Thursday, December 23, 2004

Merry Christmas!
I'm off to visit various relatives, so I won't be near my computer (hence the early declaration).

God Jul!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)
made the lead paragraph of a NYTimes editorial. How about that? Of course, Kristof says he's "to the right of Attila the Hun." I wasn't aware of Brownback's support of rape, murder, and torture as political devices.

The editorial, though, makes quite an interesting point. Democrats, and liberals in particular, used to be the internationalists of America. They're the people that dragged the U.S. kicking and screaming out of its isolationist tendencies. Messy adventurism abroad has long been a liberal thing: The Korean War started under Truman; Vietnam was brought to a head by Kennedy; World Wars I and II were fought under Wilson and Roosevelt, respectively; Wilson was the champion of the short-lived League of Nations, etc, etc. Republicans, generally, have been more apt to take an "America first" approach to world affairs.

Then, something happened, I'm not sure what, but it's left the left out of the international scene. Look at the rhetoric of Kerry and others during the campaign, and you see a foreign policy of serious seclusion, the kind of statements that Pat Buchanan regulary makes (and when did you ever think the left would start sounding like Buchanan).

Now, the real internationalist fervor is coming from the Christian Right.
Take sex trafficking. Paul Wellstone, the liberal from Minnesota, led an effort with Mr. Brownback and others to pass landmark legislation in 2000 to battle sex slavery around the world. But since Mr. Wellstone's death in 2002, the leadership on the issue has passed to the Christian right and to the Bush administration.

Or Darfur. Conservative Christians have been jumping up and down about Sudan for years because of its repression of Christians. So when Sudan's government launched its genocide in the Darfur region, Democrats were slow to speak out, perhaps perceiving it as a conservative issue.

Then there's North Korea. Democrats have properly lambasted Mr. Bush for his disastrous approach toward North Korea, which has reacted to his policy by turning into a nuclear arms assembly line. But it has been Mr. Brownback and other conservative Christians who have turned the heat on North Korea's human rights record and laid the groundwork for more radio broadcasts to undermine the regime there.
I don't quite share Kristof's surprise that the Christian Right is making moves internationally. Anyone who pays attention to charities will notice that there are many international, faith-based efforts. Lutheran World Relief immediately comes to mind as an example. What we're likely seeing now is that the policymakers are taking what was once left to charitable giving and bringing it to the political realm.
I'm not really sure why, either,
especially now that he's got those three yahoos guest-blogging on his site. Take a look at Sullivan's letters page: His more regular readers don't like them at all:
Could you repost the date of his return? You three are [f******] awful! What navel-gazing gibberish! Wow. Is it possible to ruin his site completely before he returns? Based on the crap you’ve been posting, I’d say YES!
Sounds like a ringing endorsement.
I don't know why Joe keeps reading Andrew Sullivan.
I have taken to reading posts about Andrew Sullivan, like this and this. He's really changed over the past year or so, no doubt.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It's stories
like this that make me respect President Bush all the more:
By the way, we know families of fallen Marines who've been flown to sites where President Bush was speaking. He met with them privately after his event, never any press coverage, and the families have said that - after being given an agenda for their time with the President and being told that he's on a very tight schedule - Mr. Bush talked to every family member as long as they wanted to talk, never hurried anyone, cried with family, hugged everyone and they all felt like he had nothing else to do for the rest of the day but bring comfort to them. For that, George W. Bush has my eternal respect and gratitude. And there was NEVER one word of publicity surrounding any of these meetings with families. (I have pictures to dissuade doubters.)
A damning attack from the Left on Kofi Annan
at OpinionJournal, and it ain't about oil:
But it isn't just the stench of death I remember so vividly; the odor of betrayal also hung heavily in the Rwandan air. This was not a genocide in which the U.N. failed to intervene; most of the U.N.'s armed troops evacuated after the first two weeks of massacres, abandoning vulnerable civilians to their fate, which included, literally, the worst things in the world a human being can do to another human being.

It did not have to happen. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the U.N.'s force commander in Rwanda, sent Mr. Annan a series of desperate faxes including one warning that Hutu militias "could kill up to 1,000" Tutsis "in 20 minutes" and others pleading for authority to protect vulnerable civilians. But at the crucial moment, Mr. Annan ordered his general to stand down and to vigorously protect, not genocide victims, assembled in their numbers waiting to die, but the U.N.'s image of "impartiality."

The outline of this story is well known, but its most important detail is not: Tutsis often gathered in compounds (large church complexes, schools and even stadiums) where they had assumed they would be safe based on implicit, and sometimes explicit, promises of protection by Blue Helmeted peacekeepers. The U.N.'s withdrawal was, therefore, not a passive failure to protect but an active, and lethal, perfidy.
Whether or not the U.N. should have been there in the first place is debateable. But once that commitment was made, once the people of Rwanda believed the debatable was there to protect them, to abandon them was unforgivable.

Read the whole thing.
My wife and son will be pleased:
the next Harry Potter book will be out this summer.
Santa Clause: red-stater or blue-stater (or Canadian)?
The debate is raging. I say he's a libertarian - as far as I know, he doesn't pay taxes.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I'm a fan of MSNBC's Week in Pictures
segment. I try to remember to visit each Friday to see some of the amazing photography. Today (I'm a little behind) I see they've released their Year in Pictures review. As a point of comparison, look through the photos chosen by the editors (lots of war photos, Abu Ghraib) with the readers' choice (mostly nature photos).

Also on today's selection were the faces to watch in 2005 and the has-beens of 2004. Faces to watch include: President Bush, Pope John Paul II, Condi Rice, Vladamir Putin, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Can't really argue with that.

Has-beens include: Howard Dean, Jon Stewart, blogs(?), the blue states, the iPod, and Al Franken. I'll agree with the Franken/Stewart/Dean thing (unless Dean gets the DNC chairmanship), but blogs? Please.
I listen to 99.7KY on my to work in the morning, and the DJ's were making a big deal over the fact that the suspect's screen-name was "Fischer4Kids." Coincidence or further evidence of icy-veins?
The plan for the murder/kidnapping
that so freaked me out was planned for all to see on the Internet. Chilling. (Hat tip: The Corner).

Tangential technical topic (yes, a TTT): How in the cobb did the killer cut the baby out of her mother without hurting her (the baby, that is)? Picture it: she had just strangled a woman, her adrenalin must have been gushing, heart pounding, and yet had the wits to carefully extract an infant from her body. The blood in her veins must be ice cold.

Also, when the killer/kidnapper called and said, "Hey, hon, I went into a labor and had the baby. Yes, it's a beautiful baby girl. No, no need to come to the hospital, just pick me up in the parking lot", why in the cobb didn't the husband think, "Huh? Why would she be released from the hospital in a matter of hours and why would they have her wait for me in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant?"

The New York Post sums it up rather well: "There is no punishment severe enough for this."
Dang, maybe I should get me a blog.
A piece on the power of blogging. The bad news is a blog has to be read to have impact, which means I should write something worth reading. Stink.
NRO doesn't much care for the Lemony Snicket film,
as you can verify from this review. My wife and son saw it and the official review was, "The books are better". I wonder if they would agree with NRO's critique...
Having only seen the first
of the Blade movies, and finding it seriously distasteful, I doubt I'll see the new one. I have read Roger Ebert's review and was surprised that Parker Posey plays the character Danica Talos. Parker Posey? In a vampire movie? I'm sorry, but I'll forever have her associated with Christopher Guest and his mock-umentaries, like A Mighty Wind (where Posey is the too-sunny-for-words Sissy Knox) or Best in Show (where she's the neurotic Meg Swan).

I really can't see her as the queen of the damned.
I know you're dying to find out,
so I'll tell you: Blade: Trinity is not very good. If it wasn't for Berg (Ryan Reynolds, but because of Two Guys and a Girl he'll always be Berg to me), it wouldn't have been worth the large Mr. Pibb.

It was just sooooo silly - and I don't mean ha-ha silly. They stole monstrous facial expressions from Predator and Alien (hmmmm...tie-in to AVP perhaps?), they stole human farming and the watch-me-strike-a-karate-pose-and-beckon-you-with-my-blocking-hand move from The Matrix. There's a scene where Berg fights Triple H (yeah, from the WWF) where I was just waiting for someone to apply a figure-four leg lock. Yes, there were body slams and arm bars. Sorry, no DDTs. And let me tell you, for someone who was supposedly worshipped as a god, Dracula was easy to defeat. If Dracula's so acutely aware of his surroundings that he'd know when an arrow is flying at his back once, why would he fail to sense the second arrow that was loosed by the same shooter from the same place just a few seconds later? Lame. Oh, and they used the F-word way to freakin' much, but perhaps that's my old fuddy-duddiness talking.

At least comic-relief Berg had a few good jokes. The one about the Hello Kitty tattoo had me quite tickled for some reason. I also appreciated some of the names Berg was calling the vampire chick while he was in a more-or-less helpless state, which reminded me of Wesley insulting Prince Humperdink ("you miserable, vomitous mass"), but I suppose that makes another movie from which they stole material. I read a review somewhere (sorry, forgot where) saying that Jessica Biel's part was even better than Berg's, but I don't agree. She looked good, no doubt, but I think she had maybe three lines throughout the whole thing. Not much there there, if you know what I mean.

One last positive thing: as violent as this flick is, it wasn't as freaky violent as the first two. Trinity was also missing the gross-out for grossing-out's sake elements that I remember from the second one. They tried to make this one more of an old-fashioned action flick, except, of course, with vampires. And certainly Blade's utter lack of emotion and the way he'd simply stand around motionless reminded me of The Terminator at times (dang, another movie stolen!).

So, on the lameness scale of 1-10, where 1 is the original Matrix (no hint of lameness) and 10 is Young Einstein (worst. movie. ever.), I'd have to rate Trinity an 8.