Saturday, June 04, 2005

 

Good News: Koran NOT Flushed Down Toilet

Bad news: Koran sorta, kinda, USED as toilet. Talk about giving new meaning to the word "venting."

Again, it's only a "few" jailers involved in the mishandling. Just like it was a "few" jailers involved in the Abu Ghraib stuff. And the Afghanistan stuff.

Maybe the White House has a point: These are all "isolated incidents"
blown out of proportion. But, once something is picked up by the media-wind, you never know where it's going to land.

But that's just my perspective. Urinalysis may differ.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

 

FEC-al Matters

I have my own views on this issue, but the strange-bedfellows posses of Red State and Daily Kos have been doing yeoman work on the proposed FEC rules on blogging. Thus, I leave it to them to provide full analysis of the RNC's comments.

However, this statement is promising:
"The RNC strongly supports a view of the Internet as an open public square where political ideas may be exchanged freely, without burdensome federal oversight or regulation that potentially discourages the use of the Internet in the political arena," RNC Chief Counsel Tom Josefiak said.
Press release here. Full document here.

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A Veteran GOPer's Take on Mark Felt...

...can be found here.

UPDATE: I should mention here something that didn't make it into the above Huffington post. In her very strange Opinion Journal piece, Peggy Noonan -- whose work I've much appreciated in the past -- falls into an interesting logical trap. On the one hand, she accuses Mark Felt of being complicit in the Cambodian genocide for collaborating in the downfall of a "serious president at a serious time." Yet, on the other hand, she heaps praise on Chuck Colson:
I'll give you a candidate for great man of the era: Chuck Colson. Colson functioned in the Nixon White House as a genuinely bad man, went to prison and emerged a genuinely good man. He told the truth about himself in "Born Again," a book not fully appreciated as the great Washington classic it is, and has devoted his life to helping prisoners and their families. He paid the price, told the truth, blamed no one but himself, and turned his shame into something helpful. Children aren't dead because of him. There are children who are alive because of him.
The obvious question here is would Chuck Colson have become transformed if all of the White House and presidential re-election misdeeds hadn't come to light? Would he have had enough "shame" to transform into something helpful? Using Noonan's own construct, would those other children be alive if the Watergate experience hadn't forced a metamorphosis in Chuck Colson?

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

 

Boomers Exposed At Last!!

In light of the observation on the Baby Boomer Deep Throat media gang-bang, reader ER writes: "I find it truly apropos that the Boomers' biggest triumph -- the historic resignation of RMN -- has deteriorated into an 'all about me' money grab. This highminded attitude of Woodstein's 'we'll wait until Deep Throat is dead out of respect' has now shown itself as 'only a scheme to maximize the most monetary gain from the Watergate scandal.' Once again its all about the Benjamins with Boomers and they can't admit to themselves."

Yep.

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Inquiring Minds...

...want to know: Given the lengthy backstory between Bob Woodward and W. Mark Felt and the rumors surrounding Woodward's "Company" connections, was Watergate the last time the FBI and the CIA actually managed to work together?

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

 

Boomer Reveries...

As The Boss once said:

Now I think I'm going down to the well tonight
and I'm going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days


With Deep Throat everywhere today, we are presented with both an institutional/generational navel-gazing orgy. The mainstream media gets to indulge in pat self-satisfaction on the last BIG story where there were clear good guys (the press) and bad guys (the Nixon White House).

Watergate was the Baby Boomer Big Media's World War II -- a black and white story where second-guessing over ethics, plagiarism and bias -- the major media sins of today didn't have to be entertained, let alone confronted. Woodward and Bernstein (as the years go by, doesn't Carl Berstein increasingly seem like an "Oates" to Woodward's "Hall", if not an "Andrew Ridgely" to Woodward's "George Michael"?) became Boomer gods on earth who cast out the "evil" GI president who had long offended their generation's sensibilities.

Yes, Richard Nixon's administration did commit some real crimes. But the fallout of Watergate was the birth of "Gotcha!" journalism, where the occupant of the White House was considered suspect from the minute he entered office -- perhaps even before. The media could do no wrong; the politicians could do no good. W. Mark Felt, the ultimate anonymous source, appears just in time to partly vindicate an industry (NOT an "institution") rocked most recently by the Newsweek retraction. (However, it's rather ironic that "Deep Throat" turned out to be a member of that same GI generation and decided to exult in some of the glory himself while still alive. The Felt/Vanity Fair revelation upset the timing on Woodward's already-in-production DP memoir.)

The Times' description of The Washington Post's newsroom -- as Woodward, Bernstein and Ben Bradlee emerged from a meeting to determine how the Post would cover being scooped on the story that they had practically owned for three decades -- was as if Zeus and the Greek Pantheon had descended from Olympus: "Around 6:30 p.m., Mr. Woodward emerged from his office with Mr. Bernstein and with Mr. Bradlee nearby, creating a tableau of the old days when they helped to bring down a president. The scene left many in The Post's fifth-floor newsroom to stare as a photographer took pictures." Can we possibly get any more post-modern? Big News Entity A covers Big News Entity B to get B's reaction over Smaller News Entity C's scoop of B's 30-year old no-longer-anonymous source.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's 9-0 "Oops! Your bad" to the Justice Department gets nice coverage, but a shrug from the commentariat. A once-respected accounting firm gets "exonerated" on a "technicality" -- even after it has been subjected to the death penalty -- with some potential serious ramifications for defendant privacy rights. Great story, right?

Shhhh!!! Please don't bother the media. For one thing, that's a scandal story about Boomers Doing Badly, not Behaving Heroically!! More importantly though, thirty years down the road, they're too busy trying "to recapture a little of the glory of, well time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of glory days."

UPDATE: Yes, it should read "Yes, Richard Nixon's administration did commit some real crimes." Now corrected.

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Out of context, yes, but still awkward...

"[I]t seemed to us we had a new obligation, which was to be straightforward."

-- Carl Bernstein, quoted in The New York Times, following the Mark Felt revelation. Being "straightforward" is a "new obligation"? Now, there's a way to instill confidence in journalism!

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

 

Portentous Similarities?

These sentiments --
"Things don't happen instantly in Washington, D.C.," [Bush] insisted. Asked if he was concerned he was losing momentum, Bush said: "I don't worry about anything here in Washington, D.C. I mean, I feel comfortable in my role as the president, and my role as the president is to push for reform."
-- seem a little too close to these:
When the new Congress convened, [Newt] Gingrich was elected Speaker of the House. He went on to preside over House passage of all but one of the proposals, celebrating the triumph in a prime-time address. Clinton was reduced to insisting that he had not become politically superfluous, because "the Constitution makes me relevant."
Bush needn't worry too much, because Clinton actually proved himself right. At his then most-vulnerable, Clinton bounced back rather handily.

Still, it's not exactly comforting when you make a defiant stand in front of the press -- only to be totally blown away hours later in the media by the Ghost of Richard Nixon.

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A Source Tapped Out

The Washington Times reports.

The Washington Post decides.

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"Spiced" With Pomposity...

Hey, Andrew, POSEUR ALERT!!!!

So, "Sir" Bob Geldoff and his "Live 8" organizers announced today that the Spice Girls won't be part of the multi-act 20th anniversary of the Live Aid shows. Apparently, their music is too light for the "serious" undertaking -- the Make Poverty History campaign to reduce debt in developing nations.

Many of the biggest rock stars in the world have agreed to take part in the free shows that will be performed in London, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin and Rome, and sadly, the Spice Girls just don't fit, according to a BBC spokesman:

"It's a political rally to put pressure on world leaders and their
kind of pop act didn't seem right for this kind of event. There was also a practical problem that with so many great international rock stars and bands wanting to do their bit, there just won't be time for the Spice Girls.

"Perhaps, if five or six bands pulled out it would be different,
but the truth is it's just not going to happen."

As they say across the pond, "Bollocks!"

This is why a) People hate pretentious celebrities; b) Brits hate the pretentious BBC.

Make no mistake -- on principle, I hate the Spice Girls. Back in the day, when I was a regular DJ, I never liked playing them. But, the fact is that "the kids" did like them -- and not just the pre-teens either. The mid-20s club-going, bachelorette-party youth that loves dumb pop songs. Furthermore, stunning boor like Robbie Williams is the right "kind of pop act"? Would a Spice Girls reunion have brought even more attention to the "Live 8" show -- more so than yet another likely insufferable performance by Paul McCartney?

Bloody likely.

Oh, and of course, 50 Cent is just "right for this kind of event": I'm sure these (printable for a family-friendly blog) lyrics will warm the cockles of politicians across the world:

You can find me in the club, bottle full of Bud
Mama, I got that X, if you into takin' drugs
I'm into having sex, I ain't into making love
So come give me a hug if you into getting rubbed

Let's take a look at the arguably "non-serious" bands who performed at the 1985 show. In Philadelphia: The Hooters (hometown heroes), Billy Ocean, Rick Springfield, Bryan Adams, REO Speedwagon, Kenny Loggins, Sheena Easton; in London: Adam Ant, Spandau Ballet, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Autograf (yeah, who?) Paul Young, Elton John, Kool & The Gang.

Oh, and Phil Collins made a big deal of using the Concorde to play both venues.

But, "Live 8" has to be more about "message" than "music." Thus, let's have as much preachy stuff from as many over-the-hill "thoughtful" rockers as possible, to let the world know that poverty is bad, BAD I tell you! Oh, and, while we're at it, where did most of the $100 million go from the last Live Aid concert?

Maybe the reason the Spice Girls are not deemed appropriate for the new "Live Aid" is that the title of their biggest hit accurately describes "Sir" Geldof and Co.'s arrogant pretensions to saintly diplomacy: "Wannabe."


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Sunday, May 29, 2005

 

Friday (uh, Long Weekend) Comic Book Blogging

AKA: Remembrances of Things Past

Though I'm off in DC again this weekend (third time in the last five weeks) -- DJ-ing a wedding for the first time in what seems like forever -- I couldn't let more than one week go by without some comic book blogging. Like the first entry, this one is pretty easy: It's the return of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern in a monthly book:



This is significant for several reasons. Even though
DC Comics has been publishing a Green Lantern book for more or less continuously for decades, the character that has occupied the stands for the last decade has, through no fault of his own, long been perceived as a usurper.

Nearly a dozen years ago, DC decided that the Hal Jordan Green Lantern character -- one of the original "Silver Age" creations of the late-50s super-hero revival -- had run its course. Now, the publisher could have done with the hero created around the same time, The Flash, AKA Barry Allen -- given him an honorable death, befitting his stature. The Barry Allen/Flash died trying to save the universe in the classic
Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries twenty years ago.

Instead, DC decided to have Hal Jordan -- who through his career had become the greatest member of the Green Lantern Corps, essentially an international police force -- go insane; absorb all the energy from the Battery that gave Green Lanterns their power; turn him into a cosmic villain called Parallax; and destroy all the other Green Lanterns in the process.

(To partly redeem himself, Parallax
sacrificed himself to save the universe from a cosmic threat and Hal Jordan's spirt was allowed to bond with another character, the avenging ghost called the Spectre -- the psychotic '70s version of this particular character has just been reprinted. Indeed, the decision to bring back Hal Jordan as GL means that DC has finally recognized that this particular creative direction was one of the worst ideas since Marvel brought cloning to Spider-Man in '94, the same year as the Lantern make-over both happened in 1994. Marvel was smart enough to get rid of the clone pretty quickly.)

Meanwhile, a younger man, Kyle Rayner became the sole remaining Green Lantern (except for Alan Scott, the 1940s Green Lantern, who had a completely different backstory). For many reasons, even though Rayner had a certain degree of popularity, he was never accepted as the "new" GL in the same way that Wally West was greeted as the successor to Barry Allen/Flash. For one thing, West had a lengthy career as Kid Flash and was seen as a logical heir. Rayner had no connection to Jordan or other Green Lanterns.

But the main problem with Rayner was that readers saw that there was a true injustice done to Jordan. Everything that happened to him was completely out of character. It would have been like Superman deciding that instead of protecting Earth, he might as well just take it over. The changes didn't fit. Worse, each time DC tried to "fix" what they had done, it just got worse. Kyle Rayner had a good run as an individual creation, but there was alway fan outcry for the return of the "real" Green Lantern.

The recently-completed "Rebirth" mini-series, written by Geoff Johns, accomplished just that. Johns is, in my view, DC best writer of the "traditional" super-hero books. He also writes JSA, Teen Titans, and The Flash. All three series have the common theme of being books that rely on the rich, complicated history of the DC Universe. JSA (Justice Society of America) features characters that harken back to the '40s Golden Age of comics. Teen Titans is an update of the sidekicks of members of the Silver Age Justice League of America. And, as mentioned before, this versio of The Flash is former Kid Flash, Wally West.

Johns is a man who grew up in the '70s and cultivated a great deal of respect for comic book history. He is in many ways the 21st Century
Roy Thomas, the Marvel and DC writer of the '70s and '80s who always had a special fondness for Golden Age characters.

Ironically, the plot twist that Johns uses to bring back Hal Jordan owes much to a Marvel Comics gimmick. In Green Lantern:Rebirth, readers learn that it wasn't the "real" Hal Jordan who became Parallax. Instead, Parallax was an ancient extraterrestrial force that possessed Jordan. In that sense, Parallax became more like the Phoenix force that possessed/transformed Marvel X-man Jean Grey and became responsible for her destroying a universe. In both cases, the "do-over" strained the credibility-factor, but, hey, this is comic books (and Jean Grey is dead...again).


The main point though is that Hal Jordan has been restored as a true hero and not a genocidal maniac with issues.

And, given how many other genocidal maniac "heroes" there are in comic books these days, yes, kids -- that is a good thing.

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