Thursday, September 16, 2004

Mushroom Mushroom

James Lileks:

Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather BURKETT! BURKETT! Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather Rather FAAAKE! IT’S A FAKE! IT’S A FAAAAKE
This man is my hero.

Ahh, a faaake! Ahh, it's a faaake!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Leno on Politics

As I was typing the previous post, I began thinking why it was that I hadn't blogged much recently. True, I just got back from vacation and I've been tired and busy, but I think above all, I didn't have anything that I really felt I wanted to comment on. Of course the story of the moment is CBS News' incompetence and arrogance, and I'm enjoying it, but there's so much to it that it's futile for me to spend the time trying to summerize it when you can simply go to the guys who are making the news, Power Line, Hugh Hewitt, LGF and the guys who are collecting all the various details, Instapundit and the Corner. So look through those blogs for good coverage of Rathergate. Anyway, this is all a long way of saying I came across something that triggered my writing reflex.

Drudge has a story about Jay Leno's politics where he gives an interview about it to an LA Weekly writer who had previously criticised him for introducing Arnold and letting him announce his candidacy on The Tonight Show. Leno comes off as a pretty decent and fair guy. He seems to be one of the genuine liberals who's more concerned about Supreme Court judges than the foaming-at-the-mouth "RARRGH $%^&*#^&! BU5H h8!" type that seems to personify most of the Hollywood Left these days. What I found most revealing about this interview, though, is what a lefty the writer conducting it is. Leno had to steer her away from nonsense occasionally.

Here are my thoughts on some of the Q&A.

You get a good clue as to the writer, Nikki Finke's, ideology right off the bat when she quotes a previous column applauding Letterman for "presenting Dubya in all his dumb-ass glory." Arrogance, thy name is Hollywood. (Or Rather, depending on whom you ask.)

Finke tells Leno it was "inappropriate" for him to MC Arnold's victory party and that it "hurt his objectivity." First of all, who is Finke to say what is appropriate and what isn't when it comes to political speech? Leno explained that Arnold is just a friend anyway. I wonder if Finke called the Kerry party featuring the vulgarities and Bush hatred of Whoopi Goldberg and others "inappropriate?" Furthermore, who ever said Leno had to be objective? He's not a newscaster. Leno, though, has the correct answer in saying he's just a comedian and it's his job to get laughs. Equal-opportunity joker. Well, less so than South Park which is the real objective standard for taking on any and all comers, in my opinion. But still, I think Leno does a good job.

Finke complains about Leno allegedly "bashing Clinton" as if he was still in office. Leno, appropriately, responds that he's just making a sex joke. Leno doesn't say it, but I think he only is making Clinton jokes because Clinton is in the news. Clinton doesn't ever go away! Besides, when Clinton's doctor says that he's "sedated but arousable" how can you not take that and run out the door with it?

Then Finke gets all indignant about "bashing Teresa," but ome on, this woman makes her own punchlines, just like her husband. Again, Leno has the right answer when he says it's just a rich joke. Teresa is rich and she acts like it. Republicans take flak for being wealthy all the time. The left can dish it out, but they can't take it, even when it comes to jokes. Leno has picked up on this, too, and outright says later in the interview that Democrats are just not good sports about jokes.

Finke presses Leno for a joke "denigrating" Laura Bush. Why is she so desperate for that? Laura Bush just doesn't have anything about her that's common knowledge that lends itself to humor. Teresa does.

The best answer from Leno comes when Finke asks him about the French jokes. Leno:

Well, there’s nothing funnier to me than the French. The French Resistance is probably the biggest mythical joke that ever existed. There were four guys in the French Resistance. They couldn’t hand over the Jewish people fast enough. Oh, please, don’t tell me about the French. The French have all sorts of secret deals with Saddam and everybody else for two cents a liter. It’s an easy target.
Leno then gets Finke to reveal her thinking on Bush and Kerry by making a joke about Bush's intelligence. When she laughs he observes, "Oh, see, now that’s your kind of joke. If I did that joke about Kerry..." She interrupts him saying, "But Kerry's not stupid." Congratulations, Nikki Finke, you win the Media Groupthink award for the day. Well, actually, as we're still waiting for some foot-in-mouth memo from CBS News, I shouldn't be too hasty, but let's run with it anyway. Finke is displaying exactly the meme that runs through the media that Rush and Ann Coulter are always pointing out: conservatives are stupid and ignorant, but liberals are enlightened, nuanced, and brilliant. Reagan was stupid, Clinton was brilliant, Bush is stupid, and Kerry is intelligent. I honsetly have a hard time believing that someone who shoots himself in the foot almost everytime he opens his mouth is all that brilliant. How much intelligence does it take to tell an audience exactly what they want to hear? It takes intelligence to reconcile the opposing views you gave to auto workers one week and environmentalists the next. The problem is, Kerry's really bad at it.

Leno does venture into liberal condescension territory when he says that talk radio is all conservative because conservatives need to hear their views reinforced and liberals don't. That's stupid on it's face. People of like ideologies enjoy hearing others articulate views they agree with, not because they require that reinforcement, but because everyone has different ways of expressing those view and everyone has a slightly different take. That's why I like my radio line-up of Rush, Hannity, and Hugh Hewitt. They all have different approaches and different thoughts on the issues of the day. Liberals like to hear people of the same ideological stripe just as much as conservatives do, otherwise Michael Moore would not be as popular as he is. Liberals lined up by droves to see his movie, just like they did to buy Clinton's book. The actual reason talk radio is mostly right is because it's the main place conservatives can get the conservative side of the story. Liberals don't need to seek a place like that out because they get what they want from ABCNNBCBS. But really, how many more times does that need to be explained? Everyone should know this answer by now.

Unsurprisingly, Leno's writers are all Democrats. I notice Finke doesn't wonder if that hurts Leno's objectivity. Finke then complains that this White House doesn't laugh at themselves though that's obviously untrue if you've ever seen the White House Correspondants' Dinner. Leno had another great response:
The interesting thing is, I have found that the Republicans respond much more to jokes about themselves than the Democrats do. Democrats take it very, very seriously. You know, when Al Gore was here in 2000, we said we want to do this bit, and then it was, “Can we run it past our people?” “Can we make these changes?” Then the day of the show, “We’re going to pass.” Bush shows up. We had a bit where we’re playing Jeopardy, and he’s going to look kind of stupid. But then, in the end, the joke’s on me. “Yeah, fine, whatever you want.” It couldn’t have been easier.
Liberals can dish it out, but they can't take it.

Finke is horrified that something from Leno's monologue was featured on Drudge, but so what? It's a place to get stories from. I'm sure she wouldn't have any problem with Leno getting material for jokes from CBS News, but they've been revealed to be just as or more partisan than Drudge.

Finke then goes on to complain about Republican spin in the media. No fair-minded person can really seriously entertain the notion that the media runs with Republican spin anymore in this post-Bias, post-Jayson Blair world. Of course, Finke doesn't seem like she's really paid attention to much in politics outside the trendy statements bantied about at Hollywood cocktail parties: "The media seems to only present the Republican spin and to not present the other side of what’s going on."

I found the story about Leno and Michael Moore very interesting. We all knew Moore is paranoid, but Moore himself seems to freely admit it. That might explain "The 122 Minutes Hate" because only a paranoid could believe that level of tin-foil conspiracy. Apparently Moore was mad about leno making a joke about Bush blowing up his house. Moore doesn't have any problems attributing all sorts of evil motives to the president, but he gets upset about a joke about a fictious retaliatory strike on his house? Again, liberals can't take it. And it's not just humor. They can't take it when they're held to account for their record; that's mean spirited. You can't question their positions on defense policy; that's calling them unpatriotic. You can't point out their politicization of the war; that's politicizing the war.

Again, this interview really said much more about the interviewer's politics than Leno's, but I found it entertaining anyway. Kudos to Leno for being such a straight-shooter. Other comedians could learn a lot.

Quotes of the Day

I apologize for the lack of blogging. I've been rather busy so far this week. But, that doesn't mean that others aren't blogging, so for entertainment purposes (do not attempt to use them to fly) here are two of the best quotes I've seen today:

"I love the CBS News forged-document story.... If this story were hot fudge, I would smear it all over my body and then roll around in nougat." - Jonah Goldberg

I'm enjoying that story, too, but not quite that much.

Also, in reference to the return of Marion Barry to DC politics:

"My favorite comment in the Post coverage was not Barry's remark that his victory was also a 'victory. . . for God,' but rather that of one of his supporters, who said, 'He's just like Jesus.' Except for the bit about getting caught in a cocaine sting with a hooker." - Ramesh Ponnuru

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Assualt Weapons Ban

I am sick of the New York Times and the adds run in there about the assault weapon ban which expires very soon. The adds accuse president Bush of not doing anything to help renew the ban. The first day I saw this add I was enraged and went to check out how accurate it is. With a cousin in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) I do not like the idea of 9 assault type weapons freely offered in stores. These types of guns are clearly favored by criminals and there is no one else who would dare use them. I firmly believe the right to bear arms and think American citizens should be able to own hand guns and hunting rifles. I do not see the need however for an American to have an AK-47. With regards to Bush the reason he choose not to do anything about the ban is because it is widely shown that both republicans and democrats want it to expire. It sickens me that a law that has so many clear and obvious benefits will be left to die over NRA funding. We will be allowing funds to pour in for assault weapons that will not improve safety on our streets and put the lives of law enforcement in danger. I hope our politicians wake up soon and do something about this growing threat and help to defend the people from domestic killers as well as foreign.

CBS' Sinking Ship

If you haven't been following the CBS forged documents story, you're missing the Old Media crumbling before your eyes, and you should go right now to read about it. I'm too tired to go into detail here, but the gist of it is that running interference for the Kerry campaign 60 Minutes breathlessly reported documents purporting to show that Bush disobeyed a direct order in his National Guard days. However, within a day the documents were shown to be pathetic forgeries thanks to the combined power of the blogosphere and talk radio.

I haven't had the chance to read everything about it myself, but Power Line lead the charge and reading their whole site from the last few days is highly instructive. Here's a TCS piece that has a very good summary of what's going on. Instapundit has a bunch of posts, and Little Green Footballs had no trouble showing just how bad the forgeries really are. Hugh Hewitt also did his part, and Sean Hannity removed any doubt by interviewing the closest relatives of the two main players and revealing that CBS interviewed them and decided to ignore their statements because they didn't fit the pre-written story. You can still get a stream of Friday's show, and I highly recommend it.

Never Forget

This weekend marks three years since the indescribable horror and evil of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The images are still hard to look at and the sounds are still hard to hear, but we must continue to see and hear them, lest we forget what was done to us, the murder of 3000 civilians, the heroism and the sacrifice of that day's heroes, and the grief of a nation. It was the defining event for the new era we find ourselves in, and it was the day we finally understood that we were at war.

I was greatly disappointed by what appeared to be a lack of programming about 9/11 on TV today. I'm not sure the major networks even carried the ceremonies at Ground Zero, in Arlington National Cemetary, and in Shanksville, PA. I had to turn on C-SPAN to catch the president's address, and even he didn't go to any of the sites today. he really should have, but something tells me he refrained from doing so because he would have been attacked for "politicizing 9/11." The man is president for God's sake, he should be there.

College football was the order of the day, though. Not that that's necessarily bad; it's a nice way to show that we can still live our lives, but the complete lack of primetime programmig was appalling. I know for a fact CBS has that powerful documentary it made, but for some reason didn't see fit to air, even during the day. I think the US Open was what they had on their plate (in addition to glossing over the hacks in their news division). Sadly, the best coverage I saw was on CNN, A&E, and ESPN of all places. CNN had an hour-long retrospective, told from the perspective of its staffers and anchors about what they saw that day, interspersed with media clips. Not bad, but I just can't feel that much emotion from Aaron Brown. I'm sure Fox News did something, but of course I couldn't see it. Their retrospectives have been excellent in the past. Not that CNN's wasn't good. I learned some new things about that day that I didn't know. For example, that Bush was at Ofutt Air Force Base, in Omaha, Nebraska, for some time that day. I recalled him going to Barksdale in Louisiana, but I didn't know he was at a command center at Strategic Air Command (in Ofutt) afterwards. Also striking was one of the CNN people saying that the Flight 93 passengers voted on their decision to strike back. True Americans, through and through.

The History Channel had a documentary about the World Trade Center itself that I missed. I wish they'd played it again instead of Band of Brothers all day. However, they did have a fascinating show about the hunt for Bin Laden, with more evidence about how treating terrorism as a law enforcement problem only made things worse. Also notable was confirmation that the Clinton administration turned down a chance to get Bin Laden for legal reasons, that the operation in Tora Bora was botched, that a DOD leak to the Washington Times blew any further chance of intercepting communications from him, and that Bin Laden's initial anger at the United States was over US troops on Saudi soil, which was thanks to none other than Saddam Hussein. An anonymous CIA analyst had the key line, "War by nature is a messy business and doesn't lend itself to District Attorneys."

A&E had a good documentary made from the home videos taken that day and interviews with the people who made them. I definitely recommend giving it a look. It's called "Seven Days in September." One especially eerie scene was a woman living in Brookly video-taping the towers buring as she picked up papers from Cantor Fitzgerald and Morgan Stanley. Another had one of the amateur filmmakers walking down a street and passing NY firefighter putting stuff in his truck. It was clear the guy had just come out of the World Trade Center. The documentarian asked him something like, "How did you run in there? What were you doing." The guy looked at the camera and said, "I was doing my job."

Later on in the show, as they got to the days after, one of the filmmakers happened upon a big crowd in Union Square. Some America-hater had written something afwul about the American flag on the ground, and people surrounded it and stmped it out. Of course, the leftists came out to cry about free speech and a large argument ensued. I was struck by how soon after the attacks the peaceniks and America-haters crawled out from their sewers. However, later in the scene, was something that was nice to see. Two people who had been arguing eventually got to the point where they said, "What are we supposed to do now?" and cried and hugged each other.

And yet I have to say the most moving retrospective I saw actually aired yesterday on ESPN's The Headlines. For its 25th anniversary, ESPN has been running a series of shows that examine the headlines of the last 25 years that at some point "jumped off the sports page and landed on the front page." Of course, September 11th was an event that transcended everything and they did a show about its impact on the sports world. But the first 10 minutes of the show was dedicated to what happened that day, splicing together some of the actual news reports and footage from 9/11; it's very powerful.

I must say, though, that the Pentagon and Flight 93 didn't get as much attention as they're due. Certainly Flight 93 deserves more focus. 9/11 is really about the whole day, though New York clearly suffered the worst and the most dramatically. I still think the best song about that day is "Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley. It really cuts to the heart of why we can't forget, and I think the other events of that day are in danger of being forgotten, so here are some relevant stanzas:

Have you forgotten?
All the people killed? Yes, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field.
Have you forgotten?
About our Pentagon? All the loved ones that we've lost and those left to carry on?

Have you forgotten?
Of course, there are many better places in the blogosphere for thoughts on that day and I can only scratch the surface of what's worth reading. Cox and Forkum never forget, and they have a series of cartoons that focus like a laser on what happened and where we are today. Glenn Reynolds has two posts which include links to this memorial video and this excellent piece about what the Europeans are forgetting. Reynolds also links to a wonderful piece by (who else?) James Lileks written on the anniversary last year. Read it. Charles Johnson also has a good post. Just go down the list on the right. It's all good today.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the useful idiots and outright friends of evil have also reared their ugly faces today. First, Glenn Reynolds links this desecration of a 9/11 memorial from his MSNBC column. Then, and the only way to describe it is appallingly vile, is this thread over at the Democratic Underground that LGF rightly exposes. Read it if you want to feel like going out and punching some hippie protester in the face.

I'm Back

That was quite the road trip. We drove from Colorado to Minnesota and then back through South Dakota and Wyoming. We wound up, unintentionally, on a sort of capitol tour, staying in Lincoln, St. Paul, Pierre, and Cheyennne and driving through Des Moines and Denver. I also added a couple states that I'd never been to before: Iowa and Montana. We visited Ft. Kearney, Nebraska, De Smet, South Dakota (homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House books), Devils Tower in Wyoming, and the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana. On the way back, we had car trouble in Wyoming and had to stay overnight in Cheyenne while the shop ordered a part from Denver. Thus is life in parts of the West...

All in all a nice break, though. I managed to stay on top of news as best I could by listening to Laura Ingraham, Rush, and Hannity when I could catch them. On the other hand, I also got to watch Fox News in most of the hotel rooms. Another bonus was getting to stop in South Dakota GOP Headquarters in Pierre and scoring some "Dump Daschle" bumperstickers. Here's the executive summary:

Highlight: The fascinating history at the Wilder Homestead.
Lowlight: The shower made for Pygmies in the St. Paul hotel. Having low showerheads should be a criminal offense.