward said Deep Throat was in poor health and would probably soon pass away. At that point, he would reveal Deep Throat's real nane. Felt is 91, so he would fit that description. How anticlimatic this all is, especially when I was sure it was Alexander Haig.
Star Wars Obsession

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Hello, my name is Jamie, and I am a Warrie.

I used to be much, much worse. In my younger days, I was a Star Wars freak. My earliest childhood memories are filled with action figures, space ships, posters--I even had boxes of that really awful cereal that was produced for a short while. You remember the commercial for it at least, because C-3PO was sitting at the breakfast table sharing a bowl with some big, furry critter with whom he seemed to have a deeper friendship with than R2-D2. True fans are still puzzled about that one. Anything and everything that was Star Wars, I had to have it.

The popularity of Star Wars waned for the public at large, but not among a core group of fans like me. Understand when I describe myself as a fan, I am not one who dresses up in authentic costumes, claims the force as my official religion, or interject the lingo into my everyday speech. What I am is one who has seen the original trilogy scores of times, collected the various comics series and novels (many truly horrible), and followed rumors about subsequent films with keen interest. I think that would rank me as above average in fan obsession.

But something happened to me along the way. I realized it as I was sitting through Episode I three days after it first opened. Actually, that I didn’t see the film on opening day, even though I could have, should have been a clue. Sadly, I just didn’t feel much of the magic I did as a kid. Even though Episode I is the worst of the bunch, I realize the problem lies with me. That child like sense of wonder had long since departed. Theses movies weren’t meant for me anymore. I note that unlike my generation when a Star Wars came out, we swung light sabres and fired lasers for months afterward. Now after a Star Wars movie, the kids are tossing Pokemon balls and waving Harry Potter magic wands, so maybe I’m not as hardened as I let on.

I do the only thing I can now. Oh, I still love the original trilogy and much of the other non-film canon material, but I now turn a more critical eye towards it and see if things measure up. Star Wars is fun space opera, a roller coaster ride, and goofy pop corn thrills. But it didn’t break any new ground in science fiction. It only created the monster merchandizing blockbuster. With that said, it becomes necessary to pull out your own enjoyment for the franchise. In doing so, I have found new joy in Star Wars--it’s a gold mine of unintended political and social commentary.

At the risk of being burned in effigy, I say it is unintentional because George Lucas is an awful storyteller. When left to his own devices, we got Carrie Fisher cavorting in a metal bikini in front of a bunch of Muppets and armed teddy bears taking down the empire. Rome, at least, had the Visigoths. Darth vader was brought down by Paddington Bear armed with a rock. And really, didn’t seeing Leia as a slave girl in a bikini screw up every seven year old’s view of women for the longest time? She’d been the tough as nails leader of the Rebellion up until that point. What does it say for a woman like that to now be chained to a talking slug? I don’t think Lucas had thought out his characters and situations too diligently, and fan opinion bears that out. Everyone’s favorite film, The Empire Strkes Back, was written by Leigh Brackett, not Lucas.

It is also worth noting that I do not see a Left-Right preference in Star wars. One could probably deconstruct to find one either way, but I developed the opinion that deconstructive criticism was an utterly useless invention used to justify a masters Degree in English as a worthy pastime for college kids too scared to enter the real world. Therefore, I do not engage in it, nor do I see sexual innuendo hidden in my bowl of cornflakes. Hard to belive I was a student in the College of Liberal Arts at the university of Aouth Carolina, no?

The first thing a political scientist notices is the ambiguity of the two warring parties. Why is the Empire evil and why should we expect the Rebellion to establish a better system? The novels, which are only considered canon on George Lucas’ whims, describes the Empire as a humans only organization that subjugates non-human aliens. Far enough. But the only hint you get of this is in A New Hope when Han and Luke are taking Chewbacca to the detention block and an Imperial officer turns his nose up at Chewie and refers to him as a’thing.” It’s rather difficult to glean a racist Imperial philosophy from a throwaway line, particularly when Stormtroopers use an alien snitch to find the druids on Tatooine and Darth Vader hires alien bounty hunters in Empire Strikes Back.

The Empire has killed off the jedI, but does that make them evil? By all accounts, the Empire is a legitimate government , having handed power over to palpatine. Clearing the fuddy dud JedI out of the way isn’t much different than meji japan defeating the shogun, a group who were stalling the modernization of Japan. To make a more modern analogy, the jedI were like the modern Islam fascists., enforcing their religious beliefs by violence and trying to destroy a more modern civilization. In the Islam fascist case, it is the West. For the JedI, it is the new Clone Army. For all its futuristic feel, Star Wars is, at its heart, ant technology. Luke switches off his targeting device to rely solely on the Force when attacking the Death Star, and the empire is defeated ultimately by a per-industrial race of Ewoks. Not a very good message to send when one wishes to embrace progress.

The Empire brought stability to the galaxy with its attempt to progress society. Rather than a bureaucratic mess like the Galactic Senate, which is a cacophony of disorder, local governors control their designated areas. As a conservative, I have to applied the shrinking of a central government. As a state’s rights advocate, I have to also applaud the emphasis on local control. It looks like a win-win situation to me.

Could the Empire be considered evil because it created the planet killing Death Star? One could call it a heavy handed approach, but the Empire only used the Death Star once to attack a non-military target and that was princess leia’s fault. Governor tarkin stated clearly that the purpose of the Death Star was to keep unruly planets in line through fear of destruction. That doesn’t strike me as being a bad idea. I’m one to think nuclear weapons are peace keepers in the real world. Name two major nuclear powers who have gone to war with each other since 1945. You can’t, because the threat of utter destruction is a fantastic motivator to avoid armed conflict. I still can’t consider the Empire evil because of that.

Neither can some of the prominent Rebels. Princess Leia is a Senator for the Empire, working for the Rebels on the sly. Why is she doing that? For her own political gain. Where else can a 19 year old boss around military forces and eventually (in the novels) become president of the New Republic. Luke is a farm boy seeking adventure. How does he plan to do so? By going to the Imperial Academy and learning to fly TIE Fighters. Yes, he says he hates the Empire and dreams of the Rebellion, but he isn’t too picky with where he puts his loyalty. Han Solo couldn’t care less either way. Up until ,I>Return of the JedI, he’s trying to get away from the rebellion. Why he is seen as such a loyal part of the group is beyond me, when his primary occupation in life is as a smuggler and professional criminal. R2D2 and C3PO are the most morally stalwart of the bunch, and the two of them are relegated to slave status in the Rebellion.

You want to talk about cold and unemotional towards violence? Princess Leia watches billions die on Alderaan without so much as a tear and never mentions it again. This was her home where the only family she’s ever known lived. In fact, she seems incredibly ungrateful throughout A New Hope after her rescue from certain death. She was counting on Obi Wan Kenobi to be a hero, then couldn’t care less that she got him killed, too. Luke only shows the briefest of emotional about his Aunt and uncle being killed, then spends the rest of the movie assuring anyone who will listen how much he cares about the important things in life. Luke pouts incessantly throughout ,I>Empire Strikes back and doesn’t really straighten up until he starts toying with the Dark Side of the Force. Most famously, Han Solo fired first at Greedo. Yes, it could be considered self defense, but one would look at Solo’s character and have to think about it a moment before reaching that conclusion.

While I’m on the subject, does it bother anyone else that Anikin vowed to free his mother from slavery, but was prevented from doing so for years by Obi Wan? If not for Kenobi, Anikin would have saved his mother long before she was kidnapped and murdered by Tuskin Raiders. Anikin’s a hero in that regard, while Obi Wan is willing to write off the woman for…well, no known reason at all. He just doesn’t care about his padowan. No wonder Anikin turned to palpatine. He’s the only one who showed any concern for Anikin at all.

Does the rest of the rebellion have good intentions? Not really. At least the Empire has a unifying governing philosophy. The Rebellion wants to reestablish the galactic Senate--basically balkanizing the entire galaxy. Can you imagine the ethnic, political, and religious turmoil that would ensue? Actually, scratch the religious turmoil. There would only be the Force, and the armed jedI will roam the galaxy enforcing it. Oh, happy days.

Look at what would be official policy of the new government. The attack on jabba the Hutt is a fine example. Jabba is considered a crime boss, but he seems to be a local poobah with authority to enforce his own rules. The Empire is aware of his activities and allows them to go on, thereby offering legitimacy to him. Thus, Jabba appears well within his rights to apprehend the criminal Han Solo and punish him for destroying his private property? How does the Rebellion respond? By destroying more private property and killing Jabba in cold blood. What a great government this is going to be.

So, are we rooting for the wrong guys when we support the rebellion? Maybe, but that was certainly not the original intention. George Lucas wanted a fairy tale set in space with all the trimmings. That’s what he got: a farm boy and an old wizard meet up with a rogue to rescue a ptincess trapped in a castle by a black knight. Oh, and characters turn out to secretly be related to each other. The problem was that he set it all up against a political backdrop he put no thought into. Lucas also has a very thin grasp on human nature and emotions. Thus, we are left with a rocking good time that you shouldn’t think too long or hard about.

As I said when I started this essay, I am still a Warrie. I used to love it unconditionally, like a child to its mother. Now I love it more as a spouse: I see its flaws and forgive them because of the joy it brings me. Fortunately, one of those joys is analyzing the heck out of moral, political, and sociological philosophy.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Saluting A Living Legend of World War I

A 103 year old Maryland man will be saluted today as America's oldest living veteran.
In Flanders Fields

(Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae)

In Flanders Field the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

From the Ashes

Today, I discovered a box of college momentos that I thought my mother had destroyed two years ago. Inside were assorted photos with friends, programs from ceremonies I was a part of, several leadership awards, campus newspapers I was mentioned in, and various Student Senate speeches and legislation. Needless to say, I was heartbroken to think it was lost all this time and elated to find it alive and well.

I didn't have time to sort through the few things that remained in the stripped house that was my home. My mother had sold it out from under me secretly, dispersed most everything to heaven knows where, and, well, you know what she did next. I packed up what items I could and headed back to Virginia. A couple of boxes had been inexplicably packed by her. I didn't break them open at the time, but one was the momentos. I could have saved myself some grif if I had, but there's no one to blame but myself. Either way, it was nice to finally have a pleasent surprise amid the others messes i have to deal with these days.
The Power of the Dark Side

Darth Vader reads yout mind and unintentionally shows you how George Lucas has ruined your treasured childhood memories with crass commercial endorsements.
Is It 1988 Again and No One Told Me?

Sylvester Stallone is planning for Rambo IV to begin filming in January 2006. This time, he should be escaping from a nursing home.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Nothing Much Changes in Sixty-Five Years

British Captain Mervyn Wingfield on the French:
"He returned home from Malta in May 1940 via the train from Marseille to Cherbourg, witnessing, en route, "a sorry mess of defeated soldiers". His reaction to news of the fall of France was one of relief: "There was nobody to let us down now.""
Nice reputation the French have there, no?
Good Advice

While i am talking about personal experiences, let me impart some wisdom I learned earlier today. When sitting on a deck and looking down at your sister's rottweiler, do not assume that the dog is still in a fence or otherwise enclosed area. Especially do not taunt the animal, because he will calmly walk to the side of the house, climb up the steps that you were blissfully unaware of, look you straight in the eyes, and ask, "Now what was all that back there?"

Just FYI.
Shifted Gears

I've been in a reflective mood lately because of the move to a new house and various other issues, so the traditional pointless commentary I normally do has taken a hiatus. Excuse the personal history I'm posting now. it's more for my benefit than anything else. Take it as an opportunity to stare into my dark soul or whatever equally ominous analogy you wish to make.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Capstone of My College Career

Earlier, I wrote of my experiences living in the university of South Carolina dorms known as the Towers or the Honeycombs. I only spent half my college days there, and while the stories attached to those last two years of college aren’t as Animal House, there were a lot of good memories within. I’ve been Wxing nostalgic lately, and not always for the best, so I want to dwell on some happy memories for a change.

My college career was really divided in half. The Towers years were the stereotypical college experience, but the other two years were completely different. It had a lot to do with the fact that the USC campus was divided in two, at least in an emotional and spiritual sense. The entire campus is in the heart of the city, but the Towers were a truly urban, gritty area. They were surrounded by fast food restaurants, a convenience store, and a parking garage. The highway was just one street over, so that side was a transient, fast moving local. On th other side was the actual downtown of Columbia, full of independent shops long since run out of business by the Wal marts, best buys, and mega malls of urban renewal on the outskirts of the city. Downtown was dead by 8:30 at night, which was only slightly deader than it was at noon.

The other half of campus was much different, and I joined that area in my junior and senior years. In my junior year, I lived in Capstone. At the time, it was the nicest place a non-scolarship athlete could live in. It was on the absolute opposite end of campus from the Towers. The area was as much residential and classy as the towers was grim and gritty. The dividing line between the two was an area called the Horseshoe. The Horseshoe had been the original campus from the 19th, and it had an antebellum charm to it. It now served as housing for Honors students and some fortunate upperclassman. The old architecture was complimented by brick sidewalks and the only green grass for miles. People had picnics, sunned themselves, flew kites--you name it--there. Those was no place to do that sort of thing near the Towers and no one inclined to do so even if there were.

So why was Capstone different? There are several reasons.

First, the place was nice. There were marble floors in the lobby as opposed to the ratty carpet of the Towers. The desk clerk had a huge, ornate desk to work from. Behind her were glass doors you had to go through in order to reach the elevators. On one side of the lobby there was a café. The towers had no place to get food. The café had a nice set up of tables and chairs. There was an entrree line that served either breakfast or a Sunday dinner type meal, depending on the time of day. There was also a Pizza Hut Express, a sandwich shop, and a Dunkin’ Donuts. All but the entrée line was open until late at night. On the other side was a large laundry room with enough washers and dryers for everyone--an unknown commodity in the Towers. There was a snack bar/vending machine area and some tables set up at the far end, and a game room off to the side, complete with ping pong table and a piano. (?!) It was almost surreal compared to what I had experienced before.

Second, the people were different. Capstone was advertised as an upperclassmen dorm, but there were a few freshman and sophomores scattered about. It was a poorly kept secret that the administration actively pick and chose who could live regardless of credit hours. It showed. It was clean and quiet. I don’t recall ever hearing anyone else’s music coming from their room, there were no drunks passed out in their own vomit outside my door every morning, and no one slung food into the hallway. At this point, anyone who would do things like that had either dropped out or moved into fraternity housing, which, coincidentally, was adjacent to the Towers on that side of campus.

Finally, Capstone was in a more suburban area. In order to get to it, you had to walk past rows of administrative offices far from any area where students class bound might be walking. Behind it were several streets of houses. Now, just beyond those houses was Five Points. While that is an area famous for bars, there were also many independent bookstores and esoteric shops to stroll through, as well as eateries and clubs the drunks avoided like the plague which were great places to hang out. It was a far cry from the beer section of the Circe K or the Mos Eisley Cantina that was the chicken wing place across from the Towers.

I lived tht year with three other guys in a suite style setting that was connected by a bathroom. My roommate was Niko, a German who was studying business to join his father in banking. The other two guys were dave, a wannabe sports writer, and jay, a Marine who was going to do public relations for the Corps. We all got along great, because we kept the music down low and the drinking in moderation.

And, boy, did we ever have a good time. Late night donut runs, Playstation weekends, and movie marathons. I recall smoking huge cigars on game weekends and going to the all night Wal Mart at 3:00 AM just to gather up as strange an assortment of products we could get to a checkout counter without a comment from the cashier. One of the best nights there was my 21st birthday party where we decided to bring a little of the Towers to capstone and shoot a fireworks out the window. Unfortunately it made this ear piercing whizzing sound and smoke filled the room. Everybody was fanning like mad because we heard the RA stomping towards the room.

That year in Capstone was a time I began to feel more comfortable in my own skin. My general education requirements had largely been filled, so all my classes were in my academic area of Political Science and History. The Frizzy Haired Wildebeast from Tennessee was largely out of the picture, although I will get to her one last time in a few minutes, so any sexual tension, real or imagined, was replaced by the pure fun of being single guys n’ girls in our early twenties. I also became a campus leader, serving in the Student Senate and a couple of other political organizations. This was a time when my future was taking shape, and I could be around similar type people, rather than having to tolerate those with dissimilar tastes and mores like I did in the Towers and general education classes.

I also got to travel, meet people from other schools, and network in political and legal circles in ways I had only imagined one in my position could. I made a lot of friends and connections that way, and learned a lot about who you can and can’t trust. I developed a sense of moral clarity because of several brouhahas that has served me well. The painful lessons are the ones you learn the most from.

I think the most painful lesson I learned was from the Frizzy haired Wildebeest from Tennessee, hereafter known as TFHWFT. I could write up that sordid tale, but I’ll only speak of the time that occurred during the capstone year, even though it went well beyond that time period on several different levels. Right now you only need to know two things: one, I was infatuated with her and two, I shouldn’t have been. I was with a student political group that was meeting in Myrtle Beach the Spring of 1998 and we were all staying at a beachfront hotel. Each college group had its own floor, more or less, and TFHWBFT was from an all girl’s college across state. I was sitting on the balcony talking with my buddy Tim. He was about to graduate and was thinking about marrying his girlfriend --we were talking about the future, in other words. We got a whim to go find some candy bars, so we rode the elevator down to every floor looking for a vending machine. We finally found one, stocked up, and headed back to the elevator. When the door opened up, I heard this crackling voice say, ‘Hey, Jamie!” It was TFHWFT, drunk as a skunk, hair matted, grass stains on her white pants, and one eye slammed shut that I never have understood. She passed out right then, face first, clear through the open elevator door, on top of me, and I subsequently fell on top of Tim. That was the last time I saw TFHWFT, although it took me a while to appreciate the fact she was gone.

My Senior year, I moved to the South Quad. It was an apartment style dorm, and I had my own room, which I pretty much cocooned in. Although I was still a Student Senator, I withdrew from much of campus life. In truth, I lived with three other guys I barely ever spoke to. It was a subdued time for many reasons. I missed tim, whom I hung out with almost daily for two years, and Jay’s graduating split up our Capstone foursome. I didn’t realize until he was gone that he was the glue that held us together. Most importantly, my mother was descending into alcoholism again.

My stepfather died between my Sophomore and Junior years. Mother started acting funny in that time, but I chalked it up to her grieving process. That was naïve, but so was any idea that I could do anything about it. My future wasn’t chiseled in stone yet, either. In fact, a Fall semester grade screw up on the administration level kept me from applying for law school for a year. That was the beginning of some serious troubles that I won’t dwell on here.

My fondest memory of that year was establishing a tradition I kept all the way through law school. Virtually every Saturday, I would stroll to the bookstore downtown and buy any magazine and comic book that caught my eye, sometimes I got a book instead. Then I would go to a different eatery each time and read all day. There were many days I stayed long enough to have two meals. As it turned out, that was a calm before the storm. In law school, it would be a quiet oasis away from the turmoil of the hardest academic and personal period of my life. I guess that’s why it sticks out in my mind so much in an entire year full of events. Those were the few genuinely peaceful moments
The Ride

When I learned I was going to need immediate eye surgery last April, I blew out of Virginia beach within two hours with little more than a duffle bag with a couple of changes of clothes. I left virtually everything I own up there, including my car. My stuff still sits up there, except for my car. Regent university, following in the fine fundamentalist Christian tradition of eating its own, towed it a few months ago without telling me.

That was the best car I had ever driven. In my relatively short driving experience, I have been behind the wheel of a Chevy Blazer, a BMW, a Pontiac Grand Am, a Ford Taurus, and the only other car I’ve ever owned, a Chevrolet Corsica. But the black Chrysler outshined them all. Too bad I felt so awkward owning it.

That realization occurred to me in June, 2003. I was looking for a birthday present for my niece. We are the youngest members even in the extended family. There is still a ten year age difference, which is enough for a significant generation gap. As far as she is concerned, Hooties and the Blowfish and Alanis Morrisette belong on the oldies station Conversely, I think members of the White Stripes and Coheed and Cambria ought to be digging ditches and delivering pizzas instead of being allowed to record “music.” Battle lines are clearly drawn. Nevertheless, I am to be as close to hip as possible and come up with a gift that isn’t as square as what the adults in her life were going to give her.

Understand how important that was. My abusive alcoholic mother drove a wedge between every single member of our family that lasted for the better part of a decade. Renewed relationships were only about three months old at this point.There was an urgency, probably imagined, to establish my credentials. Some time before that, I had stumbled across a movie I had never heard of before , Donnie Darko. It was on sale for $10, so I bought it, then promptly forgot about it until a sleepless night in the middle of exam period. It was an artsy, edgy, and existential film, and I loved every minute of its weirdness. I decided my neice would like it, too, and went searching for another copy.

I found one, bought a thick envelope, and birthday card, then left the store. I pulled up to the parking lot of the post office to fill out the card and addres the envelope. I got out to use the trunk of the car to bear down on. As I leaned in to write, the strangest sensation hit me--I realized I’m driving my dead mother’s car.

Why it struck me at that moment, I can’t say. But it was such an odd feeling that it sticks out in my mind. My mother had been dead for weeks at that point. I had driven the car numerous times in the interim to class, the grocery store, the theatre, and out to eat. It had never irked me before, even on the long, solitary drive from South Carolina to Virginia right after I buried her, salvaged what I could from her scorched earth suicide, and watched all her skeletons come out the closet to tango. The first time I felt any chill or awkwardness was standing in that post office parking lot.

That car was the only thing left of her she didn’t destroy in her suicide run. .I’ve thought about it in recent days and realize it is the only physical evidence that remains of her existence. In 28 years of life, I have exactly one photograph of her, and it was a pure accident that I have that. Someone snapped a photo of the two of us together at a Christmas Eve party in 2002. The lady who snapped the picture gave it to me the day before my mother’s funeral in March 2003. That Christmas eve was the last normal night she ever had, in my experience. The following week was an alcohol induced downward spiral that had me vowing never to return as she self-destructed.

I grasp the ashes to ashes, dust to dust concept. All physical things are fleeting. Believe me, my life has shrunk in the interim since her death and will never again expand. But I don’t get the idea of why she wanted to destroy everything connected with herself. It was a lot spite, I know, and undeserved anger towards me and the rest of the family for moving on with our lives rather than let her stomp all over them with her domineering and abuse.

We found that car smashed into a wall with the front tire slashed. That was the best she could muster in her drunken haze. I guess she was rolling over in her grave thinking I might drive it or that I was rebuilding relationships she ended with her meddling. Perhaps that day at the post office was some metaphysical message from beyond the grave, no matter how impotent.

Well, you win, mother. I’ve decided to not do a thing about the car. My roomate up there offered to buy it, but who knows if he actually will. Either way, whether it gets driven, or smelted, it’s gone from my life. The last physical reminder of the person who has haunted me for years will never again be anywhere near me. I realize a great deal of my attitude about this is a defense mechanism to deal with never being able to drive again, but for now, I say, “Good riddance.”
Book Meme

How Many Books Have You Purchased?
The exact number is a mystery, but a spreadsheet I began several years ago topped 1100. I had a four book a week habit from high school on through college that would have extended through law school if there had been 32 hours in a day instead of a measly 24.
What is the Last Book You Purchased?
Fun While It Lasted, by Bruce McNall: The autobiography of the coin dealer and former Los Angeles Kings owner who defrauded Southern California banks out of $250 million.

West With the Night, by Beryl Markham: The autobiography of the first female African bush pilot.

Both audio books, by the way, which doesn't have the same appeal as ink and paper. but what other choice do I have nowadays?
What is the Last Book You Read?
What’s the Matter With Kansas?, by Thomas Frank: Examines why the populist movement has turned conservative when--according to Frank, anyway--the Republican party does no good for the common man.
Name Five Books that Mean A Lot to You
Angry Candy, by Harlan Ellison: a collection of short stories written over a two year period of time in which a tragically large number of his friends died. The stories deal with death, loss, and why both have to happen in life. The stories are bitter and full of pain, but hauntingly beautiful.

Gods and Generals, by Jeff Shaara: A sweeping Civil War novel examining the influence of the Christian faith on the Confederate generals.

Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo: A pacifist novel that has been buried twice. First when it was unfortunately published on the eve of World war Ii and second, when Trumbo was blacklisted by the house UnAmerican Activities Committee for being a communist sympathizer. (He was not.). The story is told in flashback by a young soldier wound in World war I. As the novel progresses, he realizes he has last all his limbs, sight, hearing, and ability to speak, but no one in the veteran’s hospital realizes he is still sentient. Very claustrophobic and disturbing.

The Last Bus to Albuquerque, by Lewis Grizzard: This collection of columns was written by Grizzard during the final two years of his life. In retrospective, they chronicle his clear deterioration from a heart condition. I guess we didn’t want to see it at the time, but it was right in front our eyes. The title comes from the response he gave to the cardiologist when he was told by the cardiologist his chances of surviving his last heart surgery were low. The cardiologist asked, “Do you have any questions?” to which Gizzard quipped, ‘Yeah. When’s the last bus to Albuquerque?”

Living Witness, by Abba Eban: The autobiography of the longtime Israeli politician and diplomat. Eban has hold virtually every political position in Israel but Prime Minister. His story illustrates that politics and diplomacy can mean life and death when you are a tiny nation beset on all sides by enemies. It profoundly influenced my view of true statesmanship and helped me develop a critical eye towards identifying shallow, careerist politicians. Many American pols could stand to learn a little from Eban.
I hereby tag Heliopolis, Different River, and Hobbesian Conservative.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lost on Lost Finale

While i am thinking about it, my television had not been set up last night, so there will be no review of lost. I have read some poilers today, and am anxious to see the episode. I'm already counting the days until Amazon sends me the first season on DVD. until then--and September--I'll just have to quote Michael on the raft, "Waaaalllltttt!"

(We should have known the others would kidnap that spooky kid instead of Claire's baby. ABC is going to repeat the entire season beginning the first Wednsday in June. I have got to recommend viewing it from the beginning to catch what all I'm babbling on about. i don't think you'll be sorry.)

Just to note, I don't have time to answer it now, but I have been tagged with the book meme by New Victorian. I fully intend to answer the clarion call, but I am still sitting on unpacked boces at the moment. Hold tight, dear readers.
Moving Day

It’s been a few days since I have posted my usual excessive claptrap, but I have a good excuse--I have moved into a new house. Not my house, of course. My sister and her family sped up the process of buying a bigger house because a certain brother of hers has become an invalid and she’s stuck with him. It’s a nice house. I have the lone room at the end of a long hallway, far from everyone else so my night owl tendencies with bother no one. There’s a couple of readers here who know precisely how important that is under the circumstances. The rest of you will just have to take my word for it. You probably wouldn’t believe it, anyway.

I have to admit a certain melancholy about the move. I don’t go out unless I absolutely have to nowadays. I left the old house twice in the last five months, to be exact. Strolling around in new places is troubling for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. It reminds me of just how poor the vision in my remaining eye is. I had gotten use to where everything is in the old house to the put that I instinctively knew where to walk, what to grab, and where everything is. Here, I have to learn again because everything id different. I’m back to relying on my eye. It depresses me to no end to be reminded of what I have lost.

The physical deformities are one thing; this house is another. I’m 28 and have more or less all of my career training. With the preparatory phase of my life over, my nesting instincts have kicked in. Unfortunately, those nesting instincts don’t realize I have been betrayed by my health. There is no law degree, no long legal career, and no possibility of ever having one. As I fumble through this house, holding on to bare walls and bumping into stray boxes, the only thing I can think is that I should have a house like this. I keep thinking that after all the disabilities I’ve face, all the chronic health problems, all the abusive, alcoholic family members--every myriad obstacle that has been put in my way--I should have gotten something for it. No, I’m not saying the whole world owes me. I’m saying I won the fight. Now where’s my trophy?

I guess it is the time of the year that is irking me. Spring is the time when folks younger than me graduate and move on with their lives while I watch with one squinting eye and occasionally drop a turd in my bag in lieu of applause. I cannot tell when or if that sense of loss will ever stop begging me.

To cap it all off, Friday was the actual moving day. We were busy and grabbed burgers on the run. Mine had a tomato on it. I’m trying to get into the habit of not eating them as they will irritate advancing diverticulitis, but up until now they haven’t bothered me, so I have not been a stickler about it. Well, now I am. Two bites gave me a burning pressure pain that lasted a good thirty minutes. It passed without any treatment, but eventually I am not going to be so fortunate. I was told in September there is no rush to do anything further until severe symptoms arise with regular frequency with the implication being that could be six months or ten years from now. Now I must be ever vigilant.

Blogging will probably resume shotly.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Why Federalism is a Bad Thing

A Yankee soldier stole North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights during the closing days of the Civil War in 1865. In March, 2003 the FBI seized the stolen copy in a sting operation. A court battle ensued, and one of the "investors" has not released his claim to the document. Recent development make it look like this could take a while longer to resolve.

From my peon, know-it-all, former law students' eye, this is a clear case of stolen property. The case of N.C. vs. B.C. West set a precedent for returning public documents that had long been out of custody. i can't glean from any of theses articles why it isn't, but your interpid blogger shall dig deeper to find out.
Much Too Young

Since learning of Chris LeDoux's death, this song has been rolling around in my head. Garth Brooks performed this song as a tribute to Chris LeDoux before Garth hit it big. The lyrics are moving, but its the accompanying viilin (fiddle in the vernacular) that tear your heart out. This song mean more to me now than it did 14 years ago. getting old and worn out, even if just for health reasons, will do it to you.
Much Too Young

This ol’ highway’s getting longer
Seems there ain’t no end in sight
To sleep would be best, but I just can’t afford to rest
I’ve got to ride in Denver tomorrow night
I called the house but no one answered
For the last two weeks no one’s been home
I guess she’s through with me, to tell the truth I just can’t see
What’s kept the woman holding on this long

And the white line’s getting longer and the saddle’s getting cold
I’m much too young to feel this damn old
All my cards are on the table with no ace left in the hole
I’m much too young to feel this damn old
The competition’s getting younger
Tougher broncs, you know I can’t recall
The worn out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze
Seem to be the only friends I’ve left at all

Lord, I’m much too young to feel this damn old.
CSI--"Grave Danger"

Kendra was a lock on The Apprentice, so I turned my attention to a show I’ve never seen before, CSI. The season was finale was two hour event directed by Quentin Tarantino. While I am not as rabid a Tarantino fan as some, I like his crisp way with words and morbid sensibility. He wrote the story for the episode, not the dialogue, but it was hard to tell. It had the same feel of a Tarantino movie, so one suspects he had more of a hand in the script than has been let on.

Oddly enough, this was the last filmed appearance of Frank Gorshin, who died just two days ago. It’s one of those odd coincidences in which someone famous dies around the time of one last high profile appearance after being in relative obscurity. Is that true, or do we just notice it because their death has just brought them back to our attention even though they were always floating about the mainstream?

Anyway, in this episode, the team gets a call to investigate some intestines (?!) sprawled out on a street. Nick loses a coin tos and has to go. Unfortunately, it’s a trap, and Nick winds up buried alive in a coffin. A web cam sends the team live feed of Nick so they can watch him suffocate, assuming he doesn’t use the gun left in the coffin to shoot himself. When his captor commits suicide, the team has no clues how to find their colleague.

The plot of being buried alive is almost cliché. Alias just did an episode about it a few weeks ago. Right off hand, I can also recall Millennium and Alfred Hitchcock Presents doing the idea as well. Heck, Tarantino did it himself in Kill Bill Vol. II last year. Still this was just claustrophobic and clever enough to be unique.

Nick happens to be buried under near a fire ant hill. The little critters get in the coffin and start having flesh for lunch. But when one of them walks across the web cam, the team identifies it and the area nick is buried in They rescue him in just the (excuse the pun) Nick of time.

All this was done with Tarantino’s sick humor and usual method of putting his heroes up trees and then throwing rocks at them. I only wish Frank Gorshin had a bigger role. Turns out, he has just a cameo swapping Vegas stories with Toy Curtis (Yep.) and another member of the CSI team’s father. At least he does a few of the impressions he was famous on stage for. CSI looks like a pretty neat show. I may try to catch the reruns over the summer and see if I like the show or just Tarantino’s interpretation.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Let Blue States Join the European Union

From Jonah Goldberg:
The ideas, assumptions and prejudices held by the statistically typical Democratic voter, according to the Pew study, are quite simply, European. Europeans believe in a strong social welfare state, for rich and poor alike. Europeans are cynical. They look askance — these days — on patriotic sentiment (hence the rush to form a new European nation). The church pews of Europe would make a great hideout for bank robbers since they’re always empty. The United Nations is, in the typical European’s worldview, the last best hope for mankind. From the death penalty to gay marriage, the more similar you are to a typical European in your political and social outlook, the more likely you are to be a Democrat.
For many generations after the American Revolution, the idea of emulating European politics was nigh upon heresy. It wasn’t until Woodrow Wilson, who encouraged Americans to see themselves as citizens of the world, that borrowing ideas from the continent became fully politically acceptable. Prior to Wilson, writes Richard Hofstadter, Americans considered the United States to be the “anti-Europe.” But it was FDR’s New Deal which helped “assimilate the American into the ‘European’ political experience,” in the words of Daniel Boorstin. George Kennan’s childhood reminiscence illustrates the typical American frame of mind prior to the New Deal. When “times were hard,” he wrote, “as they often were, groans and lamentations went up to God, but never to Washington.
Personally, I think Blue States would be happier in the EU. It would be a win/win for us red staters. When the Eu collapses in 10-15 years, the blue States will come crawling back, hopefully wiser. if they aren't any wiser, well, maybe the UN can help them acheive their utopia. Done a swell job so far, no?
Trump has Plans for Ground Zero

I like it:
Billionaire developer Donald Trump has officially thrown his support behind a plant to rebuild the Twin Towers at Ground Zero in practically the same form they were in prior to the September 11 attacks with a few safety modifications.

Trump implored Governor George Pataki to discard the plans for the 'Freedom Tower' presently on the table, describing the design as "the worst pile of crap architecture I've ever seen in my life,' according to a report published in 'Newsday."
Trump has the right idea, even if his motivations are self0serving. We ought to rebuild the World trade Center exactly as it was--execpt bigger. it would be an act of defiance in the face of the antimodernization theme of the Islamofascists. Say that three times fast.
CBS Cancels 60 Minutes II

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Dan Rather planned to continue reporting for the show after stepping down as news anchor. This reminds me of the scene in Goldmember where Dr. Evil tells everyone to get out of jis lair, then before they can all do so, he starts specifically telling individuals they can stay. he does so to everyone, now matter how trivial, except for Mini Me. But in CBS's case, it's Dan Rather.
Howard Dean the Pariah

The Democratic party is now learning the terrible mistake it made in electing Howard Deam DNC chairman. First, peominent elected democrats like Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano avoid him like the plague:
But the head of the Democratic ticket, Napolitano, was not at the Dean appearance and had no meetings scheduled with the former Vermont governor and vanquished 2004 presidential candidate.

The Democratic governor has thrived politically in Republican-oriented Arizona by appealing to moderate voters and portraying herself as a pro-business, centrist. Napolitano is up for re-election next year and could face a challenge from U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona or Marilyn Quayle, the wife of former vice president Dan Quayle.
what's worse, the Party fears dean actually doing his job--publically speaking on behalf of the Democratic party! fears are arising now over Dean's upcoming appearance on Meet the Press:
Since his election as chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Feb. 12, Dean has studiously avoided most national television exposure. But he has been talking to party gatherings across the country, and his intemperate language at these outings contradicts the notion that he has been kept under control. That he will leap onto the national stage Sunday on NBC's ''Meet the Press'' with Tim Russert raises concern among the Democratic political players whether he will contain himself.
Accordingly, anticipation of Dean on ''Meet the Press'' Sunday is unsettling for the party's faithful. This will be his first exposure as chairman on a major network interview, and Russert predictably will be well-prepared with a rap sheet of the chairman's verbal assaults. The prospect that Dean will make juicy additions to that collection unnerves Democrats.
The fear is valid. while tim Russert is notorious for asking softball questions of his guests (he wants them to come back in the future) he loses control of his guests often. Mant times they spar with each other while Tim looks on helpless for large cjunks of time. it should be amusing to watch the Wild Weasl Dean be unleashed--not to mention how much cash the GOP will rasise by putting his quotes in fundraising letters.
Triumph v. Star Wars Geeks

In honor of the release of Revenge of the Sith, I prsent the full length segment from Late Night With Conan O'Brien in which Triumph the Insult Dog interviews fans waiting in line to see Attack of the Clones in 2002. Needless to say coarse language and crude jokes are ahead, not to mention lots of geek bashing.
Environmentalists Tackle the Tough Issue of the Day

What is the greatest threat to the environment today? Why, Star Wars, of course.
"We love Star Wars as much as anybody, but it doesn´t mean we should emulate the destructive power of the Death Star by harming the environment," said Anne Reichman, director of Earth911.org, an environmental action and information Web site. "Most people don´t know that these types of figurines can´t be recycled, not even little Yoda. In fact, almost all of these toys will sit in landfills until long after we´re gone."
It's hard to take that too seriously. What parent I going to tell his child,"No, you can't have that Yoda action figure. It will last forever. I don't know about you, but in my action figure fascination days, I wanted my figures to last forever. There aresome interesting states in the article regarding Episode I merchandize:
In 1999, when "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" was released, more than 250 million Star Wars action figures were sold. Earth911.org calculates the figurines´ aggregate weight to be about 5,700 tons.
That's a scary thought when you consider how many of those figures had to be Jar Jar Binks. *shudder*

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Lost--"Exodus, Part I"

Tonight's episode was the first of a three hour season finale. The other two parts will air as back-to-back episodes next week. This is also the first episode since the pilot to not be a single character centric episode.

Danielle Rousseau surprises the Castways by showing up to the camp with a dire warning about the Others who are on the island. Meanwhile, Michael and Jin ready the raft for sailing. Danielle takes Jack, Locke, Kate, Hurley, and Arzt on a trek to the Black Rock. However, once they reach the Dark Territory, Arzt (who had previously gone back to camp) came running with the real Beast hot on his heels.

Fortunately, Locke's calm demeanor seemed to ease the "security system," as Danielle calls it, and it headed in the other direction. They eventually reached the Black Rock, which turns out to be a wooden ship. Also, black smoke was an ominous sign as the raft set sail after an accidental dely from Sawyer. Jin and Sun make up, and Walt decides to give the dog Vincent to Shannon since there was not room on the boat. The remaining 40 survivors plan to hide in the Hatch in anticipation of the Others.

Interspersed with the actions sequences were some tender moments involving normally standoffish characters. Sawyer reveals the conversation he had with Jack's dad in the Australian bar, Jin reconciles with his wife, and Walt gives his dog to Shannon to have someone to care for after boone's death. Each of theses instances added needed depth to their characters. I predict this is a foreshadowing of some herooic self sacrifice on Sawyer's part next week.

Lost tosses out a Biblical reference tonight, as well. The show first season depicts the survivors' first forty days on the island. Abrams & Lindelof have stated that this is an intentional Biblical reference. The story of Noah and the Great Flood that lasted forty days is found in the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis. The transition to the second season is named after the second book of the Old Testament, Exodus. Considering the show's preoccupation with numbers, one wonders what is in store for the fouth season, assuming the Biblical corrolation continues.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Next week: Two hours of the raft at sea and blowing open the Hatch.
Chris LeDoux (1948-2005)

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Two obituaries in a row. I do not want this to become a habit, but I have to mention to make this belated tribute. I have been distracted from many of the things I sed to enjoy lately. Memories are attached to a lot of the music I've listened to over the years. Those are memories of better times and, by reasons of my own coping methods, I don't want to be reminded right now. One of the singers I really liked was a little known forner rodeo champion turned country singer namee Chris LeDoux.

LeDoux sang classic country--cowboy songs in the tradition of Little Jimmy Dickens and Hank Williams. Not many folks my age cared for his music, even amongst country fans, but I appreciated his talent. Many of his songs had a twinge of sadness about them regarding the rough but romanticized life of cowboys and their disappearance from modern life. because of my self imposed exile, I had not heard that he died of liver cancer back in March. I am sorry that it took this long for me to pay tribute to the lasr cowboy poet. I'll miss you, Chris. Hats off to you.
When Your Yellow Brick Road Turns Blue

You say that somewhere over the rainbow,
There's a star that you've been wishin' on.
Well is the grass really that much greener,
Than here where you belong?
I hope that you find what you're after,
And I hope all of your dreams come true,
Just remember I'll always be here,
When your yellow brick road turns blue.
You say that you're having trouble,
Tellin' me why you can't stay.
It's not that you don't really love me,
It's just the winds of change are blowin' your way.
I know there's a road that you must follow,
But my heart won't give up on you.
So remember I'll always be here,
When your yellow brick road turns blue.
Somewhere, far away, you think you'll find your dreams,
But sometimes that ole pot of gold,
Isn't always what it seems.
So if you ever find yourself lonely,
And things don't work out like you planned.
You'll know there's a place to come home to,
And that I will always understand.
I hope that you find what you're after.
I hope all of your dreams come true...
Just remember, I'll always be here,
When your yellow brick road turns blue.
Just remember, I'll always be here,
When your yellow brick road turns blue.
Frank Gorshin (1934-2005)

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Frank Gorshin died of lung cancer yesterday afternoon after being hospitalized for the last three weeks. At various times, Gorshin has been an impressionist, singer, comedian, stage, motion picture and television comedy and dramatic star, as well as night club and concert performance star. Of course, genre fans know him best from his emmy nominated turn The Riddler from the 1960's Batman TV show and as Bele in the Star Trek episode, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield."

The bulk of gorshin's career was spent as a stand up and an impressionist. He was the kind of comic who was every other stand up comdeian's favorite. He was also acclaimed for starring in stage revivals of Peter Pan and Guys and Dolls.

Despite declining health, Gorshin remained on stage and screen right up until the very end. He played George burns in a Tony nominated one man show, Say Goodnight, Gracie." His final TV performance will be on tomorrow night's CSI: Crime Scene Investigations. But riddle me this, dear readers: who will live forever in the hearts and minds of comic and sc fi fans everywhere?
The Muslim Response

A number of Muslims have said the Newsweek retraction was not enough to make up for the false Koran flushing story. fair enough. The story had tragic results--that were Muslims' fault. They decided it was a good idea to riot and kill their own people, not Newsweek.

Recall that three years ago, Palestinian terrorists stormed and held up in thr Nativity in Bethlehem. Priests reported that "gunmen tore up Bibles for toilet paper," according to the Daily Camera of Boulder, Colo. The Chicago Tribune noted after the siege that "altars had been turned into cooking and eating tables, a sacrilege to the religious faithful." Well, yesterday's Opinion Journal noted:
Christians in the U.S. responded by declining to riot and refraining from killing anyone. They had the same response 15 or so years ago when the National Endowment for the Arts was subsidizing the scatological desecration of a crucifix and other Christian symbols. This should also put to rest the oft-heard calumny that America's "religious right" is somehow a Christian equivalent of our jihadi enemies.
Indeed, but holdest not thy breath on that one. For all the talk of moral values, Christianity is the most despised religion in the United States.
South African Jurisprudence

A South African court has ruled that when you are mad, it is okay to release poisonous snakes inside the bank you are arguing with. If only the Semerican judicial system were so understanding.
Stargate SG-1 Winds Down

The Sci Fi Channel recently announced that its Sci Fi Friday line up of Stargate: SG-1, Starate: Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica will return with all new episode July 15. I’ve really gotten in to all three shows, but I notice SG-1’s steady decline as ST:A and BG ascend. With the additions of Ben Browden, Claudia Black, Beau Bridges, and Louis Gossett, Jr. to the cast and the departure of Richard Dean Anderson, it’s pretty clear SG-1 has jumped the shark.

Normally, a sci fi show sounds its deathknell when Michael Ironside joins the cast. I guess he was too busy to kill this show, too, as he has so many times before. Speaking of the death of shows, isn’t it ironic for Broweden and black to join the cast when the Sci Fi Channel cancelled their show, Farscape, in order to free up money to produce a new season of SG-1 in the first place? Sci fi fans are not forgiving souls, so I wonder how that will play out amongst fandom. There has to be enough crossover fans to sooth ruggled feathers.

It doesn’t bother me that Richard dean Anderson is leaving the show to spend more time with his family. I suspect new mom Amanda Tapping will want to do the same. I’ll have to suffer through a few more appearances of Anderson, but I can console myself by repeating my usual mantra, “When did Macgyver become such a jackass?” Try it next time you watch. It’s cheaper than drinking game and more fun, too.

I got the feeling it was all winding down at the last scene of the season finale when the whole team were together on a quiet fishing trip. It just felt like one last moment with our heroes before they depart forever. When it is all said and done, I think most fans will feel the same way, and largely ignore the last season in favor of season eight. it’s a fairly common thing, now that I think about it. Outside of Deep Space Nine, I can’t think of a show in which I really enjoyed the final season. Perhaps I am too critical.

Nevertheless, I will be giving the final season a fair shot, and enjoying the other two shows along with it. I thought SG:A ended rather weak compared to its first half. There was a definite pacing problem. I didn’t think the writers built up tension by dragging out the Wraith’s coming to the station as much as much as lost the viewer’s attention. I hope they crank it up a notch this season. Through rumors I’ve heard, I believe they will.

In truth, BG is my favorite of the three. It started slow, but I t hooked me sometime around the sixth episode or so. The executive producer, Ronald D. Moore, was the force behind Deep Space Nine, of which I have just spoken highly. I have faith BG will get better with age, just like fine wine.

That would sooth the blow of losing an old friend like SG-1. Its fall is going to leave a gaping hole in an ever shrinking universe of sci fi.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Last Minute Celebration

My cat, Boo, decided to honor the second anniversary of this blog earlier today. She stolled into my room, hacked up a hairball in a most exotic and dramatic display, then left. I found it to be a startingly fitting tribute, considering the general tone and content of Eye of Polyphemus. What an intuitive feline.

Thanks, Boo.
Madam President

The Geena Davis vehicle,Commander-in-Chief, has been added to ABC’s fall schedule with a full season order. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it is a show created for a big name movie star who is also a liberal activist and Democratic party supporter in order for the actor to portray an idealistic left wing president with an equally liberal and idealistic staff battling the evils of conservatism. This is in contrast to The West Wing, which is a show created for a big name movie star who is also a liberal activist and Democratic party supporter in order for the actor to portray an idealistic left wing president with an equally liberal and idealistic staff battling the evils of conservatism.

The biggest question I have is why? I can understand the show is in anticipation of a Hillary presidential run in 2008, put that is three years away. Three years is a eternity as far as a TV show is concerned. There is no market to corner here, either. The West Wing is in decline. While it has been renewed, the budget has been slashed dramatically to the point the main cast is now billed as recurring characters.

(I do think there is something fishy about that, truth be told. The claim is the producers can’t afford to pay full season salaries, yet the show has shifted emphasis to two new characters played by Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits. The two of them are big name actors that the producers must have shelled out some major shekels for. It sounds like there are some behind the scenes turmoil afoot, perhaps some fallout over Aaron Sorkin leaving the show?)

It isn’t like ABC is aping a big hit. Neither are they going to drag in huge audiences. Geena Davis’ last show, The Geena Davis Show was a huge flop in 2000, and she hasn’t had a hit movie since 1993’s A League of Their Own. Twelve years is a long drought to have such high expectations for success. It costs a good $22 million to even gamble on an untested full season of a series.

But I’ll bet you the network is still banking on a carbon copy The West Wing, because that’s all they can assume “fly over country” wants to see in its politicians. If you’ve never seen The West Wing let me assure you that it presents liberals as the only kind of people to be. Progressivism is a holy cause, and the nationally bankrupting policies of FDR and LBJ are revered. Republicans are seen as--literally--the Enemy. Routinely, the Republicans characters who appear on the show are either gun toting Bible thumping morons, or are blatantly pretending to be so to pander to their stupid conservative constituents.

Two seasons ago, through a wacky soap opera storyline too labyrinthine to go into here, the GOP Speaker of the House ascended to the presidency to deal with a national crisis. The Speaker, played by John Goodman, was a warmongering goof who was ignorant of constitutional issues and was openly despised by the holdover White house staff as little better than Attila the Hun. Other Republican are viewed just as favorably, as they are seen as ignorant of political and cultural issues, but are always schooled by their enlightened liberal superiors.

Why not take a shot at having a show featuring a republican president actually made by conservative producers? Surely there have to be some in Hollywood. But I suppose it is totally inconceivable that television audiences would ever want to see such a thing, right? I mean, liberal is the only way to be. To even consider showing conservatives in a positive light is anathema to Hollywood. You know what’s funnier? If there was a show about a republican White House, no matter how well done, conservatives wouldn’t watch it. We just have too little faith in government to be amused by the “good” it can do 22 episodes a season. I suppose this is all a Catch 22. Oh, well. Let the self absorbed, limousine liberal yuppies have their imaginary White House. Maybe it will help keep them out of the real one.
Subtitled: Death to All Americans...Except Ashlee Simpson

Saddam is writing his memoirs from prison:
Saddam Hussein has decided to write his memoirs while he languishes in an Iraqi jail awaiting trial after more than two decades of being responsible for brutal abuses.

According to Giovanni di Stefano, who is a member of Mr Hussein's legal team, the former writer of allegorical novels better known as Iraq's dictator resolved in recent weeks to start writing his biography.
It should be interesting to see how this turns out. i'm certain Saddam is an abyssmal writer. lots of political leaders believe they have artistic or literary talent when they do not. it comes with the territory, from Hitler's roses to Clinton's dull, verbose prose. Second, all autobiographers lie about themselves. Saddam wants to be remembered as a war hero and champion of the Muslim world. No matter how rotten the writing ot blatant the lie, there will be many that buy into it. finally, Saddam isn't crazy, he's extremely anri-social. Anti-social people generally don't feel like their actions are wrong, and I am curious to see how Saddam rationalizes the things he's done.

Even money says he gets a French publisher.
I Admire Tenacity, But

You recall the old advice that if you fall off a bicycle, you have to get right back up and try again? Someone needs to clarify that piece of advice for this cat.
Two Years On

When I remarked yesterday there would be no further anniversaries to mention this week, it completely slipped my mind there was, in fact, a biggie coming up. This time it is a happy one and there aren’t enough of those to go around to be ignoring them. Today is the second anniversary of Eye of Polyphemus. More specifically, the blog itself is two years old. For the first seventeen or so months of its life, my blog was named Caviar for the Mind.

Back in those days, I had just completed my 2L year of law school and wanted to chronicle what was likely to be the most pivotal time in my life. Within a short period of time, I would be in the midst of graduating, taking the bar exam, starting a job, and beginning the rest of my life. I thought that would make for interesting reading. Little did I know how just how eciting all that would be. I began this blog just a few scant weeks after my mother died, and I have to wonder now if I subconsciously knew that was going to mark a downhill slide that I should keep a record of. I don’t particularly enjoy dwelling on such metaphysical questions. That’s probably why the masochist in me makes me do it.

Blogs, like journalism in general, is a pretty frivolous medium, and Caviar for the Mind fit right in. Strolling through the archives, I can’t find a single significant post from the first few months of my blog’s existence. I did find plenty of gloom and doom prognostications scattered throughout for both myself and civilization as a whole. It’s nice to see some things never change. I suppose there is something to be said for consistency?

The last few months have been steady growth for Eye of Polyphemus, and I am hoping the trend continues as its scope and quality (hopefully) improve. One thing I do know for sure is there will always be plenty of gloom and doom to talk about, and maybe a golden noment or two.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Revenge of the Sith Has Anti-Bush Message

You mean Hollywood Leftists dislike Bush? Surely you jest.
Warren, it's all there, but believe me, the movie's plot is so confused that it doesn't really matter. At one point, Natalie Portman complains that "this war happened because of a failure to listen." But the war she's talking about was started by the good guys! It was the Jedi who secretly built the Clone army that appeared in the movie before this upcoming one. And, of course, the Rebellion that Luke Skywalker joined in the first trilogy was conducting a war against the Evil Empire which included blowing up Death Stars and arming Teddy Bears. Evidently 25 years into the Star Wars empire, George Lucas decided he just doesn't like war. Now he tells us. The whole confusion is reminiscent of the last Matrix movie, which is all about a noble truce between our heroes and the computers that have been using all of humanity as batteries. So that a few people could survive to have orgies in the underground city of Zion, billions of people had to remain in the Matrix. Inadvertently, both Lucas and the Wachowski brothers (who wrote and directed the Matrix movies) reveal with their brainless anti-Bushism the essential cowardly vapidity of pacifism.
(John Podhoretz, via: The Corner)

The Star Wars films have existed in there own world 9universe?) free from any current political trappings. it would have been nice for that trend to have continued right to the end. What's worse, George Lucas began writing ROTS in October 2001, just a few short weeks after 9/11, so not only has Lucas joined the anti-Bush choir, he did so at a time when even Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank were advocating a strong response to terrorism. That is disappointing to know.
Stargate SG-1 and Christianity

"I know of no Goa'uld capable of showing the necessary compassion or benevolence that I have read of in your Bible."--Teal'c, Stargate SG-1, "Demons"
I caught today's rerun on the Sci Fi Channel quite by accident this afternoon and was impressed with the positive portrayal of Christianity shown. Most denizens of hardcore science fiction fandom seem to be militant atheists or neopagans and very hostile to religion in general and Christianity in particular. It was refrwshing to see it treated positively by such a well known science fiction show.

To recap, SG-1 arrives at a medieval village and frees Mary, a young woman who has been left outside tied to a stake. Simon, friar of the village and Mary's friend, explains that Mary is a sacrifice for the demon that plagues their village. The Canon chose her when he mistook her illness for an evil possession. When the demon arrives and finds no sacrifice, he promises to destroy the village the next day unless five humans are left for sacrifice. SG-1 recognizes this "demon" and plot to destroy it, but the Canon pronounces SG-1 evil and condemns them to be sacrificed. The demon is actually an unas, a being SG-1 has encountered before. The team convinces Simon to go against everything he believes in order to kill the Unas.

The episode portrays the Dark Ages acurately. Instead of blaming the ignorance of the era (demon possession, torturing of "witches") it portays Christianity as being perverted and used my sinful men like the padre to control the people. Meanwhile, Simon and mary maintain their devout Christian beliefs throughout and are seen as decent people. I wish this sort of theme could used more often in television in general and in the science fiction genre specifically.
I'll Drink to That

The Supreme Court has struck down laws preventing wine fanciers from buying from out-of-state vineyards. Cheers!
Wishy Washy? Me? I Say Thee Nay!

I have spoken positively of a number of presidential contenders in recent months, and that may lead readers to think I am a fair weather supporter of candidates. This is not true. I am posting mostly FYI, as i have yet to declare myself in favor of any candidate. It's still early, i still think a governor is going to pop up as the leading contender, and I think that governor is a darh horse right now that hasn't garnered much attention. I'm not thinking of anyone in particulat, either, so don't yet label me as a mark Sanford for prez guy yet.

We have an apt saying here in South Carolina analogous to my support of political candidates. College football is a way of life here, and people say, "I pull for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and whoever is playing Clemson." Well, I support the GOPand whoever is running against Hillary in 2008.

Yes, that does mean I would hold my nose and pull the lever for Giuliani if I somehow fell into a parallel universe in which a liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay rights Yankee from New Yawk can win GOP primaries in Mississippi and South Carolina.
Cheney in 2008?

Bob Woodward thinks it might happen:
A trial balloon for a Cheney for President run in 2008 is being launched by a surprising source, Washington Post star reporter (and White House insider) Bob Woodward.

Appearing on Chris Matthews' NBC talk show on Sunday, Woodward labeled Vice President Cheney “a serious dark horse candidate.” He said that with "a number of people" going for the GOP nomination, “a guy named George Bush might come out and say ‘What about Dick?’"

Woodward observed that "there's a serious vacuum right now," with Senators Frist, Brownback, and Allen leading the field, some say.

There may be a precedent for this. Cheney, who was put in charge of finding a suitable VP candidate in 2000, ended up getting the nod himself.
While I note the irony of quoting Woodward after blasting him as an opportunist two posts ago, he is currently favored in the White house after writing the flattering Bush at War and is in the know. I, for one, hope that it is true.

A Cheney candidacy would have instant statesman credentials, as Cheney has hovered around Washington almost constantly since 1969. he is a solid conservative who appeals to both the business wing of the GOP and the social conservatives without looking like a "stooge" of the religious Right (whatever that is.). His candidacy would provide the continuity in the current war on terror which helped win Bush a second term. People don't want to change horses in midstream or midwar.

There are some drawbacks, most notebly his health. I can personally attest how a single health issue can knock your entire life for a loop, but I also know tough people can barrel right through it. I also think Cheney is more in tuned with foreign policy than domestic issues, but he'd surround himself with advisors for that. he's much too intelligent not to be a quick study.

So what do you think: Cheney/Rice 2008? I'd go for it.
Seven Days in May VII

Today is the last anniversary worth mentioning. By this day last year, the anesthetic was wearing off and I could take stock of everything. It wasn't good. I underwent two blood transfusions because of the profuse bleeding during surgery. The huge and rapid weight loss put a strain on my heart. My heart rate went up to 130 beats per minute when the normal BRM is around 60-70. I took medication for months after that to control my heart rate and blood pressure. The nefrologist also discovered cysts on my kidney, which are not serious but are usually contracted by the elderly. Cycts, diverticulitis, and detached retinas are all health issues that usually strike the elderly. It made me wonder if I was wearing out prematurely.

i didn't ponder that question too long, because I noticed a shaow coming over the gas bubble. my retina was detaching again, I was stuck pretty much immobilized with a tube in just about every convenient hole and a few that weren't. All I could do was lay there and watch my life slip out of my fingers. Since that day, i have often pondered what point everything started going down hill. It's an exercise in futility, but one I can't help but do. I have, at the very least, decided this day is as close as it comes to the worst day of my life. It beat out many contenders for that dubious honor.

The days that followed were long and hard. It took months to adjust to eating regulat food again and even longer to regain the weight I lost. Along the way, I discovered my eye was beyond repair, leaving me legally blind, and that the diverticulitis was still spreading. that meant the colostomy was permanent, and Ihave to spend the rest of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. To say that losing everything I ever cared about in the years 2003-04 has been an adjustment is ridiculous. there is no adjustment. I just swim with the current.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Koran Desecretion Story Was False

Newsweek has issued a retraction of the story accusing US interrogators at Guantanomo bay flushed a Koran in a toilet--a story which prompted riots in Afghanistan that killed 15 people.
Although other major news organizations had aired charges of Qur'an desecration based only on the testimony of detainees, we believed our story was newsworthy because a U.S. official said government investigators turned up this evidence. So we published the item. After several days, newspapers in Pakistan and Afghan-istan began running accounts of our story. At that point, as Evan Thomas, Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai report this week, the riots started and spread across the country, fanned by extremists and unhappiness over the economy.

Last Friday, a top Pentagon spokesman told us that a review of the probe cited in our story showed that it was never meant to look into charges of Qur'an desecration. The spokesman also said the Pentagon had investigated other desecration charges by detainees and found them "not credible." Our original source later said he couldn't be certain about reading of the alleged Qur'an incident in the report we cited, and said it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts. Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we. But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.
This smells of the CBS story regarding Bush supposedly going AWOL from his Air National Guard service. I'm not certain if head will roll over this 9 likely not) but it exposes a mercenary trend in today's journalism. Too many investigative journalists are trying to become the new Woodward and Bernstein to the point they see Watergates where there are none. the CBS story ruined careers; this one got people killed and a fatwa declared against the United States.

In reality, inmates leave Guantonamo Bay on average 13 pounds heavier, with clean clothes, and a new Koran. That's much better than the beheading western prisoners get with Radical Muslim terrorists. i guess that's just picking nits. It would be nice if the media would report that instead of trying so hard to be The Next Big Thing. Or at least fact check. Fifteen people would be alive today if they did.
The Vocabulary of Political Upheaval

I like how political termoil is referred to as "unrest," as if a good night's sleep will fix it all.
Bread & Circuses

Blogging has been a little wonky this week for lack of much interesting to blog about. i am not alone in this. The number of well respected bogs that have had to waste space commenting on Arianna Hiffington's silly blog proves the dearth of fascinating topics to talk about. To me, Tom DeLay, social security, John Bolton, and the Canadian scandals (assuming the US cares) are all played out. With that in mind, i've been tossing out more science fiction oriented posts interspersed with some painful anniversary reminders. Perhaps more interresting topics will emerge in the coming days.

But it won't if the mainstream media has anything to do with it. The media irritates me by lately focusing on such trivial items as though they are national news. Lately, newsbreaks include Michael Jackson, the Runaway Bride, and the like, all of which might be nifty items of local interest, but not national news. Sometimes it's hard to tell CNN from E!. I'm not paranoid enough to think this is all presented as a distraction from real news, just that mainstream journalism seems to be attempting to attract the masses with titalating junk.

The TV station that followed the car chase in Los Angeles this week was hoping for an exciting chase and spectatulat crash. They were positively giddy when the suspect was shot dead right there live. CBS is fined $500,000 for showing Janet jackson's breats. How much does a live excution merit? Virtually nothing, I would imagine. The human body is taboo, but violence, that's just good TV. You think the Romans were barbaric for liking deadlt gladiator combat? Click on some of the 24 hour news networks sometime, Nero. History repeats itself whether you learn friom it or not.

George Carlin quips that when you are born into the world, you get a ticket to the freak show. whhen you are born into the United states, you get a front row seat. frankly, nowadays i think you get a backstage pass and the chance to be a roadie as well.
Insiders Predict Clinton v. Allen in 2008

A National Journal poll of "congressional and political insiders" finds Sen. George Allen (R-VA) ranked first among 2008 GOP presidential candidates and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) ranked first among Democrats. Each of 215 insiders were asked to rank their top five choices.
On the Republican side, Allen finished with 229 combined points, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) finished second with 217, Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) third with 184, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani fourth with 129 and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney fifth with 109 points.
I agree wholeheartedly with the low prospects for Giuliani and romney. I think left leaning pro choice candidates have no shot at carrying a solid South, which is now essential to a GOP presidential victory. I am suepeised that Frist does not have better propects than Allan. Frist is bland and boring, but so are most diehard GOP voters., and frist has much more name recognition than Allen. of course, that might be why he's running behind.

I'm not going to put much stock into this poll yet. Senators make bad executive candidates, and there is a brewing anti-Washington shift in the public. both Bush and Congress' approval ratings are sliding, making it likely the public will be ready to support an outsider--probably a governor like Huckabee (AK) or Owens (CO).
On the Democratic side, Clinton led all Democrats with 388 points, followed by former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) with 192, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner with 166, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) with 125 and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) with 90.
No surprises here. Hillary has probably hummed "Hail to the Chief' to herself in the mirror every morning since the Clintons left Arkansas. Kerry knows the party is over for him, even if he is still going through the motions.
Seven Days in May VI

Today is the anniversary of the pivotal day. Last year, May 15th was the point of no return. I crossed the Rubicon. I was totalled screwed. pick your euphemism of choice and run with it, because I can't choose just one that covers my feelings about it.

I was under the care of a nefrologist (kidney specialist) who was still looking for a kidney stone even though the other Powers That Be decided it was a stomacj virus and all I needed was a few days of antibiotics. The nefrologist wanted another CT scan. I'm barfing up bile, which seems a little more serious than a tummy bug, he surmised. I was in total agreement, or i would have been if I weren't totally doped up on morphine. They hauled me down for a CT scan, but when I got there, I was informed that the technician who runs the CT scan doesn't work on Saturday.

"Would you mind not dying until Monday? It's your own faut for living in a one horse town."

When the nefrologist heard, he freakeb. This is a hospital, not a medieval barbershop, afterall. They got the technician off whatever golf course he was on and did the scan. It was quite by accident the nefrologist glimpsed at my colon while searching for a kidney stone. He saw a pocket of air, which was why the pain I felt was a pressure. He immediately knew i had ruptured and had been like that for days. It wasn't twenty minutes after that that I was on the operating table.

This was a serious emergency. A fatal perotinitis infection would have set in at any time. They were in such a hurry that the anesthetic hit me as they were lifting me off the regular bed and onto the table. I was out in midair. Waking up and finding out what all had happened was the worst part.

i had diverticulitis, an almost unheard of condition for someone my age. I had it for awhile unsymptomatically, but the sterois caused it to spread rapidly to the point of rupture. The infected part of my colon had to be cut out and i was fitted with a colostomy. Oh, happy days. I felt awful and was stuck glat on my back for heaven only knows how long. I figured it was only a matter of time before my retina started peeling off again. This time, there would be no opportunity to repair it.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Hoodwinked About Dave Chappelle

Maybe it was an Andy Kaufman stunt after all. Dave Chappelle interviews with Time Magazine in South Africa.
"I figured, Let me just cut myself off from everybody, take a minute and pull a Flintstone-stop a speeding car by using my feet as the brakes. I am surprised at what I would do for $50 million. I am surprised at what people around me would do for me to have $50 million," Dave Chappelle tells TIME's Christopher John Farley in an exclusive interview.
So Chappelle is not in a mental hospital or drug rehab. He still has some 'splainin' to do.
May the Farce Be With You

Join the Organic Rebellion in Grocery Store Wars, but beware that you may have to confront the evil Darth Tater. He's more chemical than vegetable.
Vietnam War Myths

I view everything with an apprpriately skeptical eye, but the gentleman who wrote this website is a veteran and therefore has tons more credibility with me than most critics of the war.
Rebel Scum

Who are the true heroes of Star Wars? George Lucas' poor story telling skills, lack of understanding of human emotion, and moral ambiguity have clouded the minds of legions of fans. In truth, there is a strong Case for the Empire as a good thing instead of the Rebellion.
Seven Days in May V

I don't remember much of this day last year. At this point, morphine was my new best friend. Doctors are still looking for a kidney stone, but are beginning to think it is a stomach virus. They are pumping me full of antibiotics for the sake of prudence. I still can't poaition myself properly for the gas bubble. I think it's only a matter of time before my retina starts coming off again. It's not quite as important as the gaping hole in my colon, which is leaking badly. I am on the verge of a quick and fatal perotinitis infection if things don't turn around soon.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Enterprise--"These Are the Voyages"

I am disappointed.

Not surprised, mind you. Just disappointed. There was no sense of closure or any real feeling that the birth of the Federation had anything to do with Enterprise. The episode skips ahead six years to the signing of the federation Charter. Nevermind that, though, because this is all being recounted on the holodeck for Riker's benefit. he is having a crisis of conscience about betraying his former captain's illegal activities. We are watching all this as a backdrop to a forgettable TNG episode from 1992. That was the first strike.

On their way to the conference, the Enterprise crew is stopped by Shran, who has faked his own death years before, but now calls in a favor from Archer to rescue his daughter, whom we never knew he had. That's a lot to throw on us in too little time to make us care. what's worse, Tucker and T'pol no longer have a romantic relationship, much less a child. So what was all that tear jerking in the last episode? Strike two.

Archer agrees to rescue Shran's daughter who is being held by thugs. That's the only way to describe them. Shran has fallen into a crimnal crowd of assiciates and they believe he has stolen some sort of jewel from them. Aftrr a firefight and rescue, Shran and daughter disappear never to be seen again, but the thugs come to Enterprise looking for him. in a totally gratuitous and silly moment, Tucker sacrifices himself so Archer can be around to sign the Federation Charter. Tucker's action prompt Riker to decide to betray his captain to Picard (although in TNG episode, he doesn't tell Picard like he says he will here.)

There was no closure, tucker's death didn't mean anywhere near as much as the writers meant for it to, and the closing narrations of Picard, Kirk, and Archer weren't aspoignant, even though the inclusion of Kirk was meant to be a special surprise. This finale managed to be weaker than Voyager's, which is quite an accomplishment. i'd hate to see Trek end with this. Let's hope it won't.

Rating: ** (out of 5)
Enterprise--"Terra Prime"

The night has finally arrived. Here we have the final episodes of Enterprise and maybe Trek altogether. So does it all end with a bang or a whimper? I'd say a mild contained blast, which is apprpriate for a show that never lived up to its potential.

Industrialist paxton has given every alien 24 hours to leave Earth or he will destroy Starfleet Command. He is holding Tucker, T'Pol, and the baby hostage, making it tough for Archer to just destroy the facility paxton is holding hostage and its laser cannon. They plan a commando assualt on the sanctuary instead. meanwhile, Tucker and T'pol's baby is sick--her genetic engineering has a majoe defect. In a particularly sad moment, particularly for a show that has had few emotional moments, she does not survive.

This was a decent episode, and probably should have been the finale. It had a decent mix of action and emotion that has been sorely missing for the show. Paxton had a chance to become a legendary Trek villian, and i think he would have had the writers been able to expand on this storyline rather than have to wrap it up quick when the show was pronounced dead.

We get a little more incite into the origins od Terra Prime's xenophobia. They believe the Vulcans watched earth be nearly destroyed by World War III in order to better take advantage of the planet later. That echoes some Nazi arguments that jews had profited off a defeated germany after World War I. There's another historical nod to WWII: Paxton has contracted an alienn disease, which by his own beliefs would target him for extinction, just like Hitler's Jewish ancestry would have doomed him.

Tucker saves the day by averting the laser beam into San Francisco Bay, but Archer gets down and dirty in fisticuffs with Paxton. Archer also gets the big moment--presenting the speech at the alien conference that lays the groundwork for the Federation. A predictable, but emotional moment. But the other side of the climax robs all emotion from what could have been a nice touch. Phlox reveals that Vulcan and human DNA can mix, so a visibly distruaght Tucker and T'Pol discuss the idea of having a child one day. Cue speculation of being Spock's ancestor, right? Hold on. Another hour to go.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
The Apprentice, Week 15

I didn't make my usual write up on The Apprentice for two reasons. one, i missed the show last week, and once you get out of the habit, there is no earth shattering reason to pick it back up again. Second, I thought the "Carter decides to leave ER episode would move me to write about it instead. It did not. So better late than never, here's my #.02.

It's no contest. Kendra mopped the floor with Tana. The episode was edited so lopsidedly in Kendra's favor that Tana ought to be tooo embrrassed to show up for the live finale. Kendra's team loved her, busted their humps for her, and even Trump showed up at her task to play video games. Tana stumbled, alientated her group, and annoyed the heck out of me with her self-righteous arrogance. Confidence is fine, but smugness is a pain.

I can't say that i like tana, and while anyone who can get an ivy league educated lawyer/lobbyist to go all over New York on a wild goose chase for beads (Say out loud, in a desperate, herion addict voice,*Huff* Huff* "I need beads!" It's great fun.) has a certain marketing gift going for her, she completely lost me last night. i suspect other viewers, too. When she was asked why she should be the Apprentice, one of the things she sais was, "I have a husband and kids to go home to. kendra has nothing." I was appalled.I hope she gets the same kind of thrashing that Jen got at last season's finale. if anyone desrves a smackdown, it's Tana.
Captured Iraqi Terrurists Interviews

MEMRI.org has a collection of post arrest interviews with captured insurgents. They describe, in graphic detail, what they have done to Iraqi police and civilians and their "justifications." These are not for the faint of heart or stomach, but are necessary viewing if you wonder why we are taking a stand against such barbarism.
Foreign Relations Committee and Bolton

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday approved bush's choice for UN Ambassador, John Bolton, to go before the entire Senate for confirmation. Sen. Frist has assured the president that Bolton will be confirmed--a promise politicians don't make unless they know the votes are there. Nevertheless, I would not be surpised if some Republican Senators broke party ranks. No Democrats on the FRG voted for Bolton. what's worse, the GOP members did not offer any recommendations for Bolton, a movye which is a direct insult to the president.

I like Bolton, and his viewpoints. They reflect the president's opinion of the UN well. That is, by the way, the UN ambassador's job. We elect a president knowing full well his views on foreign policy and have fath those views will be represented in the UN. Besides, I am too cynical to think Bolton will have much effect on that unelected body of undemocratic do-nothings. Democrats know that, too, so why all the animosity towards Bolton?

A better question is what sort of ambassador do Democrats want? They are quickly becoming an isolationist party with the viewpoint that the world is too good for America. The United States is full of gun totin', NASCAR watching, Bible thumping couch potatoes who have no business encouraging democracy around the world. I cannot buy into this viewpoint, and not out of any sense of nationalism, but of logic. There is no compelling reason for the world's only super power to be subservient to the moral and intellectual "superority" of other nations, particularly when America become the only super power by defeating the despots and preserving freedom for the same nations Democrats wish we'd bow to.

The US needs to take a leadership role in the world, and not be so quick to bow to foreign opinion, as democrats apparently urge. Yes, we need allies. You can't hunt down Al Qeada terrorists without them, or present nuclear materials from former Soviet republics falling into the wrong hands. But this does not mean we have to kowtow to every foreign capital in the process. Sometimes the applecart needs to be overturned.

Update: Looks like our old buddy Sen. Barbara Boxer is blocking John Bolton's confirmation in her bid for the 2008 VP nod. Shocking, no?