Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat

Being a fan of executive power (I mainly ascribe to the Borsi Yeltsin approach [fn1] to congressional relations), I don't quite know how I feel about Mr. Felt, aka Deep Throat. In the end, I suppose Felt did the right thing, after all, Nixon's downfall was not brought about by over-reaching in the exercise of executive power, but by a low and petty stunt. The tragedy that followed (i.e., James Earl Carter) cannot be pinned on Felt -- it remains Nixon's fault. Thank God Reagan rode to the rescue in 1980. Well, I suppose the phrase "Deep Throat" can now be restored to its original cultural meaning:

Saturday, May 28, 2005

America's 44th President?

I really like this idea -- far better than any of the other early contenders:
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This guy's got the chops. . . . and gravitas out the wazoo.

It's Abu Ghraib, Stupid

To listen to the MSM and the political left, the GWoT can be distilled into two words -- Abu Ghraib. In its unceasing effort to ensure that this millstone is never lifted from the neck of America's global image, the ACLU has apparently won the release of yet more pictures. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein -- the same judge who decided it was a 9/11 was foreseeable such that private plaintiffs could sue the airlines over 9/11 and that spammers really aren't such bad folk -- has now determined that too much Abu Ghraib is never enough. ACLU lawyer, Megan Lewis unsurprisingly hopes that the photos will:

"be extremely upsetting and depict conduct that would outrage the American public and be truly horrifying[.]"

Ms. Lewis is herself no stranger to captivity. In August 2001, she was profiled in the Dallas Observer shortly after being released from the pokey, where she served time for a misdemeanor committed during an anti-fur protest at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Lewis found a way to get along:
Megan Lewis had found a novel way to win friends behind bars. A vegan who eats no animal products, the 24-year-old animal-rights protester gained some popularity among her cell mates at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center because she was willing to trade the meat and eggs in her meals for fruit.
This isn't Hellerstein's first foray into Abu Ghraib. In February, Hellerstein ordered the CIA to turn over Abu Ghraib-related documents to the ACLU, despite the government's insistence that (1) the documents were "operational" in nature, and thus exempt from FOIA, and (2) release would compromise national security by detailing intelligence sources and methods.

Sooner or later, there is going to come a day when a line is drawn. To paraphrase Andrew Jackson: "Judge Hellerstein has made his decision, now let him enforce it."

More indignation, of course, over at Free Republic.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Desperate Hours

Last night, I watched William Wyler's 1955 film The Desperate Hours, a noir-ish drama starring Humphrey Bogart as a cagey escaped con and Fredric March as the prototypical buttoned-down 50s-era head of household:

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The film's plot involves Bogart (Glenn Griffin) escaping from prison along with his brother Hal (played by Dewey Martin) and an oafish brute known simply as Kobish (fabulously portrayed by Robert Middleton). We first meet the three cons as they drive through a suburban neighborhood looking for a place to hole up while awaiting a delivery of cash. Glenn settles on the Hilliard household -- home to Dan Hilliard (March), his wife Eleanor (Martha Scott), daughter Cindy (Mary Murphy) and son Ralph(y) (Richard Eyer) -- after seeing the boy's bicycle casually discarded in the front yard: "I like people with kids, they have too much to lose to get cute."

The film centers on the family's experiences over the course of a day-and-a-half with the rogues. Although there is some terrific acting, the movie is basically plot-driven without making much of any larger point (aside from some gratuituous bashing of the police as hard-hearted politically-calculating rubes). Fortunately, the plot is strong and the film is enjoyable from beginning to end. All in all, The Desperate Hours is a fine evening's entertainment.

Paramount's dvd is bare bones -- just the film with subtitle and scene selection options. The film is presented in its original wide screen aspect ratio and the picture, while not top-notch, was more than serviceable in terms of gray-scale, black levels, etc. The sound is stereo and, to my ears, sounded fine.

Ratings (0-5 in .5 increments):

FILM: 3.5

DVD: 3.0 [Picture - 3.0]; [Sound - 3.0]; [Extras - .5]


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Compromise

How do I feel about this? Well, in my experience, when Harry Reid crows of "a victory for democracy," you can be pretty sure it is not. As I've suggested before, the Democratic Party has, not to put too fine a point on it, fuck all to do with democracy. I suppose, though, it is a good thing that we will now get Owen, Pryor, and Rogers-Brown confirmed. Still, the idea of legitimizing the filibuster as a tactical weapon in the confirmation context, which this agreement unquestionably does annoys me to the very core. Why our leadership insist on being reasonable with those who are manifestly faithless (and I mean that not in a spiritual sense) is beyond me. Mark my words -- this deal we'll be shattered with a Democratic interpretation of 'extraordinary' that more than strains credulity. Soon, we'll be right back where we were, though this unfortunate precedent will then stand as an additional obstacle to the President's exercise of constitutional perogative. Peace in our time, eh, guys? We've heard that one before . . .

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The "Nuclear Option"

I have never understood all the fuss about the filibuster and judicial nominations. To me, the issue appears quite simple: The people voted in 2004. The elected President makes judicial nominations, the elected Senate votes to confirm or reject. There is no place for a filibuster intended to prevent the elected majority from governing. The Democrats "minority rights" argument sounds very much as if they are saying elections do not -- and should not -- have consequences in terms of governance. "Even though we lost," they claim, "we are entitled to prevail on important issues as though we won." Seems that, at bottom, the Democrats are just, well, not . . . Push the button already and be done with them.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Newsweek Debacle

For the last 12 hours or so, the blogsphere has been abuzz with comment on Newsweek's Koran desecration story, or, more specifically, Newsweeks admission as to the falsity of that story. As everyone knows, Newsweek's story prompted Muslim riots that left 15 persons dead. I have two thoughts that, given the ubiquity of comment on this issue, have probably, if not certainly, already been contributed.

First, although Newseek deserves deep scorn, it's not the worst offender here. That title goes to the barbarians who would riot and kill over an unconfirmed report that a Koran was desecrated in the context of trying to pry information from savages hell bent on the destruction of countless lives. As I mentioned in a previous post, Muslims are not only permitted to get away with such nonsense, but also are viewed as justified in their nonsensical reactions, by the same idiots who defend the right, indeed, the need, to desecrate the symbols of Christianity (i.e., PissChrist). And, lest there be any doubt, no one would tolerate for a millisecond a Christian uprising in Manhatten that took the lives of several persons in connection with the opening of a sacreligious art exposition. I don't precisely know where I am going with this thought, so I'll conclude it with the simple observation that there is something inherently racist in the double-standard -- a tacit acceptance that the Muslims will kill just as dogs will bite, an acceptance that flows from an deep, and likely unacknowledged, belief that Muslims are closer to the animal than to the human. If one takes a bone from a hungry Rotweiler, one should not complain when one is bitten -- what else would you expect a Rottweiler to do?

Second, Newsweek. Why the outrage? Why the shock? This was as expected as a dog bite. One can't expect Newsweek to have standards -- it's a member of a breed suffering the relentless attack of a superior species. It will fight for its life with this sort of tripe, striking back at its shrinking relevance. This is just another example of why blogs are better -- there is accountability in the blogosphere, there are more and better checks and balances, and, in a couple more years, there will be far better shoe-leather reporting. Indeed, there already is better shoe-leather reporting, just check out Roger Simon on the largely unreported Oil For Food scandal. Ask yourself why you aren't reading such things in Newsweek. Then ask yourself if anyone will be reading Newsweek in five years. I'm bettiing against it, heavily.