January 25, 2003

No Title


A reader writes in with this observation:

Saddam's son has just given us the "smoking gun."
He has said approximately: If America attacks
Iraq, we will produce devastation in America that
will make 9/11 look like a minor problem.

Well now.... since we know that Iraq has no long-range
ICBMs, and doesn't have enough bombers to get through
our air defenses, this can only mean one thing:

Iraq has a terrorist network already in place within the US.

This should especially satisfy the traitorous scorpions
(like McDermott and Penn) who believe Iraq more than
they believe Bush. This was stated by Iraq, not by Bush,
so it must be gospel truth.

Well, Uday's comments could mean at least two other things: that Iraq is planning a chemical counterattack of some sort, or that the Iraqi regime is as delusional as ever. I'm betting on the latter, but either way Uday has given us justification to take out his daddy's regime. And it would seem logical that McDermott et al would take Uday's comments more seriously than anything coming from President Bush. Iraq is merely a sworn enemy, but the President wants to cut taxes! The horror...
Posted by B. Preston at 01:05 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 24, 2003


I've speculated a bit on the motivations behind French obstinance when it comes to war with Iraq. I believe their current position, that they will do everything in their power to avert war not by forcing Saddam's compliance but by thwarting us, is based on oil and the cheap supply of it they get from Saddam. In the past few years France has become Saddam's leading oil customer. In part, French obstructionism is also a result of its antipathy toward the US, rooted ultimately in its jealously of our position. To France, we are the "cowboys," the young upstarts who inherited the world in the ashes of World War II. To them, their culture is superior, their history more glorious, their cheeses smellier (on that last point, they're right). We're Johnny come latelys to them, without any right to the position we hold. Thus, when English words enter common usage in Paris, the French government bans them. When American companies try to do business in Europe, Paris puts up barricades, even nixing the GE-Honeywell merger a couple years back, a move that resulted in layoffs here in the US.

But there's more to the story. And Saddam's former bomb-maker, Dr. Khadir Hamza, lays it out: France wants to avoid invasion because in our victory its own role in Saddam's nuclear program will at last be exposed. France helped Saddam get the bomb, both before and after the Gulf War. If true, this is a huge story, and by itself reason enough for France to do what it has been doing.

According to Dr. Khidir Hamza, who ran Saddam's nuclear bombmaking program in the early 1990's, Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor was built by the French. When the Israelis determined that the reactor's real purpose was to make nuclear weapons, they destroyed it in a 1981 bombing raid.

"From the moment Osirak was hit we knew we had to try another method to get the bomb," Dr. Hamza told the Washington Times in Sept. 2002.

The year before Dr. Hamza confirmed that the Osirak reactor was never intended to be anything but a nuclear bombmaking plant.

"I went to France in 1974 to buy a reactor, as a starting point, for a plutonium bomb," Hamza told the Carneigie Endowment in November 2000. "It was a long-range project. The reactor would be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and the French would be there."

And even after Osirak was taken out, French assistance was critical to Baghdad's continuing plan to get nuclear weapons.

"Just before the Gulf War, the crash program was ongoing to make one bomb from the French fuel," Hamza told the Carniegie group.

"People were putting stock into that one bomb," he said. "They were afraid of even testing the bomb, because Iraq testing that one bomb would be like telling the world that we used the French fuel."

Dr. Hamza said that in 1990 Saddam ordered him to make a single nuclear device using materials obtained from Paris.

"We made a device, actually, minus the core," he told PBS's "Frontline" in Oct. 2001. "And we sat down and did calculations.... We would have had a small -- probably two-to-four kiloton explosion at the time..... But the idea was [that Saddam] wanted it on a missile, and he was mad at us for not making it small enough."

Axis of Evil, meet the Axis of Weasel. Somebody, get Den Beste a job in the State Department!
Posted by B. Preston at 04:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The IDF has unearthed documentary evidence that directly links Nobel laureate Yassir Arafat with the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas. I know linking Arafat with terrorism is about as obvious as linking Pamela Anderson with trailer trash, but in Arafat's case it's worth a reminder now and then.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


That metro station in Crystal City, VA--which is not far from the Pentagon--remains closed as investigators determine the link between a mysterious disappearing man and a few vials of an unknown substance found on the rail tracks.

UPDATE: The metro station has reopened, though the police still don't know what's in those vials.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Constitutionally pacifist Japan has re-affirmed its legal right to pre-empt any North Korean strike against it. In reality, until Japan re-arms pre-emption would be carried out by US forces stationed in and around Japan. But, it's worth noting that pre-emption isn't the radical concept that many worry warts on the left would have us believe.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2003


Here's the official campaign graphic.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I’m not tired of actors speaking out; I will never tire of actors speaking out, because it provides the same amusement of watching dogs walk on their hind legs. The sight itself is hilarious, and it always ends with the performer falling over.

I must admit I am tired of actors taking on politics like the role of a lifetime, but Lileks' take is dead-on. Here's the rest.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Not for me. I haven't been falsely accusing the Bush adminstration of resuming the practice of honoring dead Confederates. But Josh Marshall, Atrios, Kos and a few others have, having been misled by their comrades in the Democrat Party. When will they wise up, I wonder, and realize that Paul Begala pretty much makes stuff up to smear Republicans? I guess they'll realize it when they stop similar practices of their own.

Anyway, here's the lowdown from Ricky West. If the aforementioned bloggers have any sense that their credibility is on the line, a retraction of their recent comments on this issue should be along shortly.

But I'm not holding my breath.

UPDATE: Time has retracted its story on the issue, which seems to have been the jumping-off point for the whole thing. Sloppy, very sloppy, but at least they've run a proper correction.

RJ West is keeping a running tally on how the usual suspects respond to Time's retraction. So far, not good. True to form, Marshall has blurbed the retraction but offered nothing in regard to his own analysis of the false story. Only CalPundit has done the full retraction thus far.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Ask yourself, why is France considered an influential nation today? Is it because of its robust economy, which has been one of Europe's sicker systems for the past several years? Is it French culture, its weird films, horrible TV shows (yes, I've seen them), or its many varieties of cheese? Is it France's vaunted military, which just about lost World War I, did lose World War II, and bequeathed to us the quagmire of Vietnam? Obviously not. France's influence has but one source, which is its veto power on the UN Security Council.

France's permanent seat on the UNSC is a historical accident, a relic of the state of the world after World War II. At that time, France was essentially the third vote on the UNSC for liberty, and along with the US and UK countered the Communist states USSR and China. In the 1950s France saw its influence around the world wane as US influence rose, and began to use its UNSC seat to be the swing vote. In so doing, it could trade its vote for concessions, and could maintain its place among the world's "great nations," and could essentially ride out the Cold War until a winner emerged without much risk to itself. But for that seat, World War II's aftermath would have seen not only the end of French cultural influence over most of the world, but the end of its political influence as well.

Fast forward to today, and France is voluntarily destroying its sole source of worldwide credibility. In opposing the US and UK's efforts to disarm Saddam and enforce UN sanctions, France is in essence turning the UN into the League of Nations. In opposing the legal effort to disarm a madman, France is saying in essence that international law accounts for nothing if the risks of enforcing it are too great, and in the end is undermining the world's main mechanism for acting multilaterally against rogue states. France's unilateral, and now bilateral approach after joining with Germany, may end in the death of the UN, but will almost certainly end with more dangerous world. Little Saddams in Libya, Syria, North Korea and elsewhere are paying close attention to France's actions, and to our responses. They will see a divided West that cannot make up its mind whether to enforce international law or ignore it. If France wins this dispute over Iraqi arms, ultimately other rogue states win too, and international mechanisms against proliferation, against terrorism, and against aggression will lose.

But France will lose too, and in fact may end up the biggest loser of all. The US and UK will do what we must, with UN support or without. With UN support, that international body stays alive if only on life support. Without UN support, our war against Iraq amounts to a declaration that the UN charter is null and void as it can't even enforce sanctions passed unanimously by its central decision-making body. France's veto power over American-led actions, and its ability to scold us in front of the world, will evaporate. For the US, it's heads we win, tails you lose: Under the UN, we have more allies to lean on after the war to help rebuild Iraq, while without the UN we're freer to act and won't have to put up with as much carping directed at us from despots on our own soil. But France should re-think its current path. Resistance to enforcing the UN's sactions regarding Iraqi disarmament might send France to the backbench of world political influence permanently.

UPDATE: I realize now that I didn't address the question of why France is propping up Saddam. Jonah Goldberg says it's about oil, and he's right. France has had a cozy relationship with Saddam since the Gulf War ended, and has been a leader in undermining sanctions against Iraq during the entire 12 years they have been imposed. Result: France gets lots of cheap oil from Iraq. But there's another reason France is opposing war: They don't like us. Or rather, they want to curb our influence. Domestically, the French government has crusaded for several years now against the adoption into French of English words and phrases, and has made life difficult for US companies operating in Europe. For instance, France used the EU to kill the merger between two US companies, GE and Honeywell, a couple of years ago, effectively costing both companies billions. Their Iraq policy is simply France's anti-American crusade writ large.

UPDATE AGAIN: Oh, dear. Rummy had to go and get the Frenchies all mad at us. What will we do? Pretty much whatever we want, I guess.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:03 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 22, 2003


Posted by B. Preston at 11:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


The Japanese government secretly assisted an ethnically half-Japanese person escape from North Korea and enter Japan. This may not only be a sign that Kim Jong-Il's regime is increasingly fragile, but may also signal a more aggressive stance on the part of Japan. In the past, Japan has been very hesitant to deal with anyone coming from North Korea, and would never publicly acknowledge any assistance it might have lent.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I KNEW IT!!!!!!!

Watch this and prepare to be shocked, SHOCKED! Fakers!

UPDATE: Yes, the video is a fake. Yes, I knew that when I posted it. Note the winking smiley in the comments. It is a well-done fake at first blush though, and had me laughing out loud, so loud that one of my co-workers (at a NASA affiliate, I might add) ran into my office to see what was going on. For the record, we did land on the moon, many times, and brought back lots of boxes full of moon rocks. To my knowledge, none of them contained any traces of green cheese.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:41 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


Well, not if you ask me, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton seems to have a problem with him. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned a world in which individuals would be judged by the content of their character, as opposed to the color of their skin. To Clinton, color is part of character:

“We are reminded once again by the events of the last year that there are those who don’t understand Dr. King’s dream and legacy,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Yes, we want to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. But what makes up character?” she said, quoting from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “If we don’t take race as part of our character, then we are kidding ourselves.”

There is a word for that kind of thinking--making one's race an integral part of defining who they are as a person--racism. A colorblind society is impossible as long as that type of thinking exists, which may be Clinton's true agenda, to divide and exploit. At any rate, she's put herself at odds with Dr. King, but being a Dem she'll get away with it.

(thanks to Henry Hanks for the heads up)

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus wryly notes Hillary's comments. It is a breathtakingly stupid quote, and racist on its face. What on earth does skin color have to do with character? Nothing whatsoever. And to King's generation, to hear a Southern Republican like me say that without equivocation would have been a great victory. Well, maybe not, since Republicans gave the civil rights legislation of King's day stronger support than did the Democrats. At any rate, to hear a liberal say what Hillary said would have been a serious setback. And to hear it today, it still is.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:06 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Today, thousands have gathered on the Mall in Washington to protest a 30-yeard old Supreme Court decision that usurped the democratic process and replaced it with judicial fiat. Far from settling the nation's view of abortion, Roe v Wade continues to aggravate it. Positions on both sides since 1973 have hardened, and reasoned discourse normally gives way to strident argument from both sides. Demonstrating just how bad a decision Roe is, three decades later it is more controversial than it was the day it was handed down. Roe should die.

Abortion is one of the few issues about which I count myself a genuine radical. Abortion is murder, whether you approach it from a scientific, religious or philosophical point of view. Scientifically, the DNA that makes me unique as I sit here was the same DNA that sketched out who I'd become on the day I was conceived. Religiously, life is precious and should never be taken capriciously or handled callously. Philosophically, innocence should count for something, and what person is more innocent than one yet to exit its mother's womb?

I often compare abortion to slavery. I am an abolitionist; abortion, like slavery, allows one human to own another by giving one the ultimate power over another. But the slavery comparison is only half valid, because in truth abortion is in many ways much worse than slavery. Slavery, a monstrous evil, could be reversed--a slave can be set free. A slave can rebel, or be goaded to rebel, or can run away from his or her master. Abortion is irreversible, and an unborn child has no capacity to change his or own condition in any way. Unborn children are entirely at the mercy of their mothers, the abortionists and their industry, and the society that sanctions legal killing.

As for Roe, it was based on lies from the beginning. Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe, has admitted that she lied throughout the case. She has stated for the record that the pro-abortion forces used and manipulated her. She is now pro-life, both because of the treatment she recieved at the hands of pro-abortion advocates and because she has had a change of heart. So there is hope, but it remains illusive until Roe is struck down.

Should Roe pass to the ash heap of legal opinion as it should, states would have the right to sanction or prohibit abortion. Democratic forces would weigh in, and America's conscience would be tested, and the result will be a patchwork of abortion law and restrictions state by state. But in the end, states' rights do not trump human rights, and the conflict over abortion will only be settled finally at the Constitutional level. An amendment will be needed, either to affirm abortion as an inviolable right or to affirm the right to life. But that is as it should be. Amending the Constitution is ultimately a democratic venture, entered into by the entire nation, and not subject to the whims of a few lifetime appointed judges. Roe should die, that democracy might finally speak.

UPDATE: If you'd like to read a fairly dishonest critique of the above, go here. Like many on the other side of this debate (and many on my side to be fair), this person puts more words in my mouth than Shakespeare did for King Lear. Being pro-life isn't about repressing women's rights. Many, many women, possibly a slight majority, are pro-life. How does that square with the notion that pro-lifers harbor some desire to repress women? Many, many women who undergo abortions do so at the behest, even insistence, of irresponsible men who've gotten them pregnant. Abortion gives those men license to shake off their obligations, leaving women alone to bear the aftermath. Rather than being about repression, being pro-life is about defending the innocent. It's quite simple--in the eyes of the law of the land (not Catholic teaching, which as a Protestant I don't recognize as authoritative and which has no standing in our courts) we are all innocent until proven guilty of a crime. That's the definition of innocent I use when discussing abortion, or any other legal issue for that matter. As for my DNA argument, it's also fairly straightforward. DNA in and of itself doesn't constitute life, else every little shred of skin we lose everyday would have full personhood. But at the moment of conception, the conceptus has the entire DNA code that will determine hair color, eye color, and many aspects of personality. That's significant--left to nature's course, more often than not that little bundle of cells will be born a person will full human rights in less than a year.

That Norma McCorvey lied in the original Roe case is not in dispute. She admitted it in 1987. She said in her case testimony that her pregnancy was the result of a rape, when in fact it was the result of consensual sex. Roe is bad law based on a tissue of lies. Norma McCorvey is now pro-life, as is Sandra Bensing, Georgia's version of Jane Roe. Make of that what you will.

Finally, what did I mean by identifying myself as a "genuine radical?" Simply this--we can hem and haw around this issue for another 30 years, but nothing we do or say will change what abortion does, which is end a life. 40 million lives have been ended thusly so far. I believe killing abortionists is wrong, and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Terrorism in the name of the pro-life cause is wrong, and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But abortion itself should be abolished. It is murder.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 21, 2003


How did Osama know that his satellite phone was being used by US troops to track him--which according to Morroccan intelligence enabled his escape from Afghanistan in 2001? The NSA had been bragging it could do just that for years. Stupid.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:41 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Stanley Kurtz argues that turning Iraq into a modern democracy along the lines of post-war Japan will be more challenging than that model. Worth a read whether you consider yourself a hawk or a dove--as Kurtz argues, we should go into the war with some realistic expectations of what we'll do once we've won it.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Nice analysis of a Seymour Hersch attempt to pin North Korean nukes on Bush. It centers on Pakistani involvement after they developed the Islamic bomb. I seem to recall somewhere that Pakistan's nuclear program was at least in part a response to India's program, which was a response to improved Chinese missile technology. Which resulted in part from lax tech transfer regulations enacted during the Clinton years, as part of a quid pro quo for all those illegal campaign donations during the '96 campaign.

Ideals fell like dominoes when the money looked good.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Back in August, I wondered what had made former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter turn a 180 and become a Saddam apologist. Well, it may be that whoever owns him already knew about this.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Jesus Gil, whose new digs look nice. Arsenal could take Atletico anytime, Jesus.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


France says it will try and block an UN Security Council move to authorize war against Iraq. China and Russia seem to be on board with them, with the UK our lone supporter among the five veto-powered members. Seems dire for the Bush team, until you consider what France is actually doing. The UN just today lifted Libya to head its Human Rights Commission--Libya, ruled for decades by another megalomaniacal terror-sponsoring dictator, now chairs meetings about human rights. And at the UNSC, a decade and more of defiance as well as fresh proof of Saddam's slithering apparently isn't enough to convince France that it's finally time. Not too surprising, given that French doctors are keeping Saddam's cancer at bay--France symbolically keeps him alive at the UN, and literally keeps him alive at home.

If France gets its way, we're likely to attack anyway once our troops are in place. We have new proof that Saddam failed to disarm--16 known chemical warheads
(and likely many more) that Iraq failed to destroy, plus documentation that Iraq's nuclear program is ongoing. Two clear violations of not only the Gulf War cease-fire resolutions, but last fall's resolution as well. Add to that Iraq's 12,000 page lie to the world, and you have material breach, which means war is a legal option whether the UN passes another resolution or not. So we'll go in to take care of business, and expose the UN for the parliament of fools that it is along the way.

So go ahead Pierre, get the UNSC's cover. It'll be a fig leaf in a hurricane.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 20, 2003


Got the new Dell on Friday. It's the first brand-name machine I've used at home since my first Pentium, a lowly 60 mHz AST (which stood for "Aggravating Slow Turd," if I'm not mistaken). The last two machines I've had have been my own creatures, built from parts by my own hands. You can save money that way, but the tech support is only as deep as you are, which in my case was often a mile wide but an inch thick. With the new Dell, I'll have tech support for the machine's first year, when it's unlikely to break down, but if it does I'll be calling the techies back in Austin, you betcha. Migrating the old hardware--a CD-RW and a hard drive--was completely painless, which was a first. For once, Plug n Play actually meant something. The new machine also sports better graphics than the Voodoo 3 that the old system ran, which has awakened the sleeping gamer in me. I can already see that that particular habit is going to get expensive.

Anyway, I mentioned earlier that I've seen The Two Towers, and loved it. I saw it at The Senator, a historic theater in Baltimore. It's an art deco, mid-30s vintage single screen (no multiplex) venue. It's screen is enormous, I think the largest in the realm (of Maryland, that is). It's still run like a theatre from the ancient times, with a knowledgeable staff that's actually courteous. Old though it is, The Senator sports one of the best sound systems around. It was the place to see Towers.

About Towers, I could rave all night how great it is, but being the contrarian I sometimes am I have a nit to pick. I don't like the score. Not the quiet, touchy-feely stuff that rises whenever we get a Hobbit close-up--that stuff's fine. But, and this may be the producer in me who's spent countless hours listening to production music to see what'll work in a given project talking, the big, sweeping score of Towers has a generic feel to me. It lacks a signature. Say what you will about the newest Star Wars flicks, they carry the old signature theme grandly, and it's a great theme. You can sing it. You can hum it. From the first trumpet flare, you know it when you hear it. Ditto a few others, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, and several epics of similar grandiosity. But LOTR's score lacks that signature. It never gets in the way, which is good, but it never really contributes much either. But it's a small nit. Just about everything else about it--except the fish that Gollum chases down the river, which I thought looked composited--is great. The scene in which Gollum debates with himself is masterfully done, and reminded me of an old short done by Pixar years ago called "Jerry's Game." It's on one of the Toy Story videos if I'm not mistaken. The shots in Towers match Jerry's Game very well.

But that's enough from me. The gamer is calling.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Every time some righty wacko, or Trent Lott, shoots off his mouth every lefty rises up to demand DEMAND! that we of the responsible right denounce the wacko. And obediently, we do, because a) the wacko in question deserves it and b) to get the lefties off our backs. Well, lefties, your anti-war movement is led and organized by people who support the worst human vermin who've ever fouled the earth. So what say you? Hmmmmm?

(sound of crickets)

That's what I thought. So quick to condemn those of the right for the least infraction, yet utterly unable to condemn any evil so long as it slithers from the left. Say goodbye to your credibility.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


The Nobel Laureate recently visited Caracas, Venezuela to mediate talks between Castro-lite Chavez and the forces for democracy and justice. Result: one dead, several wounded.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


The ricin scare seems to have fired up London's anti-terror efforts (if you discount their idiotic asylum for the Taliban "refugee"). Police have raided a major mosque that has been a jihad hub since 9-11. Choice quote from the cops:

The raid was part of a crackdown ordered by Home Secretary David Blunkett, who said he had "authorized the security and intelligence service and our anti-terrorism branch to take whatever steps are necessary, controversial or otherwise ... to take action to protect us."

One Home Office official said that this means "there will be no race relations considerations in terms of authorizing or agreeing operations to tackle people."

...no race relations considerations....? Should there ever be "race relations considerations" when confronting murderers. Is the UK OJ-ing terrorism? At any rate, it sounds like the police need to talk to one Mohammed Sekkoum:

An Algerian refugee leader said he believes as many as 100 known terrorists, many of them from his homeland, have entered Britain as asylum seekers during the past two years, and that "I know the names of many of these people."

"These people were killers in Algeria," said Mohammed Sekkoum, chairman of the Algerian Refugee Council, "and now they are here."

Courageous man.

UPDATE: Why would a mosque have stores of tear gas and a stun gun? I'm fairly sure my neighborhood Baptist church lacks such implements.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


While I await my Mac's rebooting cycle (for about the fifth time today), I thought I'd pass along a couple of "jokes" that showed up in my inbox. Courtesty ShopTalk, a fine if reflexively leftish TV newsroom newsletter, comes a daily dose of "humor" from a "comedian" by the name of Alan Ray. Never heard of him? That might be because he isn't very funny. He's also morally obtuse to the point of uselessness. Here a couple of real zingers from today's ST:

Bush Falls: George Bush has slipped in approval ratings. He expected the decline. His leadership philosophy is, "You can scare some of the people some of the time, but you can't scare all of them all of the time." (Alan Ray - http://www.araycomedy.com)

Hitler Movie: CBS will air a movie about Adolph Hitler. They wanted a more contemporary look at tyranny. But the John Ashcroft Story is still in pre production.

Yuck, yuck, what a pair of thigh-slappers, eh. Bush, not the terrorists and their masters, is the one out to scare us all the time. John Ashcroft=Adolph Hitler. How droll.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Today's one of those days where I have to do a lot of writing--on the job, I mean. I'm working on a script for a 10-12 minute program, and need to get it hammered into some kind of shape by day's end. I already have the skeletal framework in place, but need to put some meat into it. So now I'm warming up, getting the brain used to making phrases and stringing them together.

I like the Super Bowl matchup. Since John Gruden left Oakland last year, I'd hoped the Raiders would get the chance for a little revenge. Now they have it. They won't be playing for that of course--as the oldest team in the league, the urgency of the situation isn't lost on them. But Gruden's Chuckie scowl will be prowling the sidelines opposite the Raiders, and they'll be aware of it.

Watched The Two Towers on Saturday. Wow. It's an amazing, astounding epic that after its three hours left me wanting more. If you haven't seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to do it. No finer film has been made since, well, the first installment of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy treatment. It's tough to put into words just how good this film is--like the first one, every shot is masterfully framed, ever scene masterfully rendered, and the tale marvelously told. It's grander than anything else out there, and deeper too. Seeing it made me ask myself over and over, like a man going slightly mad, "Why can't Lucas do this? Why can't Lucas do this?" Jackson's LOTR series is what the Star Wars tales should've been--epic without cheesiness, and including things like believable dialogue, nuanced acting and a real feeling that the good guys are fighting actual evil. I think George Lucas simply took a different path, turned his great yarn into a kids' bedtime story, and thereby robbed it of the depth it should have. He made that choice while making Return of the Jedi, and has stayed the course ever since. He probably thought that that was where the money is, and to an extent it's true that kids see more movies and buy more movie-related junk, but the price has been the credibility of the series and its author. Peter Jackson could've taken that route too, but he didn't, and has made a landmark series of films. Lucas stopped making landmarks in 1979. Empire will probably go down as the last truly good Star Wars film.

I've been worried quite a bit lately. Sure, about the war, and about North Korea (on which even a Bush supporter like myself must acknowledge that the administration has of late bungled the whole thing), and about our resolve to defend our civilization. One of the strangest critiques I've heard of The Two Towers is this bit about its racism--that because all the major good characters are white in one form or another, it's an inherently racist film. Leave aside for the moment that most of the characters aren't even human--the real heroes turn out to be Hobbits, elves and walking trees, for goodness' sake--what should Peter Jackson have done? Several years ago, Kevin Costner starred as an English accent-mangling Robin Hood, and his opposite was Morgan Freeman. The original Robin Hood tales didn't have any identifiably black characters, so the director or writer or whoever (probably some suit at the studio) decided to create one, and thus the Muslim Abu became Robin of Locksley's best mate. If you'll recall, that film was lambasted for lots of good reasons, but mostly because the Morgan Freeman character, though played well, seemed so out of place. He was obviously there as part of some quota. Should Peter Jackson have followed that route, maybe made Gandalf Hispanic, or the Hobbits all Japanese? Other critiques mention that because all the major characters are played by beautiful white people, then somehow the rest of us can't identify with them. That critique truly worries me. If you can't see the humanity, the basic level humanness, of the characters--even the walking trees--because they have Nordic features and long blond hair or are otherwise different in appearance from you, I pity you. You have trouble seeing humanity beyond your own nose. That being the case, we'll have a hard time seeing the humanity in each other that we'll need to rise to our common defense. For all our supposed progress, we are in many ways still a tribal species.

Another thing that worries me is the state of parenting these days. Everybody Loves Raymond captured it well in last night's episode. Ray and Deborah had made some new friends, the Williamsons, who were nice but were raising a monster of a son. He was terrible, always invading the parents' conversation, smarting off to Ray, leading the other kids into mischief, and his parents never called him down. Ray sees it immediately, Deborah thinks he's overreacting, but eventually sees the kid's evil ways and they break off the friendship. Unfortunately, life isn't a sitcom and breaking off the friendship over an obnoxious kid isn't usually even an option. Of all the parents I know well, I can probably count on one hand (okay, maybe one and a half) the number of kids I see being raised with any kind of respect for their parents or for basic societal norms. It seems that our generation of parents isn't bothering to teach our kids "Please" and "Thank you," and sirs and ma'ams must be as dead as Latin. It's kind of simple as a concept, but apparently beyond most parents, that kids aren't born with an institutional memory of how to behave. We parents have to teach them how to be decent. I sometimes worry that in teaching our son to be polite, to share his toys with his friends, and to mind what we say, that we're actually setting him up for other kids to take advantage of him later. These other kids will have been given "choices" and "suggestions" instead of instruction, and will have been firmly in control of their own parents for years by the time my boy meets them at school. They'll have already developed the skills of manipulation, having honed them on their parents and likely their parents' friends. Supposing my kid actually retains the manners we're trying to teach him, he may be easy pickings for these brats. I've actually lost sleep over this.

Well, I think I'm warmed up. Thanks for indulging me if you've read this far. Off to tame a script.

UPDATE: This may help explain why Raymond gets it right.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:22 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 19, 2003


Imagine if, say, shortly after World War II some Nazi soldier wandered over to England. He'd been implicated in some wartime crimes for which he'd face a trial back in Germany, so he decides to petition England for asylum. At that time, he surely would have been laughed at, made a fool in the press and sent packing back to Germany. But in 2003, no such moral clarity seems to exist: a former Taliban who fought against British troops in Afghanistan has shown up, and and granted asylum--on the grounds that Afghanistan's current regime would "persecute" him. That regime, it should be noted, is the one led by Hamid Karzai, and one we and the Brits put into power.

We cannot win the war as long as we in the West continue to act this idiotically.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Engines revved, and up for the NFL conference championships. I like the Raiders and the Bucs, but I think the Eagle will win today. At home for a conferences championship in what will be the last game at the Vet, the Eagles have McNabb back and seem to have all the matchups going their way. The Bucs will play tough, but lose. Tennessee comes to Oakland having lost there 52-25 in week four, but that's when the Flaming Thumbtacks were awful. They got hot and ended up here today, but I just don't think they have the weapons to beat the Raiders. Unless the Titans make this game a smashmouth war, the Raiders win by 10. If there's an upset to be had, it's in Philly. John Gruden may have some wrinkles up his sleeve that the Eagles don't see coming.

No matter who wins, as has been noted elsewhere there will be far more interest in today's games than in all of the anti-war protests scattered across the country this weekend combined. I'd say that means something.

On a note of thanks, donations have been coming in to this site in the past week or so at a pace that outstrips the entire previous year. For that, I can only say a heartfelt "Thank you."
Posted by B. Preston at 02:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack