March 11, 2004

PASSIONATE REACTIONS

One thing should be abundantly clear by now: The Passion of the Christ is a cultural phenomenon. In two weeks of play in a little over 4,000 theatres nationwide, it has raked in $224 million. The film that just a few weeks ago looked on course to ruin director Mel Gibson's career has instead put him in the same class as Lucas, Cameron, Spielberg and maybe just one or two others--a director who delivers a true blockbuster hit.

The film isn't for everyone. It's bloody and explicitly violent, and its storyline is at once familiar and new, and just too unsettling for the more secular among us. For some, the violence itself is just too much, and that's a perfectly legitimate complaint. Unless you live under a rock you've heard the accusations lodged against it--that it's anti-Semitic (it's not), that it's too violent (that's a matter of opinion), even that it's pornographic in some way. That last theme has been picked up in the European press and stateside by the likes of Andrew Sullivan and Frank Rich.

It's a puzzling line to take. There is nothing, I repeat nothing, about The Passion that is in any way "pornographic." Rich and Sullivan, among others, refer to classic porn terms like "money shot" to describe what is the most realistic film staging of the crucifixion of Christ ever done. They write that the film is somehow dehumanizing, though that line is a puzzler too. Christ certainly isn't dehumanized. The Romans who scourge Him and the Jewish leaders who deliver him to His death aren't dehumanized, and neither are the crowds of mostly Jews who are caught up in the events one way or another. Simon of Cyrene, who is tasked with helping Jesus carry His cross when He no longer can, is one of the most human and humane characters in the film. Mary and the Magdalene, Pilate and his wife Claudia, Caiphas and the Sannhedrin, the disciples--all come across as human as far as I can tell. Satan seems, well, Satanic and therefore not entirely human, but should we expect anything else?

I wrote in my review a couple of weeks ago that The Passion was essentially being misunderstood by many--most--reviewers. It's not a "snuff" film as Sullivan and others have said, and it's not "pornographic" in any way. Gibson actually goes to some length to give the audience something else to look at while Christ endures the scourge, using flashbacks to His ministry to connect the suffering with the teaching, using shots of crowds or Mary or the soldiers or even Satan to advance the story while the brutality continues. Reviewers seem to have come to The Passion expecting just another Jesus film about a basically nice guy who delivered a few pearls of wisdom and got killed for running afoul of the authorities. But that's not The Passion of the Christ, and reviewers just don't seem to know how to understand it.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that if you want to put this film into a genre, it best belongs in the horror category. The Passion of the Christ is about the horrible suffering Jesus endured on our behalf. It's about the horror of His wounds, the horror of humankind's brutality due to sin, and the horror of the execution of an innocent man. It's also about the victory over death that all that horror bought us.

Properly understood for what it is, The Passion is a great film, one of the best ever made (and horror film fans do seem to be understanding that this is a horror film). It works on so many levels. The blood and brutality make it less a film than an experience. The Aramaic and Latin have a transporting effect, putting you right in the story and in the time in which it all took place. I simply couldn't shake many of the images from it for several days after watching it. I couldn't lose some of the sounds, even some of the Aramaic and Latin dialogue, for close to a week. And I couldn't lose the sense of horror combined with the sense of victory at the end.

I think Sullivan, Rich et al just took what they are, what's buried deep down in their character, to this film and had no other way to interpret it. When they saw blood and violence and a nearly naked man nailed to a tree, their sense of horror just didn't do its job because, for whatever reason, it is too feeble. I think this film exposed them and their flaws to the light of day, which really is one of the film's purposes. Instead of horror they saw it as dehumanizing pornography, complete with "money shots" and the rest. I suppose somewhere in the back of their minds, a bouncy soundtrack played the wakka wakka.

What I'm saying is Sullivan, Rich and anyone else who sees The Passion of the Christ as pornography needs to figure out why that is. What was it about seeing the Man of Sorrows complete His mission on earth that made them react the way it did? What made them see a kind of sado-masochistic orgy in the suffering and death of one man? What made them see a horror film with a real heart and purpose as some piece of filth that we should protect our children against?

I think it's the character and history they brought to the film that caused them to see it that way. If you've lived a life centered on your own sexuality and fleshly desires and in a lonely quest to seek out anonymous and sometimes violent sex, you're likely to read most anything you come across with that somewhere in your mind and heart. The Passion of the Christ is just so confrontational that it has forced Andrew Sullivan and, it seems, Frank Rich to expose their dark hearts to the light of day. Reading their reviews, I felt like I needed to shower off. I definitely didn't get that feeling from the film, though. I really can't think of another way to explain it that makes sense of their very strange reactions to this film, and the way those reactions seem to agree.

And no, the above is not meant to "out" anyone in any way. Sullivan's history is pretty well-known by now; I don't know Rich's well enough to say anything of value. I'm just trying to make sense of how they could so badly misread this film and misread it in the same exact way, and this is the only explanation I can find that seems to stand up to any kind of examination. Maybe you'll come up with a better one.

The Bible does teach that you can't get good water and bad water out of the same well. If the well is good the water flowing from it is worth drinking, but if the well is bad you'd better stay away from it.

My read is that The Passion has revealed more than a couple of hearts to be full of dank, dirty water. Those hearts could use a cleaning.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:10 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

EX DEMOCRAT CONGRESSIONAL STAFFER CHARGED WITH ESPIONAGE

For some reason, this story doesn't surprise me in the least:

NEW YORK (AP) - A former journalist and one-time press secretary for four members of Congress was arrested Thursday on charges she served as a paid agent for the Iraqi intelligence service before and after the U.S. invasion.

Susan Lindauer, 41, was arrested in her hometown of Takoma Park, Md., and was to appear in court later in the day in Baltimore, authorities in New York said.

She says she's innocent, claims to have helped stop terrorism in the US more than anyone else (?) and says she's proud of herself. Well goody good for you.

Here's what the feds say she did:

According to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Lindauer made multiple visits from October 1999 through March 2002 to the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations in Manhattan. The indictment makes no mention of her congressional staff work.

There, she met with several members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the foreign intelligence arm of the government of Iraq that allegedly has played a role in terrorist operations, including an attempted assassination of former President George H.W. Bush, the indictment alleged.

The government said she accepted payments from the Iraqis for her services and expenses amounting to a total of $10,000, including $5,000 she received during a trip to Baghdad in February and March 2002.

Her acceptance of the money and her willingness to bring it home from Iraq violated a law prohibiting transactions with a government that sponsors international terrorism, the government said. The indictment did not specify a motive.

The charges against Lindauer were included in an expanded indictment in the case against Raed Rokan Al-Anbuge, 28, and Wisam Noman Al-Anbuke, the sons of Iraq's former liaison with United Nations weapons inspectors.

The brothers were charged last year with acting as Iraqi government agents and conspiring to do so, prosecutors said. The indictment said Lindauer conspired with the brothers.

Interestingly, the story notes that she worked for a bevy of big media outlets and a bunch of Congresspeople, all Democrats, but doesn't say anything about her own politics. I guess they're obvious since she worked exclusively for Democrats, but you just know the press would play any possible hint of a Republican connection up to the sky if one existed.

But like I said, nothing about this story surprises me. I live in Maryland, a state which is underrated for its Berkleyite views on politics and foreign policy. I hear anti-American rhetoric pretty much every day of my life around here, and am just not shocked that someone took the next logical step and tried to get into the terror war on the wrong side for real.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:46 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

TERRORISTS STRIKE SPAIN

March 11 is Spain's September 11, whether the animals turn out to be Basque separatists or al Qaeda jihadists. Over 170 dead and hundreds wounded in a series of coordinated attacks on the country's train system. Head over to Iberian Notes for a running log from the scene.

Today, we're all Spaniards. And unlike the French, we'll still mean it tomorrow.

UPDATE: An al Qaeda-linked group claims the blame.

The Reuters account is so typically Reutersian:

The London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper faxed to Reuters' Dubai bureau a copy of a letter purporting to come from the "Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades." The group aligns itself to al Qaeda, blamed by Washington for September 2001 attacks on the United States.

Is it too much to ask Reuters to straighten out this particular line, over two years after 9-11? The US doesn't "blame" al Qaeda for 9-11--al Qaeda's #1 admitted that he did it. And he threatened to do it again. And now apparently someone who thinks the way he does has done it again.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:15 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

JOHN KERRY'S FAULTY MEMORY

The longfaced Senator let out another whopper:

Earlier Wednesday in Chicago, Kerry toughened his comments about his GOP critics after a supporter urged him to take on Bush. "Let me tell you, we've just begun to fight," Kerry said. "We're going to keep pounding. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen. It's scary."

I wonder, is he including the entire Clinton administration, which rallied around the lie that "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky" and stayed with it long after is was painfully, obviously, a bald-faced lie?

Or is he including Vice President Al Gore from that same administration, lying that Bill Clinton was "one of our greatest presidents ever" on the day said president was impeached for lying under oath?

Or is he including a certain group to which he once belonged--Vietnam Veterans Against the War--that told whoppers piled upon whoppers about American war crimes committed "as a matter of course" and with the full knowledge of the entire chain of command in that southeast Asian war?

Or going a bit further afield, is Kerry including the North Korean regime, which regularly lies about US intentions on the Korean peninsula?

Is Kerry including the Palestinian Authority, which regularly lies about Israeli security actions and its own culpability in killing innocent Israeli citizens?

Is Kerry including all the noxious lies the Soviets told about their happy, productive people, their spot-on predictions in their five-year plans, and their inevitable triumph over us decadent capitalists?

Nah. Over and above all those lying regimes and administrations, Kerry says the Bush team is the mostest lyingest ever. Funny how he never actually got around to spelling out just what Bush and Co. are actually lying about, though. Must have slipped his mind.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

JOHN KERRY, CRUDE AND DUMB

Sheesh, Kerry's so desperate that he's exhuming corpses. And then getting them all confused:

"Let me tell you something, when Matthew Shepard gets crucified on a fence in Wyoming because, because, only because he was gay," Kerry said, "and Mr. King gets dragged behind a truck down Texas by chains and his body is mutilated only because he's gay, I think that's a matter of rights in the United States of America."

Ok, technically, Shephard wasn't "crucified," since that requires the presence of a cross. See Passion of the Christ, The, if you're confused on this point. And the "Mr. King" is actually James Byrd, who was indeed dragged to death behind a truck--because he was black, not because he was gay. In fact, he wasn't gay at all. And that the heck any of this has to do with President Bush in 2004 escapes me.

Both crimes were terrible. But Kerry's crude use of them is a crime of its own. That he can't even keep the facts about them straight suggests that he's just not that bright.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

AMERICA'S GREATEST EXPORT

What is America's greatest single export to the world? I'm not talking about something fixed by a dollar amount, a cash crop or a particular piece of hardware, but something that we alone provide that no one else can, and that is important to the world as a whole.

I first understood America's greatest export when I'd been in Japan for a few months. A newly minted member of the US Air Force, I was stationed in a country I'd not studied much and knew little about. Like many of my fellow airmen, I wondered why America had troops there at all, nearly 50 years after our ancestors won the war that put us there. Why are we still effectively occupying healthy, rich and stable democracies from Europe to Asia?

But being a news junkie, I watched headlines come and go. I paid particular attention to two situations that I knew could immediately thrust me into a huge war: Korea and Taiwan. At the time, circa 1994, I watched as the Clinton administration attempted to deal with Kim Il-Sung's North Korea, a backward, inward-looking, brutal and very disconnected state. Kim wanted nukes and was building them in defiance of common sense, treaties he had signed and in spite of American, South Korean, Japanese and even Chinese entreaties not to. The Clinton administration eventually tried to buy Kim off, and very predictably the gambit failed and Kim kept on developing his nukes in secret while developing other threatening technology--such as long-range missiles capable of striking Japan and even the US West Coast--in public. Kim Il-Sung was a very bad man, and his son may be even worse. The US presence in Korea and in Japan kept the Kim cult in a box and has kept millions of people--South Korean, Japanese, even Chinese, North Korean and American--alive. Without our armed presence in eastern Asia, the world would be a very different and far more violent place.

The second situation, Taiwan, was one I had long watched from afar. I'm naturally a China hawk. Knowledgable of its treatment of Christians and of anyone not politically correct under Communism, China's is a government not to be trusted. It had enforced a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy students in 1989. It periodically threatened tiny Taiwan with forced "reunion," which meant a brutal invasion at some point. In 1996, as Taiwan was taking steps toward democracy, China staged war games directly across the 100-mile wide Taiwan Strait from Taiwan, even launching missiles in the island's direction. Displeased, the Clinton admininstration sent a couple of US aircraft carriers with their attendant battle groups to the area to "observe," which really meant that we were demonstrating our willingness to keep the Chinese army on its side of the strait by force. I've never been a Clinton fan, but I thought that move probably prevented an escalation that could have led to a war between China and Taiwan--a war that would have killed millions, disrupted the region's stability and likely gotten America caught up in it somehow. Today, I believe a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is unlikely for several reaons, not least is the Bush administration's implied threats to use nuclear weapons to defend Taiwan if we have to. China knows it can't match us in a fair fight on a battleground, and is certain it can't defend itself against our nukes in any effective way, so it is very, very unlikely now to invade Taiwan, even though the bulk of our military is tied up in Iraq.

Taking these two situations together along with several others around the globe, it becomes obvious that America's greatest export is something you can't see or touch or really buy (other than with your taxes), and yet that export saves lives by the millions or even billions. We export the one thing no one else really can--security. We keep most of the world from engaging in useless and destructive wars by being big enough and strong enough to prevent them. Just look at India and Pakistan, where in 2002 we kept two hostile and nuclear-armed powers from blasting each other to radiated bits by talking to both sides and convincing them it wasn't in their interests to fight. We prove the truth wrapped up in the Reagan-era phrase "peace through strength."

I understood this much by experience back around 1995 or '96, that America's greates gift to the world is her overseas military presence because it saves lives by maintaining stability and over time introduces and strengthens the forces that lead to democracy (examples being Germany, South Korea and Japan among others). But because it's all "over there," most Americans are only dimly aware that we even have troops permanently stationed overseas. Once when I called a friend back in Texas from Japan, he asked in a puzzled way if any other countries had troops scattered worldwide like we do, in a sort of "who do we think we are?" kind of way. I replied that no, we're the only ones, and it's a good thing too, because we're the only ones who would do it for the right reasons.

We are not interested in empires. We just want to keep wars to a minimum and use trade to pry open closed societies, because open societies seldom engage in war. Iraq is our latest attempt to throw a healthy dose of freedom and security at a long standing problem.

I say all this because this year we'll see two major competing visions for the future of America's overseas presence and force structure. One is articulated by the left in author Chalmers Johnson, whose The Sorrows of Empire laments the American global presence as arrogant and destructive. Johnson simply sees no good in having our troops standing guard in hundreds of bases around the world, and he believes that presence creates instability and insecurity. Johnson's thinking fuels much of the ambiguity and uncertainty that Sen. John Kerry embodies and displays. The other side is best articulated by Tom Barnett, whose upcoming The Pentagon's New Map argues that our overseas military presence is necessary and good, and is probably the only thing that has kept several very large and highly lethal wars from occurring. I've read the Barnett book, and in the near future I'll be reviewing it.

These two visions--America as the world's problem, or America as the world's security blanket--are competing for the White House this fall. It's important for all Americans to understand how these visions differ and what a victory for either will mean. I hope my review and other writings can help shed a little light.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:21 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A DEAN GAFFE?

Michael Kinsley famously wrote that a true Washington gaffe isn't when a pol says something stupid--it's when they accidentally tell the truth. With that in mind, read the following quote from Howard Dean:

“All that time that John Kerry was taking those hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists, we were getting 89 percent of our contributions from ordinary Americans in small donations. This is how you take the country back from ordinary people, not by nominating yet another special interest clone in Washington.”

You can listen to it here.

Read that last sentence again:

This is how you take the country back from ordinary people, not by nominating yet another special interest clone in Washington.

...take the country back from ordinary people. Hmm. Like trying to convince them that defending ourselves against terrorists is a bad thing? Like trying to push a radical anti-family coup via judicial and lawless fiat? And like trying to silence the president about his own record by using shadowy front groups and demagoguery?

Those tactics, if successfull, certainly would help the Democrats and their leftist allies "take the country back from ordinary people."

Thanks for clearing it up, Howie.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

THE RIGHT TO BE FREE, SAFE AND STUPID

Michelle Malkin has a beautiful mind:

Those oh-so-compassionate liberals could hardly contain their glee upon hearing the news that Attorney General John Ashcroft is suffering from a severe case of gallstone pancreatitis.

"He has it coming. He is utterly sub-human and evil. Suffer, bastard," gloated an Internet user on the DemocraticUnderground.com Web site. "(T)he world would be better off without him," responded another writer on the forum. "I hope he is in the most severe pain a human being can suffer, and after that, I hope he remains in constant pain with no hope of relief," chimed in yet another bleeding-heart Democrat. Out in Hollywood, comedian Bill Maher echoed these unsparing sentiments during his HBO talk show monologue, speculating that Ashcroft contracted his unimaginably painful and potentially deadly illness from "wiping his (expletive) with the Bill of Rights." The audience roared with laughter.

It is not the incivility of the Ashcroft-haters that galls me. It is the unmitigated insipidity and apathy they display toward what this man and his department have done to protect their right to be free, safe and stupid.

On the day he was admitted to the hospital last week, for example, Ashcroft was scheduled to speak at a Justice Department news conference. He was set to announce the convictions of three jihadists who trained in Virginia on behalf of the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistani terrorist group. The defendants spun their usual "woe-is-me/Islam is a Religion of Peace/I'm an innocent victim of racial profiling" tales for their tearful relatives and a sympathetic media. But the Justice Department didn't buy their stories. And neither did U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, a Clinton appointee, who blasted the terror cell members' cover stories for traveling abroad to wage holy war as "incredible" and "simply implausible."

Half of our nation is made up of idiotic ingrates blind to their own bigotry against their countrymen and how it leads them to give de facto support to terrorists. God bless Ashcroft for ignoring them and fighting the good fight anyway.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"PEACEFUL TOMORROWS" SUPPORTS TERRORISTS TODAY

Exploiting 9-11 victims for political gains. Who'd have the gall to try that?

Mrs. John F. Kerry, that's who.

Consider the benignly named September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. The group has been loudly protesting Mr. Bush's ads, organizing a rally for "victims' families and firefighters" to condemn the President's "offensive exploitation" of September 11. Peaceful Tomorrows says its goal is to "turn our grief into action for peace." In the Washington Post's coverage this group is "nonpartisan." If so, nonpartisan has lost its meaning.

One of Peaceful Tomorrows' founders is David Potorti. Mr. Potorti used to write for a left-leaning weekly in North Carolina, railing against faith-based initiatives, companies without unions and the "gaping inequities" in America. Within three months of losing a brother on September 11, he was protesting the war on terror in a peace march sponsored by Voices in the Wilderness, whose founder, Kathy Kelly, was recently sentenced to three months in prison for breaking onto an army installation. That's where Mr. Potorti fell in with folks such as Kelly Campbell, a 9/11 family member and "environmental campaign coordinator." Out of this emerged Peaceful Tomorrows.

The group was immediately welcomed into the Democratic network of money and support. Peaceful Tomorrows is a "project" of the leftist Tides Center. The Center provides back-office services to ideologically acceptable "charitable" organizations for a fee. The Center receives generous financial assistance from liberal foundations, including various Heinz family endowments. The chairman of at least one of those endowments is Teresa Heinz, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Peaceful Tomorrows has also received grant money from the closely related Tides Foundation. The Foundation pushes the principle that money is fungible for left-wing activist groups. Big donors (including the Heinz endowments) give money to Tides, with private instructions as to which groups it should then be distributed; thus the original donors don't have to publicly admit to the activities they fund. According to a Tides Foundation spokesperson, the money Peaceful Tomorrows received did not come from Heinz. But when we asked Mr. Potorti where the money did come from, he said its funding was "confidential."

Note that name buried in there--the Heinz endowments. That's the same Heinz that's probably in your refrigerator wrapped around some ketchup, and the same Heinz that makes up part of John F. Kerry's wife's name.

The Heinz endowments (there are several) are probably funding the Peaceful Tomorrows campaign, which intended to force President Bush to be silent about his record as president. It would just be one among many of the radical groups Teresa Heinz Kerry is funding when she thinks no one is looking. And it is probably illegal. Should it be legal for a candidate's spouse to secretly fund groups that are criticizing that candidate's opponents in the press? You'd think supporters of open government ideals would be appalled at the clandestine nature of Peaceful Tomorrows' funding network.

And Peaceful Tomorrows is a radical leftist group--so far left that it actually opposed not only the Iraq war, but the war in Afghanistan as well. They oppose all armed response to terrorism, which in practical terms amounts to allowing terrorists to have their way.

(Spare me the pacifist rhetoric. If you let the bad guys control a country and use it as a base to attack us, you're supporting them in fact if not in spirit. If you denounce the US for taking a reasonable approach to a growing threat yet can't find the time to criticize those who propped up terrorists or sidle up to terror-sponsoring states, you're supporting terrorists in fact if not in spirit.)

One other fact worth noting. Peaceful Tomorrows claims to be a 9-11 victims' families group. In reality, it only represents about 1 percent of those who lost loved ones during the attacks. Like many left-wing groups, once you strip away the facade you find a tiny and radical group claiming a status that the facts just don't support.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 09, 2004

FATAL ELECTION

Trolling about the web, found Becky For Congress. The campaign website looks fairly typical. Sort of crappy graphics, boilerplate "independent" (read: vacuous liberal mish-mash) philosophy, lame photos of candidate doing lame things with lame people. I guess she's sort of attractive, which might help her. So who is Becky Whetstone?

The good news is that I have been to Washington and spent time among the powerful ... and I've learned what is respected and what isn't, and what works, and what doesn't.

Watching political people is nothing new for me. I have been passionate about political issues my entire life, and some of my earliest memories are staying up late in Arkansas watching election returns on the television with my parents. Back then, in the 1970's, I knew the candidates – David Pryor, Dale Bumpers, Bill Clinton, and others less well known – and was fascinated with how each of them climbed up the steps of political power in Arkansas.

In 1968 my brother, Bud Whetstone, told me about a presidential candidate he was supporting named Robert F. Kennedy. Bud was attending law school in Mississippi and had seen Bobby speak there on his famous visit to the devastatingly poor areas of the state. I was only 9-years-old, but Bud told me Bobby was going to help the poor and that's all I needed to hear, as much as I could as I child, I began watching his campaign.

Such a visionary, this candidate. Let's drop a bunch of ancient Political Names and talk about how aware I was of the plight of the common man when I was still sporting my braces and had a crush on that boy in study hall. Then the mundane details of everyday life become Something Driving Me To Fix The Country:

I'm 45 and am from Arkansas, although I have lived in San Antonio, Texas since 1984. I have two children, Benjamin, 16, and Casey Marie 13, both who attend public schools in San Antonio.

Our family loves and cherishes pets, and ours include three Chihuahuas, one cat, and several turtles and tortoises that live in a habitat especially created for them in my backyard.

I work as a counselor and university adjunct professor while taking a 16-hour course load toward my doctorate in counseling - yes now - all while campaigning, teaching and being a mom. I hope to receive my Ph.D. from St. Mary's University in the spring of 2006.

My counseling career came late in life – I didn't start the graduate program until May 2001, a short 21 years after I graduated from The George Washington University with a degree in journalism, and a minor concentration in communications.

After college, I ignored the possibility of a journalism career, moved to San Francisco, worked in sales, and returned to Arkansas three years later to be near my family. About a year later I went to visit my sister in San Antonio one weekend and ended up falling in love, moving to San Antono and marrying the father of my children in 1985.

The following years involved being a young mother and housewife. I was divorced in 1994, not long after my passion for journalism reignited. After the divorce I began doing freelance work for the local newspaper.

Ok, still not getting why she's running. Still not getting much of any vibe from this campaign.

But. "...the divorce." Why doe she just refer to "the divorce" like it was The Flood or something?

Let's see. Who's she running against?

The Republican is some guy named Roger Scott.

The Democrat is the incumbent, Rep. Charlie Gonzales. He replaced his dad, the late Henry B. Gonzales, who held that seat for about a million years.

Oh. Charlie and Becky have a connection?

He's her ex-husband.

"Hell, fury..." What's that old saying?

Posted by B. Preston at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FROM THE JYB ARCHIVES

The drive to destroy marriage by fiat is an old idea. It dates back nearly a hundred years.

To 1917. Russia. Not kidding.

When the Bolsheviki came into power in 1917 they regarded the family, like every other 'bourgeois' institution, with fierce hatred, and set out with a will to destroy it. 'To clear the family out of the accumulated dust of the ages we had to give it a good shakeup, and we did,' declared Madame Smidovich, a leading Communist and active participant in the recent discussion. So one of the first decrees of the Soviet Government abolished the term 'illegitimate children.' This was done simply by equalizing the legal status of all children, whether born in wedlock or out of it, and now the Soviet Government boasts that Russia is the only country where there are no illegitimate children. The father of a child is forced to contribute to its support, usually paying the mother a third of his salary in the event of a separation, provided she has no other means of livelihood.

At the same time a law was passed which made divorce a matter of a few minutes, to be obtained at the request of either partner in a marriage. Chaos was the result. Men took to changing wives with the same zest which they displayed in the consumption of the recently restored forty-per-cent vodka.

---

'Why should the State know who marries whom?' he exclaimed. 'Of course, if living together and not registration is taken as the test of a married state, polygamy and polyandry may exist; but the State can't put up any barriers against this. Free love is the ultimate aim of a socialist State; in that State marriage will be free from any kind of obligation, including economic, and will turn into an absolutely free union of two beings. Meanwhile, though our aim is the free union, we must recognize that marriage involves certain economic responsibilities, and that's why the law takes upon itself the defense of the weaker partner, from the economic standpoint.'

Yes, comrades, continue your drive to wreck the bourgeois imperialist institution some call marriage but others call slavery. Lenin would approve.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

SENATOR FLIPPER BUILDS HIMSELF A BOX

An amusing exerpt from CNN's Crossfire, circa 1997:

JOHN SUNUNU, CROSSFIRE: Senator Kerry, in fact, in spite of the administration claiming it has restored unanimity, that has not occurred. All the strength of this resolution had to be pulled out of it get any votes at all other than our own. Isn't this exercise actually counterproductive in sending a signal to Iraq that the coalition still remains frayed?

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D), MASSACHUSETTS, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, John, you're correct that this resolution is less than we would have liked. I don't think anybody can deny that we would have liked it to have threatened force and we would have liked it to carry the term serious consequences will flow. On the other hand, the coalition is together. I mean the fact is there is a unanimous statement by the security council and the United Nations that there has to be immediate, unrestricted, unconditional access to the sites. That's very strong language. And it also references the underlying resolution on which the use of force is based. So clearly the allies may not like it, and I think that's our great concern -- where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity, but in a sense, they're now climbing into a box and they will have enormous difficulty not following up on this if there is not compliance by Iraq.

Where's the backbone of Kerry, where's the backbone of Democrats in general, where were they when their country needed them to help face down a bunch of sanddwelling thugs with mad fantasies of a pan-Arab caliphate?

They've been climbing into a box made from their own blind partisanship and have had enormous difficulty putting two coherent thoughts together in a paragraph that explains what they'll do if the American people are dumb enough to give them the White House.

Fortunately, the American people aren't dumb. If--IF--the Bushies make their case with anything approaching their 2000 vintage effectiveness, John Foulmouth Kerry is toast.

(thanks to Hanks)

Posted by B. Preston at 10:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DRUMMERS

If there are any drummers in the house, please tell me I made a decent choice. Here's the deal--I'm the drummer for my church (Valley Baptist in Lutherville, MD if you happen by some Sunday morning). I inherited the job from another drummer, who was much, much better than I am and who owned a verrrry nice Pearl set that he took with him when he and his wife moved to another church. Since then, I've been trying to get the church to buy a set and the church has thought it was a good idea, but having been on the sound committee before becoming the drummer, I appreciate the difficulties of live mixing with an unmiked acoustic drum set in an otherwise wired band. It ain't easy even for a pretty good board operator.

So I decided that for reasons of mixing consistency and for flexibility/ease of transport, I'd go with an electronic set, and the church folks thought that was a good idea too. So having looked high and low for a good set at a non-bankbreaking price, tonight I persuaded the people with the money in the church to spring for a Yamaha DTXPress II system.

I know, I know, Yamaha has its new DTXPress III line out now, and it's getting rave reviews--but that also makes the very nice (imho) DTXII cheaper. But the DTXIII is outside our budget anyway. And I know that the mesh heads on Roland's sets feel better and springier than the Yamaha's rubber pads, but the Roland V-Drums are also outside our budget. Like, way outside our budget. And I understand the purists' objections to electronic sets in general, but you have to remember that we're not a touring rock band--we're what's called in Christianese a "praise team." We practice once a week for a couple of hours, and play on Sunday mornings for about a half hour. I don't think we'll lose any cool points with the church crowd for going the way of Dylan at Woodstock. We don't have any cool points to start with. So I went with the Yamaha, and got a good deal on it.

I've played the Yamaha in stores and generally liked the sound and feel. Does anybody out there have any praise or horror stories about these systems? Anything I should watch out for when playing live in front of hundreds scores tens of people? Just wondering.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 07, 2004

I'M DONE

I've been sick the past few days, and I'm working on a few decent-sized projects on and off the blog, so now's as good a time as any to announce a short hiatus. I plan to come back either a week or so from now or when several of the following occur.

1. I get over this annoying half-cold, half-flu thing that has pestered me since Thursday and shows no signs of letting up.

2. I get enough sleep to begin to begin to make up for the past two years of sleep I've missed since starting this blog. Yes, this may have something to do with bullet #1.

3. I get one of the major projects near completion. Not complete, just far enough along that I can claim some kind of moral victory.

4. The Bush administration gets is act together and starts to make its case, which is an amazingly strong case that looks like its been entrusted to OJ Simpson's PR firm. I mean, how can you lose when you've freed 50 million people, helped keep the 9/11-wounded recession economy from going full depression, managed to cobble together a coherent battle stragety to deal with an entirely new warmaking paradigm, and managed to keep battle casualties well below 1,000 for more than two years into a hot war? Plus, you've managed to keep taxes low and employment fairly healthy by historic standards. How can you lose on that record? It should be impossible, but the Bushies are managing it thus far, and frankly I'm tired of making their case for them for free better than their well-heeled Beltway slicksters can make it for whatever millions the Bushies are paying them. Mr. Bush, somebody's ripping you off. Figure out who, and fire them.

5. Somebody buys a dang Blogad on this site. The JYB is avaraging well over 1,000 unique readers a day now (with several thousand hits), and some days we spike upwards of 7 to 10,000 readers if I'm reading the stats right--yet no one wants to advertise their blog, candidate, product or whatever here. And no one patronizes any of the other ads that are starting to make this site look like I should run it at Daytona. So dear readers, if you're thinking of buying some crap anyway, why not go through one of the ads on this site to do it? You'll be making this effort worth a cent or two, which will motivate me to keep doing it.

6. I can figure out a way to send my family on its annual trip to see the relatives in Japan without having to sell a kidney or commit a crime.

So, Chris, if you get the urge to post, you have the site for a few days or a week or two. I'll pop in here and there, especially if anyone smarts off. But I plan, underline plan, to make this hiatus a vacation from the entire blogosphere. As much as I love the place, the noise lately has been giving me headaches. Or maybe it's just the Kerrymania sneakin' up on me.

Nah. Can't be that.

See ya.

bp

Posted by B. Preston at 11:11 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack