Archive for January 2nd, 2009

January 2, 2009

‘We will remain on the path of jihad until the end of days’

At the funeral of murderous Hamas leader Nizar Ghayan, the demand for bloodshed is renewed:

The Islamist group vowed that its attacks, which have lasted for years and which finally provoked the massive Israeli campaign, would not stop.
“I call on the resistance to continue pounding Jewish settlements and cities,” said Sheikh Abdelrahman al-Jamal at the funeral of a hardline Hamas political leader killed, together with his four wives and 11 children, in an Israeli air strike on his home.
“We will remain on the path of jihad until the end of days.”

I hate to keep repeating myself:

You cannot negotiate with a shark. To the extent that Hamas represents any coherent political philosophy, that philosophy can be summed up in two words: Kill Jews.

The alternatives facing Israel were not to choose between peace and war, but rather to choose between fighting back or allowing Hamas to kill Israelis with impunity. There is no option of peace so long as Hamas exists. War against Israel is the raison d’etre of Hamas, and if Israel wishes to survive, it must fight Hamas “until the end of days.”

January 2, 2009

Travolta’s son dead

TMZ reports that John Travolta’s 16-year-old son, Jett, has died in the Bahamas. No details of how the boy died.

UPDATE: The Associated Press reports that Jett Travolta died of an apparently accidental head injury, perhaps after suffering a seizure.

January 2, 2009

Obligatory Lindsay Lohan bikini pics

Lindsay Lohan spent New Year’s Day on Miami Beach in a black bikini, with her lesbian girlfriend Samantha Ronson nowhere in sight. The photos were linked at Conservative Grapevine, and I was intrigued by this photo:

Who is Lindsay hugging, and why? We don’t know. There was no caption information provided. Did Lindsay just decide to start spontaneously hugging people on the beach? Or is this an old friend she recognized? Or was this some sort of lesbian recruitment thing, with Lindsay trying to rub some of her gayness onto the other girl? Who knows? But we do know that Samantha and Lindsay had a big fight at the airport, so speculation runs rampant.

UPDATE: An admirer at Hollywood Tuna offers to lend Lindsay a helping hand of support.

UPDATE II: In the comments, Greg Ransom says Linsday’s too skinny — “the binge and purge look.” Agreed. There are some women who are naturally slender (ectomorphic) and look good that way. But then there are women who, aspiring to a thinness that is not natural to their mesomorphic or endomorphic natures, get that gaunt concentration-camp survivor look. Lindsay’s not that far gone, but she’s thin enough that her hips seem withered — a phenomenon that, alas, requires me to post another photo as documentation:

The girl clearly needs some biscuits and gravy.

January 2, 2009

Marxism and Bowl Games

Tonight, the mighty University of Alabama Crimson Tide will destroy Utah in the Sugar Bowl, which is officially the Nokia Sugar Bowl. The rituals of corporate sponsorship inspire Marxist visions from Jonathan Chait:

At every one of these games, the announcers must take five minutes to speak with the CEO of the sponsoring company. . . . And then — this is what really burns me — they thank him for sponsoring the game, as if the game wouldn;t be happening without his beneficience. Oh, thank you, sir, for taking this advertising opportunity. Back in the days when this game was called the Florida Citrus Bowl, life was practically unbearable. Now that it is the Capital One Bowl, and giant credit card logos decorate the playing field, we spectators can finally enjoy ourselves.

Of course, these bowl games originated during the Great Depression with Chamber of Commerce schemes to promote their communities. Having the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day was a chance to highlight the mild Southern California climate that enabled roses to be grown year-round. The Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls emulated this approach, each sponsored by local boosters eager to promote Miami, New Orleans and Dallas in the same manner, and so on with the proliferation of minor bowls. Capitalism was always a factor in bowl games, it’s just that now the sponsorship is more direct and blatant.

UPDATE (Post-Sugar Bowl): A Marxist would blame Corporate America for the failure of Alabama to establish its running game. I, however, argue that it was a mistake to admit Utah to the Union.

January 2, 2009

Kickin’ it with MK

Mary Katharine Ham has great taste in rock ‘n’ roll:

In case any of you youngsters didn’t recognize it, that video was accompanied by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Don’t Ask Me No Questions,” from their second album, 1974’s “Second Helping.”

January 2, 2009

Diversity in action

Remember, diversity is our strength:

Two men and two teens have been arrested on suspicion of gang-raping a woman last month in the San Francisco Bay area while allegedly taunting her for being a lesbian, police said Thursday.
Officers arrested Humberto Hernandez Salvador at his Richmond home Wednesday night, Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said. The 31-year-old is being held without bail on gang rape, kidnapping and carjacking charges. . . ..
Josue Gonzalez, 21, turned himself in Thursday after police announced they were searching for him. He was wanted on charges of gang rape, kidnapping and carjacking. . . .
Detectives say the 28-year-old victim was attacked on Dec. 13 after she got out of her car, which bore a rainbow gay pride sticker. The alleged attackers made comments indicating they knew she was a lesbian, police said.

These two perpetrators were obviously a couple of intolerant right-wing evangelical Republicans who were motivated to commit this hate crime by listening to James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh and Laura Schlessinger.

January 2, 2009

‘Life of the party’

Jim Blanning, who ruined New Year’s Eve in Aspen by making bomb threats before committing suicide, wasn’t all bad, the sheriff says:

“He could be the life of a party,” [Pitkin County Sheriff Bob] Braudis said. “He was a witty and intelligent man. He was a womanizer — he had six or seven ex-wives. He was fun. And if you needed help, he would be there.”

He was also a scam artist who served prison time for fraud, but other than that — and his terroristic warnings of “mass death” unless banks forked over cash — he was a great guy.

January 2, 2009

On humor

Is it me? Sometimes people are offended by my jokes, and I wonder if maybe my sense of humor is so idiosyncratic that it is impossible to expect anyone else to share it. The mock-braggodocio of my “about” description — styling myself a bon vivant and raconteur — is often misinterpreted by humorless lefties. Well, who can expect them to get a joke?

It’s somewhat more disturbing when my jokes are misunderstood by friends and allies, as indicated by some of the comments on the “Guest Blogger of the Year” post. Seeking a hook for linking Iowahawk’s hilarious Rita Ortiz post, I decided to combine it with a link to Jules Crittenden’s post announcing his Weblog Award nomination, and frame it in the joking context of pretending to have my feelings hurt that I had not been nominated.

So, just to clear up any misunderstanding, I apologize to any of “you ungrateful bastards” who were offended by the joke. Don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault that I’m a bad blogger whose jokes aren’t funny.

January 2, 2009

How Big Government helped destroy the newspaper industry

The absurd idea that a Connecticut newspaper might get a government bailout prompts Jules Crittenden to one of the few useful suggestions for saving print journalism:

Throwing out the FCC’s cross-ownership ban once and for all might also help.

The FCC’s obsolete prohibition on newspaper publishers owning broadcast franchises in the same markets has been bent, over the years, for a few politically-connected conglomerates — for instance, Cox owns both the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB TV/radio in Atlanta.

There was a time when, if the ban had been repealed, newspapers would have purchased broadcasting outlets. If the ban were lifted now, the buyout pattern would be the other way around. But too little attention has been paid to how the FCC, by preventing consolidation between print and broadcast media, undermined the economic viability of print journalism.

The rise of cable television in the 1980s changed the game. Cable is not “broadcast” and thus is exempt from FCC regulation, and anyone who was paying attention should have realized how the growth of this new technology invalidated the FCC’s original rationale in banning cross-ownership. Newspapers could have benefitted by sharing editorial staff between print and broadcast, and using the broadcast outlet to promote the print product. But the entrenched New Deal-era mentality among regulators stifled such insights, and so the absurd wall between broadcast and print remained — with strategic exceptions, of course, for the big conglomorates that could curry favor in Washington.

Repealing the ban now would probably be too little, too late to save failing papers like the Bristol Press, but it might save others. It’s a tragedy, however, that nothing was done sooner.

January 2, 2009

Seeming vs. being

Tina Brown:

I remember being stunned when Tracy Hogg, the former nanny who wrote the bestselling mommy manual The Baby Whisperer told me that the mothers she worked for usually hired her without checking any of her references. She had a British accent, and . . . the Baby Whisperer’s posh vowels were enough, apparently, to convey a Mary Poppinsesque aroma of wholesomeness.

(H/T: Don Surber.) What Brown has in mind, among other things, is Bernie Madoff’s swindle. The phrase “con man” comes from “confidence” — the con man’s trick being to inspire his victims to have confidence in him. The con man exudes charm, and has the sociopath’s knack for seeming. He seems trustworthy, and takes advantage of people’s belief that they can judge a man’s character at a glance.

This problem recurs in many contexts. I’m reminded of how President Bush pronounced that, based on a one-time meeting with Vladimir Putin, he knew he could trust him:

I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.

This is one of the most idiotic statements Bush ever made, but in making it, he was only expressing what many other people believe: That they can form an accurate estimate of a person’s character just by talking to them for a few minutes, or even by seeing them on TV. Some people aren’t cynical enough to realize that there are other people who put tremendous effort into seeming to be things they are not.

Think about a job interview. Everybody tries to put on their best face for a job interview, but some people have a real knack for exuding an air of competence in that kind of situation and, as a result, they get hired for jobs that they aren’t really qualified for. Yet the same personality trait — an aptitude for seeming to know what they’re doing — will often stand them in good stead at the job, if no concrete measurement of productivity or work quality is applied. Having good “people skills” (at least when dealing with the boss) can indeed substitute for having any other skill, absent any effort to determine who is actually doing good work.

You see this in politics, as well. The likeability factor cannot be underestimated. The typically uninformed “swing” voter doesn’t go point-by-point through the candidates’ records and policy proposals, but instead watches the candidates on TV and decides which one he likes based on a gut-hunch impression: “Who do I like? Who do I trust?” And so you get a candidate like Barack Obama, whose calm demeanor and baritone voice conveys a sense of steady resolve — “No Drama Obama,” to borrow his campaign team’s phrase — convinced millions that a relative newcomer to politics ought to be entrusted with the presidency.

Tina Brown can’t help being skeptical:

Thank God Obama was only kidding when he kept touting Change You Can Believe In. His own Cabinet choices have been cautious and well-researched, but that doesn’t mean we now have to climb into the tank and believe they suddenly know what they’re doing. Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, to whom our flailing economy has been entrusted, are protégés of the erstwhile genius Bob Rubin.

This is one reason why I keep saying of Team Obama’s neo-Keynesian economic proposals, “It won’t work.” No amount of personal charm can suffice to void the laws of economics. As likeable as Obama is, his likeability cannot make demand-side interventionism work. At some point, being is more important than seeming.