Archives for November, 2003

Mini Movie Review

I tried to read Master and Commander once, but it was too full of “tally ho! man the mizzenmast!” and “trim the jibbensail!” for me to understand what the hell was going on. In that respect, the movie’s an improvement over the books, because you can see what’s happening without consulting a nautical dictionary. It also looks terrifically authentic.

However, in all other respects, my guess is the books are far superior. There’s little character development, and, thus, no reason to care about who eats a cannonball or a cutlass. About the most interesting thing about the movie is that Russell Crowe has bloated up to early late-stage Elvis proportions. Since he’s entirely too surly for my tastes (and that’s pretty surly), I’m looking forward to his continuing Brandoization.

If you ask me, it’s high time for another crack at a Flashman movie. I bet these folks would agree.

Posted on Nov 30, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Gushing Rush, Cont.

The 12-step transformation of Rush Limbaugh continues, as El Rushbo increasingly sounds like he was raised on the Free to Be You and Me album:

I did not know how to cry, I really did not know. I had not cried in 30 years, and I’ve been touched more than ever in my life because I finally have learned how to be. I’ve learned how to let myself be touched, and I’m in the process of learning how to touch others – you know, in a personal way, and you all have no idea how instructive you are in showing me that way.

Kids, stay off drugs.

Posted on Nov 30, 2003 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Bah, Humbug

Two related items:

The GOP passes the AARP-backed Medicare bill, giving free pills to the richest age-demographic in the United States, and sticking the rest of us with the tab.

And Rep. Souder prepares to introduce a vital piece of legislation, one that would take F.D.R.’s mug off the dime, and replace it with Reagan’s. Souder explains that the bill would help ensure that “the Reagan legacy of expanding freedom could not be distorted by his enemies.”

This, then, is the legacy of unified Republican government: a tragically unnecessary war, an expanded entitlement state that eats its young, and a whole lot of stuff named after Ronald Reagan. Why stop with the dime? Let’s rename Iraq “Reaganistan.”

Posted on Nov 25, 2003 in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Missing the Point

I don’t like really fat people unless they’re jolly, which fewer and fewer are these days. I confess that I’ve even grown to resent them, because their inability to control themselves will allow latter-day puritans to force changes to the legal system that will affect those of us who can handle our Mexican food responsibly. However, this goes way too far. Inspired by the knowledge that drastic calorie reduction extends the lifespan of laboratory animals, certain Americans have adopted starvation diets, so that they might live to 140, moving their bowels once a week:

Six years ago, Mr. Sherman put himself on the most brutal calorie-reduction plan imaginable. Not that he was especially overweight at 5-foot-5 and 145 pounds. But by switching from pizza and chips to flaxseed, brewer’s yeast and sprouts, he whittled his daily caloric intake to less than 1,600, and dropped his weight precipitously, dumbfounding his friends and family.

“Here was a one-time competitive power-lifter who looked to me like a concentration camp refugee,” said his wife, Kathy, who almost divorced him because of it. In those first two years, Mr. Sherman’s libido disappeared, he was cranky, cold and flatulent all the time, and people suspected he had cancer or AIDS. “Michael’s skin hung off his body like you see on old men,” she said.

Talk about quantity over quality. I picture this guy stepping off the curb at the wrong time, getting hit by a bus, and careening through the air, his last thought the anguished cry “I could’ve had an effing steak!!!” The very thought makes me long for a trans-fat sandwich on carbo-loaf.

Posted on Nov 25, 2003 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

More Patriots

Last night, at the second Ban the Ban pubcrawl to fight the impending D.C. smoking ban, we sold a T-shirt to a pregnant bartender. God bless her.

Posted on Nov 22, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


Batavia bar refuses to pay fines for violating smoking ban.

Posted on Nov 21, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Make My Day, Punks

Sunday night, two blocks from my house, a guy got shot five times in the head. So I’m a little concerned about crime. But I just figured out how I can defend myself without any change in the District’s draconian gun laws. Since supporters of the D.C. smoking ban have informed us that secondhand smoke is lethal–it kills 65,000 Americans a year, don’t you know–from now on I plan to drive off criminal predators by brandishing an unlit cigarette and a lighter.

Posted on Nov 21, 2003 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Gushing Rush

Like many people of my ethnic extraction, I enjoy drinking, perhaps more than is good for me if the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation can be believed (which it generally can’t). There are many reasons to keep that appetite in check: the desire to achieve, the fear of wrecking your health, the fact that hangovers get more unpleasant as you age. But for me, the most powerful reason for moderation is the thought that, should you lose control over your appetites, you may have to join the 12-steppers. And you may be required to gush on about your feelings in a manner undignified enough to embarass any self-respecting drunk.

I speak, of course, of Rush Limbaugh, who returned to the airwaves yesterday, and proclaimed:

“I can no longer anticipate what I think people want and try to give that to them,” he said at another moment. “I can no longer try to live my life by making other people happy. I can no longer turn over the power of my feelings to anybody else, which is what I have done a lot of my life.”

People were quick to invoke our last president when Limbaugh equivocated about his legal troubles. But in the passage above–with its faux-profound therapeutic introspection and its brazen presumption that we give a toss–poor Rush has never been more Clintonian.

Posted on Nov 19, 2003 in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

I Read About Wes Clark So You Don’t Have To

From the New Yorker come these tidbits about the creepy general many Dems and libertarians see as the antidote to Bush:

“Clark, more than any other military officer of his rank, was ready to project power in this murky area that we call peacekeeping, or nation-building, or humanitarian intervention,” says Richard Holbrooke, former UN Ambassador, Clinton’s envoy to Bosnia, and a onetime ally of Clark’s: “For Clark, Kosovo was the logical next step in his liberal interventionist attitude toward the use of force.” Holbrooke later says that the “supreme irony” is that Clark would have been the perfect choice to oversee the nation-building following the Iraq War.

“Liberal interventionist” usually serves as a euphemism for “someone who thinks American soldiers should die for goals that have nothing whatever to do with national security.” That’s certainly the case here–Clark was gung-ho for a ground invasion of Kosovo:

What [SecDef] Cohen hoped for was an intensified air campaign, and a diplomatic solution, which he believed was within reach. Nevertheless, Clark continued to focus on preparations for a ground war, and the plan he ultimately proposed was greeted in Washington with astonishment. “Gallipoli springs to mind,” one defense expert, who made a study of Clark’s plan, says. Clark advocated an invasion of Kosovo with a force of two hundred thousand troops, mostly American. The force would move into Kosovo through Albania, because Macedonia had declared that it would not allow its territory to be used for launching an attack. Aside from the most obvious difficulty with Clark’s plan—that a major American-led ground invasion in the Balkans could not win the support of Congress, the Pentagon, the White House, or nato—there was a real problem regarding Albania. The country was already in chaos, and had almost no infrastructure. There was only one major road, and it was only partly paved, and there were few bridges that could support the mammoth tanks and fighting vehicles of the American Army. If an invasion were to occur on Clark’s time line, which was early autumn, the infrastructure would have to be put in place during the summer.

Oh–and this has nothing to do with Clark, but I just got a kick out of it:

The negotiations went badly. The Albanian Kosovars refused for a time to budge from their position of absolute autonomy, and eschewed the diplomatic niceties. (When Albright flew to Rambouillet in the hope that her presence might help to move things along, the Albanian delegation, working late at night, mistook her for a cleaning woman and told her to go away.)

Posted on Nov 17, 2003 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Secondhand Lies

Various D.C. unions including Washington Metro Labor Council, AFL-CIO, have come out for the Smokefree Workplaces Act. Under a heading reading “the Facts” their press release states that:

Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 65,000 deaths per year in the United States.

Estimated by whom? Raving paranoids? Publicists too lazy to formulate a plausible lie?

That’s more than three times the murder rate in the United States.

It’s also more than 20 times the estimate for secondhand smoke deaths that the EPA came up with–using methodology that got them laughed out of court for using junk science.

Update: I’m informed that the 65,000 figure likely comes from adding the lung-cancer deaths to the highest-upper-bound estimate of heart disease deaths from secondhand smoke in the debunked EPA study. This May 17th study from the British Medical Journal casts further doubt on both estimates.

Posted on Nov 17, 2003 in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Other Video You’ve All Been Looking For

Here’s the surveillance camera footage of the infamous Goose Creek drug raid. Watch public-school kids learn what modern citizenship’s all about.

Posted on Nov 14, 2003 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Grassroots Tyranny

Here’s a story of no great moment, except in so far as it illustrates how the anti-smoking movement helps get many Americans in touch with their inner fascist. There’s a small public housing complex for poor elderly people in De Pere, Wisconsin. Right now, it’s the scene of a tiny battle in the larger war to reduce smokers to the social status of child molesters. The governing board of the complex is considering forcing retirees who smoke out into the Wisconsin cold every time they want a cigarette. In a letter to the housing authority, one tenant begged:

“I smoke in my bathroom with the door closed and the exhaust fan on so as not to impose onto others. So please allow me to smoke in my apartment so I don’t have to move and pay more rent so I can smoke.”

Such pleas get little sympathy:

“There’s not that many that smoke. It’s like a rotten apple in the bushel, one spoils it for the rest of them,” said Jim Quinette, a citizen member of the board. “I’m sorry they have to put a cigarette out. But at that age, what do you need a cigarette for?”

Come again? At that age, what do you not need a cigarette for? Maybe you want one because it may help stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Or maybe you just want it because you’re in the last years of your life, things didn’t work out quite like you expected, and you ended up living in a public housing complex in Wisconsin, and having a cigarette f*cking makes you happy. But in the world we’re constructing, that happiness is as nothing next to the deep glow of satisfaction pinch-souled wretches like Jim Quinette get from forcing you out into the cold for your own good.

Posted on Nov 14, 2003 in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Your Terrifying Thought for the Day

Yet another reason for rueing our invasion of Iraq: in addition to invigorating Al Qaeda’s winter pledge drive, it may have increased the chances of American commercial airliners getting shot out of the sky in the years to come. Writing in Slate, Daniel Benjamin notes that:

By removing the locks from Iraq’s enormous stores of armaments, including “vast, unknown” quantities of anti-aircraft weapons, as Air Force Gen. John Handy, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, put it several months ago, the fighting in Iraq has virtually ensured that some of these arms will wind up in the hands of terrorists who will want to use them outside the current war zone.

For all the (unjustified) focus on so-called WMDs, I’d take an anthrax or VX attack over this threat a dozen times over. And if you think TSA is invasive now, imagine when it gets to extend its perimeter in a several-mile radius around every major airport in the country. I can see “Constitution-Free-Fly-Zones” patrolled by National Guardsmen with search and arrest authority anywhere close to where planes take off and land.

Posted on Nov 11, 2003 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Well, At Least They Weren’t Being Homeschooled

Surveillance video from Stratford High School in Goose Creek [South Carolina] shows 14 officers, some with guns drawn, ordering students to lie the ground as police searched for marijuana. Students who didn’t comply with the orders quickly enough were reportedly handcuffed.

Hat tip to Alan Gura.

Posted on Nov 7, 2003 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

It Can Happen Here

If you’re interested in information on the impending smoking ban in D.C., I urge you to visit Ban the Ban’s website, which goes live today.

Posted on Nov 6, 2003 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments