Thursday, August 31, 2006

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Rock and Roll Morality

I must have written on this before (but I can't find it in the archives); and I'll do so in a better forum and just link back to this as an example. Anyhoo, in brief, Rock n'Roll has never been considered a 'high' musical form and the heavier the metallic sound, and the more sexualized the veneer of the band, the less respect the artists will receive. On the lowest end of all of these lists would be the band 'KISS.' I remember these bozos back in the 70s and while I thought they looked interesting, even back then I though they were more hype than talent. And I was 7 years old. It was only into the 80s that I learned the lead singer, Gene Simmons, was Jewish; which only served to embarrass me, not give me ethnic pride in 'one of our boys doing good.'

But in recent, and more mature, years I understand the shades of morality that make easy determinations suspect. This story from Haaretz in 2006 is a good case in point (alas, the story is no longer at the link): Israeli-born 'KISS' rocker Gene Simmons sends get-well video to wounded soldier.

Basically, Simmons heard that one of the soldiers wounded in Lebanon was a KISS fan, so he sent him a personally made video to cheer him up.

So, for the morality scale, does this act of righteousness - selflessly given and in defiance of world opinion on Israel and the Lebanon War - out balance Simmons's many sins against decency? Kinda.

I still don't wish to hold Simmons, or KISS, up as examples of good taste, good music, or good morals. But Simmons has complicated those computations. Someone who is an over-sexed freak - whose major crimes/sins are carnal - also knows who is a good person, good nation, and will do good acts.

And, to further the point, I've been trying to compile a list of which artists/bands support Israel and which ones don't. Support, for my list, can just mean playing in Israel (e.g. Deep Purple played in Tel Aviv back in the 90s, so they're on the good list). When I finish the list, I'll post it. And I'm sure we will have further complications on the good-sinful calibration scale.

Backpost finished 4/12/08, I had just the link. Background: This is another Lebanon II era post, but it combines with another issue I have about morality and art.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Senator Allen's Weirdness

I have no real opinion about Senator Allen's strange behavior, Macaca-gate as it were. A story from the Washington Post: highlights a new wrinkle for me (emphasis added):

"With the video of Allen's remarks available around the globe via and other Web sites, the Virginia controversy became one of the most blogged-about topics on the Internet, according to the Technorati Web site, which tracks entries on 51.3 million blogs."

51 million blogs?! And here I thought I was one-in-a-million...

GOP Imploding All Over

Despite the Democrats' best efforts to Lamont-Up their chances, David Broder reports the GOP is doing itself far worse: For the GOP, a Heartland Plunge

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good News for Lieberman

From today's New Haven Register: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced that Lieberman, who is expected to caucus with the Democrats if he wins as an independent, will maintain his seniority."

That shows that Reid is trying to help Joe without overtly tacking on the wacko might of the 'netroots.' Joe's best selling point to CT is his seniority, experience, and non-wack-ed-ness

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dodged the Dell Bullet

Whew! Check your computer here: Dell Battery Return Program

A More "Optomistic" Take

While it's necessary to read Debka with healthy skepticism, their summary article of the aftermath of this stage of the Second Lebanon War is important in its perspective: Tehran Takes Gloomy View of the Lebanon War and Truce

The key point is that the IDF may have had a different goal than the People did. The IDF needed to destroy Hezbolla as an army while the people wanted them destroyed as a terror group. The terror capability still exists, mainly because any bunch of crazies with guns can sucessfully hold a country in the grip of terror.

But Debka breathlessly suggests, and its confirmed by bits here and there in the news, that Hezbolla's five year stockpile has been seriously damaged. And the major armaments and infastructure has been destroyed.

The most frightening tool of Hezbolla were their Iranian supplied long range missiles - intended to be used against Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and [drum roll] the Dimona nuclear power plant.

The idea was for Hezbolla to be the front-line/first-strike/less-filling/tastes-great of the Iranian army. Were Israel to attack the Iranian nuclear facilities, Hezbolla was to strike back in kind. Now they can't.

And, to make you feel good, the long range Iranian missiles would likely have nuclear tips in a few years

The lesson? Don't take your lessons from enemy propaganda If these people lie constantly; if they depict us as bloodthirsty civilian targeters; then why should we believe them after the truce is declared?

This is besides the fact that our enemies believe a cease fire = victory; who believe that death is good (so our ceaesing, to save lives, becomes a sign of weakness); who will say they won even with the knife to their throat... we need remind ourselves constantly of reality.

Our enemies succeeded, through evil and deception, to convince the world that Israel was the culprit instead of the victim. Don't let them convince us that a success was a failure as well.

This is notwithstanding the significant losses on the Israel side; the massive damage to life, property, and well-being; and the soldiers are still captive - I know, I know - but the above Debka-fuelled point is trying to stress that this is not a total uff-puck

Monday, August 14, 2006

More Casualties

From Haaretz:

Eliel Ben-Yehuda, 24, from Kfar Tavor
Eliel Ben-Yehuda was killed in Lebanon on Sunday by an anti-tank missile. He was born 24 years ago at Kfar Tavor while the family was observing the seven days of mourning for his uncle, who was killed in the first Lebanon War. He recently was released from the professional army and took a trip to South America where he met his girlfriend. After his return, he began preparing for the university entrance exams, but was called to the reserves. When the officers arrived with the bad news Sunday, his mother refused to open the door, saying she didn't believe anything could happen to Eliel. He is survived by his parents, a sister and brother.

Ben-Yehuda will be laid to rest at 5.30 P.M. Monday at the military section of the Kfar Tavor cemetery.

Lieutenant Tzur Zarhi, 27, from Nahalal
Lieutenant Tzur Zarhi was killed in Lebanon on Sunday. He was born and raised in Nahalal, in the Jezreel Valley. He served in the Armored Corps as a platoon captain.

"He was about to finish his degree in economics and management at Jezreel Valley College," Tzur's girlfriend Yael related Sunday. "He was a dairy farmer, the cowshed was his world and the Armored Corps was the other half of his world." Tzur spoke to Yael for the last time on Saturday night, when he told her that he realized this was a real war, and now he and the guys would have stories like their parents did.

Tzur is survived by his parents and two younger sisters. He will be laid to rest at 6.00 P.M. Monday at the military section of the Nahalal cemetery.

Sergeant Major Guy Hasson, 24, from Na'ama
Sergeant Major Guy Hasson was killed in Lebanon on Sunday by an anti-tank missile.

He will be buried at 6.00 P.M. Monday at the Mt. Herzel cemetery in Jerusalem.

Staff Sergeant (res.) Amitai Yaron, 44, from Zichron Yaakov

Staff Sergeant Peter Ochotzky, 23, from Lod

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Doctored Photos

Finally one mainstream newspaper is taking a hard look - Lebanon photos: Take a closer look - Los Angeles Times

Obituaries for some of the fallen

From Haaretz:

Staff Sergeant. Uri Grossman, 20, of Mevasseret Zion
Staff Sergeant. Uri Grossman, 20, was killed by an anti-tank missile in a major ground offensive in southern Lebanon on Saturday. He was the son of David Grossman, a renowned novelist and peace activist in Israel, and he was killed just three days after the author publicly urged the government to end the war with Hezbollah guerrillas. Grossman's appeal to the government on Thursday came a day after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Security Cabinet approved the plan for the new offensive.

Yossi Abutbul, 20, from Gan-Ner
Yossi Abutbul from the community of Gan-Ner, near Afula, fought with the Golani Brigade. He was injured in the first week of fighting in Lebanon last month and could have chosen to recuperate at home but instead returned to fight alongside his comrades. He told his parents he was going for R&R when he was actually returning to Lebanon.

Abutbul was brought up in an ultra-Orthodox home but chose to join the Israel Defense Forces.

He was the oldest of seven. Yossi's father worked for the IDF before his retirement and became ultra-Orthodox several years ago.

Abutbul was laid to rest at 5 P.M. Sunday in the Afula military cemetery.

Corporal Tamer (Tomer) Amar, 19, from Julis

Corporal Tamer (Tomer) Amar, 19, served with Golani's Battalion 51. He was killed Saturday in Lebanon when an Israel Defense Forces tank crushed him and another soldier by mistake.

Adi Amar, a close friend, said that Amar was ambitious and serious, but also lively. "He was always smiling and liked helping friends, riding horses and taking hikes."

Amar joined his unit in Lebanon despite a recent shoulder injury. "He was very sad when comrades fell in battle at Bint Jbail and despite receiving medical leave he asked to return to his unit to fight," Adi Amar said.

Amar was laid to rest at 2.30 P.M. Sunday.

Corporal Ya'ar Ben-Giat, 19, from Kibbutz Nahsholim
Corporal Ya'ar Ben-Giat was killed Saturday in a battle against Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

Ben-Giat was the oldest son of Eera and Yossi. His mother, Eera, related Saturday that despite being defined as a gifted child in elementary school, Ya'ar much preferred basketball, playing computer games and going out with his friends to studying.

Last week he called home and told the family to be sure to watch the latest broadcast of "Fact," which would contain a segment about his Nahal unit.

In addition to his parents, Ben-Giat is survived by sister Nof, 16, and Nahar, 18. The funeral took place at 6:30 P.M. Sunday.

Staff Sergeant Itai Steinberger, 21, from Carmei Yosef
Itai Steinberger, 21, was killed Friday night in Lebanon. Last week he was interviewed for an article in the Friday magazine of Ma'ariv. "Whiskey, a woman, and a cigarette, that's the only thing I miss now," he announced, the unofficial spokesman for his unit.

Saturday afternoon, dozens of friends converged on the family home in Carmei Yosef.

Arik, Itai's father, stands at the doorway with reddened eyes. A visitor shows him recent pictures of his son from the army and tells him that Itai was the star among his fellow soldiers and was always full of joie de vivre even in the hell of Lebanon. The father also heard how Itai shielded his parents from the fact that three of the soldiers in his unit had already been injured.

Arik said he had not spoken to Itai since Tuesday.

Friends smile, relating how Itai would take up his guitar at night, strumming with one hand and drinking whiskey with the other and ordering them to stay up late with him.

Itai's younger brother, Yonatan, just finished basic training in the Paratroops and would now spend his leave in mourning. They spoke for the last time last Friday.

"I haven't changed my shoes for a week," Itai boasted to Yonatan. "And I haven't changed mine for two weeks," the new soldier boasted in return. "By the time you've been in the army as long as I have, I'll be barefoot and in India," Itai joked.

Sergeant Yaniv Tamerson, 21, from Zippori
Sergeant Yaniv Tamerson, 21, volunteered for combat service with the Armored Corps despite back problems that could have kept him out of combat duty. "He had to feel that he was making a contribution," his family said Saturday. Tamerson was drafted 18 months ago and loved the army. He completed a tank commanders' course three weeks ago, after which he began preparing to fight in Lebanon. He was killed one day after going into Lebanon.

Tamerson is survived by his parents and two brothers. He lived with his mother in Zippori. The funeral will probably be held Sunday.

Sergeant Tzachi Krips, 20, from Kibbutz Hama'apil
Sergeant Tzachi Krips enlisted in the army in November 2004 to an elite Nahal unit. He later completed a medics course. His company went up to Lebanon three weeks ago.

His older sister, Romy, said he had a heart of gold and always helped people.

Eliran Shafran, a childhood friend who grew up with Krips on the kibbutz, said he had always volunteered in school. He noted that Krips was editor of the senior yearbook.

Krips is survived by his parents and two sisters. He was laid to rest at 6:30 P.M. Sunday.

Captain Shai Bernstein, 24, from Be'er Sheva
Shai Bernstein, killed in an IDF operation in south Lebanon on Saturday, was the youngest of his siblings.

His family said that he had recently proposed to his girlfriend of six years, Sivan.

Bernstein graduated from the technical high school in Be'er Sheva, and was enrolled in a pilots course for six months, but then decided that he wanted to be a combat soldier, quit the course, and joined the Armored Corps. He later completed an officers course.

"He was my younger brother, but I admired him as an adult figure," his brother said about him.

Avital Gefen, Bernstein sister, said she had spoken to him on Friday and he had asked her to reassure his mother. "He loved his nephews, and even though he was a company commander, he played with them like a kid," she said.

Bernstein is survived by his parents, Ella and Shlomo, two brothers and a sister.

Staff Sergeat Aharon Yechezkel, 32, from Kfar Yedidya
Friends and family arrived at the Yechezkel residence in Kfar Yedidya on Saturday afternoon to mourn Staff Sergeat Aharon Yechezkel. Everyone who knew him said he was good-hearted and kind to those around him.

His uncle, Mordechai Yechezkel, said he had been very concerned ever since Aharon was sent to Lebanon three weeks ago.

"I talked to him during the week, and I was very worried about him. 'You are very tall and you have to hide so as not to stick out, so stay low,' I said to him. He told me that he wasn't scared, and that he hoped to attack terrorists and return safely," Mordechai said.

Yechezkel is survived by his parents and two sisters. He was laid to rest at 5 P.M. Sunday.

Recent Casualties

The 24 Israel servicemen killed in action against Hizballah in Lebanon Saturday, August 12

- 1st Sgt. Uri Grossman, 20, from Mevaseret Zion
- 1st Sgt Ido Grabovsky, 20, from Rosh Ha’ayin
- Capt. Shay Bernstein, 24, from Beersheba
- 1st Sgt Itay Steinberger, 21, from Carmei Yosef
- Cpl Yaar Ben Giyat, 19, from Nahsholim
- Sgt Yosef Abutbul, 19, from Gan Ner
- 1st Sgt Tzahi Kripps, 20, from Hamaapil
- Sgt Ankonina, 21, from Netanya
- Cpl Tomer Amar, 19, from Julis
- Sgt Yaniv Tamerson, 21, from Tzipori
- Sgt-Maj Aharon Yehezkiel, 32, from Kfar Yedidya
- 1st Sgt Amsha Meshulami, 20-, from Ofra
- Sgt Juan Zabiv, 22, from Tel Aviv
- Capt. Bnaya Rein, 27, from Karnei Shomron
- 1st Sgt Adam Goren, 21, from K. Maabarot
- Sgt. Alexander Bohemovitch, 19, from Netanya
- 1st Gt. Oz Zemach, 20, from Maccabee-Re’ut
- Sgt. Haran Lev, 20, from from Maayan
- Sgt. Dan Brauer, 19, from Beit Hillel
- Cpl Yigael Nissan, 19, from Maaleh Adummim
Five Yasur crew shot down by Hizballah declared dead and missing:
- Maj. Ami Naim, 29, from Rehovoth
- Maj. Nissan Shalev, 36, from Evron
- Capt Daniel Gomez, 25, from Nahalim
- Master Sgt. Ron Mashiach, 33, from Gedera
- Sgt Maj Karen Tendler, 26, from Rehovoth, the first servicewoman to fall in the Lebanon War

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Anti-Zionism = Anti-Semitism Debate, Exhibit 3 billion

There is a larger conversation going on whether you can be Anti-Zionist without being Anti-Semitic. However, it must be understood that for many Anti-Zionists, the two are synonymous. To attack Israel, they attack Jews (cf. the Seattle shooting, Mel Gibson).

The most recent example is from a group of Turkish hackers who broke into the Yeshiva University website:

Hackers protesting the Israel-Lebanon war broke into Yeshiva University's Web site yesterday and changed the content to read "Lebanon-israel ... STOP!" with images of injured civilians.

And, in case you don't feel safe enough:

The hacker claimed to have downloaded sensitive information from the university, but said that he would not use it.

15 Soldiers Killed

From Haaretz

Captain Gilad Shtukelman, 26, from Tamrat
Gilad Shtukelman was informed that he had gotten an immediate call-up notice while in New York. In recent years, he was employed as a flight attendant for El Al, and received word of the call-up while abroad.

"Gilad made sure that El Al put him on a flight two days early, so that he could return to Israel as quickly as possible to report for reserve duty," Tamrat resident Orit Messer-Harel said. "He loved life and loved music. He was a generous boy," she said.

Gilad was a graduate of the high school in Nahalal and served in the armored corps. After completing his military service, he traveled in South America. When he returned to Israel, he began work as a flight attendant with El Al. Next year, he planned to study economics and East Asian studies.

When he reported for reserve duty, his mother Rachel tried to help soldiers in his battalion. She and neighbors from Tamrat prepared food packages, which they sent to soldiers on the Lebanese border.

Staff Sergeant Benny (Benjamin) Sela, 24, from Koranit
Benny Sela completed his military service in the paratroopers two years ago, and was killed during his first call up to reserve duty. Last Monday he visited his family for one day, which was the last time they saw him.

"I had a feeling that was our last meeting. I knew what his role in the military was. It was obvious that he was going into Lebanon. Beforehand, he told me that they lacked military equipment and that they gathered money and drove to Tel Aviv to buy supplies for their friends. I asked him, 'Ben, what about a bullet proof vest. I'm going to buy you a bullet proof vest now.' I called a company that manufactures the vests, but he said to me, 'Mom, I don't want. I'll be like the rest of my friends and I'll be fine.' I feel like during this war, the ground troops are being led like sheep to the slaughter. It was obvious to me that this would happen," his mother, Yehudit, said.

Sela's grandmother, Sara, said Benny was named after her father. "It's hard to think about this beautiful boy with a heart of gold, who was so similar to his grandfather and who was willing to give of himself to everyone," she said.

His father, Yosef, said that he picked his son up from his unit on Monday for a short break. "He traveled the world and visited places that I'll never reach. He walked everywhere and rode horses. At every place, he made friends. He began a tour guiding course abroad, along with a close friend," he said.

Sela was laid to rest at 8 P.M. Thursday at the Misgav cemetery.

Staff Sergeant Igor Koblik, 26, from Upper Nazareth
Igor Koblik, who reported for reserve duty last week, studied computer science.

A friend of the family said that since Koblik reported for reserve duty, his father Lev had been very worried.

The Koblik family immigrated from Belarus in the early 1990's and settled in Upper Nazareth. Neighbors said Koblik was very close to his grandmother, who also lived in the town.

"Igor was a guy with a heart of gold," Ya'akov Schneider, a neighbor, said. "He was very close to his parents and sister. A few months ago, I asked him to help me put up a fence, and he did."

Koblik is survived by his parents, Tatiana and Lev, and his 18-year-old sister Yulia.

Koblik was laid to rest at 5 P.M. at the Upper Nazareth cemetery.

Staff Sergeant Nir Cohen, 22, from Maccabim
Last week, Cohengot an emergency call-up for reserve duty. He had served as a medic in the armored corps, and his friends said he was happy to report for reserve duty. Cohen asked his commander to return to the role of tank driver, which he held during his regular army service, rather than serve as a medic.

After he completed his military service, Cohen was employed as a tour guide and youth counselor with the Jewish Agency, and worked with American Jews on tours in Israel. His sister said he loved to travel in Israel, and noted that he was an excellent musician and loved to play the piano.

Cohen had been in touch with his family and friends in recent days, and after every fierce battle in Lebanon, he called to assure them that he was fine.

He asked that his friend Nofar take care of his worried parents. During their last phone conversation, he said to her, "You have to say goodbye to me, because I might not come back."

"I said to him, 'why do you have to think bad thoughts,'" Nofar related.

Cohen is survived by his parents, Giora and Nava, his sister Noa and brother Eyal. He will be laid to rest on Friday.

Sergeant Major David Shemidov, 25, from Jerusalem
David Shemidov returned Sunday from a week-long vacation in Prague with his girlfriend of three years. One hour after he landed in Israel, he received his emergency call-up notice. His frinds and family last heard from him on Tuesday, when he sent his girlfriend a text message saying, "I love you."

Shemidov's trip to Prague was his first voyage overseas since immigrating to Israel from Belarus in 1991. It was supposed to be a celebration, as he was recently accepted to architecture studies at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem.

"His dream was to be an architect," his friend, Yvgeny Mindlin, said. "David talked about building the third temple. He wasn't a religious man, but he strongly believed in God."

Shemidov served in Givati and was determined to serve in a combat unit shortly after immigrating to Israel.

"He wanted to serve his country," Yulia Kaplan, a friend from high school, said. "In twelfth grade he practiced with his brother, to built up his stamina." His friends described Shemidov as a born leader who was constantly smiling and had a great sense of humor. His brother, Ya'akov, 27, was serving in Lebanon when his family received word on David's death.

Shemidov is survived by his parents, Leonid and Natalya, and brother Ya'akov.

Captain Yoni-Leon Shmucher, 30, from Beit Nehemia
Yoni served as an officer in the paratroopers' engineer company. He was issued an emergency call-up notice last week.

Originally from Mazkeret Batia, Shmucher moved to Moshav Beit Nehemia after he got married. He was on the verge of completing his graduate degree in physics.

"Yoni was good at everything. He studied physics and was also an athlete. He rode his bike on Saturdays; we could never keep up with him," a friend said, and described an extraordinary love between Yoni and his wife, Shlomit.

First Staff Sergeant Asher Reuven Novick, 36, from Kanaf
Ashi (Asher) Novick, from Moshav Kanaf in the Golan Heights, celebrated his 36th birthday last week. He received an emergency call-up notice two weeks ago.

Novick, originally from Nes Ziona, resided in Kanaf for the past seven years with his wife, Osnat, in a house they built together. They had two children - Yuval, 10, and Itai, 6.

Novick recently completed a business degree, and was appointed chairman of the Luna Gal water park.

"Within a short while, Ashi was one of the pillars of the moshav," Haim Ohayon, the chairman of the Luna Gal board of directors, also a resident of Kanaf, said of Novick.

Novick will be laid to rest on Sunday at the Moshav Gamle cemetery.

Captain Nathan Yahav, 36, from Tel Aviv
Natan Yahav's wife, Sharon, was informed of her husband's death at close to 1 A.M. Wednesday by Israel Defense Forces representatives. The news reached his parents in Tel Aviv at 2:30 A.M. and they passed it on to his two sisters, Hagit and Neta.

Yahav was called up as a company commander of a paratrooper's commando unit that entered the village of Debel in south Lebanon. Yahav had been married for six years, and is survived by his wife and their two children, aged five and two and a half.

Staff Sergeant Adi Salim, 22, from Hashmonai
Adi Salim, a combat medic, was discharged from the army about six months ago and began working at Israel Aircraft Industries. He had planned to start college next year.

Salim was laid to rest at 7 P.M. Thursday in Ramle.

Sergeant Major Gilad Sussman, 27, from Eli
Gilad Sussman, the third Eli resident to be killed in the current conflict in Lebanon, moved to the West Bank settlement with his wife a few years ago. Seven months ago, their first son was born.

Sussman worked as an El Al security guard, and a neighbor described him as a modest man who smiled easily and often. The news of his death began circulating among Eli residents Wednesday night while many were attending the wedding of fellow Eli resident Emuna Merhavia whose brother, Amihai, had been killed in Lebanon just two weeks earlier.

Sergeant Major Noam Goldman, 27, from Tel Aviv
Goldman was laid to rest at 5 P.M. Thursday at the Kfar Sava cemetery.

Staff Sergeant Elad Dan, 25, from Kibbutz Eilot

Scary Numbers

According to this poll in U.S. News,

Should the United States continue to align itself with Israel, adopt a more neutral posture, or align more with Arab countries?

Get this? Democrats, to a bad margin, want the US to distance itself from Israel. Now, I need to see how the numbers compare to "distancing" from the UK, Canada, or "Palestine" to see whether this is anti-Zionism or just isolationism.


Oh, I almost forgot, amidst my vacationing and movie-seeing, there was a massive terrorist plot uncovered, many many Israeli soldiers killed, and generally the world coming off its hinges.


Little Voice (1998)

We saw Little Voice (1998) last night. Please heed my warning, do not see this movie.

It combines these two genres:
  1. Quirky British Natives (it's made by the same bloke who gave us "Brassed Off")
  2. Plays converted into Movies.
Because its British, the dialogue is incomprehensible; and because it was a play:
  1. Everyone is an exaggerated caricature,
  2. The characters do horrible, inexplicable things to each other,
  3. The movie has A MESSAGE
  4. and what could have been a fun movie with a happy ending is a tragic play with catastrophic results.

You have been warned. If you want to see quirky British caricatures behaving comedically with a happy ending, rent "Wallace & Gromit."

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (2006)

We're celebrating our anniversary; so we saw an actual movie in an actual theater. Since it's summer, we saw a Bustblocker: Pirates of the Caribbean 2: The Shameless Sequel

There were some great lines, by Depp. There were some great, well-thought-out action sequences. In fact, there was a good movie lurking under all the massive piles of donkey-doo. But the donkey-doo won out.

An apt review comes from Michael Atkinson of the Village Voice:
Of course it's only a summertime sequel, an overinflated, plot-contrivance-by-committee, cheap-shot leviathan, big and graceless as a rusting luxury liner, referencing its hit source movie as if it were a holy gospel, distending gag routines that flopped like a snapper on the dock the first time around. But you were expecting . . . ? The good news, in a season of dire portents, is that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is even more of a party-hearty-Marty potlatch of silliness than its predecessor. The franchise having been established, Verbinski, Bruckheimer, and Co. have been liberated to indulge in absurdities, pile on the so-old-they're-new-again clichés, and make jokes at their own expense.

There's not a self-serious bone in the movie's body. It's an assembly-line truffle, but someone was determined to break the genre bank. The stew includes a cannibal tribe, a voodoo queen, a ship-consuming monster cephalopod, the Flying Dutchman, Davy Jones's locker, the infamous East India Company (as the ultimate corporate villain), and a cannon-blasting sea battle, and in the process fulfills, in a goofy-face-contest kind of way, the promise of all pirate movies going back to 1917's Betty and the Buccaneers. It's pure matinee make-believe, high-spirited and outlandish and pleasantly grotesque, if, unfortunately, too long and too Dolby-atomic groady for the little kids who might appreciate it the most.

The story that holds this gibbering nonsense afloat involves a magical compass, the ambitions of British colonials, and a tangle of supernatural curses, rules, and debts centering around the rather spectacular presence of Jones (an all but unrecognizable Bill Nighy), the undead captain of the Dutchman's crew of barnacled crustacean zombies, and himself a Scottish-accented squid-head demagogue with a giant lobster claw and a penchant for playing his Nemo-like organ with face tentacles. The series protagonists cannot compete with Nighy's briny godling and Naomie Harris's rasping swamp witch; Johnny Depp's Keith Richards routine, seemingly even rummier now, is still thin shtick, but he's merely the comic relief who finds himself, to his annoyance, standing inappropriately at center stage. Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom remain line-reading Sleep-Eze, less functional or effective than Kevin McNally as the Black Pearl's put-upon first mate and official
POTC empathy point.

Naturally, the filmmakers have no idea where or when to stop; in the more forgiving theatrical marketplaces of yore, this could have, and would have, been two or more smaller movies. But if the many octopod Kraken attacks are one deafening digital crash-up too many, they're still a merchant-ship-era folklore iconÂ?here there be monstersÂ?come to fantastic life. The ingredients for a movie-movie tropical vacation are all here, including the boozy highs, the chintz, the wandering waste of time, and the hangover.
I am The Styx and I approved that message.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Aftermath Analysis

Here's a good analysis of why the Lieberman campaign's decision not to Get Out the Vote (GOTV) doomed them.

Final Tallies

City by city for every primary, from the Courant.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lieberman Concedes

He conceded a few minutes ago. I'm at my parents home and the speech was shown on CNN, live. However, in the middle of the speech they dubbed over HIS WORDS with commentary by some doofus in the studio giving her 'insight.' We tried switching channels, but NOBODY ELSE WAS CARRYING the speech.

Let me get this straight: the whole country has been galvanized about this race and the moment we get the facts... only one network covers it and in the middle of the FACTS they obscure it with (worthless) opinion.

And if saw what was *on* the other channels, you'd just die.

Superbowl of Life or Death

I'm watching the returns (from the Courant link below). It's like reading about the Superbowl - a one time competitive event - with my hometeam playing while I'm outa town. Except that instead of sports, this is real. The whole fate of the Democratic party rests on this. And that means the results of November 2006, and that means the whole wide world. No exaggeration, in my mind.

The returns are getting better and better for Lieberman, but he's still behind.

Newest Casualties from Israel

From Haaretz

Staff Sergeant Noam Meirson (res.), 23, of Jerusalem
Staff Sergeant Noam Meirson, a 23-year-old reservist from Jerusalem, was killed Monday in clashes with Hezbollah in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbail, a month before he was due to get married. Meirson was called up to fight over the weekend. "Noam was God-fearing," his father, Haim, said Tuesday. "The key thing with him was piety, love of the people and the land. He wanted to be involved in education and the rabbinate." Haim and his wife, Gila, last spoke to their son at 11:30 P.M. Sunday, while attending a prayer service at the Western Wall for the welfare of soldiers and residents of the north.

Staff Sergeant Malko Ambao, 20, of Lod
Malko Ambao, who was killed Tuesday in a gunbattle with Hezbollah fighters near the village of Bint Jbail, immigrated to Israel in 1991 from the Gondar region of Ethiopia. He graduated from the Kfar Batya residential school and the pre-military preparatory program at Yemin Orde. Yemin Orde's program director, Ayal Eldar, described Ambao as "talented and industrious," adding that his death was a great loss to Israeli society. Ambao's brother Avi, 23, a paratrooper, said, "He died a hero. He loved life and his friends loved him." A close friend, Yoel Wabgai, said Ambao had been looking forward to continuing his education.

Major Yotam Lotan (res.), 33, of Kibbutz Beit Hashita
Reserve Captain Yotam Lotan was the third generation of his family to be born and raised on Kibbutz Beit Hashita in the Jezreel Valley. His mandatory military service was spent in the Armored Corp where he was a company commander. After his release from mandatory service, Lotan traveled overseas then returned home to work as a youth counselor. His cousin, Amit Hameiri, said, "Yotam was a counselor admired by his kids." Lotan, who most recently worked as a youth counselor at neighboring Kibbutz Ein Harod, took his kids on a graduation trip to Turkey. Upon his return, he found his emergency call-up orders waiting for him. He joined his reserve unit without even having a chance to bid farewell to his family. Lotan is survived by his parents, Meir and Batya, and by two siblings, Ophir and Rotem.

Staff Sergeant Philip Mosko, 21, of Ma'ale Adumim
Staff Sergeant Philip Mosko, 21, immigrated with his family from Moscow in 1991. Friends and family describe him as a giving person who was always ready to volunteer, even on his weekends off from the army. At age 15, he began volunteering at Magen David Adom and later with the civil guard. Told by the army he was too overweight for a combat unit, he lost 24 kilograms and joined the paratrooper brigade. "He was a good boy and gentle," said his mother. He is survived by his parents, Ze'ev, a psychologist; Luba, who works for the city's education department; and his sister Katya. Philip was laid to rest Tueday on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Captain Gilad Balachsan (res.), 29, of Carmiel
Captain Gilad Balachsan's mother didn't know he had been called up to serve in Lebanon until she found out about his death Tuesday morning. Balachsan, aged 29 from Carmiel, received his call-up order Sunday, but the family kept the news from his mother, said Balachsan's brother Benny, who has also been called up to fight in the war. Balachsan was killed in clashes with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. "He was really waiting for the call-up," said Benny. "It was clear that this would happen to him - he was always brave, running in first." Balachsan is survived by his parents, Eli and Miriam, Benny and three sisters: Zohar, Liron and Natalie.

Results Links

These are the websites to get the honest-to-goodness results.

From the Courant

These below seem to be cracking up

I Wish I Did This

I had totally forgotten about this link! This perfectly elaborates my previous post (rant) about information technology. Bravo to the author, Justin Kahn: Powerful Stories Made Impotent by the Introduction of Cellphones.

Backpost finished 4/11/08. I had just the link.

Out of State Today

I am missing the primary today (and all the associated hoopla), but I did vote absentee (which was a better experience than expected, especially since they had my name mispelled in their records).

Here's an interesting tidbit from today's Courant:
The race has attracted tremendous interest, both in Connecticut and nationally. More than 14,000 Connecticut voters switched their registration from unaffiliated to Democrat to vote in the primary, while another 14,000 new voters registered as Democrats, according to state statistics.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said she expected turnout of 40 percent, much higher than the 25 percent turnout that is typical of state primaries. She said poll workers were expecting the heaviest turnout in the late afternoon, as people went home from work.
28,000 new Democrats for this election.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Q-Poll Curiosities

One thing about the most recent Quinnipiac poll, notice the income breakdown

No col College Annual household income.......
degree degree <30k>100K

Lieberman 49% 38% 49% 49% 44% 39%
Lamont 46 59 47 45 53 60
SMONE ELSE(VOL) - - - - - -
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL) - - - - - -
DK/NA 6 3 4 7 3 2

Those without college degrees, as well as those with incomes below 50K, support Lieberman. Why? One conclusion is that they are the ones without the internet.

Meet the Press about Lieberman-Lamont

From Sunday:

MR. RUSSERT: Welcome both. Lanny Davis, friend of Lieberman; Jim Dean, friend of Lamont. Let’s go right to it.

Here’s the latest polling on this Senate race in Connecticut, let’s put it on the screen. Now: Lieberman 41, Lamont 54. Six months ago it was Lieberman 68, Lamont 13. What happened to Joe Lieberman? How could he lose 55-point lead?

MR. LANNY J. DAVIS: Well, I think from the very beginning he knew that his position on the war was contrary to the feelings of most Democrats, and that the challenge would be to try to convince Democrats to focus on the facts concerning his 30-year record as a progressive Democrat, and allow him to disagree, at least in part, on the war. He’s spoken out strongly against the conduct of the war. But I think he knew from the beginning that the war was a very dominant issue for Democrats, and it would tighten up.

MR. RUSSERT: Even amongst Lamont supporters, Mr. Dean, let me show you, this is quite interesting. Are you voting for Lamont, 30 percent; against Lieberman, 65. Is this a referendum on Joe Lieberman?

MR. JAMES H. DEAN: Well, I think you could probably say that, but I think more so, Tim, that it’s really a reference—a referendum, excuse me, on incumbency in general in Washington, and sort of the inertia that people have become to associate with getting things done in Congress. I think in a lot of ways, obviously the war, big, important issue among the voters, but I think we’re also need to talk about, you know, the fact that it’s been tough getting things done on health care, it’s been tough getting things done about our infrastructure and fully funding our schools. And while it’s unfair to hang any of that on Joe, because he’s fought for a lot of these things, I think there is a feeling that we need a change in Washington.

MR. RUSSERT: But the primary focus has been the war.

MR. DEAN: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: In reference to February of ‘05, this now-famous picture of President Bush leaving the rostrum at the State of the Union message, hugging, kissing Joe Lieberman...

MR. DEAN: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: evolved into this button that, “The Kiss: Too Close for Comfort!”

MR. DEAN: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: And many people refer to this speech Senator Lieberman gave in December of ‘05 as a real turning point. Let’s listen.

(Videotape, December 6, 2005):

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT): It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: “In matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” Is he suggesting that it is not patriotic to criticize a president’s conduct of a war?

MR. DAVIS: Absolutely not. The proof is in the pudding; he has criticized President Bush repeatedly for his inept handling of this war, for the lack of body armor, for the lack of the buildup with allies supporting the war. He’s actually said in 2003, “If I were president, I’d replace Donald Rumsfeld.” It is ludicrous to suggest that Joe Lieberman is against dissent in war. I was with Joe Lieberman in 1968 when he supported Robert Kennedy against an incumbent president. That comment was made about exploiting the war politically. He was referring as well to Republicans trying to use the war on terrorism for election purposes. That’s really the misconstruction of his comment. I think if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t have used those words.

MR. RUSSERT: When you heard those words, what was your reaction?

MR. DEAN: Well, actually, we did a petition drive on that, about those words, because we felt that, you know, there was an inference in here that dissent on this thing was wrong and, and we feel that, you know, we should be asking questions and dissenting on the wrong—dissenting on this war. So Democracy for America did a petition drive. I want to add also that Senator Lieberman, after that drive, met with both myself and several representatives of some of the groups in our network in Connecticut, which I—means a lot to me, and we had a, you know, a good dialogue about that. But again, you know, we’re in this race because we do believe in a change in Washington and we believe that we need some new voices in there and we believe we really need to consistently stand up against this president.

MR. RUSSERT: The only debate Lamont/Lieberman had, July 6th, Senator Lieberman said, “The situation in Iraq is a lot better than a year ago.” Is that his view?

MR. DAVIS: His view is to look at the facts that have occurred. There has been elections, a lot of people went to the polls under the worst of circumstances. I think every American—and by the way, Tim, I’m opposed to this war and I’m for Joe Lieberman. And there’s a reason that one can be against this war and in favor of Lieberman because of his progressive record for 30 years. But I was heartened when I saw those purple fingers in the air and I was heartened that people in Baghdad and throughout Iraq tried to show the ability to have democracy. So I think that’s what Senator Lieberman is talking about. But he does not deny that the inept handling of this war, that a borderline civil war that looks to be occurring, he’s not denying the difficulties that we now face, but he blames poor planning, ill execution, and he’s publicly criticized President Bush for that.

MR. RUSSERT: Rahm Emanuel, the congressman, the head of the Congressional Campaign Committee, is quoted in The Washington Post today saying the message out of Connecticut is don’t support the president on the war, that if you’re a rubber stamp for the president, it’s life-threatening. Do you agree?

MR. DAVIS: I agree that you shouldn’t be a rubber stamp for George Bush. And I think Rahm Emanuel was not talking about Joe Lieberman, because Rahm Emanuel knows about the facts. Joe Lieberman stood up to George Bush on every single tax cut for the wealthy, he opposed George Bush’s Social Security privatization plan, he led the fight against drilling in the Arctic Refuge, he supports stem cell research, he supports choice. Every major Democratic Party liberal organization—labor, environmentalists, the Human Rights Campaign, NARAL—support Joe Lieberman. Rahm Emanuel would not call a Democrat who supports 90 percent of his fellow Democrats in the Senate a rubber stamp for George Bush. That Kiss button is a campaign of distortion. Just because President Bush reached over and made that gesture, to make that into a campaign issue constitutes a misrepresentation of the facts of Joe Lieberman’s record as a Democrat in the Senate.

MR. RUSSERT: But the primary issue in this primary is the war.

MR. DAVIS: Yes. And I think it is absolutely understandable and legitimate for any Democrat who considers this war the paramount issue and the only issue to vote for Ned Lamont. And I respect that. I’m against this war, as I said, and I disagree with Joe Lieberman on the war, but I hope that Democrats watching in Connecticut, who look at a record of 30 years of fighting for progressive causes, will not allow the distortions of Joe Lieberman’s record, the Kiss button, calling him a lap dog—outright distortions, ignoring all of the times he’s been out there fighting George Bush on every major issue. That should be the dominant issue that counts when people go to the polls.

MR. RUSSERT: I’ve read all of Ned Lamont’s public comments on the war in Iraq...

MR. DAVIS: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...and I’m trying to pin down exactly his position. This was June 22nd Hartford Courant. His campaign manager, Tom Swan, “said that Lamont backed the Reed-Levin plan”—that was a phased redeployment—“even though it was ‘watered down.’” And he said, “Lamont was ‘sympathetic’ to the John Kerry proposal” of a date-certain withdrawal, “but he wouldn’t necessarily vote for it, because he wants to be a uniter among Democrats.”

Then the very next day, the same newspaper, I read this: “A second measure offered by John F. Kerry, D-Mass. ... would have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by July 1,2007 ... ‘I would have supported them both,’” meaning Kerry and the Reed-Levin. What happened in 24 hours, and what is his position? Is he for an immediate withdraw, date-certain of all troops?

MR. DEAN: Right. My feeling is that he’s signed on with the Democratic Party leadership to withdraw the troops—start withdrawing troops by the end of this year. The...

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think Kerry says all out by July of ‘07 that he would vote of Kerry? So that’s his position?

MR. DEAN: Right. Ned wants to get the troops out ASAP. I mean, we, we all do. And the thing about this is is that there’s been a lot of, you know, sort of back and forth in this on Congress. The Democrats—you know, he’s one of those Democrats that’s taking a stand to get the troops out, that he’s willing to stand up for that and take the heat for doing it. He’s willing to sign on to the leadership to start withdrawing the troops by the end of this year, and that is the kind of thing that we need to further this debate and to get the troops out, because if we don’t start standing up for these things we’re never going to get them home right now, if we listen to this sort of rhetoric from the administration about staying the course and all of that.

MR. RUSSERT: But would he have voted for John Kerry’s resolution to bring all troops home—all of them—by July of ‘07?

MR. DEAN: I’m not sure whether he would have or not.

MR. DAVIS: Can I comment, please? On the very same day he said he would support Kerry’s, then he said he wouldn’t support Kerry’s, then he said he supported Chris Dodd’s position, which was opposed to Kerry’s. And here’s a fact that everybody maybe doesn’t know. In February of 2005, after that shot of President Bush kissing Senator Lieberman, Ned Lamont wrote out a check to the Lieberman campaign. February ‘05. If he was so much against the war, why is he supporting Joe Lieberman in February ‘05? What is his position on a deadline? Does he feel that pulling out, leaving a rogue state behind, is a danger? He won’t answer those questions, and I respect Jim not being able to answer the question, because his candidate won’t answer the question.

MR. DEAN: Well, he has answered that question in that he feels very strongly that the key to Iraq becoming its own government and running its own country is for our troops to get out of there as quickly as possible. I think he’s been pretty clear about that. He may have written a check to Joe Lieberman in the past, because Ned has been involved in Democratic Party politics for many, many years. And that’s, you know, part of what happens when you are involved in politics. And it was also before he was running for office.

MR. RUSSERT: Another big issue in the campaign that emerged is Terry Schiavo. Joe Lieberman was on this program in March of ‘05. I asked him about Terry Schiavo, his support of federal legislation to, to review her case, and I asked him this specific question:

(Videotape, March 2005):

MR. RUSSERT: You would have kept the tube in?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I would have kept the tube in.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Is that still his view?

MR. DAVIS: His view, along with every Democrat in the United States Senate, was to allow legislation to pass to give the family, the parents, another chance at the Florida court system. That legislation passed by unanimous consent. When Mr. Lamont criticizes Senator Lieberman on that vote in his advertisements—another distortion—he doesn’t say that every Democratic senator took the same position and allowed that legislation to pass.

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, no Democratic senator objected. Tom Harkin, liberal from Iowa, was the one who was trying to fashion the compromise. Jesse Jackson, who was in Connecticut last week for your candidate, said that it was “cruel and crude” to remove the tube from Terry Schiavo. So is it fair for Mr. Lamont to use that as an issue when no other Democrat stood up and opposed it, and Jesse Jackson, his supporter, was saying “cruel and crude,” which is basically Lieberman’s position?

MR. DEAN: Yeah. You know, I think Ned’s position on this is that this isn’t and was not then and is not the federal government’s business. And I concur with that. I think this is a family decision. They’d certainly been through the state court system up and down. It’s a gut-wrenching situation for, for both sides of this. And this was not something that the Congress or the Senate or the federal government should be getting involved in.

MR. RUSSERT: I even asked your brother, Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, why he didn’t speak up during the debate. He said, “I wish I would have.”

MR. DEAN: Well, again, Ned is extremely committed to the fact that the federal government really needs to stay out of issues like this among family members, as well as a lot of other personal and moral issues. People send their legislatures—or people to Congress, Tim, for them to solve the problems that we have of health care, solve the problems that we have of our schools, to solve our foreign policy and national security problems. They don’t send people to Congress to start telling them what they’re supposed to do in their personal life or make these difficult moral decisions.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me go to the nub of this campaign, because it has been focused on the war and whether Senator Lieberman is a sufficient enough Democrat. The Congressional Quarterly does a comparison of voting records, and this is what they found in 2005. Lieberman’s in agreement with the Democrat Party 90 percent of the time, and in opposition to the party 10 percent of the time. That places him equal or better than 17 other Democratic senators of the 44 who are there. Why is Lieberman being—alone being picked out for a primary of this nature, and not others, who also voted for the war?

MR. DEAN: Well, I think, you know, it’s—again, it gets back to this sort of culture of incumbency. And again, I’m not trying to hang Joe on this, but Connecticut is a state that gives a lot more than it gets from the federal government. I think the voters are OK with that there. I think the voters understand that solving some of these difficult issues of transportation and health care in Iraq take some time, but the problem is there’s a great deal of frustration among the voters now in Connecticut because these huge tax breaks to the energy companies that are going on, the huge tax breaks to big pharma, the $200 million bridges to nowhere—you know, they see their money just going directly out and going down the drain and getting nothing back, and I think that’s really contributed a lot. I mean, obviously, Iraq is a big deal. Senator Lieberman’s statements supporting the Bush administration, I think, have, have highlighted that quite a bit. But some of these other things that’ve been simmering for over 20 years are, are also coming into play here.

MR. RUSSERT: But money for I-95 or for ferries to lessen the traffic congestion...

MR. DEAN: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...bringing home the bacon for Connecticut...

MR. DEAN: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...would Lamont see that as part of his duties as a senator?

MR. DEAN: I think he would fight for that. And you know something, Joe has fought for that. But the real problem here is that we live in a system where there’s 63 lobbyists for every single person in Congress, and Connecticut is getting the short end of the stick.

No matter who wins this race, Tim, I don’t want them, six years from now, saying, “I saved 10 defense industry jobs,” because that’s all the defense industry jobs we have left in Connecticut. We’re playing a zero-sum game that we’re on the wrong end of, and we need someone who’s going to say, “the heck with this culture of incumbency, we got to get something done for the voters and taxpayers of our state.”

MR. RUSSERT: Lanny Davis, The New York Times watched this race very closely, and they weighed in last Sunday with an endorsement for Ned Lamont. And they said it this way: “It is critical that the minority party serve as a responsible, but vigorous, watchdog. That does not require shrillness or absolutism. But this is no time for a man with Mr. Lieberman’s ability to command Republicans’ attention to become their enabler, and embrace a role as the president’s defender.”

MR. DAVIS: First of all, I respect The New York Times, but I think the Connecticut newspapers that know the candidates best should probably be listened to more by Connecticut voters. All five Connecticut papers who have endorsed any candidate—all five—endorse Joe Lieberman, including Ned Lamont’s hometown paper, The Greenwich Time.

The New York Times devoted 11 paragraphs to criticizing Joe Lieberman without mentioning all of the specific instances where Joe Lieberman opposed President Bush, as I mentioned earlier, including on Abu Ghraib, in which he said that he was outraged; including calling the surveillance program illegal. The New York Times simply omitted those facts, and I was allowed to write a letter to the editor pointing that out.

But compared to five out of five Connecticut newspapers, including the Greenwich Time, his hometown newspaper—and if I could just respectfully suggest to my friend Jim--90 percent voting with Democrats is a fact. Another fact is that Ned Lamont, when he served on the Board of Selectmen, bragged, bragged to The Greenwich Time, the same newspaper that endorsed Joe Lieberman, “I support 80 percent of the time what my Republicans on the Board of Selectmen.” So those are facts that Mr. Lamont is not mentioning in his ad. When he clones and morphs Joe Lieberman—from the face of Joe Lieberman to the face of George Bush, that is a distortion of what you put on the screen, that Joe Lieberman votes 90 percent with the Democrats.

I’m accustomed to Republicans distorting Democrats in campaigns. We saw what happened to Max Cleland, being morphed into Osama bin Laden. When Joe Lieberman is morphed into George Bush, and Ned Lamont doesn’t say that he votes 90 percent with the Democrats, that’s a distortion, and the people of Connecticut should consider whether distorting Joe Lieberman’s record is a fair thing, and whether that’s something that Mr. Lamont should regret, before they vote for him.

MR. RUSSERT: Give you a chance to respond.

MR. DEAN: Yeah, sure. Well, first of all, you know, I think that 80 percent with the Republicans has been a little bit blown out of proportion. This is a select committee that’s dominated by Republicans, and we’re talking about pot holes in streets, here. But let’s go up to not 30,000 feet on this thing, Tim, but about 100 feet. If you look—I mean, both campaigns have given as good as they’ve gotten in this race, on both sides of it. But the overwhelming tenor, or, or, view of the totality of this race is the fact that the voters are getting very, very excited about the fact that they are empowered to set the course for Connecticut, set the course for their party. We have a situation right now where 11,000 people have registered, reregistered from being Independent to being Democrat. We have a lot of people that are engaged in this debate and getting very, very excited. And I think, really, that’s been the temper of this debate, and that’s, and that’s been the, the tone of this election more than anything else. It’s been extremely positive.

And I’ll say one thing about the party brass, most of whom were in Joe’s corner because of the convention, they’ve done a great job at handling this and keeping this debate civil. Nancy DiNardo, head of the party, it’s not been an easy three months, she’s done a great job. Chris Dodd with his statesmanship. This has benefited the three outstanding congressional candidates that we have: Diane Farrell, Chris Murphy, Joe Courtney. You know, that’s really been the tone of this. And there’s been some stuff in the direct mail on both sides of this. But that’s not really the—it’s about this big compared to everything else that’s going on.

MR. RUSSERT: In late June, Senator Lieberman said, “I’m a Democrat, I’ve always been a Democrat, I always will be a Democrat.” Twelve days later he started circulating petitions for an independent run; an insurance policy if he loses the Democratic primary. The last time there was an Independent running for the Senate in Connecticut who was a Democrat was 1970, and here’s the result: Lowell Weicker, the Republican, got 42 percent of the vote; Joe Duffey, the Democrat, got 34 percent of the vote, and Tom Dodd, the Democrat running as an Independent—father of the incumbent Senator Chris Dodd--24 percent. If Joe Lieberman loses this primary on Tuesday by a significant margin, will he still try to run as an Independent and risk losing the seat for the Democratic Party?

MR. DAVIS: The answer is he will run as a Democrat. He will run, he will win on Tuesday night, in my judgment. The facts will catch up, five endorsements by Connecticut papers. He will win Tuesday.

But in the hypothetical question you’ve asked, he is ahead by 24 points in a three-way contest. He will win Democratic support, Independent support, and moderate Republican support. He will caucus with the Democrats, and he will stand for a Democrat who’s progressive for 40 years that I’ve known him, reaching across the aisle...

MR. RUSSERT: So he’ll definitely run as an Independent?

MR. DAVIS: ... and caucus with the Senate. Yes, he will.

MR. RUSSERT: Will this risk losing the seat for the Democrats?

MR. DEAN: No. You know, these are really the two big players in this race—Ned Lamont, Joe Lieberman. I believe that whoever wins the Democratic primary in this thing will, will go to victory, and then keep—we’ll keep our Senate seat. In fact, I’m quite convinced of that.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you hope that Joe Lieberman would step aside if he loses the primary?

MR. DEAN: Well, you know, I, I’m only thinking one foot ahead of the other, Tim. I’m not the sharpest tack in the world. And you know, I can see my way right now through Tuesday, and then we’ll figure out everything else afterwards.

MR. RUSSERT: Lanny, you—Davis—your new book, “Scandal: How Gotcha Politics is Destroying America.” You’re very tough on the bloggers here. Is Joe Lieberman in trouble because of the bloggers or because of his support of—on the war for President Bush?

MR. DAVIS: He’s in a tight race because he’s on the opposite side of the way most core Democrats—I don’t blame it on the bloggers. But I do say that the virulence and the hatred where you can’t disagree with somebody, you just have to call them evil, is really what I’m addressing in that book, and which this campaign unfortunately has had too much of.

MR. RUSSERT: Lanny Davis, Jim Dean, thank you very much for...

MR. DEAN: Thanks for having us on, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: ...civilized debate.

MR. DAVIS: Thank you very much.

MR. DEAN: Yeah, appreciate it.

MR. RUSSERT: We’ll be right back.

Lieberman Closes Gap

The Hartford Courant (pronounced "Times") has the latest Quinnipiac (pronounced "Quickiemart") Poll that brings Lieberman up to 45 vs. Lamont 51.

Why the change? Probably because Lieberman ACTUALLY STARTED TALKING ABOUT HIS POSITION ON IRAQ. Ahem. See the Times story (which they doubtless printed against their will).

That’s something that separates me from my opponent – I don’t hate Republicans. I know that some times the best way to get things done in the Senate for my constituents is through bipartisan cooperation. That doesn’t make me a bad Democrat. It makes me a better Senator.

On Iraq, as you know, I supported the resolution giving the President the authority to use force to take out Saddam Hussein, as did most Senate Democrats. I still believe that was right.

What I don’t think is right, as I have said over and over again, are many of the Bush Administration’s decisions regarding the execution of the war. The fact is, I have openly and clearly disagreed with and criticized the President for, among other things:
* not winning the support of our allies in the run-up to the war;
* not having a plan to win the peace;
* not putting enough troops on the ground;
* putting an American in charge of the Iraqi oil supply.

And I said that if I were President, I would ask Secretary Rumsfeld to resign. I first said that in October 2003.

But if we simply give up and pull out now, like my opponent wants to do, then it would be a disaster to Iraq and to us. We would run a high risk of allowing Iraq to become like Afghanistan when the Taliban were in charge, and Al Qaeda had safe haven from which to strike us.
The big difference between my opponent and me is that I believe in solving problems. That you can remain true to Democratic ideals and find common ground to get things done for your constituents. That you can be compassionate in domestic policy and tough in foreign policy. That you can stand up for progressive values and still work with the other side to help people make a better life for themselves.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Radio Silence

I am in Maryland for a few days - starting from Friday - officiating at a wedding and then lying low for a "vacation." Styx updates will be rare, even though I will try to keep up with the news.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mel Gibson Speaks About the Holocaust

From Readers' Digest: Mel Gibson Speaks About the Holocaust:
NOONAN: You're going to have to go on the record. The Holocaust happened, right?

MEL GIBSON: I have friends and parents of friends who have numbers on their arms. The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust survivor. He worked in a concentration camp in France. Yes, of course. And my dad also knows that there were internment camps where many people died. Now, his whole thing was about the numbers. I mean atrocities happened. The thing with him [my father] was that he was talking about numbers. I mean when the war was over they said it was 12 million. Then it was six. Now it's four. I mean it's that kind of numbers game. I mean war is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine, several million people starved to death between 1932 and 1933. During the last century 20 million people died in the Soviet Union. Okay? It's horrible.
The man is a holocaust denier. Pure and simple.

{2009 Update, pic from here.}

Tisha B'av Sucks

Just in case you were wondering if worse things happen on Tisha B'av than on other days:

Haaretz reports:

A barrage of Hezbollah rockets slammed into northern Israel on Thursday, killing at least seven people. Three people were killed when a rocket crashed directly into a house near the northern town of Tarhisha, and another four were killed when a rocket exploded near their vehicle in Acre.

Three people were wounded in the strike on Acre, and another four were wounded when rockets hit the town of Horfesh. At least three more people were wounded in Kiryat Shmona and Tiberias.

Also Thursday, two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed and two others were seriously wounded Thursday in heavy fighting with Hezbollah guerillas in south Lebanon.
Seven civilians killed - the most in one day in this current war. And three soldiers. Grrrr

Obit: Frank & Earnest

I'm an avid comics reader (at one point I hoped to be a cartoonist, but then I went for something with less personal dignity: the clergy & academia), so I have my ranked favorites. Frank & Earnest has often been a decent read and a low-impact pun-filled experience. Not in the top-20 but respectable nonethless. In any case, the creator, Bob Thaves, died Friday. Alav ha-Shalom (10/5/1924 - 8/1/2006)

Pic from the obit page. Backpost finished 2009-12-07.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Swifting and Smearing

I am still trying; here's a letter I sent to the TPM today.

Everyone I ask in New Haven, people who know him for years, say that Senator Lieberman is a modest, honest and honorable person. Naturally, this is one reason why he's being savagely Swift-boated - he doesn't fight back very well. I wouldn't mind the demonization of him as much if it came from the GOP, but from the Left?! MYDD calls him "vicious and reactionary"? The ironically violent language used by the anti-war crew ('hey, kill him, he supports a war!') at Atrois, DailyKos, TPMCafe, chills my moderate-Democrat blood.

Yet, it's called a "smear" when the Lieberman campaign puts out a flier that (a) defends his record on race (which is very good, certainly better than Al Sharpton's, if we understand 'good' to mean building bridges) and (b) uses Lamont's own history and words to describe the contrast between the two candidates.

Sure. "Smear." In another context, 'smear' is 'disproportionate response.'

No Lieberman for Lieberman

Because Lieberman is one of the only honest and honorable politicians out there, it's sad to see him under terrible 'friendly fire' from his own party. But it makes sense. While the Lamont-New York Times-'netroots' onslaught continues, I realized that were another Democrat attacked this way the first person to come to a spirited defense would have been Lieberman.

Sadly, there's no other Lieberman in the party - no moderate to stand up to the freak-fringe and say "You Are Hurting Us" - nobody there to help Lieberman.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wikipedia Vandalism

Check out how the even, balanced Lamont supporters have been vandalizing the Lieberman Wiki page: Talk:Joe Lieberman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Someone linked to this story: "Mel Gibson Arrested for Funding Terrorism" - and my senses went into overdrive. I checked around and nobody else carried the story... luckily, in fine fine fine print on the bottom was this link.


Concern Troll - Part 3

A sociological analysis of why the "netroots" hate bothers me (and many, uh, normal people). I think it's because when I meet a jerk in real life, I walk away resolving to avoid that person in the future. What makes the Netroots Hatred so difficult is that not only is it difficult to avoid on many of the best websites but it is compounded by the privacy/intimacy/anonymity that makes the internet so attractive.

People spend hours online because its the quintessence, so far, of the Information Age (the final step will be 3-D cerebral hologramophonic nanochips - though at that point evolution will stop). Online one can be anonymous, alone yet surrounded by information, commerce, schmutz, and completely controlled personal interactions.

However, on the Netroot Hate Blogs the bubble of protection is swiftly jackbooted by these cranked up adolescents. It's jarring.

The sad thing is that they think they are being effective. They will get squashed - badly - just like they were in 1972.

Concern Troll - Part 2

I found out that the term was invented by (who woulda thunkit) the DailyKos. They are such wonderful people there.

This website explains the term:

"Concern Troll (n): One who professes complete faith in the progressive cause, who deliberately works to destroy it by claiming falsely that our displays of courage and strength are actually a weakness."

Oh, I get it. Har.

Infantile bullying = 'courage' and 'strength'

As usual, and sadly enough, I have stumbled upon the problem's keystone - the "netroots" is being fuelled by the notion that self-inflicted wounds are 'strong' and temper-tantrums are 'courage'

Concern Troll?

Turns out that the attacks I saw on that fellow "Sundog" had an effect. Wouldja believe it, and I swear I am not making this up, he is a blogger at the TPM Cafe.

He was called a 'concern troll' (so was I on the TPM Cafe). And he makes a startling revelation:
Atrios posts a comment about "What exactly is there to like about Joe Lieberman?" Rather exasperated. I foolishly jumped into the comments and said, prominently identifying myself as a Lamont supporter, come on, he's been a solid Democrat most of his life; it's just his choices over the last few years are wrong in my book.

Ever see a pack of dogs go after red meat?

The irony and the unfairness of the situation are still with me.
I decided to respond to him:
Sundog - I surfed over to that thread at Atrois tonight (11:30 pm Monday) and I saw how you were ripped apart. I feel for you, brother, because I had the same experience here at the TPM Cafe (not as much a howler-monkey poo flinging that you received... but I have less patience.)

As an anthropologist, I've tried to analyze what's going on here on the Left - why there's such backlash against impure ideology. I always prided the Left as being better able to see both sides of an issue. But there's an ugly and pervasive sociological phenomenon going on here on all these "netroot" websites.

I don't know what a 'concern troll' is - I was called that after I took umbrage at a personal attack - but it sounds like what a teenager calls an adult after being caught smoking in the boys room.

Teenagers are able to punch each other in the cafeteria; in the cubicle world, that's called assault. So too on these blogs - antisocial behavior which is commonplace in a dorm is just not accepted in the 'real world.' And politics, war, jobs - these are real, no?
But, naturally, I have even worse conclusions. These are some scary dark times.

2009 Update: Pic from here.

The Delusions About Lieberman - Part Billion + 1

I've just wandered through another blog comments section and I'll tell you, it scares me. I recommend you do that for any leftist blog about Lieberman and you will ask yourself this question: "Why is it that discussions about Lieberman turn into rants against Israel and/or attacks on his Jewishness?"

Happens every time.

Now, I know liberals, and I have never heard them talk like this. I have a feeling that the people who write into the Blog Comments are almost all students or unemployed. Students (High School, College, Graduate) have now grown up in the email/weblog culture and they take to the artificial empowerment in a scary way. They also don't have authentic liberalism; some have called it anarchism or nihilism (which I saw often during my school days) but that gives these infants too much credit.

It's Extended Adolescence. We've extended the age of immaturity from 13 - good ol' Second Temple era Bar Mitzvah age - to (at least) 30. And these children have income from somewhere, unformed infantile beliefs, and hormone-driven rage against everything not ideologically pure.

This is not a hysterical rant against 'blogs' (I leave that to Lee Siegel). I felt that attacking the 'blog' is like attacking the printing press. How can you attack a medium?!

My criticism is about the culture and money that festers in the internet that is to politics like the adolescent popcorn flick is to movies. Hollywood has been motivated for the past two/three decades to make brain-dead films to sell to teenagers. By doing so, the whole movie culture has been warped to feed that demand (and movie-makers have slowly realized that a cruddy movie doesn't sell past the first weekend).

Well the leftist-blog world, or "netroots" as they call themselves, has transformed the political world into popcorn.